Friday, September 10, 2010

A loving, caring community? You must be kidding.

Community: a group of interacting organisms sharing an environment.
I'm getting tired of being criticised, both explicitly and implicitly, for lacking community spirit.

The people I know who are suddenly very scared about the state of the world seem compelled to tell me what I should be doing, and what I need to be doing, in order to create a cohesive and loving local community. Because, according to them, I need my community. (Most of these people are infatuated with Rob Hopkins' Transition Towns concept).

But, in reality, my local community provides nothing that I need.

And, moreover, I'd much rather curl up in bed with Leo Tolstoy (after a day spent working with plants, animals, and words) than spend even the briefest amount of time in the company of most of the people who live in my community. (There are some awesome exceptions to this generalisation, but even they come under the category of "like", not "need").

You see, where I live, I am surrounded by uneducated morons with whom I don't see eye to eye on anything. These are people who, for example, think that global warming is some kind of communist conspiracy, and who can't see anything wrong with spraying pesticides in the creek at the bottom of our shared hill.

I don't have the time, the energy, or the patience to educate these people, which is probably just as well, because they clearly don't have the inclination, or, dare I say it, the intellectual capacity, to be educated. (For the most part, their collective conversational repertoire consists of one highly versatile syllable: "Uh").

Case in point: we're most of the way through building a tiny straw bale house, complete with a greywater system which drains into a reed bed, as well as a government-approved waterless composting toilet (it's a Rota-Loo, for anyone who's curious). Every aspect of this development has been approved by our council.

We've had a lot of rain recently, which partially filled the still-empty reed bed trench. In order to line the said trench with the council-required geo-textile fabric and plastic, we had to pump the fresh rainwater out of the trench. For that job, we hired our local builder's fire-fighting pump.

Here's a picture of our dog, Louis, playing in the resultant spray of water:

No sooner had we come inside from playing in the water than the phone rang. It was our local health inspector, calling to inform us that one of our neighbours had just been on the phone to her, complaining that we were spraying raw sewage into the creek, and that it stank.

To use the local lingo: Uh?

To be fair, the fact that our fresh rainwater "stank" at least goes to show that our neighbours are not completely devoid of imagination. Nor is their vocabulary quite as small as I thought.  

However, the simple fact is that we don't produce liquid sewage here (thanks to our waterless, composting toilet), but if we did, we certainly wouldn't be spraying it into the creek ... let alone frolicking in a high-powered stream of the stuff with our dogs.

It's moments like these that I feel even more annoyed by my community than usual.

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