The best thing that has happened to ‘US’ is living through a recession. Suddenly a lot of people are like awakening from some sort of spell that was over their lives.
The conversations now are not about how much I spent, but how much I saved! People are trying to become frugal probably due to their own personal finances and hardships and lack of employment and resources; others are becoming cautious and careful with their money and use of their personal property.
But not everything is about money. People are finding real pleasure in walking, biking and getting to know their own neighborhood and finding entertainment at local parks and beaches where no or very little admission is needed.
I have seen entire families packed into a van arriving at places like Warren Dunes where out of state plates pay $8 per car. Once they arrive, the procession of coolers, bags, towels, toys, etc account for an entire day of free sun, water and fun for the whole group. Lunches, snacks and refreshment are provided by themselves.
At the end of the day they have exercised, tanned, talked and enjoyed each other’s company with a degree of intimacy and family acknowledgement that no TV show can provide.
Food stores are offering all sorts of sales and the families are taking advantage of the local crops to have fresh corn, vegetables and fruits on a daily basis. There is not much money to go around for fast food dinners, especially if the family is big. Therefore, people are eating more healthy produce than ever before.
I do not know if part of the change is due to the weather and the sad and long faces will come back with the cold, or if we are heading for a healthier change in our lives where we are more grateful for what we have and are able to enjoy it more.
I am not forgetting about the ones that are having a difficult time, but I know that people become more resourceful and ingenious when they are hit by bad times.
For example, not only Latino families are banding together to weather the expenses, everyone is doing the same. We often read about grown up children coming back to live with their parents and bringing along spouse and children. They know that is easier to pool efforts and save money, but there is an extra bonus in this change. Family bonding is taking place and especially children are benefiting from these new caring extended families.
It is too soon to affirm that new habits are developing and maybe they will not last, or maybe the new lesson for ‘US’ will help us attain more freedom due to less debt. But also because from now on we will keep in mind that not all in life is about buying and spending. For the rest of the world that has been caught in our demands for more products maybe this will give them the opportunity to regain control of their lands, products and people.
I always said that the growth of the sustainability movement in USA was the hope for the people here and abroad, what I did not suspect was that recession would be such a good ally. This is a real opportunity for growth and development for all, at the same time it gives us more freedom ‘to be’ and not just to exist as a buyer or spender.
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