Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Community Called Greenwyche

  I live in a 1000 household(3,000 person) upper middle class neighborhood that is well delineated, interconnected through volunteer activities, school issues, and church attendance.  We are as close to bulletproof as a community can be.  But I can envision an abrupt change in defense contract dollars that would put large numbers of our fellow citizens out of work.  Fewer jobs impacts mortgage payments and lots of people would move to find better opportunities. I have thought that it would be useful to construct a shadow “government” neighborhood network based on the community pool recreation center.  It was created in 1962 to give the neighborhood children a summer pool they could easily access by walking or riding their bikes. Our family belongs because it is easier to pay $350/summer for a large pool and swim team than try and build your own. 

A financial crisis like 2008 will expose a big problem for my neighbors,  the level of unencumbered home ownership.  If the financial system seizes up and job loss spreads,  the middle class is in danger of losing their home.  We are an old and settled  neighborhood but I just don’t know how overextended everybody is—I use lots of remodeling and new fancy cars as a negative indicator of indebtedness.  Everybody looks a lot wealthier than me and perhaps they are.  

There are really two important issues to address with financial collapse or electricity grid collapse:  Security and food.    Community meetings that gradually focus on issues of sustainability are conceivable.  The key is to think local community WORK rather than passive dependency on distant elected officials. What can a bankrupt local government offer?  The problem will be converting to a neighborhood state of mind when your $86,000 government contract salary has assured your independenceAs those fail at varying intervals we would need to keep the employed fortunates,  engaged and sustaining the neighborhood. Those with “income” cannot go it alone or try and support everyone but we should be mature enough to avoid a Zombie Apocalypse.  I do wonder when the time is right to push for more local autonomy.  A Dow stock crash would be a wake up call so people could see there was a problem—perhaps local efforts could begin.  I find my suburbia comforting.  We had a very pleasant mini-crash in 2011 when a tornado took out the power for 5 days.  Without TV and electronic devices we gathered as neighbors to cook up the food defrosting in freezers and talked about whatever.  The temps were pleasant and a car could take you 30miles away to go to a store if necessary.  I thought the template was encouraging.  Essentially it was a 5 day vacation.  Grocery stores were emptied, gas stations could only pump if they went to the trouble to bring in a generator and then people got mad if they raised prices on their gas.  You had to pay with cash.  At the end the generators began to disturb the peacefulness  and then the power returned.  A longer collapse scenario will not be so cheerful but I am counting on 5 days without security or hunger issues to institute and declare local autonomy.  Let the police work their magic in other neighborhoods.  We will go it alone.  But we would need some serious preparation.

Are American neighborhoods too independent to rapidly change to a local sustainability model?  It would be better to work together before a lot of people get hungry or other more organized groups dictate conditions.  I think collapse conditions are just too slow to permit cooperation without some serious forethought.  I would propose that people think about their neighborhoods as a resource for managing the decline of industrial civilization because financial collapse can come on quickly and leave many citizens betrayed without  being able to support themselves.  If the national government starts printing a UBI for everyone, they are making a play for control of the new conditions and municipalities should be careful of the proffered assistance.  

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