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- Community Civics and Rural Life - 5/88 -

storekeepers and doctors upon whom it depends for their special kinds of service, while each of them depends upon others to supply the wants that he has neither the time nor the skill to supply for himself. Thus interdependence develops in the simplest communities.


The farmer still does many things on the farm that in the city would be done by special workers, such as repairing houses, barns, and tools. But he has become vastly more dependent upon others than formerly. This is due partly to improved farming methods, requiring the use of complicated machines and greater technical knowledge; and partly to improved means of transportation and communication which bring him in close touch with trade centers. If a farmer needs a new axe handle, he can get a better one with less expenditure of time and effort by going to town in his automobile than if he made it himself. His farm machinery is too complicated for him to repair except in small matters, and even then he must go or send to town for the necessary parts, which may be sent to him by parcel post. Not only does he get better tools and services generally through this reliance upon others who are specialists in their lines, but also on account of it has more time to give to the actual business of farming, for which others depend upon him, and leisure for thoughtful study of his problems, for social life, and for recreation.


It must be acknowledged that reliance upon others may be carried so far as to result in loss or disadvantage. "Self-reliance" is one of the most admirable traits of character. The pioneer farmer possessed it from necessity to a remarkable extent. A habit of depending upon others may quickly cause a person to lose the "knack" of doing things for himself, to become less "handy about the place," and less "thrifty" about keeping things in repair or installing small improvements--the casting of a cement trough, mending the harness or the fence or painting the barn.


The interdependence of people in community life to-day may be illustrated by starting with some of our own needs, as was suggested in the topics on page 12. For example, if we need a pair of shoes, we must have money, which we will suppose that we earn by farming. In order to farm successfully we must have machinery. This we also buy in town; but it is manufactured for us in distant city factories from metals procured from mines and from wood from the forest. The shoes bought at the store were also made in a factory employing hundreds of men and women, perhaps in Massachusetts. They were made from leather from the hides of cattle raised in the far west, or perhaps even in the Argentine Republic. The leather is tanned by another industry, and tanning requires the use of an acid from the bark of certain trees from the forest. The making of the shoes also requires machinery which is made by still other machines, the necessary metals coming from mines. To smelt the metals and to run the factories there must be fuel from other mines. Meanwhile the workers in all these industries must be fed and clothed and housed. This means the work of farmers, food packers, millers and bakers, lumbermen, carpenters, cotton and woolen mills, clothing factories, and many others. At every stage transportation enters in,--by team and automobile truck, by railway, by water. These are only a part of the activities necessary in order that we may have a pair of shoes. It would seem that practically every kind of worker and industry in the world had something to do with it. People in communities today are indeed very interdependent.

The following item appeared in a newspaper:


Farmer Is Limited by Conditions in Community

The average farmer is limited in the changes he can make in his farm business by the farm practices of the community in which he is living.

There are farmers in every community who would like to change their systems of agriculture but are restrained from doing so by the fact that their neighbors will not change. Many farmers have tried to change from one type of farming to another better suited to the region, but failed because the cost of running such an entirely independent business was too great.

A man owning an orchard in a locality where there are no other orchards has trouble getting rid of his crop. Even when the farmer is so fortunate as to get buyers, he generally receives a lower price for the same grade of fruit than would be received in a general apple-growing region.

If a man wants to buy several purebred Holstein cows, he generally goes to a locality where a large number of farmers keep that kind of stock. Often there is a man in his own community who has for sale Holsteins that are just as highly bred as those in other districts, but he either has no market for them or must sell them at a greatly reduced price.

The farmer ought not to think on account of these facts that he should not change his system of farming just because his neighbors do not do likewise.

Probably the best way for a farmer to start such a movement is to arouse the interest of his neighbors in his farming operations. As soon as this has been accomplished he can gradually bring about the change that he advocates. Farmers in a community profit from the experiences of other individuals.


The value of a man's property is dependent not upon his efforts alone, but upon what his neighbors do. The land occupied by a pioneer increases in value as other people settle in the neighborhood, and BECAUSE they settle there. Men often buy land and then simply wait for it to increase in value because of improvements in the neighborhood. The property that we own may increase or decrease in value according to the care that neighbors take of their property. Even if we take good care of our property, it will be less valuable if the neighbors let their fences and buildings run down and the weeds grow than it will be if they keep their fences and buildings in good repair and their weeds cut.


Malaria is carried by mosquitoes, and we know that mosquitoes breed in standing water, as in swamps and in old barrels or tin cans that hold rainwater until it becomes stagnant. Now we may endeavor to get rid of mosquitoes, and thus of malaria, by removing all open receptacles of water about our premises and by draining the marshes on our land; but unless our neighbors do the same, we are not much better off than we were before.

Give other illustrations to show the dependence of people upon one another in your community.

Compare the farmer of to-day in your neighborhood with the pioneer of Indiana described on page 14 with respect to his equipment, skill in making things and kinds of implements used.

Compare the average farmer's home in your neighborhood to-day with that of the New England farmer described on page 14 with respect to household activities.

Are farmers in your neighborhood to-day more or less dependent upon others to supply their wants than they were when your parents were children? Why is it? Get all the information you can from your parents on this point.

Which is more dependent upon others for its daily wants: a family that lives on a farm in your neighborhood or one that lives in town? Give examples to prove your answer.

Do you know cases in your own community where land has increased in value while lying idle? What are the reasons?

Do you know of cases in your community where property has depreciated in value because of neighborhood influences such as suggested on page 18?

Do you know of cases in your community similar to the one described on page 17 under the heading "Held Back by Neighbors"? Explain. (Consult at home.)


We do not always realize how dependent we are upon one another until something happens to disturb our accustomed relations. We best realize our dependence upon the telephone when it is out of order. The recent great war produced conditions that made us conscious of our interdependence in unexpected ways.

For example, if we had gone into a store to buy underwear in the early part of the war, we would have found that the price had greatly increased, and we might have been told, if the salesman were well informed, that the high price was due to the manufacture of airplanes! The explanation is that the wire stays used in the manufacture of airplanes are made of steel wire from which machine knitting needles are also made. In the early part of the war all of the available wire of this kind was taken for airplanes, thus limiting the supply of knitting needles and consequently of knit goods.

The manufacture of airplanes is also said to have affected the price of fish! The nets used for catching certain deep-sea fish, such as cod, must be made of linen, which is invisible in water. The linen which had been used for this purpose suddenly came into great demand for the manufacture of airplane wings. Since airplanes were necessary, linen fishing nets were sacrificed and the price of deep-sea fish went up. This, of course, created a demand for other kinds of fish, and the price of the latter also went up.


When people are so closely dependent upon one another conflicts are likely to occur. Sometimes they are due to selfish disregard by some persons of the rights and interests of others; but more often they are due simply to failure to see what the real results of a particular act may be and how it may affect other people. It was not dreamed that the building of airplanes would affect the

Community Civics and Rural Life - 5/88

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