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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Silver linings

By Aurora@Island Dreaming

The UK is heading full tilt into another recession, not that it feels, for most people, like the last one has actually ended. We are warned daily of the possibility of the collapse of the Eurozone, on the need for austerity, on the consequences of high unemployment, high inflation, a 'lost generation', riots, civil unrest, a 'lost decade', or even permanent decline. Where once you would read of these things only in peak oil and select 'doomer' forums, these concepts are being trotted out before our very eyes in mainstream newspapers and news programs. There was even a lighthearted comment piece on stockpiling (and why it might not be so dumb and reactionary) in one of our broadsheets this week.

I know that many of us would have seen these events looming on the horizon and have been exasperated every time a politician or economist stood up and said that the turbulence of recent years was caused by 'black swan events' or 'unforeseeable circumstances'. Whilst the joys of a simpler life are self evident when you have actually adopted that life, the other upside is that you are exposed to the reality of a world intent on cannibalizing itself. When you begin to pay off your debts, reduce your consumption and start to take care of your own little patch of earth, the din of those around you running in the opposite direction is deafening.

One of the silver linings of all this, is the number of people who are starting to turn in our direction, whether through necessity or by choice. Some will rally hopelessly against the new limits being imposed and stretch every sinew to maintain what they see as their 'standard of living'. Others will hopefully start to look instead, in the absence of material goods and perhaps increasingly for many, material comfort, for the contentment  that can exist beyond those things.

I occasionally check in on Facebook and more so in recent weeks, because the nature of the comments and status updates have changed. I haven't changed my friendship group, but the nature of the comment feeds has definitely improved for the better in my eyes. Where once there were reams of updates about shopping, clubbing, needs, wants monthly overspending and excess, I  now see lots of references to home baking, to gardening, to making Christmas presents this year instead of buying. There is even the odd beer brewing comment. There are groups of friends getting together to knit, to fund raise, to cook.

This is reassuring for someone who has always felt a little out of step with the majority of her friends and acquaintances. It is keeping me sane through some tough times, that the response to this newest crisis is slightly more creative than the response to the last one.

Where are you finding your silver linings these days?


dixiebelle said...

In apples!

Great post, Aurora!

The Smiths said...

That's so true.

We follow Rob Hopkins on the Transition Culture blog & it's definitely growing... We certainly have had more interest in our group just lately.

It's all good - let's hope it continues!

Kay :)

Gavin said...

my silver lining is the crowds I am now getting at my sustainable living workshops. Last beer making workshop we had 14 people turn up!

Good post Aurora!


angela said...

I know exactely how you feel. In Australia our economy is still pretty good and the hard times really havnt hit yet, but with the crisis in the eurozone, we are being warned that its only a matter of time. maybe then Ill be vindicated, who knows

louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife said...

I see a silver lining like I think you do, Aurora - that it'll be a wake up call for people who have lived wastefully for the last decade plus - wasting money and resources because it seemed normal.

I'm 32 and it seems my generation has been perfectly ruined (like the generation that came of age during the boom years of the 1980s) because of the years of credit & idea that there was plenty of free money out there (in the house market especially) for the taking. I was reading a (non-simple living, non-personal finance) forum the other day and people were talking about having five-figure debt, in addition to mortgages and credit cards, as "normal debt that everyone has". NO!

I'm not sure that many of my friends will come around to more than the occasional spot of home baking or home brew, but I'm hoping that they just stop wasting their money on tat, cheap clothes and the latest electronics, and instead start to think more careful about buying things that'll last, supporting local businesses and not giving in to ihype etc.