Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

A little independence can begin by simply planting a few seeds...

Well, I've been thinking about this subject a lot lately, "independence". I'm talking about independence from that which I can't produce myself, like oil, or food I haven't grown. It seems our economy is tanking, and I'm curious and more than a little nervous to see just how interconnected the spheres of food, finance, goods, services, and personal economy are. Maybe it's not going to tumble into the abyss, a la Great Depression, but it sure seems like folks are being pressed hard right now. (See this article about the current state of affairs). With gas approaching $5 per gallon here, and everything else dependent on gas is therefore also increasing, how will people afford it? How will they continue to pay their mortgages, rent, utilities, health insurance, and so on, with the same amount of income? What about all of our credit card debt?

I did read recently that sales of gas guzzling cars have dropped dramatically this year, and that people are definitely beginning to change their driving habits. For example, they are using public transit more, they are carpooling, consolidating errands, and so on. It seems it's gonna take a bit more than that, but at least it's a start. Are Americans at last finding the pressure enough to change their habits?

I have long been contemplating the need to produce, at the very least, food for myself and family, hence my study of sustainable agriculture and permaculture. I'm feeling a lot more focussed on it in this last year. Our primary impetus for making the 1.5 hour trip to town is usually the need for groceries. Our garden is intended to at least cover the veggies, and we have access to lots of local meat, but that still leaves grains and dairy unaccounted for. And the price of fuel has us reconsidering our tack on the house. We are planning on building our house with blocks manufactured and shipped from Oregon, so we expect delivery costs to be a lot more if we wait to order next year. I think we're going to order them now, in hopes we will save money in the long run.

All this blathering really to say that I am looking toward greater independence from the commercial economy. It's a huge change requiring major lifestyle shift. But I'd rather do it as a matter of my own choice than because I am forced by the cost of things to do it. How much more control would I have to do it my way? But it brings it's own collection of questions. Like, am I really willing to only eat what I can grow, gather, or buy from neighbors? I am willing to forgo vacations to far away places, even if that means not seeing my family? Am I willing take the 20 minute bike ride in inclement weather just to check the mail once a day? Should we get a horse? Should I start buying things in bulk (as in 50 lb. sacks of grain) to reduce town trips? How far do we take it? What do the readers out there think? How independent are you willing to be? Or is it more a matter of being interdependent? How can our neighbors help us help ourselves?

Just a little food for thought here on this July 4th...

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