Given the small size and remote location of our mountain village in California’s Los Padres National Forest, our goal has been to consider and undertake steps to develop awareness, solutions, and projects to address how to:
- Reduce costs of heating, lighting, cooling and otherwise running our homes.
- Reduce fuel costs of traveling to and from work, shopping, medical services and entertainment.
- Create sustainable ways of living locally.
- Share what we learn about relocalizing with other rural communities, self-defined urban and suburban villages or neighborhoods also wishing to develop sustainable communities.
Let’s Live Local’s first official project was the creation of a Wood Pellet Coop in the spring of 2008; the pellet coop is now in its third year.
During the summer of 2008 we established our program priorities as food, energy, water, and sustainable economic development. That fall we organized an Organic Food Coop with a regional CSA, Abundant Harvest Organics and in the Spring of 2009 we organized the a beef coop or Cowpool with the Darling Ranch of Cuddy Valley, a local ranch that raises grass fed beef. The various coops serve several hundred residents.
We also have six project groups: Energy, Food, Government Review, Health, Local Economic Development, and Water.
The Energy group is planning for Energy Fair August 28, co-sponsored by Let’s Live Local, the Pine Mountain Club Property Owners Association, and Southern California Edison. The theme of the energy fair is how to reduce energy costs and we hope to attract exhibits of new cost-saving technologies.
Our Food group’s role is to encourage more people to begin growing food in their backyards, decks, or patios and discover what will grow at our altitude and in our soil conditions. The group sets up field trips and offers lost skills workshops.
The Health group grew from a white paper on community health needs post peak oil written by Sarah Edwards, PhD. The group’s goal is to bring sustainable health care – now an hour away – to our community.
Our Government Review reviews governing documents and county ordinances for their impact on sustainable living, and when appropriate, informs members of what actions we need to assure they allow rather than limit sustainable ways of living.
The Local Economic Development group is applying for grants to stimulate the emergence of new or repurposed existing businesses to create a resilient, sustainable locally-based economy in and among neighboring mountain communities.
Our Water Conservation group is developing plans to work with the locally-owned water company to accommodate water collecting and water allocations to enable private home food gardens in the community.
Working with governing bodies is essential, but sometimes we feel like the sentiment expressed in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, “It’s like pulling the load of an ox, walking on egg shells.”
But by focusing on issues that are of everyday concern to most people, Let’s Live Local avoids ideological issues that might be polarizing. As a result, participants in Let’s Live Local programs come from across the political spectrum.
We believe the Let’s Live Local model is applicable in other communities.
Authors Paul and Sarah Edwards are co-founders of Let’s Live Local. They offer training and consulting. be used in other for other communities.