Thursday, April 26, 2007

Living in Place

This "Orion" article and commentary conflate rationalism and scientific understanding with technology and capitalist exploitation. It assumes that because capitalism uses the language of science to justify exploitation of the natural environment, that it is science that is at fault, not an unrealistic economic system.

More importantly, the article fails to acknowledge theoretical and practical environmental work that has already been done, and is contiuing right now.

We call it Living in Place, or reinhabitory strategies, based on the work of Peter Berg, Ray Dasmann, Gary Snyder, Ed Abbey and many others.

Living in Place is akin to bioregionalism, that is, living in a place in full knowledge of the biological and geophysical cycles of the bioregion in which we live, and living such that we do not consume resources faster than they are naturally replenished, or produce waste faster than it can be naturally dispersed.

Living in Place is based on a scientific understanding of our bioregion, that is, based on observation and testing. It does not rely on spiritualism, supernatural beings, nonphysical reality or any other irrational belief about the natural world. The problem with belief is that it is subject to change at a whim, unlike science, which relies on observation and verification. Reality is what hangs around when we stop believing in it.

We can no more walk away from civilzation, than we can shed our skin. Our civlization is more a part of us than our personal identity; it transcends the individual. Our culture is what teaches us how to be a human being, and it is culture that persists in telling us dysfunctional stories about how to live in a world of finite resources.

In order to change our relationships to the natural world, we must change the stories our culture tells us about how to be a human being.

This is the work of reinhabitory strategies. This is how we relearn how to Live in Place.

Michael Lewis
Leona Gulch
Pacific Place

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Resisting the Megamachine

The Ecotopian Solution in R.Crumb's triptych is the end result we dream of when we envision resistance to the Megamachine. Small scale, low-tech, organic, close to the earth. In fact, this is the only way of life that has any pretense to sustainability.

Unfortunately, this vision is shared by only a small minority of the present population of the developed world, say... 10%. The rest are caught up in the hyperinflated consumerism of our capitalist economy, an economy that sustains, and is sustained by, a political system based on public bribery.

Yes, we "must" learn to live differently, from the way we choose our housing and work, to the way we travel twixt work and home. There are two ways to create this change: by the carrot and/or by the stick.

The stick is legislation that forces producers and consumers to produce and consume responsibly. If the only products that are available and marketed are environmentally responsible products, then consumers will buy and use them. If the government sets the tone of the country by promoting conservation and reducing consumption as a national priority, then the people will follow suit.

The carrot consists of opportunities for the people to do what they already do more efficiently and cheaper, such that the alternatives are more attractive. Housing could cost more depending on distance from work, public transportation could be subsidized such that it is cheaper and more convenient than driving a private car. Zoning to encourage mixed housing and business would make car trips less necessary.

As anarchists, we like to think in terms of grass roots organization, mutual aid and decentralization. We live the change we wish to see in the world. This has an effect of demonstrating that the alternatives are normal and fun, not weird and scary. For those of us who live this way, it is sufficient.

And yet, life goes on, and the majority continue in destructive ways.

It takes work in all sectors of our society by those of us who are aware: in the political, the economic and the social. We support politicians and legislation that support localization, conservation and living in place. We oppose politicians and legislation that support development, consumerism and "the global economy." We support our communities and neighborhoods to develop and promote mutual aid and localization. We work lightly and locally, for groups and organizations that promote community solidarity and mutual aid. We work close to home and walk or bicycle in our neighborhoods.

As conditions get harder for others to follow "traditional" lifestyles, our ways will appear more attractive, both economically and culturally. As the "global economy" spins down, localization will fill the vacuum.

One of these days we'll wake up in an R. Crumb cartoon.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Never safe from critics, even beyond the grave

Where have you gone, Edward Abbey? | Salon Books

Yes, Philip Conners shares Ed's old habit of roosting in high places overlooking vast acreages of combustible forests in New Mexico. You'd think he would have developed some understanding of the Bard of the Desert. But then, Conners writes about books and writers, and only recently immigrated from the canyon country of New York to Abbey country.

Being a young lad from the East, Conners apparently was not around for the environmental activism of the 70s and 80s that both inspired Ed's stories and claimed him as its chief literary spokesman. Conners pans Ed's favorites: Good News as "an apocalyptic comedy," and Black Sun as "a saccharine love story," demonstrating his complete ignorance of Ed's life and work. If Ed were alive now, he'd turn over in his grave.

I suspect Conners intended his review to be complimentary, from his perspective as a new resident of the West. Ironically, he succeeded in underlying Ed's long battle with Eastern literary critics who had no way to understand the basis of Ed's writing in place, coming from his experience of the West as the core of his social and political philosophy.

"A critic is to an author as a fungus is to an oak."

Friday, April 06, 2007

Among the Trees: People where people ain't supposed to be

Among the Trees: People where people ain't supposed to be

It's not so much that cities are built where people ain't supposed to be, as that presumes a "supposer" to make those value decisions. In the case of cities, they grow where people congregate for whatever reason.

In the case of Phoenix, Arizona, people came there to vacation and to avoid the cold and allergies of the northern cities. Once land speculators and real estate agnecies were involved, it was all about moeny, and what do you need to make money in the desert? Water. That's why the Colorado dries up before it gets to the sea.

There is nothing wrong with people living in the desert, as long as they live there on the desert's terms. Making the place just like the place everyone left, including the same trees that cause the allergies that people flee from, is, not worng, just absurd. Such an arrangement can only be temporary, until cnditions change such that a city is no longer possible.

People must live in place, just as animals do.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Raw Story | Bush says he takes climate change "very seriously"

The Raw Story | Bush says he takes climate change "very seriously"

...But Bush argued that "anything that happens cannot hurt economic growth."

It always come down to "economic growth," as if growth is a given. The idea that growth is the problem, not the solution, either doesn't occur to anyone, or is successfully lobbied out of existence by economic interests.

Why is it impossible for our society to step back from a mistaken path, rethink what we're doing and take another path? It seems that once we find ourselves going down the wrong road, we're incapable of changing our minds. Some sort of cultural inertia at work, I suspect.

Despite all this, we will change, in time. We must or die out altogether. Mother Nature does not tolerate foolishness.