Peak oil and the ignorance of crowds

crowd looking up

As our civilization proceeds down the slope of the post-peak-oil curve, global trade will become more and more expensive, so our economies will naturally localize. The energy-efficiency benefits of localized economies are obvious to us, but there are also social and even psycho-social benefits that aren’t often contemplated. I had the good fortune to work with respected crowd-behavior expert … [Read more...]

A date with Death, over coffee

coffee cup

“I have an appointment with death this evening,” I explained, smiling to friends upon leaving them. Their startled faces revealed feelings such as fear and a lack of understanding. While living in Mexico, their Day of the Dead became my favorite holiday. I especially liked celebrating it in traditional villages, like Tepotzlan. The whole town seemed to go to the cemetery that night. Morbid? Not … [Read more...]

Wild grapes on the edge

wine grapes on girder

The second in a series about inhabiting and acting in the edge-places of our civilization as crucial for humanity’s passage through these challenging times – and inviting you to share your personal edge-dwelling experiences. Read part one. – Ed. There’s a country path I walk often, near where I live, that borders the edge of a vineyard. There’s a place along this path where some grapevines … [Read more...]

Why the world needs Transition

new economy infographic

There are many approaches to the three main crises threatening civilization today, namely, climate change, peak oil and economic crisis. The problem is that most of them won't work. Weak and cowardly Most responses to these huge problems are too little, too late. For example, even though stimulus (spend more) and austerity (make big cuts) take opposite approaches to fixing the economy, wherever … [Read more...]

So how should I presume?

Shanghai highways

In "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," T.S. Eliot positions the question, “so how should I presume?” front and center. J. Alfred Prufrock was a moody, urban, isolated, yet sensitive thinker. He is stricken with feelings of alienation and an incapability for decisive action that has been said "to epitomize frustration and impotence of the modern individual" and "represent thwarted desires and … [Read more...]

Confessions of an edge-dweller

skyscraper edge

The first in a series about inhabiting and acting in the edge-places of our civilization as crucial for humanity’s passage through these challenging times – and inviting you to share your personal edge-dwelling experiences. -- Ed. I’m an Edge-dweller. It’s not something I signed up for, or studied. It’s simply what I am. Over the past several years, I’ve begun to understand this as a … [Read more...]

2014 In and Out list

mushroom and hand

It's a sacred duty we take up at the beginning of the new year. Donning our psychic caps and tuning in to the Noosphere we delve deep into what really matters in crafting our annual "In and Out" list. And thank G-O-D that we do. Having again viewed what passes for mainstream "In and Out" lists — for example the list in the Washington Post — we can only hang our heads in shame knowing we share … [Read more...]

Dignity in dabbling

basketmaking tools

We offer the following quote from inspired science fiction writer Robert Heinlein for all you DIY generalists out there. A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new … [Read more...]

The permaculture gardener: year-end wrap up

garden bench in fall

November has been quirky: it started warm, then got quite cold and windy, followed by falling leaves, brilliant blue skies, then heavy clouds, even snow. Did I leave anything out? Then, of course, there’s the raking that accompanies the falling leaves. At this point I’d say I’m the only person in my neighborhood who still uses a rake to move leaves around; everyone else uses a leaf blower. The … [Read more...]

Against the specialist, the expert and the technocrat

technology is a given

In these days of ecological overshoot, about the only experts I can abide are climate scientists. Without the facts we get from scientists, what would we say to climate science deniers? So I'm glad to see more climate scientists step out of the ivory tower in the world's hour of need. But sometimes I wish even climate brainiacs would stick to their labs and leave public policy … [Read more...]