Start a Revolution

Shit is hitting the fan.  The economy is for crap, the population is growing, the oil (which is in EVERYTHiNG) is getting more expensive because we are past Peak, and to compound all this the climate is getting weirder by the year meaning that planning using the past as a guide is more and more difficult.   You can freak out, buy ammo, build a compound in Nevada, and begin down the slow road to becoming a gibbering wastrel talking to the rats.  Or you can Man Up, roll up your sleeves, and make the world a better place.  Think the Baby Boomers were the Greatest Generation?  You ain’t seen nothin yet! Like it or not we have been “born into interesting times” and it is up to us to ensure that we each Be the Change we wish to see for our kids.  The future must be created and built and the gods help those that help themselves. We can do this!

More than anything, I am interested in starting, joining, or invigorating some local Revolutions – things that work on a more macro level 2010 is a critical year – hell, 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.

Rebuilding Community

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.


“The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.” – MLK Jr

8 Responses

  1. Fantastic post! Just found your blog and am loving it. I’m doing something similar with around an acre of land to work with. I’m adding you wonderful blog to my roll and I’ll be back to read often.

  2. Hi, I just found your blog and I love it! I fully agree with your philosophy. This being out of of control feeling bothers me so much. More and more every year. I am so curious to read more of yor writing.
    Do you mind if I add you to my blogroll?
    Greetings from Poland,

  3. Love your blog. We are trying to do our bit here in the north-west of Ireland.

  4. What a great website! I just wanted to share something that I helped to start in Honolulu. =)

    I also want to make sure that your readers are familiar with “Ample Harvest”.


  5. Love what your doing and would like to put you on our Blogroll when we redesign our website. We are gathering the best blogs out there in conjunction with changing the face of home services to green. We will be solidifying in the Bay Area then, growing to LA, Portland, Seattle and then…? Any input you have would be appreciated as we are walking the same path. Great work!

  6. I envy & admire your enthusiasim towards “all” of the tasks & projects you have shared with us in your blog.
    What a good job!
    Look forward to checking in regularly & learning & sharing.

  7. Hi Rob,

    I came across these hackers in Missouri via an article on, and their manifesto reminded me of your vision of cottage industries in the garages of future suburbia. Maintaining some of the technology and labor-saving implements invented in the cheap oil era seems plausible as they lay it out. Who needs Deutz or Kubota to build you a tractor when you can manufacture your own from open source designs?

  8. Nice one.

    Be the Jonses you want to see in the world

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