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"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, frogs & turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, hickory nuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hayfields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets – and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education." -Luther Burbank 1849 - 1926
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Think Global ... Act Local!

Does shipping inexpensive, nonessential, redundant products across the vast American West's desert seem strange to anyone other than me?

I drove from North Carolina to California a few years ago in order to see and experience my country -- a personal rite of passage. The insight that came through was "vast, vast, vast"! And I shook my head in wonder as one very long "salad bowl" train after another headed east with lettuce, oranges (which are also produced in Florida and Texas), military equipment, lumber, and even cattle. And then there were the steady streams of long haul trailer trucks...and airplanes.

Now I have to be very careful here, because I have a Web site that has products on it...that could easily be shipped across the country or across an ocean or two, I guess. So I'll be very careful about what I say here :-) I believe "more isn't always better" and I'm finding it very difficult to live by that principle, but the struggle is worth it...I am making some progress in living more simply and focusing on real value.

However...I still shake my head at the sheer volume we as a nation are shipping from our own backyards to consumers thousands of miles away. I even heard from one trucker that oranges are shipped from Florida to California; and California to Florida in order to get tax breaks.... go figure!

So what's the solution? Vote with your dollars and your common sense. Whenever you CAN... buy local, produce local, support local businesses who have their roots firmly planted in their communities and who care about more than gross profits.

The following book might give you some ideas of how you can incorporate "local common sense" into your everyday activities:

Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age
by Michael H. Shuman,
The Free Press, 1998, 306 pp.

Shuman proposes three interrelated strategies to help achieve local self reliance:

  • nurturing home-grown businesses that provide goods and services to meet basic needs and reduce dependence on imports,

  • developing mechanisms to support and increase the local ownership of businesses,

  • and channeling local savings and investment capital into building the local economy.

Local self reliance has been the norm throughout most of human history. A community more in control of its own well being when it provides for many of its own necessities. It can also prosper economically by retaining within its own borders the jobs and income generated by these activities.

So when you buy plants for your backyard...or birdfeeders...or benches...or invest your savings, think local first. IF you can make a difference in supporting the important people around you, give it some consideration.

Locals can see when trees are being decimated...and wildlife thinning out...and water is being contaminated. And they can celebrate together when the Bald Eagle returns...and fish spawn in their local lakes.

Long distance ownership was largely responsible for the Dust Bowl that decimated the Great Plains and is still causing the loss of our precious skin of top soil. Local people with strong local support can use less intensive processes to reclaim their land, nurture their soil, and grow healthy communities for all life to flourish.

Enjoy a nature break...and discover a local resouce you would like to support with your encouragement and dollars.

Carolyn Allen
Backyard Naturalist

For more articles about CONSERVATION & GARDENING

When is a plant a weed?
Saving Topsoil
Controlling Slugs and Snails
California Heritage Gardens
Walk Gently with the Earth
Weather and Temperature are Linked to Landscaping

For more articles about ENJOYING NATURE

Botanical Garden Links
California Poppy Reserve
The Botanical Garden and Montreal Insectarium
America's Ecosystems
California Poppy Reserve
California Agritourism