The WELL Vision (Willits Economic LocaLization) is an inspiring example of a small town taking current events to heart.
In 2004, a number of the residents of Willits, a town of around 13,000 people a little north-west of San Franciso, were introduced to the documentary The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of The American Dream (view " target="_blank">promo). The award-winning documentary struck a chord with enough people that they started to work together to examine, and adjust, how their town functions. Their mission today is:
... to foster the creation of a sustainable, local economy based on the principles of sufficiency, responsibility, and life promoting actions. -- willitseconomiclocalization.org
Faced with peak oil, and a growing sense of vulnerability in a massively centralised, globalised economy, this is a town that is trying to shore up defenses against an uncertain future. And, more than that, as the townspeople re-evaluate their priorities, they're laying the foundations for a happier community, and a healthier, more fulfilling life for its members.
WELL provides a positive vision that runs counter to many disturbing trends in our society.The site also lists other sustainability-oriented towns, like Ballard, Washington, Tompkins County, New York, Lansing, Michigan, and more. It's great to see this kind of progress. We would do well to watch and learn:
Few people have control over basic necessities in their lives. Multinational corporations don't care about our town. Distant government agencies don't know what we need. Being dependent on non-renewable resources from politically unstable parts of the world threatens our security. As responsible adults, we'd rather face reality and do what is necessary to avert catastrophic climate change, mass extinction of species, and the loss of democratic freedoms.
Although some are galvanized by perceived threats, many have also realized that the process of localizing our economy gives us an opportunity to focus on our shared values and develop friendships. We find ourselves building a stronger, more caring community. We are seeking creative ways to become economic partners with each other and our environment. The goal is to find creative methods to sustain and empower the local community while moving away from global (imported) resources -- in essence, to 'localize' our community.
... We are dependent on a global economy that depletes resources and damages ecological systems. Many of us desire a simpler life, more in tune with our neighbors and local landscapes.-- willitseconomiclocalization.org