Wednesday, June 01, 2005

helping communities

Last night I talked with a friend and began to articulate a role that I could play in helping communities cope with some of the problems we are facing. I am beginning to see myself as a facilitator, helping people, businesses and governments to implement logistical solutions if/as the need for decentralized local self-sufficiency becomes urgent. It would be a very satisfying way to use my teaching, facilitating and organizing skills.

In my exploration of the sustainable blogosphere, I have run across a couple of references to Kevin Drum's article in The Washington Monthly about peak oil (part one) so I checked it out. It has 156 comments that brought forward many of this issues that people are talking about on this topic. Roger Keeling recommended some papers published by the Rocky Mountain Institute that had "done an enormous amount of highly-authoritative work" so I followed the links.

Bingo! I found an robust organization that I had been imagining only the night before. I was fantasizing about giving sustainable living seminars to a conference of mayors, which is not far off RMI's mark. I was particularly interested in the work they do with communities that are seeking restoration and renewal. They encourage the stakeholders to learn how they can benefit from sustainable interventions and even encourage participative decision making.

I am looking forward to reading some of their reports. They sound like they are uniquely experienced to know how to set up and direct interventions for communities that might need help rather suddenly if some of the more dire predictions about peak oil come to pass.

On a more depressing note, Kurt Cobb at Resource Insights turned me on to what I suspect will become a favorite blog of mine called The Unplanner, written by an unnamed planner in an unnamed city in central California. He described his long awaited meeting with his boss in "Conversations with Denial," in which he tries to bring up issues of sustainability and their impact on the planning process. Ha.


DD-Steve said...

I'm just now taking notice of sustainability issues. Peak oil. Climate change. A recent Press Democrat newspaper (Santa Rosa, California) had a business section article on the peak oil debate. And a front page article in the San Francisco Chronicle had a headline article "Oil's Dirty Future," about the downside of using the Canadian oil sands.

Also stumbled on the May 9 New Yorker magazine article "The Climate of Man--III," about the Bush administration's ignoring the dangers of global warming.

I'm an avid reader of neither newspapers nor magazines. The exception is the weekly magazine "Science," and that I only read casually. I am a retired chemist, but the articles are quite dense, and assimilating them is not a slam dunk. Now, seeing the sustainability issues are working their way into popular press and magazines, I wish I had been reading over the years the Science articles involving these issues.

As with so many past predicted problems that have had a potential to cause havoc with our lives--Y2K comes to mind--I won't be surprised if the predictions of the timing and extent of the sustainability problems turn out to be exaggerated.

Thanks to this sustenance blog for pointing me to some resources. I now start my study. What a lot of catching up to do!

Fay said...

Liz, although dd-steve has doubts about the severity of the approaching oil crisis, I believe that being as prepared as possible is not too radical. Looking back after the fact, and wishing one had been more aware will not be useful once the awful reality hits!

Your kind of specialities will be so needed, and very soon. I want to awaken my little city in the southeast, but I feel unfocused and would greatly appreciate the solid guidance you are aspiring to offer.