I appreciate you guys discussing this, but boy you are making me work…..!
For starters, water self sufficiency is a piece of cake. We do this
with two 5,500 gallon tanks that cost $5000. We just collect water off
the roof, both tanks are now overflowing, again. We could have filled
four tanks by now if we could afford to buy more! When the world powers down,
you better believe we will become much more efficient at everything…
and compost toilets are definitely something to build into housing.
Re "FAT CHANCE", I disagree. You just wait ’til TSHTF….. everyone around here will be looking at ME (and the rest of the Transition Town crowd), that crazy guy with the solar panels on the roof, to pull them out of the mire. They know I know what to do because I write about this stuff in much of the local media… in fact I have local papers ASKING me to write articles on sustainability. And who’s talking about messing with someone’s food? I’m GIVING IT AWAY! It’s part of the survival strategy, don’t you get it? The idiots who refuse to participate, I can guarantee, WILL BE otnumbered…..
The transition Town group consists of people who already belong to a diverse number of other groups, people who run the local markets, music nights, choir, even the football club! We have already infiltrated much of the town, even the local doctors are encouraging us and promoting our ideas to their patients…. There’s a Transition Town Handbook you can buy, you should read it, they have done AMAZING things in England and Ireland already…..
1600 sq ft is hardly extravagant…. our house is the same size, three of us currently live in it.
I have a theory that when TSHTF, people wanting to escape large cities like NY and Chicago simply will not make it… and yes it will get ugly, which is why I occasionally say I’m glad I don’t live in the US. Oregon’s a nice place, we liked it a lot.
I reckon there’s a book in all these discussions…
Some of you seem to think I live in isolation, so here’s a Google Earth pic of my small town. There’s more to it actually, but I wanted you to get an impression of our surrounding… our place is pretty well smack bang in the middle as a reference.
As is often the case when rational, civil discussions like ours occur, I think we may both find that we probably agree more than we disagree. As I mentioned before, I applaud your efforts with the Transition Town group. Certainly you folks are doing a lot more to prepare for a potentially negative future than I am. If push comes to shove, you will probably be better equipped than I to survive the aftermath. Mind you, I’m not so sure I’d want to be around for the aftermath!
As regards availability of water and/or food, my concern isn’t how things will go when it’s abundant. It’s a question of how will you (and your village mates) manage when one, or both, resources become scarce. That’s when the rubber will meet the road!
Just for your amusement, go to Google Maps and type in Hillsboro, Oregon. As you can see, it’s a bit busier than your slice of Earth! 😉 (I couldn’t figure out how to paste a .gif file in here)
There wouldn’t be a house in Cooran that doesn’t have at least one water tank….
Matrix, Your pic is a perfect example of how different frames of reference can make communication difficult. You claim you are not ‘isolated’ yet in comparison with the suburbs where I live you actually really are. I am not using the term isolated to mean that there is no one visible from horizon to horizon.
My ‘home town’: at approximately the same scale as your image
In comparison to Hillsboro, Oregon – the density it relatively the same as mine (both of ours have a much higher population density than you hometown).
I recall speaking with a relative of mine who lives in the arid eastern half of Colorado. In their community they are forbidden from collecting the runoff from their roofs because if everyone did it would drastically reduce their local stream flows (I can hear you, and agree, but there you have it).
This is a little bit off the original topic, but it’s relevant to the last few posts.
I think the question of where and how to live is a very interesting one, and I’d like to discuss it more on these forums.
Personally, I think living on a piece of land in a small town surrounded by arable farmland that isn’t too close to a major metropolitcan area and has enough rainfall or access to groundwater is the best choice. Matrix and joebaba2 and a few other folks are already there.
However, the cold, hard truth is that the vast majority of people won’t be living in those places. Even those that are aware of the crisis we’re entering and want to move to such a place may not be able to do so for financial or other reasons. (I may be included in this group).
That may just be tough luck for us. Or, we may be able to find a way to create a sustainable life from where we are. There are many, many factors to consider. As everyone who has been around this forum for a while surely knows, I’m no pie-in-the-sky optimist. But neither do I believe that everyone who lives in the suburbs or the city is going to perish. There’s a middle ground there somewhere.
Sharon Astyk wrote a good article about this on her blog recently. I recommend reading it.
I want to restart this thread, especially after reading the below, and in view of the fact there are so many new readers here since I posted it two months ago. Not to mention that things are changing apace.
Speaking of biblical decrees, I was surprised to read this today.
There is no guarantee that the measures will succeed. The vast
scale of government borrowing may exhaust the stock of global capital.
Markets are already beginning to question the credit-worthiness of sovereign states. The Fed may find it harder than it thinks to disengage from colossal intervention in the bond markets.
In the end, the only way out of all this global debt may prove to be a Biblical debt Jubilee.
is an interesting tradition that hasn’t really been practiced for
centuries, but for thousands of years it was an accepted part of middle east tradition.
In today’s world the idea of a periodic wholesale canceling of debts
and the restoration of land to the poor seems utopian and
Unlike today’s world, the ideas of morality and religion wasn’t
excluded from economics. In fact, unlike today, morality and religion
was infinitely more important than profit and personal property.
What was radically disturbing in archaic times was the idea of unrestrained wealth-seeking.
It took thousands of years for the idea of progress to become inverted,
to connote freedom for the wealthy to deprive the peasantry of their
lands and personal liberty.
"Land must not be sold in perpetuity, for the land belongs to
me and you are only strangers and guests. You will allow a right of
redemption on all your landed property."
– Lev. 25:23-28
I first got interested in the concept of Jubilee, not for
religious reasons, but for economic reasons. The person who introduced
me to the idea was my favorite economic historian, Michael Hudson.
"First they ignore you, then they denounce you, and then they say
that they knew what you were saying all the time," said Gandhi. The
same might be said of today’s overhang of debts in excess of the
economy’s ability to pay. First the policy makers pretend that they can
be paid, then they denounce the pessimists as spreading panic, and then
they say that of course students have been taught for four
thousand years now how the "magic of compound interest" keeps on
doubling and redoubling debts faster than the economy can squeeze out
an economic surplus to pay.
What has ended is the idea that "the magic of compound
interest" can make economies rich without having to work and without
industry. I hope we have seen the end of derivatives formula
seeking to make money by playing in a zero-sum game. A debt overhang
always ends either in foreclosure of the debtor’s property, or in a
debt annulment to preserve the economy’s overall freedom and equity.
This means that the postmodern economy as we know it must
end – either in financial polarization and debt peonage to a new
oligarchic elite, or in a debt cancellation, a Jubilee Year to rescue
society. But when the government says that it is reviewing "all" the options, this reality is not one of them.
The Federal Reserve has attacked the current financial crisis as
if it were a problem of liquidity (not enough money is available to
borrow and loan). In fact the problem is the levels of debt in the
To put it another way, it’s not the financial system is illiquid. It’s that the world’s banks are insolvent. Some officials recognize this to be the case.
"This biggest worldwide economic crisis arose by getting into
debt," Josef Proell, Austria’s new finance minister, said. "You can’t
fight a debt crisis by getting into more debt."
A new mobilisation could revitalise politics in the UK – but only if you get involved.
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian, 3rd February 2009
For the first time in my life I resent paying my taxes. Until now I
have seen this annual amputation as a civic duty – like giving blood –
necessary to sustain the life of a fair society. Suddenly I see it as
an imposition. Its purpose has reverted to that of the middle ages:
subsidising the excesses of a parasitic class. A high proportion of the
taxes I pay will be used to bail out companies which, as the Guardian’s
current investigation shows, have used every imaginable ruse to avoid
paying any themselves.
I think that for many people this is the final blow: the insult
which seals their alienation from the political process. The small
Welsh town where I live, many of whose inhabitants are among the very
poor, was once a haven of progressive politics, built from
nonconformist religious sects and a long tradition of social
solidarity. People from these valleys were transported to Van Diemen’s
Land for demanding the vote.
Now almost everyone I speak to says the same thing – “what’s the
point? They’re all as bad as each other” – and I can find no argument
to refute it. Had their forebears been told that, 125 years after the
first agricultural workers got the vote(1), the poor would be bailing
out the rich and (thanks to the first-past-the-post system) the votes of only a few thousand citizens would count, I doubt they would have bothered.
We are trapped in a spiral of political alienation. Politics isn’t
working for us, so we leave it to the politicians. The political vacuum
is then filled with heartless, soulless, gutless technocrats: under
what other circumstances could political ghosts like Jack Straw, Geoff
Hoon, Alistair Darling, Hazel Blears, Peter Mandelson or John Hutton
remain in office? Unmolested by the public, corporate lobbyists
collaborate with this empty political class to turn parliament into a
conspiracy against the public. Revolted by these phantoms, seeing
nowhere to turn, we withdraw altogether, granting them even richer
opportunities to exploit us.
The government talks of re-igniting public enthusiasm for politics,
of bringing out the vote, but balks at any measure which might make
this happen. The reform of the House of Lords has again been postponed
until after the next election, if at all(2). The promise, in Labour’s
1997 manifesto, of a referendum on electoral reform is long-forgotten. It now looks as if nothing will be done to stop MPs from moonlighting, as our representatives
argue that they cannot possibly get by on £63,000 a year (plus lavish
expenses)(3). I wonder whether they have any idea how that plays in a
town like this.
Consultations are rigged. Citizens’ juries are used to lend a sheen
of retrospective legitimacy to decisions already taken. The Big
Conversation turned into a lecture. LabourList, mercilessly satirised
by Catherine Bennett in this week’s Observer(4), seeks to create a
grassroots movement where no grassroots exist.
But I doubt that the government could revitalise politics, even if
it had the best intentions. If the people of this country are to be
mobilised, if new life is to be breathed into politics, we have to do
it ourselves. As soon as you acknowledge this, you see the problem: we
have lost our base. The affiliated trade unions have turned into the
government’s nodding dogs, continuing to fund the Labour Party even as
it destroys everything they claim to stand for. The old social
democratic and non-conformist movements have gone. All we have left are
the NGOs and a series of informal direct action movements. They have
proved to be good at raising public awareness, less good at building
sustained, multi-faceted campaigns. We require a permanent
mobilisation, and it might be just about to begin.
For several years, activists have been proposing a MoveOn campaign
for the United Kingdom. MoveOn.org is an web-based coalition in the
United States that has mobilised around three million people to demand
progressive change. It was launched in 1998 as a petition to Congress
“to censure President Clinton and move on”, rather than impeach him(5).
Since then, it has been credited with revitalising the Democratic Party
and changing the face of American politics. Some of the claims its
promoters make are exaggerated, but no one disputes that it has
inspired hundreds of thousands of alienated people to re-engage.
At the beginning of every year, MoveOn polls its members on their
political priorities and then mobilises them around those demands(6).
It encourages them to bombard their representatives with emails
and phone calls, to raise political funds and to propose new
legislation. Every year it scores small victories, on issues as diverse
as Medicare reform and Facebook privacy(7). It also appears to have
contributed to some very large ones: some people claim that neither the
candidacy nor the presidency of Barack Obama would have been possible
without it. MoveOn has made mistakes – its position on the Iraq war,
for example, has been hopeless(8) – but it’s obvious that the model
There have been campaigns a bit like this in the United Kingdom, but
they have tended to concentrate on a single outcome and to disperse or
relax when it has been achieved. The Big Ask, run by Friends of the
Earth, mobilised 200,000 people to demand a climate change bill – and
got it(9). The Local Works coalition drove the Sustainable Communities
Bill through parliament(10). The closest relative of MoveOn in the
UK so far is Unlock Democracy, which, with far smaller resources than
its American cousin, has already changed the way we are governed. Last
month, for example, working with groups like enoughsenough.org and mySociety, it managed to stop MPs from hiding their expenses from the public(11).
Today Nick O’Donovan, a British academic working in the US, launches
a movement in the United Kingdom built overtly on the MoveOn model.
Dosomethingaboutit.org.uk is a rolling petition which seeks to
ensure that the people who sign up don’t lose touch with each other.
When there’s an important vote in parliament or when the government is
threatening to shut down a useful public service or to waste our money
on subsidising the rich, it will set up a petition and mobilise its
members. Like MoveOn, it will also poll them over the issues they want
to champion. At elections it will help people to decide which candidate
in their constituency to support, in order to avoid splitting the
progressive vote. Its purpose is to strike fear into the hearts of our
self-serving technocrats and, it says, to make “the moral high ground
I hope O’Donovan and his colleagues know how much they are taking
on. They will be fighting party machines which have refined every dirty
trick in politics; the hopelessness that arises from 12 years of broken
promises; a labour movement that seems to have abandoned every
political aim except driving foreigners out of the workplace; an
electorate that has ceased to believe in itself. But none of this is a
reason not to try.
Dosomethingaboutit is a bold and wildly ambitious scheme. Can it work? That’s up to you.
I missed the bulk of this conversation, so this is merely a response to matrix’s original post:
Me, I love what I do. Intensely. I would be miserable if I didn’t have work to do. My work (architect/builder/home inspector), fortunately, has so far been quite recession proof, but that was by design, not luck. I am also not a rich man, but I do not have a lot of desire for toys and goodies, only thing I want (which I don’t have yet) is a house and security, and I know that is coming soon. I work hard for my money, and lived most of my life with quiet dignity and restraint.
I would be offended and angry if people’s debt were absolved, because that would encourage irresponsible behavour. I may be living in a bubble but I feel everyone should have been practicing restraint, and in fact, much of this mess would not have occurred if that was the case.
I would be happy to work for free if everything was free. HOWEVER, at least with the overwhelming mindset, I do not trust people to practice a reasonable amount of restraint. I think the orgy of consumption would just kick into a higher gear. wouldn’t want that.
OK I’ll throw in my $0.02.
Maybe I can perhaps describe what Matrix was alluding to, or I might be off base so bear with me.
Ok I’m a Lead Software Engineer for a major international software company, I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but that’s not relevant.
I get paid to do my Job, and frequently to do other things other than my Job, since I’m salaried, with benefits, and paid vacation, and sick pay, and performance related bonuses, stock etc…
Now, consider this, when I get up from my desk and go get my free coffee from the kitchen, I get paid the minimum wage, that’s right you heard it, the couple of minutes it takes for me to get that coffee, I receive the princely sum of roughly the minimum wage.
Now what about the person who needs to work a whole hour to get that same sum. Do they do something that is so drastically inferior that I’m worth 30 times more than they are an hour? Let’s look long term, for every year I work, they need to work 30, so in about a year and a half, I’ve earned the same amount of money that they would earn in their working lifetime. Chances are too, I have better medical care, and I get paid vacation too. In that 18 months, I’ve taken 6 weeks vacation too.
So Compare and contrast Lead Software Engineer, vs. Burger Flipper at say McDonalds.
But wait, hold on a second, the burger flipper has spent their ENTIRE working life and have been paid less than I do in 2 years, Hell if I work 2 years (with 8 weeks of vacation) they’d have to work 60 years. If they left school at 18 they’d be 78 years old. Is this really fair?
Somewhere we’ve lost sight of the fact that we are trading our lives for currency, whether we love our work or hate it, we’re still trading it. We’ve all heard the following Cliche "when you have the time, you don’t have the money, when you have the money you don’t have the time.". I value my life a lot more than any amount of bottle caps.
There are a lot of people maybe some on here, who have neither the time nor the money. I think it’s elitist to argue that my life is worth 30 times that of a burger flipper. I don’t believe it, although I’ll take the money.
We’re reaching a position from a financial perspecitve where the old rules will not apply. If the markets collapse, the country bankrupts itself both financially and in resources, trust me you come to my place out in the sticks, with gold, and it will buy you nothing. I might swap you that nice Leather Jacket you’re wearing, for some stew, or you can have the stew for a few hours working my farm, but the gold will get you nowhere, now if you have antibiotics, then I can put you up for a few days while you rest.
I think the issue is this, "we" don’t live in communities any more, not real communities, sure I live in Seattle, but there’s no community here. I suspect that there’s no community in any major population center, there might be in certain pursuits, like church, or the golf club, or your bowling league, but that’s tied to that activity.
I’ll explain what I mean by community, community is when you get there within 5 minutes you know 5 peoples names, and what they do, and they know your name, what you do, and why you’re there. After being there a couple of days you know about someones sister in Montana, what someone else did before they arrived there, who owns what in town, you know about another 25 people, and at least 50 others know about you and that you’re there. They suggest ideas of things that you can do, and places you can go, how to do certain things that you’re unfamiliar with in that environment, and frequently trying to take a small amount of advantage of fresh money in town.When you leave they ask when you’ll be back, tell you they’ll keep an eye on your place,and keep in contact through email and phone calls. These are the people that band together in times of crisis, and don’t turn on one another.
I have a theory about community too, it’s got an absolute upper limit of about 400, beyond that there’s no community. In real terms the only functional communities are about 100. Back in the day communities functioned pretty much like Matrix suggested everyone pulled together to survive, and got back what they put into the community. Maybe they put in a bit more or a bit less, but as long as at the end of the harvest season they had what they needed to survive the winter it was all good. Yes there were back then slackers too (remember the 400 upper limit) about 5% are going to slack, so that’s 5 people out of a hundred, which isn’t too much of a problem, since there are only 5 of them, they can be pushed into action from the rest of the community. But when you get to 400, that’s now 20, and 20 is enough for them to band together and not be pushed into doing the required things needed by the community, and effectively become parasites. The community can deal with this, or be destroyed by it.
I think we’ve reached a point in our civilization where the trash is going to be taken out, if that means going back to more basic living, and forgoing the Wide Screen HD Plasma TV’s, Dishwashers, Dolby 5.1 receivers, that really add nothing to our lives in any real sense, then that I think is something that I can easily deal with. Yes it’s going to take a perception shift, but like I said, in a near worst case scenario in ten years time if you turn up at my homestead with Krugerands, Sovereigns, or Bullion, you can keep it and work for your stew, if you have a good jacket we can trade. Who knows if you like the place and stay you might get the jacket back, once you’re part of the community, wouldn’t want you to die of frostbite you might be needed next year to help bring in the harvest.
I hope you all realise thigs used to be like this, until……. money was invented! [/quote]
Uh, no. Before money there was barter, and if you didn’t produce something to barter with, you died. Before barter, there were tribes where if you didn’t pull your weight, you’d get "sacrificed". There wasn’t anything before tribes.
DTM, while I admire your accomplishments in becoming matrix-free, I think you should check the cap on your mower gas tank because the fumes may be getting to you. This could never possibly work and the reasons should be obvious.