Local Currents

Social Fabric


“Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

–Alexis de Tocqueville.

Dave Vanderveen

With Passover and Easter week behind us, the Superbowl Sunday for faith is likely an afterthought for many. I believe that at least the assumption of faith and the morality it supports is essential for the liberty we share in communities.


In a Facebook discussion about a David Brooks op/ed on faith and liberty someone asked if there were communities I thought did not benefit from liberty. I responded that there were plenty, in particular those that do not have a social fabric that can support and benefit from liberty.


One of the local projects that my family and I have been investing in for the past decade is the Laguna Beach based organization Growers First (http://www.growersfirst.org). The work of Growers First is to help coffee farmers develop their own communities. “Development” means more than basic economic improvement.


In many rural poor communities, rapid economic development without the development of a supporting community vision and ethic leads to chaos and disintegration of the family.


Once grinding poverty has been alleviated there are other essential elements covering the hierarchy of needs, including education, health care and spiritual development, which enable a community to create an ethic and manage sustainable liberty and independence as a group.


As an organization, Growers First generates dramatic results that transform small-plot, high-altitude, rural coffee farming communities. Via smart tags, consumers can scan bags of coffee and see the farmers that grew it as well as the positive change that is happening in those communities. Called “Traceable Transformation, ™” this direct connection between the grower and the end consumer allows people to follow the bean back to the origin AND see how by buying that coffee, the growers, their families and their communities are being transformed.


In order to benefit from freedom, people need to have the social infrastructure to support independence. French scientist and son of aristocratic parents, Alexis de Tocqueville noted when he traveled America in the middle 1800s that the US managed freedom so well because it had a common moral fabric based in a common Judeo-Christian ethic that supported its Declaration of Independence and daily life. The roots of liberty ran deep in a cosmology that extended beyond will to power and the mob rule of direct democracy that was so bloody in France.


In addition to celebrating my own religious heritage, I was compelled to reflect on liberties that extend from that ethical framework. For me, the greatest enjoyment of liberty comes from sharing the cloth that makes our freedom work.



David Vanderveen is a Laguna Beach resident, husband, father and energy drink entrepreneur. His email is [email protected].

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