This concept is a core value for us, and we recognise that it can have different meanings for different people. So it is best that we define what it means for us.
Self-reliance in a general sense is about reliance on one’s own capabilities. It is about being capable, and in control of our needs and aspirations, rather than being reliant on others to provide them. We would add to this that it refers as much to families, villages, communities and bioregions as it does to individuals.
We don’t subscribe to individual self-sufficiency, which leads to struggle. We have a lot stronger sense of interdependence, and mutualism, where we support our families through strengthening the whole.
Initially this seems rather daunting for those used to living within the existing system. However, as we slowly open up new ways of doing things, and gain confidence from achieving small steps, we achieve further confidence in our ability to achieve our larger goals. Those of us who have been involved in the pioneering stage of this village have the experience required to grow all of our own food, and we largely do so.
We have also experienced the effect of ‘real’ food on our personal health. This experience is very empowering, and it instills in us yet more confidence to further our goals.
These goals include developing:
- Seed saving programs and plant cultivars, to create food suited to our environmental conditions
- Permacultural methods to replace systems that require fossil fuel
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), to efficiently keep our village healthy
- Energy-efficient home building, largely from local or reclaimed materials
- Local energy sources, e.g. biofuels, solar and wind harvesting
- Appropriate technology use, from available material, but independent of the need for perpetual industrial system outputs
- Local currencies and financial support systems
- Livelihoods for everyone within the village, which support, and are supported by, the Wairoa community/bioregion