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Connected communities

Over the past century, unprecedented technological breakthroughs have advanced the development of cities and promoted a move away from agricultural lifestyles. In rural areas, farmers have embraced the economic efficiencies technology provides and the practice of monoculture has thrived. In urban areas, people have become increasingly dissociated from the source of their food and completely dependent on monetary systems as their primary resource.

How will our present lifestyles and economies fare in the future? We're well aware of the increasing instabilities in our ecological and economic landscapes, so how well equipped are we to cope with future changes? First, we depend on our environmental resources. So if, for example, a rural community is dependent primarily on one agricultural product for its income, what will happen to that community if its resource becomes threatened by disease or drought? Will it be able to adapt, or will its ability to support itself be jeopardised?

In nature, the more genetically diverse a crop species is, the less vulnerable it is to hazards.

Second, as most of our resources are exchanged for money, the ability of a community to survive depends on how much it earns. The more money you have, the more secure you are. But what happens if the value of money significantly decreases?

Here's a scary fact: the world's present currency stock is largely built on the interest created by debt. This means that the money we are spending is still not nearly matched by products in real terms. So to satisfy this exponential growth in currency, we need to keep producing ever more from our already stressed natural resources.

So, it follows that for a community, or country for that matter, to improve its resilience to adverse change it needs to ensure it has a diversity of resources, and an ability to survive independent of conventional currency systems. But how?

We can start by taking back the power of providing for our most basic of needs - food - by decreasing our dependency on systems of food production outside of our control. The new movement to "grow your own" is already increasing in popularity as a simple way of supplementing incomes during the economic downturn.

Creating other forms of currency is equally as important. Social tools like the Garden Trader on not only encourage self-sufficiency and facilitate trading, but also help people build relationships, a crucial component in creating communities.

The process of future-proofing communities is an empowering one, which is not only about ensuring survival through times of change, but also about returning to our roots while improving the quality and enjoyment of life.

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