Ralph Borsodi: A Confident Future
Bill Sharp, Director, Transition Centre © 2020
Ralph Borsodi was an innovator who laid much of the foundation for the modern resiliency movement. His approach was comprehensive, systematic and integral.
In 1920 following World War I, in the final year of the Spanish Flue pandemic and with a deepening recession, Borsodi and his family begin an experiment in self-sufficient living. He established a homestead, homesteading communities and a school to help people learn the skills and develop an understanding of a different way of life, a healthier and more secure life.
As a consulting economist with major clients on Wall Street, Borsodi understood there are serious challenges in our modern urban-industrial society. He not only clearly defined the problems he found but also offered a method for solving them; his innovative problem-centered educational framework.
Borsodi advocated a Green Revolution – a program for personal and community development. He was an early leading consumer advocate. He was a leader the New Agrarian movement. He was a pioneer in appropriate technology, organic gardening and healthy foods, land trusts and local currency. He sought to assist people achieve greater economic independence and improved physical and mental health. He created a School to provide the knowledge, skills and psychological preparation to lead an optimal life
The problems of this day continue and then some. We are in a Coronavirus Pandemic. Before that we have had a long list of issues including climate change, resource depletion, population growth, environmental deterioration, economic and political instability, virulent diseases, and climate change to contend with. More than a third of US rural counties and 40% of towns are shrinking and economically distressed and the numbers continue to rise. Most have high rates of unemployment, poverty, substance abuse and violence. With the recession of 2020 the entire global economy has been shaken.
Borsodi proposed a comprehensive program to achieve an alternative way of life; a more secure and confident future for individuals, families and communities. He offered a program of local self-determination rather than government intervention. It is about developing leadership – men and women who can effectively address the pressing problems of our day, who can cope with the complexity and rapidly changing conditions of our world, and who can inspire and motivate a movement that could transform challenges into opportunities. The approach is local, on the community level – the place we call home.
Ralph Borsodi: A Confident Future is a comprehensive review of his life and work. There is a lot to this story and there is no little drama. He was brilliant, informed, charismatic and driven by a sense of mission. He was a passionate and compassionate humanitarian. He experienced many setbacks, but he always bounced back. We learn from both his successes and his failures.
Ralph Borsodi: A Confident Future is a project of Transition Centre. We undertook this work because it provides foundational principles, methods and a record of experiences that are instructive in creating resilient communities that can not only cope with the challenges of our time but also flourish.