Guide Bioregionalism

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You might find them lobbying their city to free a major creek from its underground pipelines so it can once again bubble free, a servant to the beauty and health of its local ecosystem.

Bioregionalism - Wikipedia

You might find them corresponding with people in a comparable bioregion four thousand miles away to share innovative ways to use a local bush in housing construction. You might find them passing around copies of "The BioRegional Quiz" to their neighbors, with questions like:. When you turn on your faucet, where does the water come from?

Can you trace it back to local storm systems? When you flush the toilet, to what body of water does that effluent go? From where you are sitting, point north. How many days until the moon is full?

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What plant or animal is the "barometer" of environmental health for your bioregion? Living bioregionally doesn't mean, however, that a northern dweller could never again eat bananas, grapefruit or kiwi, or lettuce, spinach and tomatoes in winter. The bioregional vision includes local greenhouses, solar-heated, in which such warm-weather foods could be grown. Amory and Hunter Lovins are demonstrating how well this idea can work in their mountaintop home in the Colorado Rockies, the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Bioregionalism is not about deprivation or severely limiting your choices. It's about making sure that the choices you make strengthen your local ecology, economy and culture rather than harming them.

Cosmopolitan Bioregionalism

Isn't local culture a bit provincial, though? The idea of "local culture" and "local economics" and "supportive community" are equated in many people's minds with suffocating small-town life, with its lack of privacy, gossip and busybodies, as well as perceived lack of opportunity for jobs and leisure activities. A person who chooses to live in a smaller community and forego the supposedly endless opportunities and freedom of modern, high-tech urban life is often considered backward and parochial, and certainly not cool.

We live in a dominant culture that seeks to draw as many people as possible into the urban high-consumption lifestyle and to wipe out differences between regions, replacing them with a monoculture of consumerism and Hollywood entertainment. In this type of culture, a locally-centered life is labelled parochial and old-fashioned.

This image is one that the global economic forces continually reinforce, since locally based economics not only does not fit with the global vision, but is actually a threat to it. The image of local culture as provincial actually does reflect many people's real experiences of suffocating small-town life, however, and it is worth taking some time to examine this issue. Even though bioregionalism does not by any means envision the elimination of cities, it does advocate close-knit communities of mutual support and interest, and this sounds to some people like the fishbowl existence of small towns they came to the city to get away from.

Here are Voluntary Simplicity five arguments that are often raised against bioregional consciousness.

1. Bioregionalism

It may be necessary to make a major paradigm shift in terms of what we think locally-centered life is like. What would a bioregional community look like? The bioregional vision is not monolithic, but the following snapshots describe what my vision of a healthy locally-focused bioregional community would look like.

Economy Food is fresher and more healthful because it is transported at most a couple of hundred miles to your table, rather than the 1, miles that is the current average. You probably know, or at least know of, the people who make the products you use. These companies are part of the community, and have a stake in making quality products and not polluting the neighborhood.

Businesses devoted to cleaning up the messes left behind by polluting industries employ many people.

Workers feel more connected to the locally owned company they work for and they are less at the mercy of market forces thousands of miles away, such as downward pressure on wages because of lower wages being paid to workers in another country, or downsizing done to reduce expenses and increase return for investors. Co-operatives, collectives and other variations on worker or consumer ownership of companies are encouraged in a locally-based economy.

These different styles of ownership change the way businesses operate, making them more committed to the community. Relationships that have become commodified and monetized can return to the community--activities such as caring for the elderly and the very young, some aspects of health care and some aspects of education.

People bypass the money economy completely by trading or bartering skills and services informally with each other. Big money and special interests have much less power.

source site Communities are cohesive, neighborliness increases and people help each other more, with small and large problems. More people are involved in the education of the community's children because they see it as their obligation to provide help to children who seek it from them and in doing so to prepare the next generation for participation. Local culture flourishes: music, art, drama, storytelling, games that arise from the local community and the people's sense of connection to their environment and each other.


Communities decide to support local artists, as well as other occupations they value. People are healthier because they are not steeped in human-made chemicals and they are not subject to the inhumane stress of a corporate, global economy. Ecology People know and cherish their surroundings, and schools teach children their connection to the features and creatures that make up their place and the importance of taking good care of them.

Pollution is not tolerated; companies that do it are quickly reprimanded and even boycotted. Everyone understands that all the things they have--house, clothes, appliances, products of all sorts--are made originally from the Earth, and they treat everything with care and do not over-consume. Restoration of damaged areas is an ongoing project for schools, civic organizations and individuals.

Planting trees and gardens, dismantling dangerous, unsightly abandoned industrial areas and constructing greenways, bike and foot paths and other inviting outdoor spaces occur in cities and towns. People recycle nearly everything; very little waste is generated that must be burned or buried.

Everything that households and businesses recycle is made into new products. Most households have gardens for growing some of their own food. Very few places other than playing fields have large expanses of grass, and people do not use chemical weed or insect control.

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Nearly everyone has a compost pile for yard and food waste. Many homes have small greenhouses. There is no longer a distinct separation between "ecology" and "economy. Taken from: Great River Earth Institute.