Apparently, 18 Percent Unemployment Can Create a Sense of Community (Updated)
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We're all in this together, and by that I mean we're a nation of hyper-individualistic worker-bee capitalists. At least that's what we've been led to believe.
But when things get tough, it seems that people appreciate the value of community.
Lori Miller says she feels more needed than ever, and that is not a good thing.
People are streaming into the Ligonier Public Library not just to read, but to fax unemployment forms, to file claims online, and to look for postings on Internet job sites, says the assistant to the director. To help handle the load, Ms. Miller recently attended a workshop on how better to help the unemployed.
In Indiana’s Noble County, a patchwork of cornfields and small towns in the penumbra of Detroit’s failing auto industry, she is simply doing her part. In an area nearing Depression-era conditions – 17.9 percent unemployment – every resident has a role in helping the community survive: Bankers are refusing to foreclose on many families, the unemployed are volunteering at soup kitchens, and one gardener has planted 1,000 vegetables in his basement to feed the hungry.
It is a portrait of the future America is desperate to avoid – an economy eviscerated. Yet amid the despair, there is the spark of a deeper humanity, as residents of Noble County find, in each other, the strength to stand against economic forces threatening to overwhelm this corner of the Midwest.
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.