I have lived in Massachusetts all my life but I am still surprised by the first flakes of snow. I never feel quite as ready as I should be. Phoebe’s hat is still among the missing; I haven’t tried her boots on yet, that sort of thing. Actually, I have many other hats and a good selection of boots. I just can’t be sure that they will all match. Not that Phoebe (or anyone else) will care but  it does bother me to know I have put something off.

I received a post from a new reader asking how I get to take so many classes in such a small town. I thought I would put in a step by step guide of how we got where we are here.

Step one: The commonality

For us, it was a series of movies. We watched The End of Suburbia first, then several others that had to do with energy depletion, the growing concern over GMO’s and our fragile food system and climate change. The first films were hosted by our town’s only grocery store/food co-op/deli. A similar event could be a book club hosted by a church group or neighborhood association. It needs to be well promoted and there has to be food.

Step two:

 Set up a time for follow-up discussions. This does not have to include a lot of people but you do need enough to get something going. Ten people is a good start.

Step three: Know thyself.

 Our particular bunch of participants was predictably independent. We never did get into a real structure. There were no rules except to be polite and we broke that one pretty often. Your group may prefer a structure. Groups, like people, have personalities and what works for one might not work for others.

Step four: Work.

 This is where the classes came in. We did not want to just  talk; We wanted to prepare to live in an energy constrained world so we planned events like an alternative energy tour where we visited the homes of people using alternative energy so we could see what was possible. We knew we all had a lot to learn and we wanted to stay away from paying for things so we looked into our own numbers to see who knew what and who was willing to share a skill. We had classes on raising chickens, making cheese, growing mushrooms and pruning fruit trees. We still have learning opportunities and they are always well attended.

Step five: Allow the group to evolve.

 Some of us were more interested in energy, some in food, some in environmental issues. There is a lot of crossover but nobody is stuck doing things that just don’t work for them. We still do a monthly check in but there are a 1/2 dozen other groups of people meeting more or less often.

With this kind of loose structure, we found out what we needed to know and researched until we found someone to teach us. I don’t know how it is where you live but around here, nearly every town has some functioning body addressing the challenges facing us. There is a huge pool of talent out there. You job is to tap into it.

I think a lot of us are reluctant to put one more thing on our schedules. I get that but for me, preparing for an uncertain future is a priority. I can’t think of anything more important. Whatever you call yourselves, transition, relocalization or sustainability groups, communities, families, clans or tribes, we need each others skills and talents. There is much to learn and much to teach.