Campfire and Human Capital - What Do You Want to Learn?

It has been about six months since we started the Campfire series on The Oil Drum. The intent was to host an outlet for those who were reasonably convinced that peak oil and energy descent begin now. The schedule is on Wednesdays to have 'practical' guest posts from 'experts' on various aspects of human capital (skills and knowledge) that might be useful for the community to learn and discuss. The Saturday slot was for some of the larger and more difficult questions we face as a society in an overshoot situation.

The 'guest post' larder since the start of Campfire has been on the bare side (with some stellar exceptions). Tonights post is a blank slate for you to articulate what 'practical' topics you would like covered in future posts. Since peak oil likely means more localization and a move towards self-reliance, essays and expertise on food/water/energy will clearly be of interest. But information on health, psychology, leisure, etc. in a post-peak world will be equally interesting.

This slot is to create social capital via sharing human capital within this community (so in some ways is a microcosm of post-peak culture itself)....

What would you like to learn?

Hi Nate;
Helped a friend move his Art Studio this weekend, and he had gotten 5 people from TimeDollar to commit to helping, and noone showed up. At risk of inviting the comments of those who would chide that only a fool will put their faith in others as we come into this transition.. I do put a lot of faith into others, and try to be as reliable FOR others as I can.

Anyway, my request is for discussions about the practical successes and failures of social networking systems. A friend in Co-Housing just left the community she helped to found, near Oakland.. having burned out on the endless meetings, the endless needs-lists, and probably a few key difficult personalities..

'If it was easy, everyone would do it..'


(or, "Nobody goes there anymore; Too Crowded!" Henny or Yogi?)

Friends help you move. Good friends help you move bodies.

Hi Nate; Thanks for throwing this out there. I think the human interaction dimension is the most difficult element to successfully transit the energy/population power down. I think a lot of us here in the oildrum tribe (including myself)have been brushed with an individualistic modus operand um brush. I would like to see open discussion on retraining and skill development in human interaction skills-particularly transformational leadership.

I'll second jokhul above. Note the related point of how my housing "co-operative" was transformed by a human grub into the very opposite of cooperative (and I ended up evicted by the team of harassers)-

Plus--similar/related theme, how communities need to be set up to function successfully. Some may already have noticed that I am a severe critic of aspects of the Transition Towns model. Something on that.

Plus--"marketing" material for getting people aware and or involved. My reckoning is that too many overlook the need to approach people in a discussing way, with questions rather than dumping on them with a lecture.

(I don't envisage writing any of the above posts myself unless pigs start flying in my life.)
(P.S.--Have just about finished my article about whether or not there will be an abrupt collapse. Perhaps that would do for a Saturday slot?)

One thing I've noticed is how each community I've personally had experience with has had a definite culture or identity that, once established seems to be very hard to break, and that it might be very important to have the skills needed to 'shop around', and let oneself OUT of a relationship with a community that doesn't work for you. So, not only to be able to establish ties, but to remember that we don't have to tie it to some notion about re-forging the 'ancient tribes', in which we're stuck with whatever one we've got. (And as that goes, even in a single town, there'll be various subsets.. you might see them as cliques, but ultimately you need to settle in with the people you fit with somehow)

It's like the shorthand I've used for Career choices. Every occupation comes with some BS.. you just have to find the kind of BS that you can deal with..


(oops, I've been away causing some riots in Tehran....)
You need to get out of not only a community that doesn't work for you, but also from one that isn't going to work for anyone. As per below.
PS- I don't agree that every occupation comes with some BS. My mother and 2 brothers are teachers of music (performance). There's zero BS in music and its teaching and if there was it would quickly get binned. Sure re some of its practitioners. Very high BS level in the instrument (esp piano) sales biz though.

Hi Robbin,

I took a look at your website and read some of the material there. Boy have you had a rough trot but i admire your tenacity in going to the lengths you have to out these people. I can't beleive that they would falsify minutes of committee meetings. The common law of duty of care should have convicted these people pretty quick smart. Do you have a Residential Tenancies Act in the UK or something similar? I know the tribunals in Aus (NSW at least) tend to side mostly with tenants. Co-op housing and managment might come under a different Act. Good on you for sticking with it and putting up a website shaming the scoundrels. Should I ever come across them, I shall say nasty things about their character on your behalf. Ian

Well, one firstly didn't have the choice, either fight or give up. Secondly, one doesn't know how much there is ahead. Common law of duty?--common my arse! As said I firstly found that they were crooks, then the parent org, then the Housing Corporation, and finally the uk's so-called justice system is pack of liar crooks too!
But have now had a little victory. I had no intention of going back to a court which is such a scam of liars anyway. But I bluffed that I was still going ahead with my counterclaim (accusing them of outrageous crimes of course). They in turn didn't want their day of shame in court either, and I'm sure their solicitor could see they were vile crooks too. So they ended up with an out of court settlement, letting off my (unjustified) £6500 costs debts even though my counter was (improperly) limited to £5000. My ECtHR application 5604/08 remains ongoing.
There are official warm words about tenants but in practice they are considered to be a subhuman life-form subsidised by proper people who pay their way. Tenancy has shrunk to a minority in last 30 yrs post Thatcher, but now increasing again thanks to housing collapse.

There was a book years ago (forget the title) written by an ex-hippie who researched all the communes that were founded in the 60s when there was a very idealistic organic/macrobiotic back-to-the-land movement.

The communes had all collapsed and the main reason was that a small handful of people did all the work and the others were basically just free riders. But the people who had the drive to do the work didn't get any special consideration or recognition, because that was counter to the egalitarian spirit of the times. Eventually they just left, disgusted at having to support the parasites.

My experience as a trustee of a sectional-title block of flats is no different. People are not interested in communal affairs. They want to stay in their own little bubble. They won't lift a finger unless it is some way personally rewarding.

I don't know what the answer is. For myself, the rule from now on is, "Never volunteer." (But I suppose my good nature will get the better of me again.)

The communes had all collapsed and the main reason was that a small handful of people did all the work and the others were basically just free riders. But the people who had the drive to do the work didn't get any special consideration or recognition, because that was counter to the egalitarian spirit of the times. Eventually they just left, disgusted at having to support the parasites.

This is a general human dynamic, it seems; certainly I've lived through it too many times. And while I wouldn't have called them "parasites", it's true that organizations tend to devolve into the mediocrity of maintenance drones who are more effective at social positioning within the organization than interested in the original mission.

And it's not just communes. It's any directed endeavor in which egalitarianism - what I call "monkey fairness" - is presumed to be an utter prerequisite for any solution to any problem. Currently, most humans consider human egalitarianism a more important consideration than the anthropogenic mass extinction. This may ultimately be one of the most dangerous delusions of all.

Moreover, if such a thing as this is uttered, the majority who disagree would assume that I wish to be in an "elite", and deny something to others, since that's the way monkeys model social interaction. But I mention it just as a central structural problem of the human existential pickle. That even as we head into situations in which our world and species will be drastically impacted, any solutions which seem "monkey unfair" are generally met with capuchin screams and thrown feces.

"Fairness" works well in small tribes. It's dysfunctional to try applying it on large scale, "correcting" any natural variations which seem unfair. Paradoxically, it will lead to greater "unfairness", particularly to those monkeys not here to scream for themselves since they're trapped in a diminishing future.


Just a thought, concerning those who might mistake your willingness to desire or wish being in the "elite". What can we do to avoid such a misunderstanding? Let's think....oh, here's one...stop referring to others as feces throwing monkeys. Is it really that hard to refer to humans in the human sense and use our language to describe us? Are humans to be permitted not one shred of dignity in the new communal dream/horror/utopia?


We're all apes, and it's sometimes more accurate not to couch everything in human euphemisms.

I can think of nothing which ultimately more endangers actual human dignity than the delusion of a worldview woven of anthropocentric euphemism.

And it's your assumption that feces-flinging monkeys don't have dignity. I don't doubt they feel they have the moral as well as tactical high ground.

Sorry you don't like the metaphor. I support dignity for all creatures.

(mental note: eat Roger first)


You can keep your good nature from overworking you by reading Animal Farm wnenever the urge to volunteer starts bothering you.

The biggest single problem with all socialist/welfare schemes I have knowledge of is that there is no easy solution to the free loader issue.The next biggest is that if ambitious individuals cannot accumulate property,they subliminate(?) thier urge to do so by accumulating power.

There is (so far as I know) a commune still running in Louisa Va that at one time used a points system to assign jobs.The number of points earned for each defined task was adjusted until all tasks were done.If you wanted a particular job,you got it by offering to do it for less points.Cooking breakfast might take four hours and pay fifty points.Cleaning the toilets might pay fifty pionts for only two hours as it was a much less desirable job.Everybody had to earn a certain number of points to pay his share of the communes expenses.

I visited the place back in the early eighties when I lived near there.

The biggest single problem with all socialist/welfare schemes I have knowledge of is that there is no easy solution to the free loader issue.

Oldfarmer, it has nothing to do with "socialist/welfare schemes" - at least not as they are commonly known. I suspect you are using the wrong knife because I doubt you include Wall Street and the Corpos generally on your welfare list. Nevermind that they are the welfare clients taking in most of the money, eh? What does it cost you to buy a bottle of Nestle's Poland Spring water? Bottled in Maine. They pay the state $0.005 per gallon [Range Pond contract]. The state pays to keep the water clean, for the roads, for the police to keep people from blowing up their trucks, yadda yadda. Of course, Nestle's isn't exactly a "freeloader"; they are a developer doing good things for Maine.

Yes, freeloading is part of the "human condition", but it is exacerbated by the current culture. Would it be different if cultural norms were different - bear in mind we put a criminal elite at the peak - that we train our "best and brightest" to be like the kleptocrats in power. Freeloading is a fitting systematic response. Get away with everything you can. I'm old enough that doesn't work for me, so I know it is not a fixed human "value".

Maybe only idiots plant seeds and trees. Certainly that's true by the Summers/Obama yardstick.

Anyway, you are right about the freeloading. Just don't blame it on the "socialists" and the welfare moms in the pink caddys. It's the corporations that have honed freeloading to the fine art. Hey, Wal-Mart, Hannaford and health care? What's the best chance US gets single payer health care? When the corporations can dump all the costs.

Freeloaders sure, but name them.

cfm in Gray, ME


You are correct in that I was thinking mostly about income redistribution schemes and should have composed my comments to make that clear.

As far as corporate welfare goes I am in agreement with you.Corporate welfare spemding and subsidies probably dwarfs human welfare spending by a factor of ten at least,I'm just guessing,It might be a factor of one hundred.

You may be guilty of painting fast with a broad brush regarding the rest of your reply but that was my mistake too.Written communications are time consuming,and we aren't getting paid (in cash).

I was thinking about that old saw from Soviet days-they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.

I once knew a young lady who lived across the street from me who collected about eighty percent of my single guy take home pay(and I had a good job considering the time and place) in various ways for herself and her two little kids.She got a rent free house,free school lunches ,free books,nearly free doctor visits,food stamps,heating assistance and a cashable check every month.

She also had a steady boy friend to keep her well supplied with beer who more or less lived in and probably contributed maybe one third more to her income.

She would occasionally come over and work four hours or so cleaning my house for twenty bucks cash-this was forty years ago-but she seldom cleaned her own.She never had to worry about getting fired or laid off either.

She traded baby sitting with other local girls and lived as well or better than I did w/o putting in forty or commuting every week.You could find a party at her house at least twice a week.I had a standing invitation and attended most of them.

Otoh,one of my very elderly aunts who had worked her butt off could not get a nickel because she owned her old falling down house and five acres of scrub and rocks-which at that time and place were worth only about seven or eight times my free loading nieghbor's annual rent subsidy.

So nowadays it is not unusual to hear some guy who has worked his ass off all his life bitterly comment that he would have been better of to have spent his life drinking beer when he hears about his never-held-a-job nieghbor getting a couple of hundred grand free medical-which is pretty damn common-and which would have bankrupted HIM.

I have a life long friend who has collected ebough in salary and benefits making sure that landlords don't get over on rent assisted tenants to have bought and given a free house to at least fifty such tenants.

So it all cuts both ways.I am quite sure the corporate types are far,far ahead,and will remain so.
I could list up dozens of cases that have run into the billions each,but my typing finger is getting tired.

People are not interested in communal affairs. They want to stay in their own little bubble. They won't lift a finger unless it is some way personally rewarding.

Aardvark--Here's fact #1 of psychology, aka secret #1 of psychology:
People are not all the same.
Some people, many people, Are interested in communal affairs. Some risk their lives as in Iran this week.

A decadent society in breakdown (as per Toynbee A study of history) oppresses such heroes, promoting amoral authoritarians in their place. But they still exist, the living proof that you can kill J Christ but you can't kill his spirit (thanks to the way natural selection works and that few people want a crook for a partner).

The account of communes failing due to free-loaders is a familiar one. I suspect one factor is that such community enterprises are initiated by naive optimistic do-gooders who have excessive faith in human nature and their delusion that criminals will become nice people if given enough rope to hang everyone else with.

That's where I see Transition Towners getting derailed with their devotion to inclusiveness of everyone living in an area regardless of suitability (except for racists etc).

I'd also like to know what questions I have forgotten to ask!

I'd like to see some periodic threads where people are just invited to report in. I find it very interesting to get "on the ground" reports from around the country and world about what people are seeing and doing. Maybe we could have these focused on some general topics, such as:

-What's the report on your local economy?

-How is the food production going in your area?

-What is your local government doing, and what are people doing to advise/prod your local government?

-What types of community activism or group efforts are you involved in or are seeing become active in your area?

-How is transportation changing in your locality?

-What are people in your community to become more energy efficient?

-What renewable energy projects are being implemented in your area?

I'd like to see something along these lines at least once per month, with a different focus each time. It would take some pressure off of Nate to let us collectively provide the content.



First post. Great site. I’ve been following you for over a year now. Thanks everyone for keeping it going and providing us with useful information. Much appreciated.

I would particularly like to see more information on car sharing/pooling options that are successfully implemented in other places. I live in Barrie, Ontario which is about 80 km north of Toronto. We have sizable population commuting to/from the city. High oil prices hit us hard last summer and looks like it’s going to happen soon again. Most folks have already stretched their finances thin. Well, you all know the story. No need to repeat. I know of couple web sites on car sharing in the area but don’t see much activity there. Something is not working. I wonder what that might be.

P.S. I heard you don’t have enough female users on this forum. So I am here and am looking forward to seeing you around. I also am an immigrant to add to your site’s statistics!

A day late, but Welcome, Ruska!

Very good issue to get some new ideas going on! (Sharing rides, that is..) With all the communication options available right now, there must be a way. .. and think of how many of our vehicles spend almost ALL of their time sitting doing nothing!


Thanks, jokuhl for welcoming me!

I realize that sharing rides don’t fall into the far-fetching solutions category to our grand problem. This at best is just a temporary fix. However, it will immediately affect lots of people in my area. I am not sure how our city is prepared to deal with upcoming huge unemployment as a result of people not being able to afford commuting to work.

I am all for gardening and urban re-design but if I don’t have a job there is little I can do to keep my house with a backyard to grow organic veggies.

I hope to learn more from other communities in regards to this issue. It seems that there are lots of ideas and initiatives out there but not much workable solutions.

I wonder if there are others who would be interested in developing a transit oriented peak oil community?

Background: I live in a type of utopian community where land is owned by the people, namely the Fairhope Single Tax Corp. All land is perpetually leased for 0.2% of the land value annually, excluding the value improvements. (You have to pay for the lease and it is costs as much as non-Single Tax land). The rent is used for the good of the community, such as libraries, parks and medical facilities.
See the History section:,_Alabama

The idea for Fairhope was based on the economic theory of Henry George in the late 1800’s. His book, Progress and Poverty, sold three million copies at the time. George recognized, as did successful land speculators, that increased population density and infrastructure caused the value of land to increase. George proposed a single tax on land, or rather state ownership, as the sole means of taxation, but that is not what I am here to discuss.

There has been much discussion here of the fate of suburbs. I do not know the economic feasibility of retrofitting suburbs to mass transit, but the cost will be enormous and many suburbs lack population density.

As an engineer I appreciate the fact that it usually cost more to rebuild a facility than to build a one, and new facilities are much more efficient. I see property development the same way. A green field development based on streetcars and heavy rail lines would be inexpensive, and could be built on cheap land. It could also have separate potable and lawn irrigation water supplies, and perhaps it’s own power source (next generation nuclear?).

Business districts could be rail and pedestrian only during working hours, with back street access for truck deliveries. Private automobiles would be restricted through high registration tax or perhaps some kind of use tax.

New construction could be built to high energy efficiency standards and be of materials and methods designed to last for centuries with minimal maintenance.

I believe the cost of living in such a community would be much lower than existing suburbs or inner cities, and the differential will grow as energy becomes scarce.

I recently lived near Perimeter Center in the Sandy Springs-Dunwoody GA area, one of the newest and largest transit oriented developments in the country. Perimeter Center is one of the world’s largest suburban office and shopping complexes and has numerous new high rise residential buildings and new residential over retail. It is possible to live and work without ever owning a car. Housing is reasonably to inexpensively priced, given the number of high paying jobs in the area.
The automobile traffic is gridlocked at rush hour and lunchtime, and the whole area is nothing but parking lots and buildings. There is no charm to living in a place like this, as say in the New Orleans Garden District, which is still automobile dependent because it only has one streetcar line.

There are large tracts of land around the country that are not particularly good crop land, but suitable for development. I am wondering if there are enough people interested in turning raw land into a futuristic community?

I think that is the difficult question. My problem with transit community is "transit to where". We built all that infrastructure to allow us to go back and forth to our work place. But what are we making? If everything becomes localized and energy is limited to keep us from making "junks", what do most people do? I am not sure if the economy will be the same as we see it now. Others already advocate for elimination of money.

Sure, transit towns are probably good ideas in the 5-10 years term. Longer than that, if there'll be the total collapse of world economy, we will destroy everything and scrap them to make the things we really need. Probably built we must, for we have not much other choices.

You make a good point about transit to work. It is interesting that the 1930’s Great Depression was caused by the productivity miracle that allowed overproduction. It took years for the consumer goods market to develop and put people back to work.

One thing that will be needed in the future is health care for the ageing. And one reason cars will go away is that we will become poorer supporting the ageing population. Demographics is an underlying cause of the current financial crisis. Social Security, Medicare, etc. come out of the taxpayer’s pocket.

Too much is made of localized manufacturing and food production. Shipping goods by rail is extremely efficient, consuming only 1% of oil.

Localized food production for freshness, low cost and security is desirable however.

I doubt anyone objects to sustainable transport of good or people. A bit of a red herring, I think.

As to your question a few posts up, yes, there are people such as myself who are looking to join/create a community. However, not a technological city.

To be clear, the distinction I am making is perhaps represented by the rise of permaculture/natural farming. While these seem like a return to old methods, they are actually the result of very close observation and detailed manipulation of the food cycle and the environment. It's a very modern method that brings us closer to natural rhythms.

IMO, the great failing of science and technology has been the misapplication of it to effect the rout of nature rather than symbiosis with it. I do think we can have technology and live in balance with the natural system. The simplest and most obvious way to start this process is to simply slow down. We should not apply new technology on societal scales without being far more knowledgeable of the depth and breadth of long-term effects.

I have no trouble envisioning a Hobbiton, if you will, that's globally wired via the internet and in which all are equally educated (to the level they desire) because virutally all education/information is accessible via the internet - or whatever the internet becomes.

If your vision is more George Jetson than this, then, no, I wouldn't be interested. Kiashu found this link, which might be of interest to you if you haven't seen it:


One of the most important topic is nutrition.
What is good nutrition?
Food quality is more important than quantity.
Natural food is better than processed food.
Adequate supply of omega 3 is necessary for adequate brain function.
Improving the omega 3-omega 6 ratio is a natural way to reduce inflammation.
Gardening ,cooking and learning to eat less but better will be important skills to learn.

What is good nutrition?

Seconded. There's been some focus on gardening efforts and growing food locally, mostly legumes, grains and root vegetables. Other stuff like cucurbits and leafy greens have a broader spectrum of essential and non-essential nutrients but dont get much airtime because they aren't very calorie dense.

Two people I know recenly developed viatmin D deficiency; an office worker and a housewife, both not getting any sunlight.

D and B12 deficiency both recently linked to Ahlziemers.

Omega 3 isn't such an issue. The ratio is likely a problem because omega 6 is high in seeds and as our industrial meat supply works by feeding grains to animals - we have animal products which are much higher in omega 6 (be it eggs, chickens, beef).
One gets omega 3s from leafy greens. It's not the big bug bear its been made out to be and I'd suggest reading something from vegetarian proponents such as Dr. John McDougall, Collin T. Campbell to get an appreciation of the other side of the arguement - as well as historical diets.

Some members of our co-housing group have been ripping thru the Little House On the Prarie books as they're loaded with some information about diet at the time. It's instructive to see what sort of diets our bodies can survive on.

I expect that one issue will be getting food to people. With much of our food being funneling into industrial meat production it'll be a tug of war between those who can afford to buy the industrial animal products (thanks to fear mongoring about necessary protein intake, inability to cook their own foods ...).

Right now we've got a 100 mile diet challenge in our area. I'm rather stunned at how I see neighbours eating fish at least daily over concern about the protein and omega 3 intake of their kids. Heck, the China Study nicely showed how increasing animal protein is the problem - but we've forgotten that as we have fear dispensing nutritionists. We must all have been so deprived, and turned out mentally damaged that we don't want to deprive our kids. Is that why I see kids <10 yr old that outweigh my wife or both my kids together? We can't deny ourselves anything, we all believe that mercury, PCBs, BPA, bromated flame retardants are all safe and "part of a healthy diet" (Slow Death by Rubber Duck anyone?).

Cripes I want to move away from the city when I see the sheer quantity of junk food that other kids eat. You can't, logically, convince a child that the vegetarian diet is good and junk food bad when all the evidence around them is that everyone isn't limiting themselves.

What shocks me is how some of my neighbours even lock their doors when they're at home! or the gate when the kids are playing in the back yard and will not open windows for fear of theft. The last theft I personally know about was nearly 30 years ago ...

We are a society ruled by irrational fear and that does not bode well for our future.

The best sources of omega 3 are from fishes.

Fish get it from greens (algae)

I am interested in comparing the energy inputs in preserving foods.
Much of food preservation seems to be done during the growing season. And many of the traditional canning methods call for high heat for extended periods. When and where can we substitute other methods like pickling [vinegar, brine or fermented] both preserving nutritional value and avoiding the expense of fuels to heat the food? The concern with food poisoning is something that will become more common when too many amateurs turn to preserving food and try to save money on fuel.

And many methods of canning require a lot of sugar or salt to keep the microbes from growing. Will sugar or salt be less available? And just how healthy would it be to be eating those foods all winter long? Honey is not a perfect substitute for sugar as it contains botulinum. Does anyone know how to denature the botulinum without using enormous amounts of fuel or overcooking the food being preserved?

Other cultures and our past had summer kitchens to both cook in and can the surplus of food. Is this a worthwhile thing to do?

Solar drying is possible as one alternative, but isn't necessarily optimum in high humidity places.

Can solar ovens accomplish what is called open bath canning? Safely?

Are there any methods of keeping some produce in a suspended state to await canning during the cold season on the wood stove?

If we had a little energy available which method would you get the most bang for your buck? Electric dehydrator vs stove-top canning?

Would a substantial amount of the nutrients be diminished by air-drying food in a hot upstairs room?

Or is the really cost effective method to eat the fragile fresh things in season and store the root crops, grains and meats [smoked or cured in some fashion] for the winter and spring eating? With some pickled/fermented vegetables or fruits for variety and nutrients. You can have some brandied fruit for a treat.

Of course all these musing are for the temperate zones where food doesn't grow year-round.


Something I've been wanting to try is a crude method of vacuum dehydration. Two vessels like pressure cookers connected, one functions as an evaporator the other as a condenser. Purge the air from the system with an aspirator or a boiler. Once the air is purged, apply a temperature diffential to the two vessels. Maybe a solar box to enclose the evaporator and some evaporative cooling applied to the condenser.

Are there any methods of keeping some produce in a suspended state to await canning during the cold season on the wood stove?

Many of the leafy greens are cold tolerant, most of the Brassicas, Spinach, Chard, Mache, Claytonia, Radicchio. They dont grow much when its below 38 F, but can still be picked after several hard freezes. In zone 6 fall plantings frequently overwinter and give early spring pickings. Some of the Chicories are too bitter to eat if they haven't been frosted on.

I typically leave brussel sprouts in the garden till the Jan. thaw and then pick them for cooking.

I've never gotten Mache to grow in 3 years of trying - and threw the last of my seed down this year.

Newzeland 'spinach' grows on it's own - but it doesn't produce much for me. It's nice in that it's self seeding - so you don't really need to re-seed every year.

Spinach is another matter - we're just trying to find a variety (ideally non-hybrid so we can save seeds) that doesn't bolt every time a cloud goes overhead. Swiss chard is much much more forgiving. I've never had luck with fall crops of anything. Friends managed to get chard plants to overwinter - but we lost all of ours even though they were sheltered.

If you're growing corn and brassicas, at least, try some Liquid Gold.

Garlic mustard is usually our first weed "crop" - in a pesto.
Sorrel is the next. Everyone should have an asparagus bed.

I've taken to keeping a stock of potatoes in a cold place for planting next year.

We leave carrots, covered by straw, over winter for picking during winter and in spring. Without a cold cellar (modern home) we have nowhere to store things in the home.

I just found a neat 17 acre property - but the #@$#@$ rules don't let you get a building permit for property that doesn't front on a street - as if I care about parking near the home or a few hundred meter walk to the house!

You can find the answers to most of your questions regarding nutrition and preservation techniques at any of the various state agricultural and home ec extension services.

The energy questions are not something I can comment on,as we have never needed to think about the amount we use to preserve food.

My Mom used to do most of the family canning outside in a couple of large galvanized tubs over wood fires.Firewood is generally dirt cheap or free for the hauling in the country any where there is adequate rainfall.

Some late vegetable canning and meat canning was done on the kitchen stove,also wood fired.In later years she used an electric range exclusively.

Outside drying of fruits and vegetables works great IF you have plenty of sun-meaning no shade- and relatively low humidity.We still air dry apples in the sun on screens every year,but we wait until midfall,as the humidity is much lower then.A day of rain or two days of high humidity can ruin a lot of fruit and a lot of work.

Bugs-wasps,honey bees,flies,gnats,and anything else that flies can be a problem drying outside,but we get good results by placing the fruit between two screens with the wood frames touching,which keeps the bees of the fruit very well.

If you are able to construct a good deep root cellar you can store lots of produce for suprisingly long periods,especially some older varieties bred(selected) for thier storage qualities.We keep "limbertwig" apples from October harvest until May in ours.They wilt,but they are still very good,chewy not mushy.A corner in unheated house cellar works fairly well. The three operative TERMS are COOL,DARK,and MODERATE HUMIDITY.

You can rinse your last green tomatoes the day before the first killing frost with dilute household bleach(clorox) and wrap them individually in newspaper and put them in a cardboard box under the bed in an unheated bedroom and they will keep for up to four months.They are not tasty compared to fresh,but not worse than shipped winter tomatos,and are fine for cooking.

Sugar and salt can be bought in bulk if you look for it and can be stored essentially forever if you have waterproof vermin proof containers.Temperature,light,and humidity control don't matter so long as the containers are good ones.

If you are not too attached to your home turf,and you are seriously interested in not only sustainability but also your personal survival(meaning if you are concerned about a collapse of bau)then I encourage you to investigate the possibility of moving(unless you already live in such a place) to some area where water and firewood are plentiful,the soil is fertile,the growing season long,and the winter cold enough to control the worst of the communicable diseases such as malaria.


Thank you for your ideas. I must have come off as some naive worry wart about the coming collapse. 2 years ago I sold my doomstead because age and bad back got the better of me. My questions were really related to when things get very problematic. BAU to my mind is the traditional methods. I think they need to be rethought and only those that can give us food safety in a low energy environment should be recommended. And be related to the biome that the food comes from.

Of course extending the season with cold tolerant plants and cool storage conditions meet this criteria.

I live where firewood is readily available. But neither do I have a woodstove or am I personally willing to stand out in the heat over a fire canning produce. The heat index today was 105.

In addition to energy becoming scarcer and more expensive, we are expecting ambient temperatures to rise. Your mama was incredible but I don't think it will be a model that will be as appropriate in the future. I want to know whether fermentation or drying might be better options in the future. And if electricity is still available, will dehydrating be as cheap or cheaper than canning. Or whether we can safely can with solar ovens.

I don't know the answers to my queries. I know that today I can go get as many pounds of sugar that I could afford and can up hundred of jars of fruit. But that isn't the issue. If the same amount of energy could dry that fruit I would then be able to use the fruit in ways that canned fruit would be problematic for or be able to adjust the amount of added sugar for the end product. The downsides might be that the flavors wouldn't be the same or the textures or the nutrition might be decreased. I just don't know.

In the future we may have to decide to conserve energy for the cold months and any savings we make in the growing season will be rewarded with surviving the winter.

Right now I mostly eat fresh from the garden and dehydrate tomatoes. I'm growing Hickory King corn and will treat it to make it hominy.


Here's one of the first campfire articles and it deals with many of your questions, but not all:


Thank you kindly. Very interesting article. I wasn't reading TOD at that time and didn't think to do a search. Love the Campfire.


making it drinkable

For emergency survival I think the way to go is a solar still. I have built one for myself with a glass top.
It is possible to use it for making fresh water out of ocean water or otherwise contaminated water, there are many plans on line.


Composite-ceramic and organic-clay carrier biofilters are not that difficult to master but require a bit more knowledge.

I learned this technique in survival training for the USN.
We also put freshly picked foliage in the condensation chamber to introduce a little more moisture.
This really worked but obviously on a limited scale.

I worked in municipal water treatment for a while and also was responsible for industrial water supply from wells.

I would recommend the book "Ground Water and Wells" if it weren't so expensive ($500 new, $300 used). Maybe you can obtain a very old printing for less. The book contains a map showing major aquifers in the US. Perhaps you can find the same map on the internet. The book is probably too technical for most people, and there may be a more practical one out.

Most well water in the Eastern US is very high quality. Out west it can contain too many dissolved salts. Water from a well with a properly grouted casing to keep out surface water is sterile. (Note: The cause of cholera was discovered by observing a map of cholera cases located around certain wells in London. Health officials now require wells to be located away from sources of contamination and have physical barriers to infiltration).

There are probably good handbooks on municipal water treatment, with which you could learn the basics of turning a swimming pool with pump and sand filter into a water purification plant.

Chlorination of public water supply began around 1908 led to a dramatic decline in typhoid, cholera and dysentery over the next decades. More recently a coworker told of almost dying in a third world country after drinking cistern water he was paying a young boy to bring him every day. When he was finally able to view the rooftop cistern he found that pigeons used it for a toilet.

To treat water, first add chlorine, either bleach or swimming pool chlorine, to the amount of 5 to 10 parts per million (PPM), depending on cloudiness. Keep treated water chlorine around one PPM.
Add a flocculant to remove any cloudiness (turbidity). Let settle overnight and pour off (decant) the clear (supernatant) water. Follow up with filtration (sand or special filter media).

A swimming pool water test kit contains the same reagents and color charts I used at the water works in the 1970’s. Anyone who is not color blind can use it and it takes a couple of minutes.
Recently ultraviolet light has been used for sterilizing water; however, to store water chlorine is recommended. Silver vessels will also keep sterilized water.

keeper info above & here. THANKS!

My local WalMart sells chlorine, flocculant and test kits. You can get the kit ($6) and the other chemicals for a total of $25 and be able to treat several thousand gallons of water. A new plastic garbage can makes a good treatment container. The final filter can be made of swimming pool filter sand and should be at least 18 inches deep. There are also high quality cartriges for water filtration. For small amounts of water a coffee filter may be used for final polishing, but the water should be previously chlorinated and all suspended materials flocculated and setled out first.

I wish to know if the following and other opinions posted today by Stoneleigh at TAE are correct? Which banks, if any, that are "too big to fail" will fail. Will large or multiple failures be covered by the FDIC. Will companies such as Boeing follow the paths of GM and Chrysler? What should one do to prepare for retirement or to protect pensions, IRA's or other savings?

"# Deflation is inevitable due to Ponzi dynamics (see From the Top of the Great Pyramid)
# The collapse of credit will crash the money supply as credit is the vast majority of the effective money supply
# Cash will be king for a long time
# Printing one's way out of deflation is impossible as printing cannot keep pace with credit destruction (the net effect is contraction)"

As I have posted before, people expecting a return of 1930's deflation need to look at what happened then. Deflation was common in the late 19th Century and until the end of the gold standard in 1933. The deflation was caused by the productivity miracle of chemical fertilizers, steam engines and later electrification and internal combustion transportation. Output per worker hour rose dramatically and prices fell 1 to 1/2% per year, until the 1930's when they collapsed. Tractors replaced work animals and allowed a single person to run a farm, displacing millions during the depression. During the depression there were such large agricultural surpluses that the government paid farmers to plow under part of their crops. Never before in history were we able to grow so much!
Asset deflation is different from commodity deflation. Prices of stocks and real estate will decline relative to commodities. Many companies will fail as discretionary income shrinks.

Good investments are oil and gas royalty trusts. Do not hold bonds; keep little in CD’s and cash. Use commodity exchange traded funds for parking some money. DBA (agricultural), USO (oil) and UNG (natural gas) are worth considering depending but have special problems like contract rollover in contango and overcrowded trade at present in UNG.

Fertilizer companies (AGU, MOS, POT) are overpriced, but will eventually correct and I would buy on heavy correction. I went to my local Agrium dealer and bought fertilizer Monday and noticed the price was down from 2 months ago, yet the stock was up. Today fertilizer stocks crashed when one of the companies admitted oversupply and weak prices. If I had been alert I would have bought puts and made some pocket change.

Metals stocks are probaly in the samesituation as fertilizer. Keep an eye on warehouse inventories.

Make no mistake, inflation is coming. Hyperinflation is a possibility. A little inflation seems so harmless at first. Then something goes wrong and it gets worse. It happened so fast in Weimar Germany it took everyone by surprise. Then one day the grocery shelves were bare.

I appreciate your comments on stocks but I don't have enough money to play.

Your statement that asset deflation is different than commodity deflation is a priceless piece of wisdom.Allow me please to rant and rave a little high up in this article by tagging on your early comment.

I have been posting trying to get the idea across that inflation is very serious threat,given current conditions.Nearly every body on this site views conventional economics as a joke,as it's practicioners don't as a rule understand resource depletion,biology, or engineering.
One would reasonably then conclude that they would be rather suspicious of economists claims that we are due for DEFLATION but nearly everybody seems to accept these claims at face value.

Now as I see it,the deflation of real estate and stocks could continue for quite some time,or not. I will venture no guesses as to which way the markets will move in the short term.

As it happens I am niether an economist nor a historian,but I have taken some courses and I am a student of history.I don't need to be a fully qualified engineer to know that somebody is a fraud if he is selling perpetual motion,you learn the basic laws of physics the first year.

When a govt or central bank floats enough paper(or electronic paper) it must sooner or later start chasing real physical goods of some sort. Commodities are the obvious target nowadays,and I am stocking up directly,like the Chinese and the oil traders holding floating cargos.

A rapid inflation of commodity prices in and of itself can and will force up living expenses at a very fast clip.

Now here is a point that has not been mentioned here yet.You must accept a good check-at least at a lawyers office or courthouse- or cash in payment for goods and services,that is what the concept of legal tender is all about.

It may be pretty hard to reignite the real estate and stock market with paper -it's hard to light large chunks of wood with newspaper too,using an ORDINARY QUANTITY of newspaper.

But if the inflation train leaves the station,and wages and commodity prices start chasing each other as the feds print money,all at once real estate will look like a super bargain again,ESPECIALLY IF ARTIFICIALLY LOW RATE LOANS ARE AVAILABLE.If you expect your paper wages to double in five or six years,you would be a fool not to buy a house on with a fixed rate loan.After all in five years you cut the days of work necessary to make the payment in half.In five more years you work only one quarter of the hours needed to make the first payment -even though your grocery and fuel bills will probably-almost surely-rising FASTER than your wages.

So some sucker sells you his house,and he is suddenly holding a wad of cash that will degenerate to essentially nothing in ten years.

He MUST spend it or lose it-and it is legally REQUIRED THAT IT BE ACCEPTED FOR ANY PURCHASE.So all at once,or gradually over a couple of years,as the quantity of paper grows,the amount of "kindling" trying to ignite the real estate and stock market eventually becomes enough to get the job done.

Now a government strong enough to do so can dry up rather than expand the money supply.But thats like giving up the bottle when you're on a binge-it feels good to keep on drinking,and it hurts like hell to stop.

I'm just a crabby old farmer,but you might want to think about this.If you're not old enough to have been supporting yourself in the Carter era,talk it over with someone who was.

Robert: I can tell you that Stoneleigh is scary smart on this subject and I wouldn't say that about very many people. IMHO she might be overstating the case for shock value but in any event ignore her opinions at your peril.

In a debt based monetary system printing money means nothing.
Since the only way that that money gets into the system is through loans the new "digits" will just sit in the servers since no one can or will borrow.
We need an economy that is based on production and incomes not gambling and borrowing.
It is broken and it won't be fixed.

Personally I don't trust fiduciaries any longer and believe that the only safe holdings are physical.
All the numbers on account statements are phony and the true "wealth" that exists underneath is probably one tenth what is perceived.
It is nothing but a game of who blinks first at this point.
Ever heard of John Law? Well this outrageous bubble called American Swindlism makes him look like a piker.

I may be in over my head here but I can see nothing to prove these four assertions.There may yet be a lot of deflation.

That does not mean that it will continue until a coke is a nickel again,which is what a 12ounce soft drink cost when I was a kid.

The collapse of credit can indeed crash the money supply as most money exists only as electrons to be loaned in greater quantities than deposited with the lender.

That does not mean that money can't be created by a soverign government forcibly depositing electrons in banks-there have been times when raw political power-the kind enjoyed by presidents and congresses during emergencies- has trumped the the advice and the will of the banking establishment.

The banks may own the politicians in normal times,but when times ain't normal there can be coups both obvious and not so obvious.If times get seriously far enough out of whack,generals sometimes have a way of morphing into politicians even when elections are still years away..

Cash will be king for a long time.

I agree-if you mean for a long time maybe a year or two.My personal guess
is that commodity inflation will take off as prosperitys wing mate-if prosperity gets off the runway successfully.

Printing you way out of deflation can't be done-

Tell it to the people living in Zimbabwe today or any number of countries in South America over the last century,or any body still alive who grew up in Germany between the wars.

The results aren't pretty but only an idiot WOULD SAY WITHOUT QUALIFIERS say that inflation can't be made to trump deflation SO LONG AS THE RULING GOVERNMENT ENFORCES THE ACCEPTANCE OF ITS CURRENCY.I haven't yet read all the linked stuff so I don't know just what qualifiers may be included over there.Please note that I do not claim the solution is any better than the disease.I do insist that the government is dosing the economy with ye olde inflationary rotgut and that rotgut is both very pleasurable and habit forming.The doctor is also demonstrably prima facie sampling his own wares.

Right now the inflationary stimulus is just about roughly cancelling the deflationary fundamentals and I am very glad that stimulus is spending is no higher than it is.This indicates to me that the feds do indeed fear inflation and are reluctant to precribe enough rotgut for the patient to feel no pain. IF THIS REASONING IS NOT CORRECT,then why not just do stimulate the hell out of the patient RIGHT NOW and get back to bau?

It doesn't cost much to add another zero or two to a piece of paper,even in a hyperinflationary environment.

I can't remember the exact name of the author or the title ,but I had a book once that contained nothing but histories of the worlds greatest scams.Two stories in it stuck in my memory- one the sale of the Eiffel Tower by a crook posing as a govt official to a bunch of crooks in the scrap metal business-I can't remember too much,the fake official may only have tried for and apparently gotten a large bribe .

The other one involved a certain American robber baron trying to corner the stock of a company controlled by one of his competitors-who was aware of the attempt but said nothing-except to his personal staff.He arranged the quiet hire of a press and crew and started printing stock certificates.what he said,more or less, was "xxxx can have all the shares he wants unless that damn press breaks down"

I did glance thru the tae stuff,and a lot of it makes great sense.They warn that savings and pensions may not be available-that money on deposit can't be withdrawn.

One of the smartest guys I know withdrew all his electrons and hid his folding green (very well indeed ) some months ago to be ready for that very possibility.He is also covered if deflation or some other catastrophe results in his being turning up some incredible bargain such as a nice diesel tractor that won't wait for the bank wheels to grind out a loan or a withdrawal if currency controls are clamped on withdrawals..The bargain might even be the result of inflation-it might be very hard to find a loan under highly inflationary conditions quickly enough to close the deal.

An hour later-If you read down that list of forty items,you will see with a little thought that many are mutually contradictory,logically impossible,or just simply half baked.I'm willing to get into details over the weekend via cellphone with any OD regular in the continental US concerning my take on this,but I can't do it a finger at a time.Besides the OD might run short of electrons.

I've been following The Oil Drum for a few years and want add my support to the Campfire concept. I would like to see more practical information on various aspects of ELP (westexas' economize / localize / produce). I put in a serious but smallish garden this year for the first time in a while, and have a pretty good compost system going. Which brings me to the planned communities subject. More power to anyone who wants to join together to develop those, but as has already been noted here they can be fairly problematic. The best approach for me seems to be to just forge ahead on my own and set an example. People, especially given today's uncertainties, do seem more inclined to pay attention and take an interest. My grown kids are actually saving and bringing over their own 'waste' vegetation for my compost bin and will of course enjoy the produce that it eventually yields. The grandkids think it's all wonderful. I realize the more I get into this, the more “out there” I'm going to seem, as we move into raising chickens, recycling human waste, putting in wind and solar electric etc. on our small suburban lot. Pretty much I'm looking at and working on small systems that will let us withstand interruptions and breakdowns in the larger systems and infrastructure. As neighbors get more worried, I can just say “Well, here's what I'm doing and I can help you do something similar...”

So far I'm fortunate, after a series of layoffs at my employer, to still have a job as a technician supporting the semiconductor and solar PV industries. Also fortunate to live a mile from where I work so I can typically bike to work. My thing is really repairing and restoring things (appliances, old radios, whatever). I'm basically a scavenger and an innovator and an improviser. I love to take scrap and junk stuff and put it to use.

Just in looking at installing a home power system, I'm frustrated that we don't have more forward looking design in our appliances. Nearly everything is switch mode now, rectifying AC into DC and then switching it into whatever secondary voltages or waveforms are required. Typical home off-grid solar PV-battery systems are 48VDC, and it wouldn't add that much cost for lights and appliances to include an alternative 48VDC input that would let you run directly off the battery. This would eliminate the losses and inefficiencies at both ends, as well as the added inherent failure modes that go with using an inverter. Also I'm looking at putting in a wood stove that would also heat water for both hot water and radiant heat in other rooms (use in winter vs. solar hot water in the summer).

I can post what I learn as I progress with these endeavors, but it would be nice to have references on TOD to whatever information is already available. I have already learned a lot from TOD and have downloaded and bookmarked a wealth of material. But the challenge is really to organize it and make it accessible. I don't know how much is too much to ask, but maybe we could have ongoing dedicated threads on subjects like wind power, solar PV, home efficiency, wood heat, etc. I also liked the favorite book threads that were on here recently.

Jungian psychology is been my pull lately, archetypes and shadows.

Is this a practical topic?!
WKML in yin-yang symbol
About 10 years ago I made a painting of two trees in reflection, representing our outer and inner perceptions. Last week I was inspired to remap it into a yin-yang symbol, and further mapped elements into the King, Warrior, Magician, Lover archetypes:

The resulting diagram has a lot of appeal to me. One of Moore's ideas is to be able to recognize these archetypes within, but without identifying personally with any of them. This diagram shows these archetypes within a circle, but none in the center. The King spirit(?) blesses from above in the light, but we can't live there. The Magician offers us our soul's callings from below in the dark mystery, but we can't live there. The oppositional Warrior/Lover archetypes are more grounded archetypes, but alone, each is yet missing the whole. And somewhere hidden in the liminal rooted boundary is a place hidden from all the archetypes where their collective gifts can be planted and grow into something greater than any of them individually. That's the hidden promise at least.

I've been reading Carolyn Baker's "Sacred Demise", and at least it's all making sense to me at a dream level.

I'm now more appreciating the sense of reflection - how an out-of-control autopilot EXTERNAL WORLD leads to an out-of-control autopilot INNER WORLD, and vice versa. So as we face a pruning process of a declining world, we have to look inwards for pruning as well.

So that's why I consider archetypes and myths as a useful framework for action. So much of life must be on autopilot by necessity of attention. The advantage of facing fears early is we can selectively face different "control systems" to learn how they work.

But perhaps this is merely my mission, turning 41 this spring, and at a good "midlife" point to see where I'm going. Others might have other more worthy directions for exploration!

tomreun wrote:

"Jungian psychology is been my pull lately, archetypes and shadows.

Is this a practical topic?!"

Thanks tomruen. You bet it is!!!! One of the main themes that runs through the book (that every man should read) 'The hero with a thousand faces', by the late Joseph Campbell, brings forth the pain and suffering of modern (particularly post hunter gatherer) humanity in it's failing to recognise and understand the role of archetypes.

Indeed a good picture. Important is the mid point not being occupied by the four "identities". I thought I was on one side of that circle, but I came to see my other sides too right now looking at your guide, thanks a lot. Reflection is sometimes needed. I appreciate having learnt to think. Thats a start. Then (now): action.

Seems like many of the Campfire articles have been agriculture related - not that I mind, seeing as how I am gardener myself. But when one looks back to simpler times there were so many other occupations besides just farmer. They could be the basis for a number of Campfire articles.

Look at the names we still carry today: Cooper, Baker, Smith, Wright, Mason, Miller and more. All those other skilled jobs that made the villages and cities of the past function. Why is Farmer so much easier to imagine than these other surnames?

How about looking at these other practical skilled trades, and perhaps updating them to tomorrows world?

Coming from a manufacturing engineer background, Re-Manufacturing is one topic that interests me. I daydream about it when passing the places that rebuild alternators, and radiators, and motors. Those places have become a bit rare...for now.

Is it any more difficult to set-up and run a SMALL old-fashioned machine shop or welding shop or grain mill or bakery or lumber mill or foundry or cannery or quarry or cement kiln or forge than it is to set and run a small farmstead?

Coming from a manufacturing engineer background, Re-Manufacturing is one topic that interests me. I daydream about it when passing the places that rebuild alternators, and radiators, and motors. Those places have become a bit rare...for now.

Is it any more difficult to set-up and run a SMALL old-fashioned machine shop or welding shop or grain mill or bakery or lumber mill or foundry or cannery or quarry or cement kiln or forge than it is to set and run a small farmstead?

I have some good friends that I have helped with restoration of classic cars in the past so I have a network of people who are master mechanics, welders and machinists with their own shops. At least one of them has recently built is own coke furnace to smelt scrap steel. These are people who can take raw ingots and transform them into just about any high precision machined part that you can imagine and few that most people can't. Unfortunately most of these guys, like myself, are in their mid to late 50's and do not have any apprentices to whom they are currently passing on their skills. Too bad!

I have been a chimney sweep for most of the last 32 years (except when I lived in Hawai'i for 6 years and did archeological surveys and then was an at-home dad) and it has been more or less recession-proof. Being involved in alternate energy for that time has given me some of the skills needed to be moderately self-reliant, if not self-sufficient. My spouse is a professional gardener and we eat mostly out of our garden in the summer with a fair quantity of produce saved, one way or the other, for winter. We now have a dome growing space which will be good for extending our growing season to 12 months here in western Massachusetts. I have just finished installing a woodburning stove, that I have been dragging around for years, in the dome and that will keep it from ever freezing. There is a 1200 gallon heat storage tank which might support food-fish during the summer, and we have enough chickens to keep us (and a daughter and her new family) oversupplied with eggs.

We heat exclusively with wood, using a woodstove and a wood-gasification boiler. My goal is to get up enough solar PV to run the house's basic functions — water-well pump, boiler fan, and baseboard system circulators so that we have heat and water. Lights and (reluctantly) refrigeration I can let go of. We still have a propane boiler as a backup but haven't used it in 3 winters, and we still cook (mostly) with propane, though we cooked on the woodstove through 6 days without power in the Great Ice Storm of '08... we were lucky it was 6 only days. A project I have for next year is building a masonry cookstove with the top of an old cast-iron cookstove for the cooking surface. This will be the core of a 3 season "summer kitchen".

The primary drawback of my trade, as it is done today, is the reliance on an internal combustion van to move me and my equipment around. As American homes are not built with maintenance of the chimneys in mind, and due to the rural/suburban nature of my area, I don't see getting away from some sort of wagon/van and as I have intentionally kept it a one (or 1 1/2) person operation I do not have loads of cash to get a hybrid van, nor the skills to convert and operate my van on wood gas. Wood gas was my dream, but I am not a mechanic. I also do not have enough land to keep a mule or horse for a wagon, which was my other idea, envisioning doing my work (when the time comes, if I haven't retired by then) in an itinerant fashion, sleeping in the wagon or on a customer's floor, and traveling around an area for a few days at a time. I think there are service type jobs that will not disappear, such as plumbers and carpenters, etc., that will have to come up with new/old strategies to ply their trade. I am pondering switching the rest of my tools to solar-charged cordless. I suppose one could build a small wood gasifier to power a portable generator and then do almost any trade such as carpentry that requires power tools. There is a FEMA document from 1989, sorry I don't have the link handy, which I print out (from the downloadable pdf) and give to anyone with the skills and interest, to build a wood-gas generator able to power a vehicle such as a tractor or pickup, and scalable larger or smaller.

We are finding the problem of the difficulty of sustained work with others in the community garden which just started in our town. The town is small, with a population of 1,825 according to the latest Town Report, and the friend who organized it is finding that she is doing most of the work, though it is producing veggies. There are individual and common plots. My spouse helped start it, but was wise to make it clear, from the beginning, that she was available for consulting she didn't have the time to make it work on an ongoing basis. They didn't want to prepare it giving it a year to establish good quality soil, as she advised, so it is harder to get good results than it might be. I don't know how long it will last. The hope is that some folks will see it working and join in next year. One of the great myths of the Peak Oil community is that when TSHTF we'll all just start growing our food in the back yard or in place of the lawn, from day one growing supermarket quality produce... a legend in our own mind.

Well, clearly, I could go on and on, but that is the basics of one effort, based on the skill and trade (though shrinking) of a gardener, and the skill and labor of the ancient and honorable trade of chimney sweeping.

How about a post on how stupid and corrupt and mindless and market-totalitarian and counterproductive it is to use the term "human capital"? Human beings have skills and capacities that are ends in themselves, not vehicles for endless wealth accumulation. It's high time to question the overclass vocabulary all you supposed science nerds have never begun to think your way through.

Human capital = a pathetic sign of the times.

ecological economics has tried to redefine capital as the mindless and counterproductive financial markers that culture relies on into what truly has value. to call something 'capital' implies nothing about the system it is used in, just that it has value. based on your comments, human knowledge and skills shouldn't be considered an asset, but a liability, for society. I beg to differ, but I am just a science nerd so I'm probably wrong.

I agree with Nate. In systems thinking, capital is often view (and called) stock, while flux between stocks are called flows. In both systems analysis and ecological economics, it is simply an abstract way to differentiate the state of the system (e.g. stock/capital of fish in an area, cash in an account, quality/quantity of social relationships) from the changes that occur (depletion, renewal, interest, harvest). Although I concur that human capital has been reprehensibly used to reduce humans to just inputs into the industrial machine, in the broader sense it treats human capacities and knowledge as another store of value (on par with biological/genetic diversity, water quality/quantity, quasi-equilibrium atmosphere, etc.)

My rejection of the concept of "human capital" most certainly does not imply that human skills are not assets. They are precious assets.

But they are not capital. Capital is the deployment of surplus resources for financial gain.

If you want to call all asset "capital," then everything useful is capital. That's meaningless and wrong.

Human beings possess skills. The aim of using those skills is maximum happiness for the maximum number.

"Human capital" is a corruption and a denial of this point, one that reflects the deep insanity of our money-first epoch.

Why not just say "human skills"? You lose nothing by doing that, other than a piece of technocratic, elitist jargon.

'human skills and knowledge' wouldn't fit with the rest of the Five Capitals when measuring sustainability. It is just a mnemonic, without any value ascribed to it. Just like energy is an asset and pollution is a liability. These are words that make things easier to convey amongst decisionmakers.

To me personally, the Four Capitals (not financial) do not suggest that they only have value insofar as economic growth and profit but that from a blank slate looking forward these are the things that we have of VALUE. I understand your point but think you are going overboard in making it. I think we agree in principle just not semantics.

You're putting the definition YOU hear onto these words, instead of listening for what Nate means by them. You might consider trying to translate a little, and not just holding to rigid definitions.

Yes, language matters, and some terms may no longer be simply benign because they're tied to long-standing inequalities.. but before we can get to correcting all the terms out there, we still have to listen and try to get how people are using and understanding the things they are saying..

you are in over your head,bttter get back to the shallow end of the pool.

The 'guest post' larder since the start of Campfire has been on the bare side [...]

For one of the bare slots, how about a call for most interesting/useful things you've learned on TOD?

Not exactly what you were looking for, but have you seen The Big Picture - What Have You Changed Your Mind About?

Jungian psychology is been my pull lately, archetypes and shadows.
I'm willing to explore that a bit further, in this messy emerging world we inhabit.
However, lets not slip in to relativism, with all thing having equal weight and value.
Not diminishing Jung.

I am interested in transforming institutions from within, and I think local government is ripe for change in light of our energy challenges.

I would like to know if there are any elected officials on TOD. What considerations should people make before running for office? How does one run a successful election campaign, and what role does energy policy play in a winning campaign? Are there examples of communities where a large enough voting block of "energy aware" city councilors have enacted meaningful reform to prepare for higher-cost and less-available energy?

I was recently an elected municipal councilor (2005-2008) in a small community (pop. 2000). I agree that this topic would be very good. Local government has a huge influence on local land use and yet is often ignored by most of the population. Such a campfire topic could also focus on how to engage in the local governance process to effect change (running for office is one option, but one can also support good local politicians, get involved in advisory groups, propose to form a new advisory group on peak oil, etc). While on council, I proposed a new "Sustainability Task Force", which was created this year. I was encouraged/pressured to apply (given that I instigated it, I didn't have much choice), and then was pretty much forced to become chair. This was fine for me. It's very interesting and motivating (even if I am mostly fairly pessimistic about the ability of our society to change, I still believe it is critical to work hard for positive change). As chair, I have been able to insert energy/peak oil discussions in conjunction with GHG emission reduction targets, and to convince members at least that we are at the end of cheap energy (not that most are acting on this... at least they've been exposed). I gave a presentation generously prepared and shared by the Post-Carbon Cities (Post Carbon Institute), and designed for local government action. Lots of room in a campfire thread for discussion and looking into examples of communities who are taking these issues seriously (e.g. Portland).

Coming from a law enforcement background, I'm concerned about civil unrest, emergency services and security. Other than occasional posts on blogs about guns and the survivalist mindset, I've seen little on the subject of preparations for community security, personal and family protection, emergency medical aide, civilian first responder training, etc. What do we do when the police, fire fighters and ambulances are overwhelmed? Are any cities, towns, villages or communities seriously planning for this?

I too think that is an unexplored issue. As with every topic mentioned above, we might all hold out for an 'expert' to write an essay, but a Campfire post from someone like yourself, framing the issue and giving some experience and insights, might draw out expertise in the comments and add a thread to the peak oil tapestry. So to the armchair experts out there, consider doing a spot of research and writing something up....;-)

Nate, I will do some homework and try and put something together on this - it's been on my mind for some time now. Any references, blogs or sites on the subject are appreciated...

I was in Bogota Columbia in the 1970's when a major part of the city had no police presence--
Your concern has merit.

Somewhat along those lines, have you (or anyone else) read Neil Strauss' "Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life"? His story takes a fairly interesting arc from "lone wolf" survivalist to community-based first responder.

You can view some chapters and entertaining videos on his site:

I think this is a very good topic. Many self-sufficiency and survival proposals place a high value on purchasing a gun and ammunition. In Canada, it is foreign to many here (myself included) to think of a gun for self protection. As a tool for hunting, yes, but as a means to protect against violence it is far from clear to be effective and reliable. I think a post that looks at this topic from both angles would be helpful, as well as other means to increase resilience and security from sources of outside and internal conflict and violence.

Similarly, although we surely will not need specialists in credit default swap drafting there will be a need for lawyers in basic areas unless civilization completely dissolves: probates, divorces, adoptions, dispute mediation and the like. I think a lot about how practicing law would be if we lost our internet and word processing. Would judges circuit ride again? How would I get to court in the County Seat (15 miles away). What about all the client records that are now kept on electronic media?


My baby sister is a retired army medical officer and a nurse with specialists qualifications that make her a defacto physician within her very narrow specialty.

She told me recently about sitting in on an emergency planning meeting,where various scenarios that might put a real strain on the hospital staff and supplies were discussed.Viewed from the perspective of a military nurse or doctor,who is expected to at least have given some thought to anything that COULD happen,the scenarios were totally unrealistic.

For instance police and fire department support at normal levels was assumed to be available.Obviously this would not be the case in the event of a terrorist incident,an earthquake,or any number of other possible disaster situations.

She had never attended such a meeting as a civilian,and came away pretty depressed.

If this is a representative case,you are right to worry.

Oldfarmer - I know exactly how she felt. Representing my agency, my training academy commander and I attended a presentation by the DOD for first responders - law enforcement, fire, emergency medical - in 1996 or 97. The DOD was encouraging us to develop training for first response to weapons of mass destruction. It was surreal. Nuclear attack? Chemical or biological attack? My commander and I just looked at each other and laughed - it would not take special training to teach police officers to lean over, tuck their heads between their knees and kiss their asses goodbye. Needless to say, no training was ever developed.

The mindset is not much different considering pandemic illness, massive civil disturbance, food shortages, fuel rationing, etc. There just aren't enough resources - vehicles, trained personnel, equipment, jail space, hospital beds, drugs - to effectively contain and manage such events.

Great initiating question. I would specifically like some details on

  • Micro-hydro generation
  • replacing the healthcare "system"
  • redefining the legal structures

This last item comes up more and more. If I want to put in greywater recycling in my yard, I can't (well, I can but the barriers are very high). Or I want to capture roof water. Or I want to use the nutrients in human waste to generate bio-gas and fertilizer. And if I let my lawn go over 10 inches I get a fine. So I'd like to hear examples of how people made these changes locally.

As a permaculturalist living in a village in western NY I'd love to be able to post on turning one's unproductive, resource-sucking lawn into a food garden- I'm in year three of the process.

Here is my comment on Campfire. You probably will not like it.

The problem is shown easily in this very TOPIC POST. When asked 'what do you want' instead of stating it simply what I see is DETAILS.

OK canning...instead of stating "More topic posts on food preservation' the commenter starts into the DETAILS of the topic.

Of course on TOD there is no good method of keeping the data in any easily indexed or retrieval process so its just writing on a wall with chalk and soon to be erased by the others NO LIFETIME and so a waste.

Why should one who is really into sustainability at this time and very busy going to want to key up a lengthy information filled Topic Post and then see 50 or 100 comments and then disappear for eternity?????


If they really go to all that effort then it should be worth more than that. But it will be repeated again and again over long periods with slight variations all in vain.

Many are I suspect the same as me. Hard at work on the homestead and using the small amount of free time to cruise over to TOD to see whats new or happening. But I see less and less of many of the older regulars who once were here and of late I see less and less commenting.

Really I buy all the arguements that we are running in crisis mode and everything is changing rapidly. I truly do. Yet what I then seek is something of far more lasting value. Something that when this LCD screen blanks out for the last time and all the net is gone..that I can bring up my laptop on PV/Battery power and return to some of the needed data I have squirreled away.

Sometimes I am busy for a week or other matters keep me away. During that time something with real 'keeper' value has come and gone and I never knew it.

I envision an indexing system. Say I have looper worms destroying my cabbage. What have others done? How do I find out? Is the search function that useful.

Of course this takes disk space. Yet disk space is very cheap. With compression techniques it can be far more dense.

Am I asking for too much?

I am right now thinking of just deleting this post and going to my garden to pull weeds. Its something I do a lot of because of the lack of replies or finding that I am off track or other reasons.

I tend to find TOD of less and less value to me except as a sort of news catchup. It used to be I devoted a lot of time to it but that time now is short. I find that in fact I can take it or leave it and
more and more I simply do something else.

But I guess I will let this one fly and later tonite check back in.
Then later I find that not much has been debated and it actually received zero replies. Thats ok...thats TOD and the crowd here appears to be changing more and more and further and further from just exactly WHERE I AM currently my sustainable lifestyle.

Airdale-sorry if any electrons were harmed in this transmission..or feelings stepped asked and I replied......

The keyword search is best we have for indexing at present.
As to not spending time on TOD and gardening etc., I share your inclination, which is why to keep the site going we need quality contributions from people that want to share knowledge with the community. I had previously invited you to write a guest post for Campfire, -you agreed but ultimately decided you were too busy to do it. In the end, TOD is a prime example of tragedy of the internet commons. Its fine to siphon information and complain about what is missing/lacking etc., and then go pull weeds.

Not intending to single you out - I am sure the behaviour is prevalent - I'm also not sure what to do about it....if Gail, Kyle Leanan and I decide to go pull weeds, TOD goes dark. (We are efforting to change this.)

As to needing the information on TOD less and less over time, that stands to reason. I suspect that many as individuals and communities can see enough of the mural on the wall to eschew the internet and media and just get to work. The problem is that those lifeboats will likely be capsized by very large social waves unless the macro problems are acknowledged and addressed.

Nate, off to weed potato patch..

Nate and Airdale,
you are both right.
I like a freewheeling discussion as well as any one but every forum needs some thing to build around.Peak energy and sustainability seem to be enough for any one site to me.The survival issues are well covered on lots of other sites that I don't personally bother with as most of what I've seen on them is impractical,unrealistic,or advertising.

As far as farming/gardening goes there are also numerous sites that cover these scenes very well.You can find the good ones by following the links.You will strike gold several times within a month of browsing an hour a day.Of course farming is my favorite topic,and I'm more than happy to chip in on IT anytime.

I might have become a modest success (with a great deal of luck!)as an author of fact or fiction many years ago if I had not set too high a standard for myself.

I would look at a page of Twain or Tolkien or Tolstoy and a page of my own work and put my scribblings in the trash.Since then I have learned that even though I might not have as much to say,or be able to say it as well as the very best, I am at least talented enough to post comments on the oil drum,and touch a nerve here and there or inspire an ah ha moment or a damn tootin response occasionally.Much more satisfying than watching tv!

And nobody has given me a hard time about mismatched verbs and subjects or dangleing infinitives,or even my ONE fingered typing with all the errors!

So if you have something to say,but you are afraid of being criticized,just preface your work with a disclaimer that you are an amatuer and that you expect to learn as much as you wrote!If any body gives you a personal hard time,I will personally remind them that they are lacking in good manners for you unless I run out of money to pay my ISP..or you asked for it!

Scribble and email your scribblings to the staff.

You might just get yourself a byline!

Perhaps it is time for TOD to open a wiki facility similar to Wikipedia, but devoted to topics of interest to TODers. I'd be ready to put in a $ contribution to instigate such a facility if others thought it would be a better platform for collecting knowledge. It occurs to me that there is a lot of knowledge collectively available in TOD land. A blog can only do so much. A wiki might work better.

Just a thought.


BINGO. I think George has really hit on an idea that would work. For in depth tutorials on gardening, canning, food drying, home security, ELP, export land model, etc... A Wiki could evolve into a very useful info repository. I would second the idea that blogs aren't the best format for what is being asked.

Yeah -- agree -- a survival Wiki.

survival wiki will never be in our wheelhouse. We are trying to steer the aircraft carrier.

We have one chance to get this conversation elevated -I had intended on the Campfire posts be more of a foundation for a lasting physical/mental framework rather than info-tainment. If we become TOD:foxfire why would I spend one minute here rather than working in my own locale/region? And why would others? It would be like playing a slot machine while there were riots outside the casino...

Perhaps TOD could 'shepherd' or 'father' a WIKI that corresponds to TOD in that what was an essay post on TOD could be carried over to the WIKI and let some others who are interested do the physical work of EDITTING which as I understand it is the biggie on WIKIS..the editting of it. Wikis as I recall are really a group thing anyway. You can contribute but don't have to take charge or enlist for long periods. The info comes from those who contribute willy nilly.

So TOD just serves as what is termed a MENTOR...for the Wiki.

Sharing data that is and allowing the base Essay Post to go to WIKI.

This would incur almost zero work for the techies of TOD yet satisfy a more 'distilled' and lasting product for those who are interested in some good retrieval and lasting product.

A set of volunteer monitors from the audience of TOD who could be given enough authority to do what needs to be done. Just to guide it.

The idea of a wiki has been floated several times. If there is zero work involved for TOD then why not?

I am not suggesting a Foxfire series since that was oldtimers who are now long gone dead...their material was precious beyond belief and those of our future might go dig out an old printed copy of a TOD WIKI to see what those who went before did. Since no schools will exist and no caches of knowledge except what 'we leave behind'.

A lot of dead wordage that didn't survive the chaos of the power down and die off of the early 21st century....

and if nothing exists perhaps they may mutter to themselves.....

"They brought this on us but they left nothing of value behind!"

It really all about what comes next isn't it? After our digital debates are long gone.

'Yeah they talked alot about oil didn't they , as I recall as a child, but that was it,talk talk talk and here we sit wondering WTF.'

Personally I have a lot I think I could contribute but it has to MEAN SOMETHING or else I have other fish to fry. A half-life of jello on an anthill is not worth much. Its good enough for todays audience but what about those left?

How does one harness up a mule or draft horse. How does one shoe a horse. How do you milk a cow. Can you eat poke and how do you cook it so it doesn't kill you. How do you make grits? And make it so you don't get pellegra. How long to cure firewood. What is the best wood.

A thousand questions they might ask. No answers can be found.

But laptops are pretty sturdy machines and PV panels can power them. They do not consume large amounts of power. I haven't tested this idea but it seems reasonable to me.
Large hard drives are getting cheaper and can be used externally. Heck 8 gig USB thumb drives can hold a lot.

What is a 'lasting physical/mental' framework?
Since when did a survival manual turn into entertainment? You gather the data and then put it on a shelf for when its really needed.When your out there trying to survive and knowledge is worth gold. Or more like unto diamonds.

Then the ability to knap flint is worth your very life's blood.

This is what I envisioned as part of the purpose of the Campfire series but I reckoned that without survivable text in some usuable format that it was just to be handwriting on a wall and not to persist in any valued form.

I see Durandal setup a Wiki. I went there and pasted in some text. It turned out to be a really big -YAWN-(it stayed dead in the water) so I can understand the viewpoint of the TOD editors.

Lots of talk, but little incentive out there. The dilemma is that those 'doing' the survival/sustainable thing do not have the time either. They are too busy so what one mostly gets it 'blue sky'. A lot of feelgood chatter. Interesting reading of an evening after you wash the garden dirt off and try to live without AC in 100 degree temps and think of perhaps a good mule might work out. The ass end of sweaty working mule pulling a walking plow can bring on much philosophical thoughts. No?

All well and good but what then? We die like rats in a leghole as our politicos wrangle and piss away everything. As our enemies bring nukes up to staging levels and look at our weakness.As we cut the last of the worthy woodlands and chute the soil down the river of no return. As herbicides,insecticides and pesticides destroy our wildlife and insectlife. All to grow 150 bushel corn for what?

Airdale-don't ask me, I am just trying to get thru ,,,read on a sign
"The best things in life, are not things."

PS. And if I see a Wiki article about making grits then I will take the small amount of time to tell how I do it. Or as to why you teach a mule to Gee and Haw. Easier than dealing with human arses in todays culture. (no slight to TOD intended)...we are all dead men walking...

Ahhhh,,,then here is my point. No comments to my comment. A rather lengthy one crying about the future.

Three more NEW comments. This essay post was created on the 17th...this is the 19th,,,its dead. Its gone for good.Not worth threading thru again.

Wasted verbage. I spent two hours pulling grass after the comment I created this morning then came in not done to get a drink and check. I could have just not went to the trouble and would have finished the corn rows as well if I hadn't wasted two hours this morning.

The value? The long lasting value? Zero. Wasted.

I will never again post a comment on something a day old. Never.

Airdale-sometimes shit like this really pisses me off but then ...well canning time approaches and all else recedes to the far horizon...and then I don't even catch up on world news. Except for those conseratives here you might be interested to read that Illinois might go the city of Chicago and others do not have the funds to fight the lawsuits...Peoria is on the cusp of allowing it already,the rest might follow...rather earth shaking news from and insider friend of mine who lives in both cities(Chiago/Peoria).........Can Armageddon be far behind!

I will never again post a comment on something a day old. Never.

It’s been exactly a problem for me with this site and the reason I didn’t sign up until recently. I don’t have time to socialize on the web at work. By the time I get back home and take care of my house chores it’s almost too late to start posting on an article of my particular interest since the intensity of the thread is fading out and nobody is interested to engage with you anymore. I have been witnessing this for at least past few months I’ve been reading this site.

By having said that I still believe that TOD is invaluable in what it offers you. I enjoy reading on a variety of fabulous topics.

airdale, I especially enjoy reading your posts and hope you will continue contributing.

"Blessed are those in Eastern time zones, for they shall steer the discussion".

@greenish - LOL

@airdale -one solution would be for us to go down to one post every two days. might help all involved...

Here's more data than you can shake a stick at, to put in your solar charged laptop:

The psychology of all this fascinates me. I went to a GreenDrink meeting in my town last night and I left after five minutes. The GreenDrink happens once a month and they waste it trying to talk over loud music and simple chatter that reminded me of a TV drama background scene as I was waiting for a handsome detective to walk in and start questioning someone.

I know it takes time for people and a culture to change but I think the change needs to happen a bit more quickly if suffering during the decline is to be minimized.

I am moving back east to North Carolina and I plan on starting a more aggressive outreach campaign in the form of protests, sit in, boycotts, etc. I also have a film script I am working on with a friend to visualize the external costs of oil and other unsustainable things.

We already have all the education we need on this subject. We know how to do them but we do not know how to ENACT them. So, yeah, maybe that is a good question, is talking about this stuff in polite conversation in conference rooms and over cold drinks the long way around?

Maybe we need to create an artificial crisis?

Yeah, we got those GreenDrink things in Portland Maine too. They are a bit "incongruous" to say the least. Marketing in a green suit. But hey, free beer. Off to weed.

""Off to weed.""

Hey, is that legal in Maine just 'cause you are closer to Canada?

BTW, don't know a Karin Odlin do ya?

No and no. Maine is actually turning into a fairly authoritarian state. I don't know how that plays out relative to other places. In the big picture, it's all about resources and who gets them.

No matter how one sees the future playing out with the energy crunch, of how one judges the partly invisible shifts that have already occurred, it is a certainty that many of us, or our children, will be facing great changes. So, I thought I’d put on my all purpose psychologist hat and offer some thoughts and the proverbial free advice.

First, some general points about changing life circumstances, in this context.

Obviously, negative change is seen as more problematic than positive change, but humans often find it difficult to adjust to change that is favorable. We all know about some who become miraculously rich and/or famous and are incapable of adapting and lose it, even dying sometimes: new behaviors and new world-views need to be acquired to function happily, and that takes a combination of anticipation (or downright planning), learning quickly, correcting mistakes, moving on, in short adapting.

Therefore, the question is not so much how to deal with sad events (e.g. the stages of grief, starting dating after a divorce) or overcoming exogenous depression, but of gathering together old skills, creating new ones, and fitting them to the new circumstances. A better situational comparison is the so-called ‘culture shock’, which can be very painful and lead to disorientation - a new world, where all is different, even while much remains the same. Severe culture shock can be completely debilitating, even kill - think not of the CFO who takes a course in Japanese manners, preparing to expatriate, but of a refugee who can never go home and is arbitrarily sent to some country very different from his own.

One might, here, bring up the difference between slow change and instant change. No generalities can be made, as it depends on the nature of the change, the individual, the situation, etc. As is evident on TOD, in some ways slow change is to be preferred, as it affords time to adjust, develop, grow, adapt at some putative possible rate (for an individual or a group, nation, etc.) On the other hand, quick or instant change is said to be better in some cases. The daily grind of deterioration, the incapacity to change things can themselves become an extra burden; and the rapid movement of events calls up a quick response, an immediate reading and strategy-switch - often less painful and more efficient.

A last general point: changes that affect groups (a society, a village, a professional group) that are in some way soldered are not comparable with changes that affect only an individual. Because of group cohesion, the former can be dealt with even when the change is incredibly horrible, whereas an isolated individual will not be able to cope at all. So the message: Community, community, community is perhaps the most important. I would add: energy, its extraction, distribution, etc. is a deeply political matter, and is in fact governed by world geo-politics. Community, in this case, is not just buying from the local farmer or hugging around the Maypole.

Going to the posts, I see that interactional skills were mentioned. That is the kind of thing I wanted to address. (Cont. below.)

Turning to the main message - Community - and treating one aspect only, individual social behavior.

General purpose blurbs of this kind are by necessity simplistic (“duh!”) and not always appropriate (“it all depends!”) and are here addressed to an imaginary TOD audience.

1*. Time. Busy professionals, stressed out moms, working students and others whose lives are very circumscribed and organized around particular tasks / time slots are used to moving rapidly, processing quickly, planning forward. They are impatient, in a rush, and domineering (or desperately speedy and polite.) They may lack experience with people different from themselves. Therefore, time must be taken, and in interaction the other person(s) must be left space to set the speed (in the sense of tempo), length, and termination of the interaction. Other pop-therapy types might call it LISTEN. If time is taken, listening happens. Listening is not good enough - push someone along or cut them off and you may be a goner.

In a group setting, that translates to ‘going with the flow’ or if in some managerial or dominant position apportioning time (explicitly or implicitly) while making effort to include the voiceless or /everyone/. That takes practice. Admit mistakes.

Labor specialization and the attendant individualism, fractioning of society, some call it complexity, typical of the US and the ‘west’ as a whole, a dimension of which we are not terribly conscious, have seen to it that many believe their ‘opinion’ or ‘expertise’ or plain now! ‘demands’ are valid, and that they can, or even should, impose these, even if they fail - better luck next time. (Didn’t work out too well long term, did it?) In a ‘growth’ scenario that may function for a while - in a steady-state or downturn it does not, and group cohesion and cooperation are essential - without it nothing can be accomplished.

Unless a feudalistic system of lords and overseers manage the serfs, or the jackboots/military control the peons, etc. Then, one needs the ‘revolution‘ handbook, a bit dusty, forgotten, incomprehensible, by now.

Political dimensions are involved. The backdrop, the stage, of life in the US or Switz. or Brazil etc. should not be taken for granted. Individual use of energy delivered to the home (or...) for heat - cooling and all the rest, entertainment, work, luxury, will not last. One way or another BAU will halt abruptly or diminish in steps down an L shaped slope, and culture shock (that cuddly metaphor was quite deliberate) will be with us. It takes time to absorb it and act in consequence, and forge new ties.

(more if time.)

Labor specialization and the attendant individualism, fractioning of society, ...

In your strange way, you hit on some important points.

As a gray-haired one, I remember the more laid back times when moms could stay home to raise their families and a working man could easily support a family of four by merely working 9 to 5. Extended families clung close to one another.

Somewhere in our herd like stampede toward the cliffs of success, it all went to pot. New thoughts were injected into our heads: 24/7, giving it 110%, productivity, productivity, productivity.

And what have we produced? A nightmarish hell on Earth. A nation of isolated individuals. A country of involuntary serfs, all beholden to the credit card company and the mortgage bank.

Nice comments Noizette.

Here is mine on 'community'.
TOD is a great community....but the question is thus:

How do you MAKE IT the future to come.

Lost data of many nice comments. How to ensure that the Mind can cope with what comes? GET PREPARED..NOW......then set Watchmen on the walls.

Reach back to the past when it was once this way in the early frontiersman's life. Keep the powder dry and a good eye to the canebrake.

My forebearers lived thusly as they came into the Kain Tuck E Lands. Chopping out a living in the wilderness and bearing their children along the way. We instead will look out on a wasted and depleted landscape of useless trees and missing species of wildlife. Polluted ground water and undrinkable for years and years. Water tables too far to dig into. Soil that is barren and will take years of lying fallow to ever produce again. Vast undergrowths of weeds that are almost impenetrable due to monoculture. Johnson Grass that reaches to 14 feet and higher, nodding thistles a man cannot walk thru. Marestail and foxtail galore. As the spraying stop we will see the results of what man has sown. Nature will recover but we might not have the time to wait for it.

We won't have virgin lands springing full of life.Even a mushroom can no longer grow in this landscapes. Trying to find morels is a waste of time here, where once I could pick a bucket full. Two bluebirds is all that inhabit my domain. One cardinal on ocassion. No blue jays to make a raucous noise .


What I would like to see in TOD Campfire (which might be reverted back to Local);

- More delving into the human side of why many are driven to consume as much as they do. There are at least two outstanding articles by you on this, and I would repeat each of them every 3 months or so to keep them fresh in people's minds. If you choose to add to them, we benefit that much more.

- More on the organization of communities to change over to a more sustainable lifestyle, such as detailed experiences of people who are in the Transition Town and Post Carbon movements (everything from visioning to extensive results).

- Continuing tutorials and experiences of people growing their own food, in a variety of settings (e.g., urban, suburban, exurban).

- More stories of people who are preserving and storing their own food, from (solar) dehydration to canning and root cellaring, and the challenges they overcome.

- More stories from people who have transitioned to living more simply and how they break the "gotta have everything" mentality.

- More stories from people who have drastically changed their transportation practices (biking, electric vehicles, mass transit, carpooling, local shopping, etc)

- More stories from people who are creating local businesses (services or products), and how they are making them successful (steady state falls into this category).

- More stories from engineers on vehicle mods (the sky is the limit) to achieve greater fuel efficiency and reduced use of petroleum.

- More stories from engineers on ways to reduce building energy use (and I put myself on the hook to provide more articles more frequently).

Nate, perhaps you can get permission to put Dmitry Orlov's essay "Definancialisation, deglobalisation, relocalisation" as a guest article. It is absolutely spot on and should be used as a basic guide for preparation thinking.

It seems to me that too many are following certain irrational trends regarding preparation and therefore wasting the opportunity provided by early awareness of the impending collapse. If anyone reading Demitry's essay find themselves in vehement disagreement with him, then they should carefully reconsider their own preparations as they are likely on the wrong path.

I very much like the Campfire concept, and if it's continued I'm sure I'll eventually do a key post on this or that, as health and wits may allow.

If and when I do, my primary purpose will probably be to support the TOD site in general and show respect for the volunteer staff who have created an excellent thing.

My secondary goal might be to use TOD as a mechanism for identifying and getting into touch with a few like-minded folks for subsequent focused discussions and planning to make specific changes in the way things happen. I haven't convinced myself yet of the primary utility of "crisis blogging" in terms of activist EROI, but it might be a very good sorting mechanism. So in that sense "what I want to learn" is the identities of a few intelligent, motivated folks who may resonate. (And I'd like to encourage everyone to actually attach an email address to their user profile.)

I have to say that I find TOD a great place to go when I'm waking up (or failing to, as today), to experience a little human sanity, and it seldom fails me there. Some days I have idly wished that many of those speaking here could just pick up stakes like elves leaving middle earth, and take over a town somewhere. We wouldn't get along, but at least we'd be arguing with less-delusional neighbors.

Anyhow, I hope Campfire will continue, even if it's currently running in fits and starts. Maybe we should institute a draft. (as in, compulsory servitude vs lack of editing). Of course, the dynamic of a real campfire is impossible to capture in a public blog, but that's no reason not to give it a try.

I've sometimes idly wished there were a TOD:Nonhuman or something similar to discuss the effect of peak oil and the whole human energy/resource thing from the point of view of the 99.99+% of earth citizens who aren't into overshoot but many of whom are well into dieoff. The "environmental" movement folks mostly don't "get" many of the issues which are often discussed here.


Thanks Greenish. Insightful and colorful thoughts as usual.

I don't know what impact Peak Oil outreach is having, if any. But I have gradually understood that if nothing else, TOD and similar places are where we can hang out and discuss difficult issues with like minded folks. Kind of like a country club if you are into golf and such. IOW - TOD has helped me learn a great deal, but perhaps its biggest role has been a forum where I feel (reasonably) free to be myself and ask questions I might be uncomfortable asking elsewhere.

Well, on behalf - I'm sure - of many people here, thanks again for making it happen.

Even as I note that I haven't found a personal rationale for crisis blogging, I find myself posting here; a guilty pleasure to sate my inner monkey perhaps, and the only country club I'm likely to join. There are no other sites I currently post on.

TOD has had a significant impact on my life. Mostly, I've found very few people in my own world who are willing to listen to what I have learned...more of the cognitive dissonance and love of BAU we all know. Most of my countrymen(USA) are too intellectually lazy or entranced by pointless cultural ephemera to wake up in time. I am content, for now, to go it alone in my search for locals(Pacific Northwest)who are willing to take radical steps necessary to effect positive change.
As a 35 yo youngster, I appreciate and value the opinions and curmudgeony truths of you old timers so even if all you want to do is say what you did today in your garden, please don't stop writing!


As a 35 yo youngster, I appreciate ...

Given your youth, you probably missed out on experiencing first hand, the oil shortage (or "Oil Shock" as some called it) of 1973.

People were shooting each other at gasoline stations just to get their hands on some of that lucre of life. It was Mad Max. Except it was on the streets, not on the screen.

For a brief moment, rational thought ruled. President Jimmy Carter got into his sweater and gave us that famous fireside chat.

Then, for reasons I can't figure out even to this day, the mad men took control of America; and of the world. It was a "New Morning" and there was this "Shining City" on the Hill according to the Raygun Blaster. Everybody bought into the happy talk and the voodoo economics. Spring time for Ronald.

The madness just kept going and going. Looking back on it all from this curmudgeon's rocking chair, I can't explain the logic of the last 30 years (1979 to present). In 1979 there were riots on the streets of Iran. Just like today. Except back then, the crazies were taking over. Not just in Iran, but here too, in the USA.

Everywhere you looked, religious cults were taking control. We didn't call it Islam here in the USA. We called it Gordon Gecko and "Greed is Good" culture. We called it Wall Street. We called it the Dawning of the Information Age and the start of our yellow brick journey toward The Singularity.

Now, suddenly, it feels like a cold slap on the face. It feels like waking up from a drunken stupor. What were we thinking and how did we let it all go down the drain this way?

I'm not sure any more. It's life's illusions I recall ...

It seems to me that The Oil Drum is mostly made up by middle class engineers in their mid to late 50s.

Maybe it would be nice to see a youth perspective? I myself first started reading about peak oil when I was 16 and have just turned 20. When I was 19 I left home and visited ecovillages throughout French Canada and Scandinavia in order to see what these local communities really looked like.

I would be more than happy to write a paper in regard to my travels. I am still living at a collective in northern Denmark and have been having the time of my life.

Just curious.


Nicholai - one of our most prolific writers is 24 (Rembrandt) and a teenager when this all started. But an essay on your observations, particularly if you could synthesize what works/what doesn't and why, asking some open ended questions would be great.

I agree that young people are going to play a large role both during and after the energy transition...

Rembrandt is 24?

That's great, it is nice to have some young people here! does explain a lot for me...I have often read his posts and had a strange sense that something was missing....I would think "surely he remembers from our last experience with that"....?

But of course now I know he couldn't remember! So I almost certainly owe him an apology for having become annoyed on occasion in prior times after reading his posts.


I have to second that. According to a Peak Moment episode, OUR ecovillage, I think it was, 95% of intentional communities fail. I don't know if that is US only or world wide. There are a few long-lived ones here in the US, The Farm in Virginia perhaps being the best-known and most successful example. Your insights from Europe would be great to read.


As a side note, for those in Marin or the North Bay--
Marin Peace and Justice is having a potluck and program on local energy issues on this coming Monday at the Grace Lutheran Church in San Anselmo, starting at 6:30.
Feel free to drop in, as the energy literacy of this group is challenged (they believe they can organize themselves out of this one, and have little knowledge of thermodynamics, etc.)
Good intentioned people, trying the best they can, but have never had to deal with energy restraints.

the energy literacy of this group is challenged (they believe they can organize themselves out of this one, and have little knowledge of thermodynamics, etc.)

Been there, done that. No gas for their Subarus, all but a few of them will sign up for the fascist line.

It's next to impossible to counter the "Hope" and optimism put out by the obambis. People want to believe - because otherwise they'd have to do real work. The dymamic behind the Obama administration has more or less destroyed the entire p&j community here in Maine. He says something, they believe it, and his administration does otherwise and they won't see it.

Just a silly example: the new administration is listing the Atlantic salmon as endangered and acting to protect their current range. Problem is, their current range does not include their spawning grounds. Because of the dams, they've been hatched by the state - and kept distinct by rivers/genetic strains - for ages. So now they are protected, but if the state doesn't have the money to keep the hatcheries going and the trucks moving - oh well. Basically, they are protected like a polar bear in a zoo. If the dam owners (FPL mostly) don't put in real fish access, the Feds should blow up the dams. Don't hold your breath for that.

It's chump change, but probably the power companies are making a point by not making any concessions. [That's just my guess. Personally, I think the state or fed should blow open the dams unless there is realistic fish passage. There isn't a compromise - fish get past the dam or they do not. Period.]

The lies we tell ourselves are the most difficult to overcome.

cfm in Obambarama, ME

I'd personally like to see more articles about investing. I believe the economic aspects of peak oil are the ones that will impact us the most, and first. The mainstream media is missing the boat in this regard, which is why I rely on TOD...everything is being discussed with peak oil as a given. The recent discussion about USO and UNG was excellent. I have pulled out of the stock market 100%, but am wondering where to invest. I live simply, don't buy lots of consumer goods, and have a good job in healthcare. I'm not after high returns, but don't really want to loose my savings either. Anybody got any good investment ideas, given PO??

We have made a point of staying away from this direction. What is the point? Increasing SOME peoples financial capital to turn into real capital at an accelerated rate? The only way that makes sense is if that extra money gets funneled into education and built resources outside of current system. Otherwise TOD would be tragedy of commons on steroids.

If that is your main objective and you have a bit of expertise you should be able to parlay the information discussed here into great financial returns...

I have NO confidence that the economy/financing/investing will resemble anything we currently have in, say, 10 years. About 2 years ago I pulled out completely from the game...not that I was vested in much to begin with. I find it hard to believe we still discuss staying "in the game" knowing what we do.
Back to the original question of what we would like to see here at the Campfire:

I'd like to see some more practical essays on:

micro-hydro generation
coppicing trees for firewood etc.
pond/wetland management on the small farm scale
seed saving
disused farm implements of times gone by
assessing land/soil/forest for the purposes of homesteading

If anyone is interested, I could write about the following subjects, in which I have a modicum of "expertise:"
Small-scale solar and wind generation
Ocean acidification and nitrification
hemp cultivation
bicycle maintenance
working in the Arctic

thanks to all for your contributions


Re:I'd like to see some more practical essays on:

micro-hydro generation
coppicing trees for firewood etc.
pond/wetland management on the small farm scale
seed saving
disused farm implements of times gone by
assessing land/soil/forest for the purposes of homesteading

"I've been on a major budget with my farm operations, but like most farmers in America, I was -- and am -- almost totally broke. According to the most recent Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms report put out by the USDA in 2007, "The average operating profit margin and average rates of return on assets and equity are negative for small farms." Looking at the spreadsheet, I had a shiver of recognition. So-called residential/lifestyle farms (of which there are 837,000) have a profit margin of negative 35 percent! Low sales farms (about 400,000) are at negative 36 percent. These stats reminded me of joke about a farmer who wins the lottery. He's asked what he's going to do with the money: "I reckon I'll keep farming until the money runs out," he says."

The national farmers union n.f.u. in Canada reports that with a 1.2 million in capitalization that net farm income went negative in 2003 and has stayed negative. So now contemplate what happens if food prices double at the store. Does that mean break even incomes for farmers? Or is it actually worse, for them? People have faith that the market will provide. And don't contemplate shortages just perhaps an uptick in prices.

Consider this stat from Thomas Homer Dixon's power point presentation: China consumes 450 million tonnes of grain / yr. The global consumption of grain is 200 million tonnes of grain / year.

China is feeling the effects of climate change and is seeing less winds and reduced wind speed which means that the monsoon season stays over southern China which then floods while the north is in drought. If China entered the world grain market for 10% of it's grain it would demand 25% of total grain produced. (1971 Russia entered and wheat went through $4/bushel)

Countries (like Saudia Arabia) are bypassing the global commodities market and buying land (in Manitoba apparently) in order to grow food for themselves. Droughts are continuing to threaten grain reserves, and it appears that people see grain as water and of real value instead of phony depreciating $.

Your goal of aquiring land for the purposes of raising food is prudent imo.
When I purchased a farm I was looking for a property that had a mix of wetlands, pasture, fields, and woods. Understanding the more mixes that you have the greater the diversity you can support. My plan has been to counter the monoculture (attack of the flat earthers) with as much diversity as possible (believing that building resiliency is a prudent strategy. Trying to help nature to help me)

The homesteaders (original non aboriginal natives) looked for the black walnuts. They knew that these trees required 30" inches of topsoil to grow in and that then they could plant fruit trees.

If you are looking for a large garden then I recommend sandy loam. However if you are looking at a farm level then I would recommend clay loam. (You can never have enough manure)

Seed saving is an art. Fruit tree seeds can't be frozen many other seeds however keep well when frozen. Other seeds can be kept in containers include some t.p. or a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. Make sure that the seeds are well de-hydrated.

Old farm implements requires a lot of time to understand the model that you are pursuing. If you are looking at horse drawn equipment. Here's a list of equipment that you might wish to acquire. In no particular order:

-stone boat
-seed drill
-cultivator (with seat there are several types from a walking one that is adjustable, to corn cultivators that some had foot controls -require a good team and then larger on steel with a seat bigger cultivators)
-sloop sleigh, sleigh bunks, rigs for skidding
-plows (single furrow sulky's, walking plows, 2 furrow kangaroo plows)
-mowers (regular and high gear 6 and 7 foot)
-disk harrows (double gang), spring tooth harrow
-grain binder with threshing machine and power to drive the belt can be a steam motor, or the pulley of a gas or diesal tractor or a stationary gas engine with cart.
-side rake (my preference to dump rake)
-hay loader (takes hay off the ground and loads it on to a wagon)
-corn binder
-corn planter
-2 row turnip planter and get a turnip grinder (has a big flywheel)
-fanning mill
-grain grinder (Belt driven)
-oat roller (some use lister diesals to drive them)
-rotary hoe
-potato plow, digger,planter

Assessing land, would be how much is cleared. I would prefer woods to my north and west for winter wind breaks. But some cleared to keep the bugs down in the summer. Some people with houses in the woods go squirrely with the bugs. Have the soil tested and then figure out how much it would cost to remedy shortages.

Much appreciated.

Yes but he is keying up a Detailed Comment when this is a Meta Discussion...a discussion on discussions.

What he comments on should be a Campfire Essay Post titled...How to know and buy good homestead/smallfarm land.

But he inserts precious data and knowledge in a discussion that has nothing to do with the Topic of the essay post...'What do you want to learn'.

Answer would to know and buy good land.

In the cockamamey world of TOD just about anything goes so what goes is wasted ,well except for ONE days viewing..and maybe a smattering of followup comments for a day or two later at the most.

Airdale-why are we wasting good text in wrong places?

Thank you Eliyahu...noted, read, saved, and now on to some reading on these subjects!


Glad you deem it to be of use.

Airdale you are right that this could be framed in a 'How to article'. I think that when you find information that you didn't know or even realize that you didn't know that you didn't know it. Those pesky 'unknown' unknown's that you get a pay off, hence we return to TOD to share and learn.

Want to gain some humility? Go and try to farm. Learn too much about the firestorm, and you'll be reluctant to invest in seed.

Every place has it's own special features, a one size fits all recipe for successful small scale farming doesn't exist. Financially you have to beat the middleman, but then your hurdle is servicing enough clientele to make income against 'subsidized' food.

Since most people believe that food is priced the way it is because of 'efficiencies' should the price of food double or quintuple for that matter. They would be shocked to find that the 'new entrants' would be failing. We have a phony food economy where understanding the role of subsidies is deceiving. The 'free market system' is an illusion. When it fails, as many feel confident that it will, by design then the lesson that this is another in a list of false gods will prove painful.

I like Thomas Dixons advocacy for building resiliency, like 'Rodale's' regeneration. Small farmers (responsible) on a global scale are the only group (that I can perceive) that can help to seriously mitigate the negative consequences of our industrialized 'progress'. We can sequester carbon, build topsoil, create healthy food and support wildlife. In other words be priviledged to play a positive role versus that of the 'plunderer'.

Airdale, ccpo etc. I enjoy your contributions we can know that many will gain something if only comic relief :).


I brought my current farm in 1985 then retired in the time I had another farm in Lexington where I raised horses.

I have almost always owned farm land but starting in 89 when I retired I did not draw a pension check for two years. I was also building a log house.

So I farmed. I threw the 'operators' off the farm and sowed it down in Orchard Grass and Kenland Red clover and begin to cut,rake ,bale and sell hay...I was a 'grasslands farmer'..I also raised more horses and some cattle..

I still live on that farm. I used to do custom baling all over the county...I did not and never would put my land back into row crops..and there fore deplete it and suffer the constant spraying of chemicals on it.

When I got it there was not a single earthworm to be found.Even when I built my pole barn and augered down 5 feet to set the poles...not a single one. The chemicals had killed the soil and all life in it.

So now I consider myself a retired farmer and yet still a hardcore programmer and ham operator. I will never leave my farm. It was once my ancestors and I will stick here.

Good luck to you,


"Increasing SOME peoples financial capital to turn into real capital at an accelerated rate?"

By this statement, it seems you're against all forms of investment and wealth beyond what 'everyone else' has. I consider myself politically left, but your statement seems on the order of what Castro or Chavez might say. Perhaps I misunderstood.

The point is that for us to turn this crisis around, we're going to have to make other arrangements, and that requires money. It requires investment.

If anything, I've learned from TOD, that it's nearly impossible (for me) to predict things such as the price of energy. And I have absolutely NO expertise.

I'm not looking for "great financial returns", but also don't want to entrust my hard saved retirement to entities that rely on abundant cheap energy. Ideas?

I'd personally like to see more articles about investing. Flash Banner I believe the economic aspects of peak oil are the ones that will impact us the most, and first. The mainstream media is missing the boat in this regard, which is why I rely on TOD...everything is being discussed with peak oil as a given. The recent discussion about USO and UNG was excellent. Flash Dersleri