There are multiple reasons, which we're touched on before, and will return to. The specter of peak oil, the useful pleasure of learning practical skills, the aesthetics of homegrown food and wood-burning fires: yes, these and more fed into our decision to build an outpost of the 19th century in the 21st.
Here's another one: fear of the economic future. As John Robb starkly warns in a WELL discussion,
I think most of the folks reading this are missing the elephant in the room on resilience. Simply: we are in the first stage of a global economic depression. That's the event that is going to frame your life for the next couple of decades.Now, economic forecasting is famously tricky, and even dubious in light of the 2008 crash (largely unanticipated by academic macroeconomists and the lords of finance). So we cope by opting for continuous research and speculative scenario analysis.
Research: we've been reading and reflecting like mad. Books, podcasts, Web sites, blogs; economists and analysts: just about everything except tv news. We aim to attend to multiple perspectives, left and right, divergent economic schools, quantitative and qualitative methods. And, social media style, we push out our thoughts to the world in order to learn more, via Facebook, in email, Twitter, Google+.
Scenarios: it's traditional to generate three futures across a spectrum of desireability, one happier than the present, one unpleasant, and one which looks like more of the same. So the third option for the near-to-medium-term future looks like Japan's lost decade, a grinding, ongoing recession. What about the first option, the better outcome story? We can imagine a minor recovery ahead, maybe driven by health care's steady growth, or a surprising technology boom (say, nanotech).
The negative scenario tactic we see is one where things keeping getting worse, which would mean that the present Great Recession deepens into depression, as Robb lays out. Depressed employment and consumer spending keeps businesses from expanding, which leads to shrinkage over time. Financial crises continue to shock the world, such as the one unfolding now in Europe. America's population continues to grow, as do federal and state budget woes. Oil shocks recur. Unemployment rises, depressing spending, weakening business, which then sheds more jobs, as the economy spirals downwards.
That worst case scenario has enough likelihood to merit further consideration, based on all of our research and discussions. It's not a Black Swan rarity, but a seriously possible future. Like any seriously possible worst case, this depressive scenario therefore merits present planning, along with action:
Within that context, resilience is about bootstrapping an economy that works for you, your family, and your community. About taking control and being in charge of your future.Our homestead practice is precisely that. On Pagan Lane, we have been steadily building towards sustainability, from food raising to off-the-grid infrastructure. It's incomplete, hence our parallel practice of working closely with Ripton's community.
And it's a strange way of life. Most folks regard us genially, but quizzically. The more people buy into credit- and oil-fueled consumerism, the likelier they are to not see the point. Politically, partisans of sitting governments - both parties - tend not to share our thoughts (nowadays it's easier to get into conversations with Republicans). Simply talking about economic worries can alienate listeners/readers into silence. Again, Robb:
Granted, it's a big shift in thinking. We live in a culture that's based on complete and utter dependence (I don't buy into the fantasy that just having a big savings account or a pile of gold makes you free).It's taken years of our lives to get to this place, both physically and mentally (especially Bryan). Somedays it feels like we've seceded from the world of malls, credit cards, and tv. In another post we could deal with the criticism we've received. But for now let's establish this one link out of many, between homesteading in the Green Mountains and our fears for the global economy worsening.
More on Robb: his blog is content-rich. This wiki looks like a fine resource for disaster preparation, homesteading, resilience, and sheer practical knowledge.