as we become fluent in the life we want to live, immersed in living systems, there are particular dialects we begin to pick up on. one of those is how community happens.
the isolation of recent years is particularly painful because we’re social animals, we need our herd, our flock, we cannot do this alone and we shouldn’t. community sufficiency is essential.
no surprise, the dominant economy of perpetual gain is cultured in repeating patterns that undermine community and the commons. without community, we provide a great number of fresh new markets. connection through substances, screens, shopping, we’ll meet that longing through any means, medicated, mediated if need be. we’re more likely to seek status through conspicuous consumption. in isolation we are brittle, precarious. a received vision of an independent, invulnerable self makes us a malleable customer. if this cultural-economic story says one thing, it’s that we are not enough and must continually prove our worth. we must compete to win, because people who don’t beat other people are losers.
you can see how well that story works for corporate-industrial gain. in striving to be successful, we are increasingly lonely. it’s clear that winning doesn’t make us content. i refer you to the despair of regular billionaire antics.
our fluency, then, is in our essential needs, that keen attunement to interconnection so densely woven as to support us profoundly, wrapping us up, so we breathe it in, stand firmly upon it, eating it up as we are hungry to know we are super-connected to life itself and to each other —- and so we are. we relax into it. we are held. we don’t have to do this alone. the hive mind guides us to another story, another economy. when we speak the language of community, our needs can be met.
we recognise community happening in the immediacy of everyday, local life. it may well be in conversation across the aether— but it grows in humble acts. we swap seedlings, carpool to the village, stop at the farmer’s market, chat over weather. we plan events— tour a garden, hold a plant sale, a clothing swap, a repair café, a dance. community grows, in spite of everything. it makes life wherever we support it.
when we say, everything needs to alter, urgently, to avoid the ecological-economical-collapse we are hurtling towards, what we can and must change is both theory and practice. it must be rooted in a fundamental shift toward knowing ourselves as profoundly embedded in a web of intelligent life, held in intricate and collaborative balance. and it is empowered exponentially by every act of reclaiming our community resilience, our wholeness, our enough-ness, a hyper-local, embodied, grounded, complete reinvention of how we live.
what does that look like? it is at once familiar yet resoundingly new. it may feel awkward, like learning to speak another language, a new instrument, like getting on stage, like asking for directions, like asking for help, like asking someone out. perhaps it feels rude or needy to suggest we share, that we cooperate, collaborate. perhaps it feels like being less, at first, dependent, to not own everything independently. to shift the narrative from signalling increasing independence to recognising, celebrating, practicing our interdependence.
we must be bold, yes, fearless, but it is in unexpected ways. it is vulnerable and open. it is in every act of connecting, of meeting needs reciprocally. it can look tremendously humble, or boldly transformative, it is all healing and growing. as we grow fluent in a new politics and economy of meeting needs, life-affirming patterns will happen faster, falling into place. so, we begin.
these letters are patron-supported experiments on learning to live regeneratively. today’s letter is an extended remix of an instagram post from last spring, and i give it freely to all comers. if there’s someone in your life who would resonate with my words, i’d be honoured if you’d share it. and if you’d like to engage with and encourage this work, and get access to patron-only pieces, become a letters patron. i’m grateful.