Dual benefit: Cycling to work will save you money and help to improve your health. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Dual benefit: Cycling to work will save you money and help to improve your health. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
FRIDAY, APR. 8: As job losses mount and the bills become harder to pay, it’s time to draw on our time-honoured resourcefulness. Don’t expect Gov’t to solve your money woes — look to yourself and your community.

Bermuda’s heritage of working together can help turn the economic crisis into an opportunity for the island.

Charles Brown, director of the Sustainable Development Unit, attempted to lift the gloom surrounding the island’s economy, describing it as a chance to reset our priorities and turn away from materialism.

He believes the same spirit that helped the island pull together after incidents like Hurricane Fabian can help us find ways to work through the recession.

 Mr. Brown said: “Think about the community spirit that caused us to build houses together. A portion of a community would come together and build a home for my father and his family then the same crew would repeat this with another family. 

“Although, honestly, those days are behind us, that spirit of working together is still available to us — we can translate that ethic, that value system, into other areas of life.

“Those values still exist and they can play a great role in getting us through these challenges.”

Mr. Brown said neighbourhoods could come together in a variety of ways to help each other.

He added: “There needs to be an effort to look for less Government intervention and direction — look in the mirror.

“What opportunities do we have as a family, a church, a sports club? What can we do to help each other and ourselves?

“Instead of making a pot of soup for two, make a pot of soup for six and take some to neighbours who may be struggling.

“The extent to which we grow our own food has diminished.

“Maybe start to work a little unused plot in the neighbourhood — perhaps we say to our neighbour, ‘If you provide the land, I’ll provide the labour’.”

Mr. Brown said those who still have work have a chance to help those who do not. He added that those who had lost their jobs could take the time to learn new skills or trades that would help them to become more self-reliant.

He said: “We can change the way we view this crisis and it might change our behaviour going forward.

“Maybe we need less focus on some of the materialism that has held our attention and treated as essential to our quality of life.

“Maybe we need to reconsider what our basic needs are, what our priorities should be.”

Drastic times call for drastic measures, but could you give up your television, your wheels or your cellphone? With the help of the Sustainable Development Unit, James Whittaker compiled seven suggestions of drastic measures you could take to cut costs and improve your life.

Give up television and get out of the house
It’s easy to flop in front of Sportsmax for an EPL triple-header in your pyjamas but could you give up your flatscreen and $100-a-month subscriptions and take a ball down the beach for a kickabout? It’s also good for your health.

Ditch your BlackBerry and talk in person to your friends and family
Spend so much time on Facebook or BB messenger that you think in LOLs and OMGs? Instead of racking up hundreds of dollars in cellphone bills, you could kick the habit and spend some actual ‘face time’ with your friends.

Swap your moped and your exercise bike for a bicycle
If you’re struggling to pay for your licence, gas and the perennial repairs on your moped, could you switch to pedal power? Think about cycling to and from work every day and you might not need the $150-a-month gym membership either.

Slash grocery bills by growing some of your own food
Homegrown food is a disappearing aspect of Bermudian culture — could you do a small part to help revive it? Work with your friends and neighbours on a community plot and grow some of your own fresh fruit and vegetables. 

Lost your second job? Work for yourself
Did your second income help pay for the landscaper, maintenance work around the house or repairs on your bike? Could you use the free time to learn some of these skills yourself? 

Take a holiday… in Bermuda
Can’t afford the trip to Disney World or the Caribbean cruise? Get out and enjoy some of the parks and beaches that tourists pay thousands of dollars to come and see. From Fort Scaur to Ferry Reach Park, Church Bay to Cooper’s Island — when was the last time you looked at your island through the eyes of a tourist?

Help your neighbours and help yourself
Maybe you can’t cook and your neighbour can, and maybe your neighbour can’t push a lawnmower, but you can. If you negotiate, maybe you can provide some cost-effective help for each other. He spends all his money on take-out, you spend yours on landscaping. Exchanging our skills and talents can help each other out and spend less money.