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(Dateline Dora, holiday interviews 2038 – Part II) – “Downtown Dora” is a themed creation – an economic destination location in the Ozark Free State- a marvel created by inspired, and remarkably open-minded, locals.  The visitor is presented with a compact, tree-surrounded attraction that is immaculately maintained within an edible landscape. 

Me?   I’m here at Roy’s Store as a reporter for the Douglas County Herald, enjoying breakfast, and continuing my interview of patrons.    

“As your readers well know,” rancher Bob is saying, “2038’s the year of Roy’s Centennial.  It’s ploughed through good times and bad- from the Great Depression through the Humungous Abyss!  I spent my first Dora Dollars here, and our farms supplied the food.”  I then comment that this moment also marks the finale of the Bryant and North Fork’s 20 Year Plan- a model joint effort. 

“Yeah,” he replies.  “Dora’s the road less taken.  Back in the day, before folks wised up, politics had incubated everything into pure hog slop.  We were divided, polarized by our emotions.  Egos-in-motion, you could say.  It’s a type of mental illness, really, when you’d rather hang a politician than die a Christian!”

He laughs, shaking his head at the memories.  “What turned things around was the neighborhood institutions.  Civic and church groups stepped up and filled the leadership vacuum. Vets, Sunday schools, nursery growers, business owners, garden clubs, housewives, farmers – everybody realized that their physical survival was at stake- that larger reality finally broke through our habituated inertia. “ 

“People quickly grasped the raw economic power of the 5%, transfer of wealth (TOW) idea.  The Farm Resettlement Movement understood the need for financial incentive, and brought the youth back.  ‘Give two and a half years to the Ozarks,’ we’d say, ‘and gain a community for a lifetime.’  They came for job training, joined by the droves, and earned our respect, standing, and land tenancy in the process.“

“‘Permaculture nation in one generation!’  Dora’s economic  momentum still rides upon this energy and enthusiasm.”  But it took urban buy-in, also.  Bob waves at an imaginary audience outside the front window, which faces west. “Springfield!  We’ve got you covered!  Feed Missouri First – We’re in this together!  Our best security is a well-fed neighbor!”  

I’m speed-writing Bob’s litany of pre-Crash slogans which did much to capture urban hearts and minds 

“Preparedness is the essence,” I reply, “when the Empire strikes back.  You guys have the chops, monetized your asset base and, in the process, instituted direct democratic control over local affairs. Food freedom’s now a rights-based fact of life, something alien to Nanny State minds. The Constitution states our right to own firearms, but nothing about citizen ownership of their own food supply.”

An elderly man politely responds, saying:  “That’s about to change!  Name’s Mark- from the Bull Shoals Confederation. I pastored a big congregation in those days.  My board worked out a ‘Permaculture Plan’ with Resettlement volunteers, then planted seven acres of church property into a food forest.  It was a natural insurance policy that fed hundreds during the Crash.  Nowadays, it’s our biggest income.” 

“We got a huge uptick in youth participation” he continues, “especially Generation Z hungering for leadership roles – and they brought their kids!  Food offers a bridge to spiritual dimensions.  Locals you’d never mistake for ‘respectable adults,’ jumped in to help. Well!  In front of God and everybody, I made digging, and tending, and canning part of a ‘loaves and fishes’ theme.   Other congregations copied, made ’Feed my sheep’ a literal act.   A revival spirit was fulfilling Christ’s spirit in eye-opening ways.  The ‘Church of Self-Reliance’ became OK.”    

Bob jumps to add: “Democracy’s fragile, son- the only protection of ordinary people, and built up over centuries.  The Plan, for me personally, means business.  It coordinates a step-by-step approach that works because security is the first priority for the whole population.  Taking ownership of our food, soil, and health issues is what fuels an economic revival.”

“So,” he continues,” preserving the Constitution comes down to your community readiness, which means a common will to see things through.  That’s what these kids are all about:  Being part of a community where there’s both hope and action.  Nowadays, we’re hearing that several states are convening for the Midwest Congress.   Ozark delegates can well boast about their amazing success, and it’s a big reason why the Tenth Amendment’s all the talk.”  

“How would you frame this for my article?” I ask.  “I’m writing about the Dora Miracle:  ‘Crossroads of the Bryant and North Fork watersheds.’”  This comment draws in other tables.  A female voice floats above the sea of testosterone clatter. 

“Hey!  I’m Carol – Piney River watershed!  It’s all about restoring lost relationships which, first of all, restores contact with reality.  I uphold a notion of radical liberty that incorporates my three relationships in the social organism.  Politics, religion, and money must follow, and never again dictate, our steps.  Carol’s travel companion, Kat, continues her thread:  

“Viability got down to valley by valley – an utterly melancholy affair.  So many good folks didn’t make it.”  She pauses.  Everybody understands the silence.   “No one came to help” she continues.  “We made neighborhood resilience our top priority.  When everything goes, a natural process of inclusion can operate.   Cabool’s citizen-led mobilization totally revealed the State’s failures.”

“Our export food production rivals the Amish,” Carol continues. “Better, actually, since we’ve created the processing, dispersed storage, and delivery systems.  Food ownership’s in the people’s hands for the first time in, well, a century.  They discounted our numbers, resources, and resolve.  When the bean-counters cost-factored the employ of military violence against the benefit of negotiations, the latter choice was logical.   Population reduction targets then shifted to other, less happy, areas.”  

Now Kat adds:   “Our philosophy is education through participation.  Core ideas are incorporated in commerce, home study, and regenerative farming.  Our triple bottom line money (3BL), imbeds real financial equality – meaning that ecology, economy, and care-taking roles are structurally tied.  The Plan restores roughly half of the food ownership to women through equal representation in the watershed Foundations – economic parity and gender equality is baked in.”    

“Human communities are physically tied to their watershed boundaries,” Carol added. “Couple this fact to an ethos of self-responsibility, and you get a superior human culture.  Save the Constitution, but then practice living deliberately in order to fulfill it.”  

It’s brilliant, I’m thinking.  Here’s the embodiment of strategic patience – taking the century-long view. The TOW mechanism redirected the mountain of wealth needed to rebuild our Ozark heritage.  We became caretakers of our water and resources, and it made us a people of culture in the highest sense of the word.  

Bob says:  “We’d about become the next Indians, the next Trail of Tears.  As my wife’s quick to say:  ‘Food is love, life is relationship, and nurturing the planet is what we are put here to do.  Misery is what drives ambitious men into the infinite Presence, whose beauty alone should lure them on.  In love does the creature finally turn to his Creator.  Without it, would he ever desire his eternal home?” 

“So, I’m saying to her:   ‘Honey, love without justice betrays the faith of the innocent.  Let’s not return to the kind of government that’s repugnant to common sense and decency.  It’s not the end of the American experiment.  We will endure, we will revive, and we will prosper.  The likelihood of global war was looming large. Could we weather it?  That was the question. In the nick of time, we resolved our divisions in the name of mutual security. We got prepared.”

“A lot had to come together at the same time” I reply.  “The Plan’s all about decentralization, and it spread to a national audience.  The Resettlement’s curriculum includes service with rural fire stations and first-responder training.  New recruits help local captains serve the food, communication, and transportation needs of stranded neighbors.  It’s simple to understand, but before the Plan, nobody stepped up to the plate to bat at a comprehensive scale” 

There’s a pause.  The breakfast clatter continues in the kitchen and I look at these worthy faces, thinking, every relationship with life must be faced and mastered, like it or not. Though we teach the perspectives of freedom through altruism, we must remember history –  panta  rhea – everything changes.   

To be continued . . .