Sad Bad Economy good for Reusing, Less Consumption, Craigslist culture. Also, Gross National Happiness.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Oct 27, 2008
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I grew up poor—my two-job-working single momma and I ate rice and popcorn a lot, gardened, didn’t have a car most of the time, or TV (imagine!), didn’t have Christmas presents some years…but living in a first world country, in a first-rate town, my industrious ma discovered endless (free or nearly so) cultural amusements, hikes, sports, good times with sangha and friends to be had.

It was, in fact, a happy childhood rich in learning, reading, exploring and friendships.

In a culture that measures national health by economic growth—in fact, it’s how we define “progress”—an economic downturn can actually have as many good as clearly awful effects. Less sprawling development, less uninhibited debt, less heedless consumption—whether conspicuous or everyday Target/Wal-Mart casual. It forces us to redefine how we see ourselves, as did suddenly unemployed Americans in the days of selling apples on corners and listening to Roosevelt’s Fireside chats.

So, with a week before we vote in our next president, perhaps its an apt time to check out how we measure progress—and how other countries do so in a way that includes happiness, ecological responsibility, and cultural strength in the face of democratizing but too often lowbrow TV culture.

Here’s today’s Sunday NY Times’ article about the downturn giving rise to yard sales and the like, which has a particularly sad photo of a poor little girl riding a three wheeler for the last time.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


One Response to “Sad Bad Economy good for Reusing, Less Consumption, Craigslist culture. Also, Gross National Happiness.”

  1. Suzanne Lainson says:

    I’ve lived in Boulder through three recessions now. I arrived in December 1991. There were a lot of HUD condos on the market. In 1993 I bought one for my daughter to live in while attending CU. The price of the unit hadn’t risen in 6 years. Boulder had a lot of PhDs waiting tables. But people chose to live here because the lifestyle was great. If you didn’t make a lot of money, you just lived with a bunch of people in a house.

    I was writing about the dotcom boom from about 1999-2002. It was exciting and fun. After the crash, a lot of techies lost jobs and a lot of buildings were vacant around Pearl Street, but there was a feeling of reconnecting. People who had been too busy during the boom were coming out to free music on Pearl Street with their families. They had less money, but more time.

    Now I am anticipating the next recession. But the Boulder I see around me is used to getting by on the cheap. You ride bikes. You use public transportation. You know which stores offer free samples. You’re used to living in tiny places so you can live close in and won’t be having to move to cut expenses. You go to free music, use the library, sit outside by the Creek or on the Mall, use the free Wi-Fi around town, shop at the thrift stores, etc. Although many people think Boulder is only for the rich, it’s not true if you know where to look.