Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why are you here?

I've been getting a lot of traffic from various blogs that I read and make comments on (including SHTFblog), so I thought I would take a second to re-iterate what kind of life we're trying to lead in this New Plan that we've established (and continue to modify). Our choice to abandon The System As We Formerly Knew It was based on several wishes. We chose to come back to my hometown because we wanted to live (in no particular order):
  • somewhere our dogs can be happy
  • somewhere we can build a house, a tiny house (under 200 sq ft, with recycled/salvaged materials, a composting toilet, and solar heat)
  • somewhere we can grow our own food
  • somewhere we can appreciate our friends and family
  • Somewhere we can enjoy nature
  • Somewhere we can reduce our costs enough so that we only have to work part-time
I've also been getting increasingly worried about the economic situation we are facing and increasingly frustrated that the mainstream media refuses to acknowledge what people can do to survive in the near future. I try not to consume much from the mainstream media because it's so depressing. Instead of disseminating information on how to make do with less, we are constantly bombarded with the messages of "Buy More!" and "Go about your business--everything's fine!" Only more and more people are catching on that No, everything is NOT fine. It's so distressing to me that so many people are not prepared to do without certain things, or have no knowledge of basic survival. I include myself in this category. Living a relatively cush life has made me weaker. But I am trying to change that.

These days I have a hard time balancing between being a really novice Buddhist (everything is impermanent, practice compassion for humanity) and a freakout survivalist (stock up on MREs and curl up in the basement with guns and ammo). These are two paths that can not be reconciled. So every day I make an effort to find The Middle Path.

When I was picking raspberries last night with my mom, I was trying to be grateful for the food that was there just waiting to be gathered, the opportunity to spend time with the people I love and care about, the opportunity to spend time in a place that is safe and clean...

But the other part of my brain works in a way that tells me instead of offering to let people come and glean the remaining raspberries this season, we should be selling them and saving the money in case shit goes down.

My heart tells me I need to err on the side of compassion. After all, I truly believe that cultivating alliances is more productive than putting up walls. I know that I have a lot to learn from other people and that by making small gestures such as sharing food with people who have less, I can learn more about myself and, hopefully, learn from those I help. And, really, would $10 or $20 or $30 really be that much of an advantage for me?

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.

~Dalai Lama

The past week or so I have been trying to outline a plan to establish a bartering network. I think that we will need this in the near future and it will be easier to establish if people are in a more comfortable psychological space than if we're all struggling to survive (which we are every day, but, you know...).

Instead of paying over $3/dozen for eggs because I refuse to buy battery-hen eggs, I would be grateful to buy eggs that come from someone local--someone that has a chicken coop and actually cares about the quality of the chickens' lives. Sites like localharvest are a good start, but not everyone with products to sell has internet access. If you know of/have belonged to/are interested in joining a local bartering network, I would love to hear your ideas. I'm going to put up a flyer at various bulletin boards around town and I'll put an ad in the paper, but I want to have some idea of where to go and how to get there... My mom and dad predict that there will be more interest than I am anticipating. Which is fine by me! I hope that's the case. The more people that want to participate, the greater likelihood of success.

So my point is this: instead of being divisive and political and combative, we should all strive to remember each other as human beings who can accomplish great things with cooperation, compassion, and love. We're going to need each other if we're going to survive.

As long as we live in this world we are bound
to encounter problems.
If, at such times, we lose hope
and become discouraged,
we diminish our ability to face difficulties.
If, on the other hand,
we remember that it is not just ourselves
but every one who has to undergo suffering,
this more realistic perspective
will increase our determination
and capacity to overcome troubles.
Indeed, with this attitude, each new obstacle
can be seen as yet another valuable
opportunity to improve our mind!

~Dalai Lama


wolf21m said...

Thanks for the re-cap. I have been slowing working from the beginning of your blog to put together the full picture. Your summary helps a great deal.
I commend you for your vision of a beautiful future and your commitment to take the steps to get there. I have enjoyed learning from your experiences.
I would love to join your barter network, but have little to offer other than dated computer experience and growing biology/ecology knowledge. If that ever becomes a valuable commodity to you, please let me know.
Good luck with the adventure. I hope you continue to keep your reader updated on your progress. You are an inspiration to us all.

Anonymous said...

I'm here because you left a link on our debate. Homesteading huh? Wish I wasn't so tied to the system myself. Have a pdf of an old home cyclopedia from the late 1800's that you might want. Sometime can be found on the net but sometimes not. Some really crazy stuff but alot of useful stuff too. If you want it give me a shout. Also watch out on most of those sites. Most have their tinfoil hats on a bit to tight. Anywho good luck with the garden.

megan said...

i am here because i followed you from portland and from there i followed you from flickr. and because you love the pibbles in our world. :-) i enjoy your ideas and especially admire what you are doing now. its inspiring. something we think about doing one day. i worry or i guess am concerned about the what seems to be happening in the world today. in the US and with the economy. sometimes it makes me want to run. sometimes it makes me want to fight. but more than anything and like you it makes me want to cooperate and communicate, work together with people to figure out new ways. to live compassionately.

anyway, i like your writing and your photos and your ideas..

kpearce said...

i need to find you or you need to find me so we can chat about jam and bread and subverting the dominant paradigm and parsnips sweetened by frost. you are taking a journey on a path that i grew up in and now roll around in feverish joy each day running a business with my best farmgirl pal, urban farm school in southwest washington. interested to see your journey unfold.

bread baker
seed gatherer
business owner
painter said...

I'm here, because I heard there was some free beer.

Are you sure that a Buddhist line of thinking and a survivalist line of thinking cannot be reconciled?

I'm not.

Steph said...

I agree with the idea that we have become far too married to the idea that the majority of "stuff" is a necessity.

While my family and I haven't gone as far as you to change our lives we are making incremental changes year by year. So far we've reduced our driving by about 75%, riding more bikes, grow as much of our own food as possible and use less power. (Triple digit heat without air conditioning has been an adjustment, to say the least!)

It's been an experience and each month we're adding more and like you, I think we're actually growing happier as we realize that we don't need a bunch of junk to be happy. Ok, the adults are happier but the kids have a ways to go toward embracing the idea.

Anyway. Next time you're picking raspberries and faced with the dilemma regarding whether to sell or give away perhaps it will be useful to take an inventory of the benefit of goodwill. Would the few dollars you'd receive for selling the berries be worth more than the life-saving graces of neighbors who may be there for you if something bad happens? Neighbors who might just go the extra mile for the nice people who gave them raspberries?

I always try to remember that relationships - particularly those with the people immediately surrounding us - are important and have their own kind of value.

P.S. - I laughed at your bit about pursuing Buddhism vs. grabbing your guns and battening down the hatches. Haven't we all been there to some degree and struggled with those two divergent urges?

Arika said...

OH i know you do, I went to the website from the banner on your page and started reading all around their website then I came across that "hog dogging" brief which is so sad because the pigs have no means of fighting back :( So sad everything on there.

CN said...

you're talking about communism and anarchy, cutting out the fat of the government to make a chain of independent, caring human beings.

i didn't think you could be more awesome than you already were.

i wanna trade something for...something. too bad you can't eat my paintings.

shawn said...

hmmmmmmm why am i here.

well, the main reason i'm here is because i truly love you. and by loving you i mean i love you and keith and lazlo and mia. and i mean love. not like and not really blog-friend. i really hold you close to my heart in some way that probably only some people will ever understand because i'm fully capable of trusting and investing in someone i've never met. how do i do this (hold you close to my heart?) well, over time, i've thought about you, i've randomly, walking down the street wondered about you. i've laughed at things you've posted and/or written. i've cried. with you and i've cried with full heart at words you've written to me. once i wven called you but you didn't answer. (i was drunk).
i'm here because i admire you. but not in a really distant way of like, "WOW, i admire them...*back to my consumerist life*. more like, i watch you. and think. and then i think some more. there is something about the way you let us do that without (at least for me) judging, that enables me to think longer and more deeply then if you were doing it some other way. (one day i'll be able to really explain what that just meant). sometimes we talk about you in my house. i'll say, april did this... or that... or lazlo and mia...lani knows you by name. and oddly enough, missy and i talked about you, too. back then. alana and i talk about you. tom and i have talked about you. you're in my life. and that's why i'm here. becuase you are a part of my day in the only way that it can be. for now. you put up with me when i'm going all nuts. you stay. i stay. that's all there is, really. it just goes on like that. i have no intention of leaving. and i hope you don't either. and becuase of (all) that...i'm here.

shawn said...

oh and i have some stuff to say about the buddhist thing and the recociling. but i'm at work. later.

and also, about why i'm here. DUH, i almost forgot...because yer HOT! (keith you are hot, too. but in a totally um, different way.)

yeahyeah said...

one more thing.

f*in typos.

Patia said...

Ah, I finally know what the "New Plan" is. I've been seeing it on your Flickr photos, but just discovered your new blog.

It sounds ambitious and admirable. Good for you. All your survivalist talk has prompted me to stock up on peanut butter and tuna at Costco. :-)

I buy my cage-free and preferably local eggs at the Farmer's Market or Good Food Store. I can get cage-free at Safeway as a last resort. (I'm not sure they adhere to the same loving standards that local producers do.) You'll be surprised; you'll probably find a local person with eggs to spare. Or, have you thought about having your own chickens? I'd get some in a heartbeat if I had my own place.

Sorry, blabbing.

Two hundred square feet, huh? I live in 400 and it feels way too small for me. But more power to you; I'll look forward to seeing how you guys do it.

Bully4You said...

Have you ever come across a blog and thought, wow, am I blogging in my sleeP? I'm excited to find like minds. My husband and I are breaking ground on our sub 200 sqft house on 42 acres in the high desert of Central Oregon. We hope to have something we can live in over the winter while we finish it out. I'm so excited to see what you've got here. When we've got our blog up and running (which I presume I'll have to do while awake), I'll send you a link. And pit bulls Our Staffy Bull died late December last year after 9 years with us; before him an Am Staff. The most amazing dogs. Now we've got a little Dachshund/Jack Russell mix - I thought a smaller tummy would mean smaller dollars in our budget. Thankfully, he's made a huge contribution to our lives and our hearts - now we're just searching for a pitty girlfriend for him.

Take care and best of luck!