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Articles in "The Road to Resilience"

(*Thanks, E.F. Schumacher, for a 40 year old idea that is still good as gold.)
Most futurist visions I have seen are of shining high-tech cities with high rises covered in solar panels and rooftop gardens.

Many of us like to think that Trump is the ogre that crashed our party.  He is but the fruit of a long period of division and bitter strife in our country.  Just the same, Trump’s behavior is aiding and abetting that behavior in a powerful way.  I don’t think any parent, conservative or liberal, would tolerate such behavior in their children, so what do you tell them when it seems okay for the President to act that way?

It was about eight years ago that we formed Transition Vashon, and about six years ago that I started writing this column as a means of getting transition ideas out into the community.  Our goal was to orient our community towards transitioning away from fossil fuels and putting together an energy descent plan.

Most of us remember, however vaguely, being taught in grade school that our government has an ingenious system of checks and balances between the three branches of government that insures that no branch wields excessive power.  I, at least, don’t remember going over the US Constitution line by line, and, in fact, would have been bored to death if we had.

Suppose the federal government could make money out of nothing and spend it freely.  Suppose they could do it not only without raising taxes, but possibly lowering them, and that the country would thrive on full employment. 

Last issue, I was talking about the various dichotomies that define each of us, conservative/liberal, authoritarian/libertarian, naturist (my version)/ humanist.  There is another that we mostly don’t freely choose but has a very great influence on our lives.

If you are a believer in climate change, you really don’t need to know who is in charge of the various federal agencies that deal with it.  You can pretty much assume that the person in charge of the agency in question is probably the worst possible choice for that position.  We are all walking about in a daze, having a hard time believing what is happening.

Today it seems like we are living in a fantasy world where the ruling forces don’t have any grounding or relation to a commonly accepted reality.  W.B. Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” written a hundred years ago, still characterizes our times:  “The best lack all conviction / While the worst are filled with passionate intensity.” 

Economics as it has come to be studied has got to be one of the most stultifying subjects known to man.  Within the first three equations, my mind starts to wander and the soft murmurs of slumber begin to crowd out my consciousness.

Since the national elections, it looks like Democrats, such as they are, will be primarily in reactive mode as they really have little control over what happens at the national level.  There is the historical surge of resistance from the grassroots, which is very encouraging, but the question is how long will we be able to keep it up?

In girding our community loins for the tumultuous times ahead, we need to be looking toward maximizing our ability to subsist locally and regionally.  In addition to broadening our skills and strengthening our community bonds, we will need to optimize and cultivate our resources.  For some time now, we have been carefully managing our water supply.

The world we find ourselves in today has thrown most of us into a real quandary.  The fact is that nobody knows what is going to happen next, and most of the options are not that appealing.  It is easy enough to see utter disaster looming.
 

Whether we’re in a dangerous situation or simply inconvenienced, it is our level of resourcefulness that determines if and how quickly we resolve the situation.  We in the developed world really don’t need to know much about the places we inhabit or the things we need or use. 

In case you’ve been procrastinating on your New Year’s resolutions, I have a few suggestions.   This was a tough year, and 2017 looks like it could be worse.  The ball is definitely in our court, and we have to decide whether and how we are going to put it in play.

Last column, I wrote about tribalism being a force that encouraged suspicion and hatred between different racial and ethnic groups.  A friend pointed out that our indigenous people, who call themselves tribes

We have come to a time when those with racial, ethnic, and sexual biases think that their views have achieved some level of legitimacy.   The only way we can counter that opinion is by showing by sheer numbers how small—hopefully—a minority they really are.  Before we can do that, we should all spend some time confronting our own biases. 

A year ago, who could have imagined that a perfect storm of discontent, fear, and blind folly would land us in the world we have today?  I’ve always said that this is one of the most exciting times to be alive, and our current scenario fits that description in spades.

Back in 1988, Joy Goldstein strong-armed me into working with her and a handful of others on the Community Council Affordable Housing Committee.  We went on to form Vashon Household (Joy’s name).  I put about twenty years into the effort, and despite some notable successes, such as Charter House, JG Commons, Roseballen, Eernisse Apts., and Mukai Commons, I’ve never felt that our efforts put a dent in the structural foundations of housing unaffordability.

I have been working with a group called Revolution Vashon.  We are Berniecrats that are promoting the political revolution that Bernie Sanders called for.  We agree with Bernie that it is vitally important that Hillary Clinton be elected president.

When I started writing this column years ago, it was intended to be a voice for the Transition Vashon group.  We were espousing the need to plan for decreasing energy use due to the dangers of CO2 concentration and consequent global warming, and the arrival of peak oil.

Last issue, I began exploring the importance of focusing on a new vision rather than just combating the present incompetence.  Addressing an article recently published in YES! Magazine by Gar Alperivitz titled “Six Ways We Are Already Leading an Economic Revolution,”

Trying to get more involved in government policy decisions is a tough and thankless task when the emphasis seems to be on choosing the least worst power broker to run the nation who has the least objectionable plan (if any) to get us out of any number of messes that our established corporate power brokers have gotten us into.

Regardless of who you may have voted for in the primaries, you may have felt that things you consider important are not happening, and that major changes are in order.

Our task remains essentially the same as it would have been if Bernie Sanders had been elected President.  Sanders made us to understand that nothing he was espousing would happen without a major grass roots effort to force our elected officials to act.  I imagine we all thought it might be a whole lot easier with Bernie in the seat of power, but we weren’t being totally honest with ourselves.