I’d like to offer an example of a culture that was forced to change, and then explore clusters of people that desire to change and are making positive effects toward sustainable futures that can be implemented as local development initiatives. In 1991 the USSR fell, and with it took away Cuba’s only source of imports of petroleum and machinery for agriculture (Koont 2008). The country was facing an agricultural crisis and a huge threat to their food and economic security which forced the government to morph their economy into a wartime model and implement a food and goods rationing scheme (Garth 2009). Overnight the population of Cuba had to dramatically change their consumption habits and were completely reliant on the government to provide them with enough food and necessities. To cut a long story short, communities across Cuba took matters into their own hands and with support from the government and development initiatives, transformed the agriculture sector and regressed to older farming methods and are now producing sustainably sourced produce that is consumed locally (Caballero 2001). Cuba has dramatically reduced their reliance on petroleum and unsustainable products, and has shifted to much more sustainable consumption patterns. I will briefly look into a grassroots movement that in the last 25 years has transformed from an idea to over 4000 independently operated projects in 120 countries; permaculture.
“Permaculture is a holistic system of design, based on direct observation of nature, learning from traditional knowledge and the findings of modern science. Embodying a philosophy of positive action and grassroots education, permaculture aims to restructure society by returning control of resources for living: food, water, shelter and the means of livelihood, to ordinary people in their communities, as the only antidote to centralized power” (Veteto & Lockyer 2008).
Permaculture surfaced as a reaction to the current system of global capitalism and the ever popular belief that what we are doing now, is unsustainable and cannot address the issues surrounding food security, poverty and the ecosystem (Veteto & Lockyer 2008). In the last decade, there has been an uprising of people urging the population to shift toward a more sustainable lifestyle and social media has only made this task easier and able to reach more people. I think people do want to change but require a little push, not everybody is equipped with the ability to make a leap of faith in a grassroots movement but if incentives are given for people to make more sustainable changes within their home environment and overconsumption is continued to be discouraged through harsher moderation of media and paraphernalia we will see more of a shift toward sustainable lifestyles and less consumption.