The time for action

Clothes pins

Sure, technology will “save us.” It’s just likely to look more like a clothes pin and less like a cold fusion reactor. Time to get with the program. Photo: Monica Arellano-Ongpin via Flickr.

I don’t meet many people these days who still think that “things are fine” with the US economy — or that “recovery is right around the corner.” The light-bulbs are coming on for people and they’re beginning to realize that the current state of affairs is, as David Wann says, The New Normal. The Emperor really has no clothes. We’ve consumed our way past peak resources and the descent has begun.

On the other hand, I don’t meet many people who do much more about this than merely talk! I hear a lot of “oh, ain’t it awful” sagas without much accompanying action. And, frankly, the only thing that’s really going to move us into a more secure future is action.

The time for talking is over. We need to take action while we still have some choices left.

We can decide to make the descent in a controlled way, beginning now, or to cling to our current lifestyles and wait for the inevitable entropic free-fall. What we need to know to get by in a disintegrating industrial society is radically different from what we have needed to know to shop in malls, eat out, outsource our child-care, buy pre-packaged processed food and work out in a gym.

Additionally, many of the requirements of an age of decline come with prolonged learning curves and a high price for failure. Starting right away to re-skill to navigate a de-industrializing society offers the best hope of getting through the difficult years ahead with some degree of dignity and grace.

Action Jackson

Action is simple enough:  figure out how you will be able to live after the next wave of crisis hits, and to the extent that you can, start living that way now:

  • Figure out how you will get by if your job goes away or down-sizes, and you have to make do on much less money; downsize
  • Get out of debt—all of it. Make paying off student loans, car loans, mortgages, and credit card balances a #1 priority
  • Re-skill. Learn to do all of the things that your Grandparents did as a matter of course.

If you need some ideas for how to gain traditional skills start with these easy basics:

  • Learn to grind wheat-berries into flour and bake bread.
  • Learn to cook and bake from scratch.
  • Use your clothesline instead of a dryer.
  • Learn to can vegetables and fruits.
  • Begin sun-drying herbs for teas and tinctures.
  • Learn jelly-making.
  • Learn how to care for livestock beginning with keeping laying hens.
  • Plant a garden and learn to care for it.

To begin altering some of the things you’re used to in modern, industrial life, and try on some of the new ideas circulating out there by trying these easy changes of habit:

  • Consolidate errands to reduce transportation needs.
  • Get to know your neighbors and begin to help one another — form support networks.
  • Develop barter and trade networks. Create or utilize an area Time Bank.
  • Spend less money. Stop buying stuff!
  • Start a compost bin and utilize your kitchen scraps and other waste.
  • Get fit so that you can bicycle or walk to local destinations.
  • Learn to do home repairs and have supplies and tools on hand.

It’s not sufficient to read and talk about this stuff. Experience is the ultimate teacher. We learn from our mistakes and it’s a whole lot smarter to make those mistakes when the stakes aren’t quite as high as they will be when the free-fall begins. Right now, if your garden fails, you can still go to the market. That option might not be as readily available in post-industrialism.

Ultimately, actions speak louder than words!

–Sherry L. Ackerman, Ph.D., Transition Voice

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  1. W. R. Flynn says

    A concise and timely reminder for all. One of the best energy savers for the home is to unplug the clothes dryer and never use it again. Use a folding rack, of which there are dozens of styles from which to choose. Even bed sheets dry on a small rack by draping them over it one at a time.

    The little things we do really add up, not only by cutting back on needless consumption but by creating a less wasteful pattern of thinking which is nicely contagious.

  2. Anna says

    The recent electricity outages in our area have really focused our attention to these things. We were without electricity for 5 days. Now we have an action plan and “things to get” list to be better prepared the next time!

    • says

      I thought the exact same thing, Anna, especially as folks in our town who’ve been without power for days have had to throw out spoiled food. Imagine if you had a freezer in the basement filled with provisions to increase your family’s resilience. You’d have to start over from scratch.

  3. John Andersen says

    Get out of the car.

    We’ve been car-free since June 2011. Our transportation is now buses, light rail, bicycles, and walking.
    Many people, particularly those who live in neighborhoods with high walkscores (over 75), could do the same.

    Being car-free is a great way to get in shape by the way, not to mention reality is dictating this as the future for many of us.

    The fitness you gain by getting around under your own steam will go far in giving you the stamina to do other essential things like growing food in gardens.

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