What makes a city tick?
Why do cities exist?
For what purpose other than to get folks to buy stuff and more stuff and more stuff…????
Sure there is lots to do in a city – lots of cultural events, movies, parks to hang out in, and lots of places to eat and drink. But there is a cost for all of this. And then there are the shops carrying everything you can possibly imagine – anything your heart desires – all the needs but more so all the wants. Besides this of course there are people’s homes that need to be built, maintained, and guess what filled with stuff!!
Cities are just one big place to spend MONEY!!
I know I know nothing new here.
I just can’t help but feel that a city (or a small community) is simply just one big (or small area) in which to acquire goods – most of the goods we don’t need. Yes we do need grocery stores or similar as distribution points since not everyone can grow their own food. And yes it is nice to frequent a restaurant on occasion, hang out in a café or bar but you could also simply hang out at someone’s house and enjoy a cuppa or a borrel (dutch word), and of course enjoy a delicious lovingly prepared meal with good company.
I know in the past that the country store was a place to exchange goods, bring in goods you made and exchange these for things you couldn’t make yourself – specialization was useful.
My thoughts on this topic aren’t new or even original I’m sure. But I guess being here in this humungous city, and then seeing notices on f b about all the goings on around the areas where my farm is situated, I can’t help but be struck by the fact that so many of these notices are just about trying to get you to drop in somewhere and buy something.
Is that all there is to life for so many? Folks are either i) making things for others to buy or ii) you are the one who is buying the stuff others make working the job that sells something to earn the bucks to buy the stuff. It makes me think about what is the purpose of any of this if so much of our lives is just spending time earning money in order to spend time spending money.
This made me think about what did folks do before the big malls, the big cities, before industrialization. Sheesh suburbia was really created simply to get folks to get their own homes which then had to be filled with stuff, needing transportation to get the stuff, needing to get to work in order to be able to have the funds to buy the stuff.
My point is that I am just shocked sometimes at all the calls to buy and buy and buy – come out and visit the market, come out and enjoy a ‘delicious’ home cooked meal (yeah right!!). I am kinda sick of it.
I’m sorry but I find it all so nauseating and disheartening. I mean I know good folks who are trying to get me to buy their stuff. But how many pieces of jewelry, soap, scarves, hats, do you really need?!?!?!
I know that some of these thoughts have come from my own experiences over the last few years trying to get folks to buy the goods I have made, to charge a price that is socially just – covering my sweat and tears and giving me a bit to be able to buy my necessities. (Side note: Alas small scale farming makes this brutal work – kudos to those who succeed at this, but for some I would appreciate acknowledgement that often you have succeeded since you use free labour (interns, wwoofers, friends, family), you have access to capital thanks to legacy of family (I mean you middle class once upon a time kid)).
For many years now, about 2 decades I think, I have for the most part been an anti-consumer of a sorts. I don’t buy gifts for folks for xmas, for birthdays, etc… My ‘gifts’ have been myself, going to visit with people, spending time with people, where I bring myself and usually some food creation to share. I consider sharing time with people a gift of the most precious kind, especially when people seem to be so busy these days.
I acknowledge that there is privilege I have in order to make this choice. The one area that I do spend $ is in food. This is where I have no compunction about distributing my wealth in order to support others. I will also pay the premium price for good food. From my experience of growing food and farming I know what it takes to grow good food using human labour power and toxic free methods. And I want there to be farmers. We need them. We need more people growing food.
Probably because I traveled and lived in many places, I didn’t accumulate lots of stuff. Yes I will admit that I did have a (small) storage locker for a number of years while I was in and around Vancouver and the west coast – I couldn’t believe how cheap it was, no idea of costs nowadays. This was before the days of the boom in storage facilities where now so many have so much shit that they need a storage locker to keep the extra shit since their ridiculously big houses no longer can contain all the shit – uh sorry stuff.
I have had the privilege to be able to be selective in where my $ would go. I chose travel which was and is still an expensive endeavour, along with some photography where photos were my keepsake from these experiences. I eventually choose books, vinyl record albums then cds. I bought motorcycles, not cars for the longest time (I only bought my 1st car in my early 30s, my 1st home in my early 40s).
Anyway getting back to the city. I know for the most part it is just one big market. My thoughts are rhetorical in reality, reflections about the absurdity of living in a megacity, and seeing how people earn a living – the majority of which are trying to sell you something. I do admire the resourcefulness, the strength and perseverance of the people to endure the daily long hours in order to garner a few measly soles (Peruvian currency).
So I am reminded of why I no longer care to live in cities. I have another reason now. With the global and local economies collapsing, cities are doomed. Yes we need centres of commerce, of trade. I understand this. I just wish it was focused on the essentials like food.