Resisting Drift (no time for repression)

Nearly a month has passed since learning about the short time horizon for probable human extinction. This is twice as long ago as it feels to me: the associated emotions seem to have condensed my perception of the passage of time. Each day, in addition to managing fear and grief, I have done a few things directly related to one or more of the four survival essentials:

  • water
  • food
  • shelter
  • community

The big downer has been coming to terms with moving beyond storing a cache of emergency rations to establishing a permanent, renewable system that could sustain me (and others) for the rest of my/our lifetimes and provide a foundation for future generations. There does appear to be a chance that some humans will survive and adapt to a post-apocalyptic planet. At any rate, it makes no sense to me not to strive to be among them.

 Food and Water First

I attended a talk on permaculture and began to absorb the necessity of reinventing self-sufficiency: literally building the means for my own survival. Have had to ride out some intense waves of regret, and a round or two of the If Onlies: for instance, how far along I would be ‘if only’ one of several previous relationships had worked out. There has also been confronting the fantasy of ‘being able to do it right’ – as in, owning property and having the financial resources to bring in the right people with the right knowledge to craft the required systems and teach me how to use them.

Instead of the dream, my subsistence survival will have to be a piecemeal affair, hobbled together through a mixture of friends’ and neighbors’ resources as well as my own resourcefulness; largely contingent upon ethics of generosity, sharing and reciprocity; and my own will to learn and apply the principles rigorously.

I am not exactly starting from scratch (even though it feels like it).

Community Next and Concurrently

The real temptation is to procrastinate, let awareness slip out of consciousness, turn my attention to continuing to do the things I’ve always done, just as my friends around me continue on, with or without the dire realization, to do what they, too, have always done. In the bookstore where Peter Bane was giving his talk on permaculture, I saw a new book by Barbara Kingsolver, Flight BehaviorIt brought to mind fond memories of listening to The Prodigal Summer as I drove across country after a break-up some years ago. Kingsolver’s writing touches me deeply, I have requested her new novel from the local library. I observe myself and wonder, how many of my own flights of denial, avoidance and/or acting out has she covered?

Meanwhile, in addition to Bane’s permaculture book, I have begun reading Walking Away from Empire and  just received  a copy of the Deep Green Resistance Manual.  I also think I want to read The Day Philosophy Died by Casey Maddox.


Resources on seeds and gardening:

 Permaculture in general:




9 thoughts on “Resisting Drift (no time for repression)”

  1. I’ve emailed Guy this morning as a beginning of a processing of the virtual OST conference post at NBL on motivated reasoning with him. Preemptively, and assuming he isn’t comfortable with having a self-organizing & quasi-structured process happening in the NBL space, are you? If you followed/tried to make sense of what was being tried with the conference concept, and feel hosting virtual OST conferences as an IT-based tool for learning–piecing things together; growing a collective will–external to NBL (but with link-backs regarding what is learned), could be a work-around/has merrit, I’d value knowing. Sharing the work that falls to a blog owner regarding moderating and workshop facilitation has got to be an issue as well.

    Anyway, I thought I’d ask in case Guy responds with the work load, as well as the confusion created by using a trusted tool for homeostaisis differently than what is familar are issues that lead to his closing the conference and its workshop’s blog entries earlier than initially stated.

    The paper you linked to regarding the–now–kilometer-wide methane chimneys, is the information I am familiar with regarding clathrates destabilizing and venting to the atmosphere. Guy references this happening on land. Do you know of a reference for this happening in Siberia as is includes in his talks? From several sources I was aware that wetland-based methane seeps were increasing on land, but not in a way that could be described as a shape with a kilometers diameter.

    At any rate, this exercise of sharing what you are doing as you move on from the bargaining stage regarding grief is good mentoring.

  2. Thank you Greg.

    What you are describing sounds like what I have been trying to build an infrastructure to host. Please take a peek at this website – Learning Lab for Resiliency. Finding the right words with enough meaning to carry across a wide range of different groups has been a challenge. Your description, however, seems strong! I can imagine how to use the internet as “a self-organizing & quasi-structured process” for processing virtually, with support (emotional and practical) for spinoffs in every participant’s locality. For as long as the web is up, anyway – the prospect of it going down lending some urgency to the matter, no? I’ve had various incredibly skilled people interested at different times over the past three years; hopefully many of them (or at least some) will jump on board as the concept and process finally clarifies. Or new people with the necessary know-how will appear.

    Please let my know what Guy thinks. FYI, I’ve drafted two more blog entries…. realistically, I’m thinking I will post one-a-week, in order to do that mentoring in a consistent and meaningful way. Steady on.

  3. Specifically, the concern you mentioned (which I’m not conversant with as I haven’t read all those entries on motivated reasoning at Nature Bats Last (NBL), about ” the confusion created by using a trusted tool for homeostaisis differently than what is familar are issues” is the area of communication that I’ve been studying oh-these-long-years of graduate school (not to mention life’s school of hard knocks).

    It is those dynamics which have informed the structure I’ve visualized for the Learning Lab for Resiliency (LLR). There are many holes in my vision, though (which has unnerved or turned off some of the folk who were initially excited), but I believe this is a characteristic of the state of fragmented knowing about human beings. What we need are tools and techniques for bridging and connected across the different things each of us knows, without dissing/losing each other over what each of us doesn’t know.

  4. A server error kept me from posting this will be brief, and preliminary, response before heading out to do some procrastinated on pick and shovel work earlier this afternoon. I’m trying again before dinner.

    Your insight about IT-based interconnectivity leading back to local work is well considered, as well as currently seeming to be a contradiction. Frustration regarding feeling heard (while self-broadcasting), in conjunction with the consequences of an unconscious desire to ‘never-grow-up’, are positive feedback dynamics. The systemic model they are part of will lead us back to where we were too busy to be bothered with before the Internet. At this point that local connecting will be, like the virtual iterations of social interactions, tribal and violent. The irony will be that it will turn out to be–denial withstanding–liberal/progressive/2nd wave feminist sensibilities–as they are virtually affected, and educationally ensconced–that will bendiscovered to have paved the way for this. (As I said, this comment will be brief.)

    Jennifer, who you seem to have some relationship with, indicated initial interest in the Open Space Technology conference concept, at NBL. You might seek her thoughts/experience of it. The trail of comments that remain, without any reporting out from the workshops, leave a pretty tangled trail to try to follow.

    The experience you’ve shared with LLR is not foreign to me. I instituted a website in the early ’90s that I called “Communication for Community” with the local school district as its focus . . .

  5. We’re working in tandem, Greg – I like it 🙂

    I just read through the NBL call for the OST virtual conference and its comment thread. What follows is a crude read, done on the fly, of the conversation through a group relations lens, noting dynamics and matching them (subjectively of course) to stages of development and characteristic features. As I read through the rest, it will be interesting to see what emerges (if anything) in the way of patterns that we can ‘do something” with: whether its motivation for some degree of social change away from the gathering forces of fear-based aggression, a consolidation of our own comraderie and resolve, or something else entirely.

    So, you post the blogentry/call, Motivated Reasoning: Savior or Sycophant?, and then the action begins. Each turn is summarized as a move (some turns have several moves in them):

    1st move: clarifications (Jen)
    2nd move: framing – is Guy confessing his motivated (irrational) reasoning?
    3rd move: academic reference (Archaeology of mind) – neuerobiology
    4th move: question the framing (open space organic instead of familiar structure)
    5th move: topical confusion – climate change? Economic decline/collapse? Motivated reasoning?
    6th move: facilitative – groundrules
    7th move: mix of facilitation & content – how can we use the medium for action not homeostasis?
    8th move: norming – comments, how to organize
    9th move: framing/supporting purpose – “We are dealing with an entirely different paradigm, an entirely different way of looking at what little time we have left in context to the ethics of extinction, not entertaining regressive notions of past agency.”
    10th move: intervention – role of the unconscious
    11th move: affirmation and elicitation of participation
    12th move: more academic resources
    13th move: facilitation – separated blogposts to organize comments topically
    14th move: content – “only within a very diverse and inclusive community that one can have a chance of not getting tripped up in the proverbial tangle of underwater “; when it all began (1930s – but you’re blaming the social programs not the industrialization? Huh?); exploration of terminology: “ethics of extinction,” “demise…as justice,” “metanoia”
    15th move: facilitation – picking up a seemingly dropped ball (NTE, what’s that?)
    16th move: answer re NTE (humorously provided)
    17th move: another academic resource
    18th move: clarification/questions re participation, description of previous process, visioning (goal setting) – “to be better leaders”
    19th move: affirmation/support – summary of effects
    20th move: court jester – group commentary (same character as above, labeled intervention)
    21st move: facilitator “check in” (without directly acknowledging BenjaminTheDonkey’s interventions. Announcements (links and pingbacks etc), summary overview (categorization of three groups: patient waiters, honored (?) skeptics, and (as yet) non-participating readers…. Attempt to guide the norming process with a request to redirect cyncicism; recapitulation of purposes: 1) improve comprehension of “the inherent dynamics of homeostasis” and “the inherent dynamics of motivated reasoning/confirmation bias”; provide guidelines: sign-up, introduce self. Reminder for the group to take responsibility for its well-being.
    [big time gap – activity in other threads – no response to the “check in/take responsibility” questions.
    22nd move: facilitation – background and reiteration of the open space concept; recommendation for a new/fourth topic; more background; norming? “a great deal of intuitive trust is involved in the initiation of this virtual conference.” And another call for participants to respond/acknowledge ask etc
    23rd move: Guy post a link to his new essay “collapse as a marathon, take your best shot”

    Hope you accomplished your gardening chore. I’m off to Tai Chi.

  6. The “gardening chore”–good guess–is a water drainage thing. And I did finish it before the snow buried what I needed to do.

    I’m guessing the above analysis is a skill you’ve developed as part of your studies. Impressive. Since I had a herding agenda that elicited a cat-like response from some, and a Pavlovian response from yet others, I think the biggest part of the conversation is represented in the relative decline in the number of comments. A cursory review of the number of comments in the four blog posts associated with the ‘conference’ compared with NBL current ‘normal’ suggests the virtual conference experiment increased lurker behavior, and/or that most people exercised “the law of two feet.”

    Given what I understand to be your intent with the LLR, I’d value your thoughts on Open Space Technology as a concept for using blog software differently ( Would it work for LLR? And if yes, and you read through the four comment threads, what happened/didn’t happen with this first try; can the results be improved to move the process toward being a geo-politically local one?

    FYI: I’ve got close to 600′ of driveway to free of about 6″ of the wet stuff today. This is the start of my fifth winter of shoveling it by hand as part of my effort to live using less fossil carbon. With my body sore from yesterday’s pick and shovel work, I’m going to be pacing myself (it may take two days). My ability to engage here will be effected as a consequence.

  7. Greg, this is exciting for me – a chance to merge training with meaningful action.

    Your self-reflections are helpful: “herding instinct” and “cat-like behavior” are very descriptive metaphors. I’m new to Guy’s blog so am looking at the responses ‘as is’. That’ll change if we find a way to carry this forward, but for now we could imagine it as a kind of baseline. I’ve completed a chart of the second blogentry (the first workshop topic), which I’m posting on my blog as a separate page: Dialogues: Preparing for Collapse .

    That will make it easier to link to, and maybe serve some organizational purpose down the road as a kind of anchor (or something like that, perhaps).

    How’s the shoveling going? I’m still in an apartment complex so that’s someone else’s duty. So many things to reconsider, now, about my living situation! Anyway, it is fine for us to pause, periodically. It allows me time to think, for one, and also I have to do some homework. In addition to checking out the link you shared about Open Spaces, I am talking with a couple of colleagues. One is with a computer science project that is researching intelligent software for online social deliberation. Tom has done a ton of research on motivated reasoning. (fyi, when I talked with him yesterday he suggested Hope Beneath Our Feet as a possible resource for readers of NBL.)

    Another colleague has done a load of work in Future Search. As I read through the comments on Guy’s Bane, and keeping in mind your facilitation yesterday, I think one confusion regarding structure is that it was so open-ended people couldn’t find a boundary to orient to. Future Search technologies combined with Open Space might provide a means to improve on that.

    As to what the LLR can and cannot do, right now I’ve only got the resource of a basic Moodle learning platform. I think I can do quite a bit with it, based on previous online teaching and own fooling-around with blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. I think we could get some good things started. With luck, a developer or three might help us with some plug-ins that will facilitate more of the “vote with two feet” interaction.

    If we can find people with the right skills who are willing to volunteer, cool. I haven’t, yet. Not to mention my own precarious quasi-employment situation. Ideally, we could turn up a major funder who would support some webdesign, administration, and facilitation. Not to mention webhosting and such. If this takes off, it’ll become fulltime work in a heartbeat.

  8. I feel at some point (and is this it?), this interaction needs to move somewhere else. I feel this back and forth does not add to the theme of the series of blog posts the one this thread is associated with is part of. My email address is associated with the ‘workshops’ I facilitated on my NBL blog post on “Motivated Reasoning: Savior or Sycophant”, or we can Skype, or…. =)

  9. I agree with you Greg. I also think it’s good we’ve talked this much in public. I do have your email and will send you my skype number.

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