Above photo: Volunteers clear the fence adjacent to the new orchard. Many hands make light work! From Philly Orchards Project.
The United States’ largest problems — job loss, wage cuts, foreclosures, crumbling bridges, medical costs, school taxes, pollution, crime, hunger, national debt and war — each have many solutions. Real solutions do not wait for government or corporations. They depend on each of us, starting where we live, with whoever is ready to begin.
For 45 years, I’ve responded to news with solutions. When I hear bad news, my reflex is to imagine a solution, design it, then begin it. Guided by common sense alone, and without waiting for precise diploma, I’ve started 20 organizations and campaigns.They provide practical alternatives for food, fuel, housing, health care, urban design, education, transportation, sanitation, finance, and jobs.
Millions of lively patriots are already enjoying building a new America. We find that creative cooperation is much more fun than helpless anger. We’ve met wonderful folks we would not have met. We’ve planned and partied. We’ve made life easier for many.
When I start a group I offer leadership to find the people I want to follow. I set the table; they bring the feast. My organizations have united thousands of individuals, plus hundreds of businesses and nonprofits. They weave new safety nets. They move us beyond charity to ownership.
Grassroots initiatives can spark national and global news, useful news that encourages people to take power over their lives. News that show government what we want and how to do it. Our stories are broadcast by “solutions journalists.” By contrast, horrible news encourages fear and rage. It sells advertisements. Whether liberal or conservative, crisis news merely spreads distrust between Americans who all need secure homes, healthy food, good work, good schools, good sex, and lower prices.
Therefore it takes great people to make a great nation. People who quit griping and take action. People who make special effort to reach out. Personally, I’ve become less concerned about who is president than who is present. Because a nation of people who are ready to pitch in together —regardless of political party, race, gender or religion— can override the rulers and own the future.
Many years ago I walked across the USA from Boston to San Diego, entirely on foot. I befriended generous Americans of every style. Crossing forests and deserts, often without a map, I learned that even when lost in the dark there is always a path.
Paul Glover is founder of Ithaca HOURS local currency, Citizen Planners, Philadelphia Orchard Project, Health Democracy, League of Uninsured Voters, and more organizations. He is author of six books on community solutions, and a former professor of urban studies who consults as Greenplanners. http://paulglover.org