What if wealth were everyone's?


Aurora borealis reflected in a lake in the mountains

When I watch the news, it’s all about what we’re lacking and what’s going wrong. It feels paralyzing. The problems are so big, how can we possibly address them? We are depleting our resources, warming up the planet and fighting with one another about all of it.


Collective Wealth

But what if we turned this around? Let’s take our natural resources, for instance. What if, rather than seeing resources that other people are exploiting (because I’m not the one doing it, right?)… What if we saw this as wealth to steward? Collective wealth. Our wealth.


Take water, for example. I never gave it a thought. I turn on the tap and water comes out. Every time. Any time. But what if we thought of water as a currency? Now when I turn on the tap, I’m watching my wealth literally run down the drain. I quickly turn off the faucet. And I find better ways of doing things to use less water.

Water is precious. Water is life. And there are things I can do every day to steward the water we have.


Now, just think how much more powerful it would be if there were more of us stewarding this wealth. What if my entire neighborhood saw water as a currency? Maybe we combine our irrigation efforts when our vegetable gardens are next to each other. Maybe we share tips on how to use less water for our daily needs. Maybe we decide together that rather than manicured lawns, we’d rather have a neighborhood of native plants and share seeds and gardening tips. The possibilities are endless.


Many Kinds of Wealth

Water is not the only wealth we share. Here are a few more. What would you add to this list?

  • Air – We all need clean air if we want to breathe.

  • Water – Clean water is essential for survival.

  • Food – We need healthy food for optimal health.

  • Clothing – We need adequate coverings to protect us from the elements.

  • Shelter – We all need a dwelling to live in that’s safe and sufficient.

  • Energy – We need energy for cooking, light, warmth, transportation and making the things we need.

  • Health – We get sick sometimes and we need good healthcare.

  • Knowledge – How are we increasing our knowledge and passing it on to the next generation?

  • Employment – We each need a way to put our talents to work and contribute to society.

  • Relationships – We are social creatures; we need family and friends.

  • Biodiversity – Without the vast network of plants and animals, the ecosystems that sustain us collapse and break down.

  • Green space – We all need access to nature in some form.

  • Carbon – Our carbon stores need to be balanced to keep the earth at a livable temperature – in the ground, not in the atmosphere.

  • Human Values – What are the qualities, values and ethics that create well-being?

Maybe you and your neighbors are already sharing produce from your backyard gardens. That’s fantastic! What are some other ways we can come together to steward our collective wealth?


Focus on Local Action

You see, the beautiful thing about a neighborhood or village is that we have room to act. We don’t have to wait for the government or some agency to step in and solve the problems for us. We can start addressing issues now, with who is here and with what we have.


So I’m working on ways to get this conversation started among neighbors. Here are a few Inspirations for Local Action to explore:


How would you improve them? What would work better in your neighborhood? What other modules would you suggest? Please share in the comments below or contact me directly. I’d love to hear what you think.


These ideas were inspired by Arthur Dahl and the team working on Global Solidarity Accounting, Check out their work at IEFworld.org/accounting.

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