On the news this morning John Key said that our prosperity depended on ‘global growth’ . While ‘global growth’ may make some countries prosperous, it also means using more and more of the earth’s finite resources to create goods that have a short lifespan before being discarded, to grow food that is largely wasted, weapons to maintain world peace, and enough oil to tip our whole world into annihilation.
One of the many problems with the concept of ‘growing the economy’ is that it depends on each country selling more, and buying more as well. Germany is faced with ‘market saturation’ where it has produced more than it can sell. Its growth is dependent on the ability of other countries, like Greece, to buy more goods. Where one country grows, it is usually at the expense of other countries.
One of the major trends in the last twenty years is that small self-sufficient communities have been forced to change to producing large-scale goods for global economies. When Fonterra products are sold in South Korea, the farmers there go out of business. Local economies suffer, unemployment increases, and there is a pilgrimage to the cities.
John Key’s ‘growth strategy’ has not benefitted most of New Zealanders. The poverty gap has widened. It is harder for local businesses to compete. And the government has been making it harder for those out of work or struggling on minimum wages to even get by.
Ōtaki as a Sustainable Community
Ōtaki is fighting back.
The presentation by Rod Oram at Ōtaki College had 120 people attending, and the breakfast the next day had 80 participants. He was talking about how Ōtaki had started to become self-sufficient in its energy needs. Energise Ōtaki, the ginger group that sponsored Rod, is developing a number of innovative businesses and strategies to do with waste disposal and energy efficiency. Ōtaki College has changed its science and technology syllabuses to focus on alternative energy and innovation, and the school is itself moving to being completely self-sufficient in its energy needs. And a new cooperative has been launched, called Coastal Energy, to help homes and businesses to change. Te Wananga o Raukawa is actively working towards a range of sustainability and community building measures.
Sustainability means more than energy, however. It means making full use of the immense human and physical resources of the community. This might include growing our own produce, sharing tools and expertise, getting to know your neighbours, buying local products, and even getting together a local currency. It means the community coming together to plan its future and the imagination and pathways to get there.
For more ideas check out the Sustainability Show on Community Access Radion 104.7FM. During each month there will be several repeats of interviews on different aspects of sustainable living.
In December Mojo Morris will discuss Maori initiatives on the coast and through Aotearoa.
If you are interested in playing an active role in moving towards a self-sustaining community in Ōtaki, then come to one of the meetings of Transition Town Ōtaki. For our next meeting you will need to bring an axe, a spade, a slasher, a grubber, a mattock, a whacker or a good pair of hands. You will also need to bring a morsel for a shared Christmas lunch. The group will meet on the road at the north end of the beach at 11 o’clock on Sunday 13 December, for an hour of cutting down the lupin that are invading the foreshore. After that strenuous activity the group will move to the Waitohu Stream and Dune Care Nursery for a Christmas potluck lunch. We welcome you with strong arms and an open heart.
What is Transition Town Ōtaki?
TTO is a group working towards a sustainable community. It links with Energise Ōtaki, the Sustainable Food Group and the Thursday morning seasonal fruit and vege stall in Main St, as well as the West Tararua Timebank. TTO runs a mulcher club, with a community mulcher available to anyone after a short training. It holds regular gatherings at members’ homes or local venues. Topics are relevant to the theme of sustainability—food, energy, housing, education, climate change. Membership is free and open to all. For further information check Transition Town Otaki the web-site.