What Skill to Acquire?

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  • Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - 08:39am

    #1

    sylvanarrow

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    What Skill to Acquire?

I’m a writer who runs an internet publishing business.  I’m sure that’ll come in handy in a survival situation. 😛

Even if nothing horrible ever happens, I’d still love to learn a new skill and have a hobby where I actually create something.  And if horrible things do happen, well, it’d be nice to have something to fall back on!

I see a lot of folks talking about getting into gardening, but I don’t have any knowledge or much interest in vegetable gardening (it seems like a huge learning curve and nobody in my family has any inclinations in this area).

I do have about a half acre of land I can use for growing things, so I’m thinking of putting in a little mini orchard.  I’ve done some home brewing and was actually planning to use pears and apples for hard cider regardless of SHTF scenarios, grin.  

Anyway, what are your thoughts on a skill or skills that would be useful to acquire (and feasible to learn on a part-time basis over a couple years? I’m going on the assumption that even in a worst case scenario, not everybody would have to be a farmer. We’d still need dentists and doctors and… ?

I guess I’m not sure whether to brainstorm skills-that-could-become-occupations for medieval Europe or the Old West or the Depression or what. 

I’d love to hear about skills you’re getting into or what you think would be useful.  Thanks for musing with me. 🙂

 

 

 

 

  • Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - 01:19pm

    #2

    Morpheus

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    Re: What Skill to Acquire?

I’m an electrical engineer. I am sure that there will be PLENTY of jobs designing cell phones that no one has any money to buy! LOL

Seriously sylvan. You ask a great question that I often ask myself. 

  • Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - 01:41pm

    #3
    Doug

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    Re: What Skill to Acquire?

I would suggest carpentry and wood working.  Carpentry will be a necessary skill for any kind of building, and woodworking is kind of a natural extension of that.  There is something about working with wood that I, and many like me, find quite satisfying and useful.  There is an investment in tools, but they can be purchased over time as your skills improve.

  • Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - 02:38pm

    #4
    switters

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    Re: What Skill to Acquire?

One way to think about this is to consider the skills that were in demand and essential to life before the industrial and technical revolutions.  They will likely always be in demand, no matter what is happening with the economy.  If you listened to Chris M’s recent podcast, you may have heard him mention Maslow’s heirarchy of needs.  That’s another way to think about this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In both cases, the most basic human needs are emphasized.  No matter how bad things get economically, we still need water, food, energy, shelter, clothing, safety and basic health care.  Skills in these areas are likely to always be in demand.  Examples might be: cobbler (shoemaker), farmer, builder (focusing on alternative materials and design), herbalist, renewable energy specialist, permaculture designer, etc.

You mentioned brewing beer.  I don’t think there’s ever been a time in history where alcohol wasn’t in demand, so that’s probably a good skill to acquire if you’re interested in it.  

  • Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - 02:47pm

    #5
    ashrat

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    Re: What Skill to Acquire?

Hi:  I have also been thinking about this very thing.  I have an idea that a bicycle mechanic will become a very busy fellow in the next few years.  If you are handy with tools you might consider getting into this area.  I think I’m going to buy me a supply of tire patching items before they get to expensive (they are probably all imported) and start learning more about how to repair bikes.  I have 3 bikes and ride to work in good weather so this seems like a natural way for me to proceed.

  • Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - 03:24pm

    #6

    Arthur Vibert

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    Re: What Skill to Acquire?

Good subject. What makes it doubly difficult to decide what to pursue is that it’s hard to know just how bad – or even different – things will be.

For example, wood working/carpentry is probably a good idea. But if we go through a period of brownouts or outright power failures that last for days or weeks a truck full of power tools will be a truck full of expensive doorstops. So that means that if you think it’s going to get REALLY bad you might want to look into working old school with hand tools. Difficult – but it’s the way everything was built for thousands of years.

Beer is similar. If you can’t go down to the local home brew supply store for a can of malt extract and some hops and yeast what will you do? Do you have local sources for these items? Can you grow them?

I was talking with a friend about stocking up on bike tires and patches. But those things degrade over time. If we lose access to the sources of these things eventually we will be left with a large supply of useless tires.

None of this is easy. Everything we take for granted must be re-examined from a sustainability perspective. Otherwise we could be in for some very unpleasant surprises.

Arthur

  • Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - 04:51pm

    #7
    Doug

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    Re: What Skill to Acquire?

[quote=Arthur Vibert] For example, wood working/carpentry is probably a good idea. But if we go through a period of brownouts or outright power failures that last for days or weeks a truck full of power tools will be a truck full of expensive doorstops. So that means that if you think it’s going to get REALLY bad you might want to look into working old school with hand tools. Difficult – but it’s the way everything was built for thousands of years. [/quote]

Actually, when I posted above, I was thinking in terms of hand tools.  For instance, there is a wide range of Japanese tools that make word working and carpentry relatively easy and enjoyable.  A friend rebuilt a part of his barn, including cutting heavy beams, using only a Dozuki hand saw for cutting.  It can get to be an expensive hobby, but for the enthusiast, you can’t beat the precision and ease of use of these tools.  Japanese wood tools can be found at: www.japanesetools.com/ 

 

 

  • Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - 04:52pm

    #8
    switters

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    Re: What Skill to Acquire?

Arthur,

You bring up an important question.  What skills we choose to develop will of course depend upon our vision for what the future holds.

I happen to believe we’re in for a "long descent", as John Michael Greer calls it, rather than a cataclysmic "Mad Max" style collapse.  If that’s true, we’ll still be riding bikes, building houses and brewing beer for years to come – albeit not as prolifically or cheaply as we’ve done so far.

 

  • Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - 05:00pm

    #9
    sahhmmy

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    What happens to current individual debt?

I’m new to this site, but not entirely new to these ideas. I read Larry Burkett’s "The Coming Economic Earthquake" last go round – 2002-ish, and put it back on the library shelves, and in the back of my mind. Recently, I checked it out again. WOW – his fictitious future scenerio is right on target!

I have some questions maybe some of you can help with. What happens to those of us who have a home mortgage? Say we still owe $100,000 on the house. What happens to that loan? Does the bank cry that now it’s only worth a loaf of bread – and increase the debt adjusted to the ‘new’ (worthless) dollar? Demand payment in gold? Can they demand payment in full? My husband says the Feds put something in place after the Great Depression so that won’t happen again, but if the Feds aren’t able to back it up this time … who knows? Or do the banks all disappear and forget to send a statement? Folks with credit card debts – what happens to their debt when their credit card lender fails?

  • Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - 05:08pm

    #10

    Arthur Vibert

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    Re: What Skill to Acquire?

Doug –

I love Japanese hand tools and use them often. They are beautiful objects that are also very effective tools. A great combination!

Chris –

My guess is that you and Greer are right – in general. I think there are some locales that will be better off and some that will be worse. Of course, it’s impossible to know which sort of locale you’re in until we get further down the path we’re on. My only admonition is to think it all out. We can’t assume that things – for better or worse – will stay the way they’ve been.

Stay flexible and recognize that change is the only constant. It always has been, of course. We’ve allowed ourselves to believe that things will always be the same and that has led us to where we are now. By embracing change, and understanding how to live with it, we can survive and even prosper.

Arthur 

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