On other pages...

Growing trees in the Clare Valley
Growing other plants in Clare
Reduce your energy consumption, build a cellar
A more self sufficient community
What should be done about climate change

A more sustainable community

Society must move away from the unsustainable carbon economy, we are damaging the atmosphere, the oceans and the environment.

Personal self-sufficiency is neither desirable nor practicable, but greater self-sufficiency and sustainability in a local community has huge environmental and economical advantages, and is eminently achievable.

This page is particularly aimed at the Clare Valley of South Australia.

Slowing climate change needs big changes starting now.

This Internet page is an apeal to move toward the Transition Towns concept. "If we wait for government to make the changes we need it will be too little too late, if we make changes at a personal level it will be too little, but if we make changes at a community level it just might be enough."

Contact: David K Clarke
This page created 2009/03/30, last edited 2024/02/08

Possible actions at the local level

  1. Companion travel – reduce unnecessary driving by sharing a lift;
  2. Information/ideas interchange: some local people know how design more sustainable houses, others have had experience building them, others are good gardeners. Some have experience in wind power, solar power, wood fire water heating and home heating. Many are happy to share their knowledge and experiences. What we need is a way of getting people together to spread the knowledge;
  3. Build a more self-sufficiency community – increase the links within the community – get closer to a barter economy – you grow cabbages, someone pickles olives; get together, swap (a list of what is available at any time could be kept on an Internet blog);
  4. Community garden – for those with insufficient space for their own garden, or those who want more interaction with other gardeners;
  5. Look into what can be done to encourage local people to:
    • Walk more;
    • Bicycle more;
    • Buy and use smaller, more fuel efficient cars, rather than big gas guzzlers;
    • Encourage walking school busses rather than driving kids to school;
  6. Encourage council (and government) to make the changes that are needed for our community to be more sustainable;

Community self-sufficiency

In early 2007 a group calling itself the Sustainable Living Network was established in Clare. The aims of the SLN are compatible with a self-sufficient community. There is a page on the site of the SLN, Living sustainably in the Clare region that is particularly relevant to the subject of this page.

Perhaps the rise in 'country markets' (or 'farmers markets') is a step toward greater community self-sufficiency. There are monthly country/farmer's markets in the Clare Valley at:

2nd Saturday each month at the showgrounds.
Seven Hill
Last Saturday of the month (not held in January).
Has a market sometimes?
We, in the Clare Valley, are well placed to achieve some degree of self-sufficiency. Most of us at least have the space for a vegetable garden and a few fruit and nut trees. Many of us have a few hectares and room for substantial gardens or moderate orchards.

Not only will an increased level of community self-sufficiency insulate the local people to some extent from the worst effects of a possible economic down-turn or depression, but it will also increase the interactivity and cohesiveness of the Clare region's society.

Companion travel

I had thought about this several times – and there was something in Perth many years ago specifically for crossing the Nullarbor – but when a neighbour told me that it is in use in Germany I decided to try to get something going in Clare.

The idea is simple; if you are going somewhere and you are able to take a passenger you add a note to a notice board. If someone else wants a lift to the same place on that day, he/she can contact you and get a lift. How the costs of travel are shared is entirely up the driver and passenger to decide, but typically the passenger would at least pay something toward the cost of the fuel used in the journey.

In Clare it could be particularly useful for travel to Adelaide. How many of us go with room for another in our cars? It is much more environmentally responsible, and cheaper as well, for two or three people to go in one car than for each to go in their own car.

Community garden

Again, this idea is not original, it has been successfully used elsewhere.

An area of land, say a hectare, is set aside somewhere in the town and then is available for people to plant their own little garden. It can be used by those who don't have room for a garden, or for those who would like to combine some gardening with some socialising.

It can be therapeutic, educational, and produce food or flowers at the same time.

Walking school bus

Instead of parents driving kids to school they walk groups of kids to school. It reduces car accidents, road congestion and greenhouse gasses, saves money, and improves everybody's physical fitness. Driving cars burns petroleum that is becoming more and more scarce, and produces greenhouse carbon dioxide.

Parents could form rosters, or take turns, or some parents might prefer to pay others a small fee – perhaps equal to what they would save on the cost of running their car. The recommended number of adults per child seems to be between one adult for three 4 to 6 year olds and one adult for six older children.

For more information see Walking School Bus.

Transition Towns

The following is extracted from the Transition Towns Primer, which can be downloaded via the Transition Towns site.

In response to the twin pressures of Peak Oil and Climate Change, some pioneering communities in the UK, Ireland and beyond are taking an integrated and inclusive approach to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their ability to withstand the fundamental shift that will accompany Peak Oil.

The Transition Network is a charity recently formed to build upon the groundbreaking work done by Kinsale, Totnes and the other early adopters of the Transition model. Its mission is to inspire, inform, support, network and train communities as they consider, adopt and implement a Transition Initiative. They're building a range of materials, training courses, events, tools and techniques, resources and a general support capability to help these communities.

The two toughest challenges facing humankind at the start of this 21st century are Climate Change and Peak Oil. The former is well documented and very visible in the media. Peak Oil, however, remains under the radar for most people. Yet Peak Oil, heralding the era of ever-declining fossil fuel availability, may well challenge the economic and social stability that is essential if we are to mitigate the threats posed by Climate Change.

The transition initiatives currently in progress in the UK and beyond represent the most promising way of engaging people and communities to take the far-reaching actions that are required to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil and Climate Change. Furthermore, these relocalisation efforts are designed to result in a life that is more fulfilling, more socially connected and more equitable.

It all sounds good to me. I'd love to see this adopted by the Clare community; if you agree and want to help work toward it, please contact me; my email address is near the top of this page.