The Community of People -- Our Only Real Asset
Homes, money, income, livelihood, health, youth, enjoyment, control and a myriad of other illusory constants in our drastically changing world are neither secure nor are they stable. What we have taken for granted is now slipping away. All that is left is ourselves. We are all in this together.
In this series of essays, I will describe my vision of community in terms of the challenges and obstacles that generally afflict it. My goal is to assist the development of a meaningful alternative to the present non-functioning social structure of the western world.
When one lives in a non-tropical environment, one is faced with the inevitable need to use energy to heat one’s home, to cook, to pump water or process sewage, to facilitate communication and so on. These needs are not optional and cannot be ignored.
Considering the situation in the world today, one cannot guarantee the uninhibited flow of fossil fuels to one’s home or place of business. One cannot also count on the value of money for it is after all paper. If and when the crisis hits extremely hard, one will have to pay a premium even for the essential energy required to live up to an acceptable standard of life.
I once lived in a marvelous ecological community in Oxie, a small town outside of Malmo, Sweden. All the houses had passive oil filled solar panels on the roof that created hot water when the sun was shining that could be used either for washing or heating. We also had a wood stove in the kitchen that was linked to the heating system of the house (hot water radiators) so burning wood in that stove allowed you to cook on it if you wanted while heating the house. We had large truckloads of cut wood dumped in our communal road and we had to stack it so we could use it during the colder seasons. I loved this arrangement. We also had electrical back-up systems that heated the water in case one travelled so that the pipes did not freeze. All in all it was great and I would heartily recommend such a system.
Solar panels are a great source of free energy for a long period of time. Wind power is even better and one can create wind generators from simple, easily available materials. This is a wonderful source of energy in places where there is a decent wind.
Composting is an essential part of communal life for the recycled organic material will fortify the earth with nutrients for the next growing cycle. Composting is easy for all people to do.
If one lives near a flowing river, one can use water paddles to create some energy.
It seems to me that living “off-the-grid” is the best security in difficult times. Generating the power one needs to maintain ones environment is a real freedom.