The Corner Chronicle
Chimacum, Washington, Wednesday September 19, 2018
Phil Ponders the Meaning of “Interdependence”
June 29th, 2011 by Katy McCoy

Image of text requesting op-ed submissions from the communityBy Phil Vogelzang

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

Independence and dependence. These are terms we all understand. When a child is born, she is dependent. Upon her parents, family and everyone around her…. for everything. Food, shelter, clothing – all of it. But as the child matures, independence becomes the order of the day. Like a salmon swimming upstream, the child resists limitations, chafes at the rules and generally swims against the current. Wanting to do everything on ones own, like walking, riding a bike, dressing, reading, running, driving a car. It’s all about independence.

This drive for independence continues well into adulthood, but slowly another dynamic takes over. The recognition that independence alone doesn’t achieve the happiness and satisfaction for which we all strive. Or the success. By interacting and working cooperatively with others to achieve a greater and more ambitious good, we achieve a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction than something done purely by or for oneself.
This third and often overlooked stage of human maturation is called interdependence*. Sociologists and historians point to a long history of intellectual thought on the subject. Oddly, Karl Marx first coined the term. Franklin Delanor Roosevelt promoted the concept early on in his presidency. And the concept has built a considerable academic and cultural resonance since. Here’s what Steven R. Covey, author The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says on the subject:

“Certainly, independence is vital; however, the problem is that we live in an interdependent reality. Our most important work, the problems we hope to solve or the opportunities we hope to realize require working and collaborating with other people in a high-trust, synergistic way—whether at home or at work. Having an interdependent mindset, skills and tools are vital, especially now as we work through challenges unlike anything most of us have ever seen in our life time.”

All food delivery systems demonstrate interdependence, large and small. The producer, worker, retailer and consumer all form a circular interdependent web. The large centralized system of world wide suppliers that currently serve us form such a web, but one that brings with it health concerns ranging from obesity and type II diabetes to E. Coli contaminations on a single mega-farm sickening people across the continent, not to mention the planetary implications of shipping and transporting such huge numbers of goods over such vast distances.

We at Chimacum Corner Farmstand envision a much more de-centralized and smaller scale interdependent web of food delivery based here in Chimacum and Jefferson county between local farmers and food producers, local retail outlets and local consumers with a much lower fossil fuel input and much greater health security and benefits.

Utopian? Maybe. But by making our interdependent circle smaller, closer to home and tighter, we strengthen the bonds between us neighbors, helping us understand much more concretely each others needs and how to address them. Together we can make Chimacum and Jefferson county a more resilient, healthy and ultimately interdependent community.

*Interdependence is a dynamic of being mutually and physically responsible to, and sharing a common set of principles with others. This concept differs distinctly from “dependence,” which implies that each member of a relationship cannot function or survive apart from one another. In an interdependent relationship, all participants are emotionally, economically, ecologically and/or morally self-reliant while at the same time responsible to each other. An interdependent relationship can be defined as an entity that depends on two or more cooperative autonomous participants (eg – co-op). Some people advocate freedom or independence as a sort of ultimate good; others do the same with devotion to one’s family,community, or society. Interdependence recognizes the truth in each position and weaves them together.