Power to the people?


The geography of an island is very determining for the community living on it. Island communities are generally very tight, due to the separation from the mainland. On the island of Texel people feel having a different identity than the people from the mainland.

This community sense can be advantageous with implementing new sustainable technologies. An important incentive for people to become sustainable is the effective return of their investments, environmentally and financially. A small and tight community can easily mobilise itself to invest in larger projects. An example can be found in Samsø. By gathering ideological and financial capital, people can get as much power as governments and investment banks. 


Small communities such as those on islands can be the protagonists in becoming sustainable and in bringing power back to the people at the same time. The ability of self control and other rewards earned by good policy goes directly back to the community. I think everybody would want this, but how can this be realised with a sustainable result?


During the game ‘Harvest’ I saw that it is difficult to maintain, as a community, the balance between the common good and personal gain. In a horizontal power structure, which was the case during the game, you see that it is not always working. There is a need for a centralized regulation that requires commitment of all parties. If that is not present, the entire system is heavily dependent on trust.


My question is: how this can be organised? How can you improve trust within a community and how do you make sure that people keep the common good in mind? Is it necessary to go from an ‘informal’, trust based system to a ‘formal’, centrally regulated system?


I do not have the answer to that. But I think that sustainable transformation is easily to be realised in a trust based society when the individual gain is also contributing to the common good. The system is highly dependent on trust if individual gain and the common good are not the same. Central regulation becomes necessary if trust is low and when common good and individual gains are opposites. But is it then better to try to increase trust, or would you rather introduce new regulations? 


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