What will Quincy look like, feel like and be 20 years from now? That is the question that was addressed Tuesday evening by folks who came together to imagine how Quincy could look in 2033.
Transition Quincy, the grassroots organization whose mission is to help a community develop its sustainability and resilience, hosted this gathering. Before the visioning process began, the group celebrated the existing efforts that have already begun. Community Connections, community supported agriculture (CSA), the farmers market, community vegetable gardens and the educational programs of Digging In, Learning Landscapes and Eat A Rainbow were some of the efforts that have bloomed in the last few years.
With the increasing awareness of climate change, decreasing natural resources and financial shifts, communities everywhere are addressing the need to prepare for greater resilience and probable descent in traditional energy use.
The group was first guided to think about Quincy 20 years from now. They were instructed to imagine the sights, sounds and feel of the community. The personal thoughts soon became a collective brainstorm that made its way onto large sheets of paper. Food became the first collective brainstorming focus.
Developing a greater foodshed — increasing the amount of local food, so that the community wouldn’t need to be dependent upon massive amounts of food being transported from great distances — started the vision. The gathering saw the need to encourage more local farms and smaller growing enterprises that could produce eggs, milk and meat, as well as vegetables.
As there are already hundreds of fruit trees that produce much more fruit than is currently utilized, it was suggested that we initiate a “gleaning” project, where this local fruit could be captured and canned, dried, frozen or juiced. Some wanted to explore growing grain crops and nuts. Long-term food storage for emergency situations was encouraged. Greenhouses for winter greens and other crops suited to our climate were suggested. Examples were given citing Gary Romano’s winter greens enterprise in Sierra Valley.
Composting naturally became a topic that grew from the food discussion. There is a tremendous local resource in the fall leaves that drop. It could benefit many growing projects to compost these leaves or let worms do the work in order to produce a wonderful nutrient-rich food for our growing efforts.
Housing became a topic including the concept of a “Passivhaus,” or passive house, in which the house becomes so efficient that it may cost $50 a year to heat and cool. It not only solves the issue of fuel poverty, but creates a smaller carbon footprint. “Tumbleweed” mini homes were explored, where small 65- to 874-square-foot homes are built, with a shared community green and building for larger gatherings. For many who yearn for home ownership, this could be a way in which this can be accomplished, while limiting the need for costly amounts of building materials.
Pedestrian-friendly and vibrant downtown enterprises were felt to be necessary with a community square and green areas for gatherings, farmers markets, celebrations and festivals. Transportation could include sharing resources in the form of bicycles, rickshaws, electric cars, buses and ride boards for out-of-town trips.
Reskilling and teaching younger folks how to work with metal, wood, fermentation, fabric and use of tools seemed to be a critical concern of encouraging resilience and creating skills so that younger people would feel that they could make a living in our small mountain community.
Tool libraries, seed banks, trading and bartering, developing a local currency and credit union, better use and reuse of waste and water were also represented in this emerging vision.
Finally, the awareness of an aging population prompted the ideas of multi-generational households and better ideas for elder care and care of the young. These issues will all be discussed in future columns.
At the end of the gathering you could see the excitement in the room, as a vision had been developed — not only of greater sustainability and resilience, but one that would also be more family-friendly and fun. This vision would revisit and recapture some fast-disappearing skills, while acknowledging the challenges that the future would likely bring.
Finally, the group made a commitment to sponsor a series of films that captured this new awareness. The first film will be shown Sunday, Nov. 3, from 3 to 5 p.m., including discussion. The address where it will be shown is 205 Oddie Way in Quincy. For more information call 530-283-2480.