The Neighborhood--Can We Get It Back? Is Yardsharing One Way? (and, What Else Will Work?)

Tonight's campfire is by Liz McLellan who has put together - "Hyperlocavore is a yardhsharing community. We match people in sharing groups in their neighborhoods. New friends are made here. A hyperlocavore is a person who tries to eat as much food as locally as possible. Growing your own is as local as it gets! We build resilience block by block with our neighbors, friends and family."

The Neighborhood

I grew up in a suburban neighborhood about 20 minutes from San Francisco. It was one of those picture perfect communities with many group amenities--tennis courts, a swimming pool, even a meeting house. The meeting house was rarely used. Maybe the homeowners association (HOA) met there to compose their demands upon the people that lived near them. I don't know.

When we were younger the neighborhood kids traveled in packs. It was a safe place. Idyllic even as it could only have been through a child's eyes. We roamed and battled. We built a half pipe out of plywood and spent three summers wrecking ourselves on it. But, as we got older it changed. Families seemed to move inside. The personal computer came along. We stopped hanging out all day. Concerns about going to college took over ... and most of us got a hand-me-down car. We were Californians after all. Driving was our birthright and we were all keen to hit the open road.

Since then a lot of things have changed. What are the parts of 'back then' we want back? And how do we get them back? Can we redevelop community?

My memories of the neighborhood later were of letters of complaint from the HOA or a neighbor over this violation or that kvetch. Home prices in CA at that time were going nowhere but up and people had their minds on their money. It seemed to be piling up - if only everyone could keep their homes perfect we'd all be rich!

Money changes everything. Or maybe cars change everything. Either way - when our happy band of little savages grew up all the magic of that place disappeared.

It wasn't until I moved to a predominately Carribean American neighborhood in Brooklyn, thirty years later that I felt what a real neighborhood felt like again. Maybe younger families are key and families that stay close to grandparents... This neighborhood was coming up and being gentrified. This dynamic pissed some people off but others saw it as an opportunity to finally sell and move to a sunny place. I hoped they wouldn't. That sunny place was empty and cold in spite of all the sun.

In that neighborhood there are folks that have live in the same apartment for generations. If you have a good rent situation in New York, you find a way to keep it in the family. So on that block people had known each other for a very long time. Just like a small town if you were not careful about it everyone on the block knew what was up with you.

I don't want to idealize the situation because folks were poor. But people had networks of mutual trust and help. Folks knew who was good and who was not to be trusted with anything.

The streets in the summer were full of kids playing, people barbecuing on the steps of their apartment buildings, people asking after each other's mothers. There were sometimes gunshots, but I felt safer there in a way than I had ever felt in my life, even though I was mostly, an outsider looking in. I was treated as a neighbor, once folks got to know me and I miss it every day.

I now live in a tiny town in the wild west of Eastern Oregon. We are less than 300 here. Mutuality thrives through informal networks of assistance that also go back generations. My mother has been here 10 years and has so many stories of people just doing for her without request. People here know how to take care of each other. It is what makes life worth living.

It gives me buoyancy. It dulls all fears. I am learning every day what it means to be a neighbor.

As we all walk towards the future I think we need to understand that there is no way to thrive under a peak everything scenario without building communities and real neighborhoods. There is no escape to the hills, no thriving without mutuality. Look to your left and look to your right.

These are the people that will make you or break you. There is no escape from that. And who would want to?

The fantasy of the solo hero is just that. It is based on ideology not reality. It's based on a psychological need of the person who engages in it. To me it screams a need for therapy to address some deep parental drama that is unresolved. Your mileage may vary. And I do not intend to insult the rugged individualists among you. I am one and I am learning that it is an internally impoverished way of being.

We are primates, and therefore social creatures. Our gene line is not the baboon but the bonobo. That fact alone should give you some hope. It's our nature to soothe and to cooperate. But even baboon culture, which was thought to be permanently hierarchical, alpha male dominated and warlike has been shown to develop new communal behaviors which profit and protect all in the band. The key is getting the alpha males to calm down and it's possible.

For a little more on this - take a look at Robert Sapolsky's work. A Primate's Memoir - Robert M. Sapolsky

We cannot separate easily into tiny roving bands. It would be disastrous for us and for the planet if we did. There are simply too many of us. Our thinking has the potential to evolve. We are rapidly waking up to our nature as a primate with an ability to fly out into space an look back at our home, the pale blue dot. Us monkeys have gone to space. Think about that. Just sit with it for a while.

These changes may be a gift if seen as such.
Our task is to look up the block and down the block and see only us.
More of us.
Our ability to thrive depends on it.
The future is a choice.

The Neighborhood--Can We Get It Back? Is Yardsharing one Way? What else will work?

What choices are you making to make where you live a neighborhood?
Are you focused on your ability to aide others or only to profit in the future?
Do you plan to evolve your thinking or play out atavistic scenario?
Do you feel responsibility to grow or simply to survive?
Are you thinking ideologically or practically?

Do you have good memories of where you grew up?
Examples of neighborly behavior?

Some sharing resources:

and my site: - a yard sharing community is currently crowd funding our next phase of growth. We are happy to report that this model is working very well. We have just three days to cover the last 27% of our pledge drive but we are happy to report mutuality works! If you feel like supporting our project (even with just a $5 donation, it will help!), here is a link:

I cashed out of Central California and cashed into a small farm in SW Missouri in part because Californians in mass scare me - they are probably the least interested in the humans around them of any place I've ever lived or visited.

I've tried to blend in with the rural folks who are our new neighbors and I think have been successful to the extent possible for someone like me who isn't much of a socializer. There were two reasons we moved here (besides making the CA RE bubble into Real Equity in the form of land) firstly, I've wanted to own a farm since my parents sold theirs when I was a kid, and secondly, so I could learn how to work the land in a fashion my kids and grandkids may need to learn from in the future.

Out here most people who aren't simply suburbanites with a long commute and big lawn depend to one extent or another on neighbors. I'm not saying the English here get together for barn raisings like the Amish here do or the the two groups mingle much but help is usually a phone call away. Of course most people here belong to a church congregation even if they aren't Amish.

Still, I try to not be dependent on neighbors, just like I try to not be dependent on a water company, sewer company, JIT supermarket, etc, etc. I can't remember where I read, just a day or two ago, a blog about the fact that when things start coming down - the exact time cooperation could save the day, humans time and again have reverted to selfish actions instead of cooperation.

Everyone always says this time will be different but I'm not gonna bet the farm on it...

Hey Pops!

I think it's careful what we take as gospel in terms of 'what will happen' - at the risk of being labelled a giant commie - I think it's important to look at what happened in Cuba when the oil got cut off...or Argentina when the monetary system collapsed. I also lived through New York after 9/11, a few black outs and the Loma Prieta quake. What I saw in all of these cases is MOST people reverted to mutuality - to their shared state. We could make this miserable for each other or we could get through by rolling up our sleeves.

These are experiences not projections or fantasies. Negative fantasy is careful what you project into the future.

Virtual communities, a consequence of the information age, has provided the opportunity for people to "commune" with those of a like mind without doing the work of finding common ground with their neighbors. Think TOD. The examples you give are situational, where folks have been forced to become partners in mutuality. Folks used to "get to know their neighbors" because of proximity and shared circumstances. They don't need to know their neighbors these days. They log on and get the support they need from their virtual neighbors. The lost skills of getting to know, and cooperate with, the folks nextdoor will be needed if TSHTF. People don't trust what they don't know. We are seeing divisiveness and distrust in the US on a scale not seen since the pre-civil war days. Bravo for the post Liz/Goose!

Back before air conditioning, people stayed outside on warm evenings and visited with neighbors--at least that is my impression. We had air conditioning as long as I can remember (and in Wisconsin, no less!)

But kids didn't go to daycare--they played outsider around the neighborhood, and the parents got to know the other parents. That helped people get better acquainted. Even with my children (who are in their 20s now), I got acquainted with parents of some of the other children.

Gail - it's probably no coindicence that because money was tight in my Brooklyn neighborhood, most of us, including us - did not have air conditioning...

Ghung! Thank you! That's is exactly why I built the site...I want to merge our new found online communities with the communities outside our front door. I think we are on our way to re-blending online and off. I actually belong to quite a few online communities that make it very much part of their existence to get together off line - often.

This shift is not going to happen over night. We need to start now.

Good point Gail. It's amazing how technology has "improved" our lives. When I grew up in the 60s most folks in the neighborhood didn't have AC. On summer evenings folks went outside on their porches and patios until the fans could cool their houses. This was Atlanta (warm enough), and people in my area could afford AC. It occurs to me that the "lag" for people adopting air conditioning wasn't economic or technical but cultural (and environmental). People were just used to going outside in the evening, the kids played ball in a neighbor's yard or showed off their bikes while their parents hung out. None of the kids could keep a secret very long because their parents would find out through the neighborhood grapevine. Then came AC and cable TV. Nowadays, parents are totally surprized when they find out that their kid does meth and got pregnent.

It would be interesting for someone to graph the increase in adoption of various technologies with increases in obesity, depression, and conflict between neighbors.

every inch forward has drawbacks...happily we are becoming more aware that 'labor saving tools' don't always fulfill their promise.

I hope that we continually evaluate whether or not a given tool is adding or subtracting from the joy we experience...

I've seen a few other ways tech has actively held people apart.

Once, on a short movie shoot, no budget, and all cast and crew were in someone's summer cottage on a lake in Maine.. but in the evening, people were either on computers, videogames, watching Monty Python, etc, playing CD's.. Well the power went out from a lightning storm, and within a half hour, everyone who had been facing into the corners where their machines were, had gathered with candles out on the porch and were talking and singing songs. I was the electrician on the shoot, and seeing that I was being called to a higher duty, I went downstairs and flipped the mains, so the house would stay dark and friendly until people were practically done for the night. Worked like a charm, even though the street power had been back up for a while..

I met a Swedish woman in Central Park who said 'You Americans have a lot of conveniences, but they aren't very convenient!'

... the two New York blackouts I experienced were amazing that was like the whole city woke up from a trance... very good times actually.

It would be interesting for someone to graph the increase in adoption of various technologies with increases in obesity, depression, and conflict between neighbors.

The influence of television is probably exaggerated. A study was carried out on the island of St. Helena in the Atlantic ( to measure the influence of television when it was introduced for the first time in about 1995. There was essentially no effect on the behavior of children and teenagers.

However, St. Helena is an isolated and closely-knit community, so this example may not be applicable everywhere.

Before air conditioning people sat on their front porch and would shell peas. Sometimes family would come over and get another pan and help with the peas without being asked. At night we went to bed with our windows opened and listened to a bird locals called a whipper will ( not sure what the real name is). If we were lucky there would be a cool wind, if not we would soak the sheets with sweat. Before TV we would seat around and listen to the radio. Saturday we would go to a movie. Remember when air conditioning was first put in the theater. Everyone would go to the movie just to sit in that wonderful angel’s breath.
My air conditioner broke the first really warm day last week. I thought I would die. It got up to 79degrees in the house. Of all the modern conveniences I like air conditioning the best. I would give up the computer, TV, and indoor plumbing before I would give up air conditioning. Well maybe not indoor plumbing.

One summer in the early '80s we lost our AC the house hit the 120's inside. There was a heat wave in Central Arkansas, over 20 days above 100 in a row. It was bad.

But I hate it hot in the winter time, and by the time summer rolls around I have adjusted if I can have something blowing on me, a fan will do, or shade and a hammock.

Several times in the past I have gone all summer without the AC, just like they used to do it before the thing got invented. Houses were built with higher ceilings for a reason, heat rises, High windows that you can open at the top and bottom (casement) allow the flow of air in and out.

We have for a long time built houses that could not live in the climates they were built in, without heating or cooling. But there are methods of building houses that need very little heating or cooling. We have just forgetton how, or rather known how, but just not used it, preffering the "Modern" feel of the houses.

There are trends to build better solar passive, temp-neutral houses, but the OIL peak will push them back into main stream.

I grew up when we had TV available, but it was more fun to be outside and doing things with folks, in the 70's and 80's. I know I was not the norm though. My parents did not watch much TV and we preffered family time, and I loved it outside, or would read in my room, but I only did that when no one was doing something else outside.

BioWebScape designs for a better future (home and garden and togetherness)

before AC, screen-wire actually made it possible to sit outside in many communities--kept the bugs at bay. not to mention the blessing of sleeping porches. one of our better technologies.

Liz, thanks for mentioning

A lot of our content (in Shareable's DIY channel) is about how real people are experimenting with sharing and community, mostly on the neighborhood scale. One thing we hear over and over is that once you share in one area of your life, it leads to other ways to share and help each other. That's my experience too.

So I think one strategy for reclaiming neighborhoods it to pick a simple, easy intervention to get started. Even if the benefits are small, it gets people thinking. Then once value in cooperation is established and relationships are built, you have the basis for another intervention, and maybe a more ambitious one.

I think yardsharing is a great place to start. For those offering yards, it takes no work and little downside if you know the neighbor.

The last serious working community link between people in a lot of communities who would otherwise be strangers is a local church.

This fact is well worth some serious thought.

indeed. To think that one has to believe in some imaginary friend to meet other people is kind of sad.

we have about 8 churches in our town of 300 - all separated by dogmas..which led them to create separate churches in the first place...

I prefer to take my lead from the non sectarian secular founding documents of the nation...

This is what unites us...

Also - I am an atheist. I prefer to meet people in the town hall.

Likewise an athiest and possibly the most frequent poster on the site in respect to evolution, etc,.

The serious thought should be about recognition of the fact that ANY organization created for any purpose which brings people together has some inherent valuable properties-the readership here is way to quick to throw out babies with dirty bathwater.

If you happen to believe that time is short-and I do NOT refer to a "second coming"-you need to seriously THINK ABOUT working with existing organizations with existing infrastructure, committed members,ethics at least equal to those of the legal,automotive, and political professions, etc.

There is simply no other organization in existence in this country, excepting some with deliberately limited memberships such as the Boy Scouts, that actually teach A code of ethics-ANY CODE of ethics, in a meaningful sense.Nobody other than a church makes a meaningful, long term effort to teach honesty, frugality, respect for your fellow man,respect for one's parents,obedience to civil law,charity,etc, holding regular meetings for such purposes.

Mosst of the reasonable ethical values held by the ever so smug "I"m too smart for that superstitious crap" set are arguably in very large part of the historical work of churches.

The human mind is a machine created and still in the process of being created by evolution, and looked at objectively, it falls into the category of the Italian super sp[orts car-capable of amazing feats in terms of performance,but burdened with even more amazing shrt comings, such as a tendency to fail often and spectacularly.

Perhaps it is useful to view the tendency of people to organize themsrelves into religious groups as a failure,if it allows one to feel superior.Nothing is so satisfying as feelling bigger, better looking, stronger,tougher,smarter, and richer than those one can look down on.

I must admit that at different times in my life I have felt all these things very powerfully-contempt for my fellow students who had to study,contempt for the guy my size who thought he was toughand tried me on physically,contempt for the guys who were not good looking and could not get a date with a good looking girl.

Even today after having had a lifetime to learn a little intellectual humility,I feel contempt for my new nieghbor who just went bankrupt as the result of trying to ride the boom that turned into a bubble.Quite a few of us gently tried to tell him that he was flying too close to the sun-he used to laugh at my old cars,CONTEMPTOUSLY, buying a new car one year and a new truck the alternate year-and not economy models, either.

Most of the species is not nearly well enough educated, and quite possibly never will be educated well enough,to understand the realities of religion, chemistry, physics, geology, and evolution,ETC.


I am not advocating anybody actually becoming a believer, or even jioning a church under false pretenses, although that might be a very good idea as part of a post crash survival planning strategy.

I'm simply trying to get across the idea that religion is here.I believe in equal rights for all people, regardless of race, sex, and so forth.

Does any body here remember the slogan "We're here. We're queer. Get used to it?"

Religion is here, and it isn't going away;if times continue to get tougher, it will almost certainly experience a growth phase.

It's best to adopt a realistic attitude.We work with and around all the other cultural aggregations of people;religion is no different.

I strongly suspect that most of the regular commenters here, as well as most of the authors, tend towards athiesm and certainly believe, as I do, in the work of the physical scientists from Newton to Darwin to Einstien right on thru to the modern day.i have no way of accurately guessing the beliefs of the readers who seldom or never post a comment, but I think it rather likely that they are of the same feather.People with widely divergent beliefs simply will not read a forum in which the are looked down on.

If you want to change people,you need to avoid antagonizing them unnecessarily and look for the common ground.Time is short-remember peak oil and the financial mess?

Jesus may not put in a live appearance, but the rest of the cast is rearin'to go.

The Four Horsemen are already playing thier earlier small parts, and in the next act they will own the stage.

Religion is here, and it isn't going away;if times continue to get tougher, it will almost certainly experience a growth phase.

Agreed. And as things get tougher religion can go either way: a positive force helping people or a draconian, scapegoating, polarizing force in the community. The people on the inside will determine which path is followed.

"Nobody other than a church makes a meaningful, long term effort to teach honesty, frugality, respect for your fellow man,respect for one's parents,obedience to civil law,charity,etc, holding regular meetings for such purposes."

I have to disagree, Mac. Families arguably existed long before religious groups. I submit that most of the behaviors you list were the result of evolution. If you adhered to these priciples you upped your chances of survival. Those who were hardwired to follow the rules lived more often to reproduction. Institutionalising of "the rules" came with increased complexity, of family and tribal stuctures, and societies in general. I submit that "churches" were the result of the codifying of principles, not the other way around. I know plenty of areligious families that have very high principles. They never go to church and they would NEVER knock on someones door, uninvited, and suggest that they stop going to church. It just makes sense to follow certain rules and treat others "as you would be treated". The Golden Rule is a survival strategy for a species that thrives on social cooperation. Plenty of non-human examples exist.

I live in a county of less than 10,000 people, with over 50 churches. I understand the origin and reason this came about, and have deep respect for their social organisation and support for each other. Yet their views often trespass into the area of exclusivity, exclusion and invalidation. If you are not indoctrinated into their club then you are an outsider, only to be trusted to a point. In a sense, "you are with us or you are against us". In this regard, their "code" has become disfunctional. Witness the responses to the healthcare bill from the religious anti-abortion crowd.

My code leads me to accept them as they are and respect their world view. Their's often invalidates mine. Who has the superior code?

Hi Ghung,
I basically agree with you but I slice the pie a little differently in terms of the language-it seems to me that most people think of an organization as consisting of more people as the usual thing than just the members of a family, although of course there are some organizations that do limit thier membership to a single family.

You are correct that it is generally accepted that these behaviors we are discussing are accepted as the result of our evolution;I agree with this myself, wholeheartedly.

Of course there are plenty of people, individuals as well as families, that are not religious and yet are highly principled;I have never claimed otherwise, and only a fool would do so.

As you seem to realize , religions are probably best and most easily interpreted as the outgrowth of the process of evolution working with the basic impulses that work to ensure our reproductive fitness on the family and small group basis-the extended family, the tribe,and so forth.

As the groups got larger, (and they almost always do, as larger groups are more likely to survive in the natural and cultural environment we inhabit) they basic impulses supplied by evolution such as altruism toward kin, cooperation, etc, may be assumed to have been incorporated into religions-I have no argument with this idea in principle, although we could quibble about the terminology.

To the CONTRARY, I see religions as the NEXT evolutionary "step up" the ladder of increasing group and behavioral complexity.looked at from this pov, religion is just as natural as the impulse to look after chldren and kin;it is merely a johnny come lately artifact of evolution, and like all evolutionary artifacts, it was create mostly out of the existing materials on hand, modified to suit new needs-the "need" being greater reproductive success.

Certainly a few of us have cerebral cortexes with sufficient processing capacity and the right balance of genes and hormones, etc, for us to see all this, and by dint if ereason and will power, become enlightened, in the sense of a modern scientifically educated intellectual-and live accordingly.

A FEW of us only-we in a forum such as this one have an amazing capacity to forget the baselines from which the average citizen operates, in terms of intelligence and education.

I am enrolled right now in a psychology clas taught by a LOCALLY WELL RESPECTED PRACTICING PSYCHOLOGIST PHD who recoils from the name Sephen Pinker just as violently as my Granny recoilied from the name BEEZLEBUB.

She believes in physical evolution but not intellectual evolution; I believe she is a blank slater-a position that can only be held by some one with an extraordinarily shallow grasp of biology ,but I won't ask until she has posted my final grade.A fine example of the fact that even the well educated might not be so free of the rewligious impulse perhaps?

Practically speaking your chicken and egg point does not matter.What matters is to use our heads to see as clearly as possible, and do what needs to be done to skinny thru the coming decades of deep dark despair and desperate agony.

There arew many powerful religious organizations that will help thier members to survive.These organizations are just as natural a part of the evolutionary landscape as buterflies, rats, eagles , robins, roses, and you and me.

Making fun of them and the people in them will no more make them go away than talking to the nonexistent friend mentioned up thread.

Religion does not have to be based on concrete physical truths such as the ones revealed by scientists over the centuries, and is not so based.

It works because it is consistent with our somewhat new and improved improved monkey minds.

Those who practice yoga or meditation or any other mind alktering acticity will understand why religion works.It has been summed up as prayer changes people and people change things.Of course there are no gaurantees that the
changes will be for the better, but then that's the nature of evolution, isn't it?

We must work with it just like we work with everything else nature has thrown our way, good, bad, or mixed.

Thanks Mac.

"We must work with it just like we work with everything else nature has thrown our way, good, bad, or mixed."

Most often I find myself doing a "workaround", as you are doing with your Psych professor. Sometime "smart" trumps courage and stuborness.

In liberal churches one does not have to be a believer. It would be nice to be a searcher and not a raving atheist, however.

Many people here would find like-minded people at a Unitarian church. The majority of churches are nothing like the evangelicals portrayed on television.

I've been an activist since I was about 15. So I am very comfortable working with people from all backgrounds on specific goals. I am a person deeply committed to pluralism and 'the civic space.'

I have some atheists friends, who are active for the first time in their lives around the Separation of Church and State and education and science issues. Sadly, because they are not activists they haven't had the wonderful experience of working to do good things with people you disagree with about the after life. As much as I enjoy the youtube debates around theism I think it is hampered by the large number of young men whose aim in life is to pwn the opposition. Their moral development is just not so far along yet.... and of course there are many exceptions.

I have always counted religious people among my strongest allies around issues of war profiteering, racism, poverty and justice. So though I am an atheist I do not make the mistake of putting all religious people (or all people from say Texas) in one basket.

We can't ever do that if we hope to get good things done.

All of that said - I hope that people understand the value of meeting in a neutral civic space when possible. As citizens of the US - I think we owe that at least to each other.

Any human conception that expands the sense of "we" over "us and them" is valuable to everyone's survival.

I do have a question for the folks here.

How many of you would consider yourselves activists offline?
How many have organized with people to get things done?

I don't ask this with ANY acusational tone or as a means to 'throw down the gauntlet'...

I just get the impression that many of you are very thoughtful people who are academic in your approach to the world and in your participation. I do not want to imply that analysis is a bad thing - we need lots of thoughtful considered work.

But we also need people simply out there making connections and relationships, negotiating differences, and doing actual projects together.

Like I said - I don't mean this in an accusatory manner. I just get the impression that I am at a University Colloquia when I read here. I am by no means and anti-intellectual so please don't accuse me of that. I am just also very practically minded and enjoy debates but also tire of getting bogged down. So many of you agree on so much....I see five years of content here! That's amazing.

Are you personally comfortable interacting with people who disagree with you to get stuff done? Or do you find that very stressful? I ask as a true introvert.

"Are you personally comfortable interacting with people who disagree with you to get stuff done? Or do you find that very stressful?"

I find my main passion much less stressful:


My little Grand Champion. Truly "man's best friend". Frivolous, I know, but I have 4 of these and find them more genuine and intelligent than most people I meet. My most diverse group of friends share my love of dogs. People can get along well if they have common ground, shared passions.

Saving the world one poodle at a time!

Ha - I think people across the political spectrum find that in many cases they prefer dogs to humans...

Not to mention the arbitrary rules, demands of tithing and rank discrimination of anything not male.

No thanks.

You're describing a stereotype that comes mostly from the fundamentalists.

It also amounts to rank discrimination.

That is nonsense ... you can forthrightly list things you dislike about an institution, religion, or whatever - it does not amount to either stereotyping or rank discrimination. That is a straw man - most religions have deeply held views of the world, of humanity, and of men and women, that I reject - I don't have to apologise for it, or make allowances for it. The Catholic Church for example, is a 2000 year-old hyper-patriarchal child molesting cult, as far as I can tell. I would like to hear an argument about why it is not.

These things are written into the very bible that christians base their lives off of. Cobbling together your own religion with all the bad bits ignored and with a vague nod to some do-goody Jesus figure does not change this. At least the fundamentalists take their holy book seriously. I should also point out that said appointed leaders of christianity have a less than stellar record in human rights recently. OR am I to believe that the pope is NOT a revered figure whom millions of people listen to.

You're right, I could never describe all christians in one go. There are hundreds of different sects all worshipping different versions of their God in different ways. Almost as if it doesn't really matter what you do or how you do it.

Just assume that when i'm talking about "christians" in a bad way i'm NOT talking about ones that don't tithe and don't discriminate in any way regardles of sex.

"Almost as if it doesn't really matter what you do or how you do it."

In fact, that is what matters the most, how you choose to understand the writings, and how you end up acting in the world as a result.. 'Goody goody' is actually how we are supposed to treat each other, and is, as far as we know, what Jesus was actually trying to say. (He had a woman apostle, Junia.. but someone renamed her along the way)

It's strange that you offer a nod of honor to the fundamentalists, whose intense devotion to their ideologies and intensely literal reading of their scriptures, what you call 'real devotion'.. (including so many of those at the heights of power in the Catholic Church) is EXACTLY what allows them to sanction or ignore antisocial behavior, while you sneer your mighty dismissal at the 'Vague Goody-goody' behaviors of denominations who are the ones whose moderation and flexibility allows them to work with other faiths and those who don't believe in any Gods, as in our church we have proudly supported Gay rights, Civil rights, Suffrage .. just silly 'feel good' stuff, I guess.

You seem to have more respect for extremists.
Stay Tough.

Keep the built churches, lose the religion.

Moderation in all things.

Tame the extremists, religious and otherwise. And recognize real openmindedness and compassion when you find it.

The Dalai Lama - Capitalism, Socialism, and Income Inequality

My Father, the Activist (Father Phil Berrigan's daughter)

Hey Folks -

I don't want to censor anyone but can we stay on topic...? An online holy war (atheist vs theist, mac vs pc) can really distract from the discussion we were having.

I an activist...I will work with anyone building real resilience in their community. As an antheist, I prefer we meet at the town hall so it's clear all are welcome and that it is a civic process....and a civil process.

Sure, sorry about that.

:D No worries! (It's not my site! So I am sorry for over stepping my bounds there...but Im I right in thinking that you guys probably weren't going to change each others minds?)

My apologies. You are quite right.

Nothing idylic here in my small town in Western NC, but I've been working on it. A few things we've done:

- We had an open house on New Year's weekend not long after we moved in, and invited all the neighbors. They all came, that was a good get-together and good "getting to know you" experience. The New Year's Day open house used to be a big American tradition, but it has pretty much fallen by the wayside - probably about the same time that News Year's Day came to mean all-day televised college football. Maybe picking another day (weekend works best) between Christmas and New Year would work better, but I'd suggest considering a revival of this tradition. It is a big project, too much for us to take on every year. Maybe some day we'll try it again.

- We hosted a neighborhood Independence Day BBQ for a coupel of years. Some other neighbors have also taken their turn, so this has gone on for a while. Another good get-together experience.

- We do some holiday baking and make up gift bags, then go around and give one to each neighbor. A good way to renew contact and spread some holiday joy.

- We do have a neighborhood watch group, and once a year we get together and a police officer meets with us.

- Since I walk to and from work, I do sometimes encounter people outdoors and often strike up a conversation, or at least say hello. Walking is an inherently and deeply communitarian way of getting about, in a way that nothing else - even riding a bicycle - is.

There has also been some occasional lending a hand to each other in one way or another. Nothing really intensive or remarkable, but it is a start.

This hasn't gone as far as it needs to, yet, but it is a foundation upon which further building of relationships is possible. It did take some deliberate effort to bring it even this far. Simple kindness and friendliness goes a long way, and is an essential prerequisite.

Here's a Radio Lab segment where Prof. Sepolsky discusses what happened when the circumstances of the baboon troop he'd been studying for 20 years experienced a change...

thanks Liz. an excellent, fascinating listen. the written comments are good too!

i believe that groups of humans can form, & nourish behavior that is not in line with a person's instincts/genetics. Alcoholics Anonymous is one example IMO; though i know many would argue drinking is not genetic driven behavior. i also think of families i know where males do nurturing as examples of other possible exceptions.

i do note that in the study there was 'plenty' of food available they did not have to search/hunt/compete for.

one question the study raised was if enough violent alphas die would a cultural 'reset' be possible... ww3?

thanks again.
edit to add;
great post & comments. we are social.

RadioLab is such an excellent show.

I think you missed something... ALL the alpha males didn't die. In fact, new members of the group who might have been alphas in the past we 'aculturated' by the new troop in a way that was completely different. That said it was because material abundance became the norm. So perhaps THAT is where we need to put our thinking. How to we create a sense of abunance and security for all?

I know that this site is primarily concerned with why that is not possible...but I think unless we start making abundance for each other our goal we are doomed.

no i caught that; & i'm not sure that the context of abundance was the primary factor, though i'd argue like you that the 'there is enough sense' or not acting on perceived scarcity is/was necessary.

i think something about the nurturing early on with stressed, still developing males made them open to a new pattern of relating. Also i'm sure the females set limits re aggressive behavior- less grooming, disapproving looks, etc.

i'd guess as well there is/was female dominance in some areas. for instance i've seen a dominant female hen for instance, when there was no rooster, take on the protector leadership role too- to her demise. So very complicated to surmise what was going on without a lot more info.

this comment from the link stood out to me;

] TM from Brooklyn, NY
October 16, 2009 - 06:36PM
This piece is excellent, and seems the support Germaine Greer's rather hopeful theoretic solution to of our problematic "alpha-male" socio-political culture:

"I do think that women could make politics irrelevant; by a kind of spontaneous cooperative action the like of which we have never seen; which is so far from people’s ideas of state structure or viable social structure that it seems to them like total anarchy — when what it really is, is very subtle forms of interrelation that do not follow some heirarchal pattern which is fundamentally patriarchal. The opposite to patriarchy is not matriarchy but fraternity, yet I think it’s women who are going to have to break this spiral of power and find the trick of cooperation."

— Germaine Greer

It strikes me as sad that for women to be competitively powerful in this Country, they are encouraged to play the same game of dominance and aggression. A greater shift is possible, and it does seem logical that it requires only a single generation's removal from the patterns of patriarchy, gender role, and rewarded aggression that plague our culture, and are introduced at a very young age. Even considering a genetic predisposition in men, which I think is conveniently overestimated, women can and must refuse to be a part of this continuance and instruction.

Further, in the aggressive male culture, mutual male grooming is highly rare, as this piece points out in observation of apes.... '

re the acculturated alphas, & one original alpha i wonder how they did with the intrusions by other group 's alphas at feeding times, if they were still happening. aggressive behavior is very 'practiced' by dogs for example, & i'd guess this is to get good at it-was necessary for food in dog, & i presume baboon genetics too.

I really encourage folks to look at bonobo primatolgy - they before chimps and before baboons are our closest genetic relative. And their culture is quite different in HUGE ways from chimps or baboons...

I like that Greer quote and it reflects very much what I am trying to do with the site. My whole effort is really a means to create real fealty between people. Maybe it's because I spent time going to burningman - but I believe HUGE improbably fantastic things come from seeing and building positive things with each other...and there is nothing more beautiful or productive than a garden...and gardens lead to eating outside together, harvest parties...all kinds of things which break down what I see as the horrible isolation that people are meeting these very challenging times in - suffering when it's possible to thrive!

I tend not to be an essentialist or for a long time have been arguing against it (women are by nature more kind, nurturing etc...) - but there it must be conceded significant relational and emotional differences that women can bring to the task at hand. We have for 10,000 years left the ways of being and the care maintenance and contribution of women who do not stand up and bang podiums but rather do their work quietly and consistently - keeping the wheels of our lives turning...

Maybe it is time to put those values (which many men share) at the center of it all...

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I have been thinking that Kunstler has the whole suburban thing all wrong. What he should be worrying about is the rural states and the most far-flung exurbs. the suburbs is where all the income is. the rich fled the cities to the suburbs decades ago. of course there are a lot of suburb haters out there to make money off of and get attention from. kinda tough to have a cottage industry that bashes rural states.

Report: Mississippi, Montana, Louisiana and Oklahoma most vulnerable to oil spikes

A quick search comparing a small city around here to it's suburb shows per capita income is 43% higher in the suburb compared to the small city. this small city is what a lot would probably say is peak oil ready- meaning it has sidewalks!
can you guess which is going to have a harder time adjusting to peak oil?

I tend to agree with you on parts of this, John.

The folks that come to mind are the ones WAY out, halfway up a mountainside somewhere. I suppose a lot of them have freezers and a bunch of chow put by, but once the assumption that you can make an indefinite number of trips up and down that 15 mile driveway has been put into question, what then?

I really liked Hyper's description of the different places she lived, since it really pointed out the importance of Local Culture.. which can be different every few miles, and can have profound effects on how people in them are able to manage.. Easy Ways and Harder Ways, I guess.

The suburbs have money, but it also has a die-hard BAU consumerism mindset, even in liberal areas like mine. Powerdown is anathema to them. The suburbs are kind of like the first class passengers of the Titanic. They are too busy partying down to realize that the ship is taking on water.

maybe 5 years a ton of them are totally debt ridden and upside down in their mortgages...that only seems rich for the moment... Its not. It is to be at the end of your consumption line...and at wits end. It is a level of crisis that the are experiencing as personal failure rather than structural failure.

That may be true in most areas. I feel like I'm living in one of the few areas of the country where that isn't true, as most here are dual doctor/lawyer types. The McMansionizing is continuing even within my own block. Every time I start talking about my situation people respond by telling me to move out of here. I should start listening to them. Living in a bubble of affluent neighbors who are oblivious to doom is just not the way I want to surf through energy descent.

that does sound awful in it's own very particular way....hard decision to make!

I was raised in a suburb which, at that time, (early 1960's) had no store, no transit, 6 people in 1100 sq ft, and one car per family (used to take the father to work.) My parents still live there, though it is changing- 1/2 acre lots zoned exclusively single family residential are a prized commodity in the Toronto area. The properties were originally sold as building lots, and most of the homes were built or contracted by the owners- there were a lot of architects and tradesmen.

I remember that every parent knew my name, games of kick the can with 20 kids (there were no fences, so you to play across yards), and a street with so little traffic that the dogs ran loose (my father likes to tell the story of how one summer, our dog and one that lived 10 houses away stole a dry, leathery flattened toad carcass from each other for several months (Such a thing would obviously have to stay in the yard when the dog went inside.)

The interconnectedness mentioned above was there. People helped my dad do additions and changes to the house (1500 sq ft now, only 4 people), some paid, some unpaid. People shared the produce from their gardens, etc.

Of course, we all went to university, or got transferred, or whatever. Only one child of my generation, that I know of (50 families? 150 kids?) bought a home in the neighborhood (though some are within a few miles.) We are spread from Vancouver to the maritimes and as far North as you can go.

I helped my dad bury his dog yesterday (at least the 5th on the property...we didn't always bury at home.) I looked across the backyard at the 5,000sq ft monstrosity going up where a modest one story bungalow had been.

How many kids are you planning to have, that you need 5,000 sq ft? How could you afford it and be of child bearing age? (Oh wait...silly me..second wives..guest rooms...servant's quarters..) Assuming you fill the six or seven bedrooms, where are they going to live when they grow up?(Assuming BAU, just for the sake of argument.)

My point? Suburbs are not communities in the usual sense. And they have not turned out to be what our parents had hoped. They are machines to maximize income and child rearing, and through the population increase create more sprawl. They have no history, and no continuity. The paradigm they were built on- 4 kids and a dog (or in my parent's case, 2 or 3 dogs)- is gone. Higher income is not a plus, it's a minus- when that job is gone (and who works for the same company all his life anymore?), so is the reason to be in the neighborhood. There is no loyalty to community. Despite the talk about being family friendly, suburbs are about compromises to maximize income and # of offspring; a side effect is to separate generations when the children grow up.

Every time you move, you lose your history, and perhaps a little piece of your humanity. I know that when my Dad dies, we'll have to sell the property, and someone is going to tear down the house and build a monster. And those people are not going to care where the dogs are buried.

Hey 'stan;
My mom just died last fall, and my wife, daughter and I, who have been living only a block away are eager to buy the wonderful house she set up - from my two siblings, and live there from now on.. but it's definitely with the sense from my sibs that 'we are clinging on a bit too much', that we are overly worshipping my Mom. But it ties very directly into your idea that there is so much we've been taught to walk away from, and that holding on to the essence of your past is considered a little odd.

She was our friend and neighbor, after having once been mainly 'Mom'. She had worked her spot in the community garden, just up the street.. for the last 10 years, and really helped define the 'culture' of the neighborhood with her arts, her music and her Mastery of Crafts.. had just achieved Journeyman status as a weaver, and built her fourth house.

We have some giants to live up to.. but why would we abandon having such fine models to lead our dreams?

On her office wall was this .. "When the world wearies and ceases to satisfy, there is always the Garden"

We still have one loaf of her wheat bread in the freezer, waiting for the right occasion. I'm not Catholic, but that there is 'the Body' for such a communion.

I'm so sorry... she sounds like my kinda woman! I love the gardening quote...

Thanks. Yeah, she was really great.

I'm sure there are more people out there like her, but they're rare.

Glad you're doing what you're doing.

Good luck on the fund drive!

Thank you so so much.
I lost my Dad in June, we're never ready for it.
Hang in there.

Having lived in 5 different cities as an adult... I can't quite agree that I lost some of my humanity. At every turn my humanity and humanism was expanded not contracted... I did work to make real connection every place I spite of my introversion.

But yes, I can never return to where I grew up...almost everyone has moved on...

‘baboon troop he'd been studying for 20 years’
If you want to learn what baboons will do, study baboons. If you want to learn what humans will do study our history. If we are no more than naked apes then history will continue to repeat itself over and over again. I like to think that mankind has a spark of the divine placed in him. Who place it there? God? I think God was a powerful alien that played around with genetics in the distance past. “Let’s make man in our image.” There image being of superior intellect. Angels appearing and disappearing. Powerful destructive forces leading a nation will laws very different from the Egyptians. If this is true then possibly mankind will be force to endure peace. Fairy tale? This is just as likely as evolving over millions and millions of years from apes.

Apes we may be, but very proud apes. :)

This is just as likely as evolving over millions and millions of years from apes.

No it isn't - the evolution of hominids over millions of years is supported by a huge amount of science, reasoning, and archaeological evidence. Everything else in the alternative is simply angel-dust.

Start up a timebank.

Software to run one in case you don't like community weaver

In December 2007, our rural community of approximately 200 residences was severely damaged by a freak flood. Fifty-eight homes were damaged. Some had water to the ceiling and some were washed from their foundation.

Because of community wide emergency planning sessions, the assistant chief of the volunteer fire department immediately implemented an emergency control center in the local Grange to direct community activities. A married couple started to provide three meals per day at the Grange to community residents and all volunteer workers from outside the community. Another resident solicited community contributions to buy four portable furnaces to dry the houses after sheet rock and insulation had been removed. He then organized a team of local residents to service and relocate the furnaces 24/7 until all houses had been dried. Another resident organized a team of local residents to coordinate the work of outside volunteers. Another local couple established a 503C entity to receive and disperse cash contributions fro people outside the community. The county United Way provided massive assistance through the local leadership. Another resident set up a security force to deter looters and other undesirables. The County Sheriff’s emergency planning deputy participated in our emergency preplaning sessions, so from the outset we had complete confidence of the County Sheriff. These activities continued until about May 1, 2008. By that time most residents were back in their homes.

The experience profile of the community leaders is retired military, retired corporate executives, and the senior leader is an active duty professional fire fighter.

My observations and conclusions from this experience are:
1. Preplanning for emergencies is essential.
2. Local leaders will step up to the task in an emergency if someone is in control to provide overall direction.
3. Formal coordination of activities provides a sense of security and purpose for all participants.
4. Government participation (interference) is not necessary.

Over the past year, I have made all of our community leaders fully aware of Peak Oil and it’s implications. They have fully endorse my vision and we are planning and implementing mitigating actions.

That's a great story only objection... we are all leaders... we lead by how we interact with each other. Your vision is a little top heavy for my taste - though I agree planning is important I prefer flattening out hierarchies by opening up leadership rather than falling into the idea that only alpha males from the military CAN lead.

It's not true. Never has been.

"They have fully endorse my vision and we are planning and implementing mitigating actions."

what plans? Just looking to score a few ideas off you.

Perhaps this story will help address the issue of Community and the many issues we face in the future. I am rather skilled in construction, and having been laid off for an extended period of time, I decided to "gift" a friend a whole lot of remodeling work. Understand, I am long experienced, a perfectionist and very gifted at what I do. This remodeling work (so far) has involved a complete tear out and rebuild of an upstairs bathroom (it is spectacular, quality materials) and repairing an old and worn, water damaged basement bathroom. In exchange I have received food and shelter. No money was exchanged- we gifted.

It is some of the responses from others here that we look to... My friends older Sister (comfortably retired) has become jealous and made disparaging coments to me regarding me "babying" them. A Neighbor has become jealous and there is now tension. Now, she calls me the "boyfriend" (I live with them) insinuating some sort of illicit sexual relationship. Some family members of theirs applaud me, some express anger, hostility and jealousy.

A relative of my friends Wife graciously lent us his expensive, professional quality tile saw. After they saw the work in the upstairs bathroom, then the mood changed and it became unavailable for the basement tilework... the story changed at least 3 times!

I might have gotten a little out of hand in an earlier exchange with another member, but I find violence and anger repulsive, or needlessly condemming others wrong. But look at what I have created from my benign actions, as related above. Jealousy and hate... which I fear. I believe the problem isn't the majority of us... it is the starving and desperate neighbor next door who offers his hand in friendship with a .44 magnum behind his back. Worse yet, if I survive, how will it affect my psyche and further actions. Natural Born Killers indeed.

Hey Timothy -

We do have a lot of sickness in the do we get people to 'work through their baggage'... I am not sure. I sincerely hope that as you find your place - in your own life - in your internal life - That you do not make other people's illness the measure of how you choose to act. You've created something good there. I am sure that the work and the relationship has been worthwhile to you.

Let others think and say what they will. They will or will not come around long term. They are dealing with a lot of internal rules...What they were taught about what it means to be man (or a woman).

We all need to become mensches.

I'm only 47... but I do remember the 60's. It was suppoused to be the Age of Aquarius and peace love and harmony would rule the World. I find it very mentally difficult to deal with what I see happening around me. I used to go to the field behind my house and catch dragonflies and fly kites. The 21st. century is ruled by violence and anger. We must admit (I chose not to pro-create) that human population pressure is causing many of our problems. Paul Ehrlich had his book out in the 70's.. Have you ever seen the Georgia Guidestones? They actually exist, are hated by many, but make no mistake, the Elites who placed them there did so for a reason. Living in Harmony with the Planet means POPULATION CONTROL! People! We shall have population control by choice or by force of nature. We have chosen. Billions must now die, the time for choice is over.

And which would that be...the westerners who consume 20% of the planet's resources without a thought except that they think the are entitled? Or the global south which had all it's resources stolen and it's people subjugated to feed our consumptive patterns?

I note that people who speak like you - never seem to locate the problem with their own desires....but always - with the needs of others...and the numbers of children they have...
You are the exception in that you decided like me you didn't need to have kids and I commend that but, that's a rarity. Usually the problem is located in the countries full of brown people not our own *heavy* consumption.

I grew up here and expected that the level of services and facilities available was infinite. I was never taught any different. YOU ARE CORRECT, THE Brown and Black populations followed and expected the same. Humans are surprised at change!!!! See the reactions and results of my remodeling. Perhaps we we not so much the same in regards to thoughts and policies... My POINT! I am not fooling around with my friends Wife, yet the Neighbor wants to give the impression. What is then, her LEVEL OF EVIL? WHAT IS HER INTENT? Perhaps the major problem is that, as I see evidenced by drivers of vehicles, that we are self-centered, serve our own interests and proceed to eliminate those who think otherwise! Which brings up the neighbor with an outstreched arm and a .44 Magnum behind his back. Why we can't get along.

Dude...I am sure that there are people in this town that have heard the rumor that actually mom and I are lesbian lovers! HA. Small town life.

Some astonishing percentage of all human communication is GOSSIP. I don't have the exact number but it's astonishingly large. But its something we have always done and you can always count on continuing.

I would go so far as to say that the first cave woman said to the second cave woman - or gay cave man ---

"ur ur ur" point point point "ur ur ur..."

which roughly translates to:

"Look at what beyotch is wearing!"

People talk. It's our nature. Gum flapping is our national past time.
Make sure that the majority of what is said about you is good and know there will always be humans who lie.

BTW, do you have any discussions such as these with your neighbors or do you restrict the networking to potlucks in which you just talk about the weather? The idea of community is fine, and talking to each other is fine, but without some sort of consensus-building on these issues, it seems like it's just superficial in a way that won't really make collapse any easier.

Not only that, the idea that building community is all OUR responsibility is unfair. It takes a receptive person on the other end to make it happen. It's possible to do and say all the right things and still get the door slammed in your face. That's what instigated the chain-letter of blog posts between Heinberg, Astyk, Greer, etc... lately. If people won't build community until they feel they need it, then we have a classic case of "frog in the pot" syndrome before us.

I think that's why you start where you are now. It's not like you knock on the neighbors door and scream "The End is Nigh!" and expect them to trust you or react by putting you in charge. It's taken me decades to reach the conclusions that I have.

Credibility is something you gain over time through action not talk. I hope to be a credible and valuable part of my communities and so I act accordingly now and on into the future - come what may.

I also just see it differently. You seem to have a Moses complex- that you are here to bring the gospel and the commandments... I don't mean to be a jerk..It's just the picture you paint and the cross you have strapped to you back...(Sorry for mixing metaphors and prophets.) It is the burden of feeling you know so much more than those around you and it's partially true that you do. That does not necessarily make you a leader or a contributor. I don't say this as an attack either. There is simply work to be done. You won't get credit for being right all along...and I am sure it would be cold comfort.

Credit also is not what you are after. Security, community and continued health is and so your approach to your communities now and WTSHTF - should stem from that knowledge of your own needs and the needs of those around you.

I see it this way - build community or do not. Act as if you are part of a community or not..The chips will fall and it will play out. And we will have made out bets. As with all of life...It's a craps shoot. As we are humans - we each have our own preferred delusions and blind...blindspots. We cannot control it all.

"That does not necessarily make you a leader or a contributor. I don't say this as an attack either. There is simply work to be done. You won't get credit for being right all along...and I am sure it would be cold comfort."

I guess I'm hung up on the term "community". Maybe what you're talking about is more resilience than community. When I think of community, I also think of people getting to know each other. That means doomers being able to talk about what matters to them.

Sure it does... but honestly you have to build up a general credibility with people over time. And even then they may not see it the way you do - until it becomes indisputably part of their own experience.

Sadly being really well informed and passionate can often come across as being a judgemental know-it-all. That never goes over well whatever context you are acting in.

People need multiple ways to interact with you and not just as the Cassandra figure they can easily ignore. What you are saying is WAY WAY outside of their experience. Hell it's outside of YOUR experience. Compassion, patience... and doing rather than saying, I personally think is the way forward.

Our lives are hard right now. You may not see it that way but the pace of change is too too much for most people. They seek security in pattern, in comfort foods, family, habit... It's all very understandable to me...

I think also all of the very smart people here...have to give up the idea that they can control everything. That it is possible to do it all ...right.

Since then a lot of things have changed. What are the parts of 'back then' we want back? And how do we get them back? Can we redevelop community?

There are many more communities available now than 50 years ago. I don't get the "redevelop communities". What community choices would a gay black man have 50 years ago? It's easy to idealize the past, but society has always been plenty messy. It's great if someone wants to think about strengthening neighborhoods. But please don't have a long conversation with every time I walk out the door.

Ha...I am going to hunt you down and be nice to you dcmiller! Watch your self. :D

And of course as a woman - I have very little interest in going backwards or accepting the default dominance of certain types of people who have dominated up to the present.

I should also say - as idealistic as I sound, I consider myself a blue neck. I don't have a problem with guns or using them. So if you are tempted to put me in the hippie category and dismiss me, that would be an error on your part.

I agree 100 percent with you! Community has to be vital, respectful and committed to cooperation. However, there are issues that need to be addressed. Should NAMBLA be a component of our community? The breeding question is the most disturbing,,, shall you be allowed to have 1 or 10... This stuff gets tricky. What if I like to smoke cigarettes, or, am an alcoholic? Define Violence. Yelling and shouting or perhaps hands on...

WHAT IS A VITAL AND HEALTHFUL COMMUNITY? A bunch of insurance agents??? Or Farmers peacefully engaged in raising food, so you may live another day. Raise your hands now.. please show me how many people have lived without food... no... honest... one at a time... please!

How the mighty have fallen. Th Internet has given us time and a place to discuss our future before the next extinction level event has occurred.

I have to agree with Pops. While I hope with both fingers crossed that people will all play nice and cooperate with one another during a series of localized and possibly global collapses of finances, world-view, infrastructure, and social services I would tend to say that isn't how it has usually gone down. The below is today's post on Ferfal's Surviving in Argentina Blog.


Have you known of any good people that you personally knew that just turned into total pieces of trash and started robbing and killing people after the crisis?? Or were most of these maniacs at the lower end of society to begin with and the collapse just sent them over the edge??


In most cases violent crime is strongly linked to the poor sector of society as you can expect, with an important amount of increased drug use sprinkled all over it.

Regarding middle class, frauds and scams became much more common and I do know of people that, previously considered respectable members of the local community, just stole from their neighbors.
There was this business man, highly respected, that took money from lots of neighbors and friends, people that sent their kids to the same school this man did. He was giving back good profit rates for the loans.
One day when he had enough people giving him money, he took off with his lover to some foreign country, leaving the wife and kids behind. Everyone was left dumb folded.

When times get tough people do these things, even the nice guy next door with the well educated kids and the latest SUV parked in front.
Another common crime among middle class and upper middle class was tipping other bad guys about sales, arranging kid kidnappings and such for a share. Having the business partner murdered to keep his share was something that also happened.

In general the lesson is to really trust no one, even if you think he’s set financially (it might all he appearance and he might in fact be broke, capable of anything to save his life standards) and certainly not talk about business, important sales and such with them either.
Recently there was some criminals in their 20’s, they lived with their rich parents in private gated communities and they robbed the houses of their own wealthy neighbors. Who would have thought the rich kid next door did it?

In some other cases professional criminals rent fancy houses in these communities, spend months doing intel jobs and then robbing in these homes after they leave or organize other crimes as well such as kidnappings or whatever opportunity they may see.

Its VERY common for successful criminals (bank/business robbers, drug smugglers and producers, asphalt pirates) to live permanently among the wealthy under some other identity. You never know if the guy that says he’s into international trade, imports/exports, has a successful company in some other province/state actually does that for a living.
Don’t trust appearances guys and keep you mouth shut!


We have all had bad experiences - even in life before the fall - We've all given trust to people who did not deserve it. We've been deceived, robbed, some beat up, many betrayed by those closest to us.

We are hopefully all the wiser for it. And hopefully the fact that there are Bernie Madoff's in the world doesn't blind us to the fact that there are also good people.

The lesson with Madoff is this tribalism many have spent most their lives supporting is horseshit. THAT is what makes you vulnerable. HE was very much 'of the tribe' and that is why he had so much money at his disposal. (And by of the tribe I don't mean Jewish - I mean that he was part of the in-group that was his victim base and trust was based on his identity not his character...)

Perhaps the idea there is develop your tribe consciously.

I don't think the answer is "Trust No one".... that's not life. That is a prison.

I think it will depend largely upon how severe the stress, how fast it happens and upon how long it lasts.

Desperate people are going to do desperate things. The poor and the unprepared (especially those unprepared emotionally) will get desperate the soonest. But the poor have a lot of experience coping with desperation. This is why only a minority of poor revert to criminality.

My good friend lives in Punta Gorda and when Hurricane Charlie ripped through, he and all his neighbors pretty much banded together and helped each other out. But in this situation everyone knew they were dealing with a temporary emergency. What would happen if the emergency stretched out over time with no sign of ending? Stay tuned.

I think there will be lots of surprises as far as community security and cohesion. That's about all I'm comfortable predicting.

Some interesting links:

Borrow from your neighbor:

Rent from your neighbor:

Your neighborhood "water cooler":

I have only met my neighbors in times of altercation between our dogs. One neighbors next door to the South, a dentist has two Bijon Frise as do I. We have another neighbor across the street and two doors down who bought a mansion which is totally incongruent with the rest of the houses. They got a great buy at $595K but have been unable to sell their previous house which is next door for $315K so I know this has strained their finances. I only know these people as my deceased Siberian Husky jumped into their Ford Excursion with their new baby. He later escaped my yard and killed their cat which she had had since she was nineteen so this cast a pall on that relationship. Point being that we have no relationship with any of our neighbors and will probably move before the market goes further down. I have two sons one goes to UT Austin is an SAE and has no connection with reality. He told me I had an apocalyptic outlook on life. I told some of his friends that I believe that agriculture would be a better career choice than their current trajectory. They looked at me as if I told them I had been abducted by aliens. My other son has been a land man but has been laid off and is currently parking cars and is trying to get another job as a landman. He works part time for his other brother who has a Farmers Insurance Agency. He has a friend that is also interested in farming so I try to promote that with his friend. They don't understand that I hope none of these things come to fruition but I must warn those I care about if I believe PO and crushing debt levels will materially change their lives. Life has no assurances but i really see a dim outlook for their future. Good Luck to All, God Speed.

Jim Hall


Hell is other people.

Why do you think we put as much distance between ourselves and other people as we can manage?

That is the perception of a misanthrope not mine. Though SOME PEOPLE surely are hell - I enjoy the company of folks - even those I vehemently disagree with...Certainly not always.

Let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time, I was very well off, and exceedingly well educated- like most of you here on TOD. Then one day, a catastrophic health disaster came to visit me. I am still well educated- they can’t take that away from you- but I am now intimately familiar with Reality. Believe me, if you make more than 40 thousand a year, you are well-insulated from Reality.

I have personally experienced what happens when a well-off person has a SHTF life event. Bonoboes? Baboons? Ha! Humans are sharks. Not even wolves- wolves care for their sick and injured. Humans are sharks.

Goose, Hyperlocavore, TGN- Let me me tell you about the kind of neighborhood you end up in when Health Armageddon visits you. On one side, I have a 40-something who got sent to federal pound-you-in-the-ass prison for ten years for a huge drug running operation out of Canada. His grown son, age 21, now has 22 convictions for assault with a deadly weapon on a family member. And that’s just the ones he got convicted on. On the other side, I have a neighbor whose wife beats him regularly. She has stabbed him three times that I am aware of. He is trapped- if he divorces her and keeps the kids, the cost of daycare for the 3 kids will render the family homeless; and if he divorces her and lets her keep the kids, the cost of child support for 3 kids will render him homeless. Across the street, there is one of those rabid-foaming-at-the-mouth type Bible thumpers who are absolutely convinced we are devil worshipers because my wife likes metal music. They would love just any excuse to bring their church members here and kill us. The next block over is a teenage sex offender who has victimized at least four young girls in the neighborhood and is still running loose. Six doors down is a gentleman of less than Mensa intelligence who regularly gets into screaming fights in the street with the ex con neighbor. Three doors down in the other direction is a Latino drug dealer. Detroit? No. This is a solidly middle class neighborhood in Washington state.

Yardshare? When the food runs out, these people will steal everything we have. Thanks to the lovely social safety net we have in this country, I can’t move. The three YEARS it took Social Security to come through completely destroyed my credit score. No credit score, no mortgage.

THESE are the kind of people you all will be facing in a collapse. Natural Born Killers. You are deluding yourself if you think any different, and my heart bleeds for you.

Timothy- it’s the death rate that will fix the problem; don’t worry about the birthrate. My background is in agriculture and pharmacology (weird mix, I know)- and here’s the magic solution to the population problem: very nearly all modern pharmaceuticals require a fossil fuel derived ingredient at some point in the synthesis procedure. Take away the antibiotics in particular and the death rate almost instantly returns to the natural level. On the agriculture side the same situation exists- take away livestock antibiotics, insecticide, chemical fertilizer and ESPECIALLY fungicides and food production collapses- again- the death rate returns to the natural rate. Population will take care of itself.

Oh, and about Kunstler. I hate Kunstler. Anybody who likes what he has to say hasn’t read him very carefully- He wants to force ALL of us back into the tenements, at the mercy of vicious slumlords, and only let the ultrarich live outside the slums. Monstrous.

I should point out that none of those people have actually killed or are actually "natural born killers" from your description. Nor do they have a clue probably about whats coming or how to deal with it. It also doesn't change the fact that you are going to have to ally with some of the people in your area regardless. They can't ALL be raving lunatics.

None that he knows of.

VictorianTech, I would have to agree with you about Kuntsler. He is a jackass who doesn't even understand the difference between zionism and semitism. He is one of those characters who is so utterly convinced that he alone knows reality so everyone else must be wrong. I am particularly disgusted by his treatment of 9/11 truthers.

He is a jackass who doesn't even understand the difference between zionism and semitism.

For all practical - and especially political - purposes, there isn't one.

I think you REALLY have to get out of that neighborhood. Places develop cultures, and some of them can get really fetid.. but others can actually be heathy and productive.. sorry it doesn't look that way from where you stand right now.

Just because you assume the rest of us don't know the people around us, doesn't really make it true, ok?

Good luck with your health.


Forgive me for not expressing myself more clearly. I didn't mean that your neighbors are going to come raiding you when the stores run dry; I meant MY neighbors are going to come raiding you when the stores run dry. One of them (the one who already has killed someone before) said so one day when I brought up the subject of PO and possible collapse. Now, hot air and grain of salt and all that. But, really, how do you go about saving a civilization with a starting group like this?

It's weird, too, you'd never guess it driving down my street. Nice enough houses, small, but well kept with nice yards.

I think it's a basically true proposition that the more stressed a situation becomes and the longer that situation lasts, the more likely one is to eventually encounter a dangerous, pathological personality type. This is a thought that too many people simply refuse to allow into their thinking. It's human nature, I guess, to want to believe that there are no truly evil personalities out there, that any person in any situation can be "talked through it reasonably".

Unfortunately, that just isn't reality. Lineman and VictorianTech have both tried to explain to folks here that there very much ARE people out there with absolutely NO scrap of empathy for other people. These people can disassociate completely from any and all feelings toward others. These are the personality traits that make up serial killers. They are capable of any act of cruelty and brutality toward others. The only thing that matters to them is their own immediate need or pleasure. And part of their pleasure is derived from inflicting the most ghastly imaginable torment on others (including children). There is only one way to deal with someone like this and that is with immediate, overwhelming counter force; using a firearm.

There are more dysfunctional types like this in our midst than most healthy people want to imagine.

Yes. That is why it is important to build REAL COMMUNITY NOW...or do you think you will be less vulnerable on your own?

Those people have always existed. And yes, if people feel desparate more will resort to crime...What can you do now to ensure that as much of that desparation as possible can be met with a general visible resilient interdepent community is present where you are?

I do not see the point in telling me there are bad people in the world. I'm 45 years old, lived on my own in Brooklyn for ten years...I didn't as they say fall off the turnip truck yesterday. I've been two feet away from a street fight which involved a machete... I lived neighborhood where gunshots made no one..including myself flinch.

That does not change the fact that you will be better off with deeper stronger networks.

Or would anyone like to openly argue the opposite?

If you are rather working to infect me with a desperate pessimism and abject fear...I have lived through too much already to give that the time of day...It does not serve me.

I am not a blind optimist.
I am a practical doer.

Your mileage may vary.... but while you engage in all this 'reality checking' note - you are not building an alternative.

I could bore you with nostalgia for my childhood in an English village with country dancing, church, Maypole and communal games of rounders and stool ball , but I suspect you have had enough of this.
I have once again moved to a village where an extinct community has been revived by an influx of married couples with young children : families seem to be a key ingredient. The kids play together and forge links with other families. We now have an annual village party and regular activities like social running (for all abilities on local lanes) instead of folk disappearing to an urban gym. Also we all get together sometimes for charity events - it's a small start but progress.

I could bore you with nostalgia for my childhood in an English village with country dancing, church, Maypole and communal games of rounders and stool ball , but I suspect you have had enough of this.
I have once again moved to a village where an extinct community has been revived by an influx of married couples with young children : families seem to be a key ingredient. The kids play together and forge links with other families. We now have an annual village party and regular activities like social running (for all abilities on local lanes) instead of folk disappearing to an urban gym. Also we all get together sometimes for charity events - it's a small start but progress.

Thanks for staying at it all night Hyperlocavore!

Just to kind of bookend here, I think it is entirely possible and smart to build a rapport with neighbors that can help you through a short emergency, that is if your neighbors are likewise prepared to provide mutual aid and not just standing on your door step with their hand out.

As in all real estate, it's about location.

If your neighbors are living on the backs of 10,000 energy slaves (and you are too) it doesn't matter a whit how chummy and interdependent you are when the bills rise and the jobs evaporate. Take a look right now at the people who live in neighborhoods with half a dozen foreclosed houses on every block, it just doesn't matter how many community gardens they had, their location was wrong, their equity is gone and unless they are pretty young they might never see it again.

Don't get me wrong, I've made 1,000's of posts on the subject of planning for the future and I've never once said everyone should run for the hills – just the opposite in fact. As well, my motto has always been to plan for as many situations as you can - including the one where not much happens.

But having said that, if you aren't willing to critically evaluate and re-negotiate your lifestyle to put yourself in a location and situation where you are the one able to offer help – or at least not be the one on the stoop with your hand out, I don't think you take the potential of real, long term problems seriously.

I would suggest people will 'negotiate their lifestyles' if they see people around them building happy viable lives around them... It's happening - perhaps not fast enough.

Live your life as an attractive option not as a hair shirt. But live IN COMMUNITY. THAT will help. Social isolates *even in good times* die sooner. We are social creatures.

Start now with projects that are FUN and helpful NOW so that when the tough stuff comes down you will be prepared to get it done with each other as a cohesive group, whatever needs doing.

Hey Folks -
Here's a video update on the project
So you can put a face to the crazed idealist in your midst

Also here's some pro-social evolutionary theory to back up some of my arguments.. (Really interesting Google Talk)

So - where does one get long glass tubes to make to solar pressure cooker?