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Responding to Collapse: Uncertain Future Forum Wrap-Up

Responding to Collapse: Uncertain Future Forum Wrap-Up

When we invited Dahr Jamail, Meghan Kallman, Taylor Brorby, and Winona LaDuke to answer the admittedly difficult and emotionally charged question that is this forum’s topic, we didn’t expect to get the “right” answer from any of them. There is no “right” answer. What’s “right” is subjective—very much dependent on our individual circumstances and how we define “collapse.” I would venture that the answer is also fundamentally unknowable. It will be a moving target as the complex, adaptive systems of energy, climate, economy, and politics interact in ways that we can neither predict nor fully prepare for.

But that doesn’t mean the question—how do we respond to collapse?—is futile or that the attempt to answer it is pointless. In fact, it may be the most important question each of us needs to ask—and re-ask—ourselves and one another over the coming days, months, and years.

That’s why we wanted this to be the very first topic of the Uncertain Future Forum and invited Winona, Taylor, Meghan, and Dahr to answer the question (and respond to one another’s answers) in whatever way they felt compelled. And it’s why I would like to invite you to grapple with the question and share your answer in the comments section below.

Though there are as many answers to this question as there are people asking it, I did notice some common themes in the responses of our authors. One is the need to be honest with ourselves and each other about the reality we face. Another is the need to contend with our own grief, as Dahr Jamail shared.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Are American Communities Dying?

Why Are American Communities Dying?

Most Americans who have been around for a while know life is nothing like it used to be. When someone wanted a job one was found with a little bit of searching. Today jobs are difficult to find, especially in small communities. 

When I was growing up in the 70’s, there were several car dealers in my community. There were three tractor dealers and too many mom and pop stores to count. Today there are two used car dealers and the nearest tractor dealer is twenty miles away. So how is it that we now have more people, but fewer businesses to employ them?

A nations wealth is derived from having a product to sell. That wealth needs to circulate in towns and cities to compound the wealth effect and create jobs and businesses. When wealth is not created or it is siphoned off to other places, the wealth effect can not happen, and in many cases goes into reverse. A community needs a certain amount of service related jobs to function but it also needs some type of production jobs to bring in money from the outside. This can be mining , agriculture or manufacturing type jobs, but they must exist to insure a healthy economy.

America has two major problems today. A large amount of our production is done outside the country eliminating production jobs in local communities and many of the small local businesses that kept wealth within communities have been supplanted by large corporations that siphon wealth out of communities and send it to wall street. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Excerpt From “De-growth in the Suburbs, A Radical Urban Imaginary.”


Over the next 4 weeks we will be sharing with you excerpt from Samuel Alexander and Brendan Gleeson’s new book, “Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary”.

This book addresses a central dilemma of the urban age: how to make suburban landscapes sustainable in the face of planetary ecological crisis.  The authors argue that degrowth, a planned contraction of overgrown economies, is the most coherent paradigm for suburban renewal. They depart from the anti-suburban sentiment of much environmentalism to show that existing suburbia can be the centre-ground of transition to a new social dispensation based on the principle of enlightened material and energy restraint.

Prelude: The Great Resettlement

This book opens, as it must, by acknowledging that the human species stands at the precipice of self-made destruction. At the very hour when modern humanity arrived at the pinnacle of triumph – a global market economy promising riches for all—the skies have been darkened by the terrible spectres of ecological and social threat. Global warming is only one of these storm clouds, but this alone has the potential to lay waste to our species, as well as most others. At the same time, vast oceans of debilitating poverty surround small islands of unfathomable plenty, exposing the violent betrayal of the growth agenda, euphemistically (or just deceptively) known in public discourse as ‘sustainable development’. This is a race leading towards an abyss, both enabled and entrenched by a sterility of imagination.

The late German scholar Ulrich Beck spoke of how triumph and crisis simultaneously emerge and remerge in a world pervasively and con- tinuously remade by capitalist modernisation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Disaster collectivism: How communities rise together to respond to crises

Disaster collectivism: How communities rise together to respond to crises

When Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017, Judith Rodriguez was asleep in her home. Or rather, she was trying to sleep, but the sounds of the deadly storm blowing over the island woke her up.

“That whistle was the ugliest I’ve heard in my life,” Rodriguez said. “A whistle that was never silent. It was endless. … I thought that my house was in good condition, at least I thought that. And as I woke up at 2:30am, I felt scared. The first scare was when the back door went flying off — a metal door in the kitchen.”

Like much of the island, the town of Cayey, where Rodriguez lives, was plunged into darkness for months, as winds reaching 175 mph destroyed power lines and tore roofs off houses. Already in the midst of a crippling debt crisis, and with no immediate relief in sight, communities like Cayey had to make due with the few resources they had.

“In my house I had a lot of plates,” Rodriguez says. “What if I donate my plates that are laying in a corner in my home?” She wasn’t the only one with that idea. In towns and cities all over the island, from Cayey to Caguas and Humacao to Las Marias, something began to stir. Plate donations grew into community kitchens which grew into community centers which grew into a movement. With its furiously whistling winds, Hurricane Maria had awakened something in the Puerto Rican people, something that storms, fires, earthquakes — and all manner of disasters and catastrophes — have awakened in communities all around the world.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Feeling Isolated?


Feeling Isolated?

If so, you’re not alone

Does anyone else in your life share your concerns for the future?

Is there someone you talk with regularly about the unsustainability of our current economic and ecological trajectories?

Do you have friends and/or family members who support your efforts to develop a more resilient lifestyle?

If you answered “no” to these questions, you’re not an outlier. In fact, the #1 most commonly-reported complaint we hear from Peak Prosperity readers is that they feel alone and isolated when it comes to the warnings delivered in The Crash Course.

The end of economic growth. Declining net energy. Accelerating resource depletion. These are MASSIVE existential threats to our way of life — to our species’ survival, even. Most PPers can’t comprehend why *everyone* isn’t obessively talking about these dangers.

But very few people are. Truthfully, most don’t want to; for a wide variety of reasons.

So that leaves us, the conscientious critical thinkers, alone by ourselves to worry and plan.

Does this sound like you? If so, read on…

Wired For Connection

Humans are biologically wired for social connection.

Until just recently, historically-speaking, humans typically existed in small tribal groups of 30-60 people, where the degree of unity and cohesiveness of the group directly determined its odds of survival. Facing constant adversity from the weather, predators, other tribes, etc — every member of the group had a role and a duty to perform.

We’ve delved into this topic deeply in the past, particularly in our podcast with Peabody Award-winning author Sebastian Junger.

In his book Tribe, Junger observes how far modern life is from the conditions our distant ancestors evolved from. We are so dis-connected from each other now that the lack of community is manifesting in alarming ways in today’s society.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Science Of Community


The Science Of Community

The 4 key success factors for bringing people together

The Peak Prosperity tribe is gathering.

Members from all over the country (including a few from Europe and Asia) are arriving in northern California today for our annual weekend seminar.

Chris and I are really looking forward to this. We’re introducing a host of upgrades this year: a better location, a better venue, new content and exercises, and guest appearances by many of the experts who appear on PeakProsperity.com (including Charles Hugh Smith, Richard Heinberg, Axel Merk, Wolf Richter, David Pare, Mark Rees, the New Harbor team, the folks from Farmland LP, as well as several others).

But as anyone who has attended one of our past seminars (or city Summits) knows, it’s the PP members themselves who are the heart of the experience. Having so many like-minded folks in one place at the same time is a refreshing and energizing rarity.

The community that has developed here at Peak Prosperity is truly special. It attracts members who are smart, curious, open-minded, open-hearted — and share a drive to create a better future for themselves, their loved ones, and the world around them.

Of all the elements of the movement Chris and I have worked hard to build over the years, connecting such amazing individuals together into this community is our proudest achievement. Given our mission of “Creating a World Worth Inheriting”, we know that the path to success depends on the collective action of many than on the efforts of just we two.

Which is why we take community-building so seriously.

As we write about often, Social Capital is very important for each of us to build in order to live a resilient life. And whether you’re building it on an individual level in your local neighborhood, or on a global scale as PeakProsperity.com does, there are several science-based factors that are key to success.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

George Monbiot’s Out of the Wreckage; A friendly critique

Few have made a more commendable contribution to saving the planet than George Monbiot. His recent book, Out of the Wreckage, continues the effort and puts forward many important ideas…but I believe there are problems with his diagnosis and his remedy.

The book is an excellent short, clear account of several of the core faults in consumer-capitalist society, and the alternatives advocated are admirable. George’s focal concern is the loss of community, and the cause is, as we know, neo-liberalism. He puts this in terms of the “story” that dominates thinking. Today the taken for granted background story about society is that it is made of competitive, self-interest-maximizing individuals, and therefore our basic institutions and processes are geared to a struggle to accumulate private wealth, rather than to encouraging concern for each other and improving the welfare of all. Thatcher went further, instructing us that there is not even any such thing as society, only individuals. George begins by rightly contradicting such vicious nonsense, pointing out that humans are fundamentally nice, altruistic, caring and cooperative, but we have allowed these dispositions to be overridden primarily by an economic system that obliges us to behave differently.

He gives heavy and convincing documentation of- this theme. Chapters 1 and 2 deal with several indicators of the sad state of affairs. “ … this age of atomization breeds anxiety, discontent and unhappiness.” (p. 18.) “An epidemic of loneliness is sweeping the world.” (p. 16.) Chapter 3 deals with the way neoliberalism has caused the social damage that has accumulated over the last forty years.

But my first concern with the book is that disastrous as it is, neo-liberalism isn’t the main problem confronting us and likely to destroy us.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Gordon Parks Daytona Beach, Florida. Bethune-Cookman College. Football practice 1943
Here’s a delicious little rant from Dr. D., by now a regular contributor at the Automatic Earth.

Dr. D: The schizophrenia surrounding the tariff plan is really startling. But then I could just say, “the level of insanity everywhere is startling.”

Self-avowed schmartz-guys are all “doesn’t the U.S. know their empire is failing and everybody is cutting them off? What are they thinking starting trade wars with allies and raising prices???” Stop. So your argument is the U.S. is losing its influence, other nations are about to cut it off and end the trade deficit, and thereby basically halt imports? While the U.S. has no internal manufacturing? And your argument here is that, not if but when the world cuts us off we a) would like to have some steel and aluminum to build factories, washing machines and tanks or b) do NOT want to have access to the basic raw materials of society? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

I’m sorry that this generation burned down the factory, then retreated to the mansion, sold off and burned all the furniture there too, then ran up the credit card with cocaine and heroin parties while yelling “I’m a rock star! I’m a Contender!”, but they did. Now there are only bad decisions, like the ones real adults have.

And there’s nothing but work to put that factory back up, and that’s going to cost something, in this case, money and higher prices, using the thousand-year method of protective tariffs. Why not? Europe has 25% tariffs. China has a virtual lockout. If the U.S. machine then also has higher real wages for U.S. workers they can afford the tariffs. I mean, what’s their counterargument? If it’s better to not have steel and aluminum, perhaps we should shut down the few remaining foundries and have NO materials? I mean, if a little is bad, surely none is way better.

Mish for example thinks this way: if China is willing to give us cheap, under-market steel we should take it. No, not if you want to have a country, you don’t. Isn’t it a matter of national security to be able to make tanks, ships, railroads, and artillery? There’s more to the world than money.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Introduction to The Community Resilience Reader

We’re pleased to announce the publication of our latest book, The Community Resilience Reader: Essential Resources for an Era of Upheaval, edited by Daniel Lerch and published with Island Press. Here is the Introduction chapter, which explains why we’ve produced this important new collection of essays.

For over thirty years, the world community has tried to resolve the combined challenges of environmental degradation, fossil fuel dependence, economic inequality, and persistent social injustice—largely under the banner of internationally brokered “sustainable development.” Despite some partial successes, it is clear today that the pace of these global trends has not been slowed, let alone stopped or reversed. Their scale has grown and their impacts have become so widespread that they now threaten the stability—in some cases even the existence—of communities around the world. The global sustainability challenges of the past have become the local resilience crises of today.

Resilience is the ability of a system—like a family, or a country, or Earth’s biosphere—to cope with short-term disruptions and adapt to long-term changes without losing its essential character. We depend on the resilience of all the systems that support us for life and well-being; if these systems falter, we suffer. A crisis is an unstable state of affairs in which decisive change is both necessary and inevitable. Today we face four major crises—environmental, energy, economic, and equity—that threaten to overwhelm the resilience of the systems we care about, particularly at the local level.

The failure of international sustainability efforts to thwart these crises means resilience-building efforts at the community level—working on all issues and systems, not just climate change and infrastructure—are needed more than ever. But the charge to build community resilience raises important questions: Resilience of what, exactly? Resilient to what, exactly? Building resilience how, and benefiting whom?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Michael Basta: The Science Of Conflict Resolution

How persevere through difficulty in your key relationships
We write often here about the importance of community and how it’s an essential ingredient for resilient living. Not only do people’s support and aid offer solutions our own shortcomings can’t address, but their encouragement, support and partnership fulfill our lives in ways isolation cannot.

As our podcast with Pulitzer prize-winning author Sebastian Junger explored, humans are evolutionarily hard-wired to co-exist in community with others. Deriving self-worth from our relationships is simply a fundamental feature of the human species.

But relationships are messy. No two people are exactly alike and disagreements are inevitable. So when conflict arises, how can we navigate through them in ways that strengthen our relationships rather than tear them asunder?

A classic case in point: here at PeakProsperity.com, a very common form of relationship conflict our readers experience is what we refer to as “reluctant partner syndrome“. One partner learns about The Three Es and develops a strongly-felt sense of urgency to prepare for coming crisis. The other partner doesn’t understand this transformation and simply wants life to continue along as it always has been — who needs all the doom and gloom anyways? And the conflicts quickly ensue…

Anyone for whom that situation resonates will enjoy hearing from this week’s podcast guest, Michael Basta. Mike has worked in mental health for 30 years and is a certified Master Gottman Therapist. (Those who read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink may remember the chapter on John Gottman, whose decades of research studying couples enables him to determine with 94% accuracy after just a few minutes of observation whether a couple will stick together or not.)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Really Matters

What Really Matters

A reality-check on what’s truly important in life

Here at PeakProsperity.com, we devote a lot of focus to building wealth and other forms of “capital“. This website has hosted thousands of discussions over the years on how to preserve and increase wealth.

But what’s it all for?

Every so often, it’s useful to pull waay back to look at the big picture. To re-examine the Why? underlying our plans and aspirations.

Most of us don’t do this very often. We usually only do so after life throws us a curve ball — often some form of tragedy or crisis — that suddenly forces us to re-evaluate everything we may have taken for granted beforehand.

I’ve certainly been guilty of some of this complacency. I think Chris would admit to a little, as well. But sadly, we’ve both recently experienced traumatic events that have forced a renewed appreciation of what truly matters in life.

For me, my (very personal and highly subjective) conclusion is that it pretty much boils down to just two things:

  1. living with meaning, and
  2. valued relationships

Everything else — money, knowledge, possessions, skills, experiences…even our beliefs and actions — are means to achieve those two goals.

Living with meaning is a huge topic. One we’ve addressed in parts occasionally here at PP.com and which I expect we’ll tackle more ambitiously in the future. But for now, I just want to point out that it’s rooted within the individual. Each of us has to identify what “meaning” is for ourselves, and then determine how best to pursue it in our lives. (Much easier said than done, of course).

Valued relationships, on the other hand, are by definition interpersonal. As our podcast with Pulitzer prize-winning author Sebastian Junger explored, humans are evolutionarily hard-wired to co-exist in community with others. Deriving self-worth from our relationships is simply a fundamental feature of the human species. And the theme of the remainder of this article.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Thriving Communities & the Solidarity Economy

In 2009, Professor Tim Jackson catalysed a step-change in the conversation about the ‘growth imperative’ that is structurally built into our economic system. In a report for the UK Sustainable Development Commission, Jackson dared to name the elephant in the room by asking whether “prosperity without growth” was a possibility, stating clearly why ‘business as usual’ was no longer an option (Jackson, 2009a).

[This is an excerpt of a subchapter from Designing Regenerative Cultures, published by Triarchy Press, 2016.]

The report showed that while the global economy has more than doubled in size in the last 25 years, it has severely degraded more than 60% of the world’s ecosystems without delivering a more equitable sharing of wealth. To the contrary, inequality has grown both within and between nations. We live in a world with 5 billion poor and the bottom fifth of the world’s population have to make do with just 2% of global income. According to a Credit Suisse report, the richest 1% of people now own more than half of the world’s financial wealth (Treanor, 2014). This extreme inequality drives a series of devastating chain reactions, affecting health, community cohesion, national and international security, and the environment.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We Need A Social Revolution


We Need A Social Revolution

Our future depends on our willingness to fight for it

In the conventional view, there are two kinds of revolutions: political and technological. Political revolutions may be peaceful or violent, and technological revolutions may transform civilizations gradually or rather abruptly—for example, revolutionary advances in the technology of warfare.

In this view, the engines of revolution are the state—government in all its layers and manifestations—and the corporate economy.

In a political revolution, a new political party or faction gains converts to its narrative, and this new force replaces the existing political order, either via peaceful means or violent revolution.

Technological revolutions arise from many sources but end up being managed by the state and private sector, which each influence and control the other in varying degrees.

Conventional history focuses on top-down political revolutions of the violent “regime change” variety: the American Revolution (1776), the French Revolution (1789), the Russian Revolution (1917), the Chinese Revolution (1949), and so on.

Technology has its own revolutionary hierarchy; the advances of the Industrial Revolutions I, II, III and now IV, have typically originated with inventors and proto-industrialists who relied on private capital and banking to fund large-scale buildouts of new industries: rail, steel manufacturing, shipbuilding, the Internet, etc.

The state may direct and fund technological revolutions as politically motivated projects, for example the Manhattan project to develop nuclear weapons and the Space race to the Moon in the 1960s.

These revolutions share a similar structure: a small cadre leads a large-scale project based on a strict hierarchy in which the revolution is pushed down the social pyramid by the few at the top to the many below.  Even when political and industrial advances are accepted voluntarily by the masses, the leadership and structure of the controlling mechanisms are hierarchical: political power, elected or not, is concentrated in the hands of a few at the top.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

For a Resilient Future, Put Community First

For a Resilient Future, Put Community First 

Imagine a respite from the relentless torrent of bad news! Both The Transition Towns (Transition) and  Intentional Communities movements facilitate secession, to varying degrees, from the exploitive culture that surrounds us, and build alternatives that are supported by broad networks.  Now the two movements have joined together to share lessons learned about egalitarian community building.

The Transition and Intentional Communities movements offer pathways to recovery from an abusive, extractive growth-economy. Their proponents seek wholeness through cooperation. The movements embrace anyone with the gumption to self-liberate from the corrosive mainstream matrix and commit to resilient social practices that foster the unity of people and the planet.

Intentional residential communities are groups of people dedicated to figuring out how to live together cooperatively. Transition Towns, villages, and city neighborhoods are local nodes of people, connected through a global network, who are determined to wean their localities from fossil fuel dependency and move toward resilience.

Neither model is a magic bullet. But both movements can learn volumes from the other. To that end, the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH)The Fellowship for Intentional Communities (FIC), and the Federation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC)—networks that support Transition initiatives and intentional communities respectively—are purposefully pursuing cross pollination.

Interchange between the two movements is happening in the zone where their missions overlap. That is, in the space where people wake up and summon the grit to live consciously, seek wholeness, and unplug from the dysfunction of the homogenized American norm.The Federation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC) has joined the Spokescouncil of Egalitarian Resilience Networks, an “affinity circle” within the MATH Constellation, to help spark the joint work of the two movements. The Spokescouncil is working to hold both movements accountable to the basic tenets of egalitarian process.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Community, Health and Enterprise

Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Community, Health and Enterprise

What are you doing every day to build community, health and productive enterprises?

Every month I have wide-ranging conversations with three long-time collaborators: Gordon T. Long of Macro Analytics, Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity, and Drew Sample of The Sample Hour.

I do dozens of interviews in the course of the year, with an amazing spectrum of talented interviewers (Max Keiser, Kerry Lutz, and many others), and in many cases I’m lucky enough to be a repeat guest.

But doing a monthly program enables me to really get to know the host, and over time it becomes less of an interview and more of a conversation. I may ask the host a question rather than vice versa.

Gordon and I tend to dig into key macro-economic and social topics (check out our years of programs in Gordon’s Audio/video library), and Chris and I tend to delve into markets and the full spectrum of resilience-related topics.

Drew is 30 years my junior (he’s 30 and I’m 61), and as a result he’s in the dynamic phase of life of exploring and assembling enterprises and projects.

This is where the rubber meets the road: it’s important to understand the larger macro-economic and social contexts, but in terms of daily living (i.e. we are what we do every day), it boils down to what are you doing every day to build community, health and productive enterprises that generate value, wealth and positive social roles for all participants.

This is the context of my latest podcast with Drew Sample (56 min) in which we discuss the progress, challenges and future of each of Drew’s many endeavors, which include community-building and for-profit enterprises.

Here’a a photo of Drew’s garden–a new project he brought to life this year.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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