Answering Reader Q&A

Market crash risk, homesteading tips & other topics
Saturday, June 1, 2013, 11:52 AM

As usual, we asked for questions and you delivered in spades.

In today's podcast, Chris and I are joined by Chris' wife, Becca, in answering a number of the questions posed on this site this week.

We address:

  • Chris' updated forecast of a steep market decline by September
  • Home resilience advice
  • What exactly happens at the Peak Prosperity seminar in Kripalu
  • How to share the message of the Crash Course with children

And, no surprise, we had many more questions than time to answer them. We'll release a second podcast later this week, digging into the remaining ones.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris, Adam, and Becca address questions submitted by Peak Prosperity readers (37m:14s).

[Update: Part 2 to this Q&A can be heard here]


Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host, Chris Martenson, and today we are taking reader questions. And helping me with that, we have Adam Taggart and we have Becca Martenson here with me today. Hello, Adam; hello, Becca.

Becca Martenson: Hey, Chris; hey, Adam.

Adam Taggart: Hi, guys.

Chris Martenson: All right. Well, Adam, I am going to kick it over to you. I understand you have some very interesting reader questions. I looked through them; they are fascinating. So let us get started.

Adam Taggart: They are fascinating, and there are a lot of them, so I will manage expectations right up front here and predict that we are going to get through maybe half – if we are lucky. And for those that we do not get to in this segment, we will release in another segment within the next couple of weeks. So let’s get started with one of the most popular questions, which has to do with the market correction call that you made a couple of months ago, Chris.

Chris Martenson: The call specifically was that there was an asymmetrical chance of the stock market maybe having a big rout, being down as much as forty or maybe more percent compared to the chance of it going up a lot higher. And I made that call back in February, and what I was looking at there was really a number of things. First, the stock market was very extended; second, it was obviously very much dependent on whatever the Fed was about to do next. But then also there were certain fundamentals at play, which included things like seeing the expiry of the payroll tax credit; watching additional tax hikes come across the board for most people; seeing that Obama care was going to be coming forward later on and starting to put some pressure on as people started to digest what that was going to mean.

So, just generally speaking, I thought there were fundamental reasons, but the biggest one was looking at some data by John Hussmann that really showed that where our corporate profits are right now – they are as high as they have even been, and in fact ever.

And so the chance of a reversion to the mean is high in that sort of situation, and secondarily, when a market is really extended and extended through fakery, it is not really supported by much. And so an example of that, I think, that is starting to play out is what we are seeing happening in Japan. That market is up; it almost was up 100% from November through to about as of maybe a week ago, and now it is starting to fall and fall hard. That is just the nature of markets that are inflated on the basis of hopes, expectations, fakery, and thin-air money and all the rest. So I still think that there is a very high chance of a very serious market correction.

And that was really contained in a piece I wrote recently, where I noted that we are in a bubble territory again. Everything is priced to perfection. Everything from junk bonds, muni bonds, sovereign bonds, stock markets all across the world – everything seems to be in a bubble, with the odd man out being gold, of course, at this particularly moment in time. And so yes, I think some of this is hard to quantify, too, but this market is about as nutty as anything I have ever seen, and I have seen some nutty ones. I was there for the tech bubble in the late 90s, but was not paying as much attention as I certainly was, watching what happened as we ran up through 2007, as I was playing that market very actively. This market feels like the 2007 market, only it is bigger, it is badder, and I think the potential downsize is meaner.

So I am still very cautious between here and Fall, and the way I position for that personally is to not be playing that particular game myself. I am not even positioned short at this point in time; I told everybody I would let you know if I ever decided to re-enter the stock market one way or the other. But I’m pretty well cleanly out of that thing, and have been for a long time. And I am sitting on an increasing pile of cash as I watch carefully to see where next I want to make my move. So what I am mostly doing is mentally positioning myself for the idea that there will be buying opportunities in the future. And one might come as early as this Fall, and that would be a moment to analyze and take a look.

But let’s make no mistake; if this market comes crashing down, it is going to be very scary; it is going to be a pretty frightening moment; it is going to upend a lot of cherished beliefs that people are holding at this point in time. It is going to re-shatter whatever faith has been built in the system, the Fed institutions, all of that. And so I do think it will be a moment where we have to be ready to reach out and help people who are potentially experiencing that as another frightening moment and might become paralyzed in terms of what they should do or how they should react.

Adam Taggart: Ok, definitely a sobering prediction. You and I talked briefly about this yesterday about the fact you weren’t talk a short position at this point in time and if I could reword what you said to me yesterday you can tell me if I am correct or if I am on the mark here.

Which was things are so stretched you do expect fairly violent moves coming up at you just described because the markets are so driven by intervention right now by central planners, one of the reasons why I took away you weren’t short is because I think your expectation is that as things begin to truly run off the rails they are going to up their efforts and they are going to try to do all they can to whipsaw this thing back onto the rails and therefore even though we may be able to predict with a fair amount of confidence sort of where this is going to end up, even perhaps as soon as this fall. The route which we take to get there is still highly unknown and will probably have lots of twists and turns and therefore taking a straight strategy like simply going short the market

You might get whipsawed enough there that you may end up loosing some money so from your perspective much better and safer to just get out of the game, go dry powder as I understand it, you have a growing position in cash but I also understand you are not selling any of the precious metals you’ve accumulated and you are basically staying in dry powder and also maybe making investment in your personal preparations and then you are going to wait to see what happens when the dust settles and at that time there may be some great opportunities to deploy some of that dry powder.

Is that accurate?

Chris Martenson: That is accurate. Let me add one thing to that which is that I am doubling down on my homestead with efforts such things that I feel I can do and can invest in at this point in time to continue to build my resiliency. It makes a lot of sense because I really think that if the market does give way and lets be clear and it will only do so despite the best efforts of our central interveners who are very actively manipulating these markets on a daily basis. If you want to see them do it relatively overtly just look at Japan, look at the stick saves that happen, watch the Bank of Japan come out and make new announcements about how they’re going to double down on their bond purchases, and they are very openly intervening in all of their markets over there right now. I would submit to you that other sorts of interventions are happening in other markets in the world, maybe less overtly, but to somebody with an eye for how the tape operates and can watch prices move, there are very clearly moments when things are not, lets say, explainable through fundamental analysis. In fact I truly believe there is little analysis that will help you here, except this: which is how do we know that people behave in times of crisis when backed into a corner. The world central banks are backed into a corner. They are willing, ready and able to try anything to prevent having to admit failure. To having to live with the consequences of what might happen if the third bubble in the series breaks (and it will). But they don’t want to admit that. So, the best I can think to do at this point and time is to sit back, keep good context, understand what’s going on, watch what is happening very carefully, and just keep going with my personal resiliency efforts because I think that if that they loose it on this one, and they might, there is a good chance, but if they do, its going to be an awkward period to try and get anything big and substantial done at that point in time… installing solar systems or ordering things, or just figuring out what’s going on. Because I think we will be in a bit of a triage moment if that happens.

Adam Taggart: Yeah, yeah. Probably not too dissimilar to what we got a little sneak peak of a few weeks ago when precious metal prices got beaten down so low, which was the people that had waited for stock prices for silver in the low 20s, or gold prices in the 1300s finally got those stock prices. The problem was they couldn’t actually find any physical bullion to be bought for those prices.

Either the premiums were much higher than they would have liked, or the inventory availability just was not there. So, to your point, if your waiting to make some of these personal preparation purchases, at least for the important ones, better to do it now while supplies are still well available.

All right; great. Well, I would like to move into an interesting set of questions that we received, less about the economy and more about resiliency. We do not really get to talk about these as much on these podcasts, so I want to put these up front and center here. I am really excited that we have Becca here with us, because Becca, you are essential to the seminars that we run every year, which really dive deeply in these topics, so please chime in liberally here through the process. This is kind of a fun question from reader Brak: What interesting projects or innovations have the Martensons and Taggarts been deploying in their homesteads lately?

Chris Martenson: Becca certainly can answer that, because we have been busy this spring.

Becca Martenson: Oh, it has been so much fun; there has been a lot of layered work happening here. One of the things that we have been working on is our orchard, which was planted three years ago.

Chris Martenson: Three years now.

Becca Martenson: We’re working on getting some permaculture plantings in at the base of the trees so that the trees themselves are not planted just alone with grass around them. So now at the base of the trees, I am putting in comfrey and yarrow and red clover and various other things, and each has different design elements. Some are deep nutrient pumps that pull up nutrients from deep in the soil. Others are early pollinator attractors. And it is just beautiful to see those – in permaculture, they call it a “guild” to see this grouping of plants really coming together under the trees. That is one project that I have been working on that has been a lot of fun.

Adam Taggart: That is interesting.

Chris Martenson: Yep, I have bees coming tomorrow; I am getting both packages that I ordered, which are a big surprise.

Becca Martenson: Yay!

Chris Martenson: So I have been getting the area prepped for the hives. I have to go extra-special because I have to put a full electric fence around them, and that is courtesy of the black bear who comes and snacks on our bird feeders every single night and will certainly snack on the hives if I am not careful. So I have got to do that.

And then interestingly, yesterday I put in a toad habitat, which is some stacked rocks that are creating a place a toad might like to hide, because I have been getting killed with the cutworms in my vegetable garden this year. And for those of you who do not know, a cutworm is a caterpillar from a moth that lives mostly underground but comes out at night, and it is really particularly wasteful. What it does to feed is, it actually cuts your young plants off at the stem and just drops them like it is a logger felling a tree, and then they eat a little bit of it, and then they do that to the next plant. So those, I have just been getting killed with those, so I am hoping the toads, who come out at night and tend to feed on cutworms, will be a help to that, because otherwise it is just been wreckage in the old Martenson veggie patch.

So those are a couple things we have had going on. How about you, Adam?

Adam Taggart: Well, as you guys know and I think most of the readers know, I moved to a much more sustainable part of the country a little less than a year ago, and so I am for the first time deploying a lot of these elements that you guys have already deployed on your properties. I think the one area that I might be ahead of you is the bees – I like to rub that in when I can.

But when you guys were out here a couple of months ago, you saw a couple of the gardening innovations that are relatively simple, but I really like how well they are performing. The first is the potato tower. This essentially is, if you want to raise potatoes but you do not want to grow them in rows and take up a lot of your garden space, you grow them in a tower that you build as the plants themselves grow, and you can do all of this in a two by two square within your garden. Essentially what you do is you just take boards and you make an initial frame, a two foot by two foot frame, and you put some dirt in there, and you put some sweet potatoes, and as the plants begin to grow, as they get about a foot in height, you put another layer of boards around them and fill that in with soil, and you just repeat up until the plants gets to about head height, which is where mine are right now. So the potatoes have just been loving it. Presumably I am supposed to get 100 pounds of potatoes out of this tower, and it is only taking up a two foot by two foot square in my garden.

Chris Martenson: I have one of those going as well, so we will compare notes and see how those turn out. I guess also one of the things I have been doing is just generally bringing in nutrients. I have been adding fertilizer and compost and all kinds of things, just the whole general yard, because I realized that in our sandy soil here it would just be a good idea to have the whole place as nutrient dense as possible while nutrients are easy to come by and big trucks will show up with tasty compost and all kinds of things. So I have just generally been adding to the nutrient abundance to the overall property.

Adam Taggart: You and I talk about this a lot. That is sort of like your homestead savings account, and in many ways fertile soil is just about the best investment you can be making, so good for you for doing that.

Becca Martenson: One of the other things that we have done this spring is we have put in a number of elderberry plants, which I am really excited about. This is a perennial shrub that will get quite big that I use to make medicine for the family for winter viruses and flus; it is a phenomenal healing berry. It can be used to make wine and all sorts of things, so I am really excited about the elderberries.

One of the other things that is happening in our orchard/chicken-coop zone is that in the areas where the chickens have turned the grass to dirt, we have planted buckwheat. The buckwheat is awesome because as it grows big, it will be fodder for the chickens, as well as when it flowers, it will be phenomenal for the bees that are coming. So there are a lot of stacked functions happening in our orchard that I really enjoy.

Chris Martenson: You know what is interesting though, is this sounds like a lot of work – and it is. We have not done it all ourselves, and it is very interesting how when I look out into my yard I never quite know who is going to be out there working, and that is because of you, Becca. So what is going on out in our yard?

Becca Martenson: Well, I love doing work trade. I do a lot of personal therapeutic counseling work with people and a lot of folks in my neck of the woods do not have a lot of cash on hand and so I do work trade. And we have lots of young people in particular in the area, permaculture specialists, that come in and will trade a few hours of labor for some counseling time. So I love that. I love how it builds the web of connections in the community, and the richness of relationships, and I love how it is basically keeping our resources out of the system in a lot of ways. My neighbor Jannie is an absolute genius at this. She has bartered and traded and work traded for so many things in her neck of the woods, and it has just been a real inspiration to watch, so I am trying to follow suit.

Adam Taggart: That is great to hear. On the community side over here – and again, I live on the other side of the country as you guys – I have recently gotten involved in the local grange. For those of you who do not know what a grange is, a grange is really just a communal resource where historically farmers gather together and share resources, insights about the trade, and basically just try to help support the local farming community. Where I live, there is this real tension going on in the local area, where it used to be a very big farming community here – apples used to be the big crop. They have been getting replaced over the past decade or two by vineyards, so you are losing a lot of fruit production to wine grape production.

There is an orchard that is being torn up around the school my children go to, and the community has gotten together at the grange to understand how the vineyard that is going in where the apple orchards is being torn up is going to be spraying and applying pesticides. And there has been a really interesting sort of civic democracy process going on there, where you have seen local residents getting out there and basically expressing their interests and their priorities for community health, and yet trying to do so and work with these commercial producers in a way where they can still run their businesses and still bring income into the community.

So I think having that sort of community involvement is really essentially to a thriving, supportive, sustainable community. Because it is very clear to see that this could easily be handled a different way, where you would have both parties being much more antagonistic of each other, and it sounds like in decades past that is more the way that these things went. But as you see people actually trying to bridge the gaps, and have the commercial interest understand the needs of the community and the community understand commercial interests that plays an important role as well. Just like your work share program, it is an opportunity to bring the community closer together in resilience, than divided, where I think that so often can happen.

Chris Martenson: Excellent. Well, what is the next question?

Adam Taggart: All right, the next question is from reader kenkelley89: For those without a permanent home that people that rent or move frequently for work, how should they prioritize building resilience? What advice do you have for them?

Chris Martenson: This is something, whether you have money or resources or not, or whether you live in an urban area or just a fully rural area. The most important resilience you can build is emotional resilience. I know we have had a number of posts on that lately, and I am really glad Becca is here with us today, because honestly this is something we work on quite a bit in the seminars that we give. We have one coming up Kripalu it is the last one in 2013. I think it is going to be really well timed, given what I think is coming up this Fall.

But honestly, the first thing you have to work on is building your emotional resilience. And then what you were just talking about, Adam community resilience. Like if I lived in Brooklyn, I would be thrilled, because they have a whole hipster thing going on, and they have organic food and they are doing bees. These sorts of resilience efforts, whether they are around food, community, emotional resilience all those things are happening everywhere, even in the most urban of areas. And even if you do not have a permanent homestead in the sense that you are renting, your community is still a permanent aspect of who you are and all of that, and it cannot be taken away based on your ownership. So this is something where, when we work with whole groups of people at the seminars, one of the things that are really obvious is the sense that most people bring into this.

I think this is the most common thing we query people on the first day and say all right, really tell us about yourselves and what you are bringing and what you are hoping to get out of this over the weekend. The first thing that comes up is the sense of people feeling like they lead dual lives, that they have a foot in two worlds. That they have the regular world where they work and earn money and talk to people about sports and things, and they have this other world, which is sort of the Peak Prosperity world, where we are aware of and we converse in a range of subjects that have some pretty big implications.

And so how do you manage being in both those worlds? That is not an easy topic, and that is something that you have to manage regardless of whether you rent, you own, whether you are rural, whether you are urban, old or young; it does not matter.

So this is a sense of something that I think everybody could work on and should be working on how do they really start to marry the worlds that they live in? How do they be sure that the people that they love the most or spend the most time with, whether those are friends, colleagues, spouses, whatever, that you are aligned as well as you can be so that you are sharing this common vision of what the future is going to hold and your role in what that is going to be? And then, really deciding what are those next things you are going to work on.

These are all big, big meaty, awesome questions, but they are things that obviously can be worked on. I do not have time to go into all of them here in this podcast, but I will tell you these are all things that we chew on pretty deeply at the seminars.

Becca Martenson: And one of the things that I want to bring up, Chris, is do you remember that group that came to our seminar at Rowe two years ago that actually came with a large group of people from our neighborhood, from our neck of the woods, from our town?

Chris Martenson: Yep.

Becca Martenson: And I have to say, a large group of people actually it was maybe six people from our region when they came back from the seminar, they got together and formed a resilience group, which then grew from those six people to, I think it is up to about 18 people now. And they have been meeting every other week for two years, and the connections that they have formed around preparation were phenomenal. It went way beyond just preparing; they absolutely are supporting one another emotionally in very deep and significant ways. And they are doing fun things; this weekend they are going on a canoe trip together.

So they are building all of these connections through work parties they stack wood together, they garden together, they can food together and it is a really beautiful thing to see the way people can enrich their lives through the pursuit of resilience-based activities. And again, because these people came together to the seminar, they have that baseline understanding that was like a nucleus around which other people could join the group after that, and it was really, really beautiful.

Adam Taggart: That is great, Becca. Let’s take an opportunity here just to drill just a little bit more specifically into what actually happens at these seminars. I think people see us promote them on the site, but they may not really have a clear picture as to what exactly goes on during the seminars. Do you have a moment to talk about some of the specific exercises and focuses that go on during this weekend and the benefits of each?

Becca Martenson: Absolutely. Before I talk about any of the specific modules that we cover there, I think one of the most important things that happen for people when they come to the seminars is they meet with other like-minded people who do not think they are crazy, and this is just priceless. I mean it is one of the first things that people say they are so excited about to be able to be in a room with 60 other people, and nobody thinks they are nuts, and they do not have to explain themselves. That has a tremendous value. And again, one of the other things that happen that is really beautiful is the connections that people make offline during meals and during downtime. There is a really wonderful cohesion that happens.

Another thing, Adam, is that one of the things that we dive into pretty extensively is how to work with a reluctant partner/spouse/neighbor/friend/family member. This is really potent information for just about everybody in the room. And we have had many, many experiences of people that have been following the Crash Course and Peak Prosperity issue for a long time, bringing their partner who is maybe not all that excited about these ideas or does not really want to engage. And when they leave, both of them feel more connected to the other’s position; there is just something that happens that is really quite magical. So I really encourage people that do have reluctant partners to bring them along. Kripalu is such a great venue as well; there are all sorts of body treatments and yoga, and it is in a beautiful environment with really awesome food, and so it is a lovely place to bring someone.

Adam Taggart: It is a nice place to hangout.

Becca Martenson: Yes, but in terms of the specific material that we cover, we spend a lot of time talking about the emotional side of resilience, we talk about working with reluctant partner, we talk about the specific physical preparations that we have made and share best practices with each other around other preparations that other people have made. We dive into we usually have some folks that come in and make some specific presentations on financial resilience, and then we also talk about what types of things might get in the way of those steps that you know you need to take in order to move towards resilience. So what are those barriers to action that might come up? It is a really wonderful flow, and we really enjoy working with people there. There is just a magic that happens that is kind of hard to put into words.

Chris Martenson: You know, we get lots of really very powerful feedback from the people who manage the sites that we give these seminars at, saying that it is among the best seminars they have ever seen; it has a very nice flow. Really, it is a great product all on its own, but the thing that I like most about it and one piece of feedback that I would love to share is that we have heard a number of times from people who said this really could be billed as a couples’ workshop.

Becca Martenson: That is true.

Chris Martenson: Because a lot of healing has gone on. And again, this is not about making one part of the couple see the other’s position; it is really about opening up the dialogue being in a very safe, contained place and allowing the conversation to flow. It is really about those moments of having the opportunity. The one thing that we work very hard to bring people towards is the idea of releasing your own need and desire to change how somebody else is thinking about something; that is one little nugget from this that I will reveal here. It is around just coming to acceptance of both where you are with this material and where other people are.

If the Crash Course is the left-brain tour, the weekend is on the right side of the brain. We have to synthesize those two parts the heart and the head have to come together and so it is a transformative weekend. It is very well crafted; it gives people an opportunity to engage with each other. And the thing I am most proud of is in the example Becca gave of this group that came back and has been operating for several years now after the fact. I have heard about some of the largest individual- and community-oriented transformations that happened after people came to the weekend. So it is really about moving to action; it is about identifying those things that might prevent us from moving to action, and it is about doing it in a way that is uplifting, it is fun, it is encouraging. Given what we are talking about, how do you do that? Well, it is possible.

Adam Taggart: Yep, and your point about action a very important objective of the weekend is for people throughout seminar to identify the steps that they need to take most next in their life in terms of building resiliency. So if you are somebody that has not really started along this journey yet, it is a great way to get oriented, and if you are somebody who has been doing it but perhaps gotten busy with the other demands of life, or you feel like you have hit a plateau and need a little bit of a gentle shove or some additional direction as to where to head next, it will give you that boost and renewed sense of direction and purpose, and I think optimism, of what you are saying.

Becca Martenson: Absolutely. One of the other things, Adam, just to allude back to the original question, which was around what do people do if they do not have land to prepare for resilience. Chris and I were both renting for a number of years, and we did all sorts of things on the land we were renting, and Adam, I know that you did as well. And so just some simple advice and feedback on our own personal experiences of doing this type of work for many, many years is extremely helpful for people.

Adam Taggart: Yes, and in fact, I actually am still renting, so I am still deploying a lot of these actions on land I know I am not going to own for the long haul. And the one thing I would underscore about that is even before I moved up to where I live now, I lived prior in the heart of the Silicon Valley suburbia. It is definitely not a resilient community, but I still managed to have chickens and bees and a square foot garden, and I did it all on a really small scale. I was not fooling myself; none of it was to support myself in any way, in terms of calories or whatnot. I consider it my tuition; really it is how can I make sure I get some exposure to these skills, so that when I finally have the opportunity, whether it is land I own or land I know I am going to be at for a long time, I am actually building that knowledge base versus having to start from scratch. So I really recommend that that is how people look at it.

And to your point, Becca, looking at models whether it is what you guys are doing or what I am doing or the other participants at the seminar are doing it is a great way to learn and get inspired and present the points you have been underscoring. These are relationships that you then take away from the weekend where these are people who are going to support you both emotionally and by sharing their knowledge with you going forward.

And one of the great things about that is, it really saves you, in many cases, years of learning from the school of hard knocks as to how not to do things. Because, as most people who know who have gone out and started implementing some of these resilient steps, you very quickly realize that there are a lot of ways to do it wrong and it takes you a while to really learn how to do it right. And if people can help save you time there, it is invaluable.

Chris Martenson: That is important. And the most important thing, of course, as we look at how the markets are just crazy and the whole world is trying to convince us that everything is back on track and whatnot, it is so essential to have time, and a generous amount of time to sit down with people who share your outlook, and openly converse around these things.

And I will again just reiterate that the snapshot of people who come to our seminars are all across the board, but generally speaking, fairly successful in one way or another. We have a lot of professionals, doctors, lawyers; a lot of people who have made their mark in life in one way or another and now happen to hold the idea that big change is coming and want an open place to talk about it. That alone is just critical, so that sense of isolation just falls away. That is my favorite time. To have a generous amount of time to really get to know people and to watch people have the opportunity to get to know each other. That is the best part about all of this, and it is why we did it. It certainly takes a bit of a time commitment on our end, and it is worth it; it really is.

Adam Taggart: All right, well, since we have now done a deep dive on the seminar, we may as well tell folks when it is. It is this coming July 19, a Friday, through Sunday July 21, and that is going to be at the Kripalu Center, which is in Stockbridge Massachusetts, which is in western Mass., up in the Berkshires. It is a beautiful time to be there, the heart of summer; there is a great big lake, and it is really a special time to be in a place that special.

I am just looking at the time here; as always, we have had great questions and great material to dig into. I do not want to shortchange the remaining questions we were asked, so maybe I will ask one more that is on the continued resilience theme here, and then we will cut this segment short and then tackle the rest of the questions in another segment in a week or so.

Chris Martenson: That will work. I have a vote; how about the one from rayne?

Adam Taggart: How about the one from rayne; let’s do that, I think it is a great one with both you and Becca here on the phone. All right, from user rayne, she asks: How much of the Crash Course is appropriate for kids? Are there elements of your thinking you do not share with your children?

Chris Martenson: So I will take the first part of that, how much is appropriate for kids? Well, all of it. We have had sixth graders take the money part and teach it to their class. We certainly have not held back any of the thinking around our views from our kids, and we believe they are happier, healthier and more well adjusted for it. But I am going to let Becca really dive on this one.

Becca Martenson: I think it really depends on how old your children are. Obviously you are not going to be talking to a three-year-old child about issues of Peak Oil. I think that it is less what you talk about with your children and more the energy that you carry around it. So if you are really fearful and anxious about everything unfolding, that is the energy that your kids are going to pick up on. So Chris and I tend to because we work through so many of the emotional stages of awareness on this material, and we are both at a stage of acceptance that that is the energy that we impart to our children when we talk about it.

One of the things that we really recommend is to just start making your resilience actions, get your kids involved in the gardening and the bees and whatever else you are doing, and younger children do not need to understand the whys of what you are doing. There is enough joy and connectedness in the actions themselves; they do not really need to understand why. Young children, really I would not talk directly to young children about issues of resource scarcity and Peak Oil and things like that. Now, once you get into the preteen and teenage range, children are much more ready to be able to handle larger issues. But again, the key is, what is your state of emotional response when you talk to them that is the most important thing.

Chris Martenson: Here is something that I have learned as well. Once you are in the preteen to teenage years, there is this idea that some people hold, which is that well, I do not know if I should reveal this thinking; I do not know if I should share with them these larger concerns. Hey, in my experience, they already know. Kids have already figured out that something is wrong with this story, and not just economically.

There is a generational gap in this country right now, and it is pretty profound, and I am sure you would find one even more profound in say Spain or Greece, where most of the people under that age of 30 are now unemployed. They have already figured out something is wrong with their narrative over there, too.

And here is how the story breaks down right now, for a lot of people who are in the boomer generation, who are at or nearing retirement or can see it coming soon they have everything to gain by preserving the status quo. They do not want their pensions to go away and their entitlements to go away; they have worked hard, and they have put into the system, and so they are ready to grab that brass ring. So they are in many respects characterized by wanting to preserve the status quo, and on the other side of the generational spectrum, you have the young people looking at that same narrative, saying I have nothing to gain by preserving the status quo.

If preserving the status quo means I get to pick up and service all of the debts that have been left behind, the crumbling infrastructure, the lack of fidelity between corporation and their workers there is a lot in the story there, where young people do not want to participate in that story and often do not. And so we have to close that gap, because sooner or later, that gap resolves itself. And so we should manage that as much as possible. And it begins by making sure that you are having honest conversations with your children.

And I will echo two of Becca’s sentiments here, which are, once they are in the preteen, teen range, totally fine; they can handle it; just be sure that you are approaching it in a non-alarmist state. Meaning do not hide your feelings, but work through your emotional progression on this, so you are not approaching these topics from a place of anxiety, of fear, of depression, of whatever emotional state might get triggered because of this material. Open honest conversations kids are ready for it, they can handle it, and (guess what?) they have already been exposed to these ideas and they are already thinking them, whether you are aware of it or not. That has been my learning so far.

Becca Martenson: And I would really use the Crash Course videos themselves as the teaching tool, because they are short, they are clear, they are easy to understand, they do not have emotional charge attached to them, and they are just a great way to introduce young people to these ideas.

Adam Taggart: Well, I think that is all great advice, and with that, I am going to draw an end to going down the list here. We probably hit about a third, to be honest, of the questions that were asked. But to those listening, I promise we will get to them in a future installment.

Chris and Becca, thank you very much. Becca, thank you so much for coming to join us; it is a total treat.

Becca Martenson: It is a pleasure to be here Adam.

Chris Martenson: All right; thanks, Adam, and thanks, Becca, and we will do this again soon, Adam. You and I will cover the rest of these questions in a couple of weeks probably.

Adam Taggart: All right, we will do so then.

Related content


Grover's picture
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Hoping for more

I was really looking forward to hearing your answers to the questions posed. Instead, I perceived this podcast to be mostly an infomercial for the upcoming Kripalu conference. With airfare, accommodations, tuition, etc. it would cost my wife and I approximately $2K to attend. I'm sure it would be a wonderful weekend, but not in my budget.

You touched on the edges of several questions and specifically answered 3. I was hoping for more.

Granted, lots of the questions were overlapping. It would be nice for someone to summarize the questions into a manageable grouping. (Post the summary on the thread, please.) This approach may lose some of the nuance, but would be a reasonable compromise to repeating the responses.


PS - Be aware that buckwheat produces a very dark, pungent honey that is akin to molasses. A very small amount will dominate the flavor profile. If that is your goal, go for it.

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Adam Taggart
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More on the Way

As mentioned both in the podcast and in the summary above, more is on the way very soon.

There were a truckload of questions submitted and we didn't want to rush through them hurriedly.

Chris and I thought it important to involve Becca in the resilience-focused questions, as some were directed to the Martensons specifically, and she adds another valuable perspective we don't get the chance to showcase often enough on the site. With our three schedules, 40 minutes (edited down) was all we had time to record together.

Chris and I have already recorded an additional 40 minutes of answers (on climate change, asset allocation, precious metals, career advice, etc) which is currently being edited. And we still didn't get through all of the material.

And as regards the Kripalu seminar, since so many of the preparation-related questions were treading into that territory, it seemed a natural opportunity for us to dive more deeply into the seminar curriculum. These seminars offer the most effective and impactful material we have on these resilience-building topics. And since Kripalu is our last seminar of the year and is approaching fast (July 19-21), we wanted to make sure those considering attending had enough perspective to decide whether or not to make it this year. Even for those not planning to attend (like Grover), we think it's useful to know what goes on (as we get asked this often).

The next segment of responses should air on the site within a few days; though that timing may change depending on the action in the markets next week. Looking at Friday's close, we may be in for a tumultuous week ahead.

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For the cut worms, we save cardboard toilet paper rolls all year (and I save them from our office building as well).  You tear them apart in spiral fashion and then wrap them around the plant.  Works like a charm.

For the black bear, a guard dog that sleeps outside and is more vigilant at night like an Anatolian shepherd is one possibility.  A shotgun with shells with rubber pellets is another.  If anyone questions the shotgun going off at night, just tell them you were following Joe Biden's advice.;-) 

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Poor little old me.

I am on the other side of the globe, making good use of the non-apperance of winter.

One thing is for sure. If I found a partner, part of the contract will be that she is dragged off to Kripalu. (Poor thing.) There is not a chance in the world that I would even consider hitching my wagon to a horse that pulls in the wrong direction. 

I have no land. I have millions of acres.

When peak oil begins to bite no-one will bother me on the Bight. The thing to do now (and I must shake my stumps) is to plant date palms and other weedy species in the dark of night. 

The date palms that I planted on Dr Barney McCullum's farm are doing very well indeed. With the expansion of the Hadley cells due to Climate Change I expect that his neighbours will abandon wheat for dates and camels.

(Sailors need to know about the winds and stuff.)

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Thanks for the insights into your lives

I enjoyed hearing Chris, Becca and Adam all talk about the steps they are personally taking to prepare; very interesting.  I did see what Grover was talking about. But since Chris and Adam are going to do another podcast or two to answer the rest of the other questions, I'm ok with it.  I still got value out of the information that was provided.  

In particular, I just planted a couplle of rows of potatoes, and my ears picked right up when Adam described the potato-tower that he (and it sounds like the Martentson's) are experimenting with.  How cool would that be to save all that garden space if that works?  

Also, Becca talked about planting certain plants underneath their trees in the orchard, vs just grass.  That also caught my attention, as I am at that same place (trees in the orchard with grass underneath), and was planning on digging up the grass and putting mulch around them to keep weeds away, protect them from the mower, and to hold in moisture.  But now I am curious to learn more about what Becca was talking about (the use of plants that actually perform a function in relationship to the tree, if I understood that right).

Thanks for the insight into your lives and preparations.  I know it helps me gauge my own efforts, and to learn additional things that you all are doing that I might want to look into as well.

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Potato tower

pinecarr -

You can find more information on the potato tower (including plans for constructing) here:


And here's a recent picture below of mine, as an example of how much the plants like this set-up:

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Needs must.

We used to use stacked old car tyres to grow potatoes in.

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Cut Worms - Possible Solution.

ao wrote:


For the cut worms, we save cardboard toilet paper rolls all year (and I save them from our office building as well).  You tear them apart in spiral fashion and then wrap them around the plant.  Works like a charm.

For the black bear, a guard dog that sleeps outside and is more vigilant at night like an Anatolian shepherd is one possibility.  A shotgun with shells with rubber pellets is another.  If anyone questions the shotgun going off at night, just tell them you were following Joe Biden's advice.;-) 

I recently heard about a remedy for cutworms from the Survival Podcast.

Place a nail in the ground that is next to the stem of the plant.

Apparently, the cutworm wraps itself around the plant as it is eating the stem.   If it wraps itself around

a hard surface ( Simulating a more mature plant) it moves on.  

I dont know for sure if this works, but I thought it sounded like a perfect solution if it does.


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Potatoes towers

Thanks for the link, Adam.  I look forward to trying potato-towers out too!

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Fruit Tree Guilds

pinecarr wrote:

Also, Becca talked about planting certain plants underneath their trees in the orchard, vs just grass.  That also caught my attention, as I am at that same place (trees in the orchard with grass underneath), and was planning on digging up the grass and putting mulch around them to keep weeds away, protect them from the mower, and to hold in moisture.  But now I am curious to learn more about what Becca was talking about (the use of plants that actually perform a function in relationship to the tree, if I understood that right).


I would highly recommend you pick up a copy of Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway. It does a great job of explaining a fruit tree and nut tree guild that you can plant beneath your trees. It is one of the best permaculture books I have ever read.

As an aside some of the plants I use in my orchard/ food forest and their functions:

Dutch White Clover: Pollinator attractor, nitrogen fixer, pathways

Daikon Radish: Nutrient Accumulator, Edible

Garlic: Pest repellant, Edible

Chives: Pest repellant, Edible

Cilantro: Pest repellant, Edible, Predator insect attractor

Goumi: Nitrogen fixer, edible

Comfrey: Nutrient accumulator, edible, mulch plant

(I have specifics of what plants I planted with what trees at the link below.)


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Book Recommendations

I can second the recommendation of Gaia's Garden.  Great reference encyclopedia is Edible Forest Gardens, though the text is not so good, I have never read a book where after reading a few pages thought, how did so many words get used to say so little.  Reference sections in the back are great though.

I can also highly recommend "designing and maintaining your edible landscape naturally" by Robert Kourik.  Not as pretty a book as Gaia's Garden, but great in depth information.  A lot of permaculture writers borrow from him heavily.  Lee Reich has a great book, "Landscaping with Fruit".  Very user friendly, lots of recommendations for unusual low maintenance edible landscape plants.

I can't talk about books and nature/gardening without mentioning this book, this book should be required reading for everyone on the planet, "The One Straw Revolution", by Masanobu Fukuoka.  More philosophy than anything else, medicine for our time.

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The Divine Road Ahead.

I have just submitted a new piece to CFN website called "The Divine Road Ahead". It has pretty pictures (and one not so pretty picture.)

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Thanks for the book suggestions Phil & Treebeard

Thank-you Phil and Treebeard;  I look forward to checking out the books you suggested, and adding them to my growing garden/orchard library!  Thanks also for your link, Phil!

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Arthur Bless you. We learn


Bless you. We learn from our dumbest mistakes and you have nailed mine :)

I am fortunate to be able to learn from the dumb mistakes once in a while. And yes, I did sound a bit self indulgent there.



Time2help's picture
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Help! Bees...

We've been blessed with a rather sizable population of bees hovering over the garden and clover field this year.  And I noticed today that this is in part to a hive of bumble bees that has taken up residence in our attic (wha-waaa).  Any ideas as to how we can convince them to relocate without harming them?  We're glad they are around - just not in the attic, please...bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Calling In the PP Bee Experts

Time -

I've posted your plea to the Peak Prosperity Beekeeping Group. Hopefully, some of the seasoned bee experts there have helpful advice to lend.

Since I still consider myself a beekeeping newbie, the only advice I have to recommend is calling your local bee shop or bee guild. I'm sure they can direct you to a local provider with expertise in removing bees from inside a house as gently as possible.

Time2help's picture
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Adam Taggart wrote:

Time -

I've posted your plea to the Peak Prosperity Beekeeping Group. Hopefully, some of the seasoned bee experts there have helpful advice to lend.

Since I still consider myself a beekeeping newbie, the only advice I have to recommend is calling your local bee shop or bee guild. I'm sure they can direct you to a local provider with expertise in removing bees from inside a house as gently as possible.

Thanks Adam, much appreciated!

- Time2Help

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Chris talked about holding cash and staying out of the markets in his anticipation of risk later this year of a significant correction.  After you've invested in personal resilence and conservation, how is this balanced with the need to protect wealth from losing value due to inflation and the risk of not timing the markets optimally?  Not being in stocks this year so far one would have missed out on some significant gains, whether driven by the Fed or fundamentals.  Hope to hear more clarification in the next podcast.

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bumblebees are ground nesters

It's VERY unusual for them to be in an attic or the walls of a structure.  Honeybees are the insect prone to building comb in those places.  In any case, bees aren't "convinced" to relocate.  They have to be physically moved.  If they are in an attic space, or in structure walls above the first floor, it can be a difficult and expensive process.  If you find that unpractical, the comb or nest would need to be sprayed to kill the colony.  Spraying individuals as they come-and-go is a fruitless waste of time.  If a strong honeybee colony is killed during warmer months, the bees are dead but their comb structure remains.  It will contain not just wax, but pollen and honey.  Honey especially really attracts rodents and ants.  Think about what would happen in your particular structure with a bunch of junk in the wall or attic.  Feel free to PM me to discuss your situation.

Julie (grandefille)

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Feeling a Bit Gobsmacked

Wow!  I hadn't read this piece before I posted my comment in the Elders group about feeling like I live in two worlds.  Chris and Becca, you really nailed it!  I figured I was not alone in my unease about the future, but I don't recall having seen it expressed as the feeling of living in two different worlds.  I think I have come to accept my spouse's reluctance to engage much in resilience building and to commit emotionally to the Crash Course content.  He did view it with me, and accepts the information on an "intellectual" level, but simply isn't interested in applying it to our lives.  He accepts that I'm "prepping" and doesn't ridicule my efforts, but other than investing a few bucks in PMs, just wants to go sailing and skiing.  (I was really surprised when he joined me on one of the PM purchases!)

And, Chris,  I appreciate the nonjudgemental manner in which you expressed the desire to cling to the status quo amongst persons at or nearing retirement.

"And here is how the story breaks down right now, for a lot of people who are in the boomer generation, who are at or nearing retirement or can see it coming soon they have everything to gain by preserving the status quo. They do not want their pensions to go away and their entitlements to go away; they have worked hard, and they have put into the system, and so they are ready to grab that brass ring."

It is very difficult to imagine life without the pensions and "entitlements" for those enjoying and possibly even dependent upon them.  Aware retirees know that much of the status quo is terrible for them.  Persons who have personal savings hate that they cannot earn money due to negative interest rates.  And, certainly they detest the fraud, manipulation and corruption that pervades the financial/governmental system.  Many elders care deeply about the challenges facing the upcoming generations, but have real concerns about survival when comtemplating the collapse of the current (dis) order.  A nonjudgemental discussion about the ambivalence concerning the status quo would be refreshing.  Elders are not "greedy geezers" who care nothing about the young.  They fear that they have everything to lose when the status quo is broken.

Thanks for an excellent podcast.  I look forward to the responses to the other questions.

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Becca, Chris & Adam are 3 of

Becca, Chris & Adam are 3 of the finest individuals I have ever met.  Fantastic to have you all in one podcast.  I'm sorry others feel it to be something other than a geniune attempt to reach, connect and help people.  They bring sanity to an insane world.  


Tall's picture
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Companion plants for fruit trees

A recent study suggests that sweet alyssum is a good plant to help prevent aphids on trees.See: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130514101446.htm

Phil, re: comfrey. It contains toxins (pyrrolizidine alkaloids, toxic to liver) and should not generally be considered an edible. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15482618

pinecarr's picture
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Great article on sweet alyssum being used to help prevent aphids

Great article on sweet alyssum being used to help prevent aphids, Tall!  I have to deal with that problem, and this is a great option to try since I'd prefer not to spray.

Tall's picture
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Immediate relief with soap and water

Hi pinecarr, they are common in my orchard too. If you don'y have too many, go out with a bucket of diluted, mild soapy water and you can 'wash' them off the foliage, you have to uncurl the leaves to get to them though...

pinecarr's picture
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Posts: 1543
Thanks Tall!

Thanks Tall!  It won't be the first time someone told me I needed to use soap and water!;)

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