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  • I was reading through the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act today, and came across the phrase:

    4:2(o) - ‘the solid-waste disposal rate will be no greater than three hundred kilograms per person per year by the year 2015 through measures that include the development of new programs and product stewardship regulations’

    ‘Stewardship regulation’ struck me as a phrase - it seemed to me to be a contradiction of terms. Though we can certainly use regulation as a catalyzing tool for building awareness and compliance, I feel that genuine stewardship comes from a place of care and respect - not one of fear of punitive action.
    The underlying question here for me was, ‘How can we incentivize stewardship in our communities?’ What do incentives look like from perspectives other than the predominantly economic incentives we currently use? Who are the local stewards and caretakers of the land from whom we can learn and disseminate our collective best practices? Are these people, communities and organizations necessarily being identified as leaders in working towards living in resilient, proud and ultimately sustainable communities?

    Much of the theory underlying Community Economic Development is based on the idea of rebuilding mutually beneficial linkages in our communities. Resilience, in this example, is a product of forming stronger linkages between local partners and communities, and more of them. Producers enforcing ‘forward’ linkages with their consumers. Consumers rebuilding ‘backwards’ linkages with producers. And all of the rest of us in between creating interwoven webs of mutual support and understanding that knit us together - both as communities, and as a vibrant local economy.

    The difference between an over-simplified and far-reaching international supply chain and a tightly woven web of local or regional economic dependencies is intuitive. A thread can break in a tightly woven tapestry without compromising the integrity of the whole system. A system based on very few threads, however strong they might seem, will suffer greatly when a thread inevitably breaks. The redundancies and social capital that we build through the intentional weaving together of our social, environmental and economic fabrics make for a system of support and growth that is not only enduring in the face of crisis or change, but is beautiful for the relationships it perpetuates and nurtures.

    Can the beauty of participating in a system of interwoven inspirations be incentive enough in itself?
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