What Collapse Looks Like

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Hladini's picture
Hladini
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What Collapse Looks Like

I just ran across this news article from Natural News:   http://www.naturalnews.com/037679_Greece_starvation_economic_collapse.html

As Greece collapses, we have a bird's eye view of what will happen when/if the collapse comes home to roost.  There are some differences, however.  Greece is a relatively homogenous society - without big differences in culture and socio-economic strata, ours is not.  Which could bring us to the scenerio of flash mobs along racial lines.

I also recently read Chris Martenson's editorial and feel the same dysmal hope.  We know the duopoly -dems and repubs - are not talking the Three E's, but neither are the other four candidates from the Green Party, Justice Party, Constitution Party, or Libertarian Party.  There is just an absence of understanding the relationship between growth and cheep energy.  Even the Green Party has failed to connect the dots for the public.

So, the only alternative is to organize locally.  There is an excellent model in Cuba.  When the USSR fell, Cuba lost it's petroleum imports literally overnight.  The country immediately mobilized to start growing food anywhere and everywhere.  Food security was the FIRST priority.  Cuba was forced to grow organically because there was no access to petroleum based agricultural products, nor was there petroleum to run the farming equipment or ship the food.  Transportation was a huge problem.  Bus' were rigged up to maximize space and ran chronically very late, government vehicles were ordered to pick up pedestrians along the roadways, and bicycles were distributed to the public.  Cuba transitioned communities to be smaller.  Three universities became fifty (50).  The goal was every five mile radius should have a doctor, dentist, school, university, stores/distribution outlets, and farms.  Cuba also ingeniously traded doctors for oil with some South American country(s).

It took Cuba four years to transition from oil dependence to oil independence.  They call this time the "Special Period" where the average Cuban lost 20 pounds, and the population as a whole became more healthy.

If Cuba can do it, we can do it.  Locally we have more power and more homogenous communities.  Local food production, local water management (from individual households and up), local basic goods production and businesses, local banks and currencies, local waste management, local energy production, local health options/centers, local security, etc.  

There are resources out there.  Check out The Transition Network- a global grass roots effort to build resilient communities.  Learn how Cuba survived Peak Oil.  Another interesting group out there is the "Thrive" team.  The Thrive website has some real "out of the box" solutions/outcomes to think on.  And most importantly learn and research how you can build resilience into your own life.

My short story in transitioning started in 2008.  I opened my own law office in 1999 and ran  a second (unsucessful) campaign for judge in 2008. During the 2008 election,  I received a video with well researched information regarding the real evidence of 911.  This video was my "rabbit hole" opening, and I'm still in the "rabbit hole."  The decline in my law office business exactly tracked the 2008 crash and for five straight years now my law practice has declined.  Who can afford lawyers?  When I learned about the Transition Network in late 2011, our first meeting included watching the short version of the Crash Course - THANK YOU CHRIS!

My larger than average garden suddenly morphed into turning my five acre lot into a farm.  We broke ground in February 2012 and started building the soil. Our goal was to never till, plow, or dig again.  We cover the growing area with cardboard collected out of dumpsters from furniture stores, then cover the walkways with (free) wood mulch, and cover the beds with (not so free) compost.  We purchase our compost for $11 a yard in 50 yard increments.  We spread the compost by hand and amazingly have lots of volunteers on a regular basis to help with this (up front)  labor intensive project.

We buy 80% heirloom seeds so we can harvest our seed, have acquired two bee hives along with a volunteer swarm, have built a seed house, layed drip lines, we have acquired about 8 rain barrels that need to be connected, and built a shaded and rabbit proof barrier for our lettuce patch.  We sell our produce at the Farmer's Market and this fall we are accepting our first CSA memberships.

We plan on developing 2.5 acres into a food forrest/orchard using permaculture principles, adding chickens for eggs and manure, goats for milk, manure, and field management, growing herbs for health and kitchen, and hosting Transition Town seminars and workshops.

During my journey down the "rabbit hole" I was prone to depression, anger, feeling helpless and a host of other negative emotions.  The Transition Network turned those negative emotions into action and with action comes hope, accomplishment, and courage - a much more favorable emotional soup!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

thc0655's picture
thc0655
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Congrats

Congratulations Hladini for making lemonade with the lemons you were dealt!  The example of Cuba you cite is instructive, hopeful and frightening.  It reinforces the notion I have that the USA will not face our reality head on until we are shocked into it like the Cubans were by the withdrawal of Soviet aid.  I'm bracing for the shock and the "Special Period" that will follow!  It's gonna be ugly.

Aaron M's picture
Aaron M
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Excellent topic

Hladini,

This is a really interesting topic, and one I've been giving thought to for quite a while. 
I often hear people say they trust the opinion of this person or that because their country has collapsed, and they "know". 

Truth is, our country has as well. It's extremely isolated, but I'd dare anyone here to look the residents of Cabrini Green, most of Detroit, West Memphis or a significant portion of rural America in the face and tell them that our modern system of government has not failed them.

Literally the only thing keeping most of these places habitable are the social programs that channel money to areas that would otherwise have been entirely overlooked by the "growth" model. The trials that people face in these places are similar, if not identical or worse than what people have faced in Argentina, Zimbabwe, Greece or Cuba. Rampant violence, constant threat of having your possessions stolen, lack of decent food, little or no medical care - these things are not indicative of a collapsed society alone... 
They're indicative of a collapsing society.

We are experiencing these things, and while our middle class is victimized by the impoverished and priveledged alike, the vigor of our social organism is slowing to a crawl. I look around what used to be middle class neighborhoods, and see people who're scabbed over and wearing hoods or hats, walking through peoples' yards without regard. I see an increase of petty crime; thefts, vandalisms and burglaries. 

These are organised responses to dealing with less - the people who have little or nothing are taking from the class who's losing everything. This is a symptom of a collapsing society. 

How long until bars go up on the windows? Until the risk is greater than the assets for insurance companies? Until people stop calling the police, because they know they will do no good?

There's no doubt in my mind that we've got collapsed societies right here within our borders. And like any decay, it's spreading. 

Cheers,

Aaron

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westcoastjan
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I'm with thc0655

I agree with you thc0655,

Humans are famous for not changing until crisis hits. There is no shortage of information available about what is going on, but most avoid it (ignorance is bliss) and most who read it fail to convert knowledge into action (the comfortable rut is pretty comfortable!) In the words of one scientific report on water use I read (somewhere...) "people will not change their habits until they turn on the tap an nothing comes out."

I have no doubt our "special period" is closer than most think, and it will indeed be ugly for awhile. As always, the question is "when", not "if".

Here's to hoping that there are much greater efforts to "organize locally" all on our own, before "ugly" makes it a necessity instead of a choice.

Jan

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Doug
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compost

Great article Hladini.  It sounds like we followed a similar path; law school, practice, dissatisfaction and searching for alternatives.  We even has a similar food growing path, although you have obviously progressed farther than I have at this point.  I'm still in the "larger than average garden" phase, but have also planted many fruit and nut trees as well as grapevines, and have had more for much longer than I have been "prepping."  I have a reliable source for as much cardboard as I can use.  We have chickens and are using them productively (besides eggs) for manure and straw bedding that I recycle into mulch.  I have one beehive that I got 1.5 gal of honey three months after transplanting a swarm into my hive.  My biggest problem in growing is finding and/or creating compost in sufficient quantities.  If you don't mind divulging, where did you find a source to buy 50 yards at a time?  Is it delivered?  Also, what area of the country are you located?

Thanks for any info you don't mind sharing,

Doug

 

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Shivani
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Comparison to Cuba

Hladini wrote: "It took Cuba four years to transition from oil dependence to oil independence.  They call this time the "Special Period" where the average Cuban lost 20 pounds, and the population as a whole became more healthy."

 That's putting much too positive a spin on it.  Not everybody had a spare 20 lbs.  There was severe hunger and thousands went blind from malnutrition.  Many died who would not have if they had had enough to eat.

 

For a while, most Cubans could only afford the food they got from the government: one bread roll a day; ten ounces of beans a month; and six pounds of rice a month, for three people.  (It did not help, of course, that the USA, in the name of deomocracy, stopped countries from aiding Cuba.)

See:

www.projectcensored.org/static/1994/1994-story15.htm

www.independent.co.uk/news/science/a-killing-hunger-587003.html

www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-INT-Cuba-Weblog.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

In addition, major differences between the USA and Cuba include the facts that Cubans can grow food all year, that most Cubans did not depend on air conditioning and winter heating, that more Cubans than Americans had access to a gardening plot and that Cubans were already used to living very simply and had a socialistic mindset. These add up to a tremendous difference in what Cuba could do in four years and what can be done in the USA.

Shivani 

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thc0655
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Exactly Shivani

Right!  We won't start until forced, and by then it'll be too late to avoid some very severe consequences.  Personally, I'm looking forward to losing the 20 lbs, but that's it.

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Organic Raw Veggies
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Compost

If you find a Tree Removal company, especially one that makes their own hardwood mulch, you will find compost. I buy about 10 yds per season. We have a tree place that owns land so they make high microbial compost and compost tea. They sell compost top soil mixes. We have lots of trees falling throughout the year (weather). They cut them, pinch them and spread them. The same tree company let's people garden on site and they also use the cut wood for mushroom logs. In my area the shitake bloom from the wet August produced about 10 times the usual harvest.

Fruit trees aren't easy, buy them as big as possible, order them, prune them, compost them. Spread compost under your berries and fruit trees in the winter.

I have 5 acres too and am making it into a farm, I hope. I blew off the corporate world before 911, could no longer lie or brown nose. Now I have 10 yr old business (at home in a solar warehouse) and a lil farm and just turned 50. I put in a geodesic dome in 2007. Nice warm year round. Now a want to do a hoop house or plastic greenhouse. Growing seedlings for one or two or more natural markets can actually be a huge money maker. People buy seedlings, mostly Spring of course. You don't need much space either. It pays to have good ideas.

Keep on rocking in the free world!

dshields's picture
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Aaron Moyer
Aaron Moyer wrote:

Hladini,

This is a really interesting topic, and one I've been giving thought to for quite a while. 
I often hear people say they trust the opinion of this person or that because their country has collapsed, and they "know". 

Truth is, our country has as well. It's extremely isolated, but I'd dare anyone here to look the residents of Cabrini Green, most of Detroit, West Memphis or a significant portion of rural America in the face and tell them that our modern system of government has not failed them.

Literally the only thing keeping most of these places habitable are the social programs that channel money to areas that would otherwise have been entirely overlooked by the "growth" model. The trials that people face in these places are similar, if not identical or worse than what people have faced in Argentina, Zimbabwe, Greece or Cuba. Rampant violence, constant threat of having your possessions stolen, lack of decent food, little or no medical care - these things are not indicative of a collapsed society alone... 
They're indicative of a collapsing society.

We are experiencing these things, and while our middle class is victimized by the impoverished and priveledged alike, the vigor of our social organism is slowing to a crawl. I look around what used to be middle class neighborhoods, and see people who're scabbed over and wearing hoods or hats, walking through peoples' yards without regard. I see an increase of petty crime; thefts, vandalisms and burglaries. 

These are organised responses to dealing with less - the people who have little or nothing are taking from the class who's losing everything. This is a symptom of a collapsing society. 

How long until bars go up on the windows? Until the risk is greater than the assets for insurance companies? Until people stop calling the police, because they know they will do no good?

There's no doubt in my mind that we've got collapsed societies right here within our borders. And like any decay, it's spreading. 

Cheers,

Aaron

I agree.  A few times a year we venture forth to visit relatives and drive there.  As we drive along I watch.  It is amazing what one can see if you look.  Things are going down hill slowly.  It is just grinding down further and further.  The politicians have no guts.  That is why we are in the situation we are in now.  I have a hard time thinking that Mitt or Obama are going to get up and start cutting government spending in a manner that will tend to blunt the debt crisis before there is a serious emergency.  They would actually have to cut real spending by something around 10% a year for 5 straight years.  People would go nuts.  Just talking about cutting spending makes people get crazy.  Nope, ZIRP will continue.  QE will continue.  And it will slowly grind us down.  Just watch the news - how far we have fallen...

 

green_achers's picture
green_achers
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I'm not sure how instructive

I'm not sure how instructive the Cuban situation is for ours.  For better or worse (I think mostly better) our government isn't as involved in the micro-management of our economic lives.  Also for better or worse (I think mostly worse) our government just doesn't care as much about the lives of the people in the lower and middle rungs.

I do like everything I've read on this thread.  I really like what you're doing, Hladini.  And Aaron, what you've written needs to be shoved in the face of everyone in public office in this country.

Oh, Hladini and Doug, in re compost.  I make mountains of the stuff from the grass clippings and leaves I pick up on the streets here everytime I go to town.  If you look around you, there are literally tons of organic matter going to waste everywhere.  You should never need to buy any.

Just dedicate a rotating part of your operation to compost-making.  You'll make enough to spread around, and it will leave the spot where the pile was very rich.  This year, it seems to be a rage to make Halloween/Fall displays out of hay bales and pumpkins.  Yes, I said hay, not straw.  I plan to go around and collect a lot of that in a week or two, and the pumpkins will still be plenty good for animal feed.

Hladini's picture
Hladini
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50 yards of compost

Doug, We buy our compost from Monterrey Mushroom in Zellwood, FL.  The cost for 50 yards is very cheap about $50 bucks, but the TRANSPORTATION cost is about $500 bucks!  Still, it's the cheapest and works out to about $11 per yard.

I think you're farther ahead than me.   We have not harvested any honey yet, and I have had a lassai-faire attitude towards the bees - meaning they are basically on their own! But still thriving.  I was planning on harvesting honey at the end of the seaon in July next year.  That would give them just over a year to establish themselves.

We don't have fruit trees in the ground yet - except for a few blueberry bushes and a volunteer persimmon.  Do have two figs and four arctic Kiwi plants to go in the ground and have three mature pecan trees.

 

 

 

 

 

Hladini's picture
Hladini
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Very Instructive

I agree that the US government differs from the Cuban government in that the Cuban government directed the public on how to respond.  But do we need a government to tell us how to respond?  We know what to do and so do a lot of other people!  I recently had a divorce client who was not educated, nor wealthy, nor did she have any special skills, nor could she articulate any of the reasons for our economic climate, but SHE knew something was happening and was stocking up on food storage and growing a garden and was getting out of debt.

Love the tips on collecting those hay bales and halloween pumpkins!

Yes, I realize we HAVE to compost and that is our next project: start a big ass compost heap.

Hladini's picture
Hladini
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Gov't micromanagement

I disagree with you and believe that gov't is, in fact, micromanaging our lives by the policies the gov sets.  Just look at one single sector: Health care policy.  Very much micromanaged, no options, compulsory treatments and vaccines.  Don't think so?  There are lots of stories of parents who get prosecuted for not opting in mainstream medical treatments for their children.  MD's are criminally prosecuted if they recommend any cancer treatment other than chemo, radiation or surgery.  The massive amounts of medications administered in this country is only possible because of the government.

Hladini's picture
Hladini
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Who's Shivani?

Hey speak for yourself!  I'm doing something!  We can only control our own behavior, right?

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Hladini
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You're Shivani!

Yes, I imagine the film was spinned to be positive.  But I still believe that if Cuba can do it, so can we.  We can all grow sprouts in winter time up north.  The US has much more food varities than Cuba,  and although,  the US may have less of a socialistic mindset,  Americans have  more of a creative/entrepeneural (sic?)  mindset.

As far as that dependency on air conditioning goes.......  I am practically over it!  Going from a 14+ year desk job to working hard labor in the fields in the Florida summer, I am much, much more aclimated to the heat and, in fact, cannot stand the freezing temperatures at the courthouses or stores or restaurants.  I have to bring a warm shawl where ever I go!  Prior, I was VERY dependent on air conditioning and would break out in an uncomfortable sweat walking from my car to the court room.

Freezing temps is a different matter.  But air conditioning?  We can live without it or use it for the very hottest periods.

Hladini's picture
Hladini
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Ugly and Beautiful

I think along the same lines as Chris Martenson,  things will change but our quality of life can change for the better.  We recently grew black eyed peas (for the first time) and when it came time to shell those peas, we had fun.  It took several sessions, but it was like the "old days" where the adults and kids sat around the table, ate food, shelled peas, cracked jokes and just had a good time.

BTW, we only planted about 4 or 5 short rows - about 60-80 feet and we got a lot of peas!  In other words we planted less than a half pound of peas and got back about 20 pounds.

Doug's picture
Doug
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Hladini wrote: Doug, We buy
Hladini wrote:

Doug, We buy our compost from Monterrey Mushroom in Zellwood, FL.  The cost for 50 yards is very cheap about $50 bucks, but the TRANSPORTATION cost is about $500 bucks!  Still, it's the cheapest and works out to about $11 per yard.

I think you're farther ahead than me.   We have not harvested any honey yet, and I have had a lassai-faire attitude towards the bees - meaning they are basically on their own! But still thriving.  I was planning on harvesting honey at the end of the seaon in July next year.  That would give them just over a year to establish themselves.

We don't have fruit trees in the ground yet - except for a few blueberry bushes and a volunteer persimmon.  Do have two figs and four arctic Kiwi plants to go in the ground and have three mature pecan trees.

Hmm, good tip.  I'll have to see if there are any mushroom farms around here.

BTW, you may want to check your hives a little sooner as it took only 2-3 months for mine to nearly fill the first super above the main hive.  They are surprisingly productive.

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treebeard
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Great thread

I would agree that Cuba is a great example, except as you noted, it will have to come from the bottom up and not the top down given the american temperament. Kudos to giving up air conditioning.  We don't give the human body enough credit or opportunity to adapt to local climatic conditions.

I have set aside a small portion of our land to harvest as a hay field for compost.  Along with the fall leaves,  that seems to work pretty well.  I still use green sand and rock phosphate for fertility back up.  Guess I should try some beds without to see what happens.  When the SHTF it may not be available.  Is anybody using compost only with good results?

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A point...

Folks, just another quick point I'd like to make...

I hear people talking more and more about when "TSHTF". I hear it from a more diverse demographic. 
I hear it in more places, encompassing more things. I hear them talk of it with the earnestness of philosophers, and I hear people speak of it like the turn of a season.

We, as Americans, have never really experienced it, and we don't know what to look for. So, if you'd never known winter, how would you differentiate it from autumn? From early spring? 

You'd incrimentally realize that the situation was different from the ones you've experienced because it will continually erode your comfort zone; you'll be colder, and for longer. You'll require more food and fuel to stay warm. Your health will deteriorate under the conditions. You'll find yourself trapped in an environment that's oppressive in some new way...

This is exactly what's happening now. The Shit hasn't hit the fan.

It is much worse than a foul smell, and a tainted oscillator. Our society has hit the iceberg. The lower decks are flooding with ice water, the rats are scampering over the passengers down there, and everyone is wonder what the hell to do while we are sung platitudes by a cocky captain and his staff, who are secretly panicing.

We've never been on a sinking ship before. Who're we to question the captain? Of course something is being done! And... this is 'Merica. We were built to be indestructable. We're a collection of parts that are "Too big to fail", right?

Don't wait until you're in the freezing water to accept that the ship is sinking.
Find a life raft.
Get away from people who don't want to find life rafts before they decide they're more important than you are.

The sad truth is this is a collapse. We are collapsing.
TS has HTF, if you want to use the cliche. 
Hold on, it's about to get interesting.

Cheers,

Aaron

Hladini's picture
Hladini
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fertilizer

Good morning Doug, We just started using brewed compost tea and in just one week see really big differences.  Our seedlings are grown in Fafard 2, but this medium does not have much plant nutrition.  Our seedlings were really puny, although the ones that survived upon transplanting did fine. 

I started researching how to brew compost tea and found this guy in Alaska.  He is selling his formula, but there are plenty of other vids out there that tell you what to put into the tea.  The real trick is the aerator.    

In just one application, we have seen a huge difference in our plants.  So I highly recommend brewed compost tea.

Also check out the website www.compostjunkie.com  He offers really good info on brewing tea and making compost.

I add all kinds of stuff:  leaf litter, our mushroom compost, our homemade compost, mineral dust, worm castings, liquid kelp, liquid worm castings, fresh juice left overs, molassis (another secret to brewing tea), fulvic acid, powdered wheat grass, and brew for 24 hours.  If I can't use it the first 24 hours, then I add some more sweetener and let brew for another 24 hours.  It must be used right away or you have to add more sweetener (the food for the microorganisms).

Happy gardening!

 

 

Hladini's picture
Hladini
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Compost

Treebeard, We are using brewed compost tea with very good results after only one application!  Our seedlings are getting watered with diluted brewed tea at each watering and the difference is amazing.  See the response to Doug for more details.

The idea is to grow micro-organisms, which is the real secret, and then to pour it on the soil and leaves of the plants.

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