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Articles in "The Road to Resilience"

In the last few columns, I was talking about how we need to stop seeing ourselves as consumers and start thinking and acting as citizens. Being a good citizen means striving for social, environmental, and economic justice through sustainable activity.

You may remember in the last column that I was saying that building a local economy and becoming more resourceful and resilient will not protect us from the ravages of climate change that we can expect from the present course of global activity.

The global climate pattern we know is a historically stable phenomenon that we take for granted. Huge land, water, and air masses interact with one another in a very finely balanced way to produce the climate patterns that we have counted on for so long.
 

In the last couple columns I’ve dwelt on what’s wrong with our lifestyle and in what ways we need to change, but I didn’t say much about how to get from here to there. You may have thought,

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been noticing a real disconnect between our welfare and that of our "captains of finance". Pundits appear to be truly vexed by the fact that Wall Street prosperity doesn’t spread to the rest of us.

I want to express my appreciation to Steve Allen, editor of the Loop, for giving me this front page space every issue for over two years.

My writings here these past couple years are nothing novel: mostly just reflections of writings that have come my way that have helped me understand what is going on.

I have no intention of claiming the last word on concepts as daunting as Power and Authority, but wish to reflect on them in the light of our desire to participate in and guide our community into the future.  

As we ride over the peak of global oil production, and the threat of climate disturbance approaches, we will need to learn how to live with less and less fossil fuel,

Continuing with the conversation about corporate agriculture from the last article, I’d like to talk about the meat in our diet. I don’t want to get into a discussion so much about the ethics of eating meat per se 

An industrial employee heads out early in the morning, stopping by the local coffee shop outside of Dubuque for a quick breakfast or perhaps an Egg Macmuffin.

Over the past two years, I’ve talked about the need for us to be more self reliant, to relocalize our economy, and relearn valuable forgotten skills.

It’s a new year and time to get to work. With the streak of extreme weather events last year, I’m hoping that we might take climate change a little more seriously. Richard Somerville, a scientist with the International Panel on Climate Change, has stated that although the projections by the panel have tended to be conservative, the implications of climate change are very serious and he regrets that what hasn’t gotten across to the public is “a sense of urgency that, to most scientists, is now very clear.  

We all recognize, if not celebrate, the darkest time of the year and the returning of the light. I think that we clothe it with religious or some sort of spiritual significance to emphasize its natural, temporal nature and to set our sites on the return of light and life.  

It’s Christmas time and, once again, we are being encouraged to mindlessly spend our way out of the recession. Some of us experience anxiety trying to come up with meaningful gifts for a dozen or more people in just a month.

No doubt, you have noticed a bit of conflict here recently. Whether it is over a performance hall, sports fields, rumble strips, the community council, the K2 plant or you name it, we have our plate full. 

Although Hurricane Sandy has given us ample empirical evidence that something extraordinary is happening to the weather, scientists have been reluctant to attribute causation to climate change.

Every so often, I need to explain what exactly we mean by transition and why we are urging you to help bring it about in our community.

I would like to thank Emily MacCrae for the wonderful lead in sentence last issue. It referred to air, water, and soil as the "holy trinity of life." Having talked some about soil as a prelude to The Symphony Of Soil that was shown here recently, I’d like to talk about water.

Soil is the least appreciated aspect of the holy trinity of life on this planet. In fact, soil suffers abuse as well because, unlike air and water, its value to us is not readily apparent. First there’s our common name for it. Dirt is supposed to be on the ground, and when it shows up anywhere else, that place or object is said to be "dirty" and unacceptable until it has been "cleaned". Most of us also know that dirt is a medium in which things grow and that it is made of sand, clay and some black stuff. Dirt holds water and the nutrients we put in it around the roots and supports a plant so it can grow toward the sun. Many of us think that dirt could be replaced by just about anything that has the same general physical characteristics, as hydroponics has shown. 

In past articles, I’ve always stressed the importance of being resourceful. That means being actively and creatively involved in arriving at solutions for all the problems and situations that arise in your personal world. It requires a lot of curiosity about how things work, knowing how to use tools to fabricate things, how to think "outside the box". Buying just the right thing to serve a need or provide a service is the bare minimum. Growing or devising something from your immediate surroundings is better, and making something useful from something that you were about to pay to dispose of may be the best. Sometimes solutions have a simple elegance that is beautiful to behold.

In 2006, we on Vashon had the opportunity to vote on establishing a local Public Utility District (PUD) to finance and manage energy conservation improvements along with local renewable energy production. The lofty goal was to lower our energy needs by two thirds, and to eventually provide all of our power from locally produced renewable energy.

For any number of reasons, most of us are pretty dissatisfied with the status quo, at least outside of our little island paradise. During this election season, we are mostly pointing our fingers at our elected officials at the national level. Whatever the problem, we expect that enacting the right laws and policies will solve it.

There seems to be a consensus among the purveyors of opinion that the failing economy is the most important crisis facing civilization. I tend to think that the availability of water and food rank a bit higher than jobs and discretionary income. I’d like to talk about some factors to consider that affect our personal, community, and global food security. Growing method, farm size and location, and marketing all affect our personal health as well as the health and resilience of our community and ecosystems we rely on to grow food.