Farmers’ and craft markets were thriving yesterday in Missoula. The booths spilled into three areas of town: locally hand sewn, one-of-a-kind clothes, unique and soulfully expressive jewelry and art, bags and baskets, even homemade guitars and tools. Local vegetables, fruit, herbs, meat and dairy were all to be bought or bartered – farm to mouth – within a few blocks. Local beer and wine and baked goods lined the shelves of the corner store. Later we rode home and I pulled out from Belle two trays of steeping summer herbal tinctures and oils to process. Ready for barter and sale, I’ll be proud to trade my rich red St. John’s Wort oil and delicate elderflower brandy for cottonwood bud oil from someone who caught the aromatic season this year.
Streets were blocked to cars for the throngs of people on foot at the markets, and parts of the road were pitted and blocked off for construction, sending out a definite Mad-Max vibe for a second there. Riding the downtown streets on bikes, a short blast of visceral joy coursed through me as we met another biker approaching, no cars for blocks. I had a momentary flash of the triumph of returning balance: a post-peak-petroleum world, after the crumbling governmental and corporate structures have become completely impotent, have come down, or have been fully reconstructed. It was a moment of recognition for the abundant resourceful life that will grow up around the coming systemic economic collapse. What will life form itself into when greed and lies no longer are supported by our consumer choices?
Everywhere we go, all around the country, in my little old blue collar hometown Columbia Falls, Montana, even in the authority-revering Southeast, everywhere: we find people engaged in weaving the web of services and new structures that will serve us as the organizations of greed fall.
Everywhere, people realize true food security comes from knowing your farmers and growing as much as you can yourself. Community gardens, urban chickens and the rise in beekeeping and permaculture are no coincidence. As the FDA and USDA decay from irrelevance and cover-ups, many communities will have their food webs in place.
Everywhere, communities are making room for bike racks and walking paths. Grocery stores are making room for local and unsprayed products on their shelves. Communities are setting aside natural open space and trail systems and riverfronts, and buildings for informal classes for people to pass on what they know. We see lawns that once featured grass and carefully sprayed ornamentals, but now have edible plants tucked in the corners. Every time I walk, the “weeds” that are currently poisoned or disregarded call out their nutritional and medicinal value: there will come a time we reclaim these nooks and crannies and make use of the food value found there. Underfoot, everywhere you walk in town and out, are life-enhancing plants waiting to share their wisdom with us again.
As the financial world implodes, community bartering systems are regaining their natural place. Clever and simple loan organizations allow people to invest in individual projects they believe in, rather than splattering their money out into the unethical corporate stew of the financial markets. People are experimenting with business paradigms, trading services for flexible pricing, or pioneering more formal businesses structured to channel the intense power of capitalism toward a fundamentally different and more carefully crafted goal, one that takes “externalities” into measurement of success.
Everywhere, people are discovering their own path through traditional global medicines: cheap, effective and minimally invasive. As our current AMA-dominated healthcare paradigm creaks under the stress of doing something it wasn’t designed to do – and Big Pharma endures one “scientific” study disclosure after another – people are quietly stepping into their place in the new health care web: a web of community herbalists, bodyworkers, light and energy workers, hospice workers, home birth midwives, holistic cooks and nutritionists, TCM and ayurvedic practitioners, alongside hospitals’ network of quick ER crew and skilled surgeons, nurses and doctors and high-tech diagnostics.
Top-heavy religious organizations endure their last years of power as Light awakens in the hearts of people everywhere. Each religious power structure is adapting for relevancy as people find they no longer want a intermediary cluttering the communication between them and their own Source of inspiration and creation, and seek awakened community instead of paternal dogma.
Today I saw an small daytime care business for older adults. What a beautiful niche to step in and fill! Both for the elderly who might thrive in the extra activity, and for exhausted caregivers who often find the separate-family/separate-property American dream is a lonely and difficult proposition when it comes to childcare and eldercare.
People are radically questioning home ownership and modern construction expectations, and exploring more hand-on and accessible ways of building with local and re-used or renewable materials. Cob and strawbale homes are becoming almost mainstream. Families squeeze themselves into tighter digs and find – gasp – they like it! Intentional communities and land-share cooperative arrangements are on the rise.
** Everywhere we have gone in the country this year, we see the changes. **
I am the first to laugh about the irony of this message coming from someone who lives in an RV, and who orders books from Amazon, and who likes clothes from Athleta. But if we all just keep taking the steps we can, we will build something new. We may live in a diesel hog, for example, but we use biodiesel when we can, we sit still for days and days at a time and drive much less than we did when we owned a home, we ration water, monitor our energy use (solar), make many of our purchases from family businesses and farmers, and generally have a much smaller footprint than we did before.
Old trades and new thinking are needed NOW. Wildcrafting, sewing, farming, blacksmithing, ethical hunting, real-food cooking, building, healing, dancing, radically educating, bike mechanics, CREATING, animal care, music, conflict mediation, permaculture and natural design, sustainable engineering, on and on. Offer value to your community. We all need to become Life Hackers, working with what we have in creative and cooperative ways, increasingly abandoning the structures that stifle, label and commercialize our lives. If you haven’t yet, it’s past time to develop a few low-tech skills, or high-tech ones that can be put to guerrilla use outside the current corporate paradigm.
If your profession keeps you distanced from the actual results of all your daily efforts – the effects in the myriad of lives your work touches, the reality of the substances and tools you’re working with – it’s time to take a closer look. If your patterns of commerce hide from you what you’re voting for with every dollar, it’s time to get informed and get local. In the coming years, you will need real-world skills – skills that feed connection, that enhance life, and that don’t rely on the current monetary house of cards – and we all need YOU.
We are all being asked:
Are you lining yourself up to be part of the shift? Is your profession in alignment with your longing? Are you serving your highest purpose, or your employer’s pocket? Are your daily consumer choices supporting the world you want to see? Are your dollars invested locally? Do you face and transform your own dark emotions rather than casting them onto some “other”? Are you living your joy? Every day we are voting for the kind of world we want to live in. Continuing to live as we have been is not an option for long.
Will we spend our life’s precious days propping up the dying corporate beasts or building up the new cooperative, life-focused systems?