Introducing Resilience Spotlight
If you’ve read our book Prosper!, you’re familiar with the chapter in the book where we surface personal stories from PeakProsperity.com readers.
These stories summarize the successes real folks have achieved in re-designing their lifestyles to become more resilient.
Having working models to follow and be inspired by is a great way to motivate others to take similar action. So we intend to create a new ongoing series here at PeakProsperity.com where, each weekend, we highlight the personal experience of one of our readers.
What steps have you taken in your life? What benefits have you enjoyed? What setback have you had? What lessons have you learned? What would be your advice to something attempting to following your lead?
If you’ve got perspective to offer, share your story with us.
Email it to us at [email protected]
Each weekend, we’ll select a new reader story and feature it on the home page of PeakProsperity.com.
To give you a sense of what we’re hoping for, here’s just one of the stories included in Prosper!
My journey down this path began early. I was born in the early 70’s and seemed to pick up on the environmental and energy concerns of that decade. My father would say such things as, “use all the lights you need, but if you aren’t using them turn them OFF.” These ideas became my baseline understanding of the world.
Early on my goal was to be an artist for a living. I was realistic enough to expect many lean years of income with this career choice, and I would probably never be rich. So I planned from the beginning to keep my cost of living low, and where possible, direct my spending toward lowering future expenses.
I bought my home while still in college. I actually feel a bit sorry for my realtor who spent 2 years helping me find the place. His commission was very small because I was looking at the lowest priced properties available. What I bought was a small, old mobile home on 1.5 acres in a rural setting. My monthly mortgage payment was significantly less than the average monthly rent at the time. I worked hard to pay it off in 9 years, thus eliminating my largest monthly bill.
Along the way I invested what I could in transforming the thermal nightmare that was the mobile home into an energy efficient abode. This involved the normal things of new windows, efficient lighting, etc. It also involved less normal modifications. I built a shell around it to form an attic and 12-inch thick walls creating the space needed to super insulate.
Another major project was creating a small passive solar, earth sheltered building. Primarily this was to be my art studio, but it also doubles as a storm shelter. It became a project for learning how to put together a small photovoltaic system. Recently I was able to get a second, larger, off-grid photovoltaic system installed to power my whole home, eliminating another monthly bill.
I started gardening as soon as I moved to this property, slowly learning and expanding my abilities. I installed a couple 1500-gallon cisterns to collect rainwater mostly for garden use, but also as a backup water supply if needed. Lately I’ve been working to establish more edible perennial plants/trees. I should also note that I spent a couple years learning about edible wild plants in my region, esp. those that grow on my property.
I did achieve my goal of becoming a professional studio artist. As expected, there were many very lean income years. Even now as a “successful” artist my income just barely qualifies for middle class. I think I still fall short some years. However, due to my efforts to create a low cost of living, and investing in things that lower my future expenses, I have an extremely high quality of life. Money hasn’t been a real concern for many years now. I may not make huge sums, but what I do amply meets my needs.
I didn’t set out to live a more environmentally friendly life. Nor did I start down this path in fear of a major economic collapse. Yet I discovered that living a lower impact lifestyle saves money as well as environmental resources, and offers me more resilience as our economies decline. All the while I’ve been increasingly empowered to direct my time, and live my life, as I desire.
What story do you have to tell? Send it to us at [email protected]
I thought I'd chime in and publicly take ownership of the example story Adam provided. Thanks Adam for using mine. If anyone wants any more specifics about it please feel free to ask. Something that might be of interest to others is the limited documentation I did while building that small passive solar, earth sheltered building which has become my art studio. On my website I posted photos and comments about the process along the way, what I was trying, why, what didn't seem to work well, etc. Here's a link to that section of my site. http://davidhuang.org/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=48&g2_page=1
As a further update, I've been continuing to pursue projects and investments in my small homestead which I hope will add to it's resiliency in whatever the future holds. I've been working on renovating a small pole barn. I've gotten it much better insulated and tried doing spray foam insulation. This was a bit messy but I'm happy with the results. It wasn't that hard to do myself either. Then utilizing the car tire, rammed earth wall technique I learned making my art studio I've made a retaining wall halfway up the exterior of this building and bermed dirt up to it, thus getting a partial earth shelter. This coming year I hope to finish the south side where I'm building a small greenhouse off the front of the building. To get some of the dirt for this project I dug out a small pond (really more like a large mud puddle). This water feature is planned to be a ecosystem enhancer for wildlife and may become a future site to play with aquatic edible plants.
I'm also seriously contemplating building a rocket mass heater in my home to replace my small wood stove for the primary heating. This project both scares and excites me. It scares me because my home is a small trailer and so to support the weight of such a mass heater I would have to cut through the floor and work out some serious bracing underneath! It excites me because my research indicates that the greater efficiency of the mass heater might mean I could sustainably harvest ALL, or nearly all my fuel wood right from my 1.5 acre plot year after year! How great would it be to have immediate local control over my heating fuel?!
A reminder to consider sharing your story with the community here.
Learnings large or small, accomplishments major or minor — any and all will be appreciated!
Our first reader story will run this weekend. Will it be yours?
I've told our story so many times…I doubt you want to hear it again, but will be listening with rapt attention.