Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pagan Utopias

Blessings, Darlings!

Back in the day - during a previous recession that particularly hit the Rust Belt during the Reagan Administration - lots of Pagans (and others) had Back To The Earth, let's all get some land and have a communal agrarian utopia plans.  Not me.

My Utopian plans were always different.  Always suburban or even urban.

In the '80's it was sort of this:  Rust belt homes were cheap.  I used South Bend as an example, since I knew the city well (my in-laws lived there, and my father-in-laws parents before them).  The city had a major university (a little place called Notre Dame) (I AM an Elitist and value access to a great library), and was on a rail line to Chicago for museums, concerts, etc.  A Levitt 2 bedroom house with a basement, some 625 square feet of finished space, on a small lot, with a detached one car garage, ran about $22,000. In 12 square blocks of my in-laws neighborhood alone there were 20 such houses available along with a few larger ones.

Get 10 pagan 'families' to move there.  "Family" was a flexible term, meaning 'groups of pagans who would buy homes', they could be just friends, or married, or have whatever relationships they chose.  Some would get jobs in the city or at the university.  Others would start their own businesses, in the neighborhood, helping revitalize the area.  And the group would incorporate to buy one more house, to be used as a Pagan Place of Worship ... and maybe be a communal kitchen and maybe a child care center or such.  Some of the tiny yards would include organic gardens and tiny orchards.  Others would have swing sets, for we'd be THE place for local kids to hang out.

As a group, we'd have 10 - 20 children in the local public schools, scout troops, little league teams in a few years.  We'd be 10 active families in the local PTAs.  From there, we'd have a heck of a voice, and maybe an elected member, on the school board.  Twenty familes, in one area, active in politics.  We might even agree on one or two items, and work together to get the city to move on that item.  Each family active in one or two outside organizations - friends of the library? Scouts? Little league?  La Leche League? Local politics? Active at the hospital? At the rape/domestic violence center? Environmental groups?

Being an active pagan group, more pagans would come to the area, seeing it as pagan friendly.  Pagan influence would grow, blessing the city more and more.  Asatruar in work ethic, Druid in scholarship, holistic and environmental in outlook, we'd end up spreading blessings and economic renewal throughout the city, then county, then state.

That was my fantasy in the '80s.

Time passed.  I ended up outside of Baltimore, MD then Washington, DC, not in the rust belt.  The fantasy evolved. 

Now it revitalized an area of row houses.  Gardens were gone, but we'd be active in organic Community Supported Agriculture.  Still, local and homebased businesses, families active in the community, would bring renewal.

Now, it's Detroit and its environs that is the go-to city to show the evils of the recession (although the Washington Post over the past few years has been following Elkhart, Indiana, ironically under 20 miles from South Bend).  Could these or similar plans work there, now?

I'm not sure.  The economic base of the city, including city services, is far worse than things were in previous recessions.  It's not clear that starting from the grass roots of one neighborhood can do much, when basic services are cut across the city.  One improvement is that home based businesses now can easily rely on the internet for sales, and not be dependent on the local economy and local sales.  So they would still help the local tax base.  OTOH, starting local small businesses aimed at local clients would be harder to start, and the idea of  having some 'team members' get local jobs might not be possible.

But it sure is interesting to think about.

Frondly, Fern

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