Sep 262011

(I’m going to ease back into this blogging thing so welcome to my 13 regular readers. You know who you are. I’m flattered that you subscribe).

The idea that our community should take steps to get ready to scale down our lives, become more self-reliant and build local systems to support ourselves is a hard sell. When Costco is stacked high with consumables, when the airport parking lot is full and the freeway is jammed with cars it’s very difficult to conceive that the economy could go off the rails. Living in the Northwest our view probably gets twisted by the apparent prosperity. On the other hand we all know people in the construction trades, for example, who are finding it hard to make a living. We can see the cuts in governmental budgets and school funding. It’s probable that in the next couple of years we will lose our island post office. The island school lost a teacher position. And, it is clear to most that the housing market is taking a terrible beating with an enormous inventory of repossessed homes across the country. The Bellingham Herald reports Whatcom County unemployment at 8.6%.

The mainstream media reports that our current condition is just a blip, a downward cycle, that it’s just a matter of government investing more or spending less (depending on your side of the political spectrum). As a result, the majority feels that things will be okay over time. The down cycle will correct and happy days will come again.

If you are one who believes the shit will be hitting the fan sooner rather than later, there are differences of opinion on how to deal with those outcomes. The survivalist takes an extreme view with a vision of a defensible retreat in a rural area, lots of supplies, a few good friends, weapons and clear fields of fire.

The prepper has water and food saved up but is more hopeful that the streets won’t fill up with pirates and brigands.

The transitionalist tries to motivate a community to take steps to begin working together for economic malaise, energy descent and climate change.

Each of these factions has a following. None of the followings are large. Epiphanies are required. The sad fact is most people don’t have time for an epiphany. They are busy with other stuff. Thus, the readers of this blog and similar blogs or websites are people who are already into it.

One encouraging development on Lummi Island is the response to Disaster Preparedness. Transition planning pretty much takes the elements of Disaster Preparedness (food, water, power, transportation, medical) adds economic considerations and extends it into the future. Clearly, it’s easier to visualize an earthquake, tsunami or winter storm than it is financial collapse or Peak Oil. All of us have experienced an earthquake, a volcanic eruption, flooding or violent weather. Few of us have faced economic devastation or the unavailability of fuel. Hopefully, Disaster Preparedness will motivate more people to take a longer look at the future.

In the meantime, we’ll be preaching to the choir.


  3 Responses to “Preaching to the Choir”

  1. Actually lots of islanders are (quietly) doing lots of things at an individual and community level, from learning how to raise and preserve food, raising livestock, storing and filtering water to disaster preparedness, to reviewing health care, to buying/owning boats that could provide transportation to mainland, buying electric vehicles, participating as emt / voluntary firefighters, working on the cemetary board, home schooling, to developing “alternative” energy (solar, wood, maybe for all I know microhydro), using or developing classical skills from basket-weaving to ironmongery, developing or expanding home/web based businesses, participating in community organizations etc. All that is important. Probably a large ‘sustainability’ choir here on the island than you guess based on the number of Transition LI subscribers — many folks are just singing a more distributed song than shows up here.

    And of course, many people don’t like to read or write much about their activities, or they just cherish every bit of privacy they can.

    Just keep doing what you’re doing, Randy, including here. It’s worth while.

  2. Maybe it is only me that imagines this, but when I think of situations that may befall us which would necessitate more community cooperation to acquire the goods and services of our own doing here on the island needed for living, I imagine many closet preppers and transitionalists appearing and ready to help their neighbors do what it takes to go on living here. The survivalists may keep to their own poised to shoot the hordes of zombies coming to eat their brains, but my bet is that there are only a few of those here (survivalists, not zombies). There was a strain of sentiment on the Ferry Forum recently about not minding if we were a more isolated island, indeed that is what some people were looking for when they moved here. For myself, I looked far and wide to find a liberal minded small town community in which to share a more basic lifestyle with my neighbors. But search as I did, they had all disappeared and had been swallowed up and amalgamated by the tendrils of nearby cities and used as bedroom communities and extended suburbs. This island is essentially a small town enforced by our Hales Passage mote. I enjoy the increased interaction with my neighbors that this encourages. I would actually consider myself more of a homesteader which would easily transition into basic living (growing and preserving ones own food, etc) if the proverbial manure hits the turbine. The type of living required in such a situation were to come about is not easy to switch into if one has not practiced and prepared the required implements. Hence Randy’s desire for others to start now to become at least familiar with the rudiments of such a lifestyle. It is also a safe feeling for those of us who are to know that there are others out there that could take some of the weight of community needs when the time arises. I hope you are right, Wynne, that there are many out there already practicing. It would make the transition a lot easier.

  3. I would agree with Wynne. When I look back a few years, our economy was robust, building on the island was bustling, and few we’re thinking of the train wrecks that were to follow. Our local ferry situation kind of brought everything home for me. “Nothings s Sure Thing”
    I live on an island, have limited financial means, depend on big stores to keep me provisioned, and haven’t really spent much time thinking about Plan B.
    Today, I have a boat, solar cells, wind turbine, spare fuel, alternate food and water supplies, alternate communication facilities, I’m learning to garden and have time to help expand our local resources for others. I’d call that progress. My grandfather would probably call it life as usual (minus the high tech stuff)

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