Wednesday, 12 November 2008


"It's no secret that we, as a society, have been losing the traceability not only of our food, but of every aspect of our lives. On any given day, chances are high I will have no idea what phase the moon is in. I cannot reliably list my brothers' birthdays, and I regularly use products that work according to principles that I cannot explain. I suspect I will go through life without meeting any of the people who make my shoes, or even seeing the factories where those shoemakers work. Like many people, Alisa and I have lost all trace of our traceability to community. We've lived five years in the same crappy apartment block, where the rent rises yearly while wages continue to flatline. We've never met the owner of the building, and we know none of our neighbours by name." (J.B. MacKinnon, "The 100-Mile Diet)

Community. We practically live on top of each other in our neat little suburban subdivisions, and literally on top of each other in the sprouting city condos. And yet we are less familiar (and often strangers) with our neighbours, our land, our city officials, our schools and our markets than the settlers of a hundred years ago who had to walk miles to their "next-door neighbour".

Is anyone else feeling the loneliness of today? It might be in large part due to the busyness we get ourselves into. Whatever happened to simple gatherings? Days when neighbourhood children would roam from backyard to backyard, tasting homemade treats and playing hide and go seek? Whatever happened to lazy Sunday afternoon picnics, or weekend barbecues, or just "stopping in" for a visit and a chat. We are notably called "bedroom communities" now, because most people spend their time home inside.

I've noticed a trend (or maybe it's always been a trend) of returning to the beloved books like "Little House on the Prairie" or "Anne of Green Gables" and the like. Our hearts are longing for those simpler times, when connections were electrified by daily encounters with friends. A time when life rolled by, and when you checked up on your neighbour instead of the stock market. I'm not blind to the problems they had back then (I wouldn't give up my flush toilet and hot shower!), and of course literature often preserves the ideals and dreams of the author. But I can see, feel something missing in our lives today, a new phenomenon we are creating that has never existed in any culture I think in all of existence.

So to all who know me, and are local (or not) - my door is always open. Drop in without calling, stop by for lunch or afternoon tea. Bring your kids - we've got a yard, they've got their imaginations, and we have all the time in the world.

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