The New American Dream: A Declaration of Interdependence

[This article originally appeared in the July/August 2011 edition of Velocity Magazine. Read it in it’s original format here.]

[I spoke on this topic on Front Porch Radio recently. Listen to the podcast here.]

As a child I had a deep fascination with the westward bound American pioneers. I devoured the Little House on the Prairie – I loved square dances, wore long skirts and a crocheted shawl and had a schoolgirl crush on Albert. As a teenager, Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman shattered stereotypes, used herbs to heal and her smoldering undomesticated man, Sully, hung out with Native Americans. I’ve recently realized that the verve, sass, ethics, empathy, and intelligence of these characters shaped my confidence, conscience and enterprising spirit at such a deep level, I’d forgotten where my urge to live in a earthen house, dance to a fiddle on a front porch and make my own medicine was born.

You see, things got fuzzy in college – my sophisticated freshman roommate ridiculed my quilt in progress and I lost interest in domestic activities for a spell while I got a business degree because I just didn’t have any sense of what I wanted to do with myself. Upon graduation I went and got a real job like I was suppose to. Boring. Unfulfilled, I longed for something more. Something…. meaningful. During a conversation with a friend about what I could possibly do to employ myself, I was asked to think about my favorite pastime. My response was so simple: “I love to garden, cook and enjoy good food with friends, drink wine and listen to good music.” Somehow, that translated into a casual organic restaurant with a throwback feel. It’s got a culinary garden, lots of cooks, seriously fantastic food and plenty of opportunities to listen to music whilst drinking wine with friends.

With the pioneering spirit of a westbound wagon, a crafty cafe was created and we’ve celebrated five years of good times, hard times and inbetween times. The experience of partaking in small business ownership, being in the middle of a local revival, getting to the bottom ofwhat creates wellness, dabbling in alternative economies and becoming a mother have gifted me unique insight about the elusive American Dream, which is rooted in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

From where I sit, we’ve gotten into a sticky situation with separation and disconnection and I believe it stems from this whole independent, every man for himself, spirit of ours. I call for a Declaration ofINTERdependence to craft a New WORLD Dream. Luckily, I am not the only person on Earth to have this idea.

Tom Atlee, author of The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World that Works for All states that “Interdependence — if we wake up and live it — looks like all life working together to enhance all life.”

Declaration of Interdependence by Tom Atlee
We hold this truth to be self-evident:
We are All.
In This.
Therefore we live this truth
in our lives, communities and societies,
and thrive together into a long future
that we create together.
We are the world
that is awakening
to both the fact and the opportunity
of our interdependence —
fully, finally and beyond a shadow of doubt.
We are the world
who are making
ourselves a good world
that works for all people and all life.
Because we know the Greatest Secret
of All:
“We are All
in this

Those living off the land know this, and I believe we are in the process or returning back to this interdependent way of life. I’m not sure where the peak of disconnection was, but I’m pretty sure we just came through it, perhaps pre 9/11. How to navigate the transition? Just look at US history in reverse – there will be a revival of old time ways like those of the pioneers and pilgrims. Man made institutions and systems will revert back – capitalism will break way for local currencies to barter to a gift economy. Agriculture will move from factory farms to small family farms and eventually to permaculture. Work will transform from Wall Street to Main Street to intensive artisan & craft homesteading to communal living/working. There is an international movement called Transition Town ( that addresses this great turning.

Since I’ve woken up to this inevitability, I’ve been instinctively drawn to cooking, gardening, herbs, down home music and handmade anything. My fascination with homesteading, farming, natural building, craftiness and artisan anything has hit a new fervor. I’m thinking about dusting off my bonnet and finding a fiddle. Something tells me I’m going to be a pioneer.

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