Oh, Give Me a Home…

Oh, Give Me a Home…

ByGroovy Green Apr 9, 2008

Wendy, who writes an interesting blog, has been working through the pros and cons of living in the suburbs as we approach the Peak Oil energy descent. What I find most compelling about his discussions is that she is like any of us. She’s struggling to figure out if the suburbs are her home, or if she needs a house and some land to survive. While she talks about it she walks you through her thinking. Whether you agree with it or not, she make some compelling arguments. She has been kind enough to allow us to bring her serious of posts over to our site to share with a bigger world, which I will be doing over the next few days.


Today was a holiday. Seriously. It’s like President’s Day or something, I think. Anyway, my client’s office wasn’t open today, which means my normal “work day” was spent doing not much of anything. I sat on the computer most of the day … well, not “on” the computer, because that would have been very uncomfortable, and, well, I’m not sure my computer would have been able to support my weight – not that I’m big or anything.

Anyway, I read through the blogroll this morning before lunch. Then, I read back through the blogroll after lunch, but there was nothing new. So, I sent off a couple of email messages for another client, and then I went back through the blogroll again.

Okay, seriously, people. Update – regularly! Especially on holidays. I really need something to do.

This evening, after dinner, I started reading through other people’s blog rolls.

Through the Riot4Austerity site, I found this article.

The authors discuss a phenomenon they term the Waking Up Syndrome. Basically, they say that with all of the news regarding Peak Oil, climate change and the weakening economy, we are being bombarded with terrifying news, almost on a daily basis. As such, we, as a society, are kind of going through a series of stages. There are six.

It was interesting reading through the six stages. I can vividly recall going through each of them, and I believe, that mostly, I’m in the last stage, although there are days, when my life feels very surreal, and it’s hard to keep moving toward sustainability, while I’m so deeply entrenched in a lifestyle that is not, at all, sustainable. Even something as simple as driving my girls to dance class leads to the moral question of “is it okay to continue driving 12 mi there and 12 mi back just for dance?” and the apocalyptic query “how much longer will I be able to do it?”

And, of course, there’s Chinese Food night, when I just say fuck it all and order from our favorite Chinese take-out (an eight mile drive one way). Hey, they have to earn a living, too. Right?

Most of us – those of you who read my blog and whose blogs I read – fluctuate between the stages, but most of us have reached that final stage – the one that has thrown us into action. We’re making changes. Maybe we’re holding onto the hope that “someone” will come up with the “magical solution”, but in the meantime, we’re not sitting idly by, idling our big gas-burning engines. We’re doing something.

For many of us, though, there is a sense of urgency to move. Physically move – our families, our belongings and, as Neo says, “Get me the heck out of here!”

I had it. I had it bad. And two years ago, I even found THE place – a solar passive house on 11 acres way out in the country ….

Sharon recently posted an article on her blog in answer to the oft asked (of her) question regarding where we should live. I liked her answer. Basically, it was, wherever you’re comfortable.

Colin Beaven had a similar post recently. His recommendation is not to run to the hills, a la Scott and Helen Nearing, in search of the Good Life, because, frankly, the best life might just be wherever you are.

I haven’t seen the movie The End of Suburbia. It’s next in line in the Netflix queue. I’m sure it will tell me all of the things I’ve already realized about where I live:

I don’t own a big enough piece of land for a large enough garden to feed the five of us, for waste disposal, and for a reliable water source.

Most suburbs have restrictions on raising livestock, which is an integral part of any homestead (ours doesn’t, but our town has some pretty restrictive land-use ordinances).

We’re just far enough off the beaten path to be dependent on fossil-fueled transportation for most of our needs.

All of those articles I read in the last few days got me to thinking. My family will be going through some big changes in the next year, and it’s more likely than not that I will be a suburbanite for the rest of my life (which will hopefully span no less than six more decades ;) .

That idea used to bother me. I used to yearn for the acreage out in the country, but my belief that Peak Oil IS a reality has resulted in the realization that being in suburbia is exactly where I want to be for many reasons. One of the most compelling being that I ain’t gettin’ any younger, and being completely self-sufficient with a lot of land to manage might be more than this suburban slob can handle.

In addition, Colin Beaven makes a very good point – If 16 million New Yorkers moved to the countryside to escape from city life, the devastation would be terrible. It wouldn’t be any better if all of us suburbanites tried to find our niche out in the “country.”

What I’ve realized is that living in the suburbs can have benefits that living in other places doesn’t have. I’m hoping to explore that idea. Maybe by the time I’m finished, I’ll be completely convinced ;) …

Or maybe I’ll be checking to see of that solar passive house is back on the market.

Coming soon: What makes a suburb a suburb?