Sure I got my resolutions: exercise more, spend more quality time with my family, do more with less. Those will have an immense impact on my life and those I love the most. But in this post, I am really interested in starting some New Year Revolutions – things that work on a more macro level. If you are reading this blog, you get that we have some Big Problems and fate has placed our generation as the one to deal with them. 2010 is a critical year – shit for the next decade they will ALL be critical. Action without purpose is wasted motion, so here are some Revolutions I want to be a part of.
The things that I need to maintain quality of life are made and controlled by people whom I do not know and do not know me. My banker is a corporation. My grocer is a chain. My energy is provided by god knows who. That disconnect equates to a loss of control. I give thousands of dollars a year in interest to a corporate bank that cares nothing for me other than my credit score and my income statement -meaning they will turn on me in an instant. Worse yet, they take that money and use it to fund things that are directly opposed to my value structure. My local grocer sells products based exclusively on profit margins with little regard for impacts to community or ecology. I believe in a future that is better than that. Here are my revolutions:
- Move my Money As much as possible I will seek to shift the power of my money to those that share my value structure. To fund my commercial enterprises I will seek out Slow Money investors so that the profits of my labor profit those that share my values. For better or worse, money is power and I want more control about whom I am empowering and who are empowering me.
- Vote with my dollars. We already do this alot, but convenience still rules the roost too often. Whether its vending machines at work or Culver’s on road trips far too much of my money supports a future I don’t believe in. Polyface Farms recently threw out the challenge that if every American abstained from Fast Food for a week it would shut down every CAFO in the country – we fund the current system and to that degree share in its evils. I want more of my money to promote companies that share my vision for the future and whenever possible are from people I know.
- Food There is simply too little food grown locally, and almost none stored commercially for local consumption. Low Input storage of food crops and promoting the local growth of calorie crops is the next Battle to be won in Slow Food. Romaines and micro greens are great and necessary, but rutabagas and onions in February are where the war will be won.
- Energy. Dear god do we have a long ways to go here. The technologies are known and some progress is being made on electricity with wind and PV becoming more accessible. But liquid fuels are what our built environment is designed for and there is literally nowhere in my entire county where I can buy biodiesel or locally produced ethanol. That is scary as hell. Energy production will be a part of every commercial venture I am a part of going forward.
In many cases the skills to accomplish the goals above simply do not exist locally – either because no one has tried it or we have forgotten how. One Straw is very much about myself and thousands of others working to fill this gap ourselves and even more importantly network and communicate with others to help it go viral. We can’t do it all. I will never be a community banker and I am only a passable welder. But I can grow a potato on a rock. Here are my Reskilling Revolutions:
- Teach Others Doing something new, vital, and innovative is great and necessary, but to teach others to do the same is divine. “Teach a man to fish…” From Gardening 101, to building Hoop Houses, to vermicomposting, to making gasifiers and converting cars to electric it is vital to get more people skilled in the Good Work. Workshops, webinars, tours, and presentations. Get ‘r done.
- Learn Something You can get only so much from books. At some point you need a mentor. Teaching others is critically important, but just as important is finding those that know more than you and learning from them so the oral traditions don’t die. The critical skills like how to hold a hoe, when a jam is thick enough, or how to lay a welding bead simply cannot be taught in books. When you learn something from someone a little bit of magic is created; some people call it respect.
There is far too much work to be done – one person can’t do it all… not even the incredibly Stalwart Do-ers that read this blog. I often lose track of this one in my nose down action oreintated pragmatism. Epic Fail. It takes a village, people! There is a growing trend of “ruggedly individual” survivalists, or “preppers”. A rather terrifying mix of ammunition, gardening, hoarding, and fundamentalist psuedo-religion and half baked patriotism. And I cannot state too emphatically that it is not a solution to the coming calamity. News flash psychos – there will ALWAYS be someone with a bigger gun to come and take your tomatoes. If you are really afraid of the Mad Max scenario being the future, then take a cue from the movie and work to be the community building the refinery and smuggling out the gasoline on the buses. They had children; they had hope. That said, far too many of us don’t know the names of our neighbors, no one carols anymore, and there are not nearly enough potlucks. Rebuilding community Revolutions:
- Join Something. PTA, Theatre Group, Knitting circle. Run for local office. Start a reading group. If it gives you the ability to say “Hello!” to more people at the post office then it qualifies. This is so very important.
- Share Something There are always too many zucchini! Give some Christmas cookies to your neighbors -guess what, next year they will bake some for you. Car Pool – who wouldn’t rather chat with a person rather than a dashboard about the story on Morning Edition? Design shared space into your future – I intend to have cooperative space in the hoop house for energy projects from people I haven’t even met yet. 1+1=3
- Eat Something Churches and our grandparents understood that since time began the simple act of breaking bread together solidifies community. If you get together with others put food into the schedule and bring a dish to pass. Eating creates a space of idleness – a time when it is expected to talk about family, local issues, hopes, and dreams. A time to get to know people. The real business always gets done in the hallways after the meeting and is based on trust relationships. Saving the world is no different.
It all comes down to Resiliency. When the chips are down, we really have very little idea exactly what the next decade will bring. But, to put it mildly, I strongly suspect the weather will continue to get weirder, fuel more expensive, and “the economy” more uncertain. The best way to handle such an uncertain, and likely difficult scenario, is to take the power back from those we have sold it to over the past 5 decades. At this point I want to have my food, goods, and energy come from those I know and trust and live a life more connected to those around me. It will be less convenient, it will “cost more”, and it will involve more labor on my part. But we have sold our future for convenience for far to long and I demand more for my children.
Its time for a Revolution.
Be the Change.