Posts filed under ‘Dinner Parties’
By Randy White
Editor, Lawns to Gardens
So… do you like it hot, dirty, and full of heavy breathing?
Then pick up a shovel and get to work! Many Americans still haven’t accepted the idea of growing their own food on whatever plot of land they have available. It seems most people still expect the Federal government is supposed to help us ween ourselves from mono-culture, which is of course laughable. We all know deep-down that America has crashed into the rocks of reality, but why give up when we can play until the end of the game?
There are many positive things we can all change about ourselves to fix this place. It starts by getting off our butts, turning off the TV, and checking out our lawn / soil conditions. But until all media programming concentrates on turning Americans into farmers no matter where they live, my questions are:
– What percent of Americans are at least making an attempt to grow ANY food at all? Herbs? Carrots? Anything?
– What tools are available to help non-farmers enjoy the benefits of farming?
I love that video. And sure, while I am a cynic, I do believe there are those of us who will do what we can to make it without crying for someone other than ourselves to save us. (Note to Christians: What Would Jesus Grow?)
44% of gardeners increase their time spent outdoors due to their garden.
58% of gardeners increase their fresh fruit and vegetable consumption each day.
83% of gardeners save money on food because of their garden.
75% of gardeners share extra produce with people who don’t live with them.
44% of gardeners meet new neighbors as a result of their garden.
And if you don’t have the first clue how to get delicious veggies to pop out of the ground and into your mouth, do yourself a favor and head over to www.growveg.com. GrowVeg is one of the most valuable tools on the Internet, and I’m excited to announce the formation of a GrowVeg and Bright Neighbor partnership (coming soon!).
GrowVeg will help non-farmers plan their gardens better than just about any other tool you will find, and it comes with a free 30-day trial. Try it out before we reach this future:
Peak Oil means that we will be refocusing our social efforts on creating ways for people to become better socially connected in MeetingSpaces. Already social networks are jockeying to become the Neighborhood tools of choice that allow people to survive locally.
After all, life is about to become much harder, so we will need ways to use less energy while creating social tools to make living with less travel ability more worthwhile. And with stale beer, bands, and ideas not getting people into the door anymore due to a decrease in consumer spending – venue owners are now willing to take more risks.
I see advanced, localized MeetingSpace trends popping up all over the place, now that technology has become cheap enough to get really creative with it in venues. Check out this video to get an example, and just imagine the possibilities if they installed a floor that generated electricity by people dancing on it.
Or imagine using a device like this new touchscreen technology as a learning application in MeetSpaces, teaching people how to do urban farming while giving them something beyond present learning technologies.
Take also, for instance, the hot new trend in Portland. At Mt Tabor on Hawthorne, Portlander’s are attending “Middle Thursdays”, a night dedicated to YouTube Karaoke and movie-screen sized Guitar hero.
Instead of requesting songs, attendees submit their favorite YouTube videos and have access to their own private theater and bar. There are frequent breaks to have “Guitar Offs” between the party goers as well.
To ensure there is seriousness among all the fun, at least one video containing a peak-oil communications message is shown. Attendees can coordinate carpools, get creative with night bike riding, pay carbon offsets for the evening’s electricity usage, and make sure to recycle all of the waste. Even food scraps are collected to add to compost.
It seems as we make the transition to a less oil-dependent way of living, we can try to have the best time possible. With enough creativity, positive attitudes, and proper consumer behavior, we can slow down our waste and also use fun opportunities to teach people how to make peace with the earth, each other, and their pitiful attempts at mastering Guitar Hero.
The other night I found myself at a friend’s house and I had a dilemma.
Should I flush my pee, or would the owner of the house mind if I let it mellow? I asked him if it was okay, and he told me he wasn’t cool with it. So I made the yellow go bye-bye.
It made me realize that we are living in a time of behavioral transition. After all, many people are making changes in the way they live and consume. I know people who own composting toilets. But what happens when your lifestyle values are not present in a systemic form at other places you go?
Sure, I turn off the water when I brush my teeth and I re-use my ziplock bags until they fall apart. But what about when one ventures from one’s own nest? Here are some examples of asking questions of others:
If I need to throw something away at a friend’s house:
– Do you compost?
– Where is your recycling?
– Can I let it mellow?
– Do you compost? (The answer is always no. That’s a problem)
– Where is your recycling?
– Where is your restroom? (This is less personal, so I don’t flush when I urinate, but I do wash my hands.)
You get the idea. As more and more people understand that they must be part of the changes we need to make to save the planet, there are bound to be awkward moments. But by having the courage to live with your eco-convictions, you can help others learn to behave.
I just wish our country’s leaders had a personal coach.
Isn’t it neat how fireworks look like flowers when they burst in the sky? The variety of colors reminds me of the blooming plants in my urban garden, opening up for the bees to give them some love.
These days to me it seems smarter to celebrate the arrival of tomatoes and snap peas than it does to embrace a flag. After all… what good is celebrating Independence Day if we aren’t independent? I certainly don’t see our tax dollars being spent to protect America by investing in immediate nation-wide preparations for Peak Oil, do you?
I would think that includes teaching kids at school how to specialize in certain food plants that can be grown at home – then having them teach one another what they learned. Kind of a no-brainer, huh? Or perhaps our national leadership could address the nation, admit we are running out of oil, that we can’t continue our wasteful way of living, and encourage Americans to meet their neighbors to talk about the game plan for powering down and managing with less stuff.
I’m no longer some lone guy talking about this likely scenario – the world’s experts have chimed in and unless you are ignorant, deep down you know it’s coming. It’s a very scary movie we are all characters in, and not many people can get by without their local supermarket, their microwave, and wide array of energy powered gadgets.
Newsflash: Something’s gonna break soon, and the more we run out of energy and water, the more likely big fights are going to break out among nations or even local neighbors. That’s kind of scary, isn’t it? Don’t you think that Americans should prepare for that threat instead of pretending everything will work itself out on it’s own? I believe there is a critical mass of smart people in this country… I hope I’m not wrong.
The smart people in all likelihood are starting to assess their yard, beginning to plant food gardens, and are starting to live AS IF they didn’t have access to the nice things they have now like electricity, gasoline, full supermarket shelves or the Internet.
Yes, the best way to celebrate your independence is to learn to be just that… independent. You can start by waking up and preparing for your new future making due with with much less stuff than you are used to getting by with.
I’m not trying to get all righteous here, just spouting what seems to be common sense. I’m turning off the oven burner before I’m done cooking and using residual heat to keep on cooking without power. I am unplugging devices not being used – and am learning just how much energy things like microwave ovens and laptops use (holy moly they suck up power!).
As you can guess… I’m also busy in my garden planting seeds in composted soil and weeding the pesky invasive plants trying to crowd out the ones that help feed us (if you start by planting garlic and onions, you can make just about anything taste good!)
All in all, I’m proud to be an American and I believe in the power of community. Right now, too many people are distracted by crap TV shows and too many people will be scared if something goes down that shuts down transportation, food distribution, or power systems.
If we don’t start preparing for that future right now, people could soon end up trading recipes for how to grill up their pets on the 4th of July… and no one wants to fry up their own dog or cat. At least I don’t.
Happy 4th of July everyone.
Something amazing happened last night.
First, I attended a massive feast of food prepared by the Blossoming Lotus, and it was one of the best meals of my life. All plant based food delivering eye-rolling toungue dances while completely filling the belly. Here is the menu of what was served:
• Ginger infused Carrot Lavender Soup
• Macadamia Nut Crusted Tempeh with Pesto Sauce and heavenly avacado beet salad
• Saffron Herb Basmati Rice Pilaf
• Chocolate Toasted Coconut No Bake Cookies
I will blog about plant based diets later. Right now I want to tell you about meeting neighbors.
As I headed home from the food event, I rolled into my neighborhood, which was partially closed. The neighbors from a couple blocks over had closed the street to throw themselves a “Get to know your neighbor” Block Party! I couldn’t resist crashing it.
Instead of beer and chips, I grabbed two trays of vegetable starts I had sprouted and headed over to the mini-crowd. Introducing myself as their semi-neighbor, I offered them a selection of vegetable starts to take home and plant, including Broccoli, Beans, Beats, Cauliflower, Zucchini, Spinach, Collard Greens, Carrots, Snow Peas, and Onions.
They immediately welcomed me to the party and thrust a beer in my hand! Not only did I meet over 15 neighbors, but I was able to talk about Peak Oil and the reason I’m gardening so much. I explained to everyone why I’m so avid about growing food at home, and they all agreed that we as neighbors need to start coming out of our “Boxes” more, and become more self sufficient.
The amazing part?
People are friendly once you get them out of their homes, away from their TVs, and talking amongst one another. One of them told me to come with him, and showed me his massive drip feed system for his tomatoes and lettuces, as well as pictures of the solar two-seat vehicle he built by hand (it’s in California at the moment).
So here’s to crashing neighborhood block parties. And if you’ve never been to one, I sure hope you’ll take the initiative to be the spark in your neighborhood and organize a block party with your neighbors. Give them your name, e-mail and phone – and be the coordinator!
Shut the street down, break out the grill, turn on the music and bring name tags! Here are great tips for how to organize a block party to meet neighbors. And make sure to make a neighborhood map so you can write down the names and contact info of new friends you just met.
When it comes down to it, the living strategy of local planning and relying on friends and neighbors will be a key to ensuring local livability.
Well America, the time is near when other players on the world game board are taking the lead. We have had an amazing run of energy-intensive partying, and now it’s going to get a lot tougher. For those of you who are already struggling, you’ll just have to register your complaints to the rich people who live behind gated communities if you can get through their armed guards.
So here it is, the decline of the US Dollar and all the purchasing power you thought you had. Retirement? Ha! We’ve been swiping proverbial credit cards to pay for all the fun, haven’t we? That new big screen TV, and my my my, what a beautiful sport utility vehicle in the driveway of that awesome new home with the manicured lawn.
Financing them all, you say? Two payments away from losing it all? We should should have been converting our yards to a food garden instead. After all, when groceries start to become too expensive for the middle class (already too much for the poor) and food isn’t being restocked on the shelves, people are going to start realizing the amazingly deep shit we are all in.
From the highest level of real estate (ports, buildings, stadiums, etc.) to the people already sleeping in the street, we are about to feel the effects of peak oil. As the dollar continues to plummet, other countries in better positions (China, Europe, Russia, UAE) will be looking at our garage sale and buying up more and more of America, which will probably include the company you are working for (unless you own your own business, which I would recommend you convert to a Survival Goods brick-and-mortar right away).
As the stress continues to build and more people realize how broken the food system is, there will be rushes to hoard supplies and scared masses of people brandishing shotguns in the parking lots at Costco. That could be the scene around the country if we don’t start making our “crash landing” plans right now.
I continue to advocate that every mayor start to look beyond the term “sustainability” and start planning for local survival. None of us REALLY wants to find out if humans taste like chicken, do we? If you are a white collar worker, you might want to go out and drag your shirt through the dirt and get used to what it’s like.
By the way, I have a nice Fender guitar for sale if anyone wants it… or I’ll trade you straight out for a couple of solar panels.