Tag Archive: resilience



Shaun Chamberlain, the Brit with the best darn title for a post-industrial blog on the whole darn internet, Dark Optimism, has an important reminder for anyone who thinks that sitting this one out is an option.

We cannot not change the world, whatever any of us choose to do. And as we change it, it changes us. And as it changes us, we change it. We Are All Activists.

Since there’s clearly no use in avoiding it, we might as well examine the options and get proactive with our activism. So here’s Dimitri Orlov on the roads most often traveled to “change”:

Any reform of a complex system, such as our existing one, involves further investment in social complexity through a wide variety of costly initiatives. And here’s the problem: there is no longer either the money or the energy for such initiatives. The default is to just let it collapse, but such an outlook, perfectly reasonable though it is, is generally not regarded as optimistic enough.

During the sustainability movement of the 1970s, optimistic, reform-minded expositions seemed useful; now they are starting to seem like compulsive anxiety coping behaviors: knock three times on wood, throw a pinch of salt over the left shoulder, mention sustainability and renewables.

So where does this leave us? I agree with Orlov on both counts. None of those approaches, incremental change without systemic change, nihilism or blind faith, seem to be producing any results.

If you do believe that there is something decidedly off about our system, what are you supposed to do about it. Emotional responses like fist pounding, ranting and chanting, are often unavoidable, and equally unproductive.

The Net Positive path offers up “Forced Obsolescence” as a profoundly simple yet effective alternative. The idea is to find ways to just Go Around the flailing behemoth of the terminally ill Industrialized-Globalized model of society. Leave them behind as you transition your own life without “asking permission” by wasting time on policy change.

The major problem with expending your energy working for policy change, is that it requires a fair and functional democracy to have an impact or even happen. Between campaigns that cost a billion dollars, $3.5 billion in lobbying last year alone, problematic electronic voting machines, corporations considered people under the law that use cash as their “free speech”, and a disinterested, anesthetized populous, democracy is becoming a fading memory at all but the most local level in this country.

Therein lies the problem and the solution. We still have our local communities, bastions of resilience in a world run amok. It is here that we can take our stand and walk right past the corporatocracy. It will require an open mind, a willingness to see change as a scenario where things improve rather than one of loss. It will require us to back away from our screens once in a while and actually interact with each other, on the ground, in the flesh, at the town hall or the farmers market. Forced Obsolescence means voluntarily relinquishing our addictions to the unsustainable outputs of our industrialized production model in order to make them disappear.

But we won’t even really see them disappear. We’ll already be facing forward, partnering with each other, walking into the human-scale future of our own design. We’ve done it before!

Take the “vote-with-your-$$” to the next level and vote with your life. And don’t waste too much time worrying about whether your own little choices in your own little life really even matter to the giant problems of the world. Not only are they effective, they are the only thing in the world you can actually control.

Sometimes it’s a lot easier to oppose injustice by signing a petition, screaming your head off at a rally, or otherwise bemoaning the horrible atrocities perpetrated by banks, corporations and governments every day than it is to change something, anything in your own life.

Don’t forget that there is no such thing as a passive, Net Neutral life. Every activity equates to an energy transaction with the world at large. Your very existence has an effect on the world whether you agree or not. So if you’re not helping the situation, you are by definition hurting it. It is the height of hypocrisy to practice arm-chair activism, preach to your friends and whine to your lover if you’re not willing to stop contributing to injustice with your own lifestyle choices. But if you’re not willing to translate your feelings, values, hopes and fears into actions, you need to question whether they really truly matter to you at all.

That’ll be the Day

Who are you calling a dying city Newsweek?

Couldn’t be Grand Rapids Michigan! These guys were none too pleased to be included in a recent Newsweek piece on the bleakest cities in the land and decided to send a message to the media giant and their fellow Americans. Their medium of choice? A 9 minute, $40,000 music video set to “American Pie” featuring more than 5,000 of their citizens and a production that all but shut down downtown.

With almost 3,000,000 views on youtube as of this posting, it looks like they’re having no trouble showing the world how un-dead they really are. And really, it’s an important reminder that media outlets are in it to generate a profit like any other business. Bad news sells, even if it isn’t always the whole truth. Aren’t things tough enough without inventing more reasons to keep us up at night Newsweek?

Down but not Out! From Grand Rapids to America to the World!

A phoenix from the ashes.

She’s an anthropologist who examined the intersection between culture and behavior, a study that’s only become more crucial as time has gone on. Although she has many choice words of inspiration for us, one in particular stuck out as something that must be said and understood more often by everyone on a Net Positive path. The end of the current form of civilization we have been experimenting with is only that. It does not signal the end for man kind but a new beginning.

Even though the ship may go down, the journey goes on.

photo: lawntea.blogspot.com

And did I mention that it’s all free and available to download immediately! The one caveat is the usual, give us your email address and we’ll give you the world. In this case it would appear to be worth it. This is an absolute treasure trove of information on all things self-sufficient and anyone with even a whiff of an interest in creating a homestead capable of providing something more than a yard needs to check this out.

It’s both the overview and the specific. There are one to five page briefs and checklists on a range of subjects from animal husbandry, gardening, and alternative power to blacksmithing, home brewing (complete with a few tempting recipes) and beekeeping. There are immense encyclopedic reference on disciplines like herbal healing and home wine-making. And then there’s the dozens of other reference books.

With these texts alone (and their extensive accompanying diagrams and plans) you could just about have a complete homestead up and running and absolutely off the grid. I haven’t explored too much farther into the site yet, but it looks like there’s also a forum and store. They are based in Australia though, so shipping stateside might be prohibitive.

Do it for security or do it for fun, but get outside and greet the spring armed with one (or ten) of these plans and give yourself the gift of a resilient garden, a productive beehive, a new chicken coop, a hydro-electric power generator, a windmill, a composting toilet, a goat fence, a new shed……….

photo from eartheasy.com


I can’t really explain it. Ever since my husband woke me with the news about Japan’s earthquake and tsunami on March 11th, I’ve had this nagging feeling of optimism for them. Even as I hang on every update about the Fukushima disaster still waiting to happen and mourn the tens of thousands of lives lost, I can’t help feeling that Japan may be down but is by no means out.

I’ve visited Japan only once; a two-week adventure covering an incredible swath of the country from Tokyo south all the way to the little island of Yakushima. I never saw the area most deeply affected by the tragedy of almost a month ago, but I did get a beautiful window into the world of people living half a world away from me. It was my husband’s brother that made all the difference for us. Having studied Japanese and lived in Nagoya teaching English for three years, he’s as fluent as we could have hoped for in a travel companion. With him by our sides, we were able to journey well off the beaten path to places where not a word of English was heard.

Despite the fact that I often felt like a Martian under the curious gaze of so many of the Japanese, it was the communion of their spirits that came across most vividly. A collaboration that was plain to see even as they went about their individual business. The shared understanding that the Whole they were each a member of was infinitely important and to be safeguarded at all costs. Protecting and perpetuating their chosen society manifested itself all the way through their lives from the minutia of daily decisions to the shape of towns and cities, from their passion for innovation and imagination to the creativity springing forth everywhere you looked.

I was moved by what I experienced in Japan. The things that I couldn’t take a picture of have stayed with me and it was that part of Japan that spoke to me on March 11th. It was a chorus of spirits rising to the challenge at hand together, a steadfast solidarity not shaken by any earthquake.

And that is why I can’t help but feel a little hopeful for our brothers and sisters in Japan despite the unimaginable suffering still taking place.

Beyond the immediate crisis, Japan has become an incredible learning opportunity for their first world neighbors. We have all become so heavily dependent on a global supply chain and the hyper specialization that comes with it, the centralized power supply system and huge energy demands of our modern industrialized paradigm, and the centralized food supply. All of which make us less secure, with or without an environmental catastrophe. The fact is, the kind of dependence on fossil fuels and centralized generation of all our basic necessities that we have come to accept as normal and even desirable is actually a major threat to our stability, security and ability to evolve and innovate into the future.

And here’s where Japan becomes an extraordinary lesson for us all. As the rebuilding and reorganizing progress, we will all be witness to the first example of a modern first world nation operating on significantly less energy in history. Their loss of refineries, power plants, and infrastructure make that inevitable. Their impact on the global supply chain and its intrinsic comment on the stability of globalization will be another learning opportunity. Our globalized paradigm is getting its first report card and it’s not going to be straight A’s this time.

An article in the Guardian explores this subject thoughtfully.

Here are some of the most relevant and informative updates and commentaries on the still unfolding crisis in Japan.
Chris Martenson on Japan’s effect on the global economy
The Oil Drum – status and prognosis of Fukushima

Quake to force shutdown of all US Toyota plants
Latest Satellite Images from Fukushima
Stoneleigh on Fukushima

photo by www.sciencereflections.com