Bird Creek Ranch
 
 
 
Considering New Year’s resolutions underlined for me that those of us working on the land are an important part of our nation’s sense of collective well-being and sense of happiness.  In 2010, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being score for the nation was 66.8.  If we were back in middle school, that would be a solid “D”!  
 
Could there be a tie between our collective unhappiness and how we measure our nation’s progress?  Perhaps there is more to measure that just economic growth.  Colwood, a Canadian town, has created another index based on five types of capital assets that as a whole form real wealth:
•    Human wealth.  
People form human wealth.  The health of our population is dependent on farmers and ranchers producing healthy food and cultivating healthy lifestyles by the preservation of open space.  
 
•    Social wealth.
Relationships form the basis of social wealth.  Studies have shown that individuals tied to the land understand the systems surrounding them and the interconnectedness of their lives with their land and the lives of others.
 
•    Natural wealth.  
The nation’s environment determines its natural wealth.  Ranches, like Bird Creek Ranch, that strive for a balance between the wild and working landscapes help to build natural wealth.
 
•    Manufactured wealth.
The state of a nation’s infrastructure is a measure of its manufactured
wealth.  The nation’s farms and ranches form a part of the country’s infrastructure, no less important than a healthy transportation system.
 
•    Financial wealth.
Financial wealth equals “money.”  Farm and ranch income is important because it is not secondary, recycled money, but “new” or primary money that in its creation contributes substantially to national fiscal health.
 
The bottom line is that our nation’s farms and ranches are more than a mythical, romanticized existence.  Nor are they the root cause of the nation’s problems. They are the core of our nation’s well-being.
 
© 2012 E.L. Kittredge
Happiness and the Land
Monday, January 2, 2012