Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More Peak Oil Ramblings

Plans and Leadership
We need to dream up plans on what to do. And not just selfish personal plans. We need visions that we can whip out and share with our friends and neighbors. Plans to unite us, motivate us, protect and feed us.
We need to make rough inventories of equipment, spare parts, and geographic advantages and disadvantages. We need to plan how to organize people and  supplies.

That being said, I have been dreaming up a few plans of my own for my immediate surroundings- I figure that about 2Km up and down the road, 1Km from the road can be considered "our" area.

Location: We are blessed with a LOT of mountains and forests in the 2Km radius of our homestead. There is a very small, very high head stream coming from the mountains behind us, and a much larger (though still quite small) stream also with a decent head just below us. It used to support three or four family run waterwheels around 70-80 years ago.
The valley used to have five or six small family farms before the children ran off to the cities, and their parents passed away. So there are quite a few abandoned field terraces here and there. It would take a lot of work to clear them, but they are level and fertile.
There are large cedar plantations and also large swaths of native mountain forests.
And did I mention the bamboo? Moso, Madake, Yachiku....
Population: There are not many people, maybe about 30 in the area I described. Most are over 60, quite a few are in their 70s and 80s. Which means a lot of them remember life without electricity or a decent road (It wasn't until about 1960 that they built the road up to handle cars easily.)
Equipment/Salvage:  Not so much. The older farmers still have tractors and other small farm equipment, and most of them have a lot of hand tools as well.
Housing: There are a few empty houses in the village up the road, and just a stones throw from our house as well. But most of the houses are quite large farmhouses, built for large families/extended families. 

Plans: Once oil supplies are disrupted, town will be quite far away. But the twenty thousand who live in the strip between the mountains and the sea will not have enough land to grow all their food. So I am planning a road market at the foot of the mountain. I imagine that every road leading up the mountains will have one. A natural place for it.

The abandoned farmland will eventually be brought back into production, regardless of who the absentee owners are. It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission. If they come back to live here, we will negotiate. If they want to try to continue absentee ownership- well, good luck traveling all the way up here to collect rents. 

I hope to attract young families to the empty houses and to encourage the older folk to rent out their extra rooms in exchange for help. These hands will help make the abandoned fields productive again. And of course, the building of new houses will eventually begin.

We also will have to have some sort of training programs/workshops to see who is good at what, and to evolve specialties in the new community. This will bolster our program of recruitment of skilled workers (electricians, mechanics....) as well.

We will build a hydro-power co-op to supply electric to a community center/ library, and if there is excess, to the houses. I think it will be a number of smaller generators rather than a large one, but still working on that.

We will also need a public bath, because it would be a lot easier and take a lot less fuel to heat a large community bath than dozens of individual baths.

There is a lot more planning to be done. But not tonight.
How about you? How are you going to help your community get through the long emergency?

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