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ergo: Village


October 10th, 2016

Grass Roots

by William Lawson

Food > GrassAll politics are local…which explains both the source and depth of our national ignorance. – WRL

Oregon’s Willamette valley, which is where I live, is one of the most fertile places on earth. Sixty years ago, it supplied over 99% of the food consumed by the people living here. Today, that figure is less than one tenth of one percent.

The thousands of acres that once produced bumper crops of vegetables, fruits and nuts…and provided seemingly endless pasturage for dairy, fiber (wool) and meat production…are now largely used for production of grass seed. Edible, I suppose, but not terribly nutritious.

In other words, with very rare exceptions, everything now found in the grocery stores comes from far away. If there were a hiccup in the supply chain, the store shelves would be empty in a matter of days…or hours if the disruption was presented as “ominous” on the nightly news.

Sixty years ago, the people in this valley would hardly notice the consequences. Not just because so much food was produced locally, but also because most of them still had their feet on the ground, or very close to it. For example, when I was a kid, many of the people in this area built their own homes, had gardens (not spas) in their back yards, and canned much of what they planned to eat in the winter months. Only a very small percentage were starting down the road to La-La Land…and thus beginning to rely entirely on others for their necessities.

Today…well, let’s just say that almost no one is prepared either physically, psychologically or socially for any kind of deprivation, much less one that involves vital goods or services. And almost no one has direct control over their basic food supply.

In the broader context, this country–not to mention most others in the west–has effectively constructed a house of cards on an increasingly shaky foundation. And it has also successfully produced at least one generation that is virtually unprepared to function in a seriously deprived environment. Take one card away (take your pick) on or near the bottom of the supply chain, even briefly, and…well, lets just say it won’t be pretty.

So…is there any local political awareness or interest in any of this? Sure…about as much as you’ll find in L.A. or New York City. And who’s to blame for that? Politicians? No, its simpler than that. Just look in a mirror and you’ll see the person who is ultimately responsible for your survival, when (not if) things go south.

You can’t get any more local or “grass roots” than that.


A Farm For The Future

by Chuck Burr – CultureQuake

Wildlife filmmaker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family’s farm in Devon, UK into a low energy farm for the future, and discovers that nature holds the key.

The magic of this film is abundant. First, Rebecca is not a died-in-the-wool sustainability activist. Her earnestness in asking questions and genuine learning evolve through the film. Rebecca was raised in a traditional farming family in Devon. The magic also comes from her experience as a wildlife cinematographer. The footage of the wildlife and landscape is beautiful.

Rebecca Hosking

The film begins with Rebecca returning to her family’s farm in Devon to become the next generation to farm and her quest to find a more sustainable farming practice in view of rising fuel prices. She learns how dependent food production is on cheap fossil fuel and how insecure oil production will be in the future.

The film documents Rebecca’s exploration of ways to farm without fossil fuels. One of the most touching momemts of A Farm for the Future is when Rebecca asks pioneering farmer Charlotte Hollis, “Are you telling us not to plow?” Rebecca is starting to get it when Charlotte responds, “Yes.”

The enjoyable balance of the documentary follows Rebecca through her visits to beautifully captured woodland forest garden permaculturists in the UK and Ireland where design is inspired by nature.

Initially dismissing permaculture as, “not proper farming,” Rebecca learns from leading permacultureists such as Patrick Whitefield and Chris Dickson, that polyculture yields per acre can exceed those of industrial farming practices and how low maintenance the permaculture food forest model is. After touring these permaculture sites, it is wonderful to see how Rebecca looks at her family farm in a whole new way.

This film is an extraordinary piece of work, and a ‘must see’ by anyone who wants to know what creating a sustainable future farm will be like when it no longer depends on fossil fuels. – Editor


Why Hasn’t The Tiny House Movement Become A Big Thing? A Look At 5 Big Barriers

by Lloyd Alter 

Why Not A Tiny House? TreeHugger has been covering tiny houses for years; I even own one, the remains of a previous career trying to promote the idea of the tiny house. Notwithstanding the success of people like Jay Shafer and his Tumbleweed Tiny House line, it is still an incredibly tiny niche. What’s holding it back? Over at The Tiny Life, Ryan Mitchell lists the Top 5 Biggest Barriers To The Tiny House Movement; the first three L’s are well known to me, I am not certain about the last two, and I think he is missing a big one. Read more…


Local sustainability – the problems, practicalities and possibilities

by Anne Behan

Any initiative to promote sustainability must relate to people. People must be able to identify with the theory and practical application of sustainability because its success or failure will ultimately depend on the willingness of people to adopt its principles. It is essential that a true understanding of sustainability is promoted from the outset of any project. It must be presented as an integrated package of economic, environmental and social best practice.


In a practical situation it is useful, in fact necessary, to have a working definition of sustainability. Simple definitions set a point of reference for a mixed audience. Definitions should be simple and practical and must be comprehensible to all individuals, whatever their background.

People will have heard the word “sustainability”- most likely mis-quoted. There will be a vague recognition, but general lack of understanding as to what it means. Because the concept is vague, there will probably be a perception that it is something complicated and beyond the scope of a local community, but a simple working definition can bring sustainability into focus for a community. The definition can be broadened, adapted, or abandoned as work progresses. The usual case is that, as understanding grows, there is no longer any need for a definition. As a project progresses and practical action gathers momentum, “sustainability” becomes a household word, a way of thinking and a way of living. However, it is useful to have a short definition at hand for newcomers to a project, or for a community to articulate to others what they are doing.

It is easy to offer definitions of sustainability, but it is advisable to avoid spending too much time determining their phraseology. Many community meetings devote time to refining definitions, even after the concept has been adopted. In a working context it is the understanding that is important and once this has been achieved, the definition becomes less important.

A useful working definition is that from the Brundtland report. Acknowledging the shortcomings of the report, its definition “meeting the needs today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” is useful. When this is explained, phrase by phrase in public, communities generally accept it because they relate to “meeting needs” and to the needs of “future generations“, the latter generally being understood as their own children.

Alternatively, or additionally, Richard Douthwaite’s definition is also useful: “systems which could exist for hundreds of years and would not have to be changed, unless people decided to change them“.

Another simple working definition is : “adopting best practice in all that we do“. If we leave problems behind us, then we are not acting sustainably because problems will accumulate and sooner or later, singly or cumulatively, they will impact on somebody and impair their ability to look after themselves. If this happens sooner rather than later, the impact of our practices will affect ourselves.

Masai people say “to fail nature is to fail ourselves and the generations that come after us“. Masai people have adopted this as a living motto, but it is popular among Irish communities as a principle of sustainability.

In some cases the word “sustainability” may be off-putting and it may be a useful strategy to reserve the term for a later stage in a project. Alternative terms, such as “good practice” may be used initially to introduce the concept. The appropriate terminology is best decided by the individual(s) who are presenting “sustainability” at local level.


Introductions to sustainability at community meetings inevitably generate discussion of global and other issues. It is important to foster these discussions from the beginning of a project because they encourage thinking and generate innovative ideas. Issues of sustainability are so broad and challenging that it is easy to spend considerable time discussing global problems rather than local solutions. The relationship between global and local scenarios must be stressed to emphasise the collective responsibility of local communities. It is also important to instigate some [well-planned] action in the early stages of a project because this energizes people and helps to maintain community confidence in a project.


“Landscape links” / policy and reality

If we examine what we do and how we do it, we must admit to ourselves that we are not following “best practice” and problems are accumulating. Global warming is perhaps the ultimate manifestation of what is going wrong.

Man evolved on this earth, like all other species. As part of a continuing process we adapted to our surroundings and lived off the land, in communication and rapport with the landscape. As a result we, like all other species, maintain linkages with landscape. It is to be expected that we have an inherent understanding of our environment. For example, we should have a basic understanding of how our rivers work, when they are in good condition and when there is something wrong. Although environmental legislation is useful, we should not have to rely on it to tell us when our waterways are clean, when we can safely drink the water, or breathe the air. We should not have to rely on policy to tell us how to treat our environment – we should “know” from our own experience with the landscape and from an understanding that is partly learned, partly inherited.

In every human being there remains an innate and deep-rooted connection with landscape. Some people feel it very strongly, others may not be aware of it, but there are few people who do not experience it in some way at some time in their lives. However, living today in a modern world of busy lifestyles, many people are removed from direct or conscious links with landscape. “Landscape links” can be demonstrated in the ease with which people begin to relate to environment when it is explained to them, especially if this explanation is offered outdoors. A few minutes spent in showing the basics of the earth and its species opens up peoples’ minds and reawakens their ability to absorb sensory information and relate to what is around them. They begin to see and wonder at things, which previously would have gone unnoticed. Moreover, they begin to understand landscape and ecology – maybe not in a way that they could articulate by scientific reasoning and explanation – but by an inherent understanding that can be easily nurtured and supplemented by information.

Among the current profusion of policy there exists an enormous gap between policy and reality. A river may comply with all of the required standards, but this does not guarantee that it is healthy – because a river is an interaction of numerous factors, it has life and policy cannot determine life. Likewise, people are emotional creatures and policy cannot regulate emotions. It is the complexity of interacting individuals, emotions, cultures and peoples’ interaction with landscape that determines our collective effect on the earth – and in turn, its effect on us. Policy cannot determine life – it is only by working within an understanding and acceptance of the earth that we can function within it and experience true well-being.


What keeps people at such a distance from the world around them? Are they not all living on the earth and influenced by it? This distance is maintained primarily by lack of information. Despite this being hailed as the Information Age, it is really only the Age of Information Technology – there is an appalling lack of information relating to local environments, ecology and the earth’s functions. Without this information we cannot function properly within the earth’s capacity and in keeping with the earth’s processes. People of previous generations lived closer to the landscape and had an understanding of it, but because so many people now live busy lifestyles, mainly in an urban context, they are removed from that interaction which gives understanding. Therefore, people need information that will explain and keep alive their innate landscape links. This is not provided to people – on the contrary, it appears that it is actively denied.

Where is the information that explains to people what local landscapes and habitats are, the previous influences that created them, what affects them and what species live locally? People are denied such information but, if it were available, it would allow them to make more informed decisions regarding development. Enriched with such information they might think differently and create a demand for environmentally-sensitive developments and best practice – for sustainability. By distancing people from environment and keeping their “landscape links” dormant, it is easier for aggressive economic growth to maintain momentum despite its consequences. People become dependent on certain services and products and when people are dependent, or feel dependent, they are less likely to accept explanations of the adverse impact of our lifestyles and economic systems, or alternatives to these systems.

Likewise, when there is a controversy relating to the environmental effects of a proposed development, it rarely receives public attention until the development, or at least the plans, are well advanced. Those people who do manage to gather information (often with great difficulty) try to inform others, but this is usually too late – it is never easy to inform a population during controversy – too much has happened, too much inaccurate information is in circulation and there is little opportunity to go back to basics and explain in detail what is really happening, the potential consequences of the proposed development and the choice of alternatives. In reality, in most situations, local groups are portrayed as merely “protesting about another development” and are labelled as “NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard). Such social labels further segregate concerned groups from the remainder of the population, thus making it even more difficult for them to inform the public and force an unbiased debate.

In these situations, individuals, communities and collectively the nation, are starved of the information which would allow them to make informed decisions or comments. As a result, situations usually end up as controversies – one is either “pro” or “anti” the particular development. There is no unity – communities become isolated within the country, or groups become isolated within communities. There is no overall consideration of best practice, proper debate does not take place, opportunities for real integrated progress are lost and unsustainable developments proceed – status quo is maintained!

It is only by information and networking that communities can make it known that local issues are national issues and national issues are local issues which ultimately affect everybody.


The media play a role in maintaining this process. By failing to publish a story, not alone do they deny people the right of information, but they indirectly deny people the opportunity to network and force a more sustainable outcome to an issue. The environmental truth about situations is often forfeited in favour of more dramatic stories. For example, the story of a few so-labelled “environmentalists”, interested only in “a snail” who held up the construction of the Kildare by-pass to the detriment of people was promoted by the media, but the alternative story – the truth – was refused by major newspapers and television presenters. After publishing a story newspapers and television documentaries are often reluctant to re-visit the topic, even when reliable environmental information is offered – they are “in the business of selling news” and “nobody wants old news”.


Human beings work best when challenged. It is natural for a species to be responsible for its own survival, but the challenge of survival has been taken from peoples’ lives and replaced with pressures of daily living. Human ingenuity is wonderful, but it is restrained within mental straightjackets of dependency on systems that are not working for people and over which they have little or no direct control. The most challenged communities in the world have been the most innovative in self-help. In developed countries people are locked into economic systems and in many cases grant-dependence, which do not allow them to realize their own strength and potential. This robs them of the confidence and challenge of self-reliance.


In any sustainability project it is important to be aware of the context in which one is working. It is essential to recognise past problems and current constraints (local, national and global) so that these may be challenged. Examination of past problems is often portrayed as negativity and this is frowned upon in modern dialogue. However, to ignore past influences would be negligent since it is essential to understand the influences which shaped our current situations. It is also important to acknowledge and where possible, put right the failings of the past. This is positive action and must be openly discussed. Thus, the problems of lack of information, lack of challenge, broken “landscape links”, power of the media, etc. must be recognised, openly acknowledged and challenged. Reliable environmental information is fundamental to an effective dilution of these effects.

Action for Sustainability

Ref. Co. Wexford Partnership Action for Sustainability Project
The Sustainability Web by Anne Behan

One’s role in creating and encouraging sustainability at local level depends on one’s access to community. As an individual, a person may have to lead by example, or by networking outside his/her community. Alternatively, if a person or group has access to community groups/discussion there is better opportunity to promote action towards sustainability.

In initial contact with a community on the subject of sustainability, one must expect at least some opposition to the theory and practice of sustainability – it will be portrayed as unrealistic, impossible, impracticable, etc. People will confuse wants with real needs.

It is important to encourage as large a community participation as possible and if it can be achieved, to expand groups beyond the existing community development associations. There will be a number of stages in the progression towards sustainability:

  • A simple working definition is useful as an introduction.
  • The starting point must be open discussion – this may take place over several meetings. Allow the discussion to flow without offering too much information or direction initially. Gently introduce some thoughts on how existing systems are not working for people and some examples of alternatives that are working for people. Encourage the discussion to progress to wants and needs. Accept what communities are planning for themselves because they will tend to do this anyway – but encourage them to think in terms of best practice.
  • After a period of general discussion direct the meetings to specific local issues.
  • Ask special interest groups to consider the best and worst case scenarios of their proposed activities. Then, collectively as a community, consider how groups may achieve goals without causing the negative impact.
  • Do not worry that you do not have all of the answers – nobody has, but by pooling community expertise and knowledge it will be amazing what can be achieved.
  • Investigate ways in which individuals and groups within a community, or between neighbouring communities, can combine resources to best effect e.g. sports clubs sharing facilities, car-pooling, etc.
  • In terms of practical action, the provision of accurate information on the local environment is important. Information allows for true and informed consultation. Consultation is meaningless, in fact dangerous, if people lack information because damaging decisions can be made and justified as if they were the wish of the people.

A simple, accurate explanation of what the local environment is, how it was formed (local geology), what lives there (local ecology), with examples of named local places will generate awareness and appreciation. Such information can engender an awareness and sense of responsibility towards the local environment. This stage of a project should be easy and pleasant to achieve – people are generally very welcoming of local information if it is well presented to them.

  • It will be necessary to develop a set of local indicators to measure progress. These must be reliable, meaningful and have local application and relevance to human community.
  • Technical details of, for example, waste management programmes, energy conservation etc. are relatively easy to formulate, but do not consider issues in isolation. Always examine the relationships, or linkages, between elements of the community. Assess proposed action plans in terms of their potential effects on these interactions. These interactions represent the life of a community – what makes it “tick”. It is important to take account of these unseen relationships if a community is to be sustainable. Examination of local interactions will help to shape more detailed and integrated plans and devise a set of local indicators
  • Always give due consideration to the less tangible aspects of life such as identity, heritage, sense of place and time, etc. Association with heritage is fundamental to the human psyche and issues of society, environment and economics will never be resolved if human emotions and beliefs are not acknowledged in the process.


When people begin to discuss sustainability at a local level and realize the importance of self-reliance and local systems, it is both amazing and encouraging to witness the local solutions to local problems which are proposed by local people.

Great progress has been made in certain aspects of best practice in numerous communities (numerous examples can be found on the internet). By designing action which takes account of the interactive forces within communities the possibilities for progress towards sustainability are enormous.

© Anne Behan
October 2002.

Originally posted at Feasta.org


A huge step toward the new paradigm…


A Lesson In Restaurant Sustainability . . .

If you’ve been in a restaurant kitchen, you’ve seen how much food, water and energy can be wasted there. Chef Arthur Potts-Dawson shares his very personal vision for drastically reducing restaurant, and supermarket, waste — creating recycling, composting, sustainable engines for good (and good food).


On September 22, 2010 Chris Martenson was the guest on Jack Spirko’s Survival Podcast. The resulting conversation was exactly what you would expect from two of the most articulate and far-sighted people living today. Anyone with concern for the future should definitely listen to this:



Survival, SECURITY, and Comfort . . .

The following Podcast by Jack Spirko is a MUST ‘listen’ for anyone who’s genuinely interested in realistically preparing for a potential socio-economic meltdown:
Security During a Break Down – Lessons from “The Colony” on Discovery


As oil continued to pour into the Gulf on a recent Saturday, Jennifer Wilkerson spent three hours on the phone talking about life after petroleum.

For Mrs. Wilkerson, 33, a moderate Democrat from Oakton, Va., who designs computer interfaces, the spill reinforced what she had been obsessing over for more than a year — that oil use was outstripping the world’s supply. She worried about what would come after: maybe food shortages, a collapse of the economy, a breakdown of civil order. Her call was part of a telephone course about how to live through it all. Read full article…


How Food Shapes Our Cities

by Carolyn SteelTED Presentation

Click here to learn more about Carolyn Steel (and her book “Hungry City”


Garden For The Globe

by Karen – (excerpt from “Reading Dirt” 10/15/09)

Karen - DiggingDirt BlogWe live in a society grounded in consumption. We haven’t always been this way. In the past, people of the US took pride in their productivity. Most people lived on small farms. People cooked, sewed, spun, and knitted. They worked wood, braided rugs, made milk into butter and cheese and apples into pies and cider. In the country, people grew most of the food that they ate. Even in the suburbs, while houses might have a lawn and flower beds in the front, they typically had a kitchen garden in the back.

In the mid-20th century, particularly after WWII, American society had a turn-around. After scrimping and saving for two World Wars, after giving up butter and meat, after endless scrap drives, after knitting for the soldiers, people were tired of economizing and were pleased with the message from Madison Avenue: luxury goods! Modern living! Why cook from scratch when you could buy ready-cooked in a can, all the work done for you in (what was presented as) a clean, hygienic factory kitchen? Why be so old-fashioned as to knit or sew when you could buy ready-made?

And so we became consumers instead of producers, happily contributing to an economy that was based on more and more people buying more and more stuff per capita every year. The price for the luxury of buying everything ready-made and on-demand was increased pollution, increased carbon emissions, and depletion of natural resources. Global climate change was the inevitable result, and it’s not thousands of years in the future. It’s right now.

Our consumer-based economy is neither economically nor ecologically sustainable. We can’t keep it up. We must change, and do so before the economy and the ecology collapse irrevocably. We must do so intelligently, thoughtfully, and with care in choosing what kind of economy we can sustain.

Canned Pears - DiggingDirt BlogAnd what does this have to do with gardening? Take a peek back at those farms and homes I talked about earlier. What was in the back yard? Yep, the humble kitchen garden. Where were most people living? You got it — on local farms, supplying people in the area with fresh produce, meat, and eggs.

If global climate change is the demon child of the industrial revolution and the transformation of producers into mass consumers, the way out again is to become producers once again and become more thoughtful consumers. Eating locally is one avenue. Eating locally reduces our reliance on produce shipped from faraway countries, and you can’t get much more local than your own back yard. There’s also nearby farms and farmer’s markets. Buying local not only reduces one’s carbon footprint, it also keeps money in your local economy, which keeps local businesses and farms alive and preserves meaningful employment in your area.

Natural landscaping is another avenue. Outside of the kitchen garden, thoughtful choices among native and near-native plants can reduce water consumption, contribute to carbon-sequestering, and support local wildlife. Organic gardening methods put carbon-rich humus in the soil, which increases carbon-sequestering.

Then there is the more cerebral part of organic gardening. As the gardener goes through the seasons, learning from books and by (sometimes hard) experience about which plants to choose, how to care for them, and which pests to watch out for, the gardener connects to the natural world and the rhythms of the seasons. Thoughtful choices in the garden, from which pest control methods to use to which plants to choose, can lead to thoughtful choices outside of the garden. If I don’t want to put poisons on my plants, do I want poisons in the household cleaners I use? If I’m concerned about the health of my soil, what about the soil of our nation’s farms? What do I care about the latest fashions or must-buy products when I have a harvest of tomatoes and corn to take pride in?

By some religious traditions, humans began life in a garden. With a little effort, maybe it will be gardens that keep us alive as well.


Hope Project


by Brian Kaller – Restoring Mayberry

I had the honour to participate in an inspiring story recently. A young lady named Jennifer wrote me last month, saying she was concerned for her friend. Her friend was active in ecological issues, Jennifer said, but knowledge of peak oil, climate change and other problems brought her down, and she was losing hope for the future. For her birthday, Jennifer asked, would I write something about what gives me hope, and could she publish them online?

I was honoured and wrote something as best I could and sent it off to Jennifer, thinking it would just be my writing and maybe a few others.

When the birthday came around and I checked the link I received, I was amazed. Jennifer had written dozens of people across the world – scientists, activists, authors and bloggers, all working in some way on the Long Emergency, all explaining to an (apparently) young woman why we need to keep going. It is, hands down, the best birthday present I’ve ever heard of. Read full article…


“Never doubt a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead


Modern Survival Philosophy

by Jack Spirko – The Survival Podcast


The core of my philosophy about being prepared, life style planning, self sufficiency and energy independence is summed up in the following ten principles:

Everything you do to prepare for emergencies, disasters or economic turmoil should be blended into your life in a way that improves your life even if nothing disastrous ever occurs.

Debt is financial cancer! Minimize it, pay it off early and stay away from credit cards.

Growing your own food is for everyone not just people that want “organic” fruit and vegetables. To produce your own food, even as little as 10% of what you use reduces your dependence on “the system”. If nothing else gardening is good for your emotional and physical health and increases the value of any property.

Tax is theft, the best way to combat it is to understand every legal deduction you can take or create. In general I think “the system” is bad but when it comes to taxation either learn the system or hire a damn good accountant to work it for you. Every dollar you keep can be used to improve your self sufficiency, every dollar taken from you can be used to make your dependence on the government stronger.

Food stored is an exceptional investment. Food is increasing in cost faster then just about any investment right now and certainly faster then the rate of inflation. You simply can’t loose by storing additional food that you use on a regular basis.

Plan for disaster in the following order of priority: Personal-Localized-Regional-State-National-Global. Despite the real possibility of a true economic melt down or catastrophic terrorist attack or some other major global disaster the most probable “disaster” for any individual is personal. Loss of a job, loss of a family member, a fire or localized weather event are the most probable threats to impact any individual. So plan and prepare for those first, then continue to build going forward.

Renewable energy is great if you do it in a way that saves you money (short or long term) but your solar panels are not going to save the planet. Man made global warming is a scam designed to force the U.S. into a global taxation system. If you want to promote solar, wind, hydro, etc. the best way is to develop it in a more cost effective manner. Fuel efficient vehicles are also great. I personally drive a 2006 Jetta TDI diesel that puts many hybrids to shame at 44 MPG! That’s doing 80MPH on average by the way. I bought it because it was affordable, well built and incredibly engineered and cost me a lot less to run even with diesel being a lot more expensive then gas. The lesson is that the best way to promote “green energy” is via economics.

Owning land is true wealth. I advise people to strive to own land in the country where taxes are low and restrictions are limited. Even if you live in the city finding, buying and improving land within 3-5 hours of your primary residence makes a lot of sense. If you can use it to get out of the city at some point so much the better.

In addition to food, water and other common survival stores use common sense methods of hedging against “disaster”. Pragmatic things like, cash emergency funds, good insurance and secondary income streams are not just for people in “the system”. These types of protection can make you life a lot less miserable when something goes wrong. Make them part of your planning.

Your personal philosophy is more important for you then mine! You are the master of your own life and if you don’t agree with my views, great, define, understand and implement your own. The biggest thing you can do is understand that you are in control of your life and that what you do matters. Those two factors have the greatest impact on individual survival across every demographic you can imagine.

An example of Jack Spirko’s The Survival Podcast – April 17, 2009
Gardening is Patriotic: Our Nation now imports food…


Heirloom Design

by Adele Peters

heirloom-designCan we live sustainably while still enjoying our stuff? Buying better stuff (and less of it), and keeping it for longer is one realistic strategy for making that possible. But we know that won’t work with most of the stuff we have now. Whether it’s clothes, computers, appliances or even homes, throwaway culture in the developed world — accompanied by throwaway design — makes for stuff we not only don’t want to keep, but that we often can’t continue to use even if we try. Read full article…


There’s No Pill for This Kind of Depression

Six months after the collapse, a “pandemic of fear.”
by Peggy Noonan – Wall Street Journal – March 13, 2009

In February the FBI’s criminal background check system showed a 23% increase in gun sales over the previous year, a 29% increase in January, a 24% increase in December and a 42% increase in November, when a record 1.5 million background checks were performed. Yes, people fear Obama will take away the guns he thinks they cling to, but a likely equal contributor to what The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch called a “gun-buying binge” is captured in the slogan on one firearms maker’s Web site: “Smith & Wesson stands for protection.” People are scared. Read full article…


[The following post from the Energy Bulletin (Jan/09) signals a growing interest in organizing communities to become more self-reliant with respect to local food production. It is just one of several activities that this web site intends to illuminate and help promote. – Editor]

Food Security in Boise

by Bob Blurton – Boise, ID – January 17, 2009

I just returned from a ‘Food Security’ meeting at the Boise City Council Chamber. Over 100 people showed up and the enthusiasm was damn near out of control. I have never been to a citizen gathering that was as electric as this thing was tonight.

It was a led off by Elaine Clegg of the Boise City Council who talked about farming and farm animals in the city, and how the council is about to write a new plan and wants urban farming and sustainable agriculture to be a part of it. Read full article…


Tom Friedman’s Awakening

by Jan Lundberg – March 9, 2009

Jan LundbergSlow collapse is what we need, if possible. As bad as this seems, “So far so good.” The kind of fast collapse from a massive interruption in oil supplies is much harder to handle. The system is teetering on many levels, and there are uncertainties, but fall it will.

Many people around the world are hurting, but not those who have a secure connection to a fruitful, healthy land base belonging to their community. In the U.S., where the Census no longer has a designation for “Farmer” for lack of numbers, the food charities are stressed from unprecedented demand, while foreclosures and firings mean homelessness for some. And in a minimum-community culture, there’s nowhere to go — in the 1930s’ Great Depression a room could be had in a relative’s farmhouse out in the country. Read full article…

Thomas Friedman.

The Inflection Is Near?
by Thomas L. Friedman – March 7, 2009

… Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”

We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese. Read full column…



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