I was reminded of of this article (by one of our editors), it is my goals for 2007. I figured I'd repost it, and then go back and let you know how things turned out, and how they look for the future.
Back on the Wagon by Stephen Balogh
It's so easy to slip.
It's so easy to fall,
And let your memory drift,
And do nothing at all.
(Kibbee, played by Weir)
I have realized just how easily, over the past 6 months. Gone was the urgency I once felt, gone the cloud of doom hanging over my head. Life just became "too busy" again. Too much of the real world got in the way of my post-peak preparations, and sustainability projects. While reflecting on 2006, I became acutely aware of how the rest of the world can drift
idly busily by, without considering peak energy, global warming, and other approaching problems. I think that is what we (who write about peak oil) sometimes fail to grasp when we are exasperating about why we cannot convince others that trouble is approaching and preparations need to be made - the world is just too damn busy to deal with these things.
New Years is a time of reflection, a time of redemption and of optimism. We take time to give our thanks for the past years graces at Thanksgiving and overindulge into the end of the holiday season. But, New Years is different. The new year gives us that blank sheet of paper to start writing those resolutions for the next year. Despite the trials, tribulations, and unfullfilled ambitions of the prior year, January 1st allows us to look forward to another year and another chance for us to live the life that we truly want. The writing of goals resolutions helps us sort out all of those random nagging thoughts in our heads, and gives us a framework for moving forward.
Of course I tend to err on the side of optimism for my resolutions: drop 25 lbs., wake up early each morning, give up sweets, and save a substantial amount of money, etc, etc. This years resolution will be slightly different - for me it is not to be "too busy".
Its a conundrum, I know. How to get all of the countless things that need to be done, done, without being "busy". To be not "too busy" to get things done for the future, not "too busy" to make my lifestyle more closly match my ideals. Not too busy to enjoy time with family and loved ones.
This year I realize that time is growing short. How many more New Year's Days will I get filled with the prosperity and promise that I feel now. I fear not too many.
I re-read Kunstler's The Long Emergency over the past week. I read it this time as a much different person than the first time I picked it up, many moons ago. It is still a good kick in the butt and slap up side the head for me. I will not take up your precious time debating what I do and do not agree with in the book, but will say that I am now officially "back on the wagon". The urgency's back, the weather forecasting a few black clouds on the horizon. But, I refuse to give up my optimism while I still possess it. I refuse to give in to doomerism, and inertia. I know that there is plenty that I can do know to make my life much more bearable in the future, no matter what shape it may take.I'm going to keep my life less busy, using the KISS principle. I've boiled my resolutions down to three sections:
A Roof Over Our Heads:
There are two very different paths that Mrs. B and I are considering taking. Lets start with the most drastic and least likely. That is, attempting to find a house sitting/long term low to no rent situation, and selling our home. This would carry a long list of pros and cons, as well as one big "if". If we could find a long term (6 months to a year) arrangement, it would allow us to pay off our current mortgage with the sale of our home and use the value remaining to put towards our other obligations. It would free us up to tackle our still substantial student loan debt, and could allow us to become debt free with in a short time frame. Keeping that big "if" aside, it would also force
us me to pare down my belongings and get rid of much of the clutter in our life. A year or two with slightly less freedom, or should I say security in owning our own home could reap huge dividends in the freedom we could experience owing nothing to no man.
The second and more probable path is hunkering down in our present location (which both do like, but don't love) and becoming more serious about our sustainability efforts. This would include making extra payments in order to own a larger proportion of our home and to pay down (off?) our mortgage as quickly as possible. In this case the student loans would become secondary as making sure that we own where we live takes higher priority. Staying put would also mean a rededication of resources towards projects that we had originally put off for later. #1. A secondary home heating system to be able to weather natural gas price hikes and shortages. #2. Insulating our walls and replacing the remaining first generation windows. #3. Generating some portion of our own electricity with room to expand/scale it up. How we plan to do that has been covered in other posts, and I am sure that I will revisit the topic in more detail if it is the path that we choose.
A Full Pantry and a Means to Fill Our Bellies
What ever the roof over our heads looks like, we have to figure out how we are going to keep the cupboards full. I plan on giving greater emphasis on maintaining our pantry. Starting with a one month's supply of food, that doesn't just consist of pork and beans, soup, and bottled water. We'll strive over the month of January to store a month's worth of good hearty staples - food that can be rotated in and out of the pantry, but maintaining a long shelf life.
Another food related goal that I would like to work on in 2007, is to look beyond the home garden and supermarket for reliable sources of food. Don't get me wrong, I love my garden, and plan on expanding it in the spring, as well as adding fruit trees and bushes as a edible landscape. However, I am realistic that as green as I want my thumb to be, the garden will only be able to provide a small percentage of the food my family will consume. Besides my time should be spent treating patients and earning an income through those means, than spending countless hours trying in vain to be a suburban farmer. So I will be looking beyond the garden, to developing stronger relationships with the local farmers at our Regional Market, and in our immediate area. I have already met a great lady who we get a majority of our meat from, but it wouldn't hurt to find another local source. Finding a local dairy farm is a must, as well as someone we could count on for locally produced potatoes and vegetables. I enjoyed my CSA last year, but it was high on variety - too much for us less adventurous eaters. Perhaps we can find a way to make bulk purchases of organic veggies to share among friends and family and have a more "a la carte" co-op. The goal will be to know these farmers on a first name basis and develop a good bond with them to ensure continued access to healthy local food.
2007 is the year the I'd like to break out of my shell and enter more "in real life" situations in my community. There are many progressive thinkers in my area, and while I enjoy the geographically diverse group of friends and acquaintances I have now on the internet, I look forward to trying to engage some of the people in my neighborhood. I'd like to retool my "relocalization" piece, and get it published in the Syracuse alt-weekly. I am going to resume writing on my local blog and start looking for allies in the local business community.
I will also continue to write for my company's newsletter, and hope to make inroads into management in order to make more broad positive changes in our environmental impact. In writing this small column 1-2 times a month, many people who I assumed had little interest in the environment and sustainability have come up to me and told me how they appreciated my tips and looked forward to them.
In Groovy Green's end of year poll: What Is Your Top Green Resolution for 2007? I voted for "convince others." I believe that this is the most important difference I can make. Yes, "be the change you want to see in the world" is an important mantra. I will be more diligent in 2007 in improving my lifestyle and becoming more sustainable. But as I strive to improve my life, I realize that it is important to share all the tools and tricks with others, for in convincing one other family to do the same I will have made twice as much impact.
Working on these essentials, a roof over my head, a full pantry and expanding my community connections will take up a fair bit of time, but I am determined on not getting "too busy" to lose sight of the finish line and lose focus. Happy New Year everone!