A few summers ago, I had the pleasure of spending some time in Willits, CA. This small, progressive town in Mendocino County harbors one of the best relocalization efforts in the United States, if not the world.

“Relocalization” is the idea that communities should produce food, energy, and goods locally. The movement developed in response to peak oil and climate change concerns, and may just be our best hope for surviving our current environmental crises.

The Willits Economic Localization organization (WELL) was founded in 2004 by a concerned local climate scientist named Jason Bradford. While the organization started out by showing the peak oil film “The End of Suburbia” (an excellent film that I highly recommend), it soon expanded its efforts into a number of areas, including business, education, energy, food, and health.

Despite the small size of Willits, WELL has made incredible strides towards its goals in the past few years.

For example, the organization has established multiple community gardens, submitted grants to establish a local food system, and is in the process of developing a one acre school farm.

WELL has also started a program called the The Grateful Gleaners that collects unharvested fruits and vegetables from local farms. In 2006, the project harvested three tons of produce that would have gone to waste.

Willits’ efforts have inspired a number of other relocalization efforts in California and around the world. Check out The Relocalization Network for examples and to gather ideas for starting your own relocalization organization.

photo credit: The Laughlin Nevada Guide