Plenitude: A Reflection

Reading Plenitude reminded me of an old college goal I used to have, to grow up and live in a building with my floormates. At the age of 19 when I proposed this goal, I had a foggy idea that we’d all (or most) get married eventually, yet it was far off.   Also, at 19, I had no idea about bills, or owning pots and pans.

I’m older, married, and have a child now.  However, it would still be nice to live in a triple decker with a few other like minded couples/families.  I would also love to have a few fruit trees, a bee box or two, and don’t mind wearing used clothes. It’s the community that I crave, of course.  This is yet another aspect of the sustainability movement that I love, it champions social connection.

But, upon waxing rhapsodic about Plenitude’s self-provisioning plan, my husband made a face.  “Do I have to can stuff?”  he asked.

He doesn’t fear the unknown in this case.  Last fall in New Brunswick he got a chance to can and freeze for a day at one of the organic farms we wwoofed at. Any more than that day isn’t something he wants to do.  I sympathize. Canning is hot, sweaty, time consuming, and sometimes really messy!  Self Provisioning is Time Consuming (and sometimes hard).  Modern conveniences are, well, convenient.

Even I flounder when it comes to used clothes.  Sometimes what I really want is a pair of well fitting jeans.  I don’t want to spend several months trying on ill-fitting pairs and discarding them.  After this time of searching has gone on far too long, I’m back at the mall.  Once there I remember that everything is in style, probably on sale, and maybe it’s better to just buy all new clothes anyway.

Furthermore, sometimes I just want to be really rich. Like, a couple million dollars sitting in a safe place earning a seven percent return each year.  Why?  Because it’s hard to believe in this economy, in this day and age, that some good neighbors, a little garden, and a local swap are going to bring me absolute security or happiness.  Time Banks aren’t exactly common knowledge yet.  Because I haven’t been to Europe yet, and I would like to see some castles in Germany.

Using a bank used to be risky.  Currency used to be risky.  It was for uncommon purchases.  Now money is ubiquitous and time is precious.  So we (I) hoard my time. I spend my time on myself, and so do a lot of other people.  Sure, if there were more of it, maybe we would spend it on others, but maybe we would all just use the internet a lot more.  After all, canning is work.

The transition to a Plenitude economy is all about this shift of community and money.  How do we percieve them now, and how can we change some of that perception to be more healthy.  How can be turn our economy into one that is an eco-friendly system of work, carbon usage, and consumerism.

Ultimately, this is the quote from the book that sums up my grappling with the balance issues which raises in life, between money and time, objects and people.

“Those in the vanguard of sustainability have found their purpose in helping to save the planet.  But for the vast majority of us, ecological living is not the object of our passion.  We will understand that it’s necessary and may enjoy it.  But deep meaning is found elsewhere, in family, friends, personal creativity, religion, music and art, social justice, science, business, or helping others.  Plenitude as an economic strategy cannot supply that meaning: it can only help achieve it.”


Author: Beth M

I love new ideas & information, connecting people, and discovering New England adventures.

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