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Boomers vs Millennials

Society is pitting their interests increasingly at odds
Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 1:38 PM

We've received a number of reader emails encouraging us to make last week's "Off The Cuff" podcast available to everyone.

It explores the generational fault lines in today's society, which are experiencing building pressure as the status quo struggles to continue in the arriving era of de-growth.

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Becca Martenson discuss:

  • Boomers Have Everything To Lose
    • They cling to status quo to deliver promises made in the past
  • Millennials See Nothing To Gain
    • The future they're being asked to inherit appears bereft of value
  • Bridging The Generation Gap
    • How to replace strife with support
  • The Importance Of Mentoring
    • An age-old model need perhaps more now than ever

This week, Chris's wife Becca joins him for a particularly unscripted and untraditional conversation about the tensions pitting old against young in today's society. As Chris describes the root issue:

Boomers have everything to lose if the status quo isn’t maintained and millennials increasingly think they have nothing to gain by preserving the status quo. It’s an enormous divide and we don’t quite know how to close that gap up. It feels like it’s getting wider.

I think I saw it politically in particular the Sanders campaign and who he attracted and why. And the why for me was, he was offering non-status quo-centric stuff. What I am seeing and feeling is that young people aren’t just saying economically I have nothing to gain by preserving the status quo, but they’re looking forward and saying…Wait a minute, none of this makes sense. I don’t want to participate in or perpetuate the status quo for another minute. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no future in it, the story doesn’t make sense, the narrative is broken. That’s the tension I feel in the air 

While many of these pressures will continue to build as resources and good jobs become more scarce, there are real solutions each of us can participate in that will lay the long-term foundation for healing the generational rift.

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Transcript: 

Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Off the Cuff. I’m your host, Chris Martenson of course, and today a very special Off the Cuff. It’s going to be different from any of the ones we’ve done before. Today, I am joined by my partner in life, and interest, and everything we do…Becca Martenson. Hi Becca.

Becca Martenson: Hi Chris.

Chris Martenson: This is going to be interesting because we are doing this pretty much off the cuff. We haven’t really even reviewed topics, but what I want to do here is… the conversations we have in the morning, or around the house, I always just kind of wish they would get recorded. Because we’ve known each other well for a long time, we do seminars together, and we’ve never done a podcast together like this. You handle a very different side of the resilience equation then I typically do and that’s always a thing that’s really admired at the seminars, for people who haven’t been. You get great feedback and reviews and of course, you’re bringing the feminine side of the story, the relational side, and the community side…all of that.

But what I’m really intrigued by was a conversation that sort of got triggered and that we’ve been nibbling along the edges of for a long time, which is the generational aspect of all this. A lot of people at my site…boomers…I’m a boomer…and of course, we have our fair share of millennials as well. That generational divide, which I have talked about before and I’ve expressed it pithily by saying boomers have everything to lose if the status quo isn’t maintained and millennials increasingly think they have nothing to gain by preserving the status quo. It’s an enormous divide and we don’t quite know how to close that gap up. It feels like it’s getting wider. I think I saw it politically big time with in particular the Sanders campaign and who he attracted and why. And the why for me was, he was offering non-status quo-centric stuff. Hillary Clinton in my mind, besides being just the person who was the architect of the destruction of Libya, for which really she should be held accountable amongst many other things, that she is also representing the preservation of the status quo. If you elect Hillary nothing will change, it will be more of the same…like Obama but a woman, or something like that. She is really representing and attracting people who want that stability, who don’t want anything to change, but under that…under all of that…what I am seeing and feeling is that young people aren’t just saying economically I have nothing to gain by preserving the status quo, but they’re looking forward and saying "wait a minute, none of this makes sense. I don’t want to participate in or perpetuate the status quo for another minute. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no future in it, the story doesn’t make sense, the narrative is broken." That’s the tension I feel in the air and so I just thought we’d talk about that.

You just did an event called Art of Mentoring, which is a week long—I’ll let you describe it but stand up village as it were with all sorts of different structures, and hierarchies, and rings, and complexity built into it. What? You’re saying no?

Becca Martenson: That’s not how I would introduce that subject but that’s fine, keep going.

Chris Martenson: Well, you introduce it then.

Becca Martenson: Well, I want to loop back to the arc that you’re talking about here, which is the generational gap. I think that what you’re pointing to, which is that the younger generation doesn’t feel as attached to doing things the same old way as the older generation does, but the story that’s being told…I’m just going to sort of say the middle class story that’s being told to the young folks today…which is just go to college. American dream…go to college, get a job, get married, have children, you know…left foot, right foot and it will all somehow work out. That’s ringing hollow I think to more and more people. What I’m getting a sense of from the young people that I talk to is that they are seeking more depth than is being offered by the mainstream political story, by the mainstream…this is what you’re supposed to be interested in the world, look at the shiny bright thing over here, here’s Kim Kardashian, here’s these celebrities. There’s a depth that the young people are seeking and sometimes I’m finding that they’re not able to even necessarily articulate that but it’s that sense of "isn’t there more to life than what we’re being offered here?"

And then to get to the work that I do with a program called The Art of Mentoring, I think it really seeks to offer the depth that the young people are looking for. The Art of Mentoring itself is a program that in Vermont is offered through the Vermont Wilderness School and it’s a week long program that is multigenerational—all the way from young babes in arms all the way up to elders— with a very complex set of interlocking programs for different ages of youth, for teens, for elders, for caregivers and babies, and for adults at different level of their own exploration. It all comes together in a village-like web that offers a different level of depth than I think the modern culture is currently offering to folks.

So again, that theme of depth and connection. The Art of Mentoring is centered around connection with the natural world as well as connection with the self and other. The depth of relational connection between generations is really, really important and I think in many ways lost in the current paradigm that we’re working with.

When the teenagers for instance in this program are having their week long adventure in the woods with their incredible staff, when they come back they’re welcomed into the community and witnessed as having been on a grand adventure. Then they go directly into a dinner where they sit with the elders and they get to ask these questions that they’ve been mulling over for the week and get to hear from the elders. This is just a tiny little example of one of the small places of generational overlap and, again, depth of connection that’s being offered through this program.

This is just one I’ll say…place where depth is being offered. But even in the large scale music festivals that young people love and have been loving since you and I were young people loving music festivals…even the music festivals are seeking greater depth, connection, and education, which was not something that I remember from my days of going to music festivals. Now they need to have real themes and they need to have educational focuses, many of which are based on resilience, based on spiritual exploration, and various other things. So again, I see the young people as seeking depth and meaning which is not being offered through the current narrative in the current paradigm.

Chris Martenson: I’m going to go further. It’s not only not being offered but they’re being directly lied to. Example: On the headline of my newspaper today, I opened it up and it said "American families enjoyed the fastest increase in wealth or income generation since the '90s." So, 27 years, this is the fastest…last year is the fastest income has ever advanced, and I’m going to call BS on that and here’s why: Tax receipts are down. If people are earning it, how come it isn’t being taxed? Second of all, it’s all in how you count. Third of all, in order to develop that number, they have to subtract inflation from it and of course as we all know, they under count inflation badly. One example: My Obamacare healthcare costs are going to go up high double digits, which, to me is in the mid 20% this year, it went up 24.8% last year. If you look at a normal family’s income, that’s a huge, huge increase and of course the federal government says "oh no, healthcare is a tiny little piece and we’re not going to subtract all that much. You’re doing better than ever!" That’s the story, "look, you’re doing better than ever," but almost everybody reading that headline is going "how come I didn’t participate?"

Becca Martenson: I’m not doing better than ever.

Chris Martenson: How come I’m not doing better? How many people do we know who are young, hardworking, multiple jobs, multiple income earners, and still report not able to make ends meet?

Becca Martenson: Absolutely, that’s happening all over the place. And again, the standard story of "just go to college and you’ll get a good job" just doesn’t pan out and I think most young people are smart enough to be able to see it. Which doesn’t mean that going to college isn’t a fine option for some people if it's required for the career that someone wants, but that as being a no-brainer, must-do step in order to earn money…it’s clearly not panning out with the risk/reward of the debt that needs to be incurred as a result and no guarantee of any kind of well-paying job afterwards at all.

Chris Martenson: No, and the thing is that…and the anger. We’re all monkeys, primates on one level and so unfairness really doesn’t get to us, and I use the capuchin grape monkey experiment all the time. You feed one monkey a cucumber and his cellmate next cage over got a grape, anger results. There’s something deeply unfair and I’ve been watching the markets…they love to fiddle with the markets, the stock market in particular. I track it, much to my detriment, because I know it’s an important signaling mechanism and when the markets finally let go, that’s when we get to move onto the next part of the story. So my frustration is that they’re just delaying the story. But while they’re delaying it, they’re making themselves and their colleagues and their cocktail party friends stinking fabulously rich. I wish it were just a simple case of "well, we just made a few people rich by accident" but in this game you can’t make somebody rich without taking from somebody else. What’s happening in our society is that there’s a class of people who are stealing from the rest of everybody else. They’re stealing our futures, they’re stealing our present.

The Federal Reserve and all the interlocking political structure is fully in support of that, and people are getting mad. Some people get mad and some people check out, but what we’re talking about in part is how young people are saying "I’m not participating in that game anymore. It doesn’t make sense to me, it looks injurious, why would I struggle really hard only to get shafted at the end of all of this? Maybe I’ll just not work as hard." That’s showing up in all of the data that we’ve got out there as well and this is a really, really big deal.

What I wanted to do in this conversation—can we just call a spade a spade? Boomers need to apologize to the younger generations and own up for the mistakes we’ve made. We’ve made a lot of them, and we’ve acted selfishly, and we’ve acted out of integrity. Meaning, we saw, we had all the data we needed to do things differently, and chose not to. That’s something young people I find are reporting to me is like "where is that awareness, where’s the apology, where’s the recognition that y’all have done something that maybe wasn’t so awesome?" The more that story perpetuates like "Yeah! Everything is awesome! We’re all getting richer, and the economy is just about to boom again, and we’re all going to share in it" is bullshit. So can we please just strip away the bullshit, and get right down to it and say "yeah, this is a deeply unfair system, always kind of has been, it’s on steroids now and that is creating social friction and if we don’t watch it, my prediction is it leads to social unrest.

Also on the front page of my paper today, the Governor of Kentucky is saying "if the election is stolen from Trump there’ll be bloodshed." I’m not sure if he was calling for it or predicting it but that’s an amazing thing when you have people suddenly talking about open revolts who are governors. I don’t know, people can feel it…something is just off and the longer we lie to ourselves the more off it becomes. It’s like we’re on our 15th ruined Christmas party in a row with a drunk uncle nobody will talk to. Eventually y’all just have to circle up and go "Dude, your behavior is a huge problem."

Becca Martenson: Yeah, and I think that this is why it's really essential to be able to reach out to the young people and speak directly to this cognitive dissonance that is so present in every aspect of our lives these days. We have the massive wealth disparity on one hand and then we have the rapid destruction of the planet and climate change on the other hand. These two go together beautifully and yet the mainstream story is still just keep being a nice, happy consumer and it’s all going to work out. People know that’s not true. The dominant voices in the culture are not speaking to this or giving room for this to be expressed and so I think it’s really essential for us to find ways to allow the youth to know that there are some of us boomers out here who know that we are responsible and that what is being offered to them as the status quo next step in their lives may not make sense, and where are those examples that they can follow of people that are choosing a different path that is just stepping outside of the mainstream story and saying "I’m not going to participate. I’m just not going to participate."

You and I see that in spades in our area here in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, which is a fairly nice little bubble of progressive, alternative, sustainable focus where permaculture is a common word and where everybody seems to have a backyard garden. We live in an area where there’s a very high density of young people that are stepping outside of the mainstream and I think getting that story out there just as a model for other young people is really essential.

Chris Martenson: Absolutely, and before we get to how to maybe step out—because it's tricky, it’s tricky; we live in a system that uses money, requires money, and to participate in that you still need to participate in “the system” and so how you negotiate both worlds is something that everybody struggles with to some degree, which is: How do I move out of this world I’m living in into this other world I want to live in? That living two lives piece, obviously a big focus of a lot of our seminars.

I want to circle back quick around this idea that what I’m not saying is that it's time for a hefty round of blaming and accepting responsibility, but we do need to say that until there is recognition of the problem for what it is and was, I don’t think we can really move forward. There has to be ownership of it. This isn’t to say that if you took this crop of millennials and rewound them 30 years in time, they wouldn’t have made the exact same choices as the boomers. This isn’t to say the boomers were some collectively really messed up cohort of people who accidentally got born. I think all humans would behave the same through that same stretch of time. And at the same time, what we chose to do with the information we had was really not optimal. We had good information. When Jimmy Carter put the cardigan on, when we had the first population bomb ideas, when we first noted the ecological collapse, when we first understood the role of hormone mimetics in the environment and the impacts that was having, not just on humans but on all wildlife, we had tons of data. We chose not to do anything with the data, preferring a narrative that said we could still continue to behave like adolescents. "Don’t worry about it, we’re going to live forever, we’ll take a few bumps along the way, humans always pick themselves back up." That’s true and as my listeners know here, everybody listening to this knows, it is different this time.

I read this op-ed in the New York Times where they said, "You know, maybe the economy has been stagnant for 10 years because we haven’t had a really good, big war because war is a stimulative."

Becca Martenson: Oh God.

Chris Martenson: No, they were serious and they said here’s the data. World War I, destruction but look at the rebuilding. World War II, destructive but look at the rebuilding. The error in that thinking was they didn’t understand that both those times we had rising net energy per capita due to new oil coming out of the ground. This time, if you destroy it, it just doesn’t get rebuilt because rebuilding takes energy. If you’re getting injured as a 13-year-old, it’s a different healing process than if you’re injured as an 85-year-old. If you don’t have the energy…you have to be aware of where you are in your life cycle and a mistake would be to say 1914 and 1945 are the same as, ergo, we should have a good war. Terrible thinking, but there are people thinking that. There are people thinking that, making the most profound mistake of all, which is that everything is just sort of the same as it used to be, and it’s not. That’s what the young people, I think, get and older people are having difficulty getting their minds around. And the Federal Reserve displays zero awareness of any of this. It’s just, we just need growth because that’s what we’ve always had, and it’s always worked, and it’s always been good, and it’s not.

I think what you said Becca, is great…that the young people, even if you got them the growth, they’ve detached enough where they’re looking at it and going "that’s still not very connected, or deep, or actually what I want." The whole consumer lifestyle that my generation bought hook, line and sinker, myself included—and it took effort to decouple from it and I’m still doing it. I hate to say I’m not decoupled…not by any stretch. You should see my Amazon habits, I’m terrible. But still, young people are alerting themselves to this idea of saying "Wait, hold it. I want more out of this. I want real connection, I want real depth, I want to be really challenged as a human. I want my gifts to come out, and my gifts extend beyond what I can put on a credit card."

Becca Martenson: Yes, and I think that what you were saying earlier was that we need to face this truth and admit what mistakes have been made, but here’s the deal: It hasn’t happened so far. I don’t honestly think it's going to happen. If we’re going to wait for the powers that be to have a mea culpa and say "Oh my gosh, we were wrong all this time," it’s not going to happen. I mean, my perspective is if we accept that, if we accept that the powers that be will hold onto their beautiful dream until it goes flaming down into the dust, how do those of us—and especially this next generation that sees it potentially for what it is—choose a different path anyway? We can’t wait for the powers that be to decide they’re wrong and change their ways. It’s just not going to happen…I don’t believe. This is my own personal truth until there’s some massive calamity that forces them. Until it’s forced, it's just not going to happen. It’s too entrenched.

But we can’t wait for that. These young people certainly can’t wait for that. They need to get on with their lives and start building in a direction that makes sense. What is that direction that makes sense given the schism that’s here between the status quo holders and all of those that are growing up now for whom that status quo will not be available, and is not available?

Chris Martenson: We’re alive—and young people, old people, we’re all in this boat together. What I wanted to get to and thank you for reminding me was to say once we get past the "I accept responsibility, blame, okay" we can get to this awareness saying actually we’re all in this together. We need to pull together. If it gets into us versus them—which, by the way, marketers are going to love, political parties are going to love, you’re going to be sold this idea that us versus them is great and if Democrats versus Republicans doesn’t continue to perpetuate the status quo, great, let’s make it old versus young. If that doesn’t work it will be rich versus poor. The truth is, we’re all in this together. Nothing drives me nuts quite as much as watching the police in Ferguson fight the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri because they’re actually on the same side of the line if they understand what’s really happening here.

This is a really big deal because young people are starting to pull back from the status quo, which is about giving our power over through our money system—which is just an idea, but it has such great power that if you have more money versus less you have a great life versus living under a bridge…that’s power we’ve invested in the idea of money. The powers that be have their power because we consent to it. We might not be aware but we consent to it.

This is the awkward period of human evolution, not just United States, not French, not Canadian, not Asian or whatever…this is human evolution where we have to go from a set of institutions, political and economic, that are fundamentally extractive and isolationist towards a new set of institutions that are regenerative and relational. That’s going to be a really long, tangly journey but that’s what I think I’m feeling in the young people as many of them are starting to gravitate saying "I’m leaving behind the extractive and isolationist pieces but I don’t know how to do this." Us older people are not like valued elders in this story like "Oh, I did that three times in my life, here, let me help." This is all new territory. That’s how big this is and that’s why I think some people experience this as an existential crisis. It’s really a hero's journey. We’re leaving the shore like the first Vikings. We don’t know if there’s any land that direction, but we’ve got to sail that way for some reason.

Becca Martenson: Yeah, I’m right there with you and I think that there’s a weaving of the new story that is happening concurrently with the desperate holding onto the old story that’s happening. Both of these are happening simultaneously. From my perspective what we can do is, again, support the young people to weave their new story and support them to figure out ways that they’re going to create alternative currencies and alternative systems for a new idea of money, whereas the old idea of money has all the wrong incentives and has essentially created the system that we’re in right now. How can we, from our perspective, support the young people in the creation of the new models and structures? Because again, I think that both of these things have to happen simultaneously and are happening simultaneously. Where are we if we have this older generation that has some concept like you and I and the listeners on this site have a concept that something is not right—where do we put the resources that we have towards this creation of the new story supporting the young people with their beautiful journey? How can we do that? That’s where I think… that’s our responsibility and that’s where the rubber meets the road in our own responsibility. It’s not just saying "yeah boy, did we screw up here, sorry guys" but to really step in and support and help the new model come into being.

Chris Martenson: Okay so that’s great but you asked the $64,000 question which I’m sure is on everybody’s mind right now which is, how do I support that? Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about what we mean by support. Obviously, if you can support your local farmer by buying their produce and other economic means of support—and I know people at this site have been experimenting with the idea of if they have capital buying land and somehow engaging younger people in the farming or utilization of that land or something like that, so we all get maybe the economic models but we need more. I don’t want to short change that and if you’ve got some other great ones throw them in. But what I think is interesting here with you at this time, is to talk about the non-economic support that might be needed because it's less obvious and possibly more important.

One quick example. I’m not going to use names because I’m a privacy nut but that bright, shiny young woman who came down from Unity, Maine and was asking these exact sorts of questions which is: I’ve been putting all of my life energy into these practices which are highly valuable but don’t generate a lot of money, and I know they’re valuable because X, Y and Z. Here’s the feedback I get and they are, they’re deeply valuable. Our society doesn’t know how to value those yet and typically doesn’t with money. My counseling to her—and we’ll see where this goes—was to begin parroting some of Kiyosaki’s work which is: It’s time to turn those things that you’ve been providing into assets that will generate things like residual income for you, that will become assets that you will generate once and then would have persistent value afterwards. Instead of delivering that beautiful, perfect speech to this exact gathering of people, it becomes the book that lots of different groups can pick up and resonate from, or the video, or the something. She was excited by that and if asked, I will support her in thinking about how to begin to generate assets because that’s what I did accidentally but it worked out well. The Crash Course to me was just me trying to take the talks I’d given and turn it into something so more people could access it and then later I understood "oh, I’d built an asset," so I have a little bit of experience with that at least from that standpoint. This is the entrepreneurial mindset, which is multiple streams of income. Find the thing you’re passionate about and good at, and convert it into an asset…whether that’s a book, a video, a song, a copyrighted piece of material, a seminar series, a something that can be repeatedly used and that’s a way to begin to capture that and get more from it.

Becca Martenson: Yes, because this is a bridging time. This is a time between systems where the old system is still firmly in place and in order to…you have to participate because you have to pay taxes. There’s a lot of other ways to step outside of the system but no matter what, you still have to pay taxes. So income has to be generated. I like the residual income, asset building idea as the way to be in the reality of the moment, which is people still need money to survive.

The other part though, I mean…this woman was very, very far along and working at a very deep level with the subjects that we’re talking about right now and I think there is a huge population of young people that the support we can give them is to just say "you’re not crazy. You’re not crazy! The way you’re thinking something isn’t quite right here, that’s correct. Yes, you are right in thinking that Social Security is probably not going to be there when you hit retirement age," to just affirm that niggly feeling that is bubbling inside them to say "yeah, you’re not crazy. You are wise, and smart to be thinking that the story you’re being sold doesn’t really make any sense," and so there’s a real spectrum I think. And again, you and I happen to have a lot of connection with young people that are very, very mature and far along in this story…way farther along than you and I are personally.

Chris Martenson: Absolutely.

Becca Martenson: I think that for those people there are some really specialized support that we can offer but there’s a much broader message to the wider population that I think is just…I want to support them to be affirmed in their intuition in that knowing deep inside that just says something isn’t right. This isn’t right. There’s a whole spectrum of support that I think is required but providing systems that can bridge, that can be the bridge between the current system and the new system so that they don’t have to be essentially all alone in the wilderness with this. And again, you and I will have to do some morning jamming on this and see what we can come up with in terms of what kind of structures we could possibly come up with that can be that bridging between paradigms, but I think that’s what we really need.

Chris Martenson: I agree with all of that and I’m going to try and get something out of my mouth that maybe hasn’t come out before which is something I’ve been working with for a while and it’s the idea that a really powerful form of support for somebody comes through my presence.

Becca Martenson: Yup.

Chris Martenson: My presence might simply mean not even saying anything. It’s not that I’m a wise, older person who understands how to build assets and residual income—that’s a download I can deliver, but there’s something also to just saying "I see you."

Becca Martenson: Yes.

Chris Martenson: "And I don’t have anything to tell you that’s going to be like 'here’s your next step. I see it clearly.'" It’s just saying "I see you and what we have we need badly, and I don’t even know what that is." My metaphor for that is that I’ve come late to the game. I woke up…I was in my 40’s when I woke up and I’ve been working on it ever since. I understand now, I had to deconstruct a lot of belief systems and I’m still working on it. Belief systems about my government, about America, about humans, about the world, about money…everything, and I know that’s an emotional process, all of this and that, and what has caught me, Becca, is, in dealing with some of these younger people, I will impart something that I’ve only very recently come on that’s a big giant pearl of wisdom for me and they’re like "I totally know that."

Becca Martenson: They’re [laughs] so far ahead it’s ridiculous.

Chris Martenson: "I already know that." My metaphor for that is they say that if you don’t learn a second language before the age of 13, you will always have an accent for that language, with very few exceptions. But the younger you learn that, the more you are fluid in that second language, the more accent-free you will be in essence. So really, for the older people who have woken up—when I say bring the presence, the presence comes from the humility of saying "I can be here as an older person who is in command of his consciousness and can keep his ego in check and be present for you with the humility of knowing you’re going to go further with this than I ever can because I’m always going to have an accent when it comes to this material." And it’s so different for young people who are born into the awareness in their DNA practically. It’s in their cellular awareness that this world they’ve been born into is changing massively and in ways they can’t predict. They will surf that wave with more elegance than I could have. I’ve mixed my metaphors up now…they’re accent free surfing? I don’t know where I’m going with that one…

Becca Martenson: [Laughs].

Chris Martenson: …so let me get back to the accent. That’s my first time trying to articulate that, which is the idea that sometimes that support might just be sitting down, shutting up, and bringing your full awareness to this person and saying "I see you, let me know how I can help."

Becca Martenson: Yes. I think you’re spot on. I think that if we as the older generation attempt to provide solutions to the younger generation we’re providing those solutions from the mindset that made the problems in the first place, and the younger generation is much more flexible and less attached to this system. So it’s the younger generation that’s going to be creating the new model for us. It’s not going to be us. And so yes, supporting with our presence, supporting with our witnessing, supporting with—just letting them know they’re not crazy…their deep knowing is true and right and we want to help them [laughs] help us figure out what we’re going to do about all of this.

Chris Martenson: Absolutely. Well, thank you for picking up that ball and running with it because that was my first time trying to sort of get that concept out in organized form. I think I’ve had pieces of it but I realized that when I say that, I actually can get in touch with a little bit of sadness when I was saying that and I think that comes from checking in with always wanting to have had that for myself…wanting to have had somebody who was watching me and saying "I see you and I trust you. I don’t know exactly what you’re going to do with it but there, that’s all there is." I think that’s in really short supply in this culture, generally, and there’s a sadness I have around that.

Becca Martenson: Welcome to the sadness. I think that sadness would be shared by probably almost everybody listening right now and that’s the kind of thing we’re trying to address with programs like The Art of Mentoring and the bringing together of the elders and the teenagers. It’s the witnessing that we do of these young people that are so extraordinary. They blow my mind with their wisdom. To provide them with older people that are sitting with them and just saying "I see you, I see you. You have so much to offer, I see your gifts. Please bring them out." This is what we need. This is what this next generation—what all of us as human beings I believe need, and I think that we’ve lost it. We’ve lost that thread and we can look at all the different structures and reasons why, and that can be helpful, but we need to get back to it because this is…in order for us to come up with our beautiful responses to this terrible predicament that we are in, we need this next generation to be fully living their gifts and to be bringing the fullness of who they are to the world.

My personal belief is that our current cultural structure is not set up to do that and is actually set up to do the opposite, which is to create quite a small box of what is allowed, acceptable, and celebrated, and anything outside of that box is ignored or shunned. The box of what it means to be human is quite small and in order for this generation of human beings to live into the fullness of who they are, we’ve got to blow that box up and start seeing each other in a deeper way and creating the structures that can allow us to expand into who we are. I think our whole educational system is designed to do exactly the opposite, as you and I have talked about many times.

There’s a lot of undoing that needs to happen and I think that sadness that you’re feeling at not being seen in that way as a young man is a current that runs through all of us and it’s that existential sense of isolation that our culture supports so beautifully. And again, this next paradigm that we need to live into is about connection and relationship. However we can support the young’uns to be in connection and relationship with each other, and with their deepest selves, I think would be a step in the right direction.

Chris Martenson: Absolutely and for anybody listening, The Art of Mentoring happens once a year. It just finished at the time of this recording sort of late August/early September. It varies a little but it's somewhere in that time window.

Becca Martenson: I need to interrupt Chris because that’s actually not true. The Art of Mentoring happens in a number of places around the country at different times and is hosted by different organizations. If anybody is interested in finding out about it, if you just google The Art of Mentoring, you’ll find different host organizations in the United States as well as internationally.

Chris Martenson: Cool, so there’s lots of ways you can engage with it. I’m going to talk about the one that happens close to us. It’s an experiment. It’s an experiment in refashioning ourselves in ways that we’ve been talking about. It’s an experiment in how do we do this deeper living thing? I just had this podcast with Bill Kauth and Zoe Alowan and it was about them making their tribes through neighborhood affiliations and various commitments that they form with their tribal unit. They’re in Ashland, Oregon. A number of people came out and said "Sort of cool. I don’t get it." A few of our introverts were like "Oh, not for me." What I would like to offer is that for those people who are curious and say "Well, I’m not really ready to commit to that tribal thing you talked about, that seems a little far, but what does an experiment really look and feel like?" I think The Art of Mentoring is a really well contained piece that you could go and really see something that is extraordinarily different and you will notice that if you just sit down and talk to any one of the teens who have been through this program for a number of years, you will run into a type of a human that will give you hope again.

Becca Martenson: Yes, yes…it’s so true. When I first encountered this model of education called mentoring, which is actually based on globally indigenous practices of education, I was looking at the teenagers and I was blown away by their wisdom. I didn’t even know anything about what had done this but I basically went to the host organization and I said "How did you grow these teenagers? Where did they come from? And whatever you’re doing, I want to get involved and support this because these are human beings that are fully alive and I can see it." The contrast between these teenagers and what I was seeing outside of this culture—and just the way teenagers are even represented in media. It’s like childishness is the way teenagers, I think, are really portrayed and encouraged to be. And so when I saw a model that was supporting such a different type of teenager that just…I was blown away by the groundedness, the knowledge of self, the awareness of the group, the supportive caretaking of the younger children, the awareness of the elders. Watching teenagers go up to a visiting elder and just ask "Can I get you a chair? Would you like a cup of tea?" Just awareness that they have a role of support in the community, that they’re not just there to be a consumer and buy things and watch the latest movie, but they’re there to help take care of the younger children, and they’re there to support the elders. Again, this basically all…these kind of kids were grown essentially in such a simple way of just being provided really beautiful connections in nature, time in nature where they could explore in a fairly unstructured way, which is just such a different model of education than the "adults are in charge of everything" world that the educational system is now.

That’s not a very articulate way of describing what this model of mentoring is on the ground, but what it produces in the teenagers continues to, yes, as you said, give me hope.

Chris Martenson: I’ll talk about one teenager who has been through the program a lot, which is my youngest daughter Grace. When I talk to her, sometimes I just get goosebumps because what she says is so far beyond even what I’m anticipating is going to come out of her mouth.

Becca Martenson: Yeah [laughs] and you know her.

Chris Martenson: I know her pretty well. The amount of context that she has is astonishing, and that context could be the individual psychological makeup of the people around her, it could be the awareness of what’s happening in a larger group setting, sort of the arc of people’s development…you name it, it’s just this really—grounded is the word you used but for me it's context. There’s all these different nodes of connection that come together into an awareness that I truthfully have wanted to develop in my own heavily accented way here later in life, and that’s what the goosebumps come from is seeing the fluidity. She just sort of grew up around it and this is how you are. People will rise up into what is expected of them and these communities expect a lot.

Becca Martenson: Yes, the bar is high.

Chris Martenson: The bar is high but not in a shaming "if you don’t do this we’ll give you an F." It’s just the bar is high and people rise. I love seeing what’s possible when people bring their best selves out. Our culture is not asking the best of anybody to be a consumer, to work hard, to get a paycheck, to struggle to make ends meet, to go to Disneyland once a year. It’s not a very high bar. So younger people in particular are saying "I need a different bar. I want one that matters to me. Let’s make it worthwhile."

Becca Martenson: Yeah, depth and meaning. They can feel it’s not there and they want it.

Chris Martenson: Well who doesn’t? We all want to be seen and when we really do have our gifts out…there are all of these books out on how to achieve the flow for basketball players, whatever. We think about it in sports people "he was in the flow or she was in the flow." The truth is, every human wants to be in the flow, and to be in the flow for me means to have your authentic gifts just emerging into whatever moment is the one you’re living in and it does it effortlessly, it doesn’t require any additional effort from you, it might actually energize you, it’s not depleting, it’s fulfilling…all of that. That’s the exciting part of this story. All of these predicaments we’re talking about are really an invitation to greatness, to step into that flow and bring your best. That’s the positive side of the story.

The negative side is: If we continue to deny reality, we are going to have a very hard moment of change via the pain route. What we’re talking about are people who are actively saying "how do I change via insight?" That’s what needs to be supported more and more…let’s change by insight, let’s change on our own terms, let’s do that.

Becca Martenson: I agree, I agree. I think it would be such a cool thing to do a survey of all of the organizations and models that are choosing by insight, that are choosing a different path and that are providing people in different areas with alternatives. You know, that’s the story we need to talk about. Yes, we need to talk about how things aren’t right in the world and that’s super important because some people apparently haven’t figured that out yet. But I think even more importantly we need to really focus on what is working right now and how can we build the morphic field of that, to use a Rupert Sheldrake term. How can we build the energy behind the things that are in play right now that the young people are involved in that are working, and support those to get the attention and focus they need both with spotlight and resources?

Chris Martenson: Excellent, well said. This has truly been an Off the Cuff. I had no idea we were going to end up here. If you’re at all intrigued by the idea of The Art of Mentoring—not that it’s the be all end all only thing we would recommend, but it is something that Becca has a lot of involvement in and I have some involvement in, and it happens…there’s one in the west coast I know about, one here on the east coast, one in Canada, one in Scotland, maybe there’s others but you could look that up and see if that appeals to you…very small programs, they fill up quick so you could look into that if you’re interested. Or, join in the comments below and ask more questions and Becca or myself will answer those as best we can if you have more questions about that. But what I want in the common area below this podcast, I want to talk about really what it means if you’re a younger person, how you would want to be supported; if you’re an older person, how you would be willing to offer support. I would like to open that conversation up because it’s time.

Becca Martenson: Awesome, I can’t wait to see it.

Chris Martenson: Me neither.

Becca Martenson: Look forward to hearing from everybody.

Chris Martenson: All right well, goodbye everybody. It’s been fun and I’ll see you next week. Thank you, Becca.

Becca Martenson: Thanks for having me, Chris.

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43 Comments

MJB's picture
MJB
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Posts: 67
Who Needs Support?

I am a millennial albeit an old one, at least according to Neil Howe, turning 30 this year and not scared one bit :). I would like to see support coming from my peers, not in opposition to support from boomers but in addition. The conversation I just listened to happens in what 5% of US households? Looking to the older generation I associate with are deeply entrenched in the status quo, they may need our support more so than we need them. How many people under 35 are members of PP? I get the feeling most are in their 40’s but that’s just me guessing.

I think young people will be more resilient in the coming crash, at least financially. After all we have our entire careers to amass wealth, wealth we have honestly never known, while if you are 10 years or less from retirement and you are 100% invested in paper 401K assets or an Illinois State Pension good luck retiring. I am not saying that finances should dictate a person’s life or mood for that matter but when ½ of your life savings gets wiped out that hurts I don’t care who you are.

This is also the generation that has grown up with everything! Some were kids during the 50’s a time of extreme American prosperity, the younger portion in the still prosperous 60’s. They were in their working prime for the 90’s economic boom and now starting to look at retirement. IMO they have been a major beneficiary of all of the ‘borrowed’ prosperity (govt debt). The problem is they will still be around when the bill comes; and for maybe the first time in their life have to sacrifice something BIG or make a MAJOR, uncomfortable change. 

Excerpt from Wikipedia: Baby boomers

In particular, a number of commentators have argued that Baby Boomers are in a state of denial regarding their own aging and death and are leaving an undue economic burden on their children for their retirement and care. According to the 2011 Associated Press and LifeGoesStrong.com surveys:

·         60% lost value in investments because of the economic crisis

·         42% are delaying retirement

·         25% claim they will never retire (currently still working)

In 2013, the early baby boomers (depending on birth years used) reached a common retirement age in the United States: 67 years.

I hope this doesn’t come off as boomer bashing :) and it certainly isn’t true for all boomers. I look to the millennials to enter the discussion soon, with a new, more frugal, more inclusive, more self-responsible perspective. To many boomers this will be viewed as less prosperous.. 

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
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Excellent point

MJB wrote:

This is also the generation that has grown up with everything! Some were kids during the 50’s a time of extreme American prosperity, the younger portion in the still prosperous 60’s. They were in their working prime for the 90’s economic boom and now starting to look at retirement. IMO they have been a major beneficiary of all of the ‘borrowed’ prosperity (govt debt). The problem is they will still be around when the bill comes; and for maybe the first time in their life have to sacrifice something BIG or make a MAJOR, uncomfortable change. 


 

I think this is really a great point.  

The boomers really did have every possible advantage and wind at their backs.  their demographic bulge came along when the internet revolutionized everything, not unlike the industrial revolution.  They had ample cheap oil the whole way.  They had a demographic cohort all saving at the same time which made everyone a genius investor.  They had a federal Reserve that was pretty hands off most of the way and did not set against them to thieve their savings in order to hand that wealth to the government and Wall Street.

The boomers, of which I am one, are really a very 'entitled' generation - and I think the current presidential candidates exude that very essence - an overwhelming sense of entitlement.

But real sacrifices are going to have to be made...do the boomers even know that that means, as a unified generation?  Individually, sure, some of them, of course, but collectively?  

I have my doubts.

Well, it won't really matter because the sacrifices will be coming whether anyone wants them to or not.  

Watch the mad scramble as each newly minted retiree sees the writing n the wall and races to ‘get theirs’ before it’s all gone.

Not unlike this developing situation:

Dallas Cops Get Wise to Impending Public Pension Catastrophe, Start Yanking Their Money Out of the System

Sept 19, 2016

With their pension fund teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, Dallas police officers are grabbing what they can before the whole thing crashes down.

Panic has set in and dozens of officers are pulling their retirement money out of the system as quickly as possible, WFAA reported over the weekend. One assistant police chief recently pulled $1 million out of the retirement fund and more than $300 million has been withdrawn in recent years, the Dallas ABC affiliate reported, citing unnamed sources.

Like most public pensions systems, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System gives members the option to withdraw a lump sum when they retire or to collect an annual payment for the rest of their lives. Think of it as the difference between taking the payout or the annuity in a lottery—the lump sum is probably less than what you'd get with the installment plan (depending on how long you live, of course) but at least you know how much money you're getting.

It seems that many newly retired officers believe that its better to get some money today instead of being promised more money tomorrow. That's because tomorrow might not come for a pension system that has been badly managed for decades and is now $5 billion in the red. According to Moody's, the system will be completely broke in about 20 years.

Things look even worse now, after the horrific sniper attack that left five Dallas police officers dead spurred a wave of retirements, placing additional stress on the already nearly bankrupt system.

Through the first two weeks of September, 21 police officers have filed for retirement, NBC's Dallas affiliate reported this weekend. Retirees will be eligible to start drawing a pension on October 1, but it looks like many new retirees are planning to pull all their cash out of the city's pension fund as quickly as possible, leaving officials scrambling to figure out how to deal with the loss of assets.

The city poured $29.3 million into the fund this year, but members of the pension board told the city council in May that an immediate infusion of $600 million—equal to 20 cents of every dollar the city spends this year—would be required to keep the fund solvent.

The pension fund expects to earn 7.5 percent annually—a figure that many experts say is too high a target in the current investment environment—but the bigger problem for Dallas is it's Deferred Retirement Option Plan. The DROP system allows retired officers to reinvest their pension checks in the system and comes with a guaranteed return of 8 percent to 10 percent. Though the city has now closed the DROP program to new members, it continues to accumulate more than $300 million in annual losses, the Dallas Observer reported earlier this year.

More than 200 retired Dallas police officers have collected more than $1 million from the DROP program, the Observer found.

After making millionaires out of former cops, it looks like the pension fund is about to run out of other peoples' money. Things are getting so desperate that the pension board is considering whether it should block retirees from withdrawing their own money out of the system, forcing them to take the long-term payout instead.

Better hurry if you are a Dallas cop close to retirement or thinking about it. That door is going to get nailed shut pretty soon.

The rest of us need to brace for a long string of related and similar disappointments.

But the Dallas pension is literally a case-study in what happens when politicians and unions, both on the same side of the bargaining table, strike a deal.

You want to "reinvest" with a guaranteed 8% to 10% return.  Go for it!

The cherry on top of this Dallas story, found at the end of the article, is that the Dallas police are also getting a nice 10% raise too.  Maybe they deserve it, I don't know, but one thing is sure...the higher an officer's retiring salary the higher the pension.  So the pension woes are compounding.

Yeah, if I were retiring there I'd take the lump sum too.  Not very thoughtful of me, I suppose, but the other strategy makes even less sense.  

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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Posts: 2168
Intergenerational, Relational, and Reality-Based

Once the next WHOMP comes along to shake things a few more steps down the ladder, people who have communication and relationship-building skills (F2F, not internet-based), who see reality and are content (nay, eager!) to build a life full of meaning within reality as it exists (as opposed to reality as one wishes it to be), and who can successfully blend generations (skills, needs, knowledge, wealth, etc.) in thier organization/community -- these are the people/groups that will thrive.  

A little collapse-resistant wealth (PMs?  Cash?  Seeds?  Stored Food?) will smooth things over, too, although they don't scale well (ie my preps will be unlikely to sustain my entire community).  My skillset (and my ability to share/teach it) can and will scale out to everybody around me (that wants to learn, anyway).

Funny that the Xers didn't get much mention in the podcast.  It was all Boomers v. Millenials.  That's cool.  We're the middle child generation of this age -- we're used to it.  

I see one of the biggest jobs going forward is the resdiscovery/re-creation of our civilization's lost rites of passage.  Birth, death, coming-of-age, wedding/commitment (divorce/separation), etc. -- our culture's celebrations are good parties and sh!tty ritual.  The power of ritual/ceremony needs to get recovered and put to use as societal glue and a way to frame and give meaning.

Hm.  More thoughts but client has arrived....!

VIVA -- Sager

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
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Posts: 636
A hope filled podcast

I haven't met any youngsters such as you describe.

I gave both my Xer daughters copies of the crash course book when it came out.  They are angry that their father has gone off the deep end on such an unpleasant conspiracy theory.  Our relationship has been strained by the incident ever since.  

My grand kids are all largely digital game addicts.

I don't know how to bring about the evolution you talk about.  I doubt it is possible without generation X cooperation.

The baby boomers clearly have some individual guilt regarding over consumption, but individual baby boomers didn't have much ability to change the course of humanity.  Some were trying to change it with no significant impact.  People still aren't wiling to listen now, just like they weren't in the 70s, 80s, or 90s.

Yes, the information was available, but, to the extent it was covered by the MSM, it was largely ridiculed.  Carter's cautionary speech was followed by Reagan's we can grow forever speech.  Reagan said those who had cautioned about limits to growth had been proven to be wrong.  Reagan had the solar panels that Carter added to the White House removed.

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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Posts: 463
A few leaders have been

A few leaders have been visionary enough to see far into the future. Most of the rest of us are caught up in the bureaucratic like intermediary systems that our high energy world supports.

Before fossil fuels began to enlarge the energy sphere the 'system' between sun, soil, water and plant and a hungry person was very minimal.  Now this intermediary system is huge.  Like a dinosaur it needs huge amounts of energy to survive.  Systems have better chances of growing smoothly than they do of shrinking smoothly.  It's ironic that the energy we have been using for the last few hundred years is derived from the age of dinosaurs. With it humans have created a new form of dinosaur--modern industrial civilization and its huge money based market economy. As the energy drops away we will most likely see smaller creatures survive and the carcasses of big dinosaurs lying around to remind us of the past.

This was a great discussion about the predicament that our generations face--intergenerational credence.  I am reminded of a friend whose father was a die-hard "you don't work, you don't deserve anything" conservative until you started talking about changing Medicare! His credence as a conservative went out the window. Chris hit the nail on the head when he identified his Amazon habit.  When we Boomers start saying no to the convenience of Amazon like operations which epitomize the dinosaur industrial culture, then we will start to be able to engage with some of our own experiential authority the Millennials who get what is ahead.

Until then those Millennials will see us as embedded in a sticky situation.  Much like the tarbaby and Brer Rabbit--the more you really try to engage this big system the more you get stuck in it.  We all need to find our briar patch and go for it.  There may be some smaller intermediary systems that we can tie intonfor awhile to make the transition a little smoother, but some Boomers will just need to go and start getting the briar patch livable for the Xers and Millinnials that will need to end up living there.  Old crazy elders were a part of Communist Russia, but ended up being much of the sane foundation that stabilized the present Russia. Xers will especially have difficulty since they are the last generation to think that the old narrative will work.  Be kind, be patient, be deliberate.

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
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Carter/Kemp/Reagan Nostalgia Clip

karl01's picture
karl01
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I choose to help..

First of all, I am thrilled that Chris and Becca brought this subject to light.  I take flack sometimes for helping my children from family members.  I don't discuss it with them any more. I am a boomer, born in 1951.  I choose to invest in my children rather than the stock market.  Although I do have all my retirement tied up in the federal retirement system, social security and what's called the TSP, (the government version of a 401k).  I take a portion of each paycheck and put it toward helping my kids have extra cash for gardening items and food.  I also send a additional check toward loans they have. I am not sending a lot, but every little bit adds up.  I am not paying off the loans, I am simply adding to what they already pay   I see them as responsible adults and I want to be a role model to them and my grandchildren that this is what families do.  Work together for the good of all of us.  It's like building community, right?

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brianboru
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Posts: 18
Déjà vu

Reading this was déjà vu for me. As a California boomer, I have to ask: were the 60s different on the east coast? As I remember, we rejected what we saw as meaningless, destructive, and exploitive institutions and systems; rebelled against what we perceived the hypocrisy of the previous generation; dropped out; went back to the land; built co-ops; sought the wisdom of native American and Asian elders and world views, tried to create communities based on mutual cooperation and support. We stopped a major war, changed discriminatory laws, and transformed our world in many small and not-so-small ways. 

Many of the ideas, symbols, and organizations of this movement were co-opted for the profit and support of the status quo, infiltrated, or actively undermined. Lacking a firm basis in how to make social change (as opposed to how to construct a wickiup and make fire in the wild) and powerless to counteract the co-opting of the movement by the “establishment,” many ended up abandoning the communes and organizations of change and taking corporate jobs. Some held onto their ideals and tried to work within the system. Take Bernie for example. Marginalized by the mainstream media, neutered by the DNC, and finally discredited by his miscalculated support for a candidate who is clearly committed to perpetual war.

But this time, you tell us, it’s going to be different. We old-folks-without-a-clue have screwed it all up, but you young people will finally do it right. This tired theme is echoed in one form or another at most every college graduation in this country every year. The future belongs to you young folks. Meanwhile, I’ll be at the golf course.

There are young people in every generation as you describe: vibrant, idealistic, altruistic, seeking meaning. In the liberal enclaves of Oregon there are no “Elect Trump” signs to be found, but in the rest of the state that’s all you see. There are young people everywhere. There are fascists and bigots in every generation. 

The hope, spirit of cooperation, and love for the world embodied by the young people in whom these traits have been nurtured and encouraged is truly inspiring in every generation. Programs such as the one you describe are desperately needed in great numbers. Unfortunately, the immense power of entrenched interests tends to undermine and co-opt anything that threatens their control. It’s true that we learn a great deal from spending time in nature and in temporary communities created for the purpose of learning about community. But that won’t teach us how to counter the forces of greed and materialism which drive those who believe that human worth can be measured in dollars.

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kevinoman0221
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A Quote from Bill Mollison

With the recent passing of Bill Mollison, I have been seeing a lot of quotes attributed to him circulating on social media. This one seemed particularly appropriate for this thread: 

"There is one, and only one solution, and we have almost no time to try it. We must turn all our resources to repairing the natural world, and train all our young people to help. They want to; we need to give them this last chance to create forests, soils, clean waters, clean energies, secure communities, stable regions, and to know how to do it from hands-on experience." 

There are so many ways to help with the above, I think there is a little bit of paradox of choice. Where does one start? 

Here is just one idea: Putting on workshop get-togethers similar to what Jack Spirko does
He'll put out an invitation to come to his place and work on some projects with him for a few hours. You chip in a small fee, and in return, you learn a lot, get fed very well, and get to hang out with like-minded people all day. I would love to participate in something like this, but I am unaware of anything like it in my area. I don't have the skills or the land to host one of my own. This would be a great place for someone who does have those things to take a leadership role and initiate something like this. 

Jack no doubt benefits from the fact he has hundreds of thousands of fans of his podcast, so his events sell out quickly. So a degree of boot strapping might be necessary for your average Joe Hugelbed. Maybe you are active in bee keeping? You could invite a few of your bee buddies over to do some bee stuff, and "oh by the way, have you guys heard of biochar? I make the stuff, here's how I put it in my gardens and look how well my plants are growing. Want to see how to make it?" Introduce your bee buddies to something additional. "While you're all here, want to check out my aquaponics setup?" Urge them to tell friends who might be interested in those other things to come to your events. Pretty soon, it's not just bees at each event, but a list of a few different things (like Jack's event linked above), and you attract not just people interested in learning about bees but also those other things, and everything grows from there. 

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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Posts: 463
Mollison's hope

There is more going on around us than we realize. It's all very spontaneous and disconnected. This is good. Talking about your ideas and goals in daily conversations will bring out the others around you who sense that our industrial and political systems are at or near climax. For instance, a conversation recently with a friend turned to a homeschooling group that is working to do as much as possible without exchanging money! If people see a problem they will very often try to fix it. The solution is in the problem is another of Mkllison's ideas.

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Edwardelinski
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I see you (jdargis)

A peak milleniall.I was turned on to the peak by a family member.I look everyday for your reads.You have educated me in many facets of the environment I would have otherwise not been aware.Your work matters and is much appreciated.It matters to me.Thank you....

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jtwalsh
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There will be an accounting

I am a boomer.  Born 1954. I am still teaching part time at a community college.  I tell my students that I do not expect to see age ninety. By that time the students’ generation will have figured out the mess we made of things and the problems we left to them.  Upon those realizations euthanasia will become mandatory for all remaining boomers.

JT

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MJB
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Way to stay positive JT

This gave me a chuckle.. 

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Arthur Robey
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Hippie

I'm a 51's boomer, born in Rhodesia. I've lived collapse once already. Straight out of school and into the SAS. $17 per month parachute pay and $63 per month, much going on mess fees.

Then an apprenticeship,  married with two kids, $120 per month. Wife and I with kids on the back of bicycles. Left home in the dark on my bicycle to work, came home in the dark after the kids had been put to bed.

Brother got killed in ambush, and I had to abandon Father to his fate. I woke up this morning from a dream in which I had to solve an equation in order to support him. I failed.

I have transferred these scars into protecting my tribe. I'm a bit upset by the job that is being done on Europe. 

No one  will ever be able to convince me that we are not magnificent.  I've seen the alternative.  It's called Zimbabwe. 

PS I've bought a set of "The Whole Earth Catalog." Read it If you want to understand Boomers.

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spencer91189
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Parents (boomers) are cornucopians

In the time since I listened to the podcast, I (born 9/11/1989) received a long call from my parents (born 1960) about my livelihood mostly. They spelled things right out: as fairly affluent parents, they do not want to see me living "hand-to-mouth" [as a wage-class massage therapist]. They said I'm, "making choices that are making my life harder". They think that since I'm a doomer, and focus on how things might end up after serious long-term collapse, this is now holding me back in life, presumably from taking some corporate job and drinking the 9 to 5 koolaid, etc.

In my Dad's defense though, he did say that if I saw a path to a livelihood, which he could help me with financially, he would do so. I thanked him for that support, and have felt a renewed sense of urgency to find a personal path toward resilience that is tangible enough for my parents to get behind. When I start talking about building a Quidnon and living aboard on the Great Lakes, I tend to lose them. But I may be able to come up with a business idea for them to support - maybe permaculture gardening-related?

In the meantime, I am focusing on acquiring use of good land (own or rent), in a place the girlfriend and I have social capital, and hopefully hedging with an inexpensive houseboat in the near future. Something I could really use from people near me would be opportunities to learn useful skills and gain meaningful experiences outside of my current career. My first choices to learn would be building skills and carpentry, and I have tentatively agreed to help a friend maintain some of his rental properties this fall. I am teaching myself gardening and permaculture, but this is not lucrative, and slow during the winter.

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spencer91189
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Parents (boomers) are cornucopians

Double post

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
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Posts: 315
hope

I loved this conversation.  What I heard more than anything was hope.  Hope that my generation (millenials) will rise to the occasion and do what the boomers did not. That is, step out of the flow of history and intentionally create a better world.  I wish I had better news, but this is just not a topic of conversation with my peers (much to my chagrin). I am a new Dad and have been busy shedding my ideologies in order to quickly capitulate to the "boomer lifestyle" and gather what scraps of prosperity are still available to me and my family.  Thanks to this community I have a much more balanced view of how to protect and diversify my wealth.  The ideas of seven forms of capital are wonderful and I strive for balance with them, but frankly I find financial capital to still be one of the easiest among them to corral.  I hate to admit it, but I find myself pursuing a boomer life and I fight it much more than many of my peers do.  We are all drawn to comfort.

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Time2help
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There is no sanctuary

jtwalsh wrote:

By that time the students’ generation will have figured out the mess we made of things and the problems we left to them.  Upon those realizations euthanasia will become mandatory for all remaining boomers.

JT

Paging LogansRun...

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Grover
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Here's to the future

jtwalsh wrote:

I am a boomer.  Born 1954. I am still teaching part time at a community college.  I tell my students that I do not expect to see age ninety. By that time the students’ generation will have figured out the mess we made of things and the problems we left to them.  Upon those realizations euthanasia will become mandatory for all remaining boomers.

JT,

(Bad pun alert) It won't be called euthanasia ... it will be called "aged_in_asia".

I'm a big fan of The Fourth Turning (T4T.) I'm a classic Boomer who went through all the stages. I particularly enjoyed being an amateur pharmacologist during my misspent early young adult years. It got old after a few years and I quit all the chemical mood adjusters. Later on, I tried going from yippie to yuppie, but that part never really took. I skipped most of it and progressed to the cranky old bastard stage even before I read T4T.

As children, archetypical Boomers were encouraged to go out and explore because our parents fought the wars and made it safe. We took for granted that there would always be prosperity and we continued to explore into our young adulthood. Youth was spent exploring the physical world. Young adulthood was spent exploring the mental world. The big motivator was to find out "who I am." What makes me tick? What are my values? Sex, drugs, and rock & roll were only tools to answer the big questions.

I don't know what happened to most of the Boomers who turned into Yuppies. I don't know if they were just seeing the Silents amassing things and got jealous ... I don't know. I tried it for a few years, but it never felt right to me. Most of the Boomers went into that stage hog wild. That's what the Xers and Millennials chastise us for. They've got a valid criticism.

According to Strauss and Howe, the Boomers linger in the last stage of development longer than they should. When the last stage is no longer viable, we abandon it and migrate to the new paradigm with vim and vigor. We make it our own. Currently, we're generally stuck in the Yuppie stage - the third turning. Officialdom hopes to maintain the third turning forever. Why? It is extremely profitable for them. The next turning won't be. That's why they have all these financial incentives to go deeper in debt. (At some point, debt accumulation isn't sustainable and it fails.)

Anyway, Boomers will bankrupt Social Security, Medicare, and all the other programs out there. (Those systems were doomed at their inception. Don't fret when it finally happens.) As soon as we do, we'll transform to the next phase - the same way the hippies became the yuppies. In this phase, Boomers will reacquaint themselves with the values that they worked so hard to acquire nearly half a century earlier. We'll see that there isn't enough to go around and we'll eventually voluntarily drastically reduce our intake of resources. Because we're Boomers, we'll resist at first and then jump into it and make it our own. Conspicuous consumption will be chastised by other Boomers. (We really don't care about Xers, but the Millennials are the Boomers' Babies. That's who it will be for.)

It will be a hollow victory to see the Boomers in tattered rags. They'll brag that their rags are more tattered than yours. Believe it or not, it will be intended as an insult to you. You'll think we're all cranky old bastards ... regardless of gender.

Grover

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aggrivated
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Hope!!!

Your post is very encouraging to this old boomer! The suction of the financial world is strong. It reminds me of the credit card commercial where everything is flowng along smoothly until some 'moron' shows up with cash and destroys the momentum. How dare any of us disrupt the machine! Keep resisting the pull.

I have found it helpful to reset my comfort thermometer. Reading helps. Old school-'Little House on the Prairie'. New school-'Surviving the Future'. Both schools help me remember that the present system is a blip in time and that it's suction grows stronger as it gets closer and closer to the drain.

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Value

I'm 35 I live in rural MO.  My grandparents were born Amish and my dad grew up poor living in a tent.   He started his own business manufacturing ceramics.  American dream self made man firm believer in hard work.  I used to live in Montana as a roofing contractor.  We were involved with some of the projects in the Yellowstone club.  When 08' hit everything changed my old boss killed himself.  I was making good money at the time so I wasn't to worried.  But it hit me pretty hard.  What happened?  A year latter I took the crash course and did not stop studying.  I quit my job making good money and moved here.  It has been shocking but good.  I talked to old timers a and poor folk whom there parents live through the depression.  The interesting thing nothing really changed for them.  They were still poor but they had enough.  Eating squirrel hunting nuts and mushrooms life was tough but heck life was always tough.  In some of the books I have read regarding other currencies crisis this is not uncommon.  People who depended on the land just fared how they always had.  Most of the books I read regarding sustainability pretty much conclude that our way of life will have to change.  Seems pretty logical given our dependence on non renewable.  I know giving the nature of this site I'm guessing we see this.  But what of the magic fix everything what ever?  Are we happy? Living this way?  Maybe it's my Amish grandparents in me somewhere.  But I like living with the land. I don't make six figures any more. But I wake up to cricket singing.  Before I learn how f$&@ed we all are I would have puzzled of my last two sentences.  I love this life I value the moments.  I can't save those who wish to continue on a unsustainable path.  Their course will eventually lead to its conclusion.  I hope I don't sound to callous.  Denial is a powerful thing.  I loved your talk Chris.  I feel fortunate not many are my age and in this position.   Debt free land owner.  The young I talk to want access to land.  As I dig ponds and plant trees.  Some things become clearer.  We waist a lot of energy.  Those with out land have very little to survive on.  Mostly promises that in many cases can not be kept.  A seed is a miracle.  A tree works when I do not.  Machines brake down with startling regularly and require constant care.  Clean water is worth more than gold or silver.  

I'm brain storming on land access for the younger generations.  There must be a way.  I feel this is a key.  I feel everything we do has to tie the two together.  

When ever I dig a pond or plant a tree.  I know 100 years from now the wealth that I value the most grows.

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treebeard
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Round pegs and square holes

I was born in 57, so I think that makes me a "boomer",  though I must admit I don't identify myself in that way.  As was said earlier, every generation as its mix of people, with a variety of perceptual preferences.  I feel personally like I have been a voice in the wilderness for so long, that I am happy meet anybody of any age who is figuring out or has figured out we are way down an unsustainable road.  It seems to me that everybody is just starting to wake up together now, regardless of age. Well, not everybody, just enough people that I am just starting to feel like I am not a lone lunatic.

I have been committed to an "alternative" lifestyle ever since I can remember, thinking I was just born this way.  Now have debt free, nearly net zero energy house, larger garden, fruit trees, the whole deal.  It has taken a lifetime of work to get here, can't wait to "retire" so I can pursue this full time and help anybody else with similar interests, regardless of age, do the same.  Lets think unity, not division, the perennial disease of every generation.

ckessel's picture
ckessel
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Posts: 450
Helping out the millenials

I have been involved in promoting the concept of energy conservation my entire career as an architect and builder. I had the good fortune to have a pair of very forward thinking instructors for my fifth year design program at Cal Poly. Ken Haggard and Don Koberg facilitated a curriculum that asked how you might contribute to the built environment over the course of your career rather than concentrating on what monuments you might attach your name to.

One of the first items I studied was M.King Hubberts prediction that the US would cease to be an oil exporting country by 1970. The year was 1971. My instructor asked me how I might address this issue in my career in architecture. I decided to adopt that theme for my senior project and three of us taught a class in the Spring Quarter of 1972 on 'Environmental Awareness'. We had to design the curriculum, get it approved through the university and then deliver the course.  It was a heady time and we had dreams of changing the future of the world ..... via architecture and the built environment.

I am still practicing architecture and designing and constructing solar and energy efficient buildings. But what I thought would be a very obvious and desired thing to do ...... was not really needed and or wanted by the vast majority of my clientele (the boomers). How many times have I heard "Why would I want to spend my money on that? I'd rather have a home theater and a three car garage. Energy is cheap anyway and there will always be plenty of it."

I still live in the home I constructed in 1985. It has solar thermal space and domestic water heating systems, passive solar design concepts and I use about 90 gallons of propane a year for backup energy and cooking. The system turned on again this morning, it is very reliable and requires no belief systems for it's workability!

Yesterday I met with a young couple (millenials) who want to build a home on their property but have been crushed by the cost to build and cost to borrow despite the 'low' rates. Well we were able to turn disaster into a plan which will allow them to use the cash they have to get onto their property and have enough left to develop a nice permaculture food forest. And their abode will be solar heated to boot. And the money they can save over time will allow them to also build their efficient dream house.

The millenials seem to get it for the most part. I love their attitude and I love to be able to help where I can. They will also be logging in to the PP site!

I enjoyed your podcast this morning Chris and Becca. It prompted me to get out this post and I look forward to seeing you both one day soon.

Coop

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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Further thought on unity

The present market system likes to promote division into groups. Even food, which we all need, is sold to us with a divide and conquer mentality. This is the essence of post modernism, each of us has our own view. Consensus with your neighbors is rare, hence commonality is found with people far away with sites like this one.

At some point in the next turning all of us, on the site here and with the folks around us, will need to establish a lot more common ground together. The catalyst for this will probably be facing a common disaster. The seeds of what comes next will be planted by those (hopefully from this group also) who have already had experience in the new market order, even if it small. If we share a common sense of meaning and from that a common culture then local unity will return to our communities.

There might then be some chance that even politics could be about real issues of concern and not just warring egomaniacs.

ckessel's picture
ckessel
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"I don't know what happened

"I don't know what happened to most of the Boomers who turned into Yuppies"

Well Grover, I think a lot of them (perhaps 1%) are in Washington or work for a bank! I'm glad I'm not and I don't!
And I can't wait to check out the tattered rags!
Coop

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kevinoman0221
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ckessel wrote: Yesterday I

ckessel wrote:

Yesterday I met with a young couple (millenials) who want to build a home on their property but have been crushed by the cost to build and cost to borrow despite the 'low' rates. Well we were able to turn disaster into a plan which will allow them to use the cash they have to get onto their property and have enough left to develop a nice permaculture food forest. And their abode will be solar heated to boot. And the money they can save over time will allow them to also build their efficient dream house.

This is exactly what my wife and I want to do and exactly the same challenge we are facing. I'd be delighted to have a mentor to help with this process. For the most part, I have given up for now. In northern California there are so many regulations and permit fees. They say it's at least $30K in permits and fees before you can even start construction. And then there are environmental regulations such as salamanders... If you have salamanders on your property you can't build. I called the zoning dept. to ask about a bare piece of property (which is over $100K/acre here with no well, no perk test, no septic, nothing...) and they wouldn't even tell me if it is salamander impacted. Apparently one has to hire a biologist to come examine the property and give their seal of approval. There are hundreds of dollars of costs and fees just to consider buying a piece of property, which all gets wasted if any of those inspections turns up a problem.... It's enough to make me want to just give up. Keep living with my parents, wasting my youth (have already wasted my entire 20s) until I save enough to buy some place with cash and become an off-grid hermit. By then i will be 40 and too late to start a family, and food forests now 20 years overdue... Sorry for the rant. Just wanted to give context to what a great thing you did, Coop, from the perspective of a younger person. 

ckessel's picture
ckessel
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Hi Kevinoman, I also live in

Hi Kevinoman,

I also live in Northern California, land of peak entitlement costs and red tape! You can contact me if you are serious about developing a plan to create your own home. My suggestion would be to first complete the 'what should I do' outline on the Crash Course and have a rough draft of how you want to go about increasing the eight forms of capital in your life.

That will go a long ways toward helping to identify the size and scope of your future home and land. The really tough part is that the boomer generation has taught the millennial generation that the best way to get what you want is to do Plan A; borrow yourself into debt and pay later. There has to be a plan B!

You can get my email address on this site.

Coop

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Those before

My humble regards Tree Shepherd.  It seems we have abandoned reason for madness.  Much of my life I have felt way out there.  I feel like quoting Jenson.

"Imagine, to take a silly example, that someone told you story after story extolling the virtues of eating dog shit.  You've been told these stories since you were a child.  You believe them.  You eat dog shit hotdogs, dog shit ice cream, General Tso's dog shit.  Sooner or later, if you are exposed to some other foods, you might figure out that dog shit really doesn't taste that good.  Or if you cling too tightly to these stories ( or if your enculturation is so strong that dog shit actually does taste good to you ), the diet might make you sick or kill you.  To make this example a little less silly, substitute the word pesticides for dog shit.  Or, for that matter, substitute Big Mac, Whopper, or Coca Cola."       -Derrick Jenson, Endgame Vol.1

I can't help laughing when I read this.  I hope I don't offend.  But it's really sad too.  I mean what the heck are we really doing?  It's as clear as dog shit to me.  I feel alone in this most of the time.  But guys like Chris and Derrick I read there books and I feel less out there.  I've got a lot of respect for your path.  There was just a mention of Carter and Reagan.  How long does it take for a culture to get it?  I don't have an answer but like you I will help anyone wanting to change.

Cheers 

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kevinoman0221
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ckessel wrote: I also live in

ckessel wrote:

I also live in Northern California, land of peak entitlement costs and red tape! You can contact me if you are serious about developing a plan to create your own home.

That would be wonderful! I will email you.

-Kevin

Grover's picture
Grover
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Self Actualization

ckessel wrote:

And I can't wait to check out the tattered rags!

Coop,

Something tells me that you won't have too much of a transition. ;-) I sincerely mean that in a good way. You don't strike me as someone who worries about keeping up with the Joneses. Yuppie conspicuous consumption seems like an attempt to satisfy a need, but the yuppies haven't bothered to identify that need first. It's almost like they're trying to relive the excitement of opening Christmas presents on a continual basis. After the wrapping has been torn off, they have to look for the next fix.

As long as the base levels of the Maslow's pyramid are satisfied, more stuff is just more stuff. We need to figure out how to get to the top level - self actualization. From what you've written, I'd say you're working on that for yourself. Bravo!

Boomers and the Silents will bleed the system dry. Once there are no more options, the Boomers will be forced to do the right thing. Ironically, destitution will allow them to be more "self actualized." As a result, many Boomers will die happy with their tattered rags. I doubt the Silents will experience the same euphoria. They lived their destitution during childhood. They won't want to live it again.

For the rest of you, it is what it is. If you had been born a Boomer, would you behave any differently? You may think so because of your past experiences. If you hadn't been born when and where you were, you wouldn't have lived those experiences. As a result, it was only a twist of fate that kept you from being what you currently despise. It's best to see the situation as it is and make adjustments to your plans to prepare for the inevitable transition.

Grover

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pyranablade
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no car = no subarbanites?

Millenials are poorer than previous generations and researchers tell us that they're dealing with it by not buying a car. Last time I checked, public transportation in America is only for the cities, say those with 30,000 or more people. Those who live in the country will still have to drive a vehicle - until things become very different. Has me questioning how different country Millenials are from city Millenials. And what will be the impact on far-flung suburbs as their residents die off and no Millenials want to purchase their vacant homes? (I'm like JH Kunstler, I really won't miss suburbia.)

I'm a GenX'er struggling with the issue of staying in town and biking to work much of the year vs. moving to the country where I can have a little hobby farm - but will have to drive to work maybe 20 minutes or more. In Prosper Chris and Adam advocated moving out to the country and most of the testimonials at the end of that book were from country people. But can we throw that out there again? What are the pros and cons of country vs. city? For me the city is 42,000 people - I'll be able to keep my current job and move to the country. Others live in cities so large they will have to give up their jobs to move to the country. It seems that many on this site have already done that.

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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There goes the neighborhood, so now we can move in there.

A city of 42,000 is small. A city of 2 million is a different beast, a collection of smaller towns when seen up close.  My son recently found an older (1950) house on 5 acres right inside the city limits.  The back part of the property is in a 500 year flood plain so has not been developed.  It is OK in this city to have a garden and up to 5 chickens (no roosters).  In areas like this one I think a horse would also probably work within the codes.  He is 3 miles from his children's schools and is planning on a garden in the back part of the property. It was a fixer upper and very reasonably priced. This is all in a city of 900,000.

Wherever you are there are old neighborhoods. Some are next to commercial zones and have noise issues, etc., but these tend to be off the HOA radar.  My biggest concern in any situation is what will the neighborhood look like if the economy gets real slack.  That is real hard to predict and the required preparation is mainly developing some real solid social capital. It won't matter if you are in the country or in the city if you don't get along with the neighbors. Just my thoughts.

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sand_puppy
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Population Density and Ammunition Requirements

This first part is slightly tongue in cheek...

A way to estimate your ammunition needs are as follows:

  • -find a map of your neighborhood,
  • -draw a 1 mile radius circle around your home, and,
  • -make an educated guess how many human beings inside that circle have less than 7 days food and water stored. 

This number (lets call these "the profoundly unprepared") is closely related the the amount of ammunition you will need to survive a sudden collapse.

-------------------------------

Some thoughts on Sharing and Not Sharing

I have started buying an extra package of rice or beans (green peas, lentils, black bean) with each week's shopping trip.  I toss them in the 5 gallon bucket labelled "rice" or "beans" as appropriate.  This is intended for my neighbors who I would like to have on "my team."  "My team" will be people whose suburban homes border on mine, live on our street, and who would like to join together in our efforts to get through a crisis as a team.  Others are good friends, a small engine repair guy, a dental hygienist, doctor, farmer, people who can sew and work leather, people who have built or remodeled a home, etc.  These are people who bring specific skills, a capacity to work as a group, and are willing to work hard.

I will immediately exclude any who feel entitled, can't work well with others or who want to be taken care of.

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Density

Another thought on cities by there nature required imports of essential resources.  Country living with significant rainfall has the opportunity not to require this.  All land is not created equal.  Last book I read estimated it takes 1.25 acres of productive farm land to feed 1 person in our culture. But food is not are only essential need.  For my own comfort where I live in MO if feel 5 acres per resident is a suitable minimum.  Most choices are measure of risk.  It is hard to say how migration and drift may effect towns and cities in adjusting times.  One with land has options .  City government may have wise policy or not.  I don't like being subjected to these limits.  Land is the only choice for me.  Land with enough potential for grazing water harvest and bio fuel.  Food ,water, and shelter(warmth).  These are essential with out them you will have to import them via?  I leave it to your talents and creativity.  Towns offer much but are slave to a system of industry.  My advise is to find a way to not depend on essential resources that reside outside your bio region.   My conclusion is no city could ever offer this way of life do to population density.  The country has at least the possibility.

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aggrivated
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aother factor, or checking assumptions

Excess energy in a system drives specialization and/or size increase. When the energy 'E' decrease, this reverses. Unlike the over leveraged monetary system, the energy component may not collapse but. continue in some major role at a much higher relative cost to the system.

People have always been community creatures.

With that in mind it would make sense that a less densely populated area with built infrastructure place would be survivable. However this story continues, a lowering of material comfort expectations is a given.

To conclude my thoughts. My goals must include:
Diversiffy my own skill set
Be associated with a physical immediate community that shares my basic values
Own my basic shelter, tools, and reserve food supply
Have access to and have in use arable land to supplement basic food requirements

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Kim L. Law
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Posts: 19
Thank you PP Community (from a millennial)

I just want to take this opportunity to thank the community at PP - you are all my mentors guiding me (and others) for an uncertain future. I was born in '89 and have been following PP for about 4 years now. I was learning about the currency system from Mike Maloney's Hidden Secrets of Money, and one of the interviews between Mike and Chris led me to PP and my eventual discovery of the Crash Course.

It was a life changing experience. While I know different people react differently to the CC (most people just don't want to deal with it), it resonated with me and reflected many of my own observations. It did not take long for me to accept the predicament that we are in, and put me in tears many times.

In a year or two since, I've diverted all business as usual efforts to more future relevant activities; learning, preparing and to create a more prosperous future for all living things on Earth. A few topics that I especially treasure include:

  • The system of resource distribution we use today (global currency system)
  • Health, particularly the works of Robb Wolf & the paleo community - This was particularly relevant to me as I was trained in conventional medicine that contributed to the health epidemics of today
  • Permaculture - The whole systems approach in problem solving is perhaps our ticket to the future with greater prosperity

I could never have gotten here without the unspoken support from the PP community. I especially want to thank Becca for reaffirming that - "I am not crazy". Far too many times I questioned my own sanity, when I felt that I am in the extreme minority that worries so deeply about the future of our world. However, there's PP to give me a perspective of just how far we have traveled along this path of destruction. Also thank you Chris & Adam for your wonderful speaking events and Prosper!, they create a framework to constantly review my preparedness and direction. Finally the wonderful insights that everyone here have shared in their comments and articles, they greatly expanded my knowledge and perspective.

My goal and challenge now, is to establish a regenerative farm like Singing Frogs Farm. What Elizabeth & Paul Kaiser are doing fulfills almost all my goals. However I am still struggling to find land that I can settle on. With no savings and inflated asset prices, buying something right now is impossible for me. Alternative ways of accessing land is tricky without meeting people with similar values. I only hope that it it is not too late when an opportunity finally becomes available (I know some of you might argue that it is too late already, but better late then never...).

I've written too much already, but in short - I just wanted to express my gratitude for everyone in this community. The global perspective and wisdom in PP community set me on the right track (at last) and helped me discover the true purpose of my existence.

Kim

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Michael_Rudmin
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Kim, in what part of the country are you located?

One main question is the title... I can talk about Virginia, but know little about the west coast. Others know the west.

Aside from that, I would contend that if you can set up a food preservation cart, the access to the land might be less of a problem. Think about it: how much food grows by the road? In my area there are mulberries in early spring -- they dry well. Then there are black cherries: you need a cherry pitter or a juicer for them, and that then needs to be processed to cherry raisins, jelly, or wine. Then there's dock, lamb's quarters, milk thistle, kudzu, crab apples, mini-pears, peacans, acorns, scuppernog grapes, passion fruit, pawpaw, blueberry, blackberry, and persimmon... all growing on public harvestable land.

THEN... there are the farmers who let go their crops.

Truth be known, if you can master the harvest and preservation, that's a huge start on getting everything you need to get started.

Oh,eand I forgot: get a paracord, train yourself to tie a sling, and get a hunting license. Train yourself to sling.

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Kim L. Law
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Posts: 19
Using resources available locally is a great idea

I am currently living in Campbell, CA. I do have access to a moderately sized backyard that I am learning and experimenting with. Currently I am not even close to fully utilizing it because this is my first year trying to grow anything at all. My goal for the first year was to try and experiment in a scale that does not overwhelm myself (I have a flexible day job).

Permaculture is fairly new to me. I only learned about it a year ago when Chris, Adam & Robb Wolf came to Sebastopol and we toured Singing Frogs Farm. So this year has been a fairly fast paced learning experience for me. I completed a permaculture design course just a couple months ago, together with the experiences and learning over the past year, I am ready to scale up. I hope to expand the whole backyard for food production by the end of this season. If this goes well I want to scale up to half or an acre in the next years.

I am reluctant to spend too much of my limited financial resource on acquiring more long term infrastructure for this backyard. This is because the property does not belong to me and the owners will be moving to Seattle soon. We really need a rainwater catchment system here but I can't justify the cost if I am not going to be living here for more than a few years. I also want to convert the garage into a mini chicken coop but it may be too much commitment for now.

Other than that I am also trying to get our local Permaculture guild to start some community projects. For some reason most permaculture guilds seems to be fairly quiet in contrast to the urgency of Energy Descent. Armed with more knowledge (compared to early this year) I think I should be able to lead some projects.

I really like the foraging idea. I did not think about that at all. I do need to brush up some botany before I embark on that learning experience though. Hopefully with a guide or someone experienced at doing it. Hunting is also a great idea, but I am in an urban setting and it becomes more of a sport if I do try it out. We don't own a car so traveling out of the city to hunt would require additional financial resource.

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Michael_Rudmin
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If in northern CA (Willits), check out Bountiful Gardens. o

Northern CA has Bountiful Gardens, which is big on horticulture. Their school garden, though, is closer -- it's in Palo Alto.

Regarding getting a guide for foraging, that's a real good idea. There ar lots of foragable foods that can be mistaken for poisonous ones: Mushroom hunting is unpopular in America because of that, but berries can be as bad; so can roots. Even the foods need to be processed correctly, sometimes harvested correctly.

Peanuts, if exposed to humidity, can develop aflatoxin. Parsnips, if harvested in the sun, can cause the harvester a bad sunburn, with second-degre burns. Cherries are great; but there's cyanide in everything except the flesh of the fruit.

You get the idea.

That's why I favor getting the food processing going first, on a mobile cart; and then going on to learning the harvest. You can test out the food processing on storebought or garden foods; whn you've learnd that,

Dne idea I have would be to take a couple thrift-store ironing boards filled with holes. Rework th stand to allow you to stand it up vertical. On one side put shelves that can fold out, or fold up. Oak might be good, but thin oak. on the other side, blacken it. Now, at the bottom, put an array of cooling /heating chips, to cool the air, dump out humidity, then heat the air again. Power it with solar/battery. Finally, put a clear plastic sock all the way over the thing.

set your food to be dried on the racks. The sun heats the air, forcing it up and over the black side, and tdown th otherside to th shlves. The airgraos mistur from th food on the shelves, then drops down to the cooler unit, It first hits the cool side, "hich dumps condensation out (you'll need a drain). If the temperature in the drying racks is too low, it then is directed to the hot side, where it's rewarmed, before going to the solar side.

Point being, a device like this is good for svral things: producing drinking water, dehydrating food, producing hot air, and producing cold air. The cooling chips I speak of, BTW, are the same chips that are used to cool a CPU.

Once you have that, I'd try harvesting mulberries. They're a fairly safe food, and an early spring food. They dry easily, too.Thn get ready for squash season. Get all those twenty-five cent squashes that gardeners sell at their little stands.

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NickAdams10
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Interesting post

I can that there are a lot of people I know who would concur with something Wendell Berry wrote: "The new world of cheap energy and even cheaper money, honored greed, and dreams of liberation from every restraint, is mostly theater. This new world seems a jumble of scenery and props never quite believable, an economy of fantasies and moods...” Many people my age (30-year-old here) do have a deep distrust in our economic system, courtesy of underemployment and college loans.

My wife and I definitely view life differently than most people our parents' age. We have much less debt (small mortgage only), a smaller house, older cars. We don't assume that Social Security will exist, nor that our paper investments will provide a living. We just smile and nod when people around us talk about taking expensive vacations and buying expensive vehicles.

My wife and I agree with Chris and Adam's ideas about wealth. (I loved the discussion of primary, secondary, and tertiary wealth in Prosper.) What's difficult for us right now is purchasing land. We've wanted to buy about three acres to build a passive house and expand our gardens and start an orchard, but the prices around here, even in the Midwest, are prohibitive. We want to stay somewhat near family and friends because we have a lot of social capital, but we can't find something priced decently.

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Kim and others

I support your journey.  There is a way to accomplish your dreams.  It's definitely feels lonely at times but you are not alone in your desires.   This is my primary dream is to support others in finding and settling land.  I have had many hard knocks with community type living.  To make a long story short I offered friends and like minded people a place to live on my farm.  This was not necessarily a mistake however I found it unworkable.  It was too much for me at that time to set it up.  How ever I have still been pondering.  I mention this because I believe there is a way to structure both land ownership and rent that is favorable.  It is getting your generation on land is the obstacle that I want overcome.  My heart and mind are open.  If you have any input that comes to mind I value it.  I believe there is interest in supporting your dreams out there.   There may be those who would be willing to support the land.  I have though about this for my own land. Simple idea I had was a crowd funding a permaculture tree planting blitz.  I believe there are people who have cash that would support such action if they had a connection and visual confirmation of their investment.   Though my tree planting ability is high my blogging and computer work is not.

The ability to get land to a person like you.  I know I want you on land that is your own, if you are farming in a regenerative way.  I bet there are others out there just like me.   I want to invest in people healing land.   At this point in time, that person is me.  But after or during  many of my ponds are built and trees are planted.  I want to invest in people doing what I have been doing.   But first land has to be made available to people.  I believe that there are others with cash willing to do the same.  The discomfort for me is the purchase and legal problems that come with land ownership.  But the land has to come first.  I have a desire for healing land I know I will pay for it.  I believe there are others that feel the same.  How does one structure a way for people like me to invest in healing land?  Kim I'm thinking of you. What would it take to start you out?  What could you do that others may want to take part in supporting your actions?   Any other thoughts or feedback here please.  I know my desire in not unique.   Chris if you would weigh in?   Its connecting people of like mind and to those with these desires.  A step by step structure to land that I and others like me can feel fantastic about supporting and investing in.  

Samuel

 

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Kim L. Law
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Posts: 19
It doesn't take too much - But it is not all rosy

[email protected] wrote:

What would it take to start you out?

It is really nice to see that there are people on the other side. To answer your question directly, it really does not take much for me to start out (in a meaningful scale).

For me, the biggest challenge is land access. While a lot of people would prefer owning the land, I do not even care about ownership. However, any access less than a year long is probably not ideal. If the access is between a land owner and prospective young farmer, finding someone that shares common value and goal is critical. As far as I know, there doesn't seem to be a central board or location where land owners can meet prospective young farmers.

The second consideration is what do I live on while the farm establishes. For first time farmers like me, I am not expecting immediate success. The limitations in knowledge and experience means that failure is guaranteed. Without extremely cheap or even free living cost initially, it is impossible to do away with a day job for currency ($). While I don't mind living in a tent, something with a wall is probably warmer.

Social support is probably next. Setting up a regenerative farm is considered "crazy" in our current narrative. To be in an environment where there are helpful people to offer social capital would be a big plus.

The ability to trade for services is also important. It is extremely difficult to be 100% self sufficient. So the access to trade (not limited to just currency) for services and material is a must. Although this should not be too difficult as long as there's a village / community nearby.

I am a habitual self learner, and I am also blessed with good problem solving skills. Therefore obtaining knowledge capital is less of a challenge for me. But I know many young people who struggle to learn without a mentor. This is where apprenticeships can really help. A good apprenticeship program can answer most of the problems I mentioned above. However running a good (and free) non-subsidized apprenticeship program is both expensive and difficult. There is also shortage of good mentors and too many prospective young farmers. So I do not see this as the default path for everyone.

Just a final note, traditionally all these problems were solved with generational succession within a family. However, this model of succession has been severed in modern society. Leading to a lot of trust issues between people who don't know each other. This perhaps, is the central issue that needs to be resolved - to create a model where the land owners and prospective young farmers can meet each other's needs and expectations with trust.

Specific challenges I see:
1. Value conflict - often the vision for regenerative projects is different between people. A food forest might be the ideal for some, while carbon farming might be for another.
2. Sharing homes - Between people who have not known and lived with each other, being too close to each other is perhaps the easiest source of conflicts. I would maintain a respectful distance between each other's lives unless it's family (adopted or blood).
3. Married to currency - Regenerative farming is a mostly unprofitable business. Privatizing profit and socializing cost is what we are trying to reverse. If any productivity is valued with currency, then there is no hope of moving forward at all. While not to say that a regenerative job has to be a subsidized business, profitability should not be its priority.

acemiller1981@gmail.com's picture
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Posts: 13
Relocate?

I had to move to find the right tax base.  My friends on a ten acres pay less than ten dollars a year.  There is no building code in their county so no residency permit.  Others I Know work part time out of state and do work blitz and get major farm work done.  I started this way.  I want it to be easier.  I know in five years or more both myself and my farming friends will have a number of genetic lines to work with from trees to plants and animals.  I left all that I knew in Montana to do this.  Taxes,lack of rainfall and building codes were the states major short comings.  I'd love to find a way to get you on land and others like you. At this point in time the legal structure to find a way to support the first step is still  out of my reach.  All I can offer is save and choose wisely.  I love the heart you have for doing the work.  There are many I know that moved to another's land and gave too much and had to leave with less than what they came with years later.

Samuel

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