Posts filed under ‘Energy Crash’
The big slick. What a mess, eh?
So many opinions about what we should do. So many fingers wagging. But unless you are completely off grid, growing all your own food, weaving your own fabric to make your own clothes, and have basically removed yourself from any consumer situation that takes in any way from the planet, you are guilty of this crime. Just like me.
We are all guilty of this crime against the planet, and like the titans of Washington and Wall Street, we will not prosecute ourselves. We humans love to outsource blame to others – because other people are the problem and are the ones who should change, right? 7,000,000,000 +/- humans on the planet, all with fingers pointing at one another. Craaaaaaaaaaaaazy. And yet so funny.
This explosion in-our-faces will not go away. It is a major wake up call, but people want to hit the snooze button and go back to watching CSI. Just like how all the networks went back to entertainment programming immediately after President Obama’s address to the nation, pleading and praying for change.
But when your economy depends on consumption, you can’t ask for conservation. It’s the paradox I testified about years ago when Portland was exploring disaster scenarios and how to mitigate the effects. Back in 2007, I wrote a blog post about advertising in the age of peak oil, and the problem of institutions clinging to antiquated models. (Check out the video on that post from a presentation I made at Clear Channel, at 45:00 in…)
And as much as businesses want customers to keep buying their stuff, income destruction will of course lead to less consumption. It’s just that people like to buy stuff. We built Bright Neighbor as a sustainability network that allows people to lend things to one another rather than consuming new things from stores, and it works great. But perceived Independence is an American value, and many people feel they are independent in choices by shopping at stores. The idea of dependence on neighbors they don’t know yet is a leap for sure. After all, you can’t deeply know or trust everyone. There are predators out there, yes. But a system to build social glue through resource sharing at the neighborhood and hyper-local community level is in place. We are doing what we can to expand Bright Neighbor to more cities right now.
So, in the long run, we all die. That bugs me! I like living, and want a good planet to pass along to my kid and other people’s kids as well. I find that the only way to maintain my own sanity in this crazy crazy world is to accept that it is indeed a crazy crazy world. It always has been. That’s why I have as much fun as I can every day trying to reduce my own personal impact. And I have a long way to go as a recovering oil addict, even after trying for years. There is no self-righteousness, just an attempt to do what I feel is right to try to liberate myself from dependence on oil.
How about you?
I am reading stories about how not many economists saw “The Crash” coming. Are you saying that all the punks I know are smarter than Wall Street and Washington analysts?
Of course it’s bullshit. Any smart person saw it coming, and the military started their peak oil campaign back in 2001. Venezuela – your oil is in our scope sights now!
There are many Americans working for peace, however. Remember – they track you with your cell phone, and you can eat dandelions!
Sometimes, you have to move beyond the blog – so I went and laid out some thoughts in front of an audience.
It’s no secret that Portland is a pretty radical city. While mainstream America is still learning how to make the leap to full-time sustainability activities, Portland, Oregon is a major hot zone and leader in the human revolution. The intent of this article is to offer an opinion and insight into strategies, collaborations, and technologies that are occurring in our city to solidify life-supporting social constructs.
We All Have Our Problems
Portland is dependent on energy and money just like any other city. With over 500,000 people, we have the 23rd largest economy in the US at $88.6 billion dollars. We have crime, poverty, homelessness, and hard-working people who would love more time off to pursue more joys in life if only they didn’t have debts to pay.
The fact is, not enough people here have the skills, resources, or contribute to the system to say Portland can become a completely self-sufficient city. While science has determined the amount of calories and nutrition needed for human bodies to survive, only each individual can determine what is needed to satisfy each of our own living requirements. Right now, people around the world are searching within themselves to determine what this mother-of-all-market-corrections means in the context of their own life. In countries around the world, people are reflecting on survival, whether it means scrambling to meet basic needs such as food and shelter, or committing one’s life to helping others survive as we dismantle nuclear weapons.
Indeed, finance industries and governments continue to try and figure out how they can game the now collapsing currency market, and around the world thousands of loose-knit social movements and groups are acting together, radically altering the balance between commercial and non-commercial economies. Portlanders are trading sink repair for firewood, worm castings for books, and organizing into sustainability groups, meeting to discuss a multitude of survival strategies. The cool part is that it is in the most relaxed manner I could have imagined. You know something cool is happening when the art community gets involved. To see scholars, artists, chefs, teachers, farmers, faith leaders, bureaucrats and other various communities coming together to discuss survival in a civil manner is surreal. It is also the beauty of the Portland conversation, because empathy, understanding, and cooperation are now winning out over personal greed.
Let’s examine some of the conversations taking place, and how people are organizing to do what we can locally:
Food, Food, Food
Portlanders will practically strip naked and make love to the soil. Our city is full of a diverse ecosystem of people and cultures who love and worship local food, soil, and farmers. The cool thing to ask at parties is “So what do you grow”? Little kids wear shirts that say “I Love My Farmer”. They worship apples – and I’m not just talking about their phones and computers.
As mobile as the city is with its fantastic bus and rail system, we have no problem getting around to all the amazing restaurants that showcase seasonal, locally grown vegetables in their menus. Our chefs strive to use local ingredients, as long as the cost doesn’t put them out of business. Our citizens have one of the highest percentages of CSA subscriptions. The fact is, we love food. So when it comes to loud-mouthed know-it-alls, you can bet Portland likes to brag about it’s success with food.
Using a variety of technologies to list events, food experts are leading the conversation. If you know how to grow food, fix soil, and install edible landscaping, you are all the rage. Take a look at this quick video and you will see what the job of the future looks like.
Presently, Bright Neighbor offers a “Lawns to Gardens” service, helping match people to homeowners willing st share their lawns. We are connecting Gerding Edlen’s newest building CYAN/pdx to Portland land owners to help create more garden activity and boost our local local food system.
Our April 17th kickoff of the Bright Neighbor Community Revolution Tour will include boosting lawn farming production, water harvesting, and permaculture practices throughout the city.
This one is real easy. Portlanders either walk, bike, drive, ride, or rail it to and from where they need to be. If you need to get there, you can get there cheap, you just have to consider whether you will be exposed to the elements and how much time it will take. But we know we will get there somehow.
When it comes to fuel supply solutions, some Portlanders have electric vehicles, and many are discovering that you can make ethanol from hundreds of non-food supply threatening feedstocks other than corn. As for ride-sharing, people are getting to know their neighbors to work on cooperative projects and partake in resource sharing. For instance, if you need a ride right now, you can just call up your friends or discover your neighbors via one of the many Internet technologies. You can always use the Internet and phone to find a ride and share resources. The question is which technologies to use will make it easiest for communities.
Fixing our local commerce system
One high-brow conversation among Portland communities is talk of fixing our money system and the restructuring of the economy based on a non-fiat based local currency. The challenge with this movement is an assumption that outstanding debts can or will be canceled or repaid using any new system. The beauty of this movement and conversation is that even if we don’t solve the new riddle right away, the conversation is fascinating and the beer is great. Even thinking about the idea of replacing the world’s current broken money system is exciting in and of itself. The questions being asked have to do with real value, the meaning of real wealth, and property rights. It is being talked about by all political parties, all religions, and all citizens.
We are asking:
Who grows my food?
Who supplies my fuel?
Are my water need secured?
What is worth more, a knife or a variety bag of seeds?
How does the community determine each person’s value?
How do we know who is trustworthy and who isn’t?
How long will dollars matter?
Am I capable of doing what it takes to survive?
What is my purpose if not to make money?
The conversation in Portland revolves around a common realization that our community is quickly developing an entirely new system of accepted social values, logistics, and supply chains. I will end this postcard from a transition hotzone with the opinion that emerging businesses are using a variety of technologies to bring new food supplies into pop-culture at maximum velocity. More of our citizens are contributing real value to the community through hyper-involvement at the neighborhood level, and Portland will continue to lead the way in defining modern community survival trends.
What’s cool that is going on in your city?
My buddy Sam Drevo is a world class kayaker. He has navigated some of the fiercest waters on planet earth while simultaneously making love to and taunting mother nature. Sam looks at rapids ahead, and paddles straight into what could be the last moments of his life every time. It is his confidence, training, and humility that always allow him to come through alive, even if he knocks his head along the way. At least he has a plan for rough waters, and knows how to navigate new, uncharted territory like an expert.
And Sam has known adventurers who have made mistakes and paid with their lives. We are all fallible, right? You know you yourself have made miscalculations in the past just like everyone else, and things haven’t gone according the exact way you thought they might go.
Oh sure, you must have been smart about your plans, made all your mental details, laid out your strategy, and went for it, right? You were plotting, you see. We all plot every day, because we have to in order to survive. It could be anything from what to do in case you wash your cell phone and lose all your stuff, get that hot person to go out with you, or try to get away with something naughty. It could have be anything from trying to fake your own death, to helping fix your community. As long as you have a plan.
And right now, it seems many people have been caught off guard with this economic hardship and are just now scrambling to make a plan.
Who usually makes the plans for you? Is it your faith leader? Your boss? Your spouse? Henry Kissinger?
As we continue along the timeline of our lives, we are at the mother of all crossroads in human history. Everyone knows something really, really big is going on, but no one seems to know who to listen to about it anymore. Even as Obama takes his place on the throne, I am finding people asking themselves “what is my plan, and do I know exactly what to do?”
We can certainly make up for our past mistakes, we absolutely must. We blew it, America. We screwed up, bigtime. I have screwed up , you have screwed up, we all screwed up. Now we are facing the consequences, and we need plans that are not only ready to go, but that are already working.
As we each can at least pitch in at the local level, we need to be asking ourselves:
– Do I have a good relationship with my neighbors?
– What skills do I have that can help the community?
– What can I do to help others that will make me feel better?
– Do I really need all this stuff I have acquired to be happy?
– How will I make rent / the mortgage this month?
In globalism, we are expected to either be a producer or a consumer. You either make something, or you use something. Then there are the middlemen – called markets. And it is the markets that are collapsing, along with the ability for people to earn money as markets cease. If you get laid off, and no one else will hire you, what are you going to do to survive?
It is for this reason that I created Bright Neighbor. We are setting up communities across the country right now, and we are here to help governments, communities, businesses, and faith groups. We are already doing it, and are teaming up with Powell’s Books to offer the new Bright Neighbor University lecture series.
In April, I will be presenting an hour long workshop called “Lawns to Gardens: 10 Strategies For Thriving Through The Recession“. Or a title like that. More details to come!
– Randy White
Sam Drevo and the Down The River Cleanup Crew