Sunday, October 22, 2006

with hope

I have been dismayed at the state of our world. I feel that we will soon be seeing a new world - much different than what we are accustomed to living in. Climate change and peak oil being some of the causes. Our clean water supply is dwindling, our food sources are 2000 miles away, and our temperature is getting hotter and/or more extreme, and an economic depression is predicted. So many of us are simply oblivious to the events of the world around us. It truly frightens me.

We have a neighbor who was very interested in converting a car to run on vegetable oil (as we have). Well, now that oil prices are "going down" he does not see the point in doing so. Wow. There are so many people who don't "see the point" in making changes. Is it too difficult?

What brings me hope is that there are a growing number of people like me - who have woken up to the dangers around us and are choosing to make changes that we can. I read blogs written by people who are not satisfied with living the status quo and are choosing simpler lives. These people are choosing to eat locally, organically, grow their own, go without, not drive, compost, etc. I hope that an ever increasing number of people realize that we cannot continue living like we have been.

My spouse and I have been making changes and saving money in order to change our lives.

Just a few of our goals:

  • pay off house (no debt and always have a place to live). All of the income J brings home goes toward this.
  • in 2-3 years, buy a house or land up north (with enough land to grow our own).
  • learn skills that will be useful in any situation (food growing, preservation, seed saving, water collecting, soap making, spinning, chickens, cheese making)
  • significantly reduce our footprint in as many other ways as possible (solar, wind, rain barrels, etc)
Sometimes I feel odd that we are making changes specifically due to global changes, however, when I think about it further, I realize that the changes we are making are sustainable changes. These are changes which are better for our environment and are better for our family.

Are you concerned about our global future? Are you making changes in your own life in response to possible changes?


Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

We should all be very concerned about whether the globe as a whole is headed and the US within it. Dan and I are not making changes at nearly the pace your family has managed, but I am thinking through things and working at them as I can. I hope our rate of change will be enough.

If more people were just THINKING THIS WAY, just thinking about it, I think that would be such a huge shift. And I think that shift has started for some people, but enough people? I don't know. My boss says I am going to beat frugality and simplicity into our homeowners's heads whether they like it or not; every newsletter I put out (they go out once a month) has at least one article on these topics.

Anyway, you're certainly admirable in your changes, and maybe you can start holding camps for the rest of us to quickly learn hands-on what you've spent your time figuring out! :)

M said...

Yes, I'm extremely concerned about our global future. I've noticed alternative energy sources, global warming, and organics popping up in the mainstream news more and more. I've told a few people of the changes we are starting to make. Some people are genuinely interested but others just nod, try to muster a small smile and change the subject.
We are also trying to pay off debt and reduce our dependency & consumption of gas. There are so many things I would like to do and these changes take time as much as I'd like to do it all at once.
The changes you and your family are making are remarkable and very inspiring.

teripittman said...

A lot of it is presentation. I used to preach this on the Peak Oil list. If you want to convert people to your point of view, then you need to consider how you PRESENT your point of view. Personally, I don't think converting your car to run on waste cooking oil is a great idea. What happens when there is demand for that waste oil and it's no longer free?

The other thing to consider is that some of these "doom and gloom" scenarios have been wrong. Consider the population bomb warnings of the 1970s. They were clearly wrong. Populations are dropping in many countries and there is now discussion of what happens when you have an ageing population and no young people.

My thinking is to ignore the news as much as possible. Reduce your consumption and learn new skills because that is a sustainable way to live and a satisfying way to live. Let your lifestyle be an example. Learn how to discuss these things without insisting that someone buy into your opinions. Learn how to talk with people that you disagree with on other issues. Let people know that living frugally, buying locally, and staying out of debt is the way that Americans used to live.

littlejennywren said...

I admire what you are doing. We live in suburbia on 1/3 of an acre and we try to live as sustainably as we can. We haven't changed to bio fuel but we use our car as little as possible,using leg power,bicycle and public transport whenever possible. We grow as much fruit and vegetables as we can and keep chickens for eggs. I try to buy locally grown produce but as we live on an island some foodstuffs do come from further away than 100 miles but I am trying to limit this.
I sew and knit some of our clothes and mostly use the stash of materials that I have collected over the years. We use wood to heat our home plus electricity for cooking. This is produced through a hydro-electric scheme so is clean energy. We have few electrical gadgets but those we have were purchased with energy efficiency in mind.
We have retro insulated our 1930s home to cut our heating needs and do not use air conditioning to keep our home cool in summer.
Our car is second hand and only the second car we have owned in our 20 year marriage. Whenever possible we buy second hand and my husband is a very good self taught fix-it man.
We cook from scratch and rarely (almost never) eat out or buy take-away food.
We try to live as frugally and happily as possible and I think our standard of living is good. I don't work outside of the home, my husband works fulltime and we have three children,all school age. Sometimes money is a bit tight but that just leads to greater creativity to solve any money related problems.
I hope we are teaching our children to be self reliant and inventive. It certainly makes life an interesting journey.

BurdockBoy said...

There is definitely a reason to be concerned about our future, but I also believe that it is not hopeless. Most of the people leaving comments on this blog and others have an awareness for a better future and good ideas for getting there. Hopefully the mainstream culture will also begin to live a more modest existance. The more we get the word out (Emme, through your class-Sally through her news letter, others by example) the more living with less will be accepted.

Liz said...

I am definitely concerned about the future, and I used to write about it, get stressed and frustrated when others didn't see that we're headed for troubles.

Lately, though, I've been shifting to a "live by example" philosophy, and hope that I can encourage others to make small changes in their lives.

I tend to believe that people like us are "right too soon" and eventually others will catch up. Of course, they'll give us no credit for paving the way, but I guess that's just the way it goes. :)

Andy in San Diego said...

I have two little girls, 4 and 6, so, yes, I am very concerned. I am really glad to hear about others who are setting an example (a real example, not like Al Gore's) and getting the word out (OK, Gore's good at that part). I have hope, mostly because of you all who share your experiences and wisdom and just the fact that you are concerned and making changes. But I fear that not enough people will make enough changes, but then, something will happen, and people will have to make changes eventually.

As you said, the changes you are making, some of which we are making, are good even if we have all the oil we need and global warming doesn't exist (and, of course, we don't, and it does).

My changes:
Less driving, more biking and public transit.
Energy conservation at home.
More reading (library books), less TV.
Gardening (with as my idols).
More home cooking, more cooking from scratch, buying in bulk, less meat.
Starting to compost.
Buying local.
And more.

I'm trying not to make radical changes that I stop as quickly as I start. Instead I am ramping up slowly, testing my own limits and those of the people around me. And I'm really enjoying it.