Building better communities

July 20, 2011
Cindee Karns
Anchorage Press

The Transition Movement is a worldwide organization of small neighborhoods, which is forming as Transition Towns, to address some of the current problems we are facing in our country and world. It is not a political movement per se, but it suggests that we start depending on our own devices (without waiting for the government to help us) to meet the challenges that are coming. By pulling together as a community, it calls for us to start building back the neighborhoods where children played in the streets, where we borrowed a cup of sugar from each other, and where we shared conversations on the porches in the evenings.

It seems many of us don't even know our neighbors. Some of my friends say they are afraid of their neighbors here in Anchorage. Is that how we want to live? What's happened to the Alaska we used to live in? The one before the pipeline? The Alaska of my childhood, where everyone stopped to check on each other, called before they made a trip to town for groceries to pick up things for each other, visited over the back fence?

There are other issues as well. Alaska is at the end of the road. If there is another attack on our country and planes quit flying, we have four days of food on the shelves in Anchorage. We import 98 percent of our food. Would you share food with your neighbors in a crisis? Can we feed ourselves? Are we supporting our local farmers?

Another big issue is that the pipeline is running out of oil. In fact there is a global shortage of oil for various reasons, which means an increase in the cost of food, gas, and even fertilizer for our gardens. You've noticed, right? How will we live here with expensive oil? The villages are already facing this crisis.
So far Alaska has been a little better off in this economic depression than the Lower 48, but I have several friends out of work. Many experts believe this is just a rebalancing of the cost of living and that as long as we have cheap labor in other countries, we will not return to our previous levels of wealth. And let's not even talk about the American debt crisis. Right now most of our money leaves the state since it's spent at big chain stores. How can we keep our money here in Alaska? How can we increase our own wealth?

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