Starting a local self-reliance discussion/action group

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Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2008
Posts: 470
Starting a local self-reliance discussion/action group

As times get more challenging, we will need to rely more and more on each other, and relearn the skills of relying on a community to ensure that each member has all of their basic human needs met (food, shelter, water, sanitation, a chance to be of service, social/emotional support, etc.).

This spring I found myself doing my best to deal with the emotional fallout of engaging in the details of the emerging financial crisis every day. Realizing where this could lead and having few if any people who are willing to talk about it can take it's toll emotionally....

Thanks to a song that reminded me that hope and grief are deeply intertwined (you can listen to it at, and a friend with lots of connections to people who might be interested, we created a local group in the Albany/Delmar, NY area called LESS (Local Economies for Sustainability and Simplicity). Our first meeting was in October and our next one is this Monday, November 24.

I suggested a tentative focus for the group in a recent email:

  1. Emergency planning - probably a good idea given that consequences could be severe, preparation could greatly reduce the impact on our community, and given the way things are out there in the world, an emergency might not be likely, but it certainly isn't highly unlikely. It's also nice and concrete. And planning as a group will be much more efficient and fun than planning individually.
  2. Building a local, resilient community for the long term. Assembling a group of people with a wide range of skills so that together we could meet most of our needs. We could do this through documenting the skills we already have and either ensuring that one of us gets training in skills we lack or we invite someone into the group who has that skill. Next would come practicing until we actually are a local, resilient community.
  3. The personal side of community - people who understand where we coming from so we don't feel alone, support each other in the challenges that come up when facing up to a possible major societal and personal transition, networking with other like-minded groups, reaching out to the larger community who may not share our perspective in whatever way works for them.
  4. Understand the current state of things: How does the current state of the financial system, the environment and the raw materials we get from it, energy, modern social structures (from cities to government to schools to corporations, etc) and the overall perspectives and beliefs most of us share impact our future? What future scenarios are more or less likely because of the current state of things? For example how might depleting oil and other resources along with excessive debt and unfunded liabilities collide with a population that has grown accustomed to massive consumption and weakened social networks? How can we address problems such as this through 1), 2) and 3) above?

I hope to weave the Crash Course into #4, perhaps even have Chris come for a seminar.

Anyway, I would love to hear about other folks experiences with groups like these. And if you aren't part of one, maybe you could join one, or even start one. If all of us doing work like this in the community share stories on this site, I'm sure we will all benefit.


P.S.Eliza Gilkyson, the artist who performs The Great Correction (see my link above), has another song called "Calm Before the Storm." It fits Thanksgiving 2008 like no other (as I bet you can imagine from the title). It really drives home the importance of friends and family in challenging times. If your so inclined, you might want to purchase it online and have a little listening/singing/dancing session with your family sometime over Thanksgiving weekend. I bet you won't regret it. And let me know if you try it and how it went.

yoshhash's picture
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 20 2008
Posts: 271
Re: Starting a local self-reliance discussion/action group

Hey Steve,

You may already know about this, but the story of Cuba is a very inspirational case study of a contemporary society which already went through a peak oi/collapse rehearsal.  The exerience, though hard, has actually made them stronger- amazingly, they made all the right moves.  The big difference for them vs the global community, is that there was no infighting, everyone recognized the crisis and joined the fight.  We could really stand to learn from this!  Website and full length movie: 

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