Independence Days, Interdependence Days

Johanna recently reminded me about Sharon Astyck's Independence Days Challenge. In this, we are all invited to record our projects to become ready for a post peak oil by trying very hard to do at least one of the following things each day:
* Plant Something
* Harvest Something
* Preserve Something
* Store Something
* Manage Reserves
* Cook Something New
* Prep Something
* Reduce Waste
* Learn a New Skill
* Work on Community Food Security
* Regenerate What Is Lost

It seems a fine idea to me, especially if it gives you energy to keep focusing on skills which free you a little from the grab of the corporates in your daily living. In terms of managing one of these things each day, I expect I generally do okay. Yesterday (without planning to meet any categories) I harvested rocket for my sandwiches and learnt a little more about knitting, courtesy of the lovely Shona at our local wool shop.

I do appreciate Johanna's post as it has made me think more clearly about my own priorities and values. I'm not especially focused on peak oil disasters as part of my long term planning. I totally appreciate that armageddon may come and I like to think that my interests in the garden and the kitchen are and will help in my own preparedness, even if in only a small way.

But can I suggest my own thoughts about where I want to go, things I'd like to argue the value of, for our present and our future?

1. Firstly, the idea of interdependence, of collectivism, appeals to me particularly. Yes I'm a union girl and I do believe in solidarity. These are words which have been left at the back of our cupboards in the last few decades. I was just a teenager when the Employment Contracts Act changed the lives of New Zealand working people forever. The demise of union power in New Zealand was a theme for other countries at the same time. I think particularly of England under Thatcher. If you want to understand how to live less dependently on the power of large corporates, consider not just your individual food choices, but how you organise and support yourselves in your workplace.

2. As fewer of us are employed for money in this changing economic climate, it is also timely to consider carefully how we support those alienated by a shrunken job market. I met a very interesting woman recently who works for a group called the Peoples Centre. She and her colleagues work hard supporting people with workplace and unemployment challenges who are struggling to access their rights. One story she told me was of a man who came out of a month living in the bush (odd to you in cities, not completely odd here at all) and sought emergency food assistance. At the counter of a local supermarket, he was made to take back a cake of soap because it wasn't food. One cake of soap to get clean after a month in the bush was not an emergency need? There is so much to do to value the human dignity of each person.

3. Write. I'm serious. Two things have particularly reached out and struck a chord with me this week. Firstly, the deteriorating situation in Fiji. The media, both professional (e.g. newspapers) and amateur (e.g. bloggers) correspondents have been severely restricted in what they can share from Fiji. Also this week, a small group of writers here on the West Coast met for our monthly session of sharing what we've been writing. I was moved to see how empowering writing can be, how it can give dignity to our days and strengthen our sense of sanity in times when it may feel in doubt. Whether you are blogging, or keeping a private written journal, or writing letters to friends and family in other towns, whether you are writing a novel or a satire or a play or a shopping list, words are powerful and we connect through them. If you haven't blogged before, or are out of the habit of writing to Grandma, start! Every voice is worthy of it's own space.

The house is quiet right now and the rain has eased up for a bit, so I'm going outside to harvest some more rocket for a breakfast salad sandwich. Maybe I'll find some seeds and plant a bit more rocket and perhaps some indoor basil and coriander (will I ever grow coriander successfully again? Still persevering...). The food challenge is important. But we cannot live on bread alone.


cesca said…
Great post! I have seen that list of things to include in your day somewhere else, and it always resonated with me and of course I'm getting into the whole "community" thing a lot lately.
Johanna Knox said…
Hi Sandra - yes, agree, agree, agree! Actually something about the 'work on community security' item in the list being so far down on the list sticks out like a sore thumb to me. I'm sure it's not meant to be in order of importance, but somehow I'd like to put it further up anyway! :)

Oh I had terribly much more I was going to write in response, but hear family arriving home ...
Thanks Cesca. Johanna I'd love to hear more from you about writing and community if you are happy to share - I feel like it is very important at the moment. We're getting some real diversity in our writing group - far more than I expect we would in a food growing collective at this stage.
nova_j said…
agreeing with the macro, but focusing on the micro- my dad lives in fiji & he reckons that unless you work in (or focus on) the media nothing much has changed..?! they just read the NZ herald & other international news on the internet, or use good ol' word of mouth on the street. apparently for most fijians it's business as usual..?
Hi Nova. I am so glad to hear that your Dad is okay. I really truly hope that remains the case.

If a military coup happened in New Zealand this week and the newspapers were severely censored and internet cafes closed early, I'd still be living life as usual here in smalltown. I'd be one of the privileged ones with home internet access and life round here would seem as usual.

But travellers and locals without home internet access would find life circumscribed instantly, as of course would journalists. I wonder how long it will take in Fiji before minority groups or any groups out of favour with the current leadership are made much more uncomfortable?

I think that life as usual was probably how it felt for many people in Germany in the late 1930s.

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