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World Without Oil...or jobs

how I learned to stop worrying and love the oil shock economy



May 31st, 2007

Some Netizens have been noting the similarites between the five stages of grief and the way people have been reacting to the oil shock. Like many of you, I have recently been racking up grief experience points. (Oh boy. ) Turns out, I'm not the type to dwell in anger or bargaining. I take that back. A lot of my grievy mindset is spent bargaining that I could skip all the depression for the good ol' days of denial.

When I wasn't scrambling in survival mode & conducting experiments in community, I spent the first half of our 9 month adventure feeling down. First because my longtime kitty companion perished, and then because the grimness of the really bad time, when chaos hit hard & was overwhelming. But somewhere in there acceptance hit--this is our life now, high high gas prices and people coming out of the woodwork to participate in meaningful workarounds. And World Without Oil serving as the central meeting point where we could all report our progress. There has been a certain motivation, a certain fire to fuel, in working for WWO to help keep us all buoyant and active. Now it sounds like it's closing down as an active site, and so is my volunteer stint helping netizens get their contributions posted & updating you-all via podcast. Sounds like the next week is our last.

I feel a fresh round of grief coming on. I will miss this meeting place, and the people who breathed life into it.

This is a familiar feeling, actually. And it's a particular brand of grief. I call it Adventurous Disaster Let-Down, or ADLD. "Addled." I've felt it back in my automotive days, when one car died and I needed rides & public transport till I found the next car. There was a special crackle in the air, Something was Going On.  I've felt it every winter, truth be told, when some shallow-rooted tree tips in the soggy forest soil and blocks the road out to civilization, or knocks out power lines. It's not rare for the power to be out a few days or a week, and I start foil-wrapping potatoes dotted with garlic & butter to toss in the glowing coals of a fire, and fish out my special pot for fireplace hot buttered rum. Then, when the power comes back on, or the usual way to work is restored,  it's sort of a drag to go back to business as usual. Life looks a little less interesting.

We've just had the longest adventurous disaster I've ever experienced first-hand. It was long enough for the sense of adventure to come, wear off under struggle, and be restored in a "we can do it,"  steady-pace form. (That's like, what, energy flagging & coming back as euphoria while jogging a marathon. I hear. Not having jogged one.)  And I'm heartened by fellow Netizens who say our work will continue now that we know better. Ahh, optimism.

But I've also racked up some experience points announcing new projects and convictions. I can do *anything* I set out to--for a few weeks. And for much much longer, it turns out, given the right supportive surroundings and motivating circumstances. But I've seen countless Big Plans of mine dwindle and fade away. It will happen, invariably, when I am answerable to no one, or a default path becomes easier. Now that gas is coming down in price and this site is going into archive mode, I worry that I won't be the only one vulnerable to drifting back into "business as usual."

So, here's a mission from me, worth a Carboneer: share with your fellow Netizens what you will do to keep the progress we've made sustainable. Without WWO to report to, without this site as a motivating resource to cheer you on, how will you keep your life less oil-dependent? How can we keep encouraging the people around us to do the same? (Without lecturing them--CeeGee is right about the folly of lecturing people.) Dessum9 tells me we'll be able to facilitate your contributions just for the next week, so hurry! Respond in a comment to this post now, so all your great ideas will be in the wwo archive for as long as we can keep the site on the web. I know I'll need them!

And an extra carboneer to anyone with a good idea for how to use their carbon offset credit as a motivator-- for yourself, a friend, or a company that could use a carbon offset...

May 13th, 2007


Last time I wrote, I was all:
 I met a guy on the co-op shuttle who has me thinking there may be a way for me to avoid rent altogether....but more on that later.
*more later, also, on how the co-op shuttle scheme works. I love its big-hearted, high-tech, all-aboard nature.

I talked about the co-op shuttle a bit in my Shout Without for week 9 (about 3 minutes in), so I won't repeat that. Of course these days the shuttle isn't running as often, so we make an effort to give as many ppl a ride as we can to make maximum use of the gas. We're getting better at planning our time around when trips can happen, instead of planning trips at the drop of the hat as soon as we think about something. Noam sane? Like renting DVDs (see my comment to saint3milion's  proposal for the  A-Z Without Oil mission), or tending late-night snack cravings, or more to the point, just wanting to get out of the house. Do you feel stuck like I do sometimes? I feel like it's especially awful for me. Ugh. I'll get back to that.

Yeah so, that guy who had me thinking I could ditch paying rent. He was one of the forest dwellers, a loose community of DIY anrachist punx that build treehouses in well-hidden corners of the forest near the UCSC campus. He'd been living in the same cozy pad for a dozen years or so, and on the shuttle that day he was telling me about his little library and his tea set up, windows overlooking the forest, his system of suspending the house from the tree in such a way that it didn't hurt the tree....gawd it sounded good.

He & I made a date to check out his place, and when we hiked up there it was beautiful. I mean, I live in the forest too, but he lives deep in there, and knew which gnarled branch to turn at, which mossy rock signified a place on the path, and we did cover-your-tracks stuff like spreading pine needles behind us & making a point of not following right behind each other. Adventure! And it was a pretty nice set-up. We climbed up the tree and through the floor of his place, and it was roomy enough for a double bed, a little desk (he had a set of those plastic horizontal shelves with scrap papers, a thrift mug of pens & pencils, an old manual typewriter, and a battery-powered lamp) and another little chair and table. He had wall sheves with a few pantry items, including his bitty stove and teapot and jars of looseleaf tea and mugs, but also jars of rice, couscous, spices...and a collection of free, mildly bruised fruit & veg, & dumpster-dived tofu burgers, which he offered & I declined. But it was nice up there. He insulated by stapling lots of thrifted and gifted cloth to the walls, tapestires, batik sarongs, sheets, and tarp both inside on the ceiling and outside on the roof. And yeah, the view was pretty great.

Over tea he told me about hauling water, digging a---well he called it a sh***r, a place for you to responsibly deal with your, uh, human waste---and otherwise being low-impact & on the QT,  which sounds like a bit of a bear, but at the time I felt robust & up for anything. I thought about the periods of time I'd lived simply, primitive camping (as they call it in the south) on an extended road trip, living with a host family in Oaxaca without  running water indoors (best shower of my life,  dipping a bowl into a pot of hot water & pouring it over myself ), and decided I was up for it, those were some happy times. They were also vacations from real life.

In my Shout Without for Week 11, I mentioned my cat Snarky wasn't doing well. I think it was the free catfood I'd gotten from a neighbor whose own cat had died. I should have put 2 and 2 together. A couple weeks ago, Snarky died, and it wasn't pretty. And then I had big doubts about moving from my safe little unheated cabin, my home sweet home. It's been pretty lonely without my longtime pal Snarky, but at least I have neighbors. When looking at all the empty spots in my cabin when Snarky used to be gets too much for me, I can step out and help in the garden. At first it was pretty hard to motivate that much, but then people would come by, too. One neighbor left me a six-pack of her chicken's eggs and a condolance note, so sweet. When I saw it I started bawling again. Would there be th at kind of community in a secret tree house?

Turns out, it may be a moot point. I ran into that guy on the shuttle again last week. Rangers busted his place. Over the past few eeks, they've been beating a lot of the forest dwellers out of the hidden depths of the forest. I was all set to be indignant on my friend's behalf--I mean, what a time to get all Nazi about busitng the folks who've been living the most WWO of anyone! But my friend was bigger about it than me. Turns out that chainsaw noise I've been hearing isn't neighbors building greenhouses, or I don't know what I thought it was. Some sort of preparation. Well I guess it was, actually, it was tree poachers. They are cutting down trres in the forest for fuel, or if it's a redwood thay can get lots of money for it, $100s tro $1000s depending on the size of the tree. SO the rangers have been on a more thorough beat than usual, tryingto protect the public land. Unfortunatley, they see the forest dwellers as anotherthreat to the public land, so they've been booted.

Now I don't know what I'll do. I kinda wasn't up for it anyway, but at least I felt like I had it as an option.


May 8th, 2007

Job free and loving it

Well right before this whole thing started I was blithely dabbling in Craiglist gigs thinking I'd worry about a real career type job later. Actually I was thinking of going into journalism, hence my volunteer participation here. Honestly, I was just thinking of my resume. But this is the people's journalism, we'll do it ourselves. I guess that's another route being closed off to making $$ like writing and art. But anyway. That's the old bitterness talking.

You've seen it yourself, even the goofy Craigslist gig posts dried up, & what was I to do, stuck out in the middle of the woods miles from town/some sort of employment? Well first I had a good panic. Then I got off my duff and networked with some neighbors. We got a community garden going, amidst doubts that the guy who owned the property would kick us all off & keep the harvest to himself, and we got a co-op shuttle service going*, despite doubts that the van owners would suddenly decide they needed the vehicle after all & shove us all out the sliding doors. So far, happily, our doubts have been unfounded. And in the resulting stability something Peak Prophet said clicked and I realized how *extremely cool* my new situation was. I was too busy worrying and doubting to realize I *am* working toward something. That plus
fallingintosin's simple one-step-at-a-time "lane changing" idea and mpathytest's calls for creative mischief in the face of crisis have helped re-align my spine about this whole situation.

So I've given up on finding a job-job. In fact, I don't think I want one anymore. It's been so much sweeter to generally mix with people out there & offer help. After all, now that I'm not trying to make a buck I have lots of *time.* I get a share of the community garden harvest for being such a steady volunteer there. For being of service to neighbors launching their conservation and energy efficiency projects, I have been fed many a meal & given spare supplies to make my own place less energy hoggy. (For instance, I've been kicked down some of those soft-serve-looking lightbulbs that are really flourescent. And my little cabin isn't heated,  but instead of the space heater I've been using in winter,  now I have rolls of that pink fluffy insulation and a few spare comfy blankets that I hope will be a cozy substitute.)

Now I just have to work on my "unavoidable" expenses like rent and utilities. I met a guy on the co-op shuttle who has me thinking there may be a way for me to avoid rent altogether....but more on that later. I need to start researching worldwithoutoil.org for my Shout WIthout for the day!
*more later, also, on how the co-op shuttle scheme works. I love its big-hearted, high-tech, all-aboard nature.
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