One of the tasks set for Enabling Suburbs is the sharing of tools that can facilitate change a range of habits, dependencies and practices, and to perhaps evaluate those. It’s about enabling individuals and communities to find their footing on the pathway to sustainability. In the first instance, a service like Food Connect can change the way people shop for fresh food, as well as intervene on food distribution networks. Food tends to be a major expense and carbon emissions producer for suburbs. Eric Friedenwald-Fishman notes that “for 10,000 years our food system was 100 percent organic and nearly 100 percent local. In the last 50 years, it has become an international commodity, often processed beyond recognition and sold far from where it is produced.” There’s also the local initiative Fit With Friends.
As mentioned in this blog, Transition Towns are already functioning in suburban areas, like Kenmore, and provide a framework for energy descent and relocalisation. However, they don’t necessarily go the distance in really addressing the needs of the future. A recent initiative, ‘What is your carbon price?, is an interactive tool that calculates the impact of the carbon tax on your cost of living. The impact will not be caused directly but by those top 500 top carbon polluting companies passing on the cost to consumers. Importantly, it is intended to allay fears inflamed by misinformation and was co-produced by the Climate Institute and Choice. After the calculation, it appears that my household can come out ahead by continuing our energy conservation measures.
These kinds of tools – often with a social enterprise or social network bent – play a role in empowering communities and households. While there are few social or community spaces supporting community development, the internet can provide a means for organising and sharing these tools. That’s one purpose that Enabling Suburbs can serve as it develops.