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100 Things you can do for Peak Oil – Part 2 (49-100 Community, Family, Transportation, Etc.)

Sharon Astyk, Groovy Green

49. Invite someone new to your house once every month. Try and expand your community and circle of friends regularly. Invite people to eat with you regularly – sharing food is an important part of community building.

50. Attend zoning meetings and consider running for zoning board. Work to amend local zoning laws to allow green building, composting toilets, clotheslines, small livestock, cottage businesses, front lawn gardens and other essentials.

51. Have a large house and not a lot of people in it? Consider a roommate, or borders. This will make you more economically stable and also expand your community and local resources. If you currently rent an apartment, consider sharing housing with a roommate.

52. If your community doesn’t have a food coop, start one now. There is a great deal of information on the web here: This can be a powerful tool for creating local food economies.

53. Consider creating a community currency. They keep money local and encourage small businesses and sustainable economies.

54. Sometimes you get more by giving things away than by selling them. Do you have something you don’t need? Extra produce? Spare time? Give extra tomatoes to a neighbor, offer spare items to friends, go over and help out someone who could use it. Good deeds mostly return to us.
(9 March 2007)
Part 1 is also online.

Sustainable Living Book Helps Families Save Energy, Save Money

Mick Winter, press release
Sustainable Living: For Home, Neighborhood and Community is about using less energy, spending less money, and enjoying it more. It’s about how neighbors can benefit from working and sharing together. And it’s about how all of a community’s neighborhoods and residents can benefit from cooperative effort.

Sustainable Living is not about buying greener things; it’s about buying fewer things. It’s about spending less money, and getting more out of life–and helping the planet at the same time.

This 164-page book is filled with suggestions and tips on how to live more sustainably and cope with the climate and energy problems facing our country and our planet. The book is written by Mick Winter, host of the popular Peak Oil websites and

The suggestions in Sustainable Living will help people save money and fight global warming by using less energy in their everyday living. They’ll discover tips on low-cost heating, cooling, and lighting in their home. They’ll get ideas on how to survive with little or no use of a car, how to improve their health, and how to eat better yet still save on food bills. And they’ll learn ways to help, and benefit from, their neighbors and their community.

…Sustainable Living – 164 pages – $12.00 – ISBN# 978-0-9659000-58
(8 March 2007)
According to the book’s website, this book is a smaller version of “Peak Oil Prep” by the same author. I’ve been meaning to review that book, but unfortunately other projects keep intruding.

“Peak Oil Prep” is a summary of the many ideas floating around, with the theme of individuals preparing themselves for peak oil and similar events. Author Mick Winter takes a reasonable, moderate tone in presenting the information and references. The book would be most useful for newcomers to the field and might make a good textbook for a short course.

What interested me personally about Mick Winter is how he earns money self-publishing regional books and websites about the Napa Valley. Perhaps he can tell the rest of us how he does it. I suspect regional books will be a growth area, as the relocalization trend heats up. -BA

It’ll take a village to sustain this proposed community garden

Elaine Larsen, Pacifica Tribune
Harvested in Maui, sugar cane is sent to a processing plant in Contra Costa County and then to New York for packaging. After that, those tiny C&H sugar packets are shipped all over the United States – including back to Hawaii.

“That means even if you live just a mile from the sugar cane fields, your sugar traveled 10,000 miles. This isn’t how it should be. The more a community can do to be self-sustaining the better,” said Kelley Rajala, owner of Pacifica’s Downward Dog Yoga.

Her sugar example is just one of many that demonstrates the country’s disconnect between its mode of food production and distribution that disenfranchises local communities from being self-sustaining. Rajalah and and other like-minded Pacificans seek to reverse that model here and in other coastside communities through their new enterprise, The Livability Project.
(7 March 2007)

Fashioning a future

Maggie Alderson, Sydney Morning Herald
The days of chic foreign designer labels and cheap imports are numbered.

… fashion as we know it doesn’t have a future.

It doesn’t have a future any more than the internal combustion engine does. I don’t know how long it will take for the current fashion system to become unworkable, but I’m certain it will happen. Just call me Pradadamus.

Even if you haven’t seen An Inconvenient Truth, or the even more terrifying documentary about peak oil, The End of Suburbia, it can’t have passed you by that even reluctant groups such as the Bush Administration and the Howard Government are now accepting that destructive climate change, caused by man-made carbon emissions, is a big and real and scary thing. Coming now, to a planet near you.

The problem with fashion as we currently know it, within that scenario, is that it involves a lot of moving of product long distances.

And unless someone comes up with an engine that works on air (and emits only the same) some time pretty soon, this is going to be less and less easy to do. And even apart from the ethical implications, it will be financially entirely unviable.

Yet fashion is so global now, we think it’s quite normal to buy Italian shoes and French handbags in Australia, and for quintessential British luxury brand Burberry merrily to close its last factory on UK soil (it’s just about to happen) and to outsource to Asia instead.

Do the handbags swim over to Botany Bay? Are the trench coats supposed to fly back to London on their own? No. They are trundled around on oil-consuming ships or, worse, on gas-guzzling planes. And now that we may have passed the peak of world oil production – it’s all downhill from there when we do, folks – this shifting of stuff is just going to become more and more expensive and indefensible.
(10 March 2007)

Slow Movement Movement

Hans Noeldner, Energy Bulletin
By now many millions of gourmands are familiar with “The Slow Food Movement”, and the notion of a “100 Mile Diet” is spreading quickly among the sustainability-minded. What do they have in common? Both concepts share central themes – a focus on quality rather than quantity, re-localization, greater self-reliance, and strengthened bonds with one’s geographic community (as opposed to abstract “communities” of the comfortably like-minded).

Although these two concepts relate to food, they are highly extensible in an algebraic sense, and we can fruitfully apply them to many more facets of life. For example:

“10 Block Entertainment Diet”
“Slow Recreation Movement”

But here is a variation that I find especially promising:

“Slow Movement Movement”

What’s that? Did I stutter just now?

Absolutely not. I am talking about a movement whose purpose is to champion moving slowly as opposed to moving rapidly via energy-gobbling, planet-dominating, climate-altering machines. Slow movement like walking. Bicycling. Strolling. Meandering. Sauntering. Wending. Skipping. Striding.

In particular I am talking about re-grounding ourselves in the human-scale rather than the automobile-scale. Why?

Because our technological will-to-power has seduced us into a perverted and ruinous disharmony with Earth. By collapsing a mile into one or two minutes, the automobile in motion has so profoundly distorted our sense of space and time that few living Americans comprehend the nature of a truly walkable community.

And the automobile further warps reality when at rest. The amount of real estate “consumed” by only four or five off-street surface parking stalls would suffice for a modest-sized retail business and several floors of residential units. Multiplied by hundreds and thousands in a community, the resulting patchwork of surface parking scatters day-to-day and week-to-week destinations over miles rather than blocks, thereby establishing a ceiling on density well below practical thresholds for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit users. Multiplied by a billion and more, accommodations for the automobile have rendered the greater portion of modern-day “developed” America unfit habitation for the non-motorist.

The Slow Movement Movement will recapture the field for homo erectus, and relegate the species homo automobilicus to a safe and highly subordinate SUPPORTING role. Please join!
(9 March 2007)