Defining the 'O-Generation'

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 - 1:29am

Defining The "O-Generation"

By Joshua Freund

A recent op-ed in Chris' local paper caught his eye, written by someone in the Pioneer Valley he's collaborated with on matters of building resilience. He's asked me to publish it here on the site:

I was born in 1984, and as an official Orwell baby, I’m going to take the liberty to call my cohorts and myself the “O” Generation.

This is in reference to the O-Horizon, the top layer of soil composition, which is made up mostly of decomposing organic matter and bits of debris in various stages of breakdown. This is often the liveliest, yet most vulnerable layer of the soil, packed full of billions of organisms ranging from fungi and single-celled bacteria, to thousand-legged insects and even small mammals like voles and mice.

Life in the O-Horizon is all about resilience through diversity and the ability to survive by drawing from a patchwork of resources that are available in an exposed and ever-changing environment.

So how does this metaphor fit with the recent dubbing of myself and my peers as the “Me” Generation, with the idea that we are a bunch of over-spoiled narcissists living in our parents’ basements? Well, at 30 years old, and having not lived under a roof of a parent since I was 17, I’d like to attempt some perspective.

I currently work three different jobs, and none of them carry any sense of the words “job security.” I teach after-school programs at the local high school, work as a teacher’s assistant for an elite college that accepts only 13 percent of its applicants and hammer nails on the side as a self-employed carpenter. I work hard and push myself to go above and beyond at everything I’m doing, knowing there is a line of people wrapped around the block eager to take my jobs if I fall behind.

Regretfully, I have to utilize food stamps in order to buy most of my groceries, my monthly allotment of which was cut almost in half by Congress two months ago. On average, I work 70 to 80 hours per week and I honestly can’t remember the last time I didn’t have to use most of a Sunday to catch up on work.

My access to health care is constantly at the whim of ever-changing bureaucracies and my one attempt to purchase dental care, the only dental coverage I’ve had since high school, cost me more money than my rent, utilities and car insurance combined. I have no 401k, or anything resembling a retirement plan and the outlook for Social Security for my generation is looking pretty grim.

What a sob story right? I would be way less likely to expose such personal vulnerability if it wasn’t for the fact that 9 out of 10 of my college educated peers are in an eerily similar situation. We are a generation living on the surface of a society in flux, an economy in decline and the resources available to us resemble more spoiled leftovers, than any sort of well-rounded meal. So, we figure out how to thrive regardless, and become the emergence life on the O-Horizon.

To highlight the difficulties of myself and my peers is not my point, however. Every generation experiences adversity in one form or another and I do not expect any exceptions for mine. What I feel called to represent is the growing capacity for resilience that the O Generation holds.

Given the obvious downward trajectory of the environment and economy, we are forced to step up and create the livelihoods and lifestyles that help to build the communities we want to live and raise our families in.

The phrase “Right Livelihood” is one that seems to be thrown around a lot these days by the O Generation. We are unsatisfied with the options available to us through the failing systems, so we become default entrepreneurs in a new sense of the word. Many of our “incomes” are a patchwork of part-time jobs, back-room businesses, student loans and credit cards that we use to pay off our credit cards.

The concept of Perpetual Debt is a reality that many of us in the O Generation are learning to cope with and even navigate in ways that allow us to invest in our lives with meaning and purpose. What once meant “unemployed” now has the potential to mean that we have the time and energy to create thriving backyard gardens, and callous our hands with as many do-it-ourselves projects as we can manage.

We use our time to make medicine with plants, keep backyard chickens, and invest deeply in friendships that become more like family because many of our real families don’t quite see the big picture. We get to know our neighbors as well as we can by hosting potlucks, and caring deeply for each other’s lives and burdens. We even learn how to bury our loved ones close to home, a timeless and beautiful community ritual I’m honored to have participated in twice in the past year alone.

It is relationships that mean so much to us in the O Generation, because as we look out at the O-Horizon of our lives, we can see that we truly need each other to survive whatever is ahead. What is ahead, we ask ourselves? Pensions? Economic stability? The American Dream? Well, none of us are really sure. The best we can do is base our efforts to what feels right in our hearts, and lucky for us, that seems to be making more sense than we could ever hope for.

Joshua Freund is a community organizer and after-school teacher at Greenfield High School He lives in Greenfield, where he studies Farm and Food Systems at GCC.

81 Comments

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
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YES!

Thank you Joshua for so succinctly painting a real picture of our generation.  I was born in 1985 and I although I don't share all of your struggles I have had a number of my own obstacles to scramble over due to similar circumstance.  The promise was that by this point we should be established in our chosen careers, starting a family and working on our nest egg.  Most of us know (either intellectually or intuitively) that a 401k plan isn't going to do us a whole lot of good and that we will outlive the mechanisms of social safety, security and cohesion.  We're living with a foot in two worlds. Simultaneously we're spending every available hour trying to participate in the old paradigm to "make a living" (secondary and tertiary wealth) well at the same trying to learn all we can about primary wealth (land, food, skills, relationships and healthy ecosystems etc). And if we're lucky get our hands around some of it before the money economy abandons us to our own devises.

Like every generation we have our losers, but I will not be shoe-horned into a category of computer-addicted lazy and unmotivated youth. That doesn't describe anyone I am close with.  We didn't create the problems we face, but we're going to try our best to solve them.  My strategy is local community and something resembling Restoration Agriculture on a home scale.    Greer talks about the important of dissensus (the opposite of consensus). We can't know what strategy will work in the unraveling future, so it's critical that we have small groups of people trying all different things.  That is what I see from my generation.

cmartenson's picture
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A very good description

Joshua has done an incredible job of writing about the frayed social contract that younger people face today.

Lets have a rousing good conversation from both sides of the generational divide....

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
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generational divide

Hi Chris - Thank you for sharing this article!  I worry a little bit about the idea of a generational divide.  We hear a lot about it these day especially with the occupy movement and similar popular, youth driven waves that are growing in intensity and frequency world-wide.  It's human nature to point the finger at the "other" people who caused all our problems.  I am even guilty of it in my last comment "we didn't create the problems we face"..... The truth is that the baby boomers didn't either.  Most people alive today were born into a system with so much inertia that it would have been hard to stop.  The system rewards those who participate and discredits its critics.  That's exactly the reason that many of us here can enjoy conversation about the problems with a growth model then turn around and reply to a work email from our growth dependent jobs.  It's the reason - I believe - that the hippie movement faded into corporate america.  The idea that there is a divide with each side holding opposing definitions of themselves and the others can lead to dangerous and selfish places.  I hope my generation can rise above scapegoating when it's time and rather than fighting over the scraps of what's left, work on planting the seeds of something new.  We need you and you need us.

treemagnet's picture
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I'm sorry,

Really?....."We use our time to make medicine with plants, keep backyard chickens, and invest deeply in friendships that become more like family because many of our real families don’t quite see the big picture. We get to know our neighbors as well as we can by hosting potlucks, and caring deeply for each other’s lives and burdens. We even learn how to bury our loved ones close to home, a timeless and beautiful community ritual I’m honored to have participated in twice in the past year alone."

I mean, thats cool - but this isn't close to the generational aspect I've encountered.  In no way does that mean anything - but if we're talking about generations and generalizations, this statement is a load of fertilizer for that topsoil.  But for sure, that generation has been doomed by the boomers and the silents - and they know (both of them) it if they're paying attention.

 

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Wildlife Tracker
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Great summary, but I agree with magnet

I make medicines and forage for plants myself, but by no means is that a majority. In fact as you state treemagnet, we are very much a minority who are interested in such things. 

Also, as Chris knows being a former drug-lord and all, plant medicines really don't compare to anything we use today. Like at all. They are supplementary beneficial, but not solely reliable. Most of it is just nutritional.

One of my biggest fears is actually Lyme disease. I have no idea how detrimental this disease will be if we can no longer effectively make antibiotics to treat it. It terrifies me.

Maybe I should go hangout with this hippy Joshua a few hours away from me, or maybe I should just drink myself into a stupor. 

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
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treemagnet, I hear what you

treemagnet, I hear what you mean that on the whole most people are not as forward thinking as that quote might suggest, but I would argue that a lot of us are.  I think it's more about a personality type than it is about generation though. 

My wife and I recently went to a potluck dinner with five other couples our age. A lot of the people there have backyard gardens or chickens. A few exchanged homemade gifts. I recently got a home scale oil distiller to start making my own herbal medicines out of our garden (once we get it planted) and people were interested in learning more about that.  A few of us talked at dinner about the false promises of health care and social security.  None of these people are peak oil aware or nearly as obsessed with trying to read the tea leaves as I am, but we all know intuitively that something doesn't add up.  Some people are learning to make their own beer, others are trying to start local currencies.  I see a lot more people thinking about how to create a better future than you might think at first look.

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Sincerely,

really, I mean this....give 'er hell!!!!!!!!!! 

I'm a huge fan of holistic medicine, and have no doubt theres a subset of yutes like you folks taking on the mantle of change often and early.  Go get it.

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Treemagnet, re your first post

I mean, thats cool - but this isn't close to the generational aspect I've encountered.  In no way does that mean anything - but if we're talking about generations and generalizations, this statement is a load of fertilizer for that topsoil.  But for sure, that generation has been doomed by the boomers and the silents - and they know (both of them) it if they're paying attention.

I had to smile at your post for it reminded me of past posts you have made when we are on the subject of generational differences. I seem to recall that I personally balked at you painting all of us boomers with a wide brush in your generalizations about that cohort, and you came back with this:

I respectfully disagree.  We use generalizations everyday as a tool to navigate our lives.  Political correctness has blurred the lines where even a statistic can get you labeled a bigot, racist, etc.   Go tell a salesman not to generalize when talking to prospective customers - if you can't size them up, and I mean like RIGHT NOW, how are you going to get them to identify with you - thats the key - and spend money with you?  I'd be out of business in a month.  Now, if you work say, at a local/municipal/power co-op/state/fed/university gig, and get paid regardless of the outcome of events and advance by not standing out and being no where near controversial......well, I think we know where 'ole treemagnet ain't gonna make a go of it!   Profiling is a variation on the theme and it too, has been labeled 'wrong' by the political correctness police (respectfully sorry, aka boomers).  Its one of their most unique (and useless imho) social inventions.  Thats a fact, not my opinion.  But its all good.  Profiling is what allows a good cop to see something not right, something out of order.  Identify the threat, deal with the threat.  Thats a good thing.  But you are more than entitled to your opinion, and I can and do respect that.

Source; http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/82071/field-report-italy-greece-turk...

So I guess it cuts both ways when it comes to not caring for generalizations. There are some, like this article, that you cannot relate to or agree with as applying to you. There are many generalizations about the boomers that do not apply to me, and that I resent, but I still get lumped in with them. I have no illusion that the writer of this article is of a minority in your age group. But nevertheless it is nice to see how some people in your generation are adjusting their attitudes and developing the kind of skills and relationships that may see them weather the oncoming economic storm better than most.

I did read the Fourth Turning and found it both interesting as well as (likely) prophetic. If Strauss and Howe are indeed correct in their hypothesis around the turning cycles, then one can almost surmise that our circumstances were pre-destined; by virtue of being born when we were born we have been pegged into a fate that is out of our individual control. We are powerless to stop the cycles from un-folding, save for the idea that everyone will get together to prevent that next fourth turning. But we all know that is not going to happen.

So, we watch, we plan, we share, we debate, and each of us individually tries to design a route for our own particular circumstances to enable us to navigate the difficult path ahead.  Your circumstances are perhaps a 180 from Joshua, and then another 180 again from me. But that does not mean that we cannot learn from each others predicaments, or share in each other's experiences/anger/pain. This goes to the emotional intelligence that we often discuss here. Like you, I have days when I am so angry at the world that I want to say f*** emotional intelligence. But it never gets me anywhere. So I am slowly teaching myself to adapt more in the manner of Joshua, for at the very least, it leaves me with less stress, and more peace in my heart.

You my friend have a tough row to hoe with the mess that is being left for your generation to deal with. You are allowed to be pissed off, and royally so. There is nothing I can say to make that any better. I wish it were not so.

Jan

exomatosis's picture
exomatosis
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Don't fall for this trap
Thetallestmanonearth wrote:

The idea that there is a divide with each side holding opposing definitions of themselves and the others can lead to dangerous and selfish places. 

Exactly!  Those who fan the flames of generational divisiveness are being played perfectly as dupes by those who benefit from such thinking.  Whether based on age (i.e. generation), gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, economic systems, religious or spiritual beliefs, race, ethnicity, wealth (or lack thereof), etc., such polarizing thinking is exactly what has historically created conflict, oppression, and misery in the world.  Isn't it time we stop falling for such foolishness?

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A looming generational war...we hope not.
exomatosis wrote:

Exactly!  Those who fan the flames of generational divisiveness are being played perfectly as dupes by those who benefit from such thinking.  Whether based on age (i.e. generation), gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, economic systems, religious or spiritual beliefs, race, ethnicity, wealth (or lack thereof), etc., such polarizing thinking is exactly what has historically created conflict, oppression, and misery in the world.  Isn't it time we stop falling for such foolishness?

To this and several of the comments above, I can say that I know Joshua personally and he is as conscientious and hardworking, and intelligent as anybody you'd care to meet from any generation.  The point I took from his writing was not one of generational blame, but rather one of generational realities.

Naturally some will seek to sever the conversation into one of blame and shame because that serves other purposes, but that is never ours here at PP.com.

With that said, I think one angle of this generational conversation needs some crisp framing and I think it goes like this: The boomers have everything to gain by preserving the status quo, the millennials have nothing to gain by preserving the status quo.

And poor generation X is stuck between those two positions probably feeling something Van Damme in the Volvo commercial.  They can't really move to either truck at this point.

Instead, what I want to have here is the realistic conversation that needs to be had which boils down to this; neither party is going to be able to get what they expect.  I loved the description in an earlier thread on the site that had this equation:  Happiness = Reality - Expectations.

To simplify that equation, if your expectations are zero then Happiness = Reality.

The problem being (so well) articulated by Joshua is that the millennials have already down-shifted their expectations to very low levels.   But have the boomers?  No, not really, and that's the angst in this conversation.  There seems to be an expectations gap.  One party seems to be the one being asked to give more than the other.

The art of really good negotiation is to have both parties walking away equally pleased or equally displeased, depending on the circumstances. 

Well, the circumstances as they applied to the boomers and as I understand them are that what was possible with half the total global population under a regime of steadily rising net energy included such awesome things as single income families and several decades of retirement following several decades of work.

And for millennials the deal is that the globe has twice the population and steadily falling net energy such that at least two incomes are now required  to support a basic household, no such thing as retirement seems broadly possible, and there's an entire world of crumbling infrastructure and weakened ecosystems with which to contend.

I am 100% convinced that the millennials would have done no better in their parent's or grandparent's stead.  Humans of every generation are just the same.  Faced with (seemingly) endless resources  our perspectives are shaped towards the present.  

So hopefully we can dispense with the blame game.

Instead, let's have a reality based conversation.  Boomer's expectations are onerous and unrealistic and decidedly ungenerous.  Millennials are unable and possibly (or probably) unwilling to meet them.  Gen X is left standing between the two extremes.

So the conversation I am hoping to have here around this subject is around what's right, what's fair, and how we can begin to close the expectations gap which, if we want to avoid becoming Southern Europe, has to involve more than having the youngest workers eat all the losses.

Time remains, but not a lot.

 

 
Wildlife Tracker's picture
Wildlife Tracker
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Time remains, but not a lot

We all know this ends in equal financial destruction, equal environmental destruction, equal social destruction, etc. That is when the expectation gap ends and not soon before.

Its terrifying to think how bad that that day will be. My jealousy towards boomers and xers is that of time. They had more time to situate themselves into the best position they could have to support themselves, their family, and their community.

The best I can do is own physical wealth and firearms. Land is a few years away....

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I would take issue with some of your comments
cmartenson wrote:
exomatosis wrote:

Exactly!  Those who fan the flames of generational divisiveness are being played perfectly as dupes by those who benefit from such thinking.  Whether based on age (i.e. generation), gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, economic systems, religious or spiritual beliefs, race, ethnicity, wealth (or lack thereof), etc., such polarizing thinking is exactly what has historically created conflict, oppression, and misery in the world.  Isn't it time we stop falling for such foolishness?

To this and several of the comments above, I can say that I know Joshua personally and he is as conscientious and hardworking, and intelligent as anybody you'd care to meet from any generation.  The point I took from his writing was not one of generational blame, but rather one of generational realities.

Sorry if you misunderstood my statement and intent.  I was not accusing Joshua of generational blame.  I wrote the above to prevent this conversation from going down this path, as so commonly happens when this subject is raised.

Naturally some will seek to sever the conversation into one of blame and shame because that serves other purposes, but that is never ours here at PP.com.

With that said, I think one angle of this generational conversation needs some crisp framing and I think it goes like this: The boomers have everything to gain by preserving the status quo, the millennials have nothing to gain by preserving the status quo.

As a boomer, I would take issue with this statement.  I would like nothing more than to see the status quo end.  I think you need to be careful about stereotyping any group and/or its perceived beliefs.  Lumping diverse individuals into a group of supposedly likeminded beliefs is a path fraught with pitfalls.

And poor generation X is stuck between those two positions probably feeling something Van Damme in the Volvo commercial.  They can't really move to either truck at this point.

Instead, what I want to have here is the realistic conversation that needs to be had which boils down to this; neither party is going to be able to get what they expect.  I loved the description in an earlier thread on the site that had this equation:  Happiness = Reality - Expectations.

To simplify that equation, if your expectations are zero then Happiness = Reality.

I would also take issue with the accuracy of these "equations".  Do you really belief Happiness = Reality?  Sorry, but I find no validity in that equation.

The problem being (so well) articulated by Joshua is that the millennials have already down-shifted their expectations to very low levels.  

Some have but some haven't.  I know a number who have sky high expectations.

But have the boomers?  No, not really,

Again, I find this statement to be patently false in my circle of contacts.  The majority of boomers that I know have most definitely down-shifted their expectations. 

and that's the angst in this conversation.  There seems to be an expectations gap.  One party seems to be the one being asked to give more than the other.

The art of really good negotiation is to have both parties walking away equally pleased or equally displeased, depending on the circumstances. 

Well, the circumstances as they applied to the boomers and as I understand them are that what was possible with half the total global population under a regime of steadily rising net energy included such awesome things as single income families and several decades of retirement following several decades of work.

Energy is obviously a limiting factor but it would appear to me that politics played a substantial role in the changes that we see.  When 85 individuals have as much wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest on the planet, I think more than just the 3Es are involved.

And for millennials the deal is that the globe has twice the population and steadily falling net energy such that at least two incomes are now required  to support a basic household, no such thing as retirement seems broadly possible, and there's an entire world of crumbling infrastructure and weakened ecosystems with which to contend.

Again, more than just the 3Es are involved.

I am 100% convinced that the millennials would have done no better in their parent's or grandparent's stead.  Humans of every generation are just the same.  

These statements I agree with.

Faced with (seemingly) endless resources  our perspectives are shaped towards the present.

So hopefully we can dispense with the blame game.

Again, I agree.  Let's stop the type of thinking which encourages divisiveness.

Instead, let's have a reality based conversation.  Boomer's expectations are onerous and unrealistic and decidedly ungenerous.  

You would serve the conversation better by avoiding these stereotypes.

Millennials are unable and possibly (or probably) unwilling to meet them.  Gen X is left standing between the two extremes.

So the conversation I am hoping to have here around this subject is around what's right, what's fair, and how we can begin to close the expectations gap which, if we want to avoid becoming Southern Europe, has to involve more than having the youngest workers eat all the losses.

If I'm not mistaken, is not inflation (the biggest tax) eating away at the savings and investments of the older generations?  I would put that down as a loss.  It's not just the youngest workers eating all the losses. 

Time remains, but not a lot.

 

 
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wildlife tracker..

You dont know how much time remains so i would not dwell on that. Beyond that, how many older folk would give up their riches for your youth? Don't give up just yet.

You can either look at the changes unfolding as depressing or exciting. I like to think they will be exciting as despite the material comforts we currently enjoy i see the world as dishonest, stagnant, decaying and dead, and i see new life getting ready to take hold in ways that were not expected.

In many ways this is a great time to be alive.

The things that torture you are also the things that make you strong and define your character. Some people are so pampered these days that they find that difficult to comprehend. A strong mind and attitude will always be your best preparation regardless of what comes next.

 

 

  

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What he said.

 

I mean, Charles Hugh Smith - read that last short paragraph.  Twice.

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmay13/generations5-13.html

The reason any comment from a guy like me (Xer) and a millenial, not just those posting on this thread, ruffle some feathers is that our views and opinions challenge the status quo. The generational conflict theme is held up as a no-go view in these parts, but, the problem is still there.  Denying that reality isn't the truth, it won't go away and it'll only grow.  Its a topic I'm interested in, but I'm not even registering on the temp. gauge of pissed-off'd-ness thats brewing out there.  If you've read The Fourth Turning, no doubt you've had to remove yourself from certain generalizations (hi Jan....thats why it cuts both ways at times) such as not growing up in a major metro, etc.  If you're one wants to run a silver bullet through all that is ailing us, as a nation - good luck.  We're in the 'Baskin-Robbins 31 flavors of misery store' these days....as far pushing the existing model goes.  Local solutions, decentralization, resiliency are what I'm learning from this site, and others.  But to deny the deep seated anger, and the justification for it, as a passing personal 'storm-in-a-teacup', a fault that needs to be overcome with a couple of good discussions to redirect those negative non-constructive emotions........yeah, good luck with that, history ain't on your side.  Whether your a child playing a game, a young man in a bar, a soldier in battle....or an aging citizen - at some point you've got to realize who, exactly, is in charge and who isn't. 

As I stated earlier, the more money you have and/or the older you are - the more 'set' you feel, the less likely you'll be able to help with these issues - or want to.  I stand by that.  Anyway, love the topic -

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Generations

There is a generational divide aspect to the present economic situation.  Many generation Os are having a difficult time finding a way to establish economic security.  If this situation continues there will be conflict.  You cannot shut out a large group of people and expect they will sit back and watch their lives be marginalized.

At the same time many boomers have already been hard hit by changes they never expected.  Loss of jobs in late middle age, loss of pensions, homes, careers has been driving many boomers to life situations they never thought they would have to face.

In this respect there are many in both generations who have been pushed aside by the present system.  While certain groups within the baby boomers (bankers and politicians come to mind) have made the situation worse, I am not sure that the baby boom generation alone is to blame.  As said in one of the posts, the roots of the present situation began to evolve a long time ago.  It is also possible, as West Coast Jan posed, that this is one of the turnings, part of a generation cycle, over which none of us has a great deal of control.  

It will be an even greater tragedy if we let this become a generational  war.  It is going to take the will power of people from all stages of life to get us through the coming changes.  As a middle of the pack baby boomer (just turned sixty) I agree with the comments that I have more resources financially.  What I no longer have is the strength and resilience of a younger person.  I cannot physically do what will be necessary to stay alive.  I cannot learn to be a good marksman with my lack of training and poor eyesight.  I will not be as quick to respond or adapt as a twenty, thirty or forty year old.  Without the cooperation of younger people I will quickly be a statistic.

There is another divide we need to understand and keep in our sights. It is more a divide of perception then one of age.  There are those who see and react to what is coming. There are those who through ignorance, denial or fear, refuse to look at what is happening.  Anyone, young or old, who sees and understands is far better off than the vast majority who are going to be taken totally by surprise. 

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stereotypes

Many of the stereotypes about various age groups are misleading, as are most stereotypes.  As an early boomer (born '46) I had children relatively late in life.  I was 44 when my first was born, so both my kids are millenials and I am painfully aware of what they are going to inherit.  One promise I made to myself was that I would get them through college (bachelor degree) debt free.  I have done so with one and am able to do so with the other, although it is becoming more challenging as time passes.

As has been repeatedly pointed out in many different forums, a lot of those kids are still living with parents long after their formal educations are complete.  I do not expect that trend to reverse any time soon.  It seems fair to me to think that parents should expect to help support their kids probably up to about age 30.  Getting them established in a career and/or financially independent could easily take that long.  So, many of we greedy boomers are, in fact, sacrificing far more for our children than our parents did for us.  My support ended with graduation from high school.

So, what are our responsibilities, and by our I mean everyone's.

1. Figure out how we can make it to the end of our lives without becoming burdens on society or our children.

2. Stay fit and healthy, able to maintain ourselves and our homes as long as possible.

3. Model the kinds of behaviors and attitudes that we want our children to absorb.  By that I mean developing sustainable life practices fiscally, socially and environmentally.

4. Take joy from each other and what we accomplish and build.

If we can do those things our lives will be well lived.

Doug

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An Emotional Topic, Which Makes It Essential To Discuss

Yes, this generational issue is fraught with emotional baggage and is obviously a hot-button topic.  And so our media and culture generally avoids it.

I do have to reject the idea that unless we talk about each individual boomer, or millennial or X-er's experience we are somehow making sweeping generalizations that have no utility.

As a cohort the 76 million boomers led their lives, put away for retirement, and have a sense of having earned their retirement.  I cannot fault that from anybody's individual perspective, as it would be mine.  

But from a collective perspective, it is simply not possible to meet all of the boomer's individual expectations.  Medicare & SS cannot be paid off under current terms and the only options are to (1) debase the dollar and pay them off under badly reduced terms, (2) cut the benefits, (3) increase taxes on current and future workers by onerous amounts.

What we are discussing here is that option #3 is actually deeply unfair.   So are #2 and #1.  To me these are not sweeping generalizations, they are statements about reality as it actually happens to be right now.

If we cannot discuss the options and how we are going to address them because they are too emotionally challenging, they will resolve themselves all on their own, under terms that I think everybody will find onerous and regrettable.  

The big picture view I hold is that this modern idea of 'retirement' where one can put in two or three decades of work and then enjoy an equal amount of time simply consuming is simply an artifact of cheap and abundant energy.

Nobody retired before the fossil fuel age took off and we are struggling back towards that condition as net energy declines.  Retirement as my parents understood it may be a two to three generation long idea.  A lovely but very temporary condition.

To the extent that boomers as a 76 million strong cohort are seeking to retire, and receive SS and medicare, and live in their 2,500+++ sq ft houses, and generally receive everything they think they deserve, is the extent to which they are asking the generations behind them to pay for it all.

Whether this is fair, or unjust, or not actually applicable to each individual boomer/millennial/Xer does not change the macro calculus of the situation.  

We fashioned a set of expectations under one set of circumstances and now those circumstances have changed.  So what are we going to do about it?

My observations are that pretty much nobody in Washington DC, or Tokyo or in Europe, has even the slightest political interest is dong anything other than preserving the status quo.  Those currently in 'leadership' positions are overwhelmingly boomers.   That they are seeing to preserve the status quo at the expense of future generations is, to me, a statement of fact.  

And I understand completely why that would be the case, especially since nearly 100% of them are lacking the context of the role of net energy as the primary enabler of everything they assume to be true about 'how the world works.'  Further, it's just human nature to resist change and seek to preserve the status quo, especially as one ages.

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
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Multi-generational households are going to be the new black

It's only in the last 2-3 generations in the richest countries in the world that people move out in their late teens and early 20's and live alone into their late life. My wife and I both have grandparents in retirement homes and the monthly cost is jaw dropping.  That will not be possible for the boomers. Period. 

I think a more likely outcome is that the lucky ones with family who can take them in will move in and take over some of the child care, cooking, etc allowing the my generation to focus on providing for the family.  The kids will pitch in too taking care of chickens and weeding the gardens.  Not everyone is going to have their own bedroom and private bath.

Everything else being equal I see this at a really positive move. The first and most important step in rebuilding communities. It's going to coincide with a lot of difficult events and probably result in resentment from people who are unprepared for the idea, but all in all I think this will be a positive change during a time of trouble.

The key to community and cohesion is dependence. I agree with Chris that at the macro level there will have to be generational winners and losers. I think the younger generation is loosing first. Eventually the tables will turn and we will all loose together. In my experience the strongest bonds are built in times of adversity so hopefully we can all work together to build new social security systems to offset the loss of the nanny-state.

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Boomer41
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Generations working together

When I read Joshua's post, I was aghast at the difficulty of his life compared to mine at that age. I was born during WW2. I grew up in post war Europe where shortages and rationing kept our life less than bountiful. However, it was never difficult to find a job, even as a schoolboy working weekends, and after graduation from college, well paying jobs were plentiful.

My generation were really fortunate to be born into what Chris describes as "half the total global population under a regime of steadily rising net energy" and we enjoyed a few decades of prosperity the like of which the world had never seen before. However, we expected that the good times would roll for ever (if we thought about it at all) as we worked hard and raised families.

Meanwhile the world changed around us. Modern technology has made readily available to everyone things which were only science fiction when I started my career in electrical engineering.

But by far the greatest change I have observed during my life has been the growth of government and bureaucracy and their interference in our lives. The second greatest change has been in the scope and power of the banking system.

I do not apologize for my role in the development of the present situation. In fact I can reasonably claim to have created more than my fair share of jobs and useful technology. If I am to be blamed for anything it is for being oblivious to the growth of a debt based economy and creeping statist government.

The present situation is what it is. The O generation have very serious problems but, if Joshua is typical, they seem to be coping with that in their own way. My generation are watching the ongoing prosperity we believed to be inevitable melting away before our eyes. Many of us are going to outlive our savings.

Community is important because it is only in a community that all generations can work together to make best use of our various characteristics. The energy, strength and enthusiasm of young people supported by the skills, experience and knowledge of old geezers like me can be a powerful force. I only hope I will be able to contribute for many more years.

 

 

 

Wildlife Tracker's picture
Wildlife Tracker
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FreeNL

Here is how I see the timeline. The trends that our natural resources suggest tell me life will get harder and harder every year from here on out until it gets extremely hard. Such things as....

Peak traditional oil was in 2006 

Peak natural gas will be this year, maybe next year  (

)

Production costs of everything is rising rapidly, maybe exponentially. In under 10 years, silver costs 4-5 times more to pull out of the ground! (based on 7 of the 10 top silver producers) 

and throw in a bunch of charts on housing prices, employment , food prices, water charts, etc.and they all suggest that life is progressively getting harder.

I would be more comfortable today, having my small sheep farm, a solid house with a root cellar, a bee yard, and a garden with plenty of root veggies than I do having nothing, but my youth and skills and couple guns and some metal because I don't have a reliable food source

New England woods do not offer much during the winter beyond wildlife, and the hunters will extirpate the deer within a short period of time. 

 

Poet's picture
Poet
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That's My Wife, Right There...

That's my wife right there.

Hard-working mother of young children, most days and every evening and night.

And full-time nursing student (spending 35 hours per week on studying alone, 10+ hours per week in class, spending 13-hour days on her feet in the hospital on clinical rotation, 10 hours per week commuting). One of the top students in her class, getting scholarship money.

Having to pole-vault and leap hurdles just to achieve what Baby Boomers got to by walking or jogging.

Poet

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Unprintable response.

Count me amongst those who would resist change. After a lifetime of sacrificing for the future, here I am living in a small house (rented) with an interesting office job to go to. (AutoCAD). It wont last-get it while you can.

The PTB want to privatize everything- even the air we breath. If it makes a profit they want to own it. And rent it back to us. (So tell me-what is the difference between rent and tax? The subtleties elude me.)

And then they have to get that amazing rationalization machine cranked up. It is all about efficiencies and "free" markets. My response is unprintable.

FreeNL's picture
FreeNL
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i vote that Arthur print the

i vote that Arthur print the response!

FreeNL's picture
FreeNL
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Posts: 112
Wildlife Tracker wrote: Here
Wildlife Tracker wrote:

Here is how I see the timeline. The trends that our natural resources suggest tell me life will get harder and harder every year from here on out until it gets extremely hard. Such things as....

Peak traditional oil was in 2006 

Peak natural gas will be this year, maybe next year  (

)

Production costs of everything is rising rapidly, maybe exponentially. In under 10 years, silver costs 4-5 times more to pull out of the ground! (based on 7 of the 10 top silver producers) 

and throw in a bunch of charts on housing prices, employment , food prices, water charts, etc.and they all suggest that life is progressively getting harder.

I would be more comfortable today, having my small sheep farm, a solid house with a root cellar, a bee yard, and a garden with plenty of root veggies than I do having nothing, but my youth and skills and couple guns and some metal because I don't have a reliable food source

New England woods do not offer much during the winter beyond wildlife, and the hunters will extirpate the deer within a short period of time. 

 

 

I'm confused here, are you saying that you have a sheep farm, bee keep, reasonable house and crops in the summer?

Nervous Nelly's picture
Nervous Nelly
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Poet, your wife is not the only one.

Tail end baby boomer I am. I had it rough. Starting a business working 60-70 hr week and finishing off two night classes in accounting with two young boys. Business didn't make it after all that hard work. Lost 50k in 90. Sold house. Got divorced. Started over again with almost nothing but courage. My kids needed me. Great motivator.

You have winners(doers) and losers(whiners) in every generation. I made it because I'd pick myself up by my boot straps no matter what life threw at me. Thank God I had my health and tons of energy. I no longer have that stamina. 

My life savings is being inflated away. The old age pension is being inflated away (not there yet). My kid's wages are being inflated away. My boyfriend can't get a job in his field .....3 1/2 years unemployed. Almost everybody is being taken down.

My boys are 30  and 32, and they're making as much as I was in 92. It's difficult for them. One works in the ceramic tile industry (inside sales) and has to make a few tile installations to be able to make ends meet. The other went into burn out in Oct 2013. He'd work 30 hours in an accounting firm (not enough hours and very stressful) and he'd also have his own clients. He also does web site design. Like 3 different sources of income that was coming in but nothing that pays enough. Job security, forget it. So these days I'm also the food stamp program....I buy some groceries for both, to help them out til they get back on their feet.

My hope is that at a certain point gold will go up enough to have some form of security for both generations. The Government might decide to tax the capital gains  at 75% except for their cronies.

NN

NN

Wildlife Tracker's picture
Wildlife Tracker
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Sorry that was confusing

No I have a couple bee hives and a modest garden that I manage on my parents property. My goal is to have a small sheep farm and a more productive garden, but I need a few years before I'm in a position to provide that for myself. That is what i was trying to say.

It's more important to have a reliable food source than the tools I have today...

FreeNL's picture
FreeNL
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Sounds like a good time to

Sounds like a good time to get some really big  tree pots and start planting fruit and nut trees on your parents land. Maybe berry bushes too. In a few years you can move them if you need. In ten years, or so youll be thinking how glad you are you started so early. Then you can learn canning and drying techniques in the meantime. See your age is a benifit in this case.

plant as many as you can. They take a long time to get going, especially the nuts. I think chestnuts take 50 years so dont bother with those unless you plan on having kids :). Im sure others on this site would know better for your area on what to plant best.

so despite all the horror of the graphs you can still take steps to improve your food supply in the future. You might also want to learn how to make a decent greenhouse. Start with a plastic wrap one, and move up from there. you can move that too later if you need.

Nothing has collapsed yet, so you still have time to do something about it, which is alot more than most can say, as most people are oblivious to any thoughts of decline even when they are felling it directly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife Tracker's picture
Wildlife Tracker
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supplementary foods are cool

But I don't think the world is going to be short on berries, other fruits, and nuts so much as they can be foraged or at least we have decent supply in my area.

My concern is starches, calories, fats, meats, grains, tubers, etc. These are vital.

For some of these resources, a root cellars may be the better storage method. Also re-usable canning jars are hard to come by as the current method of  disposable seals are more effective and lucrative. Re-usable lids can be be purchased, but they are expensive and also have limited use.

I also am concerned about seed sources. Virtually nobody knows how to collect seeds or store seeds for the following year. Of the fraction of people that garden, an even smaller quantity collect seeds because that makes no sense given with how easy it is to get a packet at the store. Most local farms don't collect their own seeds. When seed collecting, you have to worry about genetic variability/viability, cross-pollinating, pollinating, cleaning, storing/freezing so that the germinate the following season and many other details. I do the best I can for my situation, but I can't achieve resiliency or be comfortable in a collapse until I get a handle on these food resources.

Also this market crash that we are on the cusp of could easily and likely escalate into a collapse. Based on my research I recognize that next year will be harder than this current year, and the following year will be even harder in terms of living standards because that's the reality of the situation.

I recognize the bleak picture of a soft transition towards a more resilient society because I recognize what needs to be done and it's a lot of work and a lot of skills that need to be relearned and as you said, most people don't know what is about to hit them.

Just my 2 cents

 

Sterling Cornaby's picture
Sterling Cornaby
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anecdotes of the split I have been seeing

I am an Xer,

Yes, here are some of my anecdotes of the split I have been seeing.

I am a Lucky Xer; Life is presently on the surface quite pleasant. I beat some odds to get a good job, that’s great but homes/land is impossibly expensive (bought in 2009). I hate my mortgage; I want it gone but home prices are not quite serviceable by even ‘good’ jobs; we must be indebted by the banking masters for as long as they want, the rules and favors are always on their side.

I happen to be in a young neighborhood where “house poor” is very prevalent. Young people are spending so much to get into a house that they have very little for anything else; many of the younger generations are trying so hard to support this madness. This scripted game is insane but we (me included) have not yet figured out what else to do.

With these issues in mind, I have been able to take a prominent role in getting two millennials hired at the company I am at, being somewhat abused as ‘eternal’ interns. I will do anything I can to give anyone in that generation any break I can, anything. I know far too many getting out of university with way too much debt, and then sit on a raffle ticket to an evaporating middle class.

My father is a farmer baby-boomer round-up spraying GMO crop growing machine. He has no sympathy for the younger generations; they need to make their way like ‘he’ did. No sympathy. A 1-2 acre garden (my idea) is incongruent with his, so it’s not happening on his land. “Make your own way!” he says. “Get your own 20-40 acre farm scrub land at… a cool $0.5 to $1 million!?!?”. I cannot fund this baby-boomer delusion. I feel really sorry for my 29 year old millennial brother who works for my father who refers to my brother as an “employee”.

I really feel for Wild life tracker--- how does he get land? How does he get a garden? He, like many others, are captive by these impossible odds.

The divides we have created for ourselves are completely nuts. To me the grand secret is we have to understand that we live in an illusion. Anyone, of any generation who sees what is going on is needed. May we build a bridge to our future together?

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Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1988
learning curve

Hey, Wildlife Tracker, you're right that there is a learning curve, but it's not as hard as you think.

As far as canning is concerned, yes that is a good skill but storing extra lids and such can be done a package at a time and you can also learn to dehydrate your food. We regularly sun-dry tomatoes, figs, green beans (they reconstitute), hot peppers, blueberries, onions, and our own spices. Saving seeds is not as hard as you make it sound, either: there are tried-and-true varieties for most areas of the country/world. For now, your cooperative exchange office can give you free help growing things via the university system. Where I live the traditional main varieties of food make for a pretty balanced diet. Just look at what people in your area ate 100-200 years ago.

Make sure you join our Agriculture/Permaculture Group and take a good look at the old (very long) forums on things like growing your own food, square foot gardening, and more - lots of information there. I've taken on a young millennial apprentice to share food gardening expertise with the next generation. Not all of us older folks are oblivious and you've come to the right place for practical solultions.

Be well.

Wildlife Tracker's picture
Wildlife Tracker
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You don't think we have a quality seed shortage in the US?

I recognize that seed collecting is not extremely hard, but there is a science to it and there are still variables to consider that most do not understand. Having 3 tomato plants is not enough to sustain viable seed/maximize germination rates and having 50 corn plants is not enough either. Sacrificing a portion of your tubers each season is usually requires as they are usually biennial. Parsnip seeds need to be collected every year. I have been collecting seeds for 3 years and I see single-use (kill gene) seeds used far more commonly than not. Also, distance should be kept from neighbors using kill gene seeds as they can affect seed quality. Honey bees travel up to 2 miles efficiently and I'm sure some solitary bees will travel farther. Nobody around here cares to use specialized local varieties of foods because they are not concerned about seeds and none of the agriculturally minded folks know anything about the dynamics of it because there is no money in collecting seeds small scale. 

I recognize this as a barrier towards progress, and I'm suprised other have not come to the same conclusion

Nervous Nelly's picture
Nervous Nelly
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So Sorry Sterling Cornaby

My father is a farmer baby-boomer round-up spraying GMO crop growing machine. He has no sympathy for the younger generations; they need to make their way like ‘he’ did. No sympathy. A 1-2 acre garden (my idea) is incongruent with his, so it’s not happening on his land. “Make your own way!” he says. “Get your own 20-40 acre farm scrub land at… a cool $0.5 to $1 million!?!?”. I cannot fund this baby-boomer delusion. I feel really sorry for my 29 year old millennial brother who works for my father who refers to my brother as an “employee”.

Farms used to be multi generational......what happened?  How hard could it be for your father to sign over 2 acres to your brother now so he could start something. Labor has been replaced by fossil fuel machines. He wouldn't  have the  "Make your own way" attitude. He'd need him more than ever. Partnership. The corporate self interest has contaminated all levels of society. Community  should start at home. 

NN

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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multi-generational farms and seed quality

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-02-18/a-passion-for-peppers-the-movement-to-save-new-mexico-s-treasured-chiles

 

we farm approx 450 of 500 acres, its now all pasture farming but was id the not dist past a GM bean,corn,small grain powerhouse (and profitable). my children are all leaving, or so it seems at this point. We've made it clear that the one who stays will inherit it all, no dividing what has taken us a generation to accumulate. if i were a better typist i could write reams of what the conversion from chemical laden row croping to pasture farming has entailed. the ag heros  must include the voices from the wilderness Wendell Barry, Gene logsdon,richard Wal;ters ...sorryfor thestream of consciousnessty pin g

our children are on "O" and two "X's" Ang' and I are Boomers

FreeNL's picture
FreeNL
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Posts: 112
Sterling Cornaby wrote: I am
Sterling Cornaby wrote:

I am an Xer,

Yes, here are some of my anecdotes of the split I have been seeing.

I am a Lucky Xer; Life is presently on the surface quite pleasant. I beat some odds to get a good job, that’s great but homes/land is impossibly expensive (bought in 2009). I hate my mortgage; I want it gone but home prices are not quite serviceable by even ‘good’ jobs; we must be indebted by the banking masters for as long as they want, the rules and favors are always on their side.

I happen to be in a young neighborhood where “house poor” is very prevalent. Young people are spending so much to get into a house that they have very little for anything else; many of the younger generations are trying so hard to support this madness. This scripted game is insane but we (me included) have not yet figured out what else to do.

With these issues in mind, I have been able to take a prominent role in getting two millennials hired at the company I am at, being somewhat abused as ‘eternal’ interns. I will do anything I can to give anyone in that generation any break I can, anything. I know far too many getting out of university with way too much debt, and then sit on a raffle ticket to an evaporating middle class.

My father is a farmer baby-boomer round-up spraying GMO crop growing machine. He has no sympathy for the younger generations; they need to make their way like ‘he’ did. No sympathy. A 1-2 acre garden (my idea) is incongruent with his, so it’s not happening on his land. “Make your own way!” he says. “Get your own 20-40 acre farm scrub land at… a cool $0.5 to $1 million!?!?”. I cannot fund this baby-boomer delusion. I feel really sorry for my 29 year old millennial brother who works for my father who refers to my brother as an “employee”.

I really feel for Wild life tracker--- how does he get land? How does he get a garden? He, like many others, are captive by these impossible odds.

The divides we have created for ourselves are completely nuts. To me the grand secret is we have to understand that we live in an illusion. Anyone, of any generation who sees what is going on is needed. May we build a bridge to our future together?

If my old man got on like that i would bust his ass, and then mom would give it to him worse. Im not kidding. All he needs is a rude awakening. Take him with you when you and your brother go looking for these things and show him the difference. Then clockwork orange him with the crash course.

 

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charleshughsmith
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thanks for the mention

Hi Treemagnet, thanks for the mention of my essay on generational politics. 

Everyone who is relying on status quo systems for 100% of what they need to live is vulnerable to the inevitable degradation or collapse of what is clearly unsustainable. The solution for everyone regardless of age is to do whatever is possible to bypass, ignore or work around everything that is unsustainable, i.e. the dominant state-cartel systems.  As the costs of these systems rise and the yield/pay-off for paying into them declines to near-zero, the pay-off for abandoning them also rises. 

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogfeb14/EA-extortion2-14.html

I applaud the rise of self-sufficiency and accumulation of social capital whenever and wherever it is happening. Skills, local trustworthy networks, etc. cannot be depreciated, devalued, expropriated etc.

herewego's picture
herewego
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Excellent!

Wildlife Tracker:

I've gone the route of putting all my eggs in one small basket (a tiny plot with great water and exposure in a small village).  It took me 20 years to gather the resources for that and I'm still in debt.  But now I can start to really learn sustainable food production - a very satisfying, good thing.  However, there's vulnerability here that may not be evident  before you buy land.  Taxes.  Bad neighbors who won't go away.  Close, good neighbors whose children (whom I love) will be hungry if the shit hits hard.  All my resources in one place and that place can be taken away from me by anyone with better guns.  I often think that hunter/gatherer skills would be the very best survival fallback but I've got a 52 year old body with bad eyesight and am very busy getting out of debt now.  Maybe one day I'll have time to learn those skills too.  Don't underestimate the survival value of youth, health and outdoor survival skills, which you seem to have.  You are light on your feet in a way I am not. 

Sterling Cornaby:

I think you nailed it here: "Anyone, of any generation who sees what is going on is needed."

Charles Hugh Smith:

I love this: "The solution for everyone regardless of age is to do whatever is possible to bypass, ignore or work around everything that is unsustainable...."

This option is dawning on me more and more.  Why would I limit my responses to our situation to those TPTB sanction?  They can't even recognize what we are attempting to address.  Also, why would I let my energy be diverted into resisting the idiot dominant paradigm when I can channel it into deeply understanding what I actually care about and building that?

Chris:  Thanks for keeping it real with your post while we all filter through our generation-related experiences, beliefs and emotions. 

Excellent discussion!

Susan

GM_Man's picture
GM_Man
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Berry bushes are a must!

Per FreeNL's response, go with berry bushes that match your environment.  Fruit trees take forever to produce any real amount of fruit.  At our New England home we love blueberry and raspberry bushes for our primary fruits.  Luckily the home we purchased also had four apple trees dating back to the 1800's that still produce fruit.  So every other year we have a great apple harvest, God and weather willing.  Also concord grapes are still growing wild throughout one side of our property.  I am still trying to get those vines under control.  We had an outrageous grape harvest last year.  

The net result is a lot of fruit jams, sauces, and even fruit juices getting canned.  In addition to the amount that gets vacuumed packed into the freezer.  They make for great smoothies.

Cheers!

Doug's picture
Doug
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agreed

Depending on where you live, blueberry bushes, raspberries, quinces, peaches, grapes, pears and cherries can start producing relatively quickly.  We've had blueberries and raspberries for close to 20 years and harvest a lot every year.  They were producing well within a year of planting.  We planted peach trees three years ago and harvested some the next year and a lot this past year.  We planted quinces at the same time and have had even better results. 

We also have several remnant apple trees from an old orchard that produce regularly and in abundance with no care.  They aren't pretty, but produce great cider.  They also include some old varieties that you can't find in the stores.  The russets are terrific.  Our one cherry tree has been producing well from the second year we had it.  Of course you have to keep the birds away.  We planted a couple more this past summer.

Nuts are a different story.  We planted several trees and shrubs in the past few years but haven't harvested anything yet.  We've planted English walnuts, hickories, hazelnuts and almonds.  There are also black walnuts, butternuts, hickories and even chestnuts in the neighborhood from which we can forage.  The trees we planted may not produce in my lifetime, but will be there for the kids or whoever lives here then. 

One suggestion you might try.  There is a local very good nursery that has annual bare root sales in the spring for prices that are quite reasonable compared to later in the year.  Bare root trees are cheaper and much easier to plant (no root ball).  They combine the sale with an educational seminar that is quite informative.  I stop by there from time to time through the growing season to see what they have on sale and pick up a bush or tree here and there, even fruits that I'm not so familiar with, and just keep planting.  It's surprising how fast you can build up quite a fruit producing operation.  We also forage for blackberries, wild raspberries and thimbleberries, all of which are abundant if you know where to look.

Doug

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westcoastjan
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Don't forget foraging skills

Just bought a fabulous little book on local edible wild plants. I see things with entirely new eyes on my walk to work now. The wild salad bowl is brimming from things in my yard as well as nearby medians, parks and so on. It is nice to know it is there if I want/need it.

Jan

Sterling Cornaby's picture
Sterling Cornaby
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Posts: 152
bypass the system by any means possiable.



Thank you for all your words.  Its comforting. Families are what they are; for better or worse.  We can't make others change. We all have to work with what we have!

I really liked some of the thoughts from Charles Hugh Smith:  Bypass the system by what ever means possible (read all the links). That is why I need this website, to scour for any the holes I can find!

I have already decided that in the medical 'system' I am cash only for anything non-life or death; at a 9k deductible for my family, are we not there already?!

 

 

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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planting

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” -Greek Proverb

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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planting

"Wise is the man who plants an orchard in his old age" B. Franklin? 

jtwalsh's picture
jtwalsh
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Posts: 268
While on this subject

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. Attributed to Audrey Hepburn. (yes, the actress)

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
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Posts: 324
Restoration Agriculture

I agree with the importance of planting perennials and even annual gardens.  I've recently been excited by the concept of restoration agriculture (reading a book by the same name).  Mark Sheppard is a Wisconsin farmer who has taken some of the ideas of permaculture and adapted them to the scale of commercial farming for staple crops.  He argues that every civilization who has used annual crops as staple foods has collapsed so he proposes using long lived woody perennials, specifically nut trees.  He intercrops using permaculture techniques and guilds to produce multiple yields from the same bit of ground.

Badgersett farm is doing similar work.

http://www.badgersett.com/

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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edible forests

For those especially interested in perennial edibles, Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier book (in 2 volumes) "Edible Forest Gardens" is one of the primary references for permaculture with trees.  

After listening to Chris and Jim Kunstler both relating having 'sponsored' someone to work on their property it seems that this idea of having long term planning (even if only a few years for some species) will require an intergenerational understanding and implementation of this concept.  This of course is not all that Generation-O can jump into with some hope for the future but it is for some a great area that needs lots of work.  It is also obvious that without planning for the long term (trusts, corporate structure, etc) any project like this can be wiped out by the next land owner.  I'm not in generation-O, but as a baby boomer, I have a lot of interest in seeing the O's do well, especially to lay in the new infrastructure for those born into this world after 911.

greendoc's picture
greendoc
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Another Gen-Xer chimes in....

I am a Gen X-er. In fact, I vividly remember reading Doug Coupland's book of same title the summer of 1992 and agreeing with his assertion that our generation could afford “a lifestyle but not a life.”  I remember one statistic about intercontinental plane travel down by a huge margin but housing costing hugely more as compared to our parents’ reality.  The implication was that we were all jetting off to weekends in Europe and choosing not to participate in home ownership.  Maybe the hipsters of the 90’s living in whatever was their Fort Greene Brooklyn equivalent were doing that, but nobody I knew was.  In my peer group we were all working really hard trying to establish ourselves in our careers and find life partners. 

 

But by not participating in a lifestyle, but being frugal as my parents taught me, my husband and I climbed out of our debt hole.  We did not get health and dental insurance until 32, get married at 34, bought a home at 36 and started a family at almost 40.  And now finally, ten year later I feel like we can coast a bit.  We were extraordinarily lucky to be in the right place and the right time to buy into California real estate before it ballooned and make some investments that did very well.  Mind you, at the time it was such a stretch to get into a house after years of living in low rent crappy apartments making do with one car, bicycle commuting, rice and beans and more rice and beans to save for a down payment. 

 

Now, I have started pushing back from paid work  (I’m in health care) to do pro bono as well as volunteer work for BSA, the Grange, and our local Mutual Water Company.  Of course, if my husband suddenly lost his job things would change, but back to a life we know well and could easily scale back to: the life of a bottom feeder. 

 

In general, I feel like now we are have finally achieved some stability I owe it to the people younger than me to push back from the table and let them have a chance. 

But when I look at most of the people around me my age and older it is still about consumption: Vacations to Thailand, new kitchen remodels, and nice cars.   My father in law is a good example. He is still consulting at the age of 75 so he can earn extra money to travel worldwide. I tried to explain to him the consequences of these choices and he did not get it.  I like to think that if older established workers could afford to make do with less, they should step aside and let a younger person get on the ladder.  But it seems corporate America isn’t letting many on the ladder anymore, just trying to squeeze more “Productivity” out those already there.

 

Meanwhile, most of the millennials I know are actively pursing the lifestyle choice over a life.  Such as: flying across the country to attend bridal showers or a sporting event. Surfing in Belize for 6 months because they can’t find jobs here.  Expensive mani-pedies, haircuts and Brazilians.  Eating at one and two star Michelin restaurants in the city at least once a week because they don’t know how to cook rice and beans.  And I just do not understand this obsession with technology.  The smartphone is the techno equivalent of a tick that gives you Lyme disease IMO. 

 

But I do know people like Wildlife Tracker who chosen life over lifestyle.  Starting CSAs, raising sheep and making cheese, trying to organize and re-invigorate local economies, etc. These folks are the genuine things living an authentic life and I admire and respect them.  I try my best to encourage and support these people.  I hope these folks can end up owning some land by the time they are 36.  Or living on land with older owners who appreciate their energy and useful contributions and that this arrangement leads to some kind of lease to own scenario.  And I am fervently hoping my child grows up to be one of them.

Nervous Nelly's picture
Nervous Nelly
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Joined: Nov 23 2011
Posts: 209
A diamond is created under pressure and so are people

Meanwhile, most of the millennials I know are actively pursing the lifestyle choice over a life.  Such as: flying across the country to attend bridal showers or a sporting event. Surfing in Belize for 6 months because they can’t find jobs here.  Expensive mani-pedies, haircuts and Brazilians.  Eating at one and two star Michelin restaurants in the city at least once a week because they don’t know how to cook rice and beans.

I see it here at the office. 25-35 of age .Expensive cars.BMW.... $1000 boots, Personal trainer at $50 a pop three times a week.  $100 perfume. They all stay home with the parents, paying zero pension . The parents also complain that their kids spent everything they earn. Are these adult children ever going to leave this cushy lifestyle and become real adults? I wouldn't. As humans we all seek pleasure and avoid pain. So it's the parents' responsibility to wean them off life support as they age to become self sufficient functioning adults.  It's unbelievable the amount of damage parents can inflict on their offspring by being unable to let them take on their responsibilities. There too many baby boomer parents that got trapped in this because they can't bear to see them suffer (denied).

So Wildlife Tracker and other milleniums here are becoming  diamonds!

NN

 

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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Joined: Sep 22 2010
Posts: 572
the older generation

Geendoc, I agree with your concern for your father in law when you said  'I like to think that if older established workers could afford to make do with less, they should step aside and let a younger person get on the ladder.  But it seems corporate America isn’t letting many on the ladder anymore, just trying to squeeze more “Productivity” out those already there.' 

I have a similar but slightly different situation with my mother in law who is in her late 80's and jumps into full utilization of the medical system (read Medicare) every time she sneezes.  That generation voted that program into existence and they plan to use it to its fullest, even if it bankrupts the government. As you can see, I'm the age group wedged between you and your parents.

I applaud you for at least approaching your dad in law.  Those who were raised on the great everlastingly growing bounteous American economy meme will not get it until the economy hits stall speed repeatedly and I'm not sure they will get it even then.  I'm just very glad that Chris and some others that I happened to listen to explained what the 'writing on the wall' meant. 

 

 

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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Joined: Sep 22 2010
Posts: 572
land land land

Sterling

Most of the houses in this country have some land around them.  If you are on good terms with the fellows you got jobs for, I would try for a small garden co-op.  With three houses to work with, you could divide up the crops to the ones most suitable for each lot and then share labor, expertise and harvest. Use vertical space--even vinyl gutters hung on a wall can be used as small beds for greens.  This is what all of us must start doing just to be learning the skill sets we will need  Oh, and on a parting note, save some good stuff back for your dad just to show him you made your own way.

Best

agitating prop's picture
agitating prop
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: May 28 2009
Posts: 864
The Voluntary Simplicity movement

 

---and I don't mean people who are happy to subsist on less and derive meaning, perspective and happiness from community. I'm talking about those who just love, love, love, to call everyone who has a legitimate difficulty or problem, lazy, character flawed, spoiled, etc...

It's simple. It's easy...and it's FUN for boneheads everywhere! They wrap themselves in the flag, apple pie, their American-ness while pointing fingers. My favorite self-congratulatory fables are the ones that describe their own nobility, strength, virtue and stick-to-it-iveness in the face of overwhelming odds-- when they were young.

That they stand in judgement of Gen O'ers, Xers, Yers, while they lard on the advice, is transparent and quite frankly, sad and hilarious, at the same time. I can't imagine how infuriating it must be to be young and have to deal with people who lack depth of understanding...and appear to enjoy it.

They are easy to spot on forums. They use the word, 'collectivist' a lot.

My advice. Culitivate indifference. You won't change them. They like the way they are. Fade people who fade you.

 

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