What’s your postal carrier’s name? And 19 other questions to help you think locally.
It’s often said that the world is getting smaller, as breakthroughs in communications and transportation make it easier for us to know what’s happening in far reaches of the planet. It’s almost effortless now to swap opinions with someone ten time zones away and draw upon information from almost everywhere in deciding how to lead our lives.
Yet, paradoxically, nearby places still seem surprisingly large, full of undiscovered knowledge that can help us know the world better. Britain’s Ecologist magazine worked up a few simple questions that inspire us to explore the places we call home. As the American tobacco farmer and philosopher Wendell Berry put it, “If we could think locally, we would take far better care of things than we do know. The right local questions and answers will be the right global ones.” – The editorial staff
1. Look out your front door at the nearest tree. What species is it?
2. From where you are sitting, point north.
3. How many days till the next full moon?
4. When was your home built? What was on the site before that?
5. What was life like in the place you call home 100 years ago? 1000?
6. What is the source of your tap water at home?
7. When you flush the toilet, where does the waste end up? Where does your garbage go?
8. What spring wildflower is the first to bloom where you live? When does it usually happen?
9. Name five year-round bird species in your area?
10. Name five edible plants in your region.
11. What time of year are they best to eat?
12. Where is your nearest farmers’ market and when is it held?
13. What public services in your area are paid for by local taxes? State or provincial taxes? National taxes?
14. what direction do storms generally approach in your area?
15. When was the last time you borrowed something from a neighbour? What was it?
16. Where is the nearest source of electrical power to your home? Nearest mobile telephone tower?.
17. What is the name of your neighborhood or community ? Where did the name came from?
18. What is the furthest place you have walked to from your home?
19. When did you last talk to your postal carrier? What is his or her name?
20. How many constellations can you see from your bedroom window? When did you last look?
Taken and adapted with kind permission from The Ecologist (June 2004), a British magazine on environment and an important player in campaigns for a more humane world. More information: The Ecologist, Ecosystems Ltd, Unit 18 Chelsea Wharf, 15 Lots Road, Londen SW10 OQJ, United Kingdom, www.theecologist.org.