COPING WITH COLLAPSE

29 02 2008

part 2 of an excellent interview by Carolyn Baker:

My top priority is to keep my mind open. And not to lose my sense of humor-in the grand sense. Our number one responsibility, I believe, is to come to grips with our psychological self, to take a good long look inside and find out who we really are, learn how to rid ourselves of greed, learn to how bridle ego and petty desire, learn how to share and to give and to live with less and more simply. At bottom, we must learn how to cooperate. To be member of a group or a team with no motivation other than enabling the whole. This is good advice regardless of the global situation.

Should the economy collapse or a catastrophic weather event decimate the region where you live, the coming out of it will occur through the spontaneous forming of community, either as an emergency enterprise or a long-term way of living. And this is best done when an individual has given up selfishness, shed vain materialism, and embraced the interconnectedness of all life and each other. I work on my attitude and humor more than anything else because it is my being and my mental health that will make me the most helpful to others if conditions are reduced to basic survival. In this, I am no better than a work in progress.

plus another, similar essay:

After 25 years of college teaching and administration, I left college as my primary work environment for agriculture in the early l990s. I sensed that many of humanity’s support systems and the natural capital that sustains us were breaking down. I wanted to learn more about the basics of food, water, plants, animals, the soil, climate, and the elements. I wanted to be able to feed myself and others with good, nourishing food during an uncertain future of diminishing natural resources and heightening conflicts.

After a search I decided to move to Sonoma County, remaining in the state of my birth. Whenever this native son tries to leave my home-state, California, my body goes where I direct it, but only for a while; then my feet take me back home. Sonoma has nearly 500,000 people and is within the creative San Francisco Bay Area. I bought land with berry vines, apple trees, oaks, redwoods and a tiny house in the uplands of the Cunningham Marsh near the small town of Sebastopol, where less than 8000 souls live.

Our community actively deals with issues such as making a transition to alternative energy sources and the increasingly chaotic global climate. We have active neighborhood groups and support each other to buy local and re-localize. Among the effective groups here are the Climate Protection Campaign and the Post-Carbon Institute. Sebastopol citizens regularly elect well-informed officials who seek to deal with the real issues. We welcome newcomers as we work together to build community during this transition to a post-carbon future.

and this one from the other side of the continent:

At a Barak Obama rally in Putney last week, his foreign policy advisor, Anthony Lake, said that an Obama presidency would help “America once again lead the world.”

O, Tony, that ship has passed, passed, passed. Thanks to GATT, NAFTA, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and torture, we’ve done what I used to think was impossible – we’ve turned America into a third-world nation. Obama might be able to clean up some of the mess, but we won’t be leading the world any time soon.

Yet here in Vermont, we’ve accepted the idea of peak oil. We talk about running our cars on fry grease, heating with wood, and, in general, doing the back-to-the-land thing, 2.0-style.

We talk about starting a barter economy and creating local “dollars” to trade for goods and services. We talk about growing our own vegetables, buying local foods and turning ourselves from omnivores into localvores. We talk about using rags for tampons and diapers. We talk about learning to be self-reliant and curbing our consumerism.

It’s like living in a different America. Outside, people are pretending the economy is chugging along, while we’re preparing ourselves to live after a fall which most Americans don’t believe is coming.

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