Another thought comes to mind, this time about the ‘gift economy’.
There is without question much that is wonderful about how Hughes and company live and conduct the flow of resources into and out of their lives.
Yet I can still see much of value that could be done with large amounts of money:
– Supporting individuals and groups that work to preserve Hughes’ and others’ right to essentially withdrawl from society;
– Those working to overturn the illicit hold large corporations have on America;
– Starting businesses that provide things that many Americans buy, but in a more ecologicaly and socially responsible manner-
– from fast food (think of the positive impact – on the ecosystem and human health – if real affordable food that was truly organic was readily available to the masses could have on the entire structure of agriculture in this country.
Other countries have historically had good tasting, quality food available including ‘street food’, so why can’t we?
A few companies have made steps in this direction, but there is a long way yet to go, in how the food is produced, local sourcing, availablity, and food options.
– Start local co-ops to produce electricity generated locally via wind, small-scale hydro, locally generated solar, etc – while protecting the rights of homeowners to produce their own power wherever appropriate;
– Or a home scale alternative energy business. One offering wind, solar, and micro-hydro options would be a great resouce for people who would like to get off the grid, but don’t know where to start, or have the expertise to select and install an appropriate system for their needs.
Such a business could counsel people on the placement of windblocks, shade trees, vines against the sunny side of homes, etc that would help reduce their energy needs, or…
– An eco landscape business could help people design, install, and maintain a chemical-free yard.
Beautiful, minimal care landscaping with a focus on edible ornamentals so no one need know food is being grown- think of the possibilities!
Not just using the same old edibles that are also pretty, like fruit and nut trees, but a business like this could host open houses serving foods that many may not be familiar with: salads from the eaves of linden, redbud, and/or the right kind of mulberry;
hostakopita from those popular ornamental perennials;
other greens like sea kale, hop tips, ground elder (a very productive and attractive groundcover…
Redbud buds or pods in season (three crops from one gorgeous ornamental small tree).
And fruits like hardy kiwi, goumi, autumn olive where not restricted… The list goes on.
– Or, since many Americans no longer know how to cook with or preserve even common vegatables and fruits, cooking classes to teach them how.
A focus on perennial veg and volunteer annuals (aka wild vegetables), and unusual fruit suited for growing in the local climate could make these classes unique, and fun!
– Start a co-op roviding good, clean drinking water NOT treated with chlorine (there are alternatives) or flouride to a local community’;
Personally, I believe that public utilities like water and electricity should never have become privatized for-profit businesses.
Is the public aware that in many areas property and services they own have essentially been given away to corporations which now control their water supply?
– Start an eco-farm to produce commodities using regenerative practices.
The demand for non-GMO and true organic (even industrial organic) grains is not being met, and wherever not met, chemically farmed and/or GMOs are the only option, for instance.
– How about starting/promoting regional glass container manufacturing to replace many of the horrifically toxic plastic containers it is getting harder to get away from?
(More and more things seem to be made of plastic that need not be,while we are told we are running out of oil, the main raw material.
Glass could be recycled locally, saving on energy, and the need to convert more sand.
– Or, other uses for the tons of glass now going to waste at most landfills and transfer stations- like grinding it for use in paving; why not develop building materials like blocks or pavers from it?
Or… use your imagination to fill in the blank.
– Fund a study on how much electricity could be saved if half the single-family homes in the US planted appropriate windbreaks, shade trees, and foundation plantings to help cool the homes in summer and reduce heat loss in winter.
– and the list could go on…
Having ‘too much’ money, or more than someone thinks you might need is really about mindset, isn’t it?
Primitive living (not intended as a put down) can be much more comforable and not as back-breakingly difficult as many think (though effort is required),
but it is many steps too far for most people.
(It’s awesome how Hughes and his group avoid judging people who are at a different place!)
Yet the modern lifestyle need not be the ecological disaster it is – if goods and services were not provided with a ‘profit at all costs’ approach.
Many people would like to know how to live their lives with less of a negative impact on the environment, and their health, but don’t know how – or think they can’t afford to.
Many others are yet unaware of just how much energy was used, or rainforest destroyed, or toxins produced to make and bring them nearly everything they touch every day.
Or how many toxins they are exposing themselves and their familes to by having those things in their homes (paint, wallboard from recovered flyash, carpet, upholstry, carpet padding, furniture cushions, pressed wood furniture, vinyl flooring and shower curtians, etc).
OR that there are ecologically sound alternatives to every one of these things.
Maybe one of the challenges of the Information Age is how to get the word out to people while they are daily being bombarded with misinformation and advertising.
Anyway… love what you are doing with this site!