A recent article on the Medium website by Wendell Berry notes what he believes to be the 17 rules for a sustainable local community. Numerous communities have used Holistic Management as a tool to help improve the community development process as people develop a community project or program with the whole in mind.
One of the first rules Berry notes is anytime you are considering a proposed change you ask: “What will this do to our community?” In Holistic Management we ask, “What is the problem we are trying to address with this action? What is the root cause of the problem? How will this action lead to our holistic goal?” These questions give you more information of how to improve the outcomes you want for your community.
The second rule is to always include nature. In Holistic Management, we look at how any of our actions will affect the health and function of the ecosystem processes–the water cycle, mineral/nutrient cycle, the flow of energy from the sun, and the biological community.
Other rules Berry mentions include considering how to encourage local sources for supplying products of local need. Often we find that holistic managers are taking this action to support local businesses because of the vision statement in their holistic goal. Likewise, keeping cycles of energy or food local make sense because there are efficiencies that happen from keeping those cycles local. Just as it is more effective to keep precipitation on your land to grow forage or crops rather than use irrigation that come from hundreds of feet down, so too can local food or energy encourage thoughtful consumption and production by those more closely affected and who make different decisions because of their understanding of the consequences of their actions to their community.
A number of Berry’s rules focused on keeping the money circulating in the community. Again, this practice makes sense as research has shown that money spent on local businesses stay in the community and have three times the impact as money spent within that same community at a larger corporate business.
Lastly, Berry highlights that a community should be cooperative rather than competitive to be truly sustainable. This paradigm is critical within the first Holistic Management principle: Nature functions in wholes. In other words, we must manage our resources in such a way as to encourage the synergy that comes from symbiotic relationships–the win/win relationships that emerge from a holistic approach to collaboration.
To learn more about how you can use Holistic Management to create a sustainable community, select Caring for our Planet – Holistic Decision Making for the 21st Century from our Free Downloads page.
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