I’ve been thinking about how the community that surrounds us, the structures that has been put in place over the years, enable us to live as well as we do, and as low on the carbon foodchain as possible. We do what we can, the community supports these choices, and there is the beginnings of a model for how we all need to live in the future, if the planet is going to survive. We are far from perfect, but we are better off than most of the country.
1. We have Blue Sky power, which supports local alternative energy projects; my fee pays for Marge’s solar panels, which is good because she has better solar access than I do. There is similar program for natural gas.
2. The Bean and Grain project’s Fill Your Pantry event lets me purchase wheat, oatmeal, beans, onions—all of the winter staples—directly from farmers in bulk. How cool is that?
3. There is also an all winter farmer’s market, a CSA that allows me to jump in for the last nine weeks of the season, Sunbow farm…we can eat totally local fresh veg all year. I can even bike out to pick it up directly off the farm. Really—I could HARVEST it.
4. Allied Waste will pick up our trash twice a year and our recycling whenever we put it out. Recycling is free. They are also composting kitchen waste. We can even dispose of weird, dirty plastics at the co-op.
5. People rake leaves and pile them in the street for leaf pick-up in the fall and no one cares if I gather them all up to pile on my garden beds. Free organic matter.
6. There are sidewalks and bike paths all over town and enough people bike to work that the cars know we exist. We are a Bike-Friendly town. Corvallis does not sprawl, either, thanks to urban growth boundaries.
7. There is an ethic of repair here. We can take our old reel lawnmower down to the local hardware store, on a bike cart, and someone will sharpen the blades, replace some bolts, and tighten the whole thing up, without suggesting that we buy a new one. When we converted our garage into the dining room, Mark Meyer bought old lumber and worked as much of what was already there into the final construction as possible—and took pride in the list of recycled materials we generated later.
8. There are several excellent bookstores—new and used—and an award –winning library. There is always something to read.
9. There is green space surrounding the town. We can take an eleven mile hike through second and old growth trees, following the ridgeline. On one trail, we will see thirty species of wildflowers next weekend.
10. We are not considered weird because of the way we live. It is normal for a large segment of the population.