The Next 100 Things You Can Do To Get Ready For Peak Oil (And Whatever Else Comes Down the Pike)
Part 2 (49-100)
(Be sure to check out Part I of this article here )
49. Invite someone new to your house once every month. Try and expand your community and circle of friends regularly. Invite people to eat with you regularly – sharing food is an important part of community building.
50. Attend zoning meetings and consider running for zoning board. Work to amend local zoning laws to allow green building, composting toilets, clotheslines, small livestock, cottage businesses, front lawn gardens and other essentials.
51. Have a large house and not a lot of people in it? Consider a roommate, or borders. This will make you more economically stable and also expand your community and local resources. If you currently rent an apartment, consider sharing housing with a roommate.
52. If your community doesn’t have a food coop, start one now. There is a great deal of information on the web here: This can be a powerful tool for creating local food economies.
53. Consider creating a community currency. They keep money local and encourage small businesses and sustainable economies.
54. Sometimes you get more by giving things away than by selling them. Do you have something you don’t need? Extra produce? Spare time? Give extra tomatoes to a neighbor, offer spare items to friends, go over and help out someone who could use it. Good deeds mostly return to us.
55. Build an in-law apartment, or set your home up so that elderly family members can live comfortably with you when the time comes. Sit down and talk to them before the problem becomes acute, and tell them that you want them with you. It is easier to move elderly folks in with you before things become difficult.
56. Take time to get to know children in your neighborhood, especially teenagers. Make friends with them, talk and listen respectfully. Consider inviting them to apprentice with you on some work, or join in a work project (don’t forget to pay them for their help). Older children and teenagers need *meaningful* work – they need to know their contribution matters. Make sure it does.
57. Get to know local farmers and encourage them to fill gaps in your local food system – get together with neighbors and friends and create a market for local wheat, local dried beans, and other foods that are often grown industrially. If farmers know that even small quantities of these foods, locally grown, would be welcome, they will grow them.
58. Create a community festival to showcase local agricultural products, arts or other truly local creations and skills. Instead of focusing on simply drawing tourists, emphasize activities that bring the community together as part of it – dances, demonstrations of skill, children’s activities.
59. Draw attention to your local watershed, and on your vulnerabilities in that regard. Will you be competing with other communities? Are there areas of waste to be dealt with? Wetlands to be preserved? Make assuring a safe, long term water supply a community priority.
60. Create local educational systems – resist regionalizing schools and advocate for the creation or recreation of neighborhood school and library systems. Build homeschooling coops, and set up library branches at walkable sites. Encourage extension programs, community college branches and everything you can to make education more local.
61. Talk to your older kids about sex, birth control, responsibility, your values and what you expect of them. Have this conversation early and often, and combine it with a discussion of peak oil, so that they can understand what the implications of early sexual activity and childbearing might be in a post-peak world. Offer them a vision of what yo uhope for and expect from them, as well as a list of negatives. And while condoms have a limited lifespan, even old condoms are better than nothing. Store some in a cool dark place if you have teenagers, or will soon.
62. Children, the elderly and ill or disabled family members are more likely to experience “appetite fatigue” and stop eating if their diet suddenly changes because of a crisis. Start eating the foods in your storage in the ways you are likely to enjoy them right now. Allow your bodies time to adapt to whole grains, more fresh vegetables, beans, a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian diet, fewer fats, less salt and sugar, etc.. Dietary changes are stressful – so make them gradually. Even short periods of malnutrition can do real harm.
63. Resolve family conflicts whenever possible. Unless you are prepared to see your parents go homeless, your annoying brother in law starving, you will end up helping them. You might as well get along in the meantime. Find common ground – you will need each other.
64. Write letters to family and close friends to help them be prepared to come to you in a crisis or evacuation – include direction including via back roads, lists of things to bring and not to bring (what should they do with pets, for example?), a list of your expectations if you are together for an extended period, etc… Also, consider where you would evacuate to, and what plans you need to make.
65. Do everything you can to nurse your babies. This is not a criticism of those who cannot, but as Hurricane Katrina proved, nursing can literally save your child’s life in a crisis situation. In less severe situations, the additional health and nutritional benefits may help an infant or young child survive, and can provide them with security and comfort as well. Nurse as long as possible – the world average age of weaning is 4, and “at least 2 years” is recommended by the WHO. In a crisis, a lactating woman may be able to help out someone else’s baby, even if their own is fine.
66. Learn basic first aid, herbalism, and any other useful medical information you can come by. Have the tools to assess conditions, deal with basic medical crises, and endure an epidemic or crisis in your home if hospitals are turning people away.
67. Encourage your children to start a business of their own, perhaps managing animals, or growing food in their own gardens and selling it. Treat what they do seriously, and validate them for contributing to the welfare of the house.
68. Don’t entertain your children all the time. Even older babies (1 year+) can be expected to amuse themselves for periods of a half hour or so, assuming their basic needs are met, or can be expected to hang out quietly in a sling or carrier. Increase the periods of time that children play independently gradually. Help older children learn to guide and watch out for younger ones.
69. Talk about your economic values with your kids – begin early “local food is better because it doesn’t use so much energy – let’s ask where these carrots came from.” As they get older, you can offer more information, and use it as an educational tool. “Well, the reason we don’t want you to have these clothes is because we think they came from a company that forces children to do work for them – and we don’t want to support that. But let’s see if we can find out whether that’s true or not. We can call the company, and search for articles about the brand and its labor practices…”
70. There is enough baby stuff on the planet already. Don’t buy new if you can avoid it. If you ask around, or check freecycle, all the cute clothes you could ever want will appear.
71. Consider homeschooling if you can. Not only is it a good energy saver, it can spare your kids some ofthe heavier pressures to consume. It is also a lot of fun for both parents and kids.
72. If an emergency happened while everyone was at school or work, where would you meet up? How would you get in touch if cell phone lines were overloaded? Make a plan, or several plans for who checks on who, where you meet and where you go, and choose a relative that everyone can leave connecting messages with.
73. There is no need for children to know all the bad news. Make adaptation fun – tell them we’re making our presents because homemade things are nicer or that we’re doing it this way because that’s how they did it long ago. Older children need to know about some realities, but young kids should be protected as much as possible.
74. More than half of people who undergo trauma experience depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Know the signs, provide support, and watch children especially. Expect it to take a long time before the symptoms disappear and life gets back to normal. Be understanding.
75. Create household routines that can be adapted even if things change – bedtime routines, the morning cuppa, whatever it is, these provide reassurance and stability for adults and children. Even if the bedtime routine is done by flashlight and the cuppa is hot water poured over mint from your garden, stable routines say “some things have changed, but the essentials remain the same.”
76. If you have young children, buy books for older kids at yard and library sales. Stock up on educational books as well so that if the schools close, you can continue their education. Remember, children who are raised in hard times may not be as excited as you are about reading books on gardening and building – these things may be natural to them. So have books on as wide a range of subjects as possible – mathematics, art, history, politics. And have some escapist material for both children and adults – mysteries, science fiction, comic books, romance novels – everyone needs to be taken away now and again.
77. For disabled family members, make sure your local responders and local utilities know there is someone seriously ill or disabled here. If special treatments are required, learn how to give them whenever possible. Plan your daily life to integrate and include them as much as possible.
78. Pay attention to your marriage/partnership. Stress is a problem for many marriages. Make sure you have healthy, enjoyable ways of dealing with stress, and that even in hard times, your partner knows that you love and are committed to her/him. If you don’t have a partner, consider making it a priority – life is easier as a duo.
79: School buses are very inefficient – they only run 2xs per day – consider getting your community to make use of its existing buses to provide local public transportation.
80. For families with young kids and the elderly or disabled, bicycles may not be an option. Consider a bicycle rickshaw, where passengers sit in front and able bodied people pedal behind. These are very expensive, but it is possible that one could be made by a handy person.
81. If you live in a snowy area, acquire snowshoes or crosscountry skis to facilitate getting around.
82. Consolidate trips whenever possible – do your grocery shopping, your library run, your errands ahead. This involves planning ahead what you will eat, where you will go, so keep records and record expected activities – if your mother’s birthday is next month, make sure you think about the ingredients for her cake and her present while on your monthly shopping trip.
83. If you haven’t ridden a bicycle in a long time, recognize that it will take some practice before you can do it as well as when you were 14.
84. If you have a bad back, recumbent bicycles are more comfortable than regular bikes. They can be purchased or made.
85. If you have to choose between being close to family and community and being close to work, choose work only if you believe your job is quite stable in the long term.
86. If you live within 2-5 miles of shopping, invest in one of those little carts that you drag behind you. There is no reason able bodied people can’t shop on foot at those distances.
87. Honeybees have been in a dangerous decline – attract pollinators like mason bees and other wild bees to your home and garden to ensure reliable crops.
88. If you are adding a backup heating system (or even if you aren’t – your neighbor might be), don’t neglect fire prevention including good extinguishers, escape ladders and 10 year smoke detector batteries.
89. You will keep heat in your house better if you bank it with snow or bales of hay.
90. Sing as often as possible – it will make you happy, provide you with music, and the songs you know by heart will always be with you and your family.
91. Learn to sleep anywhere, in any situation. Self-hypnosis and meditation can help with this. Being able to fall asleep when you cannot change your situation means that you will be rested when the time comes that you can.
92. Pay attention. Look carefully at your surroundings. Notice your weeds, your seasons, the birds at your feeders, the flowers that bloom on the roadsides. Notice your family – look for what they are doing more of, better, and reasons to be happy. Notice your spouse or partner. Show them that you notice. Notice what you are doing – do it carefully and joyfully.
93. Think in terms of turning off, doing without, reusing, making less, rather than keeping your life essentially the way it was with only minor refinements of consumption. It is often better to get rid of the appliance entirely than spend a lot of money finding the most energy efficient option.
94. If others don’t seem to be responding to your message or sharing your concerns, remember that the evidence was there before you saw things too, and that everyone is ready to hear things at a different time. Don’t stop trying, but be gentle and respect the time people need to adapt.
95. Distinguish between present scarcity and future scarcity – try and be more generous, more appreciative of abundance now when we have it. It is easy to look at the future and feel we are already enduring deprivation, to horde and panic. Remember, we are here now, and there is much to enjoy.
96. For every new project you take on, consider letting something else go – if you are going to begin canning your vegetables, consider giving up vacuuming every day, and put it off. If you are getting involved in community affairs, cut down on the number of long phone calls with people you don’t like. Try and cut out something you hate but do because you feel you have to, and replace it with something you enjoy, that also helps you prepare.
97. Try and look cool. Of course it feels weird to say, “nope, I’m going to walk 3 miles to work” or “nope, sorry, we’re not buying anything new this year.” Do it with class and elan – pretend you are having fun, and leading the pack, even if you feel weird. The weirdness will go away on its own.
98. Learn to like your work. If you hate your job, either find a different one that serves your goals, or if you can’t, minimize your needs so that you can spend as little time working as possible and devote yourself to the other things you do. Try and do work that helps others, improves the world, improves your life. At a minimum, try to do no harm. And try and take pleasure in the work you will be doing in the future. We can choose what we enjoy in many cases.
99. Think of peak oil and the other challenges that face us as an optimization exercise – how do I get the most fun, the best life, the most happiness, the most love, with the fewest inputs – the least money, the least energy, the least waste. Get excited about making it work.
100. Find your special “thing” – your passion, your interest, your delight that will make the post peak world better. Peak oil will affect our whole lives – so find the one thing that needs doing most urgently that you care most about, and fix it. Find an underserved population and serve them. Find an unfilled niche and fill it. Find a loss or a need and help mend it. While the future will demand a diverse set of skills, it will also demand passion and energy. No one can fix everything at once – focus on your passion.