John Robb (johnmrobb) Mon 5 Sep 11 06:56
Christian, The one thing any community has vs. any exterior group: They are defending their homes. Their family. Their property. Also, I wouldn't think of any gang as a monolithic enterprise. It's segmented, not hierarchical. A good example of this is how quickly the militias took over favelas in Brazil from the larger drug gangs (not that many of the militias are any better than a drug gang in some instances). JR
John Robb (johnmrobb) Mon 5 Sep 11 07:10
This isn't for everyone. Getting ready for a decade of global depression and potentially, a crisis of capitalism, isn't something you can sell most people on. Nor would I want to attempt it. You either see it too, or you don't. As a result, most folks are going to learn what it takes to get by *after* it happens.
J. Eric Townsend (jet) Mon 5 Sep 11 08:06
>The question is what we can do before that point. Exactly. I think it's a matter of leading by example, at least in my fair borough. We've decided to start pushing the boundaries here by getting rid of our front lawn. We've converted half of it to hardy, native plants and are slowly preparing to let the rest of it "go native" in a way that the borough can't complain about. In a couple of years, we'll be able to have some edible flowers and decorative plants in place and loan the reel mower to the neighbors. And ever so gently, I've been bringing up the issue of composting and raised beds with the neighbors. They're impressed with the two small ones we have in our back yard and I've offered to help them set some up using stone or native hardwood.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 5 Sep 11 10:30
At Worldchanging, we talked about getting to a sustainable, practical and resilient lifestyle with a relatively high standard of living, not defined as owning a McMansion and and SUV, but having all needs met, strong and supportive community, zero environmental footprint, etc. We could always avoid buying into a dystopian or apocalyptic vision of the future and assume that things can actually be better than they are. Wondering how to construct viable "better" scenarios acknowledging the difficult state of the world. I suppose I could start by ordering a pair of 5.11 tactical pants...
Paulina Borsook (loris) Mon 5 Sep 11 11:47
and do all the knowledge workers/symbolic manipulators become blacksmiths?
Christian De Leon-Horton (echodog) Mon 5 Sep 11 13:06
Well, no. Because metal working is just going to be one of the many skill sets required in a resilient community. Go down the list and see what it takes to actually have a decent, reasonably comfortable life. I'd argue, in fact, that metal work is actually fairly middle of the list somewhere--food, heat, and medical care are probably much higher up. The skills and assets would also have to be fairly well distributed throughout the community to work--John recently described something that he calls the "pitchfork factor," which could be roughly defined as "the likelihood that your neighbors are going to come and loot you during a crisis." Short lesson--don't hoard. Be prepared to get with the neighbors and do your bit. Which leads me to ask, what are the required assets, both skills and artifacts, required to make a community "resilient", and at what scale? Obviously there are things a small town could achieve that a neighborhood couldn't.
J. Eric Townsend (jet) Mon 5 Sep 11 13:27
There are levels of these skills. There's the metalworking needed to make/fix hand tools, that's down there on the blacksmithing end of things, and while not trivial, is easily learned and doesn't require a lot of precision tools. Sheet-metal work is harder and requires fancier tools and supplies, and at the high-end, there's machining on a mill or lathe and welding, all of which require significant sources of power, accurate equipment, and a lot more infrastructure in general than blacksmithing requires. The same is going to be true for medicine -- it's probably way more useful for someone to have basic first aid knowledge and one or two people who have extra skills like suturing or splinting.
Paulina Borsook (loris) Mon 5 Sep 11 14:10
<just thinking about this particular mcmansion area --- where everyone there is an exec in finance or big pharma or is an academic --- and how their skills might repurpose). other people are a few miles away --- classic exurban sprawl...
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 5 Sep 11 14:48
Electrical and networks and sewage systems are high on my list. Can resilient communities roll their own?
Lena M. Diethelm (lendie) Mon 5 Sep 11 16:26
I have been thinking for quite some time that we may need to go to a "barefoot doctors" model for a lot of nursing/care/medicine that doesn't have to be done by MDs. My husband came home from the hospital recently with a tummy feeding tube and a drain to an abscess. In the hospital all of this is dealt with by RNs or LVN/CNAs who have lots of training and experience. We, otoh, were sent home to do the very same tasks with little knowledge and experience and certainly no licenses. A friend of ours just spend 9 years caring for his late wife who had a nasty form of leukemia, a stem cell transplant and enormous host v graft disease complications. He's writing a book about how much care can actually be done at home and at a much lower cost.
Christian De Leon-Horton (echodog) Mon 5 Sep 11 22:33
In fact, many communities working under dire economic straits have "rolled their own" power generation and waste solutions, but the results aren't always pretty. Many electrical systems tend to consist of small diesel or petrol generators and whatever fuel you can afford to run them. Waste management may exist at the level of "flying toilets" or open sewage drains. The thing is, these solutions are based primarily on a lack of understanding of community enterprise and available technologies. It's somewhat difficult, but certainly not impossible, for a community to create a sewage handling system that is much more efficient and possibly generates additional benefits. For example, the development of composting toilets in Nairobi is being used to support parks and supplement local incomes. http://sustainablecities.dk/en/city-projects/cases/nairobi-compost-creates-inc ome-for-park-maintenance Those of us in the west may have a particularly hard time mentally adapting to techniques such as composting toilets, but we are much more materially and informationally advantaged compared to most people in developing countries. If we can't shift to effective contingency solutions under our current "stuff glut," we only have ourselves to blame.
Christian De Leon-Horton (echodog) Mon 5 Sep 11 22:43
By the way, we've gone several posts here without direct reference to John's blog and the Miiu wiki, so for those just arriving to the conversation here's where to look: http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/ http://www.miiu.org/wiki/Main_Page
John Robb (johnmrobb) Tue 6 Sep 11 06:11
Lena, self care is possible in MANY cases. Just need the equipment and some training. Currently doing that in my family with Type 1 Diabetes and Parkinsons. Of course, my wife is a OR nurse, so that helps. Jon. Community electrical is definitely possible. Combo microgrids and CHP/Sterling systems. Going to omnivorous fuel consumption/concentrated solar and heat storage as the end game locally. Sewage shouldn't be a problem either. Biodigesters should be everywhere, particularly in urban communities. All it takes is the will and the effort to do it.
John Robb (johnmrobb) Tue 6 Sep 11 06:23
>>Which leads me to ask, what are the required assets, both skills and artifacts, required to make a community "resilient", and at what scale? That's a hard question and there isn't a simple answer. Most of the knowledge/skill we need is out there right now. It exists in most communities already. However, I'm not talking about turning back the clock to 19th Century production methods. We have new tech. New ways of building and operating things now that allow a level of productivity at the micro level that has never been seen before. Check out what Marcin is doing at open source ecology: http://blog.opensourceecology.org/ >> At worldchanging: We could always avoid buying into a dystopian or apocalyptic vision of the future and assume that things can actually be better than they are. I would have done the same if my focus was climate change given the time horizons involved. My task is much easier. The dystopian future is emerging as I write this. Economic depression is our future. Hollow, bankrupt nation-states are our future. A crisis of capitalism (the last great ideology) is in our future. No buy in required. It's already on our doorstep. Will it get better? It will. Absolutely. The best results, as far as I can imagine, will be achieved through localizing production and virtualizing everything else.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 6 Sep 11 06:57
I managed to write a blog review about my, uhm, pants. http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2011/09/the-new-pants-revue/ Then me and the pants ventured over to Bastrop where they are having the worst and biggest wildfire in Texas history. Things were pretty calm there, because the town wasn't on fire; it was mostly the drought-scorched remnants of a state forest that was on fire. And boy was it ever. If you were in the path of that inferno, it wouldn't matter much how many multitools you had. There's just not a lot left there to be resilient about. http://photoblog.statesman.com/tag/central-texas-fires I took some photos myself. The cops wouldn't let us get any closer, they had the roads barricaded, they were chasing off clusters of rubbernecking photographers. Nice pants, cops. Real handy. http://www.flickr.com/photos/brucesterling/sets/72157627602991156/ This oughta feel a lost scarier than it is. It's a historically unprecedented drought and without the high-tech air cover the whole state could burn off. It's tinder. All of it.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 6 Sep 11 07:00
"No buy in required. It's already on our doorstep." Yup; and there are some areas where it's already through the door and out the back door.
J. Eric Townsend (jet) Tue 6 Sep 11 08:02
I think a key to resiliency is "don't live where it's really hard to live in the first place". There's a lot of Texas and New Mexico and Arizona that was only lightly populated for a very long time before running water and the grid.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Tue 6 Sep 11 11:00
<scribbled by tcn Tue 6 Sep 11 11:03>
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Tue 6 Sep 11 11:05
"No buy in required"...it's a hard sell in Phoenix and to my kids, who I keep trying to move out of here. If it weren't for the grandkids I'd be out of here in a flash...just entirely unsustainable from my point of view....but the strip malls are thriving and you can still get gas for your SUV's, Walmart's cranking and my kids think I'm crazy to see it any differently....aaargh, so I'm hooking up with 'makers' and 'shakers' and trying to do some community work...nice to see some links from miiu for Tempe and Chandler, will follow up. OTOH, browsing at Barnes and Nobel this morning I ran into the Counter Terrorist Magazine - a couple of mags over from 2600....there's just something wrong when slick magazines start appearing - suppose hacker chic, posers, and bumper stickers will be next. All this followed by Kevin Mitnik's new book mentioning how he hacked the WELL to store his info on its servers. Sobering morning.
Christian De Leon-Horton (echodog) Tue 6 Sep 11 12:19
It's definitely pretty complicated trying to define what community resiliency means, and at what scale. I've been trying to put my head around this for some time. There are a lot of factors involved, including the depth of the resiliency you expect to achieve--you can only expect a community to take so many hits before bending or breaking in some way. I've considered trying to organize technologies into various tiers, depending on their complexity and utility. Tier 1, for example, would be technologies that are readily deployed on a contingency basis by people with little to no specialized knowledge, using available artifacts. For example, the SODIS solar water distillation system would be an example of Tier 1 technology for developing potable water. http://www.sodis.ch/index_EN Tier 2 describes technologies which are derived from low-cost artifacts and can deployed by individuals or small groups with readily-acquired specialized knowledge and short-term labor expenditure. A tier 2 example for the potable water problem is the solar distillation frame developed by the El Paso Solar Energy Association. http://www.epsea.org/stills.html Tier 3 describes technologies which show long-term sustainability and utility, but which must be deployed by groups with highly specialized knowledge and require advanced materials and considerable expenditure of labor to develop. A tier 3 example for potable water production is the Living Machines system developed by Dr. Jack Todd. http://www.oceanarks.org/Natural_Water_Treatment.php I'm thinking that the use of technology tiers could provide a kind of ladder that communities can use to move from short-term contingency solutions to long-term sustainable solutions. This might be a good time to confess I've been spending a lot of time surfing the web downloading information on tier 1 and tier 2 solutions.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 6 Sep 11 14:56
Not feeling too perky today. May have been something I inhaled downwind of the flames. I'm poring over the perky, resilient, federal-local urgings here. When did placid Austin TX turn into quake-jumpy Los Angeles CA? http://www.austinhsem.com/go/doc/3603/976339/ You think maybe this guy had a bug-out bag and a shortwave radio? He doesn't seem to be carrying much. http://www.worldcrunch.com/new-dramatic-footage-japanese-tsunami/3708
J. Eric Townsend (jet) Tue 6 Sep 11 15:15
<echodog>, I've been thinking along similar-but-different lines in terms of bootstrapping fabrication technology. I like your hierarchy. The disaster planning and whatnot in Japan is truly amazing compared to what we had in the bay area, forget places where the "only" thing you need to worry about is a derailed train of chemical cars or tornados.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 6 Sep 11 16:23
Just want to repeat that readers of this discussion who are not members of the WELL can still participate by sending comments and questions to inkwell at well.com.
John Robb (johnmrobb) Wed 7 Sep 11 03:20
Eric, love the tier approach to technologies. Put it on MiiU! Hope you feel better Bruce. I'm headed off to the Army War College today. Will try to respond to any questions over the next couple of days until I get back.
Javier Sandez (jonl) Wed 7 Sep 11 11:47
Questions submitted via email by Javier Sandez: 1)What would be the way for a western state's economic, political and social systems to transition from their present state to a resilient, open source form of organisation? 2)What would be the way for a western state defense systems to transition from their present state to a resilient, open source form of organisation? 3)How can energy/wealth be harvested from the collapse of capitalism and transformed into the input/fuel of the building/transformation processes implied in 1 and 2?
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