Feb 242010

Lummi Island collectively breathed a sigh of relief when the Whatcom County announced a new deal with the Lummi Tribe to use the Gooseberry Point dock for possibly another fifty years.

Why were we concerned? From late October to February we were faced with the possibility of a threat to the status quo, a change so dramatic that it would have altered life as we know it. We were concerned about transportation and supply, about medical care, about mainland activities, about real estate values and long term mobility. We were concerned about being cut off from the larger world.

The Whatcom Chief is literally our lifeboat. The idea that it could suddenly disappear seems not to have occurred to some people. Realistically, it is a tenuous connection, reliant on the financial health of the County, the willingness of County officials to support it, the motivation of the Tribe to host it and the physical condition of the boat itself. As far as I can tell from reading the excellent material on the Lummi Ferry Forum site by Jim Dickinson, there is no back up vessel for the ferry. If the Chief were to go down from maintenance or for any other conceivable reason we would be right back where we have been for the last three months faced with the harsh fact that Lummi Island is…well…an island.     

The ferry crisis could be/should be a wake up call if we all don’t just relax back into the delusion that every thing will be okay forever. The metaphor of the ferry should shake islanders out of their languor and stimulate us to do some preparation for what many believe is an uncertain future.
A few years ago I learned about the Transition Town movement started in Great Britain by a young man named Rob Hopkins. The Transition Town movement is based on the idea that, in the near future, we will have to learn to get along with less energy because of Peak Oil and Climate Change. In the last year or so “financial crisis” has been added to the motivators for learning how to live more simply and with less. This is actually very optimistic movement, looking forward to a downsized, localized economies and strengthened communities.

This idea has spread across the globe. Whatcom County has an active group which will launch its program this April called The Great Unleashing.

In order to get interested in an idea like “transition” one has to be motivated, positively or negatively, by the comprehension that things could dramatically change as the result of factors outside our control. What happens to us if gas goes to $9 a gallon, for example? Or, if we experience hyperinflation in our financial system? Or, if something unexpected befalls the ferry.

The purpose of this blog is to try to influence the thinking of Lummi Islanders to begin to take steps to prepare for a different future, an unknown future to be sure, but one which results from a crisis which could overwhelm us given lack of preparation.

I personally believe that Peak Oil will be a factor in our future. Though I’m less convinced that Climate Change will be cataclysmic, I’m certain that human activity has a strong and often adverse affect on the environment.

My most current concern is economic. Everything I read (and what I read may be atypical of what you read) leads me to the conclusion that we are in jeopardy of some serious readjustments. The majority of the population pays no attention to this at all. The conventional media reports that we are just in a down cycle, that the housing market will recover and economy will begin to grow again and jobs will be created.

If you are one who thinks this way then I challenge you to take the online Crash Course in economics prepared by a fellow named Chris Martenson. It will take approximately three hours of your time (you can do take it one chapter—ten to fifteen minutes—at a time) and I guarantee it will change the way you look at everything. It will stimulate your interest in the subject of “transition.”

Click to take the Crash Course a series of short, concise, informative videos with lots of easy to understand graphs, charts and statistics and a clear as a bell explanation of keys points. Chris isn’t an economist. He’s a teacher. You will learn some things you don’t know.

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