When I was a little girl I loved Bullwinkle, especially the little cartoons within his show about a boy and his dog “Mr. Poindexter.”  If you are of a certain age you’ll remember the cartoon that taught the “reality” of a moment in time, ie. the burning of Rome, or Napoleon at Waterloo.  They traveled in time through a contraption that Mr. Poindexter, the genius dog, called the Way Back Machine.
          So if we’re looking for a “Way Back,” to an America with a hopeful future, I think we need to look back in time.  Not two decades or two centuries, but to a time when communities were strong, people were connected, and the future of a person was based upon the work they were willing to do, not what type of house they lived in.
If a person worked hard, they were respected by their neighbors and that work usually paid off in a higher quality of life.
          There was no perfect time in America. That can only be defined by one’s own viewpoint.  But regardless of where, or when, you travelled in the country at that time, you’d find families teaching “The Golden Rule,” and respect for other people’s property.
Not everyone felt that way, but the ones who were respected and valued in a town did.
How long ago was that in your community?
          Now we are faced with media telling us that we need to “buy,” things. “Retail therapy,” is not a treatment for shopping addiction. It’s a coping mechanism for stress. Who wins in that scenario?  The stores, the manufacturers and the corporations do, while the shopper then needs to hire additional storage facilities and then stresses out over the need for a larger apartment or house.
          America was strongest when downtowns were alive with constructive activity. People didn’t need “Credit cards,” because if they needed to pay over time, they asked the proprietor, not the bank.  Lay away and “Pay on Time,” were deals between friends or neighbors, not foreign financiers.  Everyone didn’t need to own a car because most of what a family needed was in reach from one car, or another means of transportation.  Commutes were a matter of a quarter of an hour, not a number of hours. If your job took you that far away, you moved there, or the worker did for a short time, until things improved at home.
          The strength of this country has always been based upon strong communities and a sense of “neighborliness.”  In recent decades we’ve lost that.  Personally I think it started when we could roll up the car windows and drive so fast we couldn’t talk to our neighbors. The porches went away, and eventually boom boxes, Walk-men, and IPhones blocked out the intrusions of life on our world.
          But meanwhile, in houses around the country, people are still basically good.
There are those who still value hard work, independence, community and the skills needed to make a high quality of life possible.  Those people have skills, and tools, that the country will need to make it “back” to that American prosperity. It won’t be “rolling in the dough,” prosperity, but it will be a sense of satisfaction, empowerment and security.  But, if we don’t gather that information and skills now, and give them a place to share it now, it will pass away and be lost forever.
          Our health and our environment need to be factored into that prosperity, and while “back then,” most people didn’t make those choices, some did. We have the knowledge now to know what we’ve done to our air, ocean and fellow inhabitants. We can all live here together, if we take that sense of neighborliness and consider how our actions affect all of our neighbors, whether they have two, four, eighteen or no legs.  That is part of what will make our prosperity truly sustainable.
          That is what we’re doing in our sustainable economy project. It’s essentially a “Way Back Village.”  Not going back in time, but looking at what we value, sharing that value with others, and keeping it accessible.  Each person can find a part of the “village” that appeals to them, and since it’s not a “Disney-esque” experience, it can be spread to anywhere else, without copyright protection.  Please visit http://www.indiegogo.com/NCSCJigsaw and help us build this “Way Back Village.” We know money is tight for everyone, but each of us needs to work to bring this country back. It’s not too late, but for our project, it’s getting close.  Help if you can. Tell others if you can’t. This is a “Way Back,” to an America where we all make a contribution, but it’s not a “how to guide,” it’s more of a road map with lots of side roads to explore.