Friday, October 10, 2008

Day 1, and we're done

Looking back over the last 21 days of the challenge, I hope that this exercise has better prepared you for any hard times that we might see. Just looking back at how much the economy has changed, during the time of the challenge, the food alone can be a hedge against inflation or, God forbid, another economic depression.

There are some who are saying that this looks like the beginning of the Greater Depression. And if times don't seem bad where you are, consider that the Depression didn't take hold of regular folks until about a year after the stock crash. I guess that's the good news because it gives us a chance to simplify, reduce consumption, and learn to do without. Bloggers like Crunchy Chicken and OTHERS have been hosting challenges like the cloth TP, Buy nothing, keep yer cool....that have been whipping us into shape better than a masochistic aerobics instructor. That's a good thing. If we combine increasing our personal preparedness and self-sufficiency and sustainability, we are taking the necessary steps to insulate ourselves, as much as possible, from hardship while taking positive measures to reduce our carbon footprint. Hey austerity and frugal are IN! This is something I am genetically programmed for - I just have to unplug from consumption to do it.

Unplugging from conspicuous consumption is different than doing on a debt diet or a budget (though budget is good), unplugging means making the perspective shift to not need to be a constant consuming machine. It means seeing advertising hype as hype and not buying into it. It means that as a society we have to accept that in a finite world, the economy can not expand indefinitely and the expectation that it should defies physics and history.

When you see flashy advertising that says: "World Record holder", "Biggest Blowout Event Ever", "Prices Slashed", and billboards aimed at our most primitive urges know that you are being manipulated. We have been conditioned to think the biggest variation is the best, and while some variety is nice, the kind that society is offering is plain unhealthy. For one thing it numbs us to recognizing seriously big threats.

While we're conditioned to hype and hyperbole, we lose perspective of the warnings we are receiving in increasing volatility in the markets. In the last few weeks we've seen the record largest one day jump in oil prices, the largest DOW point drop (not percentage drop), the most number of days of a declining market, the lowest price of oil (edit this year) following the highest prices of oil ever. A couple of weeks ago one could say that the country is spending 2 billion dollars a day more than it's taking in, and yet now that figure has changed so radically, I can't keep track of it. - It's as if our national debt has been put on on steroids.

What I'm getting at here is that these daily increases in volatility in our systems bodes of a bad storm ahead. I figure if nature were doing this we would be looking at an enormous building storm, dark clouds, increasing winds and waves. What I wrote on day 14 and didn't publish was: what I fear (and hopefully I am wrong in which case I'll crawl back under my rock and start posting cookie recipes again) is that a storm of global proportions, created by the forces of human beings, is brewing.

What does one do in a storm? At sea, one would batten down the hatches, and locate the life boats and make sure they are set to provide (gotta have potable water). In an electrical storm you get down low and hug the earth to avoid a lightening strike. In a flood, seek higher ground, in tornado seek In snow seek shelter and stay put, In an earthquake, find an archway or a small room... and in a storm of human making, one needs to have self-sufficiency skills, and the support of community. That's of course what we've been working on.

Humans are remarkably adaptable beings - just look at how a soft skinned creature without hide fur (well most of us ;~})have so sculpted the planet and affected every other life form on the planet because we have a larger brain and opposable thumbs. We adapt to altitude, cold, hot, dry, humid, and we develop sea legs in a matter of days. We've adapted to outlandish living such as never been seen before and we'll adapt on the downside as well. At least those of us who are paying attention will.

So the final skill of the challenge is frugality, unplugging from consumption, reusing, repurposing, and just plain doing without. That is where the community of bloggers encourages, and supports one another. I'm headed over to Crunchy's to sign up for the Little House on the Prairie challenge! Thanks for playing!


Becca said...

I was just thinking yesterday about how appropriate this challenge has been with what has been happening lately and I can't believe how fast things are changing! I'm all for frugality and self-sufficiency! So I just want to thank you for your challenge--it's been awesome!

amanda said...

great post! we are taking steps to be more prepared here as checking in on what you are doing for inspiration!

Verde said...

Becca, thanks - got your tomatoes covered? Looks like frost tonight!

Amanda, thanks and I'm glad to hear you are on your way.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the challenge Verde. It has really helped me to organize my thoughts better as well as to take action on them. There are things I would not have even thought to do had I not done your challenge. Buying gas cans is one of them.
I am really excited today because a friend of mine asked if I would teach her and a group of her friends about food storage. I am preparing for the class today and am teaching tonight. How did I get to be good enough to teach? Just by doing it. Well and reading about it as well. Thanks for your help. May we all stay safe!
Cindy in FL

Becca said...

Actually I pulled all my tomatoes out and picked a whole box of green ones. I took a picture of them because they just looked so darn pretty! :D

Hausfrau said...

I was wondering if something significant would happen on Day 1 - I think what happened last week was big enough to end this challenge with a bang! Thanks for being our masochistic spin instructor :). Even if I didn't get everything done that I should've.

Anonymous said...

verde - these posts have been incredible. thanks for the education and the eye-opening that you have accomplished!!

Chile said...

Verde, great timing for this challenge. Thanks for the push to move further along in our preparations. Our hatches are battened down and we're in better shape.

We're unplugging from needless consumption but still keeping an eye open for useful items. Heck, we just found a nice hurricane lamp at an estate sale this morning (for $5), although I need to pick up new wick and chimney for it tomorrow.

Robj98168 said...

These challenges have mad e me more thoughtful of the result of WTHSHTF, and hopefully, more prepared. While I never officially joinrd this challenge, I loved following along. Besides, this and other challenges should help folks be more self sustaining, snd more frugal which helps with the "greater depression". LOL I always wonder if future generations are going to be writing about us like we all write about our grandparents and parents living through the Great Depression.