A New Year’s Vision for 2014

IMG_4297 copyAs the year wheels slowly to a close, I am distracted and repelled by the frantic pleading coming into my email inbox…it seems that every nonprofit and political organization I have ever expressed the least interest in is desperately vying for a few pennies from my ever-shrinking purse.

I too have been fundraising these last few months, trying to raise enough money to sustain the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, which I founded on a shoe-string and a dream three years ago.  The more successful it becomes, the more time it takes to organize, and the more money is required to keep the wheels turning.

I certainly understand the need to seek funds to support these worthy endeavors, and yet I find myself wishing there was some other way.

Wouldn’t it be a better use of my time, talents and energy to focus on creating the vibrant programs the Festival is known for, rather than constantly having to cast about for financial support?

And what is true for me must be true for the organizers of all these causes that are flooding my inbox with urgent last-minute appeals for funding.

This New Year’s Eve, let me pause to envision a social landscape in which people are encouraged to do what they’re best at doing—whether it’s planting a tree or building a house or writing a poem—without having to worry about whether or not they will be paid in cash for their labor.

What if good ideas could just grow vigorously like weeds in the warm, pungent, nurturing earth of collective human society?

What if instead of all fighting amongst each other to be heard and rewarded for our cleverness, sex appeal and charm, we worked graciously together to create the vast interlocking human machine of collective creative endeavor, each of us contributing the pieces we do best and knowing we’ll be fairly rewarded for work done well?

What if instead of working for dollars and cents, we worked for goods and services that we needed, on a barter system to which everyone could contribute and rely on?

I know this is a pie-in-the-sky fantasy, but on this night, when the Earth wheels around the Sun into a brand new calendar year, I want to allow myself to dream big—to imagine that the impossible could come true.

What a beautiful world it would be.

Happy New Year everyone!

Leave a comment


  1. Well, your dream would only be possible in a society where competition is replaced by cooperation, individualism/egoism are replaced by social responsibility, and personal property rights are less important than the common good.

    US-society evidently develops in the adverse direction but nobody can hinder you to organize together with friends your micro-society, starting as a small circle of dedicated and idealistic people, welcoming everybody who is ready to join and thereby growing steadily.

  2. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  January 1, 2014

    Thanks for your encouraging words, Mato! Just last night, I was talking with good friends about finding some land and building Earthships together. It may happen yet!

    I have been enjoying reading your accounts of your gardening and preserving the fruits of your labor. Last night we had tomato sauce from my garden, and roasted peaches from our peach tree…pretty wonderful to pull those out in the depths of winter! If I had more time, I would like to learn how to can, rather than freeze, these kinds of items. I am resisting getting a second freezer, it seems like such an energy drain….

    All best wishes to you for the New Year! May our visions manifest and bloom!

    • On the web there are various recipes fort canning, all very complicated and energy-intensive. I just thoroughly cleaned the glasses, pureed the tomatoes in a blender and boiled them in a big pot, poured the hot tomato-soup into the glasses and closed them air-tight. The glasses are now on a shelf in the basement and I check them every few days.

      Until now I discovered three glasses to be infected with fungi, but it was only a thin white film at the rim and after I removed that the tomato-soup was still perfect for consumption.
      If I would have followed the complicated procedures of the experts I could have avoided such fungal infection but at the cost of excessive energy use and with no practical benefit.

      A state of the art freezer is well isolated. I use only chest (top loading) freezers, they are more energy efficient. I have my freezers (as well as the shelves for the canned food and the apples) in the basement in an isolated room on the northern side of the house. The temperature there is now at freezing point and the energy consumption of the freezers is negligible. I will always use both methods (freezing and canning) to get me through the winter.

    • leavergirl

       /  January 8, 2014

      Jennifer, earthships were developed for the dry climate out west. There is one at Earthaven, and having serious moisture seepage problems in its berm wall, crumbling plaster and such. Beware of falling in love with an idea… talk to folks who know what works for your climate… an ounce of prevention and all that. 🙂

  3. Jenny, I just LOVE this post. It is so pure and true and visionary… I (and I’m sure many) feel similarly inundated and frustrated on both sides of the fundraising frenzy. There was a pretty active local service barter group… I’ll see if I can find out if it’s still active and how it works. It’s not totally hopeless and frankly, I do believe eventually such a system will evolve. But Moto is certainly right… competition, ego, and greed currently reign. Thanks for sharing these thoughts and ideas… Hope lives 🙂

  4. Jennifer,
    I too have envisioned a world without money. I can see it working perfectly…beautifully, in fact. People doing what they are good at doing, what they love doing, what they see true value in doing…and sharing the fruits of this work with others who have different skills and interests. I won’t go into the details now, but I actually have thought at some length how such a society would work on a large scale. To be honest, I thought about the details
    (in contrast to the idealistic vision) because so many people told me it could never work. So, I simply want to affirm this “big dream” of yours. I think it can become a reality. I even think there will be a time when anthropologists and historians look back on the way we live now and try to understand how humanity could have taken such a sad and dangerous turn.
    Keep dreaming big…the world needs dreamers!

  5. Carole Spearin McCauley

     /  January 6, 2014

    Dear Jenny, Yes, I too get discouraged by all the email pleas and phone calls for charities and causes. I try to choose about 8 that seem most useful each year, inc. BWWF and the Grail women’s movement that works in about 20 countries, esp at Grailville, Loveland, Ohio where I worked two years as publicity director, choral singer, office cleaner, tour leader,etc. Cheerful New Year to you! Hope to see you and other folks in March.


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