Living in a Rogue State

I live in a state where the governor has imposed sweeping punitive measures on any local governments, school districts, or businesses who are trying to exercise their choice to follow the federal guidelines on protecting the public health. The governor of my state is staging huge rallies to fight any local efforts to mandate vaccines and masks.

I live in a country where the president and some legislators are engaged in good efforts to address climate change by transitioning from fossil fuels, but where these efforts are being stamped out by a coal-state legislator and others who apparently would rather see humans go extinct than make the effort to change our ways. This while people in less-privileged countries are facing forced migration and perishing in heat waves, droughts, floods, and other disasters fueled by human-induced climate change.

When you live in a place where some people’s efforts to do the right thing, in accordance with scientific findings and basic human decency and global consensus and the ever-stronger nudgings of Mother Earth, are steamrollered by other so-called “government leaders” who are abusing their power, you are living in a rogue state.

In a rogue state, building community cohesion and household resilience is the best form of resistance. One often-overlooked way to build self-reliance and resilience is to constructively disengage, to the greatest extent you are able, from feeding the institutions that are leading us to death and destruction.

If my state’s governor succeeds in preventing schools from exercising local choice to protect the health of students and parents in accordance with CDC guidelines, I would love to see a massive school strike by parents and teachers (though that isn’t my call to make since I’m not a teacher or parent).

I would love to see more people walk off their jobs if their employers are forbidden to require masks or vaccines. And I will help anyone who wants guidance in how to radically cut their expenses and boost their options so they have the economic leverage to walk away from their treadmill job — and pursue a livelihood that truly calls to their heart and is on their own terms.

As a resident of a country that in many ways has gone rogue despite the best efforts of its president and other climate-aware individuals in its administration … Right now and for as long as it takes, I would love to see people become ruthlessly thrifty about their use of electricity and gasoline, and I’m working on doing that myself and helping others do so.

Energy goes into everything we use. Since most energy being used to produce our stuff is nonrenewable, every bit of stuff we do without is part of an energy boycott.

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

One great way to do without is to stay home. I’m not saying hide in our houses and never go anywhere; I’m saying be really selective about the energy we expend and the institutions we feed.

The revolution is decentralized and on a micro level. Every little act of conservation and non-consumption we do is an act of resistance to the rogue states we are living in. What can I not buy new today? NextDoor and Craigslist and thrift shops are packed with great stuff for sale in your local area, in many cases barely used. The waste stream is full of expensive furniture, near-new clothing, unopened jars of gourmet food. Even if I didn’t already have most all the stuff I need, it’d be easy to get it from the free curbside department store.

I take my marching orders from Mother Earth. She rules over all of us, even the most thuggish rogue states.

There’s a climate sign-waving rally in my area today (part of the global ClimateStrike organized by Fridays for Future). It’s 17 miles away and I’m getting there by bicycle. There are getting to be more and more of us; we’re not stray isolated weirdoes; we are part of a growing worldwide movement.

Here’s the Climate Strike website where you can look for a march/rally in your area.

Long live the Grassroots Green Mobilization!

Stop Doing Good THAT Way! Do it MY Way!

In the environmental movement (or in any movement for social good), we will inevitably have our differences in how best to proceed. Sometimes, interactions with eco allies who see things differently than we do can leave us feeling beat-up, drained, demoralized, worthless, “less than” some other person or people or group.

But if we keep reminding ourselves we are on the same team, we can minimize conflict and bitterness between ourselves, and mazimize the amount of energy we spend working on the problems we all want to fix.

This can be harder than it sounds. Sometimes you might need to take a break, unhook from groups, step down from adminning a group, make it so you can’t see certain people’s posts, etc. You might also be called to do some work on yourself to get free of your own unhelpful patterns. I know I have had to do all of that at times. You might even realize you need to leave a place and move somewhere else. (I’ve come close to doing that too and may have to actually do it someday, though I hope not.) Do not feel guilty if you need to do any of this. It’s not a failure; it’s just wise use of your finite energy and attention.

Thank you to my permie colleague Mike Hoag, of Transformative Adventures, for this meme cartoon which gets the feeling across so well. A humorous yet deep reminder that at the end of the day, especially when it comes to the issues affecting our very biosphere, we are all trying to move in the same direction. And thanks Mike for your deep wise insights accompanying this graphic. We can transcend the “narcissism of small differences.”

P.S. If you haven’t already done so, please check out the Transformative Adventures group. (“Permaculture Landscape Transformation via Transformative Adventures” on Facebook.) It’s an incredibly nurturing and nourishing space.

Car-Free By Choice

Living without a car is something I’ve talked about a lot on this blog, and I’ve shared articles by people living without cars in all different circumstances. But the other day when a friend of mine asked why I don’t have a car, I figured it was time to post again.

Actually she didn’t ask me directly; she asked another friend of mine. Maybe she was embarrassed to ask me directly in case the reason I don’t have a car was that I have some sort of health issue or got a DUI or something. (But for the record, if I got a DUI, I would want to tell people about it, to help convince them not to drink and drive!)

But no. I have my license and have a clean driving record and everything, and I don’t have any issues that prevent me from driving. I just don’t have a car, because … I don’t want a car.

Of course, environmental reasons figure strongly in my choice. But even if there were some perfectly eco-friendly car (which electric cars are not, by the way), I still wouldn’t want to own a car. I have owned cars at times in the past, enough to know!

• A car is a hole in my wallet. I have way better uses for several thousand dollars a year. I actually can’t afford to own a car because it would cut into too many other things I value. What would you do if you suddenly had several thousand extra dollars per year?

• Cars take up a ton of space, and are a pain to park.

• I hate seeing people’s lives ruled by cars. Their car breaks down and they’re totally stranded — can’t get to work, can’t get their errands done. I want to set an example that there’s another way.

• I hate that car ownership is still a status symbol. It seems so yesterday. A dinosaur relic of the petroleum era. We need better status symbols, like how many shade-trees we can plant, or how many pollinators we can attract to our yards, or how much food we can grow in our neighborhoods. Or how much fossil fuel consumption we can reduce by taking public transport, walking, or riding bicycles. You know what’s a status symbol to me? The fact that I have worked as a pedicab driver! And I once pedaled four adults a distance of about two miles! And our pedicabs did not have assistive motors! (Having a motor would have totally ruined the status-symbol aspect for me!)

• When I want a car (which I do on occasion, like once a year), I can rent one. So much easier; the maintenance is someone else’s problem; and it’s not taking up space at my house in the meantime! (Driveways and garages are far too valuable to be taken up by cars. My garage is a she-shed which I could very happily live in, and my driveway is an outdoor livingroom with landscaping!)

• When I’m in a car, I lose touch with how harsh the landscape is for people who aren’t in cars. There’s too much noise, not enough shade. Vast expanses of treeless sidewalk. Loud, heavy mechanized landscaping equipment, belching fumes and scalping Mother Nature’s luscious green curvy beauty into sterile flatness. Multi-lane roads that are hazardous and unbelievably unpleasant to even be near, let alone try to cross. I don’t want to lose touch with the ugly streetscapes we have created by prioritizing the car-driving people over all other people; if I lose touch with the ugliness I can’t help to change it to beauty! If you’ve never spent a day getting around by human-powered transport, I highly recommend you try it. You’ll be shocked at what looks fine from behind a car window but is so not fine in reality.

• Despite the ugliness of many USAmerican streetscapes, something struck me the other day as I rode my bicycle about 15 miles to do various errands: An ugly day on my bike is better than a beautiful day in a car! Because amid the large-scale ugliness there are always pockets of beauty, which can’t be seen or touched from behind a car window. Mini forests, random friendly people, tiny forgotten wildflowers growing at the sidewalk edge.

• By not owning a car, I gather useful information which I can then share with other car-free people, such as which roads should be avoided because they have no shoulders, no sidewalks, no shade, etc. And, which businesses will deliver! (Thank you Edgewater Yard Shop, my favorite source of pine-straw mulch!)

• Even though getting around by foot and bicycle takes me more time than getting around by car would, it’s worth it. Time walking or bicycling is time well spent, and offers benefits not available from a car. For example, I learn all sorts of cool shortcuts and alternate routes, and feel like I really get to know my city on a deep, fine-grained level. And, the overall tempo of life feels much less rushed, hectic, and stressed when I’m walking or cycling than when I’m trying to run errands in a car.

• In my younger days I used to be a gym-rat. Now, I’d rather get my exercise and my transportation from the same source, and eliminate the time and expense of “working out.” As bad as the outdoors smells from gasoline fumes sometimes, it still smells better than a gym! And I just prefer to sweat outdoors rather than indoors! (Of course, some people simply enjoy the gym environment for the camaraderie, professional trainers, and many other benefits it offers.)

Living car-free is fun and exhilarating, and brings out more creativity and strength and resiliency than I thought I had. But don’t take my word for it; try a car-free day sometime! And if you do, I’d love to hear about your experience.

And a final note: This post is to offer encouragement & support to people who are interested in learning about car-free living and maybe trying it out. It is not to shame people who feel they have to own a car because the design of our streets & cities, and our whole mainstream culture, makes it difficult to live without a car!

Further Exploration:

• Check out “Selling My Car … Bought My Freedom” by Rob Greenfield. You think I have a low footprint? This young man is an entertaining inspiration!

Moneyless Living; and Time Millionaires

Two great articles for you today on subjects near and dear to my heart! Although I started on my low-footprint path in order to be part of the solution to the biospheric crisis, the personal rewards of this path have ended up being huge.

1) Radically reduced financial overhead, allowing me to have creative and occupational freedom;

2) Increase in free time. I truly consider myself a time-millionaire!

• “Lessons in Moneyless Living,” Laura Oldanie at Rich & Resilient Living blog: “Do you often find that the less money you spend the richer an experience or connection is? I sure do. For a recent potluck dinner at a friend’s house I made limeade with limes I’d rescued from a grocery store dumpster and added mint from my garden. The limeade was a hit! In exchange I was treated to homemade chocolate and papaya ice cream, tasty entrees, and engaging conversation on my friend’s back patio overlooking her beautiful gardens. How much of what truly brings joy to our lives stems from money? It all got me thinking about the intriguing stories of those pursuing moneyless living. The point of this post isn’t to encourage people to completely avoid money. In fact, for most of us a certain baseline amount makes life easier to navigate and helps us thrive. There are a number of people in our modern day society though, who for ethical reasons have chosen to eschew it all together. They’re sharing their inspiring stories online to motivate others and get us thinking differently about what is possible.” Visit Laura’s post to read their stories!

• “Time Millionaires: Meet the people pursuing the pleasure of Leisure,” Sirin Kale at “First named by the writer Nilanjana Roy in a 2016 column in the Financial Times, time millionaires measure their worth not in terms of financial capital, but according to the seconds, minutes and hours they claw back from employment for leisure and recreation. ‘Wealth can bring comfort and security in its wake,’ says Roy. ‘But I wish we were taught to place as high a value on our time as we do on our bank accounts – because how you spend your hours and your days is how you spend your life.’ And the pandemic has created a new cohort of time millionaires. The UK and the US are currently in the grip of a workforce crisis. One recent survey found that more than 56% of unemployed people were not actively looking for a new job. Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that many people are not returning to their pre-pandemic jobs, or if they are, they are requesting to work from home, clawing back all those hours previously lost to commuting.” Great article! The guy profiled at the beginning comes off sounding like a bum (and it seems like he is actually deceiving his employer), but the message of the article is solid.

Time To Say “No” To In-Person International Conferences

Not only do I agree that COP-26 has the potential to be a superspreader event (Yessenia Funes,; I also think we need for environmental reasons to stop organizing in-person conferences that require international travel, or indeed any longdistance travel. Especially climate conferences! The pandemic shutdown demonstrated that we have perfectly good technology for virtual conferences.

In-person conferences are also really expensive, or outright unaffordable, for many activists and other everyday people, especially in the Global South. People shouldn’t have to incur the risks, expenses, and inconveniences of longdistance travel in order to have a chance for their voices to be heard! With all the conferencing and communications technology that’s out there, this is just dinosaur-era ridiculous and a criminal waste of resources.

I commend the people who are refusing to go. (I think it’s mostly for pandemic reasons.) We in the rich industrialized world need to be the ones leading the movement away from “conference jetsetting” to low-footprint virtual conferencing.

“But it’s just not the same as in-person,” someone will always say. OK so it’s not the same. But whatever warm fuzzy feelings might be lost by having a conference virtually (or the glam feeling of getting to fly to some cool-sounding destination), are more than made up for by the greatly expanded access for not-so-privileged people who’d be unduly burdened by the cost of plane tickets, hotel rooms, and other conference expenses.

On that note, I am thrilled that The Nature Of Cities Festival will once again take place virtually. Early this year I attended the virtual event, which drew about 2,000 people from 70 countries! The dates for next year’s TNOC are 29-31 March, 2022. Integrating nature into cities is the key to creating safe and sustainable human settlements, and this festival-style conference is full of inspiring real-life examples.

USA “the World’s First Poor Rich Country”?

“Do Americans know what a massive ripoff American life really is?” — asks Umair Haque in this astute article at .

It’s a sad read … But we do have the power to change things. Waking up to our power is the first step!

“I’ve recently moved to the States — shudder — for a year or two. And I’m shocked at how expensive just life is. For no good reason at all.

“When I put my economist hat on, a fact becomes clear to me. American life is a gigantic rip-off, one of the world’s biggest, and that’s why America is now effectively a country of poor people, and that makes it a nation of angry, cruel, and selfish ones, too. …

“Americans are notoriously angry, hostile, aggressive, selfish people. Sorry if you don’t want to hear that — but the rest of the world will tell you it’s true. What makes them that way, though? Well, they’ve fallen into poverty. They’ve become effectively poor. And poverty will make anyone rightly angry, desperate, and afraid.”

Hey Locals! Climate March This Saturday!

For any readers in my local area …

Climate Rally next Saturday Oct 9, 10am til noon, in NSB.

I will be one of the speakers. Building our climate-resilience (both mitigation and adaptation) on the local/regional level needs to be interwoven into all of our plans for creating economic and social wellbeing.

Time: 10am to noon Saturday October 9. Place: Riverside Park, NSB.

PS. I’ll be giving away copies of my book DEEP GREEN, about how your everyday personal choices can have great power to make a difference.