Measuring prosperity in the City of Lakes
Dartmouth. I can remember summers there was so much going on they had police patrols on the lakes to keep things in line. Swimmers, boats, canoe clubs, diving, fishing and all manner of fun are indications that the environment is healthy, the economy is working, and the people have the leisure time they want with family and friends to be active and healthy.
Few activities are healthier than swimming or better for the mind than messing around in boats.
Surely this is as good a measure of real prosperity as you can get. People with time and other resources to do healthy things with their family and friends in an environmentally healthy place.
Likewise in the winter, early thick ice brings out skaters, sailors and more fishing, even the ice itself was once a business.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
I’ve seen historic pictures in summer and winter when the lakes were covered with thousands of folks. Prosperity isn’t about cash exactly, so it’s not well measured by GDP, or the number of rich people, condo development, population numbers, or the latest craze of whatever. Prosperity is that mix of wealth, health and happiness that covers the broadest spectrum of society. We’re each most well off when everyone is most well off.
I can remember other years in the recession seventies when it was a different story. There were years the little boats just sat at their moorings. Regular people didn't have time for fishing and swimming. Then even worse. Years where the boats weren't even launched at all – they rotted on the shore. The lakes were sad and grey.
Where are we today using the Lake Economic Index? The health of the lakes, the boats and stuff on the lakes? The amount of time and interest people have to pursue healthy swimming and water activities? The community events?
Here's my recent observation of the lake index...
A few very expensive boats - $30k plus bass boats.
What better illustration could we imagine for the problems of the day? A few rich (or richly misguided) people using over-powered big-corp-built junk, copied from American culture, to fish for a near-invasive species in weed-filled lakes, while regular people have little time or money to mess around in boats, or safely swim, and enjoy the prosperity that once came with simply being a regular citizen of the City of Lakes.
We spend so much time pursuing made-up means goals that measure nothing. Government reminds me of that old mousetrap board game.
Let’s begin again with an end goal in mind. Prosperity, as measured by our lakes and how we care for, use and enjoy them together.
Post Script !
I got this amazing image and a note from a woman in Dartmouth today posting about Lake Banook. What a gem it is and a great case study on the theme of what this post was all about.
Writing about life, citizenship, and Nova Scotia.