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Showing posts with label Emergency Preparedness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emergency Preparedness. Show all posts

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Safe Travel WIth Little Kids

By Danelle at The Stamps Family Farm

This weekend I traveled from the rural countryside to Chicago with my three kids, ages 7, 3, and 1. I did this on my own, since my husband has to take care of the farm animals and we're lambing. 

For historical record, this was the weekend of the NATO 2012 conference and Chicago was on high alert. I was delivering pork and couldn't reschedule. Chicago folks assured me that it was safe and navigable. And it was.

This got me thinking about sharing how I do museum and field trips with my littles. They are pretty young, like to run, and like to touch things. One of them also likes to lick things and she's not the baby. I usually like to take them to places during off hours with little to no crowds, but in Chicago that was not possible. It was loud, crowded, and busy. 

Here are a few things I did to make keeping track of them a little easier on me and safer for them.

Wardrobe: 
  1. Shoes without laces. I was not about to stop and retie over and over, nor did I want them tripping. 
  2. All kids and mama in the same bright colour the entire weekend. We went to a thrift store and bought 10 orange shirts in various sizes. That's all they wore for the trip, even for jammies. This way they (and me) get used to seeing each other in that colour and .can register it faster in a crowd or a panic. 
  3. Black permanent marker, written on their skin on their backs my name and cell phone number. Why? If they get lost, they can tell someone that's where the data is. It isn't somewhere they can see it and mess with it. If they were to get snatched (unlikely)- that data won't wash off and is easily checked for by authorities. I got the idea from a medical show, patients writing on good limbs or bellies to remind docs which things they didn't want done. It occurred to me that a kidnapper (again, unlikely) could change the kid's hair and clothes easily but permanent marker takes 21 days or harsh chemicals to remove if they even realize that the data is there. Ha. 
  4. Hair. Down. They usually wear pony or pig tails. Let's just be honest here- in close traveling quarters that style is too tempting to pull and yank on and sibling fights will escalate. Trust me, I know.
  5. Extra clothes. We had extra orange shirts. One of the girls threw up in the car, and changed right away into another orange shirt. Ice cream has necessitated clothing changes too. These are kids, kids eat messy. 

Food:
  1. Protein for breakfast. Forgo the hotel sweets and go for eggs and sausage (except for the last day and sugar crash them for the drive home!). 
  2. Bring snacks. We brought in our very small bag venison meat sticks, cheese, and water. 
  3. Water. Drink it.
  4. Dinner. Lunch. Snacks. Try and bring food the kids are used to. New foods or processed foods they are not used to eating can upset their bellies. Nothing like a vacation full of vomiting in the car, poop emergencies at the art museum.  Bring food you know they like and won't upset their digestion.
  5. Get them to eat, but don't force the issue. Excitement makes my kids not want to eat. Pick your battles.
The baby:
  1. Baby wear. Much easier than trying to haul a stroller. Sometimes my 4 yo will take off and I can chase her with the baby tied on. A stroller full of baby doesn't allow that.
  2. Only bring out of the car what you will need for the amount of time. 2 diapers max for 3 hours is what I need. Why haul a diaper bag all over for that? Two disposables will fit one in each pocket.  Cell phone with one, credit card and cash in the other (front pocket). 
  3. Water, sippy, snacks. I also try and plan the intensive activities around his nap (in the baby carrier) so I can guide and talk to the girls better. 
  4. He gets the marker treatment too, but really, since he is ties to my chest, he isn't really a flight or baby stealer risk.
In the Car:
  1. Music they like. Nothing is more aggravating to a kid than being forced to listen to talk radio for a 7 hour car trip. Find kid music that won't drive you batty either. I like They Might Be Giants. The Beatles is another favourite. Kids like oldies they can sing to. 
  2. DVD player. When things get tense, break out a never before seen classic cartoon. Works every time. No one can say they hate it if they have never seen it.
  3. New sticker books. Puzzle paper. Crayons. Fresh brand new crayons are always a treat at our house.
  4. "Box of ponies". My girls love My Little Pony dolls. They can brush their hair and sort the dolls while buckled in.
  5. Song games, I spy, just talking.  
  6.  Lots of potty breaks, big movement breaks, fresh air run around and play breaks. They are kids and kids need to move. 
  • General Reminders:
  • Keep phone charged and on at all times.
  • Don't carry a lot of cash
  • Be aware of who is around you and where
  • PAPER MAPS- GPS can fail, be wrong, or suddenly die. And then you will be scared and lost and a little freaked out (like I was in Houston two years ago). GPS is fine, but keep the paper maps close by anyway.
  • Print off a list of local hospitals


What do you do to keep kids safe while traveling?






Saturday, February 25, 2012

Preparedness


by Linda from The Witches Kitchen


It's raining. Again. Second La Nina year in a row.  It's cooler and wetter than usual, but this is the hottest La Nina year on record, with warming seas amplifying the normal La Nina effect.I live high on a hill, well out of flood range, but my garden is too soggy to work in and I'm a bit worried about the causeway flooding again and preventing me getting to work on Monday.

It's times like this that I am very glad that I live in a functional community. We have been flooded in several times over the last few months. The flooding before last washed away a ford over a creek leading into our valley. As a temporary fix, a mob of us spent a couple of hours chucking rocks, by hand, to create a temporary ford. Much too hard a work to do by hand on your own, but with enough people it was not just an effective short term solution, but quite a fun way to spend a morning.

It washed away again in floods this week. When you are isolated, it's nice to be isolated with people you enjoy inviting for dinner, people who you can borrow a cup of sugar from, people who check whether you want anything in town if they can get through, people with the skills to get a pump going or do first aid if needed.

It's times like this though that also show up the challenges of living in a community. We are planning how to go about building a concrete, more permanent ford in the dry season. The decision needs to weigh up a whole batch of factors of varying priority - cost and workload, sharing the cost and workload, enabling fish to move up the creek, keeping petrochemicals out of the creek, a design that will not be washed away in floods, vehicle wear and tear, timing, risk and experiment.

Reaching agreement between a few dozen people on something complex like this takes real skills - framing ideas, listening, admitting uncertainty, juggling not just your own set of factors into consideration but adding more.

I overheard a conversation about climate change in the street yesterday. Actually, it wasn't so much a conversation as a tirade... global conspiracy by scientists to hoodwink the public...all about money.... biggest mob of baloney...country people know the weather just goes through cycles, always has...ice ages...

I thought of all the counter arguments - the implausibility of a global conspiracy of scientists, the independently measured data, the scientific understanding of weather cycles over millenia taken into account, basic physics, exponential mathematics, precautionary principle and the fact that we have only one painfully beautiful planet to run the experiment on.

But all that is beside the point. Listening to the discussion, it suddenly occurred to me: I'm glad I don't have to work with this bloke on designing a ford across the creek.

Independence and self-sufficiency are all very well when everything is going smoothly, but in floods and bushfires, food shortages and fuel shortages, community counts for a lot, and the skills to create it are good skills to have.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Beauty in the Every Day

by Danelle Stamps at The Stamps Family Farm

There are some days when farming and simple living are anything but simple. There are some days where living this life, caring for animals and land and people is just so breathtakingly hard that doing chores in -40 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures with 60 miles per hour winds is preferable to facing the daily realities of farming. 

Animals die. Crops get flooded out. Children get sick. And the sun still rises in the East every morning.

This last year has had some hard lessons. We lost 15 pigs total to disease and heat. Preventable disease, but we didn't know enough to have vaccinated them and they died. We lost two llamas to a parasite because we didn't know enough about regular worming. We are armatures let loose to learn hard lessons at the expense of our livestock and no amount of book learning or Internet websites can take the place of these hard realities. 

But we are still here. Still farming. And these experiences made us better stewards of our flock. We know more about disease management and animal care and nutrition. 

You just have to know, if you are going into farming with no experience or mentors or help, it isn't easy.

That said, I started to sit down and write this week's post about finding beauty in the harshness of winter or farm life or daily grind. 


 Instead, I'd like to pose a question: What lessons have you had to learn the hard way? What losses built your skills? What things should new farmers know before going into it feet first?


My top four: 

Get to know your local vet, explain what you want to do and ask for advice, supply lists, and a lesson in how to administer shots. Ask how or where it is proper to dispose of animal carcass, especially if there is a burn ban.

Practice or list out what to do in an emergency. Who to call. Where supplies are. What and where to go.

How will you handle failure? Really. What things will you have in place to mourn your losses, to do things better, to not beat yourself up when you need to be working on making things better. 

Winter food supply for livestock. Last year, mid winter we had to frantically make calls to get more hay delivered. This year, all was purchased in October and stored well. The only mishap we have had is a dropped round bale on our truck (damaged the truck bed door). 


As with anything, make time for yourself. Each moment get ready for the next one and live it with grace. That is beauty. That is life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Plan B?

Bel

A friend sent me this link to a video of Ireland's Financial Expert Eddie Hobbs advising people to get out of the Euro as it is going to collapse.  To understand a little more about why this is seeming inevitable, I watched this video.

I'm no economist.  In fact, I barely understand the concepts being discussed in these clips.  But it seems to me that the writing's on the wall...


What is your personal reaction to the current state of our global economy?

Are you moving your money? Using an alternative economy (like LETS)?  Stockpiling?  Growing more food?  Chaging jobs?  Investing in precious metals?  Seems like all of these activities (and more) are no longer the realm of 'preppers' - people everywhere are getting nervous...  I'm keen to hear what other simple, green, frugal folk are thinking, please comment!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Taking Stock

Posted by Bel
from Spiral Garden

I don't mean the stock we use for cooking - though we do make bone broth, chicken stock and vegetable stock concentrate at home to cook with, and I can post about that another time!

Living with a large family, on a farm, we tend to accumulate 'stuff' - not through excessive shopping habits, just by keeping what we do have - reusing jars and plant pots, saving hand-me-downs for younger children, etc.

We have recently been changing the way we store things.  The children gave up their unloved old cubby house, which created an instant gardening shed for me!  I was able to sort through all the pots, tools and hose fittings which I previously kept on a table in a dark corner of the shed.  I parted with some of the pots for other gardeners to re-use.  I found that we had a lot of mis-matched hose fittings, but not really a spare full set to fit our tap size, so I bought a nice brass set in the hope that it will outlast the plastic ones which don't seem to cope with our high UV levels here.  With all the spiders sent on their way and everything sorted into piles and open crates, I felt much less overwhelmed by our gardening paraphanalia (bits and pieces collected over nearly 20 years of playing in the dirt)!


The same week, my husband finished constructing a 6m x 3m shed that we'd salvaged from someone's backyard a year ago.  Finally the kids' bikes could be moved from the lean-to at the front of the milking shed, and all their sports gear and outdoor toys could be moved out of the corner of the shed too.  We found some broken toys and outgrown items lingering in the bottom of the drawers and crates - so here was another good chance for a clean out!

And in the very same week we were moving things around and now have storage space for our pantry items.  So I've been taking stock off all our stored food (we order much of our food in bulk every 6 months), the preserving jars (empty and full), emergency supplies for cyclone season (like candles, matches, water, tinned food, etc), and even our camping supplies, clothes stored for the youngest two children (outgrown by the older ones), out-of-season clothes of mine and other 'stored' items.


I hardly know what to do with all this extra space we suddenly have - it's a little overwhelming!  I'm trying to organise our new spaces in an ordered manner so that clutter doesn't build up (I was glad to find that with all the re-arranging there wasn't very much we didn't use - unlike my 9 year old's bedroom last month which we realised was housing bags full of outgrown clothing and toys!).


It seems like this year Spring really is time for 'out with the old' for us, and I'm so grateful for the new spaces (at last) and creative storage options.  Now, if only the rain would stop I'd get back out there and tidy up the old shed, with it's newly emptied corners...

Do you have any storage tips?  How do you balance re-using (pots, baling twine, kids' clothes), and clutter?  Does Springtime see you cleaning up and sorting out too?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why Not?

Posted by Bel

from Spiral Garden

Recently I have participated in some community events regarding our local council's 10 year plan. I have been conversing with many people, trying to explain more about what the grass roots groups in our community are attempting and achieving, and why we are concerned about peak resources, about climate, about the economy and about relocalising our region.

People ask me why I bother? They insist that it isn't worth working with any level of government. They don't understand...

When my grandchildren ask me, in decades to come, “What did you do when the human race was becoming crazy with consumerism, destroying pristine environments, forgetting the old ways and worshipping money…?” I feel proud that I can tell them that I did what my heart told me to... Within the capacity of my roles as a mother, a gardener, an educator, a friend, a volunteer, a writer, a citizen – I shared ideas, and I encouraged action. As much as I could, I always walked the talk.

What will you tell your grandchildren?

(Next time I post, I will continue with the organisation topics as promised!)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

How stocked is your store cupboard?


By Aurora @ Island Dreaming


We have been in the process of restocking our store cupboard in recent weeks, in anticipation of my reduced income. For the past year we haven't had a particularly robust store, probably a couple of weeks of mismatched ingredients on hand that we topped up as and when we ran out. This is partly because morning sickness once again put me off all the wholefood staples I normally cook with; and partly because of a few large purchases we needed to make, leaving little money for bulk food shops. In the meantime, food price inflation (and just about everything else inflation) has steadily risen.

We did a shop to end all shops (OK, about 6 months worth of staples) the last time I went on maternity leave. It paid off, 2008 was the year of record food inflation. With hindsight, the 200 tins of cat food was overkill (it certainly was for the poor driver who delivered it to our door; though never before or since has a burly stranger been so admired and adored by our usually skittish cats) but the cupboard full of pulses, grains, frozen veg and tinned tomatoes stood us in very good stead.

There are several reasons that I like to keep several months worth of food on hand:
  • I don't have to shop in supermarkets with any regularity. I hate them, even online shopping is a chore for me. But there are no food Co-ops around here and for bulk shopping in the UK, the big retailers are the only real option for many. 
  • We save on fuel and delivery costs if we do fewer shops.
  • We eat much more healthily when we have a full store cupboard - lots more whole food basics, less impulse purchases at the local shop.
  • We eat much more frugally when we have a full store cupboard - lots more wholefood basics, less impulse purchases at the local shop.
  • It is a lot easier to develop good routines when you always have what you need to hand - bread baking only became routine when we started bulk buying flour, for instance.
  • We can make the best of genuinely good deals on staples - tins of tomatoes and strong bread flour have been recent wins.
  • In an inflationary economic climate, it has saved us money.
  • Knowing I always have food on hand to tide us over any lean patches gives me a sense of security that money in the bank doesn't match.
I know these won't apply to everyone -  for financial reasons some people may choose to build up a store cupboard gradually, whereas we are usually able to put money each month and do it all in one (or two, if we see any particularly good offers) shops every few months before our store is completely exhausted. I know that if I had to rely on public transport or my own two feet I would have to take a more gradual approach. The rest of these points I think remain true however. 

I have seen some passionate debates on forums about food storage and stockpiling - it seems more controversial in the UK than in the US or Australia. I don't understand why as we are the small island that gave the world the phrase '9 meals from anarchy' after the fuel protests of 2000. Some people see storing several months worth of food as alarmist, a symptom of mental illness and even downright immoral. To me it just seems like common sense - a hedge against personal laziness, inflation, unemployment, fuel protests, the wrong kind of snow on the roads or full blown zombie apocalypse.

The food parcel contained some oddities that I wouldn't normally bulk buy - I have about a year's worth of tinned sardines at our present rate of consumption, I haven't eaten corned beef since I was a student and finding a home for 10 bricks of coffee is going to be a challenge in our small kitchen (my hunch is they will end up under the bed), but we are very grateful for the help. We eat well from our pantry, supplemented by fresh produce bought in local shops within walking distance - and hopefully a little more homegrown from the allotment this year.

Personally I think a nation of well stocked cupboards is the way forward in these uncertain times - I would be interested to hear what you think?


Friday, March 4, 2011

Food Security

Posted by Bel
From Spiral Garden

This is related to my recent post about an impending Food Crisis... Not a new topic by any means, but something that I feel is worth bringing to everyone's attention again right now.

The only two suggestions I offered to this global issue were to eat local (grow your own if you can) and eat less meat. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?

Our local LETS group has been running a series of Simply Living Workshops, and last weekend we hosted an afternoon to share methods of growing food. With a group of around 30 people we created salad boxes, no-dig beds and raised beds. These are just three basic styles of food gardens which have been explained here on the Co-op blog as well as numerous other places on the web. All gardening methods can be learned online, through books and magazines, and from your neighbours, family, friends or community organisations. But it's one thing to learn about a garden, and start a garden... Right now is the time to follow through. And after that garden is started, tend it like crazy! I am reminded of a term I first read here in a post by Throwback at Trapper Creek, "Garden like you can't go to the store." Wow! That really hit home to me. Imagine having to eat only from my garden from tomorrow, for a long time! What was once a hobby is looking more and more like a necessity.

Image from technabob

In response to the many comments I received on the Food Crisis post, I'd like to summarise...
  • Identify local sources of food and support these producers now. Don't wait until crisis hits and you need them.
  • Eating less mass-produced meat is one way to make the available food go further. It generally takes more than 10 kilograms of grain to raise 1kg of meat for our consumption. Pasture-fed and wild meat of course have much less impact.
  • Grow nutrient-dense foods, not just what you like to eat. Sure, plant what you like to eat, but make room for foods which I call 'survival foods'. Depending on your location and circumstances these could include, but would not be limited to: sprouts (indoors), high-protein leafy greens, perennial tubers, high-yielding beans to dry and berries. Reconsider edible "weeds" and local wild foods. Get (at least) a couple of chickens, if you can.
  • Stockpile basic food, but don't rely on a stockpile alone. And please invest in stockpiling basic grains/flour, oil, dried legumes etc before you stock up on snacks or any other luxuries. In the event of any emergency, it's pertinent to have non-electric ways to prepare these basic stockpiled ingredients... A manual grain mill, an alternative cooking method and appropriate pot, recipes, salt/herbs/spices, etc.
This is the way we live our lives, except for gardening like there is no store. And that's my mission for this season. We've been tackling a huge To Do List out in the garden after our recent cyclones and torrential rain, and we're looking forward to expanding upon our ever-faithful perennial plants over the coming weeks. For me, this is no longer about saving a few dollars, learning a new skill, getting some mental-health time or exercise...

Are you feeling like it's time for action? What Simple, Green or Frugal changes seem more urgent to you in this current situation? Is this reflected in your local community too?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Food Crisis

Posted by Bel
From Spiral Garden

Plato said that society is "just a few meals away from babarism." And I guess it is more true in our modern age than ever before. Apparently, the British M15 use a 'four meals away from anarchy' scale to evaluate threats.

I typed 'food crisis 2011' into a search engine and got over 54 million results. Okay, so I don't watch or listen to much news, but I the last person to hear about this?

I don't really understand enough about the global food market, but
it seems like there are predictions of ramifications for all of us this time, not just those nations forced to import food or those having issues growing their own at the moment. It seems everything is so out of balance that the crisis will be felt globally. Usually, because we live in a wealthy country, we seem to just absorb the cost when grain prices double overnight (as rice did a couple of years ago, and wheat has before too). But what about when more than one crop is affected? And what about our neighbours?

It seems to me that there are several causes to consider:
Our government doesn't value the agricultural industry
A lot of our country's farms are foreign owned
Peak Oil
Climate Change (or a lot of bad weather, if you don't subscribe to the climate change theory)


And there are things we can all do:
Eat local - grow your own if you can
Eat less meat (or stick to grass-fed, wild and other, more sustainable, choices)

Food shortages have been an ongoing global issue for much of modern history. But I bet there wasn't over 54 million search engine results until 2011, when the majority of the western world is facing something most of us have only witnessed through the media to date...

How do you feel about the current food crisis situation? What are you doing personally to prepare? What about your local community - is simple, green, frugal catching on?

Further Reading:
Food Security
Local Food
Peak Oil
Climate Change
Transition Network

Monday, November 29, 2010

Preparedness in the barnyard

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

Most conversations about preparedness center around the household. All well and good. But in our modern homesteading world many times we stock our pantries very well, but the barn cupboard may be a little bare. It's pretty easy to run to the feedstore and pick up a bale or two, a bag of scratch or alfalfa pellets. We are an on-demand society of consumers, but to be more self-reliant we need to scale back our on-demand ways a little in regards to our livestock that help us produce food, fiber etc., for our table.

In our area that normally doesn't really experience any long-lasting winter storms, when one does hit, it's not unusual to see people unprepared for the cold, and wintry weather, so I won't write about water and feeding systems for areas that always experience months of freezing weather, rather I will dwell on having flexible systems and supplies on hand just in case, for more moderate climes that experience short duration storms. Consider this a drill for a real emergency. Winter is a good time to assess your stock keeping capabilities. Do you have enough storage for feed, adequate water, enough money to keep your stock all winter? Can you get more feed, if needed? Do you have like animals in groups, or pairs so they can keep warm and commiserate? Nothing worse than a lonely pig... . And a huge one - do you have enough time to do extra care taking during the cold weather if need be?

Keeping stock hydrated goes a long way towards helping them cope with cold temperatures. We like these tough, Rubbermaid water troughs. We sometimes have to chop a little ice, but you can save yourself some trouble by only putting out the water the stock actually needs for a day. The 50 gallon trough in this photo is for my daughter's horse. She only puts in what he will drink for the day, and she dumps it at night. Less water, less ice. She places his trough within reach of a hose, and when she is done, she drains the hose and puts it away. Nothing worse than having a frozen hose full of ice.

The cows only drink once a day also in this cold weather. I feed them, they tank up on hay, and then come and drink. When we fed outside all winter, and they went to the canyon for water, they would all trail to water once a day, and according to rank, drink their fill and then trail back to bed down and ruminate. Anthropomorphizing makes us think the animals need all the comforts we have, like running water at all times, and feed all the time. But they really can be comfortable with the basics. Don't go overboard - especially during stressful times during storms. You have to take care of yourself too.

Being prepared by having extra feed on hand can be a life saver. Plus, livestock need to eat more during cold weather in order to stay warm, it's amazing how fast a growing pig will go through feed in a cold snap. One thing that helps is to have a higher protein feed source available for cold snaps. Feed your best hay, bump your chickens up to grower ration, throw a little extra something to the pigs. It all helps.

And there is something to be said for only taking the bare necessities of stock through the winter, and keeping a seasonal schedule. On our farm, we don't want any young stock that couldn't be weaned if a catastrophe arose, and we time breeding for no babies being born this time of year. Sure, it makes for good dramatic blog entries to be risking life and limb to save a piglet or calf from the cold. But in reality, it is kind of cruel to animals and their tenders alike and is just another unintended consequence of our on-demand society. There is no seasonal differences in the grocery store - just one big ol' homogenized food storage area. If you want to grow your own food, grow it, and grow it in season.

Back to the subject of water, these small indestructible tubs are great too, for small stock. We use a gravity flow bell waterer for the chickens, but despite being placed on the south side of the greenhouse for thawing, that assumes we get sun. That doesn't always happen. To keep chickens laying eggs in the winter, it is imperative they have water during the day. Usually a tub like this suffices until the thaw. Just a stop gap measure, but it does work and is easy to clean when it gets soiled. These also work good for pigs for a short spell, it's just that pigs like to play, and inevitably that water tub will end up in the pig toilet area, with smirking pigs looking on while you retrieve it for them. I have yet to see hens do that...


This past cold spell brought a few house fires due to heat lamps being used for urban flocks. Chickens are incredibly hardy when fully feathered. Which is another reason to not have babies during winter. If your chickens have a dry, secure place to bed down at night and have been properly fed and hydrated during the day, they DO NOT need heat lamps or lights to keep them warm, and adding a light at night can throw off the egg laying schedule too.

So, to make things go easier during the inclement weather, stock up as much as finances allow on:
Feed - hay, grain, milk replacers, etc.
Bedding material
Minerals
Livestock medical supplies
Auxiliary species appropriate watering supplies

And hopefully take some time to enjoy the beauty of a winter storm.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Assembling a 1st Aid or Emergency Kit

by Kate
Living The Frugal Life

Recently I was fortunate enough to have a young man with EMT training and work experience as a guest in my home.  When I told him I was interested in putting together first aid kits for my home and car he kindly retrieved his own emergency medical kit from his car and spent about an hour going through it with me, explaining the use of each item.  I thought this would be valuable information to share with the readers here.  This is a summary of what he told me.

Look at a surplus military supply outlet for a good backpack to hold your kit.  It should have one zipper that allows the pack to open up completely and lay flat, so that you can see most or all of your supplies at a glance.  It's helpful to have small slots to hold some medical tools and supplies in place so that they don't jostle around inside.  He also liked the particular pack he carries because it can expand outward by means of "bellows" construction compartments, but the pack can also be fastened down as tightly as the contents allow by means of straps on the outside.


When he opened his pack and laid it out on the floor, one side had a mesh screen which clearly showed the contents of that half of the pack.  Here, he said, he kept the items he might need most quickly, such as:
  • a face mask (for himself), 
  • latex gloves
  • blood stopper bandages - which can either be stuffed into a large wound or rolled all the way around a torso or thigh
  • Quickclot - a powdered substance that can be poured into a large wound to clot it very quickly through chemical action.  Interestingly, he would be prohibited from using this as a working EMT, but it's legal for ordinary people to carry and use.
  • antibacterial, single use towelettes 
  • triangular bandage, which can be used as a sling, comes with safety pins, and is sometimes called a "cravat"
On the other side of his pack he carried the following:
  • saline solution in a spray tip bottle - good for flushing out wounds and many other purposes
  • triple antibiotic ointment - both a large tube and single use packets
  • a space blanket - good for hypothermia victims, but he also said it's a good emergency shelter
  • Sam splint - a splint that can be cut to fit anything from a finger to an elbow, and though flexible, will hold its shape and support a great deal of body weight
  • tampons - sterile and designed to be highly absorbent, so as good for puncture wounds as for menstruation
  • fabric tape and water proof tape - good for all kinds of bandaging and splinting
  • Ace coflex bandage - looks like the familiar tan fabric binding, but this stuff sticks to itself which is very useful when you need a lot of pressure applied constantly
  • Instant cold pack - a chemical snap pack that can provide instant cold, but only over a very short period
  • burn gel - a liquid coated bandage used as first treatment for a relatively small 2nd or 3rd degree burn
  • sterile gauze pads in various sizes
In the outer pockets of his backpack were other items, such as:
  • plastic oral pharyngeal airways, also called "artificial airways" - these come in graduated sizes and are placed all the way at the back of the mouth of an unconscious person to maintain an open airway
  • medical shears - he said they'll cut through absolutely anything a person might be wearing, critical if you need to get at a bullet wound or cut through an underwire bra to use a defibrillator
  • CPR masks - these provide a one-way barrier against infection, in favor of the person providing aid
  • tongue depressors - good for depressing tongues or improvising finger splints
  • hemostats (2) - he said the most likely scenario for him to use them would be if he were to help a woman deliver a baby
  • seat belt cutter - looks like some envelope cutters I've seen, but used to safely and quickly cut through a seat belt to remove an accident victim from a vehicle
  • window punch - used to shatter tempered glass in cars, but won't work on the windshield, only side windows, and you need to wear a glove when using one of these
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • glucose gel - for diabetics in a coma
  • ear plugs
He also recommended a website to me as a good place to find the sorts of supplies he carries at very reasonable rates.  Although you must order from Moore Medical in bulk quantities, he said that the bulk quantities weren't huge, and in any case you'd often pay the same price for one or two bandages at a drug store as you'd pay for 100 by ordering through the website.   It seems to me that since I want three separate kits anyway, buying in bulk isn't so very unreasonable.  If I can find even one other family who wants one kit for their home and two for their vehicles, that's a six-way split for any items purchased in bulk.

Taking a first aid class and putting together first aid kits has been on my goal list since the beginning of this year. Although I have yet to schedule my husband and myself for Red Cross classes, I now feel that I can at least get started with putting together some basic supplies.  And perhaps paying attention to such hope-we-never-need-it stuff will encourage me to find a class at a time convenient to both of us.  


Do you have first aid or emergency kits in your home or vehicle?  If you do and you include any items not listed here, please share in the comments.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Skills to Survive

I had an interesting conversation with some friends the other day about the skill set many of us have in our modern world and the skill set people had 200 years ago. Many of us now have skills that aren't directly linked to our survival. My skills as an business manager earn me a salary of money which I then give to a grocery store to buy food which it purchased from someone else. If something drastic happened in our world and we could no longer earn money, or if we could no longer buy food at a grocery store many people would be in a huge pickle. This is because our skills are no longer directly linked to our survival.

There are many of us that are trying to learn these basic survival skills once again, things like growing food, raising poultry, hunting, eating seasonally, canning, baking, building, sewing, knitting, spinning, etc. Some of us were lucky and grew up with parents that grew food, mom's that cooked from scratch and dad's that built furniture in the garage. Others weren't so lucky. Even if we were lucky enough to have parents that were into that sort of thing, most likely we didn't pay attention or hated gardening, or perhaps they just didn't do some things you are now interested in. As a result many of us are now trying to learn these skills through the internet, books, videos and from others.

One of the things I've noticed as I strive to learn new skills is that there's a huge overload of information. It can be difficult to glean the good stuff from the bad. I find it amusing sometimes when I read a book about something like keeping chickens that was written by someone that didn't grow up with chickens and just learned about them a few years ago. They often say things in the book that seem completely ridiculous and go against the way nature intended things to be. Books can be a good source of info, but they can also be completely wrong or not as in depth as they should be. Sometimes they completely gloss over important information. When researching a new topic I usually read 5-10 books about it and then assimilate all the information from the various sources. Usually I end up with a pretty good idea of how it should be done.

I find a lot of wonderful information on blogs and through internet friends (like all of you). Blogs are a great way to connect with others that are like-minded not only for advice and information, but also to have a support network. The connections I've made through blogging are not only a great source of information, but also a wonderful network of support!

I have also been working on building a network of local people that have some of the skills I don't posses so I can purchase or barter for their goods or services and learn from them. I have yet to be able to raise chickens or keep dairy cows, but I have a small local farm where I get these items. I know that I can rely on them to provide me with quality milk, eggs and meat and I'm so much happier giving them my money. Bartering is also a great option when you have developed a small local network for the things you need. One spring I traded 50 tomato seedlings for a good amount of pastured meat from a local farmer. I have also traded elderberries and other items for items I can't produce myself.

I am now confident that I have many of the skills needed to survive should I ever need them. Lets hope we never need these skills for some major disaster, but it may well be that they'll come in handy during a localized natural disaster or even an extended season of unemployment. I'm more comfortable knowing that I have a safety net, beyond our monetary emergency fund, in the skills I've taken the time to cultivate over the last 5 years. I would hate to be scrambling to learn these things when I needed them most.

What kinds of survival skills have you been learning over the past couple years? Where do you find the best information?

I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Not Dabbling in Normal, and you can follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Living Through Changes

written by Gavin, from The Greening of Gavin.

When openly embracing a simple, green, or frugal lifestyle, you will inevitably have to make some changes to your current way of living.  In the fourth of my not so obvious series of posts about green psychology, I will try to explain the different stages of change, and what to expect when embarking on your journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle.  Please note that I am not a psychologist, just someone who has gone through an incredible change, and hopefully can articulate from experience what each stage feels like. The information provided is a rehash of many sources found on the web, that I have collated into a sensible format.

During my life's journey I have found that change is an unusual and personal thing. I have noticed that some people embrace it and find it exciting, while others resist it with their very last ounce of strength.  Why is that so, I have often asked myself?  Why would humans rather endure pain and discomfort of the status quo than change for the better.  Usually, the change happens when they realise that the pain of the status quo is a worse place to be than the change itself or the new reality. Change can be made by you or made to you.  I prefer the former!

Lets dig a bit deeper to discover the emotional stages that happen when humans are confronted with a change.  I found this diagram below which is a seven-stage adaptation of the five stages of grief identified by Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross, the acknowledged expert on grief and bereavement. Following the publication of her book "On Death and Dying (1969)", it became clear to practitioners that the stages in the grief model were transferable to all personal change and had a far wider relevance than just to death and dying.  So, based on the evidence that all change contains some sort of loss, her model is used to this day to map where an individual is at any given stage of a change that is affecting them.  (Click chart to enlarge)


Now, although the stages are fairly consistent for each change you may experience, the speed at which you move through the stages varies from person to person.  You could fly through the first two stages and get stuck in Self Doubt for ages before you finally accept the change, or you could whiz through to Experimentation in just a day.  It all depends on how expectant or open your mind was for the change.

Lets go through each stage whereby I have attempted to articulate the types of emotions that you may (or may not) experience during the stage:

Stage 1 - Shock.  This reaction is usually immediate and from experience, it can be within a few hours.  Even if you have planned this change, the fact that it is actually upon you will give you a strange feeling of disorientation.   This stage will last longer if it is unexpected.

Stage 2 - Disbelief/Denial.  You have usually managed to get back to everyday life at this point.  Intellectually, you know that the change has happened and what may happen, however emotionally, you may block out the new reality from daily life.  You will probably be processing this new reality in your sub-conscious mind. Cognitive Dissonance usually occurs at this stage, and you are more likely to get stuck in this phase if you are change resistant.

Stage 3 - Self doubt.  This is a very uncomfortable stage.  Old habits and beliefs are no longer relevant, as are some of the things that used to be important to you.  Your sense of identity will be shattered.  You feel a sense of nothingness until you develop a new way of 'being'.  Your confidence will be low, and you may be fearful of the future, become angry, depressed, and have an overwhelming sense of guilt.  I have personally felt doubt as to whether I have made the right decision or whether I am up for the job.  You also may want to seek isolation to mull it over further, and at the same time feel unmotivated.

Stage 4 - Acceptance.  You have come to the decision to accept the change and face the future.  By letting go of the past reality, the pain goes away and finding your new way of being becomes exciting and a challenge rather than a loss.  Your energy levels will be going up, as this stage usually begins just after rock bottom on the emotional scale. You still might not know what you are going to do, but at least you know that your reality has changed.

Stage 5 - Experimentation.  You try something new from the new paradigm, but don't be surprised if you can't stick to the plan.  You could be all over the place, trying little changes to fit with your new reality.  You will still be working it out in your mind, however your energy levels continue to rise.  Try little things before attempting any major change at this stage, because you may slip back to self-doubt if a large experiment goes pear shaped.

Stage 6 - Search for meaning.  When you have embarked on your journey towards your new reality, you may start to appraise where you were before the change occurred, what has happened since, and why.  You will begin to fit your experience into your "life story" and re-examine your view of yourself and the world around you.  You will start to make sense of it all.

Stage 7 - Integration.  At the end of the change process, and all being well, you will be comfortable, confident, and a feeling that you belong or are seeking belonging in your new way of life. 

Now just a realisation on my part.  Change may be difficult at times and for a long period, but it can also be exciting, energising and uplifting.  It is a part of life.  Also remember that just because there is a model, it does not mean that everyone will experience all stages or the same change in the same way as others.  Every person is different and the above model is for guidance only and is based on my own experience.  Yours may differ significantly.

I see major changes happening within our society, and I see many people stuck in stage 2 - Denial/Disbelief which is disheartening.  However lately I have noticed many more people who are more advanced and are well towards the end of the cycle and seeking like minded individuals or groups to enforce their new paradigm.  I often write on my personal blog about the big issues like climate change, peak oil, collapse, and demonstrate the things you can do to soften the blow and assist.  Living a simple, green and frugal lifestyle will help to us no end, as will paying down as much debt as you can.  However, if you have a basic understanding what stage of change you and others around you could possibly be in, it could help to adapt to the current situation in a better way. 

I wish my family and I had have know about the stages of change when I had my very own green epiphany!  Maybe my wife would not have thought I was having an affair at the time.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Little Cash on Hand

by Chiot's Run

There are so many types of emergencies that we need to be prepared for big ones, small ones, short ones and long ones. Chances are, most of us will never experience a big major emergency, but it's wise to be prepared. Your preparation efforts for these large scale emergencies can be built over a period of time (stocking the pantry, water filters, generator, emergency heater, etc). The small emergencies are the ones we really need to be ready for right now, they can happen to any of us at any time. What kinds of things do we need to be prepared for a small emergency, especially those you might encounter while away from home? Here are a few things you should carry in your vehicles or in your purse so you're prepared for those small emergencies that may arise while you're out and about.

In our cashless society it's easy to never have to carry any cash, but there are times when it's necessary. You may think you can run to the ATM for some cash if you need it, but if a storm comes through and the electric is out that might not be the case. Several years ago we had the remnants of a hurricane roll through and we were without power for 4 days. Not only were we without power, but so was the surrounding area. The bank didn't have power at first and the ATM was not working, the local gas station didn't have power to run their credit card machines and they were only accepting cash. Fortunately we had some cash to cover what we needed at the time. Maybe you won't experience a loss of power and the ATM being closed, but it could be something much more simple. Like being somewhere and needing $10 in cash and realizing you don't have any in your wallet, perhaps your husband grabbed it or one of your kids needed it for school. Or maybe you stop for gas and realize they don't take credit (there are still stations around here like that). It's always wise to have a little cash stashed in the car just in case. You can determine what amount makes you comfortable, or what you think with comfortably cover any "emergency" you many have, perhaps enough to cover a tank of gas is a good rule of thumb. Keeping some cash around the house is also a good idea, keep whatever amount you think will comfortably cover a few emergency needs.

Make sure you have supplies in your vehicles for minor medical emergencies. Keep a first aid kit in your vehicle at all times and make sure it's stocked. We have a kit in each of our cars and each year I get it out and make sure it's stocked with fresh supplies, swap out aspirin/meds and check to make sure the bandaids are still sticky. You don't want to be stuck needing them and not having them or having them be out of date. You don't have to buy a special one, but they are handy if you don't have the time to make one yourself (here's one that's only $9). Although making a few with your children would be a good way to teach them the value of being prepared.

Keep a few flashlights in your car and even in your purse and a small pocket knife or multi-tool. You never know when a flashlight might come in handy, drop your keys in the ditch, the lights go out in the store, your trunk light goes out. They sell all different sizes of flashlights to fit every need you have, from tiny keychain lights that only cost $5-$10 to big maglites that can take a beating rolling around in your trunk. We have a few of the large ones and I have 5-6 of these Mini Maglites placed all over the house. Of course you need to make sure you have some extra batteries and maybe a spare bulb or two as well. We keep candles in the house, but those aren't really convenient to keep in the car.

Having some water and snacks on hand is also a great idea when you're away from home. It's a great habit to get into, not only will you save money but you'll have some in case you need it. I have a bag that sits by the back door with some homecanned applesauce and bottles of water. Before we head out the door I'll throw in some nuts and dried fruit and a few other snacks. Not only does this allow me to have some healthy snacks in case I'm out longer than expected (which happens often when you're running errands, especially when the closest store is 30 min away), but I also save money because I don't end up buying water or food while I'm out. There area few other other things you might want to consider carrying in your car as well: some string, scissors, jumper cables, blankets in winter, an extra coat, etc.

How do you prepare for those little emergencies? Do you have any great tips for things to carry in the car "Just in Case"?


I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Not Dabbling in Normal, and you can follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Ant and the Grasshopper

antandgrasshopper
by Aesop (620-560 BC).

In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content.  An Ant walked by, grunting as he carried a plump kernel of corn.
"Where are you off to with that heavy thing?" asked the Grasshopper.
Without stopping, the Ant replied, "To our ant hill.  This is the third kernel I've delivered today."
"Why not come and sing with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of working so hard?" 
"I am helping to store food for the winter," said the Ant, "and think you should do the same."

"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; "we have plenty of food right now."
But the Ant went on its way and continued its work.
The weather soon turned cold.  All the food lying in the field was covered with a thick white blanket of snow that even the grasshopper could not dig through.  Soon the Grasshopper found itself dying of hunger.

He staggered to the ants' hill and saw them handing out corn from the stores they had collected in the summer.
Then the Grasshopper knew:

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

 

This Aesop's fable has rung true many times in my life, but none more than it has since my green epiphany.  In my view this story has a much deeper meaning.  I feel that I am the ant, and much of the rampant consumerist society around us all, is the grasshopper.  The grasshoppers of today don't sing and dance, but spend on credit, and don't give a second thought about saving for the future or about future events like climate change, peak oil, and energy decent, to name a few.  They just party like it's 1999!

Will the proverbial grasshoppers of our time learn a valuable lesson before the hard times come?  How many will be knocking on the ant's door or will they just steal it all?  When those hard times are upon us, what will you be?  An Ant who prepares and saves, or a Grasshopper who wants to buy and inevitably gets everything they touch, but needs none of it?

I believe that humanity has partied like the grasshopper, so hard and for so long, that it has squandered much of the planets resources.  We have left a huge mess in our wake, and have left none for "days of necessity".  Now is the time to be frugal and wise like the ant.  I personally have found that living a simple life, and treading lightly on the planet can offer such great rewards that most of today's grasshoppers could never imagine.  How can they feel the sheer joy that goes with voluntary simplicity.  Complexity is a distant memory for me, with meaningful living here to stay.  The grasshopper in the story learnt a valuable lesson.  Work hard when required, and reap the rewards when the time comes.  Live within your means, and save for the future.  Simple really.

Look, don't get me wrong.  I am not trying to push any type of lifestyle on anyone and not trying to be preachy.  Make up your own mind, the choice is yours.  I am just making a comparison of today's social problems against a simple story written by a Greek slave more than two thousand five hundred years ago!

The story gives me hope that others will learn by example and will finally have an a-ha moment of their own.  If we can't learn from the moral from this story today, even during a financial downturn, then when can we? 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Nine Meals From Anarchy?

zombie-gallery_28_blog by Gavin from The Greening of Gavin.

Back in the year 2000, a fuel protest bought London, the capital of the United Kingdom, to within three days of running out of food.  The then Blair government commissioned Lord Cameron of the Countryside Agency to investigate, who came back with a chilling report: "The nation is just nine meals from anarchy."

Lets just think about that for a few minutes.  Only 9 meals between order and chaos.  What did Lord Cameron mean by this?  Will there be zombies knocking on our doors? 

I am only exaggerating to make a point, but a pertinent one at that.   Once again friends, it is all about the supply and demand of crude oil and that simple fact that 'Oil = Food'.   Let me explain.  The majority of our food distribution is what is known as "just in time" distribution.  Your local supermarket only has small stock out the back, and most of the stock on the shelves.  It is transported from large distribution centres by trucks to each supermarket, each day.  These transportation systems use oil which is a finite resource.
So when the transportation flow stops, or in other words, the oil supply gets disrupted, so does our food security.  A recent example were last years floods in Far North Queensland.  Within a few days all of the supermarket shelves were bare, partly because of stockpiling by townsfolk, but mainly because there were no food deliveries via rail or truck for over a week.. Other natural disasters have posed a similar threat.  What if there were no food deliveries for two, three or even four weeks in your area? 

Sounds a bit apocalyptic doesn't it?  I am not trying to scare people, just attempting to make people think about where their next meal or few will come from.  

So what can we do about this?  Well, of course the scouts motto comes to mind, "Be prepared".  Here are a few tips that have kept us going in troubled times.  They are just suggestions and may not suit everyone but they are possible on a small suburban block;
 
Grow your own fruit & vegetables.  By growing your own, you poses the skills to be able to overcome food shortages.  If you can convince your neighbours to grow their own food, then you can swap excess produce.

Get a few chickens.  Chickens are easy to keep, with most councils allowing you to keep a few birds in your back yard.  If you have a large enough backyard, you will also be able to grow feed crops for the hens.  Not only are the eggs a great source of protein, but the manure is just gold for your fruit and vegetables.

Stockpile essentials.  We stockpile essentials, mainly because Kim and I dislike frequent shopping, and feel more secure having a cupboard full of food and personal needs.  Don't forget to practice good stock management, older stuff to the front and newer stuff to the back.  We have had to draw upon the stockpile once so far, when I was laid up for a month in August last year.  We still count our blessings to this day that we thought ahead.  The other good thing about stockpiling is that it gives you room to prepare a backup plan in the event of a prolonged food shortage.  We have about three months of supplies on hand, which would give us ample time to increase our vegetable production.  Don't forget about water either.  Water butts are a handy item to have, and rainwater harvesting will get you out of a pickle if the mains fail.

Preserve excess produce.  If you have more than you need and loath feeding it to the worm farm, learn how to preserve your own food.  I love eating plums in the winter that I have preserved in February.  You can even buy bulk fruit or vegetables from farmers markets and preserve those if you can't grow it yourself.

Menu plan your meals.  During a crisis you are going to have to plan your meals, because the last thing you need is wasted food.  This way you can feel secure in the knowledge that you have the ingredients that you require for the next few weeks.  

Share your skills with others.  As I mentioned above, share your food growing skills with others around you now!  Not only do you help your fellow man (or woman), make good friends, but you build resilience into the community around you.  What is the point of securing your own food supply, when the zombies are knocking at your door trying to get the neighbourhoods only food source?  Share your knowledge in the good times, and you will reap the rewards in the difficult times.  No zombies will visit your neighbourhood because everyone knows how to grow their own!

Read a few good books about all these subjects.  Who knows if the Internet will be available during the crisis you may face, or electricity for that matter.  A good book always beats any other source of information (besides experience) hands down when it comes to crunch time.  Learn now, but keep the information so that you can share with others if the need arises.
As I have said above, this post is not meant to shock you into a stupor of inaction, but just give you food for thought (pardon the pun), and give you some ideas how you can provide your own food security.  I hope I never have to use these skills that I have learned over the last few years, but it is best to be prepared.

To finish off the post, I give you two gems of wisdom:

"By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail."
-- Benjamin Franklin

"People only see what they are prepared to see."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Sense of Urgency?



 

This post is a revamp of an opinion peice that I wrote about a year ago, but it makes even more sense to me today in light of recent world events. 


Since Copenhagen was deemed to have a shallow and listless outcome, I still notice when I talk to people about the seriousness of climate change, peak oil and resource depletion, people still tend to not take me too seriously, for two main reasons:
  1. "If what you say is true, why isn't the government doing a lot more?", and,

  2. "If what you say is true, why aren't there people protesting in the streets? Why isn't there a really big, loud protest movement?"

Both seam like reasonable assumption, but only if they were true.  Even as recently as yesterday, I was talking to a friend who just could not connect the dots about climate change and deforestation in our state and why weather pattens were changing!


So, I believe that one reason for taking drastic public measures in the form of activism, street marches, protests, walk against warming etc. in addition to just making your life simpler, as best you can, is quite simply to create a sense of urgency in the general population. Because right now, that sense of urgency is not there at all, certainly not in the minds of some world leaders.  Mind you, that may change pretty soon if water gets scarce and food supplies dwindle as they are in some parts of the world.

For instance all the factual articles and warnings about prolonged droughts, record heat-waves, bush-fires, melting ice shelves and ice caps that are documented in national newspapers, in posts on environmental blogs similar to mine, and speeches by our political leaders are all thwarted by the mechanism that counteracts the creation of a sense of urgency by the usual means.  Below is a classic example of how this counter-intuitive mechanism works.


A while ago, I was working at in an office tower,  when there was an loud alarm. It sounded like it might be something serious, but I didn't know for sure. So I looked around to see how other people reacted. Since nobody seemed overly worried, I concluded that it was probably not a signal to leave the building, and so I continued working instead of running down the fire stairs Sure enough, it turned out to have been some technical glitch with the alarm system in the entire building. 

The same phenomenon occurs in the larger context. When ordinary people read about truly alarming stuff in the newspaper, hear it on the radio, or see it on TV, they will check around them to see how everybody else is reacting. If other people don't seem to be overly worried, they'll shrug, decide that the alarming report was probably exaggerated, and continue about their daily business. 

Only in the case of climate change, peak oil and resource depletion, we know it's not a technical glitch, and it's not an exaggeration, either. They really should be worried. By not being worried, right now, could turn out to be fatal for the entire human race.  And all this talk about saving the planet is rubbish.  What we really need is to save ourselves from ourselves.  The planet will get along just fine with out us, albeit in a slightly altered state, but with a lot less species inhabiting it.

It is this reason, in my humble opinion, is why we need to start behaving like people who really do believe they are living in the time of the greatest emergency mankind has ever faced. We need visible and drastic action because only visible and drastic action communicates to people that there is an emergency going on.

My reaction of late has been a strong one.  Not only am I trying to live a sustainable life, I am now acting as if there is a real emergency (there really is, you know), living a local diet, starting a sustainable living community group, reducing consumption further, and blatantly advertising my actions to my work colleagues, and jumping at the chance to get politically vocal any way I can.  If more people also begin to notice the emergency, then my work is done, and people will begin to act in a better way to help avert the climate crisis and other issues by voluntarily lowering their carbon footprints and consumption, or alternatively, the governments of our time acting on policy and legislating large cuts in emissions and change the way we use fossil fuels and rapidly depleting resources.  

Crisis over, the emergency really goes away and we can look future generations proudly in the eye without shame of inaction. I believe that in this point in time, this will be the only way we will be able to save ourselves, unless of course a global leader takes the reigns and leads us down the right path to avert the emergency.  But leadership is a rare commodity indeed in our current democracies.  It will be up to people like you and I to step up to the crease or plate and bat to a record score!  As individuals we can only do so much, but as a collective group of concerned global citizens we can achieve amazing things.


In fact, leadership is the only real renewable resource we have in our democracies!  Food for thought indeed.

What do you think?  Have I got it completely wrong, or am I on the right tack?  I would love to read your opinions about these issues.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Moving From Being Prepared to Creating Cultural Change


by Melinda Briana Epler,
One Green Generation

From Being Prepared...

Do you prepare for peak oil? Or climate change? Or economic disaster? Or pandemics, or another type of widespread disaster?

Ok, there is prepared and there is PREPARED in our culture. Having an emergency kit that lasts 3 days to 2 weeks is prepared. Having an emergency kit that lasts 2 months, developing gardening and sewing and handy work and husbandry skills - that's PREPARED. What I mean when I ask above, is do you PREPARE?

I used to PREPARE. For a couple of years, I was really focused on learning the skills and going through the motions to make sure I was prepared for a vastly different future. But then I made a shift in my lifestyle.


...To Creating Cultural Change


Two things happened. The first is that I started to realize that no matter how bad things got in our economy and various disasters around the world, generally change happens pretty slowly. Cultural reactions are slow even in the face of big environmental and economic change. More Hurricane Katrinas will happen, but as a whole people will just move and continue on with their altered but largely the same lifestyles. Gradually our culture will change as this happens, but we won't all of a sudden all start gardening and making cheese. It will be gradual.

The second thing that made me see things differently is knowing that every action we take right now makes a difference to the planet later. Our planet is in trouble, but we can keep it from getting as bad as it could get by lowering our overall impact RIGHT NOW.

For me that means changing my focus from preparedness to lowering my impact. And it means keeping in mind overall impact - in other words, helping to create a cultural shift. So, I don't focus quite as hard on getting my personal impact down to zero now - because I feel I can use my skills to help many other people lower their impact. When I focused on lowering my own impact to next to nil, I had to spend all of my time doing that. But if I partition some of my time to helping others lower their impact, using the skills I have to do so, I can ultimately lower more of the overall impact.


How Do You Create Cultural Change?

We can all create cultural change. It's easy to say you can't do it, that you don't have the power or skills to change other people's minds. But that isn't true. We all have the power and skills to change people's minds, and actions.

How do we do it? By doing what we do best and sharing it with others.

Here's what I do best: writing, video, film, having fun, and being me. I'm also good at gardening and design.

Here's how I share it with others: I write on this blog and my own, and I edit my business blog (it's about sustainable business choices). I participate in our neighborhood sustainability group, and help spread the word about it via the new website. I meet new people and stay in touch with old friends and acquaintances and when it's appropriate, I talk about my lifestyle - I don't preach though, I aim to inspire.

I take part in my community garden patch, and try to open other gardeners' minds with my p-patch itself - it inspires conversation: What is that beautiful pink stuff (amaranth)? Why do you use straw (to keep water in and protect from the elements)? Why don't you plant in rows (to thwart the bugs - my way of integrated pest management)? And so on. And I involve myself with the garden rather than simply being a member and passing through.

And my new business, I do it there too. I help mission-driven organizations and world-changing projects to tell their stories and to do greater good. Rewarding? Yes. Worldchanging? Soon. We're still in start-up phase, but I feel good about it and we're getting to economic sustainability. But even if you can't create your own business, you can do a lot of things to create change in your workplace. I've written about some of them here.

I also attend networking events and support other people doing good things, and others who are struggling to do good things.

The important thing here is to do what you do best, and share it with others.


What Have I Learned?

The most important thing for me during my time of preparedness, was knowing that I can grow my own food, that I can be resourceful, that I have learned the skills and gone through the panicky thoughts so that when/if things really change for the worse I will be mentally prepared and have the skills I need.

I know now that if I had to, I could live off the land. I have a garden in our urban city, and I use it to supplement our nutrition. But I have the skills now to be able to use it for overall nutrition if I needed to. I know how to make bread and cheese and cook all sorts of other things from scratch, I know how to stitch things and more importantly I know how to barter and network.

But right now for me the most important thing is getting everyone to become more like us: more deliberate, more conscious of their choices, more aware of their impact... and then to start the process of behavior change.


Thanks to Chile for inspiring me to write about this shift.


Do You Work To Create Cultural Change?

If you do, please share with us all what you do, so that we can be inspired and learn from you!