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Sustainable Civilization

From the Grass Roots Up

Introduction - 2 - 3

I. Your Homestead And Essential Life Support - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6

II. Physical Sustainability Factors and Limitations - 2

III. Neighborhoods and the Web of Life - 2

IV. Sustainability Principles or Guidelines - 2

V. Ecovillage, Sustainable Civilization Minimum planning for continued organized society.

VI. Sustainability Programs, Politics, and Technology - 2 - 3

VII. The City As Ecology - 2

VIII. Sustainability Laws.

IX. Global Civilization.

X. Future.


APPENDICES

A. Appropriate Technology - 2 - 3

B. Mess Micro Environment Subsistence System

C. Factoids - 2

D. Medicine Bag - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5

E. Estate Planning - Providing for Future Generations - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8

F. Bibliography

G. Biography

H. Sustainable Tucson - Tucson, Arizona Ecocity analysis

I. South Tucson – Ecovillage analysis

J. Oak Flower – Neighborhood analysis

K. Our Family Urban Homestead Plan

L. Our Plant Selections

Sustainable Civilization: From the Grass Roots Up

Chapter I - Your Homestead And Essential Life Support - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6


EVERYONE FIGHTS

If your child, spouse, best friend, etc. is attacked, would you ignore the situation, or help them?

If any member of my household is assaulted, or an intruder detected, I would hope that everyone would respond in some appropriate manner based on their skills, physical capability, and the situation presented.

When you are attacked, you have to deck your opponent. - Hillary Clinton (Presidential Candidate)

A general legal guideline in “sane” jurisdictions for personal use of physical force, or threatening or using deadly force, is in protecting yourself or someone else from a clear danger of immediate serious bodily harm or death.

WEAPONS

Pre crash, selection of weapons is of course subject to locally applicable law, which may have strict, or unusual requirements. Self-defense law varies by jurisdiction, and in the United States can be quite different state to state. Many jurisdictions require that you, the victim of a violent crime, retreat, or attempt to run-away, and that you must be trapped before you are allowed to defend yourself. This is not (2006) the case in Arizona. In Arizona, USA, private ownership of even fully automatic weapons is not prohibited, and obtaining a "concealed carry" weapons permit is relatively simple. But for some reason, the only weapon PROHIBITED in Arizona is nun chucks.

Firearms. Many people mistakenly claim weapons are the source of crime rather than a reaction to it. This is rather like blaming your flat tire on the spare you carry in the trunk.

It's not that a weapon becomes a necessity when a society starts to break down… it is weapons that allow society to be maintained. Defense of self and others is just one of the areas where we’ve abdicated our personal responsibility, in the case of defense to the military and the police. How effective could the military and the police be, if they were unarmed?

Our complacency may be coming back to haunt us, consider without the military, and the police, how long would an unarmed population remain free? History, and, recent news show what happens when armed force is absent. In the simplest terms, it's a question of who is able to exert or threaten force, and who is not.

In a likely coming scenario of expensive or non-existent energy, supplies, products, and probably food, a greatly scaled down economy, and with it scaled down tax revenues, and therefore government tax revenue, we are going to have to be much more self-reliant.

We are about to enter a potentially very dark period, and fear is immobilizing. Those who will not stand and defend another, or even themselves, rely either on the good-nature of those around them, or the acts of heroic others to act in their stead.

There are evil people out there. There are many today who have no reservations about taking whatever they want, and I would conjecture that the numbers of such will increase in the coming years. Consider the news stories about those who quietly submitted to an assailant, hoping to minimize the confrontation, only to be tortured to death. Consider these evil people being emboldened by an effective lack of police.

Selection of appropriate modern weapons often spurs strongly opinioned debate, which I leave to you and your friends. While I do not encourage anyone to adopt any particular weapon, I simply report that my preferred sidearm is a .45 ACP pistol, and a 45-70 lever action rifle. Whatever your selection, examine it from a sustainability position, if we do indeed experience a deep crash, and a "dark age" period, can you maintain the operability of the weapon, and provide a continuing supply of ammunition?

I point out though that starting as we are from the bottom up, and considering the great leverage in security provided by availability of modern firearms, should make clear the utter folly of the anti-firearm extremists. A firearm is a tool. It can be a work of creative art. It can be the means by which a diminutive, frail individual can refuse and prevent injury or worse from others far stronger, and numerous. It is, as Samuel Colt commented, a great equalizer.

Examine the motives of those who oppose firearm possession by other than those whom they would anoint with special power and privilege, and ask why.

Sustainable. The first weapon that comes to mind as "sustainable" is bow and arrow, which literally grows on trees. Other tree based weapons would include include the spear and it's atlatls throwing holder which significantly increases the range and power of a spear throw. With an investment of more time and effort a sling arm, trebuchet, or catapult can toss crushing projectiles long distances. The online encyclopedia "Wikipedia" indicates the pneumatic reservoir (pump up a storage tank of air) guns have been in use since around the 1500's, and may be considered rugged and sustainable in low technology conditions.

In light of articles on potato or tennis ball "guns", powered by an exploding mixture of alcohol, gasoline, butane, etc., I continue to wonder if a functional rifle could be made powered by an exploding alcohol/air mixture.

"Clouds" of fine flammable dust can explode, as has been demonstrated by explosions in grain silos.

Also, a powered centrifuge might be able to serve as a repeating high velocity "sling". Might sounds over a PA system distract attackers? (Pre positioned speakers behind places where attackers might hide, or sounds of animals or gunfire, or I've heard there are "sounds" below audible frequencies that create nervousness in many people.)

SUPERSTITION / FEARS

Real or imagined animals, ghosts, etc. may unnerve those who are already disoriented, having seen their entire "world" collapse.

LIGHTING

When you decide to light up the area, consider that you WANT the light "in the eyes" of intruders, but NOT in your eyes. Once a light is activated, it's location is obvious to all nearby. If you want your light to remain, despite "hostile" approaches, consider what a slingshot, air rifle, or well thrown rock will do to most lightbulbs.

If practical, place the bulb in a protected area, and put the light where you want it with reflectors. Even aluminum foil will reflect a significant portion of the light, yet projectiles thrown at the light will just pass thru the foil.

ANTICIPATED "INVADERS"

What type of hostile "enemy " is expected? In the 1950's and 1960's, talk of atomic war prompted some to prepare fallout shelters. At the time, and perhaps in retrospect, some saw the shelter building activity as foolish. Your self-reliant home may be similarly cause you to be the object of criticism by those who will not see the problems we face. But if done well, those shelter spaces continued to be an asset, and may once again, in the coming crash, prove their value as fallout shelters. Similarly, your self reliant home, even if there is an energy breakthru, has reduced your living costs, while providing peace of mind and a form of "insurance".

Organized Army. As shown in the operations of formal Armies, against less well equipped and trained adversaries, "strongholds", even those constructed by the oil rich Iraq regime, are no match for computer guided bombs. Probably the best defense against a formal Army is to simply avoid a conflict in the first place. Don't be obvious as a desired asset. Don't be an enemy.

Mob. A stronghold has value against a mere mob, but I would still propose every home has it's own reinforced safe room, rather than one group location. Interconnect these safe rooms with communications wiring, pipe, etc. as technology and resources permit.

Individuals. If not hostile, do you feed them? Even if you send them on their way, if you've fed them, will they return? Will they return with others, or send others your way, as an easy "mark" for a free meal? Do you let them camp on the property, or ignore their camp just off the property? How to guide them to establishing their own sustainable village?

Friends / family. Perhaps the hardest question of all. If you've got a year of food storage, and gardens sufficient for your family, and not much more, what will you do?

What is your response to a "government" that decides your stored food is now illegal "hoarding"?

BIOLOGICAL DEFENSE

If you can, keep a gas mask near by, and complete body cover. Check out the firms that sell hazardous material handling clothing. Short of this, at least get a quality face mask (NOT the cloth/paper ones) designed for use in painting.

If you think you have been exposed to biological agents, get to your physician. In the absence of professional medical care, implement home remedies. Note, guidance on the web indicates that, should you have antibiotics available, DO NOT start their use until you are certain of the infection. Antibiotic use may adversely effect your "normal" resident bacteria, giving the "bad guys" an advantage.

Stop eating your normal, cooked food diet, opt instead for a very light diet (almost light fasting) of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Drink lots of pure water, and take:

1000 mg every two hours of Natural Vitamin C with bioflavanoids. If infections symptoms such as aches or fever begin, take hourly. Raw garlic, one small clove crushed several times per day. Colloidal silver solution, one dropper several times per day (see generation instructions elsewhere in this treatise.) Echinacea— several times per day Goldenseal— several times per day Olive leaf extract— several times per day Grape seed extract (or other high-potency anti-oxidant)— several every few hours.

"SAFE ROOM"

Potential dangers still include events not necessarily "aimed" at your, such as hazardous releases, extreme weather, earthquakes, eruptions, flood, etc. Examine FEMA, which has materials describing building a room in/near your home for tornado safety, and NBC warfare protection.

SAFETY PRIORITY II REVENUES & RESOURCES

At the beginning of 2007, the U.S. government asserts if an individual earns $10,210 or less per year, or a family of four $20,650 or less per year, then under federal guidelines they are living in "poverty". If you must pay rent, buy food, water, power, etc., pay to own and operate a vehicle to GET to work, you probably are impoverished. (And GREATLY at risk in the coming financial collapse.)

But if your homestead is fully paid for, and capable of meeting your minimum "life support" needs, you need not panic in economic disruptions.

How secure is your job, business, or other income? What investments other than a secure home have you selected? Inflation MIGHT raise income and/or the cash exchange value of other assets, allowing payoff of a mortgage with inflated dollars. Or income might disappear and paper assets fall to zero value, putting your possession of your home in jeopardy.

You need to understand the financial markets and products, and realize the risks you may be taking by going along with the crowd.

A TAXING SITUATION

Say you own your home free of any mortgage, and you have no personal commercial debt. Your home is fireproof, and you're quite content you can take care of yourself. You collect all the water you need from rainfall, and grow your own food in your biodynamic garden. Solar cells provide all the electricity you want, therefore you don't have any need for cash, or to work.

Wrong.

You have forgotten about your property taxes . The government will decide how much they believe your home is worth, and how much you owe for the mere privilege of having your home setting in the community.

If you improve your home, your tax will go up.

If your neighbors improve their homes, your tax will go up.

If big picture inflation (caused by the government) raises prices, your tax will go up.

While outside the domain of the local community, the illogic is similar with vehicle registration - a fuel sipping low air pollution new hybrid is taxed far higher than an ancient gas guzzling, leaking polluter. These taxes are contrary to logic, if as professed the purpose of the taxes is to achieve some social policy. (Of if a policy statement is intended, consider how sick such a policy appears to be.)

You may have expended all of your liquid resources obtaining and outfitting your homestead, and be out of a job. The taxman won’t care.

Warlords, (mafia bosses), etc. demand protection payments from the serfs, funding the warlords enforcers and hangers-on. How is the property tax so different? Somehow, you must come up with the arbitrary protection fee, or the county will impose a lien against the title of your property. That lien can then be sold, and if you fail to pay off the back taxes and interest for three years, your title can be foreclosed in court, and someone else will own your home.

For perspective, what if the county announced that each year it was going to take an intangible property tax 1% of every bank or other financial account in, or owned by someone in the county?

This economic cannibalism by government edict is the anti-thesis of security, and the anti-thesis of the operation of eminent domain, where the government takes your property and pays you. It functions to discourage permanent improvements.

In short you are forced to sell goods or labor - forced to work. Your earnings will of course be subject to federal and state income tax, social security tax, medicare tax, etc., all before you receive any funds to use to pay the property tax.

If you improve your home or business, the county government will raise your tax, regardless of your cash flow. And it can get worse.

Coming the other direction, up from the grassroots of your self-sufficient homestead, the better job you do in changing your lifestyle, and setting up your home to eliminate dependence on the grid, or fuel flow, or the commercial food system, the less you are, for now, a source of revenue… And later, the greater you are a source of supplies if the local government decides to quit pretending, and admit how far we've come in the government being a group of mobsters, demanding protection payments.

If you minimize the taxable aspect of your home, and live simply, you may face being forced off of your property under “Eminent Domain” proceedings. In earlier years, this was only used when the government needed your property for a public purpose. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2005 however upheld:

“…that local governments may force property owners to sell out and make way for private economic development when officials decide it would benefit the public, even if the property is not blighted and the new project's success is not guaranteed.”

Some state governments implemented protections. Some, such as Arizona in the 2006 election, had protections implemented by a referendum coming not from the elected officials, but from the people.

REGULATORY TAKING

Those who have or desire power over you must have a means to reward those they desire, and punish those who fail to obey. Direct theft in the form of taxes or taking of property under eminent domain is obvious. Less clear but perhaps more direct in establishing control is exampled by "environmental" regulations over the water in a prairie pothole, and the quality and quantity of pothole water sources. (Yes, there are members of Congress who author and submit such proposals.)

As repeatedly submitted, the law would allow federal control of your rainwater collection. When you have achieved local self reliance in life support, you see less need to work for cash. As others follow your lead, and real income and tax revenues decline, you must be vigilant for those who will seek to ensure your obedience by creating a monopoly on some essential aspect, such as water.

INCOME FOR INCIDENTALS

Are you planning on some continuing stipend, such as a pension from a private sector employer, or the government, a stipend from Social Security, or investment payouts? Do you really believe they can be depended on?

RETIREMENT INCOME

Are you entitled to a pension? Where does the money come from? Where does that entity (government or private sector) get the money, when the economy is not functioning? The news in 2006 included growing mention of private sector firms being unable to pay promised pensions. General Motors at least offered employees a cash departure option, in lieu of a pension and benefits. Which would you take, a promise of a payment in the future, or cash now that you could invest?

U.S.A. SOCIAL SECURITY

As of 2005, the news is finally mentioning Social Security, and the disaster that the system is. When the "baby boomer" generation, which includes some of the highest earning (and tax paying) citizens retires, stops paying taxes, and becomes eligible for some of the highest Social Security payments promised, a fiscal disaster awaits. The U.S. federal government can't make the promised payments without taxing and taking not only 100% of the annual gross earnings of the nation, but it could require taking everyone's property and selling it to someone outside the nation.

The most likely course is to make SS "means tested", so that if you have a retirement income, you won't receive SS. The most likely means for the government to make Social Security payments, is to simply print the money, inflating the currency to a disaster.

PRIVATE INVESTMENTS

Do you believe that in a collapse of the infrastructure, you will be able to sell your stocks/bonds? Will you still receive interest income? Could you find yourself HOPING to sit back and relax, but with no USEFUL money actually coming in? The boomers are highly invested in securities. As they retire, they will want cash for their spending. If SS payments are limited, stock sales will come faster. The oil crash may make some stocks worthless, requiring further sales.

To example a corporation. Envision a 100 unit apartment building, held by a corporation that only owns only the facility. The three corporate officers live in the building, getting a free apartment but no salary as a requirement of their management of the operation and maintenance of the building. The overall averaged net unit monthly rental income is $500 per unit. There are 10,000 shares of stock outstanding, 1% owned by each officer. The stock does not pay dividends, but instead re-invests all profits in improvements in the facility. Total annual profit for the facility is $600,000, or $60 per share. If you were looking for 5% annual earnings, in theory you might be willing to pay $1,200 per share, at a facility estimated value of $12 million.

As inflation raises the dollar “value” of the facility, and the rents, it makes it look like the cash value of each share is greater. Would you buy this stock as an investment? Is it an investment?

Your officers gain from the new pool and recreation area, the investment in solar panels, insulation, geothermal heat storage, etc. Do you?

Your investment has no actual cash-flow value. Your investment brings no right to any physical possession or facility use. The numbers look good on paper, but you only make any profit if you can convince someone else to buy your shares at a later inflated value. It appears this is a “speculation” (perhaps something short of a gamble) where the only way you physically gain is to run a successful campaign for corporate officer, and get a free apartment (worth $6,000 per year).

Earn – Provide goods or services to someone else at a profit to you Save – Accumulate your earnings in a safe manner. Invest – Expend savings on an asset with apparent and enduring value, producing income. Speculate - Fluctuating value depending on public opinion. Gamble - More likely than not to lose value.

UNEMPLOYMENT / WELFARE

As with pensions, anyone receiving or counting on unemployment or government welfare benefits must plan on a future WITHOUT any such benefits. It's simple, the economy crashes, tax revenue disappears, therefore welfare disappears.

The author seeks a clear, factual explanation from anyone who can demonstrate that in a low energy, essentially self-sufficient future any program that entails mandatory over-production by “someone”, to be taken at the point of a gun, to provide for non-productive members in a society, can be sustained. Can anyone who is rational vote for any politician that advocates such?

INFLATION

Inflation, although appearing as a general increase in prices, is in other terms a decrease in the value of currency. Inflation is often exampled by Germany in the 20's, when they printed a billion Mark note on only one side, to save ink, and a classic story of a man who took a wheelbarrow of money to the store to buy bread. When he couldn't get the wheelbarrow thru the door, he left it outside, certain no one would steal the worthless money.

He was right, someone dumped the money and stole the wheelbarrow. But inflation dates back to the earliest currencies, Rome inflated its currency, even though based on precious metal coins, by mixing other metals, clipping the coins, or making them smaller or thinner. "Modern" inflation, like the German situation, does not require physical alteration of the currency, to shrink its value.

In an inflating economy, in general, depositing money in fixed percentage income investments (bank accounts, bonds, etc.) can be a guaranteed LOSS for you, if the rate of return after all applicable taxes does not clearly exceed the rate of inflation. This guaranteed loss also applies to anyone who is living on a fixed income, whether from employment, or a pension.

In a continually inflating economy, in general those who borrow at fixed rates, and use the money in carefully selected investments, will be able to pay off their loans with cheap dollars, and build fortunes thru leverage. This plan of course requires appropriate selection of investments, and a continuing economy that actually pays out the inflated dollars.

MONEY

Money is simply an agreed unit of exchange, so that there is no need for a complex barter system. The money specified by a government taxing authority, is the money in which they want to be paid. You must somehow generate the required currency.

Expect to need a completely separate means, independent of the government currency, to value local transactions outside your homestead. Consider a currency denominated in some easily understood unit, where the unit itself represents a potential barter item. You have as a goal a means to continue local transactions without the distortions created as the government manipulates the national currency as a means of government policy.

The "Gold Standard", touted as an essential means to avoid currency devaluation (inflation), is in reality simply setting a clear barter unit to denominate currency. As a demonstration of holding value, it is probably true that the same $20 gold coin which in the 1800's would buy a new gun, or a quality suit, will due to the value of the gold in our devalued dollars be exchangeable for the same goods. Gold can be mined, or used, altering the stored supply “backing” a currency. Gold may be attractive to some, and have some minor yet significant uses in a technical society, but it is not essential to the function of a simple or modern society, and may not be an optimum unit of currency.

Locally, anyone can create money. Consider a local barter note system where a plumber fixes the pipes in the home of the dentist, in exchange for an "IOU" note good for a root canal. The plumber trades the note for pipes and parts from a demolished building. The note can continue to circulate for so long as people are willing to trade for it, perhaps even past the retirement of the dentist. Your neighbor provides you a bushel of apples, and you in return give them a promise to provide one kilowatt-hour of electricity.

The challenge is not in creating a currency, but in creating one where the units are standard and easily understood, relatively stable, and the system is generally accepted. Finding gold adds units to the economy, but no new functioning value, as would more bushels of apples, or an increase in power generating capability.


FINANCING YOUR HOMESTEAD

While a lot of your homestead can be "sweat equity", unless you inherit it (or stand to inherit) somehow you are going to have to pay for the real property. There are real estate markets where for example speculators, who have bought for the purpose of re-selling at a higher price, have temporarily flooded the market with borrowed cash such that the price of homes clearly exceeds the ability to pay of the "typical" family that would ordinarily be expected to purchase the home. In such a scenario, due to the mortgages, the price correction is not likely to take place unless and until the speculators are unable to sell or rent to cover the mortgages, and default repossessions occur. As of late 2007 though, the federal government is talking about “bailing out” the loans of these speculators.

Please pardon the bluntness, but IF you have to pay for such, WHY? Our parents, grandparents, etc., had to have lived somewhere, why is it that we seem to take it for granted that each generation is going to have to "make it on it's own", to go out and mortgage their life, forced to work to pay the finance company.

Why don't we all inherit a stable functioning homestead? Some things wear out, or become obsolete, but a well done home can last generation after generation. Too many of the decisions of our ancestors, and ourselves, have been short-sighted.

If you are not living at, and standing to inherit a fully functioning multigenerational homestead, make it part of your plan that your children will.

Could you pull together your parents, grandparents, etc. to one location, or at least within walking distance, to consolidate your resources and natural interdependent support group?

If your home is financed, beware of foreclosure by your finance company if you miss payments. If there is any significant "equity" in your property, in an economic downturn you become a likely target. Even if property values have for some reason declined, YOUR property with equity has become a more viable foreclosure target. Remember that in a foreclosure sale, the bank gets paid first, then the banks lawyers, and IF there is anything left, it might go to you.

U.S.A. INDIVIDUAL RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS

In most cases, the home is the largest investment for a family. In the U.S., those with funds in an IRA, 401k, etc. potentially have another asset approaching the value of the home. To tie these together, your IRA money CAN be invested in real estate. While you cannot live on the property owned by YOUR IRA, you can live on the property owned by your NEIGHBOR's, or even you siblings IRA, and they on yours. If you need to live and work somewhere other than your retirement / retreat location, put you IRA money in the "second home".

A valuable point to consider is using a ROTH IRA as a savings account. Your interest grows tax-free. The ROTH is not subject to garnishment / seizure under the typical lawsuit, yet it has the advantage to you that if you need cash, you can withdraw your original deposits WITHOUT TAX OR PENALTY.

ECONOMICS

Getting in place a homestead that can meet your life support needs should be a first priority. Consider though, can you grow all of your own food, make your clothes, build your home, engineer a car, appliances, etc?

To the extent that you own your own shelter, garden space, make clothes, etc., you are capitalist , owning the means of producing your necessities. In continuous ownership by the same family, the usefulness and value of capital improvements accumulate to the benefits of coming generations. To the extent that your own assets provide for your life support needs, you eliminate the need for outside income and purchases, making you an autarky.

Does it make sense for every individual / family to do everything for themselves? Will your spouse do open heart surgery if you need it? If you think there should, or must be specialties, you've created economics. Some level of grouping can get by with a complex barter system, where ditch digging is exchanged for chickens, which are exchanged for dental work...

A long term sustainable economy will be... different. Start, with the elimination of "housing starts" as being seen as a positive economic indicator. In ecological reality, new housing construction means either some previous structure was or had to be destroyed, or some new area of nature had to be destroyed. "Gross Domestic Product" (GDP) figures include the money spent in the un-sustainable industrial food system. It includes business that creates toxic pollutants, it includes cleanup of those pollutants, and medical costs of those injured, NONE of which is a positive effect. If significant quantities of people once again grew their own gardens, the personal improvement in food quality, safety, and security, would be presented as bad news, an economic "downturn" as spending at food merchants reduced.


Chapter I - Your Homestead And Essential Life Support - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6


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