get involved


It is easy to get a down sometimes. The unemployment figures paint a much bleaker picture than the stock market does. The rest of the news yesterday was so grim. It seems like there is just so much anger and grief in the world. But there are bright spots too. I found a couple yesterday. The first was from Bill McKibben. He spoke at a local college two nights ago on the subject of climate change and global warming. Please check out 350.org. This was coupled with a post from Charles Hughes Smith at oftowminds. The piece to find is called survival-4. He wrote about the Remnant and the Parrot Principle. The thrust of the essay is that there is a tipping point where, if a given number of people, in this case 8.8 million, head in a certain direction, they will be unstoppable. The math was a little shaky for me but here is what I took from it. If each of us out in the world who is growing food, watching our carbon footprint, doing the right thing can encourage others to joins us, through our blogs or or conversations or our example, we will become part of a movement. It will grow and grow until it becomes an unstoppable force. We will lead and others will follow. I have to hope there is still time to fix this mess.

I do not want to become immobilized by the scope of the problems we face. I want to continue to get up each day, put my feet on the floor and do what I can do to make things better. I refuse to believe that it doesn’t matter, that I don’t matter, that my children don’t matter.

Yesterday, I picked up some groceries and realized I had forgotten my shopping bags. I felt terrible but I just can’t dwell on it. I have to go out today and make up for it by a positive action. Here is my action of the morning. Could all of you who read this blog give one friend who uses plastic bags a hand made grocery bag? I am going to sew today and give my sister some bags on Monday. Maybe she will mention it to a friend who will make a bag too.

May the Force be with you.

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After this winter’s ice storm, my community decided to meet to form a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). This a team of community members trained by FEMA to respond to emergencies until state and federal teams arrive. After reviewing the procedures and demands required to become certified, we decided to forgo the acronym and design our own team with our own strengths and needs in mind.

Decisions like this give me hope for the future. We are so used to giving up our power for the mantle of protection offered by some governmental agency or other. Fearful people can  behave like children, looking for the direction and aproval of an adult before making a move. The problem with behaving like a child is that one is then invariably treated like a child. I know of too many cases of hearing those infamous words, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”, and all of the sudden someone is telling you where to go and when to go there. There is some help I would rather do without.

Our little commitee designed a short survey so we will know who lives where and is likely to need help in a crisis. We will know who is elderly or alone or disabled. We have a couple of people in town who rely on grid powered equipment for medical reasons and we have put a plan in place to deliver generators to those folks. We also set up a community shelter plan along with a plan to check on people who might need transportation. We made a water plan and a food and cooking plan, a sanitation plan and a communication plan. No one who doesn’t want to participate would be required to. You’d be surprised how quickly this plan was put together when we didn’t have imposed standards and rule to abide by.

The past decade has brought many folks to the realization that the government may not always have our best interests at heart. It may not always know what’s best for any one group of people and it certainly does not have all the answers. Heck-it doesn’t even have the right questions. Every time you have the chance to look out for yourself and the people you love, grab it. Every time you can learn something, grow something, rise to a challenge, face a fear, do-it-yourself or take a stand, it behooves you to see it as a gift and an opportunity. Read some history. Remember our roots.

I have been doing my morning internet news read and I don’t feel good about it. I keep reading about another year, another two years, maybe another ten years of pain and recession. What I don’t hear, except from a few like Sharon Astyk,Dmitry Orlov and James Kunstler is that this is not about a time line. This is about a shift in the way we will live forever. The bills will come due and we have no money to pay them with. We will need oil to fund massive infrastructure repair and that will take peak oil off the back burner and set it right on the kitchen table. The auto industry isn’t coming back, not looking anything like the old Detroit at any rate. We can’t spend our way out of this any more than a bankrupt family can spend their way out of homelessness. It is time to face this new paradigm and get to work making a life in it. Start today.

If you haven’t ever grown food, start today. Go to the library and take out a few good gardening books. If you don’t have land, check out your faith based community, your local government, your homeowner’s association and find some empty space to reclaim for food. Pull out the ornamentals and plant perennial food plants. Join a Church, even if you are not a believer. The church model holds the most hope for a working system of support. Get involved in your local government, volunteer fire department or school system. Buddy buy when you shop. Get two of something and put one away. Get an energy audit on your home. Consider doubling  up with another family to save on expenses if things get very tough. Get healthy.

A few years ago I took a serious fall. I broke my hip and shattered my elbow. I spent several days in the hospital and during that stretch, I had a constant stream of visitors. Family, friends, neighbors, church members came in droves. They phone rang constantly. Flowers and books arrived. The woman who shared my room was so unwell and had only one visitor. She got a few phone calls and it was clear from her end of the conversation that her life was like something out of a Jerry Springer show. I apologized after everyone left for the chaos. She looked at me with tears in her eyes. “I never knew anyone could be so loved”, she said.

Find love. I don’t mean this in a touchy, feely kind of way. I mean it in a concrete way. Lend a hand. Reconnect with your extended family. Learn to enjoy this different life. We are going to need each other in the coming dark days. Don’t let fear win.