Ever put together a jigsaw puzzle where every piece is colored the same? I hate them. But it seems like assembling a sustainable community is just as difficult. Certainly not because we all look the same. I think it’s that we all think we look different than we do. Unlike a regular puzzle, human pieces have the ability to disagree and keep trying to move.
“I’m not one of those people,” they say.  “I belong over here.”
“But honest Mr. Ed Piece.  We need you there because you stand strong.  You’ll still be touching those other pieces, but without out right here, that other little piece sticks out and gets in the way.”

So you think you’ve got Mr. Piece to stay put, and suddenly he’s moved across the puzzle with a drink in his hand, talking to that other Mr. G Piece with a drink in his hand, keeping the other pieces from getting into their places. If only you could get everyone to see the “big picture,” to understand how they all fit together.

Now, of course, communities don’t fit together that way, but each person plays more than one role in the community, and often times they don’t recognize how important they are to the overall success. One critical part of a sustainable community is that it is not just about how the community works right now, but how long it can sustain that level of functioning.

How many times do we each say “why can’t ‘they’ look ahead?”  when we see politicians making decisions. It is so obvious that some of their decisions are not successful in the long run. But they are so busy dealing with the fire in front of them that they don’t take the time to assess how it will work in a year or two. “That will be someone else’s problem,” seems to be their response to that concern.

Well, a sustainable community needs to be long term functioning one.  But for that to happen, it has to be a community project. That community is not limited to a specific town limit. We need to look within “Food sheds,” “Fiber sheds,” “Job sheds” and “interest sheds.”  Where are the people who need those things, or share those things? How interesting are we, as a community, to make sure they notice us? If towns want to thrive, we need to look outside the “edge pieces,” and look at the whole picture, beyond our borders, into a new balance.  Got any suggestions to get that idea out there?

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