The Resilient Household — More Important Than Ever

Reposted from the Sustainable Berea blog
Every day brings further evidence of economic and financial fragility. The International Energy Agency reports that global oil production has peaked, which combined with a looming peak in energy obtained from coal means an end to economic growth. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is creating $600 billion of new money to purchase US government debt, driving the deficit higher and weakening the dollar. And state after state face huge deficits and potential default.
To quote financial and energy expert Chris Martenson, The next twenty years will be totally different from the past twenty years. The pace of change is accelerating, and major disruptions could occur abruptly.
While Sustainable Berea believes that a strong community is absolutely essential for surviving the coming shocks, each of us needs to contribute by making our households more resilient.
Resilience is the ability to resist and adapt to shocks while maintaining essential functions. Is your household resilient? If you lost your job, could you maintain your house on a greatly reduced income? If the electricity goes out for a few days as it did two years ago, will your home stay warm and your pipes thawed? If a transportation strike leads to bare shelves at Wal-Mart and Sav-a-Lot, will your family stay well-fed?
veggie garden
Photos: Vertical Veggie Garden by Charleston's TheDigitel/flickr; Snowy house by Robert Nyman/flickr
Building resilience in your household really means just two things:
1. Altering the structure and function of the household so it can operate adequately on a fraction of the energy, water and materials it currently requires, and
2. Having reserves of essential materials on hand so the household can function even during a complete cut-off of essentials (such as the power outage during the ice storm).
Most of us have a long ways to go before our households are truly resilient. But regardless of how much work lies ahead, the most important thing is to start, no matter how small the first step. Each time you shop, buy a couple of extra cans of food for your pantry. Weather-strip that drafty door. Put a few dollars aside each week in an emergency cash reserve. Plant a garden.
During the next several months, Sustainable Berea’s Resilient Household Project will be providing practical information of use to households in Berea. We are rolling out the Community Resilience  Calendar where you can find workshops and other events that can assist in strengthening households and the community. We will identify local sources of critical materials and local experts in everything from solar installation to gardening to financial strategies. And watch for SB reskilling workshops that will help you to gain some useful skills for resilience.
If you are eager to get going, we can suggest two websites that will help you to understand what is happening in the larger world, and teach you some of the steps you can take to protect your family and support your community:  and Then please share what you learn and what you already know by commenting on this and upcoming blog entries or by emailing and we will pass the information on. Resilience requires everyone working together. Let’s start.
Sustainable Berea

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