Thursday, January 17, 2008

Going backward, moving foward

Coming to college has taught me a lot, though not necessarily about the subjects I've been studying. But those too have helped shape who I am and what I'll will be doing with myself over the course of my life.

The climate is changing, whether you want to think we're causing it or not. I've witnessed more snowy days so far this year than I have at any other point in my 20 years here in the Portland area. Two summers ago I experienced the most intense heatwave that I've ever experienced, with temperatures well over 100 degrees for several days in a row, compared to our typical 80-90 degree weather. How are our large commercial food growers going to cope when the climate shifts in just such a way that they can no longer grow their prized crops?

Oil. Oil is a finite resource and we use it in everything. We're using it all up. You can see the evidence when you go to the gas pump and stare at the ever climbing prices. Supply and demand. When you have less of a resource, but demand remains constant, you raise prices. But it's not just gasoline. Plastics and many synthetic fibers are created from oil.

All plastic products, many of the materials used to make the clothes you wear, or the carpet you walk on, plus hundreds of the other products we take for granted, are made from petrochemicals. As the name implies, a main ingredient in petrochemicals is oil.
Can we even imagine a world without plastic? It has only found its way into everything within the past half century or so, but here I am, staring at a stack of CD cases, a couple decks of playing cards in plastic cases, the keyboard I'm plinking away at, and so much more.

I'm not trying to be mister doom and gloom by any means. I find myself reminiscing. Where I used to be is so much closer to where I want to be than I actually am. As much as my old man and I don't get along, I miss the little garden he would grow on a small plot in our backyard so that we would have fresh produce every summer. I miss going to my grandfather's each summer and canning green beans and carrots, pickling cucumbers and beets (my grandmother's sweet pickles are still the only ones I'll eat), and making jelly out of raspberries and strawberries. I miss the fresh grapes, corn on the cob, green onions, tomatoes, and so much more. And I miss going down to the river to pick wild blackberries for pies and cobblers. Especially cobblers.

The school work that I'm subjected to lacks meaning. I may learn something worthwhile from it, but I cannot look at a 10 page essay and say "I have survived because I have written this paper. It has provided me with warmth and sustenance." Providing your own food and clothing may be hard work, but at least at the end of the day you can sit down to a home cooked meal and know that you are surviving because of the things you have done. Elsewhere we are dependent on businesses and machines to provide us with simple things such as food, clothing, and shelter. It's scary to think that without them, it is impossible for me to survive.

I'm doing something about all of this. I'm learning the skills I need to survive. If I had to rely on what I know right now I wouldn't last very long, but in time I hope to require a parcel of land that I can farm with friends and family. Together we will have the skills to provide everything we need to survive, and have enough left over to barter for what we'd like to have.

This blog is here to document my research on the topic of self-reliance, as well as my real world accomplishments and failures. Wish me luck, and utilize the information I find in order to make yourself more self-reliant.

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