We spend a lot of time discussing how to create sustainable lifestyles for ourselves and other members of our communities. The idea is that if our local community is strong, it can withstand just about anything.
A failing economy, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and whatever else you can think of could significantly change our standard of living.
As a result, we focus on sustainable food production, conservation techniques, and other methods that are impervious (or close to it) to these outside influences. In a word, we are trying to become more resilient.
This is all well and good; however, it does nothing to address the concerns that many of us have regarding employment and income. Every year, more people join the ranks of the unemployed as companies downsize and struggle to remain competitive. Many of those reading this now have fallen victim to unemployment or at least know someone who has.
So what can we do to increase resiliency in this aspect? After all, we can’t be expected to produce everything we need on our own. We need assets (money, goods, or services) that can be traded for items that we are unable to produce ourselves.
We also need to provide fellow community members with options. They need to be made aware of the importance of resiliency.
Fortunately, there’s a simple answer. We need to create local businesses based on our sustainable ideals. If you been with us for a while, you’ve likely read many stories that detail the potential small business opportunities inherent to most of the topics we discuss.
Biomass pellet manufacturing, solar installation, mushroom farming, and orchard management are just a few examples of small business opportunities that can be started on a shoestring budget while providing sustainable value to our communities.
Of course, these opportunities also provide us with an income stream. It could be part-time or full-time; the scalability of these businesses is unlimited.
Maybe you are thinking “yeah, yeah…this sounds great, but does it really work?” In short, absolutely! Let’s look at an example that showcases how one local business is generating revenue using technology that helps farmers in their community.
The work being done by Tom McKinnon and Jim Sears in Colorado is interesting to say the least. These guys have developed a low-cost, remote control drone that takes multispectral images of farmland.
This technology saves farmers money because it is much less expensive than manned aircraft flights or satellite imagery while providing useful information about the health of their plots. These drones can also be fitted with infrared cameras that map the soil moisture content of the area; affording farmers the opportunity to correct dry conditions before they affect crop production.
You may think this technology sounds expensive, but it is actually very affordable and could be used in our own communities to monitor the health of larger, community sponsored agricultural plots.
From a DIY perspective, a drone similar to the one created by McKinnon and Sears could be made for less than $1,000. This is cutting-edge technology that is affordable on most budgets.
With drone in hand, it’s very easy to see how a part-time or better revenue stream can be generated using this technology. What’s unique about this idea is how it leverages technology in a new way that can benefit a wide range of community members.
The possibilities are truly endless. In the past, we have discussed LoGROcal, a small mushroom farm that specializes in the production of 100% organic oyster mushrooms and how you can replicate their success at home.
We have looked at purchasing a small scale biomass pellet machine and creating a local business producing pellets for the community; either as a sole proprietor or as a CSA-type model.
The point is that our resiliency is not simply based on what we grow in our personal gardens or what alternative energy sources we have implemented at home. We have to take a community approach that aims to strengthen every resident, not just ourselves.
What better way to do this then to create a business that promotes resiliency and produces income?
I’ll leave you with some final ideas that are working in communities around the country. Perhaps one of these will spark your entrepreneurial fire.
- Greywater recycling system installation
- Backyard Orchard management
- Permaculture consultant
Let’s make resiliency work for us.