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Survival Village

March 3, 2006

There’s an interesting posting on Deconsumption at the moment talking about how the coming crash is going to quickly divide us into either a group that can cope with the changes ahead or a group (much larger of course) that can’t.

Once again Steven mentions Ecovillages as a solution to post-peak living. Despite the fact that this blog was set up to record the potential creation of an ecovillage I’m not sure that I totally agree with him. I’m don’t want to rebut his argument though, so much as build on or add to the thinking that prompted idea that ecovillage living is a solution.

In a recent post I said that I thought Ecovillages were a great way to escape civilisation but not a great way to escape the crash of civilisation. I do think they are a great way of building a tight knit community, of building a tribe that will stick with you through thick and thin. There is no doubt that being part of a community will help us survive a lot of difficult stuff but the point is you’ll need to have a really tight-knit group by the time you have to do something like say leave the village and disappear into the forest (should it come to that) – and that will take time to acheive.

If a village is set up in a hurry as a post-peak survival technique it will fail, no doubt about it. Being united by desperation will only work for so long and pretty soon the profoundly different views that such a group are bound to have will start to tear it in different directions.

Also, someone moving to an ecovillage purely for survival purposes will also find after a time that they don’t really fit in. Actually I wouldn’t want to move to a village that would let in someone move in so easily anyway – It’s not for nothing that the successful villages have 3 month trial periods with new villagers.

My other concern about villages as a solution is that unless you are extremely isolated people are going to come knocking on your door for help and if you don’t give it they will likely make your life difficult. I mean, how many extra people can a village cope with? I don’t want to see friends and family suffering so does that mean I invite my relatives and friends to come and stay? What if everyone in the village does that?

What if we don’t do that?

I’m not sure that things are going to get that bad here in New Zealand but the US is a whole ‘nother ball-game, if you’ve got food and a roving band of hungry people want it, how are you going to stop them? The only cure for this kind of malady is prevention.

I figure the best prevention is to make sure your entire district is ready for the crash. This is something I’d like to see happen for the are I live in. It means having lot’s of food (and heritage seeds)ready to go, not just for the locals but for all the people who come to your area for help. It means having lots of permaculture knowledge in the community so that there are plenty of teachers for the many new students that we’ll soon have.

It also means having systems in place to make the crash as gentle as possible for the local community. First up is the necessity of planting permaculture food forests in all the public parks to cater for those who haven’t managed to make ends meet. It means having a green dollar system in place so that people can still trade locally when the bottom falls out of the economy and the national dollar becomes worthless. It also means having something like the Solari system proposed by Catherine Austin Fitts whereby existing wealth (in the form of life savings etc) is removed from the hands of the corporate sector and reinvested locally.

Eventually there will be no economy but these ideas are essential for softening the crash locally and maintaining security – especially food security – in your area. In the event of catastrophe a healthy district will fend off attack much better than a village. One additional point about that too. It’s entirely likely that the authorities will turn out to be one of our biggest threats. The best antidote to this that I can think of is to have a good relationship with your local non-white community because they’ve been well aware of the need to distrust those in authority for generations now and I imagine they’ll be much more useful to have around than a bunch of fearful whiteys who’ve been trained to snap to attention when authority comes calling.

Lastly on the topic of security I have some concerns about the peak oil movement. This is kind of counter intuitive but the peak oil movement and it’s survivalist tendencies worry me. These are the guys who are most likely to have their bunker and lifetime supply of ammo ready when the crash comes. It could be that the peak oilers turn out to be a major liability in a post peak world – intent as they may be on carving out some kind of Mad Max fiefdom for themselves. They lack a decent analysis of civilisation and are preparing for ‘total anarchy’. I know nearly everybody has a poor analysis of civilisation but most people caught short in a crash scenario will act on instinct and are quite likely to form into impromptu communities as happened in New Orleans. It’s the ones who’ve had time to do some forward planning that worry me the most. (I should add that I don’t consider Deconsumption and it’s readers to be in that category)

Essentially what I’m saying is that whilst ecovillage living is a much more sustainable way of life and one that does provide a useful model for post civilisation living and does encourage the learning of skills that we are going to need, there are other concerns that we will soon be facing and they come under the heading of security. It’s a rather militaristic term but as we have learnt from our horrific history of military excursions, true security comes from looking after everybody– not just from looking after number one and putting a big fence between yourself and the raving hordes outside.

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One comment

  1. […] town Raglan (score 9.5 out of 10 on Steven’s criteria) is indeed well suited. I’ve talked before about  the changes that Raglan needs to make to get ready. Essentially they can be listed as; […]



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