Why Community is Necessary in Aligning with Nature
When I first entered the environmental movement, I 100% believed that safety would come from fixing our broken food system.
- About 1/3 of the world's food being wasted before it’s even consumed
- Agriculture being responsible for 75% of deforestation worldwide, and
- Agriculture being the largest contributor of non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions
...there is indeed a lot to improve.
But when we look at Nature we can see that the real source of safety and resiliency is in Community.
Let’s look at the dynamics of a forest - the leaves fall, decay, create fertility for new life. But that tree is not acting alone. There is actually a full community of creatures and cultures that are working in the system to move the process along.
Worms, pill bugs, ants, mycelium, bacteria, yeasts, squirrels, birds… All playing their parts in the greater whole.
Different trees can actually communicate between one another using mycelium (kind of like the root system of fungus, where mushrooms are the fruiting bodies) to transfer water, carbon and nutrients. They’re working together as a community, not a single tree competing with all the other trees in a forest.
If you go to a tree in a healthy environment and dig into the ground you will see the white threads of mycelium living alongside the tree.
In aligning with Nature, it is clear we need community to survive and thrive.
We can see this in one of the fundamental tenets of permaculture - to share the abundance.
Anyone with a fruit tree (or basil plant) in their yard knows why this is fundamental. When that tree is producing fruit, you don’t know what to do with all of it! You LOVE avocados but if you have hundreds on your tree ready to be eaten at one time, you have to share the abundance.
The beauty of this is when you work within your community to fill each other’s needs.
You have that avocado tree and basil plant, another has a goat, another person loves making natural soaps, someone loves to take beautiful photos, or has a booming tomato plant, or hunts, and another like to make jams, somebody builds websites…
With community you don’t have to do everything - you are working together and sharing the overflow.
Realize that you don’t have to do this alone, and as a tribal species, we aren’t meant to do this alone.
Another example is in co-planting in your garden. By thinking about the community that is your garden bed we can plant things that play nice with each other instead of competing over the same nutrient needs.
In our personal lives we need to identify our own needs for community. Seeing that friendships with people of different ages brings both wisdom and perspective. And of course not pressuring our partners into being solely responsible for our experience of the love, happiness, and fun.
As I’m sure you are already seeing, there are a lot of ways to strengthen community in our lives. Here are few great places to start...
Buy Local: Buying from local businesses ensures more money is kept within our communities, which helps to build up and enhance our community.
Where do you purchase most often? Do you buy lunch everyday? Where do you grocery shop and buy your clothes? Where do you socialize?
Swapping out the places that you purchase from, from corporate to mom-and-pop, is a very simple way to strengthen your community. And ultimately in the process you will make connections with people who live around you. Strengthening the network.
Create More: Another way to say it is become a pro-sumer - someone who not only consumes but produces as well. What can you create in your life? You can discover a lot of fun new hobbies through asking this question.
Maybe it’s learning to can, garden, woodwork, or hunt. Maybe it’s writing poetry, making art, or giving massages. Maybe you start actually doing all of those DIY projects that you have pinned in your Pinterest board (yes you).
Share the Abundance: Once you create (or grow or forage) it is now time to share. Go onto Facebook and find some Facebook groups for your local area that Swap or DIY. This is a rich pool of community resources. Not only is this a great way to make new friends (community), you also get to share your creations and relish in the abundance of others.
Go Outside: We are not simply supported by humans, we are also supported by the myriad of species that surround us everyday. Start familiarizing yourself with your local flora and fauna. The stunning flowers, frantic squirrels, bird calls, seasonal changes, the way the light hits your yard at different times of day…
All of this will connect you deeper with Nature and expand your definition of what being supported actually means.
The Earth provides so much for us. Nourishment and nurturing. Obstacles, challenges, and opportunities to grow. So much beauty.
Samantha June Schiebold is a guide, a writer, and a devotee of Earth. She co-founded the permaculture design & education firm, Living Earth Systems, and she expresses her intuitive gifts through her Dirty Alchemy mentoring program.
Just like composting transforms the old and dead into new vibrant life, the dirty alchemy of aligning our life with the earth and reintegrating fractured parts of our Soul allows the parts that are not serving us to transform and unveil what was under the surface all along.
You can follow along on her zero waste, locavore journeys on Dirty Alchemy, Facebook, and Instagram.