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Paula Hay

To Plan for Emergency, or Not? - 0 views

  • It’s worth asking: What is Transition actually capable of doing to respond to an unprecedented economic crisis? In the most cynical assessment, it consists essentially of a lot of well-meaning local activists wanting to envision a better future. These are not the sorts of people to engage in serious emergency response work, nor do they have the support mechanisms to enable them to do it.
  • If what we are proposing to do can only succeed if we have a decade or so of “normal” economic conditions during which to grow our base, train more trainers, and deploy our methods, then . . . it may indeed be too late. But if we can adapt quickly and thereby strategically help our communities adapt, the result may be beneficial both to communities and to those who are organizing Transition efforts.
  • I intend to focus primarily on identifying efforts taking place in communities around the world that (1) address basic human needs in the context of economic collapse (2) are replicable and/or scalable, and (3) set us on the path toward sustainability. In fact this will also be the main focus for Post Carbon Institute for the foreseeable future, as we expand our Fellows program. I hope that what we come up with as a think tank will be immediately useful to Transition initiatives everywhere.
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  • The key aspect of it, as with all of this, is tone. If it is presented as an emergency response force training, I don’t think it would be as effective as if it was Transition Teams or something. It would be great to get some marketing/advertising bods on board with it, to really focus the presentation and the language.
  • As you say, many people will be focused on questions like “how can I remortgage the house so as to reduce my payments”, “how can I reduce my overheads by switching to a different home phone provider” and “how secure is my job”, rather than “how am I going to store rainwater”, “how am I going to dig up my garden” and so on.” If we can address people’s very real economic concerns, we will be offering tangible benefit. What are some strategies for saving money? Get family and friends to move in with you. Find ways to cook with less fuel (solar cookers are only one of many strategies there), use less water (gray-water recycling with or without re-plumbing your house), ditch your car, share stuff, repair stuff, make stuff. How to live happily without x, y, and z. How to live more happily and healthily than ever on a fraction of the income. The big question on everyone’s mind is: How can I get by once I’ve lost my job (or now that I’ve lost it)? Learning how to raise capital and form cooperative ventures that benefit the community (and are therefore worthy of community support) could be a life-saver. Also: how to set up barter networks, how to make community currencies work for you.
  • Why are we not having discussions about how it will feel if all our efforts to transition fail?
  • the reason we all see it necessary to transition away from fossil fuels is that if we don’t, dire things will happen. But what if it’s actually too late to prevent some of those dire things from happening, and they occur during our Transition period and process?
  • Obviously, what Transition and PCI have been advocating (community gardens, local currencies, etc.) are in fact at least partial solutions to these very problems, but so far we have discussed them in terms of proactive efforts to keep the problems from happening, or to build a better world in the future. Should the growing presence of these problems affect how our solutions are described (to the general public, to policy makers, or among ourselves) and/or how they are implemented?
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    Are the relocalization eco-freaks finally getting a clue??
Paula Hay

S.D. residents finance town's only variety store - USATODAY.com - 0 views

  • more than 100 people in Clark have purchased $500 shares to finance the opening of the Clark Hometown Variety Store. The store will take the place of the Duckwall store, which was one of 20 underperforming stores parent company Duckwall-Alco Stores of Kansas closed in 2005.
  • "We had no place in town to buy a pair of shoelaces or buy socks or underwear or any of those things," says Greg Furness, a shareholder who runs the local funeral home. Residents, he says, had to make a 40-minute drive — sometimes in treacherous winter conditions — to Watertown every time they needed supplies.
  • Some stockholders purchased multiple shares and ultimately raised about $100,000, Furness says. Then townspeople volunteered their time to refurbish the store.
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  • The projection is for about $250,000 to $300,000 in annual sales at the Clark store, Gruenwald says.
Paula Hay

Peak Oil for Programmers, Part II « ram them down - 0 views

  • Google is the world’s largest electric utility customer It used to be the case that people who were in charge of serious computing performance measured FLOPS. Now they measure FLOPS per watt. How fast one computer may be is irrelevant. Ken Brill, director of the Uptime Institute, describes how energy management has become the number one challenge in data center management.
  • programmers have ignored the energy dynamics of our work (and our white collar clients’) for too long, and that we won’t be able to get away with it for much longer.
  • I think it’s safe to say that in the US and many other countries, we have far exceeded the 20% spending on information that nature came up with
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  • As long as this is the paradigm for creating wealth, as it has been for several decades now, the only major question we need to ask about an investment is: what is the marginal value?
  • In the coming era of expensive energy, it will make sense only to fund those software projects that keep the overall IT investment at a reasonably small portion of revenues while producing a maximal effect on the ability to deliver hard goods and services.
  • Here’s a surprise: the human brain consumes 20% or more of the calories of a typical person.  There is evidence that for brain-intensive work, it goes even higher. When you realize that just three or four calories can produce a giant flame (skip to 2:40) we are talking serious energy behind every thought you think.  In fact, dealing with the heat load from the brain was a major bottleneck in human evolution. Let me state this a different way.  Nature has decided that for every human that the planet supports, at least twenty percent of the food energy we can scrape together is going to go to information processing — planning, remembering, analyzing, communicating — rather than actually doing stuff.  And this is before we spend a dime on technology, not to mention consultants and other brain workers whose bodies aren’t used that much.
  • But information is still special, and it has special limits that anyone who thinks and/or programs for a living should pay attention to in the context of the coming energy shortages.
  • o the extent that we can call something information, and take advantage of this wonderful copy-the-pattern-for-”free” property, it has value only if is ABOUT something that, ultimately, isn’t information.
  • It seems this all leads to a constraint: the total value of information in an economy is always less than the value of the non-information, i.e. the traditional goods and services.  This is because the value of information is a derivative of the “real stuff” it is about.
  • Now what I’m saying is if we don’t start helping our clients find huge efficiencies, if we don’t tackle the world’s toughest problems with everything good software can offer, in short, if we don’t stop working on boring crap, than many of us will be out of a job.
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    The energy dynamics of computing. Includes fascinating insight into the energy requirements of biological computing -- e.g., brain power. Fantastic, a must-read.
Paula Hay

the new somerset and dorset railway - bringing back our trains - 0 views

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    Citizen action restoring passenger rail in the UK - Sweet! A coalition of citizens' groups are working to restore the New Somerset and Dorset rail lines between Bath and Bournemouth in the UK. There's tons of room for this sort of thing in the United States, given the great love railroad enthusiasts have for lost railroad glory. Don't miss the detailed Google map of the New Somerset and Dorset lines.
Paula Hay

NPR: Power Hungry: Visualizing The U.S. Electric Grid - 0 views

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    Fantastic interactive infographic of the US electric grid.
Paula Hay

The Renewables Hump: Introduction | Jeff Vail - 0 views

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    This post is the first in a series on structural problems of transitioning to renewable energy. Broadly labeled "The Renewables Hump," this series will address net energy, scalability, bootstrapping, and time-frame considerations involved in such a transition.
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