A Year after The Age of Limits: 5 Responses to the End Times

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photo by Sansculotte on de.wikipedia

Ever since Erik and I and our friend John attended the Age of Limits conference a year ago, I’ve been meaning to offer some kind of measured response to the conference.  (The Age of Limits conference is a sort of woodsy fiesta for doomers held annually in Pennsylvania. For more info, follow the link.).  I’ve hesitated to do so, though, for two reasons.

The first reason was that I wasn’t sure if I should engage with the topic. Erik will rant now and then, but overall neither of us likes to preach or “opinionate.” We’d rather just focus on the lifestyle, and let people find their own reasons for reading whatever it is we happen to be blogging about.

The second reason was ambition. In my head, a proper response to such complex topics required long, thoughtful essays with footnotes.  That was a surefire way to keep myself from writing anything at all.

Yet a year out, memories of the Age of Limits conference nag at me. I wish I were an excellent long form journalist so that I could describe the entire event in detail, because it was such a strange trip, full of interesting characters, unforgettable moments, and strong emotions. We met some really good people there.

I can’t describe the event,  not unless you come over to my house and let me ramble on for about two hours, with many asides and breaks for snacks. But I can distill my overall reaction into a handful of concepts which relate more to the overall “doomosphere” than to the conference in particular.

And since this is the Internet, the home of unfounded opinion, I’ve realized I can say whatever I want, with no footnotes. So, if you want to keep reading, I’ve whittled my responses down to five points, but it’s still long.

N.B. This is what I think, not what Erik thinks. He has his own post to write.

1) When someone posits an apocalyptic scenario, he/she is actually positing a dark mirror scenario of the world in which they wish to live, or which they believe they deserve.

  • Example: Humans are destroying the planet. We are either inherently evil or an evolutionary mistake, a bug in the program. Therefore we will trigger an environmental cataclysm with will kill us all soon. This is the apocalypse meme of Near Term Extinction (NTE). What’s particularly disturbing about NTE is that it promises not only the demise of humans, but of all life on the planet, because, I suppose we think so much of ourselves that we imagine we can take down Gaia herself. NTE is a reflection of depression and spiritual despair: we should die as quickly as possible to end the existential pain of living with and witnessing the damage we have done to the biosphere.
  • Example: Civilization will collapse, resulting in standoff between the unwashed, unprepared, criminal masses and the industrious, well-armed preppers. This is the zombie apocalypse.  This represents a deep yearning to be free of laws and civil constraints, to reduce our overly complex society into a simple survival of the fittest paradigm, where, at last, we perhaps can find the fulfillment we lack.  Mind, personal fulfillment is the positive spin on this fantasy–the negative one would point out that there’s some pretty fishy stuff involved here in regard to race and class, urban vs. rural, and suppressed desires to blow out our neighbors’ brains with shotguns.
  • Example: Any cult/religious belief that Something Big is going to happen to exalt the believers and sweep away the unbelievers. The attraction here is not only increased availability in desirable real estate, but also the assurance that you are special, chosen, and right in all things, and those who disagree with you will get theirs.

In short, whenever someone is speaking about the end times, ask yourself what’s in it for them. 

I thank John Michael Greer (especially his book Apocalypse Not for his writings on this phenomenon, which I’d noticed, but could not articulate as well as he does.

2) The “Good Ol’ Days” were not good times for all of us

Longing for a return to the Good Ol’ Days, when posited as the aftermath of the apocalypse of one’s choice, is a subset of point #1. But it is pervasive, and appears outside of end-times thinking, so deserves its own bullet point.

Among a few of the attendees at last year’s Age of Limits, and elsewhere, I have witnessed a nostalgia for, or romanticizing of, insular, patriarchal agrarian communities. Places where bearded patriarchs rule absolutely in their perfect wisdom, where women know their place and are happy precisely because they know their place (and therefore aren’t confused and fractious, as they are today), and the children are all well behaved for fear of corporal punishment, and people of color are…well…strangely absent from the picture.

Not to be all finger-pointy, but I see this fantasy promoted most often by white men old enough to remember and regret the coming of “women’s lib.”

(Anyone who attended the Age of Limits 2013 will not soon forget the infamous session wherein this model was asserted, and backed from some surprising, and not so surprising quarters, and soundly criticized by most of the women in the audience–most of whom were old enough to remember what it was like before the women’s liberation movement.)

Of course there are plenty of patriarchal agrarian families and communities in existence right now, and I’m not challenging their right to live exactly as they please. I just want to point out that this is only one model, and there are other types of resilient communities that we could choose to build if we were building from scratch.

All of which is to say that the virtues of independence, resilience, craftiness, land wisdom, etc.– the virtues and skills we admire in our ancestors and which many of us cherish and wish to recover more fully–need not be paired with retrogressive social attitudes.

The Good Ol’ Days were not good days for women–nor were they good days for people of color, LGBT folks or followers of minority religions. If you fit any of the above categories, would you volunteer to teleport back to 1776? 1830? 1900? 1950?

I would not. I’d end up being stuffed down a well within a week.

3) The Future Will Not Look Like The Past

People seem to imagine that collapse (or whatever societal catastrophe they invoke) will lead us back to whatever version of the past they most prefer, whether this be Ye Olde Medieval Tymes, Paleo Village, or Pioneer Days. I believe the future will always lead us to new places.

While the wheel does go ’round and ’round, the future never looks exactly like the past. I find this vastly reassuring.

4) The Crappening

At the Age of Limits conference I learned two words: Hopium and Despairoin. Hopium is end-timer shorthand for the beliefs that people in denial hold, such as, “Technology will solve all our problems.” Hope is a drug, like opium, because, the thinking goes, there is no hope for us.

Despairoin is a critique of that hopelessness, an observation that despair and melodrama can be as addictive as heroin.

I don’t think we have use for either drug, though a nice glass of wine, whether that be elderberry wine or a nice California red could help soothe nerves all around.

The truth is no one knows exactly what the future will bring, but it seems fair to say that right now we are in a time of change, and a time of difficulty. It also seems fair to say that your personal experience of these changes and difficulties will vary, depending on where you live, the skills and connections you possess, and how much money you have, etc. The changes will happen in different ways in different places on different timelines.

Nonetheless, I believe the US is in a slow downhill slide. Our empire is overstretching its resource base. Climate change is complicating matters further, and its impact will be deepen in years to come. Witness our burned out cities, the storm damage which is never repaired, the jobs which are never replaced, our failing infrastructure and social programs and our ineffectual political system which seems incapable of addressing any of these issues.

My own personal take on this state of affairs is that we will not bounce back with a miraculous recovery. Instead, things will stagger on, our standards will slip, and we’ll forget what we once had and accept the sinking status quo as a given. This is what I call The Crappening. Which is not to be confused with a Happening, which would be more fun.

I’m a child of the 70′s. I graduated college during the last recession. I’ve always been aware of the downward slide, and suspicious of the various booms and bubbles which have sustained the economy throughout my adult life.  I feel that we as a nation have overdrawn our account in so many ways–financial, social, environmental, you name it– and I can’t see how we can ever square those debts.

I admit that this may indeed may be my own version of apocalyptic wishful thinking, my own dark mirror. I hope it is.

At any rate, I should give another nod to John Michael Greer.  I don’t agree with everything he says, but of all the prognosticators, and all the speakers at the Age of Limits, his vision aligns best with mine. I would be remiss if I invoke the Crappening without referencing what he calls the The Long Descent.

The Crappening is not the same as collapse. Collapse sounds scary and exciting at the same time.  The Crappening simply means that times are crappy and will slowly get crappier still, in a long term descending trajectory of crap. I liken the experience to being unable to leave the miserable town you grew up in for a better place, because there are no better places to go.

There’s no big show to look forward to, in other words. If you are waiting for the apocalypse, look around. This is it.

The Crappening is not a time for valiant last stands. It’s about making due, being sensible and lending a hand to those in need.

If the Crappening has a spirit animal, it would be a little burro with a heavy load on its back. The burro doesn’t think the world is ending because it has to carry a heavy load. It just keeps walking, because that is what you do.

5) There are no answers, only action.

Clear thinking people can see trouble all around us and more on the horizon, and it’s natural to want answers. What should we do? How can we make it better?

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no answers. It would be nice to know that someone smarter than ourselves has figured this all of out so we don’t have to. I know that’s how I feel:  Where are the grownups?

All I can say to myself and anyone who wants to listen to me is:

1) don’t panic and

2) get busy

Any change or positive action to come about in the coming years will come from the ground level, person by person, house by house, community by community. Erik and I have been saying this for years. It’s more true than ever.

If lots and lots of people made changes in the way they live, and thus used fewer resources and cut down on our carbon emissions, we might slow down some aspects of the Crappening. That would be dandy.

But salvation is not the point. We cannot know if that would ever happen, anyway. Action will keep us sane, help us day to day, and at the same time, it is the only thing likely to help the big picture.

It’s a bit Zen. The point of action is not that it will save us, it’s in the action itself. It’s the process, not the outcome. It’s the practice, not the theory. It’s about the kind of life you build, and how you feel in your skin living that life.

What does “get busy” mean?

Regular Root Simple readers know this, and are doing it. Still:

• Disconnect from materialist culture. Get out of debt. Downsize. Simplify. Insulate and weatherstrip. Install that greywater system. Prepare for storms. Be ready for the worst, but don’t fear it.

• If you want to engage with politics, do so on a local level. Fight for walkable, bikeable cities and locally grown food via farmers markets, community gardens, cottage food co-ops, etc.

• Learn skills. Basic carpentry, plumbing, electronic repair, gardening, animal husbandry, sewing/knitting/weaving, home cooking, food preservation, simple medicine, brewing, baking…  You don’t have to do all these thing, only some of them. Or just one of them, if you can do it really, really well. Teach what you know to others. Raise kids who know these things.
• Get fit. Eat right. It’s important to stay healthy and mobile. Not because you’ll have to cross country with your bug-out bag, fighting zombies the whole way, but so you can walk, bike or take the bus to work (by choice, or if you lose your car), so you can haul manure in your garden, so you can avoid expensive medical care, so you can help others.

• Become attuned to the cycles of life and death, decay and renewal. Keep a compost pile, a worm bin, a composting toilet. They’re useful systems, and they teach you a lot about life.

• If you don’t have a faith or a philosophy to follow, consider finding some conceptual framework to hang your reality upon. It helps.

• Let creativity flourish. Learn to play instrument, tell a story, work clay or whittle toys from wood.

There have always been hard times. And there has always been laughter and beauty and love in the midst of those hard times. Look to those things. Ignore the apocalypse.

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51 Comments

  1. A couple of notes.
    1. So few people really actually do anything but do a lot of talking

    2. Until we work with the moral aspect of what is happening we won’t make the real changes we need. The moral aspect I speak of it our duty our responsibility to think of future generations and to provide healthy air, water, a livable world for them the best we can.

    3. About that women’s lib thing. NSFW (You have been warned.) http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/ba132721d0/white-man-s-d-k-with-susan-sarandon

    More true, even in 2014, than many of us wish. I would also take issue with the patriarichal agrarian life. I know farm country and I know how much power the women there weild. They don’t necessary take power in public. Why? Too much effort to carry on once you hold power. Most every farm I’ve ever met that isn’t completely industrialized takes a minimum of two competent thinking adults to make decisions and make it work. The farm wife was always involved, integral and powerful in making it work. In many ways it was only the move into the industrial age and the post industrial age in which women lost work and power and while men may have made public decisions in the olden days that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t told how to vote by his wife. There is more of that in history than many “modern” men wish to admit. Victorian times aka the mass industrial age is an anomaly in history and admitting it and pointing it out is the first step towards looking for a model of living with balance for everyone involved.

    • Definitely agree with you on the moral aspect.

      And to clarify, I do not doubt that women have and always have held power of various sorts, often behind-the-scenes type power. I’m sorry if I seemed to say that farm women are powerless.

      I’m speaking more to the fantasy of the agricultural patriarchy–as opposed to the hardworking reality of running a farm–and these fantasies are always set in a post-crisis time when there is no law, or posit some kind of rejection of civil society. I’m also remembering certain appalling conversations which implied that families can take care of all conflicts internally, and that a woman’s role was most definitely meant to be behind the scenes–which doesn’t do a woman much good if her husband is abusive, for instance, and she doesn’t get family support because it’s “her fault” or whatever. This is why I want my rights encoded in law– I don’t trust anything more casual.

      Definitely agree that industrialization marked the end of many good things.

    • Women who held any kind of power only had the power allowed by their husband or society. That power was and is still not full participation. It took laws to allow women to have anything that looked like full power. The laws are mostly in place, but still obstacles occur.

      It took 70 years for women to get the right to vote. Only one woman who fought for that right ever got to vote–a glove maker who was a teen when the fight started.

      My sister said that “once I learn the “rules” and start to advance, they (men) change the f***ing rules on me.”

      Women who stepped outside their realm were harshly punished by husbands or society. I know there were kind and gentle men, but there was always an implicit understanding in society.

  2. I, also, was at AoL13 and came away unnecessarily discouraged, especially after Guy McP’s second talk. NTE thinking is paralyzing and debilitating when what we need now is not exactly cheer-leading, but at least encouragement. Your assessment of our predicament is thoughtful and constructive and I’m right with you on the outlook and solutions. One of the good outcomes from the conference for me was learning of Root Simple. Thanks to you and Erik for being scouts to the future.

  3. a most excellent piece, mrs homegrown, kudos to you!

    we share so much of the same outlook, what needs be is building our future, keep blazing the trail, darlin!

  4. Kelly you are a goddess, this post is brilliant. Your analogies of the dark mirror and the overloaded burro are absolutely perfect. You may have more to say about the conference but the things you said here are really spot on observations about the whole prepper/survivalist/back to the land/ slow food movement. So many of the scenarios people talk about ARE more about them and their desires/fears then reality. I am always amused by the interesting variety of people that you run into in the diy/sustainability movement and the reasons they ended up in the same place. Your concept of the Crappening (AWESOME TERM btw) is a completely accurate description of the world we live in but like the burro we must do all we can to make the world a better place. We must lead by example, share information gently so as to encourage our less “crunchy” friends to make small changes, make our voices heard in the political arena whenever we can and teach the children we have or come in contact with to live a more conscientious life.

  5. I love the image of the little burro carrying that heavy load. There’s something comforting about it — yes, trudging on is hard work, but it is indeed *what you do*, and it’s hard work supported by a lot of stubborn determination to keep going. I’ll be keeping that burro in my thoughts as I work on figuring out how to make my garden work, picking up more skills, and finding ways to share with the people around me. Thanks for a great post.

    • I am that little Burro !!! I have felt all my life that my place was to carry the heavy load and try to trudge froward …every day.
      There are millions just liek me …. that keep thinks moving with the will and strength of their backs …..

    • The image of the burro and the idea that you keep going “because that is what you do” is the single best description of my life I’ve ever read. It also reminds me of the Marge Piercy poem “for strong women,” which ends with this caution: “Strong is what we make/each other. Until we are all strong together,/a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.”

  6. Well written, practical, interesting – and a mention of elderberry wine, too. Great post, and one whose advice and insights are worthy of some thoughtful consideration. The Crappening is a delightful descriptor of a depressing phenomenon.

  7. Brilliant, Kelly.

    The one thing I would add to the “get busy” list: share of yourself and foster a caring community. You guys do this in your own way through your writing and teaching. Other ideas are mentoring, volunteering, sharing your harvest, knowing your neighbors, etc.

  8. Kelly, I LOVE THIS. Thank you so much. You speak to the child I was, raised by evangelical xtians who were waiting with a gruesome, excited horror for the apocalypse – their eyes would sparkle (and still do) with thrill and anticipation when going over all of the awful things we would endure, but somehow be spared from. You speak to the woman I am right now, still marked by fear of the supersonic shitshow end of ALL THINGS, but who sees The Crappening and knows that THAT is, in fact, our future. No Michael Bay freak shows, just things being harder. Thank you for being so articulate and so spot on with your rendering of a very real possibility, and for giving us sensible options for how to help ourselves and others. This post hit home in a big way – I am shaken and invigorated. Big applause!

  9. Bravo for an excellent post! I agree with you on all points except one. #4. Personally, and this is just MY opinion, I see it as CHANGE. I see it as AWARENESS brought on by the information highway of the internet. We no longer live in our own little insular worlds and we are aware of the effects of our choices. But change is difficult and it is only by doing it one small thing at a time that we can do anything about it. BUT! We are no longer alone in this task. People like you and others are putting new ideas out there and exposing the public to what is really going on. There is hope and no matter how awful things get they can still be corrected.
    I have been reading your web site ever since your first book was published. That book was like a breath of fresh air to me. You see, I am a Boomer…an original Boomer before they added all those extra years to the term. And I was raised by a mother who was old enough to be my grandmother and had lived and worked at a time when women could not vote and wives could not own property. There are no ‘Good Ol’ Days’… women and minorities had to keep their mouths shut. We all go on about how terrible things are becoming…well Shakespeare said that too. It’s not news. Things change and I see this all as a very positive opportunity to begin the balance that we need. Awaken and work. Stay busy. LEARN. Make one’s own space as beautiful and as loving as possible. We aren’t going to be rescued by anyone but ourselves. Sorry to all you guys out there looking for that. (Again, this is MY opinion). Thank you Kelly for an EXCELLENT post!

  10. I’m not a prophet and don’t know what the future holds, but it seems likely that our standard of living will continue to decline here in the US. Our jobs that have gone overseas aren’t coming back. We can’t compete with third world workers unless we’re willing to accept third world pay and living conditions.

    Also, the developing world wants the same standard of living as us. Who could blame them? But it simply isn’t possible for everyone on the planet to consume as much as we do. There’s got to be a breaking point somewhere.

    Mostly though, I want to figure out ways to become more self-sufficient because: 1. It will make our family more secure if anything happens, whether it’s a huge disaster or economic meltdown or just my husband losing his job at some point. 2. Self-sufficiency tends to be a lot healthier, even if no terrible disaster ever occurs. Growing your food organically in your own garden is so much better for you than buying the nutrient-deficient, chemical-laden, tasteless fruits and veggies in the store. I might even try growing beans and grains in the next year or two if I can manage it with two young children and a baby.

    • I should also mention that my grandma’s family, although technically poor, never went hungry during the Great Depression. Her parents worked very hard growing and preserving food, and the kids worked along with them. There were 15 kids in the family. I don’t know how many of them were still young enough to live in the parental home at that point.

      From all accounts, my great-grandma was a hard woman. I guess a hard life can make someone that way.

  11. Kelly,
    I, too, would be stuffed down a well. Even though I was a compliant child, obedient young teen, and well-behaved lol young mother and wife, as I grew, I just did not see things the way they were supposed to be as far as women’s place. I don’t want to be many things that are traditionally male (still), but I will argue for the right of any woman to be in whatever position she desires.

    Was it Plato or Socrates who complained about the way things were becoming? I think nostalgia has a narrow focus. I could long for the days children could play in the front yard, but in that same period I long for, women and people of color did not have rights they have now.

    If we could just pick and choose which part of the good old days we wanted to return, we might actually have a better world.

    When I was an elementary school child, we were warned in church that the end was near. That frightened me. Children do not deserve to live in that fear. Now, I hear the same message–the end is near. As I have read history, that message is much older than I. The message is a means to gain control of people’s minds and wallets. It assures compliance. I feel the same way about the Doomsday peddlers that preach today wanting us to bug out to go live in the woods, be ready to shoot anyone who steps onto our property, and have enough food to last 20 years.

    Okay, stuff me down a well, beat me with a stick no bigger than your thumb, put me in stocks.

    Good post.

  12. c,
    That was hilarious. I have often asked a guy to go somewhere I am doing business or have done business with bad results. I tell the guy to just stand behind me like he is backing me up or beside me like we are in this together. When he asks why, I tell him I just need to take a d**k with me. They always understand!

    • Thank you for posting it. There are plenty of us living in the middle, but it’s the extreme voices who are the loudest. I’ve been reading your blog for several months and am glad that you aren’t an end-of-the-world type person.

      I see this blog as a good place for people with different motivations and viewpoints to get ideas on how to be self-sufficient. There’s no ideological pressure, but lots of good info and inspiration. And honestly, I think this blog post was inspirational. It made me reflect on my reasons for doing what I’m doing.

  13. 1) Not sure I agree with you on that one.
    2) Answer to your teleport question: oh hell no.
    3) Of course the future won’t look like the past, or sound like it or smell like it. I just hope the future doesn’t completely lose the sound of bees buzzing or birds singing. That said, I’m really glad the streets don’t smell of human or horse shit, frankly.
    4) Could not agree with you more, except that I think the downhill slide is perhaps occurring a bit faster that you think, hastened along by an impotent (or is that incompetent?) congress and a wayward Supreme Court. I think our found fathers must be spinning in their graves because we’ve replaced King George with the almighty Corporation. They get all the tax breaks and loophole advantages, and have more influence and power than you or I do. Modern day taxation without representation.
    5) Agree with you here as well, which is why I’ve been all about skill acquisition for years. My husband as well- he’s in his cave teaching himself about electronics as we speak (although I really wish he’d take up welding).

    Couple other things: even though I’ll periodically slog through one of JMG’s Archdruid Report posts, I find you much, much easier to read. I imagine others do as well.

    And I found this post very uplifting and positive- kudos for that.

  14. I love DIY. I love the empowerment I feel watching a bit of knitting coming into shape. I love watching my plants swell up out of the ground.

    I am dubious that any lifestyle will fix the world. When lifestyles (which are intensely individualistic in their nature) are pushed as ‘the cure’ in stead of community action, a lot of people get left out. Individualism is a huge part of what got us in the mess we’re in.

    Rather than farmers markets, why not communal food swaps (and gifting)? Also, making sure people know EBT is accepted at farmers markets would be awesome. With the bike lanes, everyone should have access to safe, reliable, and eco-friendly transportation. How can that be a reality? How about not just co-ops in the wealthy and middle class areas but the working class ones as well? And the co-ops should truly be co-operatives where the people that work there make the decisions. And when you learn a new skill, share that skill for free.

    I’m not saying this goes on here, but it’s something I’ve seen in the DIY ‘scene’ first hand- end the routine shaming of working class people, especially working class women. Not everyone has the time and energy to cook from scratch, garden, or knit. That doesn’t make them bad people. It makes them tired and overworked people.

    I guess the only way I can see us all getting through an ecological, economic, or political down hill is if we start taking care of each other.

  15. I find myself asking that same question now and then: What happened to all the grownups? It’s like the world we live in is populated by a lot of children who had it too good growing up. They don’t know what it took to make it that good.

    It’s nice to find kindred spirits. And I seem to find them here. Same kind of kindred-ness was found when I started reading the Stoics. Thanks for that, homegrowners, or root simple’rs, or whatever we’re calling ourselves. Appreciate that, sincerely.

    And Mrs Homegrown… Don’t feel nervous about putting stuff like this up. You’d be surprised to find how many people think like you do. It still blows my mind how true that is, and I’m only now starting to get used to it. So yes, thanks for posting this.

    Rob J
    in San Jose

  16. ***I guess the only way I can see us all getting through an ecological, economic, or political down hill is if we start taking care of each other***

    Then I am lost from the ‘get go’. My neighbors are so ingrained in their existence, they failed to even ask if I needed any thing after my husband went in a EMT vehicle, not once, but twice.
    I lose from the start–I tried with most neighbors to be indirectly ignored.
    Yes, they take the tomatoes I grow; they borrow the trailer to haul stuff; they take–take–take. There is no sharing or giving.
    Neighbors must ‘be’ neighbors for a community to come together.
    Nothing from nothing leaves nothing as the song says.
    Move?? 6 years invested here. Not gonna happen.

    • I do understand. My neighbor of a year only came into my yard once–she came over to tell the church group helping me not to cut down a weed tree–privet–because it shaded the back window of her house. When I am using my walker or cane, she makes sure she does not look this way as she hurries to car or from car to house. I have friends who borrowed or tried to. Since I never got anything back or it was ruined, I just quit lending. These neighbors are in church every Sunday and disapprove of my not going. So, since I am a burden to everyone, it’s just best to ignore me unless they need something.

  17. Going to church makes you a Christian like standing in a garage makes you a car!!
    Point clearly made and noted about your neighbors.
    I reminded Gene last night, the borrowing neighbor doesn’t even wave or acknowledge me when I mow–last time at this house I am lending..I am so tired of this ‘using’ meme.

    • One person, a teen, drove home and alerted her father when I stepped in the water meter after the lid was left askew. Hitting my head on the curb knocked me out cold. I suppose that is the only “neighborly” thing anyone has done for me since I moved to this town in 1974.

      When someone insists and begs to use my expensive loppers, I offer to buy them a pair–$5 at Dollar General. I have another ploy–”that was a gift, and I cannot lend it.” Third ploy–”oh, good. You can borrow my loppers if I can borrow your lawn mower. People keep running over bricks in my yard and have ruined mine.”

      Thank you for acknowledging there are people like that in neighborhoods. Often, people post how all the neighbors do or can share tools and save on costs.

  18. Great Job! The words “crappening”, “hopium”, and “despairoin” became an immediate part of my personal usage lexicon, immediately upon reading your wonderful article.
    I have long believed that the SHTF scenario is, in actuality, like a large puddle that is a rising tide composed primarily of the “s” from “SHTF”, which we seem almost intentionally oblivious to, somewhat like the infamous ‘frog in a pot of water brought to a rolling boil’, but with heavy denial as a prominent factor.
    I was trained as a child to expect this mess, but not in some pathetic downtrodden way; my parents told me to get busy, to prepare, to develop my skills, and to be ready for whatever comes. I regard this as intelligent advice for every generation, race and both genders.
    Oddly, despite having complied with their wise instruction, and having loaded myself to the gills with various disparate useful skills over my 66 years of life, I can’t seem to connect with, assist and community build in the way I had hoped. Instead I encounter such active opposition to the concepts outlined in your article that it is as if I am watching frogs leap into pots labelled “safety” whose actual use is obvious to everyone who is awake at all.
    Although I loved your article, I am not as enamored with “women’s lib” as you are, because I don’t want (and never did want) the kind of liberation that is generally offered women: women’s lib seems to teach women that they are as good as men, (I am as good as most women, but I have no interest in being like a man) and that they can prove that by having the right to steal, lie, or cheat, or murder, etc… Women have probably always done these negative things as often as men (otherwise, who were they cheating with?),but the more important truth is that equality cannot be regulated. Perhaps it should not be regulated. Instead, all people should be educated in right treatment of their fellow human beings, whatever their talents and deficits might be. My point is that I don’t want someone to pretend they can give me the right to be equal to a man, which puts all the power in their hands, not mine. Instead, I insist on the Divinely given right to be myself, and to become the best “me” I can be. This may sound like heresy, but equal pay and the right to vote are side issues to me because the political scheme, the social scheme and the educational scheme are so degraded that they have actively impoverished ourselves and our youth. Those in power do not make moral decisions because they are not moral people. We ignore their antics and laugh at them, (giving them lots of attention for bad behavior) rather than deposing them and insisting on moral leaders, or becoming those leaders ourselves. When we give the poorest among us more pay, it only helps them for about 1 or 2 paychecks, and then inflation rises and they are stuck in the puddle again. Eventually someone ought to see that the scheme itself is flawed, but it continues unabated. The taxation scheme is an abomination,- and I believe it is unlawfully applied, as part of the corruption and greed in the ‘elite class’. So,
    having said that, I do believe we will spend/ have already spent ourselves into oblivion, but there will continue to be a gradual rising of the “S”, while at the same time there will be some good inventions, some good communities forming, and some good leaders emerging as the “S” rises up to our chins. My hope (Hopium?) for the future is that our youngsters will be wise enough to choose to work together through hard times, and then that they will remember those lessons when life begins to stratify communities (as it naturally seems to do), so that they and their children will hold onto their sovereignty…
    What a wonderful inventive heart we have, we human beings. When it is unleashed, we are capable of marvels. I spend my time now inventing, working and learning. I grow gardens, crochet and knit, design new patterns, design rocket stove, work on Magick, use Chinese Herbal Medicine and Essential Oils and breathe fresh air as often as possible. I pray all of you are blessed with the best version of your own personal Hopium, and that there are enough gentle souls to help this transition (which is what the SHTF is for me) be as peaceful and as painless as possible. Linda

    • I agree that “women’s lib” hasn’t been entirely positive.

      Pushing girls into an educational path and career they aren’t really interested in just because someone somewhere crunched numbers and decided there weren’t enough women in that field is absurd. When they tried that on me in high school, I ignored them and did what I wanted to do. Plenty of girls aren’t independent-minded and strong-willed enough to resist that pressure from teachers and counselors.

      It’s wrong to push girls into a career path that makes them unhappy just to break glass ceilings or whatever. It’s enough that the girls can do it if they want to.

      On the other hand, I wouldn’t like it if my husband was allowed to beat me with a stick the size of his thumb. He wouldn’t anyway, but the thought is still disturbing.

    • Linda,
      I am going to try to be succinct and not rant. Women’s lib is not about being as good as men. Now, why would we aspire to put ourselves in a lesser position? (old joke)

      “Women’s lib” is more about supporting women to become the people they want to be and can be. It is about having more role models that look like us in places women are few and far between, if not missing.

      When I was seven and my brother was six, Daddy made a miniature car, complete in every way except it was very small. I distinctly remember not being allowed to learn to shift the car, but watched as Daddy invited my younger brother to learn. I stood there and knew it was because of what I did not have between my legs. Daddy always said I would get hurt.

      In high school, the counselors tried their best to shove me into office skills classes. I took Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Latin, and Spanish and all the History I could. I took Algebra instead of General Math. That was school in the 60s, expecting less from girls.

      Women, for all their advances, still don’t murder much more than they did before. Women always murdered in life and fantasy. Remember Medea?

      Okay, that rant was not too bad. was it?

      Maybe, below this comment. Ignoring people who try to push you into a career path is good. I did. Sometimes, it is hard to aspire to a field or endeavor when no one at the top or even in between looks like you.

  19. Hi Mrs. Homegrown,

    A C-Realm listener brought your post to my attention, and I’m sure glad he did. I enjoyed it quite a bit and will most likley be borrowing your phrase, “the Crappening” (with attribution, of course) in future discussions.

    I particularly appreciate your description of specific prophecies of doom acting as a dark mirror reflecting the desires of the prophet or the fate he thinks he deserves.

    As for Dmitry Orlov’s presentation, I was not in attendance, but I did see a video of his Communities that Abide presentation and the ambush in the Q & A. Dmitry did not advocate rural agrarian patriarchy in his presentation. As he wrote on his blog shortly after the conference, “…it seems like a lot of commenters think that I am advocating becoming like the communities I described or holding them up as models. No-no-no! I simply pointed out that they are uniquely successful in terms of their longevity and outcomes, and described the commonalities that make them successful. Please draw your own conclusions. You can run off and join them or damn them all to hell. But please leave me out of it.”

    I will be attending the 2014 Age of Limits conference in order to record interviews with the other conference attendees. Orren Whiddon was very specific in saying that he ONLY wants me to interview the attendees and not the presenters. He does not want a presenter-centeric conference. I’ve interviewed most of the presenters before, so that’s no loss for me, and I share his interest in exploring the mindsets of the people who come to the conference for reasons other than the opportunity to get up in front of a group and do their talking head routine. To that end (and to promote this year’s event one last time) I’d love to connect with you via Skype to record a conversation about your experience of last year’s gathering for use on the C-Realm Podcast.

    Please let me know if you are interested.

    Stay well.

    -KMO

    • Hello KMO! Nice to see you here! Glad you like the post.

      There were some fantastic people among last year’s attendees–I think your interview plan is excellent.

      I also hope the weather is better for you than it was for us. ;)

      Re: Orlav, I’d agree he was not advocating during his presentation, but as I recall, he could have done a better job of distancing himself from the subject in the discussion afterward, if that was his intent. I’m not sure why you use the term “ambush” in regard to the Q&A. That doesn’t jibe with my memory at all.

      But this thread is perhaps not the best place to discuss all that. I’ll contact you.

  20. Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts about the conference. I had booked a spot for last year’s AoL, but my wife forced me to cancel–she believes the Archdruid is some kind of dark lord of the apocalypse, not realizing that he is decidedly not in that camp. I had signed up for the combo–AoL plus a permaculture course.

    So, that is one thing you have going–relative agreement with your spouse as to the general direction of the world–ie, Crapland. (But, there will be beauty.)

    Instead, I went to a different permaculture camp up near Ithaca later in the summer, where I had a very positive experience. And honestly, after reading about the AoL 2013, I think I was better off–the silver lining. My one regret now is the missed opportunity to meet Mr. and Mrs. Homegrown in person.

    I don’t consider myself a doomer at all, and I also hold a special revulsion for the NTE philosophy, which is supremely egotistical and supremely dumb and pointless. I think the point of view you express, and the views of people like John Michael Greer and Paul Kingsnorth of Dark Mountain (who is often misunderstood, and lately being almost vilified in some quarters after the NYT piece), has more to do with experiencing that fifth stage of grief, acceptance. We all manifest this stage in our own personal ways, and as humans, we are never fully in any one stage (you can sure still get pissed off or try to bargain even though you have accepted the fact of decline!), but it gives us the freedom of mind to enjoy even The Crappening (sometimes). Thanks again.

  21. I can get so easily get mired in what I can’t do, that I lose site of what I can do with the modest means that I have. So giving in feelings of hopelessness is too easy and I flinch from that like it’s some kind of surely-aggressive-if-I-let-it-get-near-me house spider. I have certain relations who wallow in it. The ability to feed the feeling that “there’s nothing an individual can do, so let’s all just carry on and let God sort it out” by searching for online doom-affirming articles and bloggers is all too easy.

    Rather than look at ourselves as doom-mitigating agents, we should consider how we can be healing agents, by one-by-one taking over the care of criminally mismanaged agricultural land and proving as well as we can that life doesn’t have to be all downhill from here with less access to magical utilities and big-box stores. I could not give a single f*** for the way we lived in simpler times in America. If it worked so well then, why are we in such a pickle now? There’s a fundamental shift in expectations that we have to make, and looking back to a “simpler” time when entrepreneurs were drunk with the potential of unspoiled lands probably isn’t the best plan.

  22. Pingback: A Year After the Age of Limits: Mr. Homegrown’s Take | Root Simple

  23. :-) Thanks for posting this, I totally agree.
    I grow a lot of food, in my front lawn and my neighbors front lawn. I save seeds and rain water. I knit and sew and reload my own shotgun shells.
    It definitely keeps me busy, but it’s the only way I know to live so that I can look myself in the eye every morning in that bathroom mirror.

  24. Pingback: sunday loves | seed & feather

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  26. You have eloquently explained our crisis. THANK YOU.

    … and I do agree, while it may not seem like the answer… it is part of the solution: Let’s get busy.

  27. Pingback: Kintsugi: Creating Art out of Loss | Root Simple

  28. Thanks for a re-affirming message ;) I suggest reading “A Paradise Built in Hell” by Rebecca Solnit… based on research on what actually does happen after catastrophes, starting with the San Francisco fire. Faith in the goodness of human nature is rarely misplaced ;)

    A teenager in the 60′s, my heart has always been ‘counterculture’, although I followed the ‘party line’. I think that the sooner circumstances (challenging though they may be) begin dissolving our (black magic) ‘corporate commercial culture’ blinders, the sooner many/most of us will be able to ‘see’ other ways (being pioneered for us all over the place!) to provide for ourselves, and to make the reality (not the simulation) of what we really enjoy (as shown by science!): beauty, laughter, friendliness, cooperation, being here Now, creativity, generosity, music, storytelling, figuring-things-out, etc., etc., etc, etc. Also including, our main job: ‘just help others’ :)

    Btw, I just read (ala J. Tainter) that as the Roman civilization fell, many folks welcomed the ‘barbarians’ as liberators, and that in many places health improved.

    And, when in history has the ‘future’ every been an exact repeat of the past? Must the invariable constant, i.e., change, always be scary?

  29. Loved reading the post and your thoughts on apocalyptic thinking. The main problem is something that we have inherently accepted and rarely recognize. It’s changeable but it is deeply implanted into our psyche and we reinforce it everyday, many times a day. It is none other than money! Yes money is a spell. It keeps us down, keeps us mediocre. It is based on self-interest, greed and exploitation. Nothing good comes of such things. That is why we are damaging the earth. We consume too much, without direct feedback from what we do. We sweep it away, out of sight. Our money attributes no value to nature and that which we get “for free”. It’s so ugly. It’s a male-designed system, one that justifies male urges. Of course not all males care for it however, it has no feminine input. Our entire culture and that of other cultures, is directed by males. This is what will take us out. But it’s an easy solution even if we cannot see it as being possible. We have females running things. Actually we can have consensus which would be better, by voting on the internet for every issue under the sun and getting the consensus that way. Representatives don’t represent us anyway. It’s time they got replaced by computers like most workers. We’d be left to have that leisure we were promised. And we could transition to cleaner living by opening the doors to clean energy. We could have money based on need, or carbon dioxide or enjoyment. For the highest rewards to go to the greediest, the most competitive and exploitative is pure folly. It could be so much better!

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