Each focus area is connected to the others with equal importance, representing an interdisciplinary approach to creating
As a community, we affect and are affected by, a wide range of contexts, from the global economy to state and local government policy, and from the planetary ecology to regional watersheds and local ecosystems. These systems are often at odds, with global and domestic economic growth coming at the expense of the ecological health of our planet and the local ecosystems upon which we rely.
We are fed by a national, sometimes global, industrial food system that consumes vast amounts of steadily dwindling resources, pollutes our waterways, and emits around one third of the world's carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases. Building a local, farmer-driven, organic food system with a mind towards sustainability and efficient distribution builds community health and self reliance, as well as resilience to fluctuations in national and global food supplies. In addition to creating thousands of jobs, producing the bulk of our food locally will also help alleviate hunger for the nearly 50% of Mainers who are considered food insecure. Increased local food production on a broad scale will also lead to a more just and fair global food system as agricultural lands in the global south, now used for export crops, become available to those who live there to feed themselves and help alleviate hunger for the nearly one billion food insecure people on the planet.
The energy we use to heat and light our homes and businesses is tied to a global supply chain and electricity grid. As a culture we use more energy per capita than most other nations, nearly double that of Germany, and four times that of China. Building a distributed network of local and regional renewable energy production, combined with radically increased efficiency, reduces carbon emissions and increases community resilience to energy shocks and the inevitable descent of fossil fuel production. Dramatically reducing our consumption of fossil fuel also conserves valuable resources for future generations to build a robust post-carbon infrastructure.
Where and how we build our homes, businesses, and public buildings has a great effect on community health and well-being. Our current housing stock is old, inefficient and often oversized. This results in economic hardship for occupants, as well as excess resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions that affect global and local ecologies and tax future generations. By utilizing current green building technology, building at appropriate scale, using local materials and organizing our housing with access to essential services, we can increase quality of life for residents and reduce the environmental impacts of our shelter. Extreme retrofitting of existing buildings can also contribute greatly to greening our built environment and create jobs in the process.
Tied directly to the global energy and labor markets, our transportation system relies almost entirely on automobiles and paved roads, at great expense to drivers, taxpayers and the environment. Over half of all automobile trips are between one and ten miles in length. Regional and local public transportation coupled with bicycle and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure could dramatically reduce traffic on our ailing roads, reduce pollution, including CO2 emissions, increase community health and wellbeing, and empower those without the ability to own and operate a car.