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The Small-Mart Revolution and Localism
(Michael Shuman and Stephanie Mills interview)
Robert Russell, Investigating Resilience via Post Carbon Institute
Stephanie Mills returns with another of her colleagues from the Post Carbon Institute, Michael Shuman. Shuman is author of a number of books on the developing local economies, including the SMALL-MART REVOLUTION, and LOCALISM and the Research & Economic Development Director of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). The discussion outlines the new economic era we are entering and why it is likely that local economies will win out over the globalized and fragile world economy. The period of transition will not be easy. Here in Michigan especially we need to learn a new way of investment so that local investors can invest in their local economy. As Shuman points out, little help can be expected from Lansing or Washington as government is still looking to the old economic order for answers.

Outside In with Michael Shuman and Stephanie Mills from Robert Russell on Vimeo.
length: 29:40

Outside In with Michael Shuman and Stephanie Mills from Robert Russell on Vimeo.


Water – pump your own

John Weber, SunWeb (blog)
… Water is critical to all life. I don’t understand the insanity of messing with it by fracking and oil sands.

Where do you get your water? I can’t tell you how to protect yourself and supply yourself in the city. I can tell you that if you live in a town with a water tower, make sure you have a sufficient back-up generator. You can always make alcohol or bio-diesel to run it.

If you have your own well, I can tell you how I have had my wells. Below you see a farm pump set up that is operated by hand. At the bottom is a cylinder that is the actual pumping part. What is nice about this is that the gasket in the cylinder and packing in the pump head are the only parts that have wear. The gasket is called the leathers because they are often made of leather and can be made on the farm. The packing is graphite cord easily found at the local hardware store but pork rind can be used also.

… You can see the farm pump out front. I had the electric pump replaced with this set up. I have a pump jack for it and motors but prefer it as it is. We can manually pump water to a pressure tank inside the house. Kathy’s (my partner) 7 year old grandchild can pump it.

When people would come visit me at my old place during those first ten years when I had no electricity, I told them they could use all the water they wanted. They only had to pump it. It is amazing how quickly people learned to conserve water. They were learning.

John Weber lived off the grid for over 30 years making my own electricity from sun and wind.. Am most concerned about the psychological impact of the culture shock coming down the pike.
(8 November 2011)

Peak oil can fuel a change for the better

Samuel Alexander, Sydney Morning Herald
… Since almost all products today are dependent on oil for transport (among other things, such as plastic), the age of expensive oil will eventually price much global trade out of the market. Peak oil probably means ”peak globalisation”.

This may well result in the localisation of economies – not as a top-down initiative, nor as a grassroots uprising, but simply as a consequence of markets reacting to high oil prices. This dynamic will change the world fundamentally over the next few decades, and the chief economist of the International Energy Agency recently said we should have begun preparing for the end of cheap oil at least 10 years ago. Some energy analysts are even suggesting peak oil might signify the ”end of economic growth”, as economies need cheap energy to grow. If that is so, the future is not going to look anything like the past, and we should be preparing ourselves for this – psychologically, socially, economically and politically.

The rise of consumer societies since the industrial revolution has only been possible due to the abundant supply of cheap fossil fuels – most notably, oil – and the persistence of consumer societies depend upon continued supply. In the absence of oil, for example, the average Australian would need the labour of about 130 ”energy slaves” working eight hours a day to sustain their lifestyle. The looming implications of peak oil suggest the global consumer class should begin preparing itself for a significant downscaling of the highly energy and resource-intensive lifestyles that are widely celebrated today.

This may be desirable for environmental and social justice reasons, of course, but oil supply may soon enforce such downscaling, whether it is desirable or not. While the requirement to consume less stuff will be a great and unpleasant cultural shock for all those who do not anticipate it, members of the global consumer class could actually benefit from this transition by voluntarily embracing a ”simpler life” of reduced energy and resource consumption. Consume less, live more. It’s well worth considering. …

Dr Samuel Alexander is a lecturer in consumerism and sustainability at the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne. He is also co-director of the Simplicity Institute (, a research institute that addresses issues related to sustainable consumption, peak oil and post-growth economics. This piece is an edited version of a lecture organised by Melbourne Free University. [email protected]
(11 January 2012)
Dr Samuel Alexander’s site is Simplicity Institute. He has just posted an 18-page pager: Peak Oil, Energy Descent, and the Fate of Consumerism (PDF). -BA