Ubuntu & The Leaky Bucket

Ubuntu & The Leaky Bucket

There is a Zulu concept that we love: Ubuntu. 

Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term meaning "humanity.” It is sometimes translated as, I am because we are. I have also heard it described as, my wellbeing is connected to your wellbeing.

This notion is echoed throughout the Bible; in Leviticus it says, “love your neighbor as yourself” and Jesus reiterates throughout the Gospels, “love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” 

This is a powerful concept if we can allow it to seep into our beings, reminding us that we are inherently  linked to one another; that our welfare is connected to the welfare of our neighbor. How would our communities look different if we truly believed and lived with this kind of intention and love toward one another? 

There is a concept in Community- Centered Development called "The Leaky Bucket". The concept invites community builders to look at their local economy to determine income streams coming from outside into the community, filling the community "bucket," sourcing local homes, businesses, and municipalities. The second step of the process looks at "leaks," places where funds are being sent out of the community. The whole process is meant to help community members think through how we can be intentional about maintaining, supporting and fortifying our local economy; shaping our thinking and behaviors when it comes to purchasing. 

In the world of online purchasing platforms and big box stores, it's easy to choose convenience & cost when considering where to make our purchases. But, what would it look like if we could begin to think intentionally about how our purchasing power can be funneled back into our local community where possible? If our well-being is dependent on our neighbors and theirs is dependent on us, how does that change the way we care for each other? And how can we apply this lens to how we leverage our purchases for the good of our neighbors and our community? 

I learned recently that every dollar that is introduced to the Yampa Valley, changes hands 8 times before leaving the valley. This month, we at the Adorn Co. want to challenge our community to think intentionally about our purchasing power. When you need to buy something this month, we want to invite you to think, “is there a local option for this purchase?” 

Need a coffee? Skip Starbucks, and check out Seedhouse, Big Iron, Dusky Grouse or Off the Beaten Path.  

Need gear? Skip the North Face store. Check out Big Agnes, Ski Haus or Backdoor sports. 

Need a gift for a friend? Skip Walmart. Check us out at Adorn, Ohana, or The Glacier Lily. 


* Image from the Coady Institute: Community Economic Literacy and the “Leaky Bucket.”


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