The Future is Now!

While flying cars are not parked in our driveways, and we can’t teleport, vacuum tube, or jetpack to work, we are seeing more and more futuristic ideas come to life before our eyes. For example, you can drive up to the Environmental Resource Center on Central Street and plug in your car. We still get much of our energy from burning fossil fuel, but there are new technologies advancing every day. Windmills and solar panels, although not without flaws, are harvesting energy that replenished over and over again. We can utilize heat from the earth’s crust and communicate without wires. Video phones are not only a reality, but they are becoming more common every day. I have friends in New York, Columbia, and Springfield that watch football games together using video communication. Most of us have the entirety of human knowledge on a device small enough to carry in our pockets and available instantaneously. New York even has plans to provide wireless internet to several city blocks, making the World Wide Web faster and easier to access while strolling from coffee shop to storefront. On top of that, if I had to be somewhere in person, I could be in Hong Kong by tomorrow night for about one thousand dollars (this is real, I just looked). However, as we rush forward into the bright and shiny future, we often find ourselves looking back to our past for better ways to live.

There are beneficial practices and ideas that were nearly forgotten, revived by the few that continued on in these simple ways. Throughout the last century, we have been very successful in separating ourselves from our food. Many people have never been to a real farm and view it as a nostalgic novelty. With the advent of efficient transport of food, farms could be big, ugly, and very far away. Food is ususaly provided to us by a friendly, clean, and attractive grocery store. However, the resurgence of gardening has been tremendous since the turn of the century and people are finding ever more creative ways to bring food production to the center of human civilization, rooftop gardens being the ultimate example.

A visit to Millsap, Urban Roots, or Fassnight Farms here in Springfield can give you a taste of this urban agricultural revolution, making the move beyond a trip to the farmers market. Reaching even further back into our human history, many people have become new practitioners of hunting, fishing, and gathering wild edibles as part of their diet.

Even our every-day activities are being reexamined. We continue to discover new occupational hazards associated with the indoor, sedentary desk jobs that we worked hard to attain. Now, people in office jobs are standing, pedaling, and even walking while they work with modified desks that incorporate treadmills and stationary cycles. We are even finding that taking a bike to work is a practical and healthy alternative to driving for many of us in our ever urbanizing culture.

Finally, changes at home are helping us to be more efficient and self-sufficient. The green movement has seen the installation of solar panels, geothermal heating systems, high quality insulation and high efficiency fixtures to create a house that is environmentally friendly and less dependent on “the grid.” Water is an issue on our minds as we have been experiencing the most severe drought many of us have ever seen. Low-flow toilets, letting our lawns turn brown, and harvesting rainwater are methods that enable us to conserve and catch this much needed resource. Day by day, we are moving forward while simultaneously taking steps backward to reverse some of the harmful changes we have made. Springfield is a hotbed for these steps forward and backward. Check out some of the links below for a sample of information available here in the Ozarks. Rob Hunt, Watershed Center Coordinator

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