Sunday, March 2, 2008

World Made by Hand

I just read Kunstler's World Made by Hand and was quite impressed. I wasn't sure what to expect in a fiction book from him. I didn't want to read a thinly veiled rant. Instead, I came away thoughtful, moved and with several new ideas.

My husband never reads all the books I recommend to him ;), so I summarized the plot and the background for him and we started talking about all the ways in which we are dependent upon long drawn out supply chains, fossil fuels, items of planned obsolescence, and city services.

Here's our list:
  • Water supplies
  • Electricity - for food storage, heating, cooking, communication, entertainment, lighting
  • Sewage services
  • Waste removal
  • Food supplies
  • Road & highway & sign maintenance
  • The use of anything consumable instead of reusable
  • Fuel for cars
  • Parts for any moving appliance or tool
  • Weather prediction (the tornado sirens just went off an hour ago)
  • Police
  • Firefighters
  • Medical emergencies

In other words, basically everything. Kunstler makes the point very well that once upon a time, good design transformed nature's bounty to provide for our needs. We depended upon each other, but we also knew and trusted each other. Now we depend on millions of faceless machines and people who have only a tenuous connection to us, based almost entirely upon profit.

So how can we move from dependence to independence and interdependence?

  • Rainwater catchment
  • Planting gardens and fruit trees/shrubs/vines
  • Beekeeping, keeping chickens or ducks
  • Storing 6 months - 2 years of food
  • Storing a supply of barter goods
  • Reducing our need for electricity and having backups and alternatives
  • Consider a humanure project - at least for the future
  • Reduce creation of "trash" and "waste" by composting, and saving/repurposing objects
  • Learn to bike and get in shape
  • Form neighborhood groups for security, synergy and community
  • Learn a valuable and barterable skill
  • Get hand tools (if needed) for your skill
  • Stay healthy through nutrition, exercise, meditation, yoga, and massage
  • Know the skill sets of your neighbors, your friends and families. Who will be your doctor, dentist, midwife, plumber, "procurer", supplier of milk and grain? Who else is PO aware and preparing?
  • Know the geography of your neighborhood. Where are the back streets? What local shops are there? What churches are there? Where is the open land?

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