Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chapter 5: Celebrating Assets and Creating a Vision

In this chapter Hallsmith identifies the process by which a community can gain an understanding of its inner workings to develop a more sustainable way to meet its needs, as well as ways to create a comprehensive plan that addresses the needs of the present generation and protects resources for future generations. Hallsmith provides several examples of communities that have created comprehensive plans and tastes of the results from their plans.

The one question that lurked in the back of my mind as I read this chapter was, “Is it really possible?” This is a question for which I have no answer, but one I hope will become more apparent in the decades to come. Hallsmith’s lofty goal of creating community plans that require pooling resources and working together for the greater good does not address the basic and insidious value of selfishness that exists throughout humanity. While she does note the presence of “profit-at-all-costs, consumption-driven ideals” in Western society, she does not address the more basic need and desire that drives such a lifestyle (94). As noted in The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, biology may create the basis for putting the needs of oneself, and one’s genetic relatives above others. Breaking down the evolutionarily created boundaries to cooperation among large groups – when there is no immediate danger – has been an ongoing struggle of human culture, and one for which I am skeptical.

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