I made a push to build traffic yesterday by sending the MarketGreener link out to a small batch of friends, family and acquaintances, and I’m quite pleased with the results. Traffic definitely picked up a bit and I got some great feedback. Some folks really spent time on the site and gave constructive criticism and suggestions for topics. I’ll definitely try to get to all of them in the short term.

One comment I got seems to cut right to the heart of the matter, and it became a topic of discussion over beers with a friend last night. (The commenter and the beer-drinking partner will remain anonymous…for now.)

JH [Jackson Hole] is totally not sustainable. We talk about it a lot here and we care about it, but we live in the middle of nowhere, everything has to be trucked/flown in, and it sort of makes no sense to have a community in this high alpine valley.

It’s an excellent point, and one that comes up from time to time. While my gut reaction is to say, “Great, why don’t you lead the way and move out,” there are two reasons why this simply is not going to work.

First, as my beer-drinking compatriot pointed out, this is an age-old problem that began the moment we humans made the switch from hunting, gathering nomads to settled agrarians. Once that happened, we needed to begin moving the food around to those who began to depend on what was produced in that fixed location. We began to have a permanent impact on that place and it’s been downhill ever since.

Granted, this settlement process has evolved (devolved?) with the implementation of modern transportation, making it possible to live in remote places like Jackson Hole. But I don’t see this practice declining any time soon. In fact, small communities in the West are seeing some of the greatest population explosions in the country. Here are some interesting, if grim, stories about population growth from the Sierra Club and Truthout. And while more population in small communities leads to sprawl and other unfortunate impacts, I do take a little consolation in the fact that the amount of driving I do living in a small community is much less than it would be if I were still living in a city (even if that city is Portland, Oregon, known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country).

The best we can do is be conscious of the impact we are having on this place and try to reduce it as much as we can, which brings me to my second point. If my friend who made the comment did lead the way and move out, not only would there be someone moving in right behind her to negate whatever miniscule impact her departure might have had, but our community would be that much worse off without her positive contributions to it.

Yes, our combined impact here can be likened to mold on cheese, but I hold on to the perhaps idealized view that Jackson Hole is a unique community of impassioned individuals that, as a whole, can lead by setting positive examples of how to reduce our impact on both the local and global ecosystem.