Monday, December 10, 2012
Technology yes, permission no
We have the technology to set up low impact sustainable communities. What we don't have is official permission.
We have the tools: water catchment, organic gardens, permaculture, alternative energy, rocket stoves, composting toilets, and so on. What we don't have is permission to implement solutions.
How many of us live in places where something as simple and useful as a clothesline is banned? Solar panels are not allowed on people's roofs, never mind a small windmill. People have actually been arrested for catching and using rainwater off their roofs. Imagine if someone would do something really radical like eliminate their sewer service and go with composting toilets and a home graywater system. The horror.
Rural living is usually a bit more free about those things than city living. When I wanted solar electric power, I just put up a pole in the yard and mounted panels. Try that in the city. It's a bit harder. There are people who stealthy do things without permission. Solar panels are quietly put up on buildings. Edible plants are sown in city parks. Abandoned buildings get turned into workshops and play areas. Of course, should the authorities take offense, it all gets taken away or destroyed.
Even after a disaster like hurricane Sandy, the authorities destroyed people's self help initiatives. Rocket stoves that had been safely providing heat and cooking were taken apart. Volunteer feeding stations were closed down. Makeshift shelters were destroyed. The government hates competition.
All these rules and regulations may have made some sort of sense during good times. When anyone who wanted to work could afford the basics of life. The rules were not too burdensome. A proper functioning economy was able to provide for people's needs. The economic conditions have changed, but the rules haven't. The government may not function at the level of actually providing the needed services, but it's ability to enforce rules still exists.
It's the worse of both worlds. The old ways are dying, yet they still have enough life to keep their replacement from being born. Maybe a little more chaos would be a good thing. At least it would wipe the slate clean.
In the mean time, we practice our arts. Some of us live in the country or in towns with fewer outdated rules. Others practice our arts in secret, hoping to not get caught. There are those who live mobile lives. If the rule enforcers are a problem, they move on. It could be done in a good sized sailboat or an RV. People also live mobile lives in canoes and on bicycles. Attitude is more important than income.
We have knowledge and skills. Food, shelter, clothing, safety and community can be provided without Big Brother and the Nanny State. That's one of the reasons I think we'll do better than the Powers that Be expect us to. More and more of us can do things for ourselves. We aren't going to just roll over and die.