There is an enduring set of nutritional, housing and employment challenges that can be meaningfully addressed by a variety of private and public initiatives. The one we outlined here, a Self-Reliant Neighborhood Option, has a singular advantage over almost all others. Its solution re-anchors families in a historically dominant form of local self-reliance—in a pattern of life that pre-dated the modern industrial system that has gradually undermined it. A SRN recovers that earlier pattern of local autonomy, while augmenting it with the considerable enrichments of modernity.
The SRN’s formula is simple. Humans use the tools of modernity, and some ancient ones, to transform sun, air, water, soil and bio-waste into food. It re-integrates humans into the local physiology of nature and even heals some of the wounds we have inflicted on long-suffering Earth during the last phase of industrialism.
Some of the latter are:
1) worker families displaced by our automation-driven, global supply-chain economy—even now intensified by artificial intelligence;
2) groups whose communities must be rebuilt after the climate-change-induced natural disasters or just the old fashioned ones;
3) groups chronically depreciated by historical cruelties and cultural betrayal;
4) individuals and families disillusioned by chronic political negligence and a failure of cultural imagination.
To provide safe harbor for refugees of nature, nurture and neglect we advocate further seeding the already emerging global Refuge Archipelago of ecovillages with Self-Reliant Neighborhoods (SRNs), islands of resilience, that would shadow the growth of our global supply-chain economy going forward.
In the following sections we will look at chronic ethical, economic, political and environmental requirements that can be partially met my making the Self-Reliant Neighborhood a practical option.