Friday, January 25, 2013

Doing What is Expected... What is Necessary

In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt said "There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny."

I think it is high time that the current generation, my generation (I was born in 1983) and younger, start to accept the fact that we are a generation of which much is expected. We must let go of our hopes that we, like our parents (the baby boomers) will be a generation to which much is given. In fact, our generation should also do what it can to make up for the failure of previous generations to do what was expected of them.

2012 was a year full of the "blowback" caused by irresponsible behavior.  Serious drought combined with record high temperatures in the United States and elsewhere around the world dropped world food reserves to the lowest levels in years.  Hurricane Sandy blew into New York and New Jersey causing dozens of people to lose their lives, millions to be displaced, and billions of dollars worth of damages.  In the Arctic, summer sea ice levels are at their lowest ever observed, and Greenland ice sheets appear to be melting at an ever more rapid pace.  And in the Antarctic, the West Antarctic ice sheet appears to be warming as well, which if it collapses into the southern ocean could contribute up to 3 meters of sea level rise.

All of this is just climate blowback.  Revolutions, uprisings, government crackdowns, financial meltdowns, "fiscal cliffs" and various other trouble dot the political landscape.  The Sandy Hook massacre is a sad and traumatic scar on the United States' history now, and may well precipitate an unprecedented crackdown on civil liberties.  Add this to the crackdowns going on against activists and whistleblowers and the covert and drone wars overseas, and you have a US government run amuck trying to maintain imperial control of a world slipping away from it.

And, to get back to what this post is about... what can this generation do to accomplish what is expected?  Well for starters, we should know that "what is expected" is not what FDR had in mind.  You should not do what your government expects of you, in fact you'll probably be on an almost perfect path if you do just the opposite.  Do not accept that the Canadian tar sands might be developed and piped through the US by the Keystone XL, causing untold more damage to our climate.  Do not accept that fracking might lead to "energy independence in America," and forget that it will also cause untold damage to our water supplies.  Do not accept spreading poverty and a diminishing middle-class.  Do not accept a slow and deliberate destruction of civil liberties.  Do not "keep calm and carry on," as WWII Britain propagandized.  There is much to not be calm about.  There is much to do.  There is much that your children, and their children, on down to your 7th generation and beyond, expect of you.  The way we're living right now won't leave much for them, and they expect you to do something about it.  They expect all of us to do something about it.  What will you do?

This post, in my mind, is rooted in the 1st and 2nd Ethics of Permaculture.  It is NECESSARY that we take care of the earth, and take care of people.  As much of the earth as we can, and as many people as we can, not just people and the areas that can "afford" it.  Future generations of humans and ALL life on earth expect this of us.  It is necessary.  Do what you can to make a difference.  If someone tries to get in your way, reason with them and convert them to the cause.  If they will not listen, push past them and continue to do what is necessary.  Life on earth is counting on us.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

30 Day No Spending Challenge!

Kelsey and I are hoping to buy or be close to buying land during 2013.  In order to have the money to do so, we're going to have to do some serious budgeting and saving.  In order to kick-off the year on the right foot, I'm proposing a 30-day challenge to not spend any money on non-essentials.  Really, it'll be 31 days, because we're doing it in January, so we might as well do it the entire month.  But "30-Day No Spending Challenge," while it doesn't have much of a ring, sounds much better than "31-Day No Spending Except for Essentials Challenge."  So there you have it.

What we will spend money on:

  1. Groceries
  2. Bills
  3. Other absolute essentials (gasoline, dogfood, toiletries.)
What we won't spend money on:
  1. Eating out
  2. Things (clothing, shoes, books, other random items that eat up money)
  3. Spirits (beer, wine, hard liquor, bar-time)
What we'll mitigate spending on:
  1. Gasoline - I take the bus and/or ride my bike most of the time, but Kelsey will have to drive once in a while.
  2. Energy - We'll keep the thermostat down, shorter showers, wear sweaters inside, etc.
  3. Beer - I'm planning on starting to homebrew more often as of tomorrow, which will hopefully provide for most of our alcohol consumption for the near future.
  4. Groceries - We're going to try to purchase food strategically so we can spend less money on it.
It will probably be tough at first, but overall I think not spending money for 30-ish days shouldn't be too hard.  At this point in my life, nothing I buy is absolutely necessary except for food.  I think the money I will save by not dropping a little here or there on Amazon or at the beer market will add up enough to matter.  Also, I think spending money at a grocery store and packing lunches for work rather than spending the money somewhere I choose on a spur-of-the-moment whim at the start of my lunch will help my spending levels as well.

I also plan on attempting to "barter" for things I need.  If I can land a short labor gig on craigslist, and I get paid in cash, but I use that cash to buy a 12-pack of beer or a bottle of wine, I'll still consider that barter.  My main goal, however, is to put that cash into my bank account and get it into my land fund.  After all, the entire impetus behind engaging in a 30-day no spending challenge is to save money for land, so if I can make some extra cash with odd jobs, I should try to save as much of it as I can.

Lastly, this post is being published on January 1st, which is the day of New Years' Resolutions.  I don't think this plan falls into that category.  It just so happens that the time that is easiest for Kelsey and I to plan on spending as little as we can for a month coincides with the time right after Christmas and around the New Year.  I think it's best to try to do this kind of thing when it's easiest, because then we get actual practice with it, and can be more capable of achieving it on a regular basis.  Even during times when it's easy to spend money (such as birthdays and holidays), if we get practice not spending money during a non-money-spending time, we'll easily save that much more money throughout all the times of the year when money-spending seems more socially required.

Do you have any goals to save money?  If so, what are they, and how're you going about achieving them?  In the spirit of New Years, do you have any New Years' Resolutions?  Please post and share in the comments section, so we can all hold each other accountable.

As always, thanks for reading!