Building a resilient homestead of your own

rice paddies

“Imagine inheriting a food forest,” farmer and author Ben Falk suggests in The Resilient Farm and Homestead: an Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach. And although Falk does eventually go on to describe exactly how one would go about creating a low-maintenance, edible forest garden, the idea he poses ignites a greater question – what does it mean to leave a legacy and what … [Read more...]

And then what? How shall I live my life?

flowers on snow

And then what? As Garrett Hardin pointed out long before his death a decade ago, that’s the ecologically relevant question. Anybody interested in individual or societal action must be willing to answer this question. With respect to ongoing depletion of fossil fuels, any response to Hardin’s question must include the matter of scale. Individuals are able to abandon fossil fuels before they … [Read more...]

Radical homemakers


Confucius said that the health of a nation could be determined by the integrity of its homes. If we apply that standard, we’re in trouble. Culturally, most Americans don’t even have homes anymore. They have houses, not homes. Homes are something that are made, not bought. And, homes, thus, require homemakers. That’s right, plural: homemakers. I'm not talking about just women. And, I'm not … [Read more...]

Climate change: Obama needs to turn talk into action


Something's been troubling me ever since I listened to President Obama's first post-reëlection press conference. Perhaps as a result of Hurricane Sandy, the now two-term president was finally asked a question about global warming, a topic conveniently avoided by both sides throughout the seemingly interminable campaign. The question came from New York Times White House correspondent Mark … [Read more...]

Everyman’s journey

Pilgrim couple

We're re-running this popular piece from the first year of Transition Voice. Pilgrim's Progress: From This World to That Which Is To Come A Survival Sampler "So, can I ask you a personal question? What do YOU call this whole thing, whatever it is, that's gonna happen?"  I posed this to a man I had just met and who happens to be the largest supplier on the East Coast of long-term food … [Read more...]

A blanket on every chair

Beg Bicycles Blanket

Time was when Americans used to be frugal. We took great pride in not being wasteful, and taking nothing for granted. Perhaps our pioneering roots and turns into economic depression left a lasting impression on us concerning the relationship between effort and reward. Perhaps that alone caused us to consider more deeply the cost of things — whether with our own labor, or in paying for things … [Read more...]

Ten low-tech responses to storms and emergencies

Woman on bike in rain

We live in a world dependent on electricity and we forget that being dependent on something — however wonderful that thing is — makes you vulnerable. Even getting a back-up generator isn't a painless solution for household resilience. A medium-size generator can cost $50 or more per day in fuel to run. And just hope that your local gas stations don't lose power or sell out to panic buyers … [Read more...]

Getting my pilot’s license

A Letterpress Bike

Ever since we first got together my husband and I have talked about how to respond to one of our key shared interests — peak oil. For us this means, first of all, a conservation-minded approach to life — using less energy, wasting less, and relying on reusable materials such as hankies and eco-cups, carrying our own grocery bags, and growing much of our own food and cooking it ourselves. But … [Read more...]

Homemade Halloween


We're running this piece from 2010 again in celebration of the upcoming Halloween. One of my worst parenting memories happened when I took my daughters trick-or-treating on the vaunted Lawn of the University of Virginia campus one year. The girls were about six and four at the time, and the picturesque associations of the annual UVa. Halloween tradition conjured up by friends made it … [Read more...]

Yes, you can brew kombucha

Kombucha brewing

I live a pretty spartan existence. Our family doesn't live high on the hog, always out shopping or dining at the most expensive places. We don't vacation much, and when we do, it's all about going local — Virginia inns, wineries, and natural and historic sites. Basically, I'm pretty frugal, do many things DIY style, and otherwise am so into conservation that I don't want to buy much … [Read more...]