For me, saving the world (or surviving it?) means I need Damn Good Boots. These boots were a gift from a very good friend. That friend has served two tours in Iraq, and may serve one more in Afganistan before he’s done. These boots have seen the desert and the Hell of War. I am very sure I do not want to know all they have seen. Now, they stop rotary plow blades when I misstep in exhaustion, and have saved my ankles more times than I can count when jumping over goose fencing or dropping plate steel when welding on the gasifier. I wear these boots with pride. And I wear them with purpose. We too are serving our country, though no one ordered us to.
At heart I am a “direct actionist”. I see problems, and I take action. That action *might* be doing research, but in cases like reading the JOE report, the RSCH portion lasts for a day, then my version of fight or flight kicks in and I Get Busy. Much of this blog has been the results of that tendency. For me the best antidote for despair is action. I need to DO something. When life gives me lemons, I build a gasifier to power a refrigerator to cool the lemonade.
We are facing some monumental problems. Oil is going to get wicked expensive soon, I believe we have already crossed tipping points in climate change that will make 3-4 degrees impossible to avoid, and our population as a planet will hit 8 billion before we have any chance to turn it around. More mouths, no more cheap energy, and unpredictable weather. That is a crazy tough backdrop for designing a transitional civilization model.
My answers are not easy. They involve building efficiency loops into biologically linked systems to turn waste into vegetables, animal protein, fertilizers, space heating, electricity and transportable fuels such as methane and ethanol. Let me say this again – these answers are not easy. Look at the picture at the top of the page – those are $20 leather gloves with the palms worn out; they are less than 6 months old. I work 8 hours a day, 4 days a week on Being the Change, then come home to read and write and learn about how to do it better the next day. There are thousands like me. And we need hundreds of thousands more.
My parent’s generation were activists – the marched and rallied and boycotted. Our generation needs to be actionists. No one is going to legislate these problems away – Congress is a quagmire. And while government will have an absolutely vital role to play, they need to know WHAT to do. I applied for Stimulus funding in 2009. We never officially got turned down – in fact we made it through 4 hurdles before getting parked. What my boots and I are doing is building my version of one of the solutions. I want to build a Proof of Concept; to take all these ideas off the goddamn drawing board and show what can truly be done on 5 acres. And then make it scaleable up and down so that it can be repeated all over this country so that we can heal the land while supporting our families. And that is going to take a shit ton of work.
None of my heroes wore suits and none of my heroes were executives. But they all got busy Being the Change. Its not only ok to be geeky and to get your hands dirty – its the only way. Look at Thoreau. Look at Holmgren. Shepard, Salatin, Fukuoka. Hard work isn’t enough; nor is theory. The solutions are in applied theory. Being the Change means doing it. There is SO MUCH that needs to be done: slow money, cooperative business structures, joint capital ownership, regional / local distribution networks, district biomass heating, changing school curriculums to reflect reality, getting healthy again, and so many more. It makes ones head whirl. I am just one man and I have chosen my path. There are so many others.
We need you. My kids need you.
Strap on your boots.
Be the Change!