Tennesseetransitions


We Have the Tools We Need

grandmaThis blog is mostly about ways to create resilient and prosperous households, neighborhoods and communities, or, as implied in the picture above, ways to “do stuff”. I wrote a post earlier this year on ‘redefining prosperity’ and I’ve been reminded of it several times this week while listening to lunch break talk. As you probably know, stock markets around the world have taken a beating since last Friday, and folks, from economists to retirees to my workmates are worried. Call me crazy, but I’m not worried, even though we lost a lot ON PAPER due to the plunge. I try to measure my personal prosperity based on how wealthy I am in non-tangible ways rather than on what the monthly statements tell me. Of course I hate to lose money, even if it is ON PAPER, as much as anyone. But I don’t feel any real sense of loss. I’m not going to sell out now, I’m going to stay the course and let the blue chips fall where they may. In the meantime I intend to continue doing whatever I can to make my home and family and community more resilient, so that when the economic crashes and recessions occur-and they will!- we’ll still be standing.

On a personal level, that means staying out of debt and paying cash or doing without. It means using what I have on hand, before buying something, whether it’s a jar of our home-grown tomatoes or a bottle of shampoo. It means continuing to grow as much food as I can, saving my own seeds and making small mountains of compost so that I can return what I’ve taken from the soil, and then doing it all over again next year. It means keeping my body as strong and as healthy as I can through healthy eating, regular exercise and sleeping 7 or 8 hours each night. It means repairing rather than replacing, putting food up for the winter, hanging the sheets on the line to dry, using the fan rather than the AC and driving the car less. I have the tools I need…

Resiliency and prosperity is different for each of us though. Perhaps for you it’s working through debt, learning a special skill that might be useful in bad times, or starting your own small business. For ALL of us, it really does mean having a local supply chain, just like our grandparents did during the Great Depression. When China’s economy collapses (and according to recent NPR reports that’s not as far fetched as you may think) that familiar ‘made in China’ supply chain will break and we’ll be dependent on what we can produce right here at home. And if that chain doesn’t break, doesn’t it just make SENSE to supply ourselves with our own stuff, right here at home? We need the jobs here-badly. And by the way, I’d advise China to do the same. Did you know that last month the USDA gave the OK to ship our LIVE chickens that were raised here to China for processing, then ship the meat BACK to the US for our consumption? What would our grandparents have thought of that hare-brained scheme? Would they have raised their own backyard chickens and sent them away to butcher? In direct contrast, check out the message on this poster that the USDA produced during the Great Depression:

Feed YourselfOur recently re-activated neighborhood association met with the chief of police and the sergeant  assigned to our district Monday night to discuss ways we can keep our neighborhood safer and free from July 4th fireworks that go on throughout the month. Working side by side with neighbors on issues that affect all of us is a sure way to get to know one another and be part of a more livable community. There were 33 people at the meeting, with plans to have block captains, neighborhood watches and to be represented in this year’s Christmas parade! That’s the start of better resilience for sure. I’m hoping at some point we’ll begin to talk about public gardens,orchards and vineyards, bike lanes, Little Free Libraries and “Safe Houses”, health clinics and more. We have the tools we need…

And finally, on a larger community level, resiliency and prosperity might mean outlining a detailed plan for community food security or supporting a community-owned energy system, municipal composting facility or ride sharing plan. It may mean a leaner and slower way of life for some, but also a healthier, happier and more peaceful world for us and future generations to enjoy. We have the tools we need… What we do with them is up to us.

hard times to dance

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What’s growin’ on?

 Between four fun road trips with my best friend this summer…

20140831_120953[1]and several fun gigs with our band…

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…as well as not-so-fun computer problems, home decorating projects and now end-of-summer gardening chores, I’ve accepted the fact that I just don’t have as much time to write in the summer as I do during the cooler months. I love the change of seasons, but I am especially looking forward to the slow-down of autumn this year. Our garden has been wildly productive, and that’s the good news. Really. But I’m one of those people that can’t bear to let food go to waste, especially when I’ve worked hard to grow it, and this wildly productive garden has put pressure on me to DO SOMETHING with it all. I’ve given it to friends and strangers…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve canned it, frozen it, dried it, eaten it and delivered it…

20140728_115524[1]I’ve stored it under the beds and dressers, in the pantry and now the butternuts will join the potatoes, garlic, onions, beets and carrots in the root cellar…

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…and still, it continues. At this writing, I’ve cleared out practically everything I had growing in my plot at the community garden, have amended the tired soil there with many wheelbarrows of our home-made compost and the last of the shredded leaves that the city delivered to us last fall, and ‘put it to bed’ for the upcoming winter with a warm blanket of scarlet clover. But! I couldn’t resist buying some cool season transplants of cabbages, broccoli and Brussels sprouts and set them out this week in a little empty row I found. Since I didn’t have the time it would’ve taken to start them from seeds, it seemed a good choice this year. They won’t produce for a couple of months, but even now, we still have an abundance of fresh food!  There’s still LOTS of Swiss chard, with spinach and kale comin’ on strong…

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The storage onions and sweet bell peppers are finished, but the late onions and hot peppers will keep coming ’til frost. I’m canning lots of hot pepper jelly for hostess and gift giving. This stuff ROCKS with cream cheese and crackers!

pepper jelly

The cherry tomatoes still fill our salad bowls each evening at supper, along with the take-a-chance-romaine that I thought wouldn’t produce in such hot weather-surprise! There are still fresh mints, herbs, parsley and basil, and with cooler weather my self-seeding cilantro patches have reappeared-just in time to add to the final bowls of fresh salsa or pico de gallo that we love with to eat with black beans and rice…

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August-planted beets and carrots have joined the parsnips and will be mulched with more leaves once they’re all full sized, then finally! garlic will join them in their warm bed come early November. THEN maybe I can get back to writing more regularly here. I have a whole page of ideas that I think are worth sharing with you; ideas about redefining prosperity, batch cooking, Little Free Libraries, worm bins, wildcrafting, herbal helpers, Transition Towns, and much more-all small stories about big change. BUT!  if we collectively plan and act early enough, we can create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more fulfilling than the one we find ourselves in today. It is time to take stock and to re-create our future in ways that are not based on cheap, plentiful and polluting oil (and gas) but on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community well-being. Stay with me as we grow together!

happy fall ya'll

 




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