Way back in 2003, my husband, Jeff Joel, had just died of a heart attack. He and I had moved from a yurt community in the Wyoming Tetons to a small ranch house in Bloomington, Indiana, for him to attend law school at Indiana University. After one semester, he suddenly died, abandoning me here, all alone, in a brand new town.
A few months later, though still in shock, I decided to attend an “Intentional Community Conference” being held in nearby Yellow Springs Ohio. Who knows? Perhaps now would be the time for me to actually join an intentional community, a long term goal that had been squelched by Jeff’s reluctance. Though our yurt community was one example of such, not everyone there was “on the same page,” with the same reasons for joining or staying. I wanted a place that I could both call home while pursuing some kind of larger ideal through a group process. What would that look like?
While at this conference, I watched the movie The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, about the collective emergency that suddenly developed in the early ’90s when the Soviet Union collapsed. All of a sudden, they stopped shipping oil to Cuba. Overnight, Cubans lost the energy that powers modern industrial civilization. The average person lost 20 pounds that first winter. People had to walk or bike; farming returned to horse-drawn ploughs. The government offered free land to anyone who wanted to return to their rural roots and remember how to grow food organically. Gradually, the people adjusted to their new normal, and even began to grow serious food inside the city of Havana.
On the way home from the conference, feverishly imagining truck and rail lines interrupted, bringing our just-in-time modern civilization to a sudden stop, with not nearly enough energy for heat and light and local food to support any community, I saw in my mind’s eye a Mad Max scenario (yes, conveniently pre-programmed into the culture via CIA-approved and sponsored, fear-mongering films): roving gangs of thugs causing havoc everywhere and people hoarding whatever they had left with guns to keep others away.
The infamous Hobbesian nightmare writ global:
No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
Quick, I thought to myself, body tensed, fearful fingers gripping the wheel, get to an intentional community outside a city now, NOW. Close the gates! Man the barricades! Circle the wagons!
It was just then, just when I had worked my mental/emotional system into a frenzied intensity, that I heard a little voice in my right ear:
“No need for that. Just change perceptions in your neighborhood.”
And thus, a few years later, was Green Acres Village born, first as a neighborhood garden, and then fully fledging as a potent little human community in communion with our Mother Earth. It has been evolving, organically, for over decade now, starting on the mental plane in 2007, when I took the permaculture design course, and was astonished to recognize in its principles real hope for a transformed world; by late 2009, the vision had grounded into the material plane when I purchased the house next door that had a large sunny lawn that we turned into the garden. I purchased it with my dwindling inheritance from Jeff, and then, nearly ten years later, with the remainder of the inheritance, purchased another house, the one in back of both of the first two, so that we now have 6/10 of an acre altogether (not much!), with three greenhouses and winding paths among the yards, all turned into gardens plus a large patio commons.
In other words, because I saw the movie “The Power of Community,” I ended up a permaculturist, getting my PDC in 2007, and right away began to put my new philosophy of life into practice by founding Green Acres Village as one template of a nourishing, regenerative lotus growing up inside the mud of crumbling industrial civilization.
A few years ago, I began to hear about “abiotic” oil, in other words, oil that is not made from fossils, and so not limited to what is already in the ground. Instead, according to this theory, Mother Earth is constantly replenishing her oil from deep within.
The theory of Peak Oil, it turns out, was a theory, not proven. In fact, its main assumption, that oil is a scarce and limited resource, because made from ancient fossils, has now been proven to be, according to William Engdahl, demonstrably false.
After all, think about it: The Earth is a living being, and oil is her blood. Just as our own human bodies, through their own mysterious and very efficient processes, continue to manufacture blood, so too does Mother Earth continue to replenish her own blood through equally mysterious processes.
There’s lots of oil. We have enough oil to continue to pollute the earth and air and water for centuries! Not that this is a good thing. Indeed, we do need desperately to shift to clean energy, and eventually free energy, drawn elegantly from the quantum field which nourishes all of life. Meanwhile, I am grateful that “Peak Oil” became my mantra long enough for me to ignite another way of life, one much more in tune with both with my fellow humans and our dear Mother Earth. Permaculture is now my way of life. I invite you to join me, and the thousands of others, mostly young people, guided by mostly old hippie elders like myself, two generations who relish the same music and philosophy and see eye to eye and heart to heart and soul to soul on this most vital of topics: the conscious communion and interweaving of humans and all living beings with each other, with our planet, and with her cosmic home.
It turns out that energy scarcity is not the problem; what we do with energy is. The real energy crisis, folks, is IN US.