No. Just No.

Sharon December 4th, 2008

 Several people sent this to me this morning:

Gerald Celente, the CEO of Trends Research Institute, is renowned for his accuracy in predicting future world and economic events, which will send a chill down your spine considering what he told Fox News this week.Celente says that by 2012 America will become an undeveloped nation, that there will be a revolution marked by food riots, squatter rebellions, tax revolts and job marches, and that holidays will be more about obtaining food, not gifts.

“We’re going to see the end of the retail Christmas….we’re going to see a fundamental shift take place….putting food on the table is going to be more important that putting gifts under the Christmas tree,” said Celente, adding that the situation would be “worse than the great depression”.

“America’s going to go through a transition the likes of which no one is prepared for,” said Celente, noting that people’s refusal to acknowledge that America was even in a recession highlights how big a problem denial is in being ready for the true scale of the crisis.

Celente, who successfully predicted the 1997 Asian Currency Crisis, the subprime mortgage collapse and the massive devaluation of the U.S. dollar, told UPI in November last year that the following year would be known as “The Panic of 2008,” adding that “giants (would) tumble to their deaths,” which is exactly what we have witnessed with the collapse of Lehman
Brothers, Bear Stearns and others. He also said that the dollar would eventually be devalued by as much as 90 percent.

Reading this, this morning, my reaction was a little different than my normal reaction to things that come into my “inbox of doom.”  You see, I’ve just spent two years writing and revising a book about the food system that makes pretty much the same arguments that Celente is making – that both the economic and material realities of our food system are so fragile and subject to disruption that we’re facing hunger in our lifetimes.  So you wouldn’t think this would bother me much.

Somehow, however, this hit me rather viscerally. At first I started to write one of my usual responses – an analysis of why this might be true and what we can do to prevent it, yada yada.  I’ve written dozens, maybe close to a hundred such pieces about various bits of the food system puzzle over the years I’ve been working on this blog.  I can do them in my sleep.  Except, today, I couldn’t.  I kept thinking over and over “Fuck rational – this is not a case for rationality.”

Oh, I know it actually is, but today you’ll have to ask Raj Patel or Paul Roberts or Michael Pollan or Frances Moore-Lappe or anyone but me to do the rational thing about our food system.  I am not in writer mode, I am in Mom mode, and the idea that my food system could have gotten to this point, that my world, my country, my region, my community, my kids may have to live in a place where food riots are the only possible response to abiding hunger pisses me off.  And because I’m in Mom mode, my response was pretty much the same as when three year old Asher asks (very nicely, and not forgetting to say “please”) if he can just this once drive the car.

 My reaction to the idea that the US could rapidly decline in food security this was  simply “No.  I’m not having it.”  I know it makes good press, a good bit of evidence supports the idea, but WE ARE NOT HAVING FOOD RIOTS!  Dammit, I’m the Mom and people are going to get fed.

Ok, I realize that sounds a little insane, and obviously, I’m not your Mom, or the economy’s Mom.  Nor does my Momhood confer “Empress of Everything” status, much as I might wish.  Heck, it doesn’t even mean I can get the boys to remember to life the toilet lid every single time. But I’m still not having it anyway. 

I started out exploring Climate Change and Peak Oil and their connections to our economy with a personal motive.  Something along the lines of  ”Dammit, my kids will not go hungry.”  And I did a pretty good job of ensuring that is true – in seven years we’ve got our land, kept out of debt, built our food reserve, and made our land fairly productive.  We’ve got our own milk and eggs, and gardens that could feed us and other people.  And as I realized that I cared just as much about my friends and extended family and their kids, well, I did some planning for them too.  Maybe it won’t be needed, maybe it will, but I’m not having the people I love go hungry either.

But of course a little ways along that trip, I realized that food security for me and mine was a slippery slope.  Where does ”mine” stop?  It certainly doesn’t stop at my neighbors’ yards – first of all, they are friends, but even if they weren’t, how could I be secure if they weren’t.  So I started talking to them – gently, and started giving out plants and helping them start gardens and talking about food storage in my neighborhood, and my larger community.  Is it enough?  I don’t know, I hope so.  But I’m not the only one here working on this, and there are more people trying it every month.

And then, of course, I started writing about it, and “mine” shifted yet again.  First I was just writing to other peak oil folks on various lists, and then people starting asking if they could reprint my ideas, so I thought I ought to collect them somewhere.  And that was first my old blog and now here – with an ever expanding number of people who tell me about their experiences and report the news and argue with me and pass my stuff on to other people.  And I get enough emails from people saying they started a garden or bought a food reserve or talked to their neighbors about starting something that I feel like maybe we’re making progress too, however small.

Most of you don’t live anywhere near my neighborhood - you write me from Portugal and Sweden and Israel and Columbia and Japan and Morocco and India, and within the US from Alaska, New Mexico, California and Florida.  Some of you even do live near me.  But it sort of doesn’t matter, because I’m not having any of you go hungry either (I realize y’all can take care of yourselves – I didn’t say this was rational.)  And yes, I know some people already are, and there are places where there are already food riots – and we’ve got to deal with that too while we prevent them in our homes.

I realize that we’ve now run up against the practical limits of my authority (actually, we probably ran up against them with that toilet thing, but who is counting?).  But the good thing is that out there I have a whole bunch of readers, many of whom are Moms or Dads, Grandparents (the boss’s bosses), Teachers, Honored Aunts and Uncles and Family Friends.  And every one of them has probably had the experience of saying, “No.  Just, No.” and making it happen through sheer force of will, appeals to irrelevant authorities, and the mad conviction (which is sometimes true, even when it is a little crazy) that you can work and pray and love and fight the good stuff into being and the bad stuff away.  Maybe the combined force of all that unreasonable conviction can be harnessed – and should be.

None of us can ever protect our families at the narrowest definitions of personal security.  There are always more of “them” than there are of “mine.”  The only hope is an expanded definition of “My own people” that covers as much of the world as we can manage.  And while I think there are a lot of rational issues involved here, sometimes I think it is good to be a little irrational, a little crazy, at least on some issues.  Because only at the point that we say “I WILL NOT HAVE IT” do we realize exactly how far we’ll go to make sure it isn’t true.

How far will we go?  I don’t know the answer.  Certainly as far as my garden, which will grow more food for the food pantry next year.  As far as my animals, where I work on raising and breeding livestock suited to suburban neighborhoods.  As far as my keyboard, my blog, my books and my talks can reach.  As far as calling for tens of millions of people in the US to take up food production wherever they can – in their yards, on their farms, in containers on their roofs and balconies, in vacant lots, in community gardens, in their neighbor’s yards. As far as cutting my impact on the climate as hard as I can and trying to help other people to do so, and then going back and asking if I can do a little more. As far as I can with the bit of influence I’ve got. As far as I can, and then further,  and then the rest of you will take it as far as you can, and that’s pretty damned far.

The book I wrote has plans and arguments, analyses and figures, policy recommendations and personal actions to take.  And if you look back into the blog, you’ll find plenty more data and analysis of the food situation.  But not here, today.   Just as I will simply not allow my kids to go hungry, I’m not letting my country, or my world go hungry (or for those last two, hungrier, and I’m trying my best at less).  And you would be perfectly reasonable and rational to doubt my personal capacity to keep it from happening.  But right at the point of irrationality, of the good kind of madness,  is a force I cannot name or fully describe, but that is dragged into reality by forays into territory beyond the land of reason.  It sounds nuts, and it probably is – but it is also a Mother thing (and a Father thing, I suspect).  And I don’t have to do it by myself – the world is full of mothers and fathers – and non-parents with vast capacity for love of some idea, person, animal, place life -  who know that if they had to, they could do more than any reasonable person to protect their own.  And the world is full of our own.


44 Responses to “No. Just No.”

  1. D says:

    Not to sound ass-kissy, but this, right here, is inspired writing – writing that motivates people to make big changes that look impossible from where they stand in the moment. Rational is good too, and you can definitely do rational, but I find your writing most affecting when you get at the heart of things – something not a lot of other peak oil people are doing. It’s writing that embodies the spirit of Tikkun Olam and sparks that spirit in others, whether they’re Jewish or not. And that’s what we all need – not just to be convinced, but to be moved to action, for the protection and betterment of everyone.

    The elephant thing is okay. But this is what I come here to read. :)

  2. rainman says:

    Over here, right on the other side of the world in New Zealand, that brought a touch of dampness to even my stoical old eyes. Beautiful.

    This is a Father thing too, as you suspect. I have no idea what I can do to “fix it”, haven’t had since I first became aware of what I was staring down. That’s pretty hard for us humans to deal with. Particularly hard for Dads and Moms, it’s our job, after all. But I’m not letting bad things happen to my people either, so I’m going to keep working at it until I get it right (enough) or die trying!

    The world is indeed full of our own. I wish that everyone would understand that.

  3. Shamba says:

    But right at the point of irrationality, of the good kind of madness, is a force I cannot name or fully describe, but that is dragged into reality by forays into territory beyond the land of reason. It sounds nuts, and it probably is – but it is also a Mother thing (and a Father thing, I suspect). And I don’t have to do it by myself – the world is full of mothers and fathers – and non-parents with vast capacity for love of some idea, person, animal, place life – who know that if they had to, they could do more than any reasonable person to protect their own. And the world is full of our own.”

    I do NOT cry easily but my eyes filled with tears at this …..

    Count me in! “NO , JUST NO!”

    and what D. said about your writing.



  4. jengod says:

    Lady, you kick ass. Brava!!

  5. I'm a Believer! says:

    And now my DH is too. The name Fox News has some use after all.
    Thanks for the info, now I have a partner.

  6. [...] This post, from the inestimably brilliant Sharon Astyk, had me standing on my chair cheering. No. Just No. [...]

  7. Brian M. says:

    “No Just No”
    Irrational, but Just No starvation
    My kids will not go hungry Dammit!

    That isn’t a way to PREVENT a food riot, that IS a food riot!
    That is the heart and soul of a food riot!
    Sharon, you simply began rioting for food far BEFORE everyone else did.
    The Riot for Austerity IS a food riot, it has been for a long time.

    What you are really doing is explaining why RIOTING is necessary for food, because the various non-riot strategies have not and will not work. But you cannot prevent riots, by engaging this kind of irrationality. Rather if that is what it takes to get people fed, you are arguing that even rioting is better than starving. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

    Brian M. AKA JediDaddy

  8. Sharon says:

    Brian, that’s a nice way to think about it. I guess in that analysis, we’d say that we just need better kinds of food riots – because by the time you get to the destructive kind that the gentleman above it talking about, very little food comes out of it.


  9. ceridwen says:

    …and now you’re talking my language. I’m not a mother or anything like…..but yep its “No – just no”. I dont wish to see my society disrupted – and food problems are a bit basic in that respect. Agree with that.


  10. homebrewlibrarian says:

    The “No. Just No” is a big part of why I have been storing up food that could support several people for several months and I live by myself. Me and mine will not go hungry! And the “mine” in my life keeps expanding, just like it has for you.

    Even before I read this post, I’d called the local food pantry and sent them money to buy more turkeys for Christmas. They purchase all their turkeys for the holiday season at one time and found that there was a 37% increase in the number of families requesting Thanksgiving meals so they dipped into the turkeys they had for Christmas meals. I’d have bought the turkeys myself but they gently pointed out to me that they get significant bulk discounts so my money would go farther than for what I could buy and donate. Done!

    I’m not a parent and my blood kin live thousands of miles away but there’s a Mom part to me that leaps out when the specter rises up of not having enough to eat. Not on my watch!

    Thanks for the kick to the Mom-butt. Now, where are those seed catalogs…?

    Kerri in AK

  11. ceridwen says:

    Like that phrase “not on my watch”….absolutely. I do agree with the bit about grow food – whenever/wherever we can pretty much.

  12. Andrea says:

    Didn’t Scarlet O’Hara say something along these lines???

    No. Just No.

  13. Brian M. says:

    The destructive kind of food riot isn’t about creating food, its about distributing food.

    Currently US food is distributed via price rationing, and a lot of it is thus distributed to livestock. Changing the price rationing system would require very deep political changes, and ones that would be painful to many vested interests. When those vested interests believe that painful change is inevitable, or that sharing food is a lesser of two evils, they are sometimes willing to do it. Perhaps you can convince them to ration food without riots, or to backstop farm credit, or engage in agricultural protectionism, etc. China hasn’t had food riots yet, but has enacted a number of food protectionism schemes (reasoning that when the riots start they will be terrible and likely bring down the government). Other places have modifed their agricultural policies a little to help prevent riots. Even more commonly, a few real riots can scare the political establishment into some modest changes. But, Sharon and most of you probably already know all this. We’ll all see how Obama’s government decides to deal with America’s food issues. We can hope. But, I don’t he’ll be willing to be as radical as is necessary, at least until there has been some pretty photogenic suffering. I suspect a more thorough break down of the rule of law is coming.

    Our family tries to work on the food creation problem, but ultimately the issue is not so much how much food is there, but who will eat and who will not.

    Brian M. AKA JediDaddy

  14. Michelle says:

    Yeah, I was hearing Scarlett here, too. “No, nor any of my kin!”

    I’ve felt this way for a while, and everything I’ve read here has reinforced both my conviction and my efforts to prevent hunger for “me and mine”. And, like you, “mine” has expanded quite a bit.

    My fifth grader read the riot act to one of his classmates who was hassling him about eating rabbit we’d raised – “I expect that if money got tight enough, you’d be glad to have food eat that you’d raised yourself. All meat has faces; we just know what these faces look like and how they lived.”

  15. Greenpa says:

    Sharon- I like it. In order to retain the fragments of our sanity and reason, it’s really necessary to just scream, once in a while, and kick something. It’s good for ya.

    “Where does ”mine” stop?”

    Exactly. It’s a deeper level of the discussion than I usually get to with people; mostly they get distracted by details before we get there.

    And when we do, it’s still difficult to get them to understand this:

    The best thing I can do for MY children- is make sure YOUR children have what they need.

    I consider the “too” at the end of that to be obvious, and the statement more effective without it.

  16. madison says:

    Sharon, that was beautiful.

    As a Mom, I totally agree.

    I am meeting with my minister this week to discuss various things. I am seeking to start a informal “center for sustainability” for our congregation/whomever. I would like to take a five pronged approach – as a home gardener growing food for my own household & dependents, as an Advocate for local food doing presentations in the community, as a seed source for others wanting to garden, as a market gardener selling produce at the farmers market or in my church parking lot; as a workshop facilitator pulling together community resources to teach permaculture, edible landscaping, rainwater harvesting, cob & strawbale building methods etc, and as a liaison between my congregation and local food sources/local farmers. I am very excited, and hope we can do something productive. I do not want my child to know hunger. And I don’t want anyone else’s to be in that situation, either. While I would feed my child at the expense of someone else’s, it would kill a bit of my soul every time. We are better than this (bieng backed into the situations potentially requiring a choice like this), and it’s time to prove it. Thanks for the inspiration, you do good work!


  17. Fle in TN says:

    Twenty-five years ago a dear friend gave me a button that I still have. I think it needs to be passed on, wear it in good health. :-)
    “I am the Mother of all things and all things shall wear a sweater”
    Actually, while it is tongue in cheek, that button has reminded me that I do have responsibilities to all people. “Because only at the point that we say “I WILL NOT HAVE IT” do we realize exactly how far we’ll go to make sure it isn’t true.”
    Thanks for the reminder.

  18. virginia says:

    I listened to the Celente interview on Youtube and was bothered that he did not sound too supportive of our new President-elect. My glass is half full; I have high hopes for the next four years.

    Malnutrition walks right next to hunger on this road. The last Depression saw children suffer with pellegra, rickets, scurvy. If/when food becomes scarce, an educated public will be essential. My prediction is that nurses, nutritionists, county agricultural extension workers, 4-H, FFA, and others like Sharon, can and will train everyone on food preservation and nutrition. I don’t know much about it all yet, but I am eager to learn. What a wonderful opportunity for a New Deal type of movement. Not to sound like Pollyana… I’m just a middle class mom who tries hard to be optimistic.

  19. RogueScholar says:

    Hi Sharon,

    Your point is right on the nose here. An occasional freak-out is exactly what the mind needs to understand that somethng is a real danger as opposed to a theoretical possibility. There’s a profound difference between seeing hunger statistics and trying to live on a glass of water and a slice of bread per day for a month. That’s the sort of education I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    At any rate, my food reserve is due for a semiannual re-evaluation. So much to do, so little time (and shelf space) . . .

  20. Stephen B. says:

    This whole economic crash has gotten WAY absurd lately and that piece you quote Sharon shows it. Of course we knew that tight oil was going to cause problems, esp. in food, but the thing is, the oil as of yet, even last summer at $147/bbl, just wasn’t all that bad yet. We still had enough oil to do the essential things (umm, except in the Third World ofc.) No, this whole social/economic thing has fallen over way before it was supposed to by my thinking. Now we have such deflation that oil is headed to the $30s and once again, the world,) for the moment!), is seemingly swimming in the black stuff. No, while the Peaknik in me wants to lay most of the blame at the high oil prices, what really is to blame is our insane economic/governmental system that allowed credit, indulgence, and consumption to get to where it has gotten to in this society. Since the oil hasn’t completely vanished YET, we still have the time to do something, never even mind do everything on a personal preparation level as we’ve been talking about here for several years now. Something is about to turn here, at least in the short term, because the absurdity of the moment seems way overdone to me.

    This all reminds me of the last time I felt this feeling…it was in 2004. Now, mind you all, I am NOT a baseball fan, and I couldn’t have cared less about the Red Sox winning the World Series. Still, when I saw that they were down 3 games against the Yankees for the American League championship, and they were losing even THAT game, I just said to myself, having watched how absurd all the “Bambino curse” nonsense was getting after something like 9 decades of false starts for the Sox, I happened to be passing by a TV that somebody else was watching, I just said to myself, NO!, it’s too perfect a losing streak to continue, this is ridiculous, and then the Red Sox went on, a seven game winning streak to come back, tie the ALCS, and then go on to claim the World Series too?

    Now I do realize that in the former case it’s just baseball whole this resource and economic problem we have is a larger, more important thing. Still, I just have to say No! to this as well. This whole collapse is too fast and too perfectly black to be believable even to a Peak Oil doomer like me at this point. “No, Just NO!” sums it up perfectly indeed! Not only can I not stand and accept that we’re simply headed off the edge of the cliff so quickly, I suspect more and more other folk aren’t willing to stand by anymore while we suffer more fatalistic thinking.

    ‘Another excellent post Sharon!

  21. Greenpa says:

    Madison, if you haven’t found them yet, do take a look at the Transition Towns movement, from the UK. Just google it (I’m scared to put urls here, since mine seem to result in the comment being consigned to permanent limbo…) :-)

    They’ve got a handbook for how to get communities involved- and are having huge success with. It’s very open- and tentative- and smart- and hopeful.

  22. John says:

    Great. And what am I supposed to do?

    I’m a senior in college majoring in religion. I have a good shot at getting into a top PhD program in philosophy. I love academia and the life of the mind, but I’m also concerned about practical philosophy like environmental issues, food supply, etc.

    I don’t have any land, I don’t have any savings. I live in a college dorm, I can’t store up food. I would like to learn how to farm but there’s nobody readily available to teach it to me just now.

    Maybe because of the above I’d like to believe this guy is wrong, but I think there is good reason to be skeptical of his claims. His website looks amateurish and the Wiki on him is full of “citation needed”. Many people take credit in retrospect for major events. And I doubt that any of his supposed ‘hits’ happened exactly the way he predicted. It doesn’t take much to say, “It’s gonna be a bad year financially next year,” and then see it happen.

    I do think our economy is in an extremely vulnerable, chastened state right now and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But since I can’t really do much otherwise (and I am NOT about to simply drop my promising academic career because he predicts and even incites tax riots) I think I’ll wait until 2012 (coincidence that it’s an apocalyptic year for many New Agers, as well as a Roland Emmerich blockbuster?) to see what happens.

    In the meantime I will keep my eyes open and learn whatever I can.

  23. Stephen B. says:

    Lots of laughs! Why is it that my posts are always so much easier to read for poor sentence structure and punctuation AFTER I post them?

    Blogspot needs an editing feature for posts. I’m sorry about that last entry of mine. I’m trying to rush off to a community dinner and, being in a rush, my words, it seems above, were just too half-baked. Hopefully, however, the idea is still clear.

  24. Susan in NJ says:

    Great post Sharon. Great jury nullification argument — that would be when the jury goes against everything the judge told them to do and does (one hopes) the right thing.

  25. grace says:

    First, I ask for forgiveness.
    I read everything everyone writes every day.
    Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in it.
    and I always end up with some seemingly
    very simple questions.
    Today: the Not on my watch train of thought…
    haven’t children been STARVING for a while
    now?…Haiti for instance, Darfur, the Congo?
    How do those children differ from “mine”?
    And tho I read carefully and closely, I still
    can’t quite tell what on Earth good it will do
    to have some canned good stored up for
    “several months”. ? What happens after
    the several months?
    I read the Celente article on the link and
    this stood out to me “…the likes of which
    Americans are not going to be used to”
    “a huge underclass of very desperate people”.
    Yes. And these very desperate people won’t
    just appear suddenly out of no where, they
    have been here all along, but only maybe sorta
    desperate. They are my neighbors here in
    rural New Mexico. My neighbors are also the
    one he refers to as crazed by prescription
    drugs or street drugs…meth heads, and yes
    there is concern about this causing some
    difference from the past. But, when the
    12 yo neighbor kid crazy on meth and climbs
    my fence, looking not for food but something
    he can sell for more drugs….. you don’t get
    hungry on meth or heroine or crack….won’t I
    take his mom some of the canned goods I have
    been hoarding?
    Revolution. Maybe it’s what it will take. The
    not on my watch theory doesn’t float where
    I live, in what I look at world wide. On my watch
    things have been very inequitable for many many
    years. It’s just that suddenly, it’s threatening US. We do not want to see our society disrupted.
    My thinking is….why not?
    grace Forrest~Maestas
    Polvadera, New Mexico

  26. peter in Aust says:

    Great piece of writing Sharon .Its a grandpa thing also .Regards Peter.

  27. grace says:

    also, I wish we could get over thinking a holiday turkey is going to “do it”.
    Thank you Madison for what you wrote.
    grace again

  28. Raven says:

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that we can fix the entire world– just that we ought to do what we can. If all I can do is give a turkey, does not giving that turkey make anything better? “He who knows the good he ought to do and does not to it, to him it is sin.”

    And I agree, Sharon– not my kin. :)


  29. grace says:

    NYT piece on the “passing” of Odetta. Worth
    looking at.

  30. sac says:

    This post inspires and vexes me. Me and mine. Right. I agree. No, just No. I agree again. I, also, agree with grace. People have been starving so that me and mine can live for a long time now. It is now hitting closer to home and I am worried. What does that make me? Well, I am not sure but the adjectives that come to mind are not pretty.

    What to do? Well, I hope that what passes for better angels in all of us will look for community solutions. I will continue to do my part, however small that may be. I believe in fighting for us and ours but am not as optimistic as I was last year. Gas has fallen and people are looking to upgrade cars to SUV’s and planning vacations again. Food scarcity? Not even an issue on the radar for most at this point even though the price of staples (milk, cereal, etc.) has most of my friends pinching more pennies.

    Brava Sharon. This post gives me hope and makes me heartsick at the same time.

  31. Lance says:

    Just as an experiment…every one who reads this post, try one thing. Say this to one person…especially someone who you really don’t know that well, maybe you know them by sight and are on aquaintanceship terms with. A checker at the grocery store maybe. And say, out of nowhere, “You’re my people.” I betcha, maybe they will look shocked or weirded out for just a second…and then they will get misty-eyed. I betcha. Everybody wants that feeling. “You’re MY PEOPLE.”

  32. grace says:


  33. Mr. Celente may have gotten lucky on some of his past predictions. He missed big on devaluation of the dollar. However, the resolution of the future can be viewed as a complex problem, the solution of which is never known until it is actually solved. This is fundamental in our understanding of the operation of the universe. I grant you the probability of some of his predictions are quite high. However, if as a people we embrace a strong realistic but positive vision for the future and seek the strength, courage, wisdom and perseverance to make it a reality, the future could then look quite different from what Mr. Celente predicts. Do not underestimate the power of a clear positive vision for change. Truly yours Frank from EntropyPawsed, where we strive to demonstrate one possible realistic positive vision for the future.

  34. debra says:


    My family is more secure because you said “no” and i heard it. My neighbors are more secure because you said “no” and my kids heard me repeat it.

    Thank you.

  35. Katie says:

    It was interesting tonight to talk to some friends about their feelings on the “economic crisis.” Because its something we’re been thinking about for a while, they were having many of the thoughts that we went through our heads months ago. I had a moment there of realizing that I, (we), needed to start acknowledging the truth and fear there, and then moving on and getting stuff done. We need to encourage those who are realizing how scary this is, and then get them to start working with us. We do still have control and choice.
    Great inspiration Sharon, thanks for sharing (this piece and everything else!)

  36. Shaunta says:

    Community is the hardest part of the equation for me. I’m almost painfully shy, which over the years I’ve learned to mask pretty well but it shines through to anyone who notices that I have only one close friend. My nature is to be at home with my family. People I feel comfortable with.

    To make matters worse, in the work that I do I’m actually ethically and in some instances legally bound NOT to form close ties with the people I spend the most time with. I’m a drug counselor, and having “dual relationships” is a huge no-no because of the enormous imbalance of power. Not only between a counselor and her current clients…but once a client, always a client. I’m ethically bound to NEVER do business with, or barter with, or trade with, etc. etc….anyone who has EVER been my client. And really, their immediate family as well. My county has less than 10,000 people in it and being surrounded by 250 miles all around of Nevada mountains has to be one of the most isolated places in America. You can see how that limits my relationships. Which sucks, because I have a client who keeps trying to talk me into letting him install a wood stove in my house. *sigh*

    So I’m doing my best to help my clients learn how to form a community themselves. After every group session we have a few minutes where anyone who needs help or has something to offer can pipe up. We call it barn raising. Sometimes my clients slip and are sentenced to a few hours of community service. I’m going to see if I can talk the judge into letting them into working at our building for that service and put them to work digging a garden. And I really do believe I’m doing my part by helping to send healthier, drug and alcohol free people back out into the community. They also have high school diplomas when they leave me.

  37. Mon says:

    I’ve been reading for a while but this is the post that hooked me over.

    I’ve been shouting, ‘No, Just no’, for a long long time, in the global sense. That we stuff our faces and leave food to waste whilst millions of people, including children, go hungry across the world is a source of great sadness to me.

    Perhaps America needs this? In a Universe Learning type of way. It was those that lived through the G.Depression that understood the value of ‘stuff’ and what really mattered. The sickening levels of consumerism, and above all, the blind apathy, needs a swift kick up the bum. Because only a small handful seem to be ‘getting it’. Hence the denial admist a recession.

    Sometimes you need to go hungry yourself to appreciate your neighbour’s plight.

  38. leeb says:

    I gotta wipe off the keyboard now. I’m a vegetable farmer, and I live sorta close to Sharon. Vt. Some of the same Ag challenges anyway. Tomorrow is the first day of our winter farmers market. I gotta price my product for what its worth just to stay afloat and some folks won’t be able to afford it. But I decided a while ago that if my neighbors are hungry, then by damn they will get fed as long as I can feed them. And I’m NEVER “patriotic”. Ugh. But my intuition is that there is this dormant spirit in the USA of joining together at these times and figuring it out together. Thats patriotism. Or compatriotism. Cheers folks. These are amazing times.

  39. Leslie NW says:

    Truly an inspiring post Sharon.

    Sometimes, while studying these issues of energy, environment and economy, I find myself feeling like the situation is hopeless for our society, and I don’t care for that feeling. The alternative I come up with, usually has to do with sticking my head in the sand – which I have a very difficult time doing. Anyway, writing like this inspires me in a different direction, one where I can face the reality of our perilous situation, and have hope for the future of OUR world at the same time. Irrational?

  40. Jennifer says:

    Reminds me of an Indigo Girls song that I love…

    From “A Hammer and a Nail”

    My life is part of the global life
    I found myself becoming more immobile
    When I think a little girl in the world can’t do anything
    A distant nation my community
    A street person my responsibility
    If I have a care in the world I have a gift to bring

  41. says:

    A very good post! Inspriring too…

    I’ve read the Trends Journal 2008 summer and autumn isssues because I have subscribed to a download edition. I was struck by the Trends Journal forecast content, which is much more like that of Jim Kunstler’s “World Made by Hand” than that of “competing” views, e.g., John Michael Greer’s “The Long Descent”.

  42. Alan says:

    There is a problem, the world’s population is rushing to urbanise. Small rural farms are shut down, as people are attracted by the wealth to manufacture cheap goods that noboby needs. They loose farming skill, and become dependant on imports. Places that export food, ruin their land in vast monocultures and become chemical reliant. The water is sucked out of dams and rivers, the salt rises, the water table becomes harder to access.

    And to think we got into debt to fund this massive waste of consumerisum, and to rob the future generations.

    Population control is the answer, and people don’t like it. And because we the people don’t like it, and won’t act, the decision will be made for us, whether as in natural (famine, fatal contangous viruses) or war (more likely, competition for sparse resources ). It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be awful. As this golden age comes to an end (well, golden for us in the West…those in a more primitive techolongical independant society will ride this out and become strong, but there isn’t many left.) we’ll left to deal with what many historic societies had to deal with…basic survival at the cost of others.

    It might be at the cost of your nieghbours (food riots) or other countries (go in there, and take their water at any cost, cause we’re dying), it shall be interesting. Hopefully many generations later, the resources will exist and structures will be still intact, to do a solid case study. Maybe mankind will finally mature. But I doubt it. Greed(which got us into this mess), is a primative behaviour instilled into the human race, and for very good reason.

    I’ll never have children for this reason. I’ll certainly make myself as useful to my community as possible during this miserable time. However, I prefer to roll over and die, then live over someone elses life. If I die, and this doesn’t become true, then I’ll die a happy man.

  43. Doug says:

    There’s no question that our country is living through difficult times. The fallout from living beyond our means was bound to happen sooner or later. I, for one, am glad that it is sooner, rather than later, because the sooner we understand the errors of our ways, the greater the possibility that we can do something about it. Making changes within a society as complex as ours is really, really hard. Our prophets might have predicted the current crisis, but it takes other people a lot longer for the reality to sink in. The reality is, I think, beginning to sink in for many of us, and although the jury is still out as to whether we can successfully make the transition to a sustainable society, there are signs that people are beginning to care more and more. A failure is not pre-ordained; there is nothing out there in the universe that says that America has to collapse. We might have to learn to live within our means, and to share the world’s resources more equitably with our neighbors, and to develop new ways of forming communities, but there is NOTHING that says our future has to be as bleak as some have predicted. Without a doubt the possibility of collapse is real, but I also have 3 kids that I feel responsible for having brought into this world, and I for one can think of no other goal more worthy and important than trying to help our country make a difficult, but necessary transition to a healthier future. Don’t we owe at least this to those whom we love?

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