Community, community, community

As we pass from the industrial age to the post-carbon era, the mantra of real-estate agents comes to mind. But the important factor isn’t so much “location, location, location” as “community, community, community.” The latter can be created in any location. Well, except for those locations the United States bombs into the stone age. It’s tough to build community when the U.S. military is carpet-bombing the ‘hood.


Obviously, other factors are important, too. Humans cannot live without clean air, potable water, and food. And shelter helps maintain body temperature. Assuming individuals and societies meet their needs for air, water, food, and shelter — certainly no small assumption when the lights go out (Sydney, Australia provides the latest example of the chaos in the wake of a power outage), the food disappears from the grocery store, and the water stops coming out the taps — community nears the top of the list of factors germane to survival.
As with nearly every aspect of post-carbon survival, culture points us exactly the wrong direction when it comes to community. If you wanted to design neighborhoods specifically to eliminate interactions between neighbors, American-style suburbs would be the perfect place to start. If you wanted to further exacerbate the problem, you’d work hard to destroy public transportation in favor of automobiles (preferably at least one for each licensed driver in the house). Then you’d subsidize Big Oil so gasoline remained inordinately inexpensive relative to its actual cost, thereby further encouraging the use of community-destroying minimal-passenger automobiles. Finally, you’d create K-12 concentration camps and, if anybody tried to break out of culture’s main stream, you’d incarcerate them on a more permanent basis.
In short, you’d transfer money from individual pockets to corporate kingpins while sucking the life out of communities. Take a look around: We’re there. No country — indeed, no culture — in the history of the world has ever created a mess to match this one. We’ve created a system that requires cheap energy and, in the absence of cheap energy, defaults quickly to chaos.
How, then, do we build community? Start with these guidelines, then add at least the following:
Make yourself useful
Expect everybody to contribute
I’m sure I’m missing some important components. But when it comes to building community, any number can play, and everybody should play. So, what did I miss?

Comments 38

  • Guy the Terrorist Gangster!
    Sounds of the hood (A short primer for the mindset of detention):
    Gasoline Dreams
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuNX2P7v5S8
    13th floor
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Z5_ZaEOrCI
    Everybody tryin to grab a piece, I better grab my piece.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKBfeZnl4Jc
    You got a gat? They made them gats, they got something that will blow out your back.

  • As a member of an intentional community, I absolutely agree with you, Guy, that two ways of making community work are:
    Make yourself useful
    Expect everybody to contribute
    Below I also give my personal summary of why I think that communities are a good idea. You also ask your reader what important components are missing when building community. Here is my answer to that:
    –Set good boundaries. Just as you put your oxygen mask on before you assist a person who is dependent upon you in a airplane emergency, thus you take good care of yourself or you will be no good to anyone else.
    –Realize that many of your relationships with your neighbors will be more like family relationships than work relationships, and as such, will require you to grow and develop in new ways. Learning to live in a community is a process (just as learning to be a spouse or parent is a life-long process).
    –Continue to improve your communication skills. The better you are at communicating (which really involves boundaries and relationships), the better your life will be when you live with other people. Do not expect yourself or others to have been born with good communication skills–do expect yourself and others to actively seek out help and work towards continuing to improve communication skills. An excellent resource: People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts by Robert Bolton
    –Share common values, as much as possible. Yes, I know that it is PC to value diversity. Reality is that people get along much better when they can see eye to eye. While it is always good to have respect and compassion for those who are different, when you trying to build a life together, better to surround yourself with people who you can easily respect and get along with.
    –Remain optimistic rather than pessimestic. I don’t mean PollyAnn, but rather, action-oriented rather than easily paralized. Keep your eye on the prize, and don’t let setbacks end the action. For those who keep trying rather than giving up, there is almost always a solution down the line. There is always another option, another way to stay in the game…
    I want to add one thing to “expect everyone to contribute”. It is good to have high expectations of others. Being social creatures, we are all VERY influenced by those we surround ourselves with. It is so important that we don’t teach others to be helpless by rescuing them. Everyone can contribute.
    Here is a little bit about my personal experience with living in community:
    For the last 1 1/2 years, I have lived in an urban infill intentional community. I feel that it is much easier to reduce carbon-based resources, live an easy life, and be happy living where I know and have daily interactions with my neighbors. I now understand why communities are not subsidized–there is far less money to be made from the people who live in little communities. I don’t even know where to start in listing how many resources I save each day–how much easier my life is–how much more fun my life is. So, I will just list what I has happened to me in the last 24 hours.
    –My wrist has been bothering me, and so I asked my next door neighbor about it when I ran into him (he was walking his dogs, so I just walked beside him). He happens to be a doctor, so he gave me a quick consult that included some questions about my activities, a quick physical examination of the wrist, and some suggestions as to what I can do to help it heal and continue to lift weights. Cross off taking a couple of hours and a car trip to my doctor for a consult, as well as paying her some money to help me.
    –My kids like to play with their friends after school, so they walk over to their houses, or their friends walk over to ours. They go back and forth between their houses, the 2 play fort areas, the lawn, and the pool as needed. I only have to get involved if they go to the pool and an older teenager, or another parent isn’t available to watch. Cross off driving to friends’ houses for play dates, or public parks or pools for play time.
    –I like to stay active, and so this morning a neighbor and I carpooled in her hybrid 1/2 mile to the riverwalk. While we were there, we enountered 2 neighbors: one biking back from a tennis match, and the other out for a jog. The four of us held an improptu meeting and handled some conflict business that had been brewing. I left the meeting with a much better understanding of what the conflict was about, and how people were feeling. Cross off a car drive.
    –My husband takes the bus or his bike into work for the last 1/2 year, including this morning, because so many of our neighbors do this, that there was a lot of pressure on him to follow suit. He went from completely opposed, to a huge fan of public transportation (gives him extra time to do work when he used to have to sit in traffic). We no longer have two cars. Cross off the 5 day use of an extra car.
    –Today, 40% of my lunch came from our community garden, and the rest I cooked in my solar cooker. I enjoy gardening more here because it is a social thing that I do with my neighbors instead of by myself. There is also lot of pressure to buy local and cook with the solar cooker. These are things that I already wanted to do, but find having the social support very helpful in actually making them happen. Cross off a trip to the grocery store, and the use of my oven.
    –My dryer has been broken for a few months, but I have not bothered to fix it, because the community has a free dryer beside the clothes line. Today, as usual, I run my wet laundry through the dryer for a couple of minutes, and then hang them to dry. Cross off the use of a dryer.
    –I shared tea and cookies with a neighbor who dropped by for a chat. Cross off a car trip.
    I hope that this post doesn’t come across as self-righteous–that is not my intention. My hope is to encourage people to realize that by knowing your neighbors, developing relationships and sharing with them, and dealing with the conflicts as well as enjoying the benefits of these special relationships, you stand to gain a much happier, healthier life. If you are curious, consider visiting an intentional community to begin learn more about this paradigm of living. Of course, you can create a community wherever you are, just by getting to know your neighbors and starting to share some meals, some tools, carpooling together and whatnot–you don’t need to move into a neighborhood that was specially designed for community just to get these benefits. Realize that it is normal for this to be a sometimes painful process and that conflict, disagreements and whatnot, are normal in human relationships. Just keep talking…

  • Mechelle, you give some excellent examples of ways to develop a network of people helping people to live greener and reduce their eco-footprint. But I was puzzled by one item – you carpooled (good) in her hybrid (good) ONE HALF MILE to the riverwalk? Really? I don’t know you or your neighbor’s limitations, but wouldn’t it have made more sense to walk the half mile? Or was that a typo?
    I’m not sure how intentional communities are formed, and am wondering whether there is an intentional effort to ensure that every community has a doctor as a member. Which leads me to my question to Guy…

  • Guy, I’ve been wondering how you plan to handle medical issues once you are entrenched in your mud hut. Not that I have a lot of respect for the over-medication of our society, but I have this mental image of Tom Hanks in Castaway, knocking out an infected tooth with an ice-skate blade.
    I’d be interested in answers from anyone else who has a plan as well.

  • Fine question, Wendy. Unfortunately, I don’t have a comprehensive response. There’s an R.N. in the community, and we’ve stocked up on books such as “Where There Is No Doctor.” But in general, we’re not in great shape on this front. If you’re reading this, and you’re a doctor, please send me an email message so I can try to recruit you. I’ve tried this with my medical doctor, but she thinks I’m insane.
    And she says it like it’s a bad thing.

  • Guy, it might be very useful to take an EMT (emergency medical technician) course at Pima College or elsewhere. I was actively involved in physically demanding biological field work in South American, North America, Central America and the Caribbean for 40 years before taking that course, and after I became an EMT I was amazed that none of the dozens of field techs on the various conservation programs ever got into serious accidents or had medical emergencies other than the occasional kidney stone, giardia or bout of turista.
    The training teaches you to recognize life-threatening conditions, and it probably saved my husband’s life when he had a pulmonary embolism on a mountaintop in southern California. In talking to him on the phone from AZ I was able to figure out it was serious, and when I called the local paramedics the report I gave them sent them scrambling to him with a helicopter not far behind. It also helped me recognize when I myself was going into a bout of anaphylactic shock that would have killed me had I ignored the symptoms.
    Years ago we were sailing with my brother-in-law in the Caribbean and there was a book on board about medical emergencies at sea. It was along the lines of Donde No Hay Doctor but was intended for even more isolated situations, and while I don’t recall the title it had an interesting discussion about appendicitis and how it’s survivable in some cases without surgery, just heavy use of antibiotics and waiting for the infection to get walled off by the body’s defense system.
    The Wycliffe Bible Translators for years have had a useful medical manual for missionaries and their hosts that covers a lot of tropical conditions as well as trauma.
    https://books.google.com/books?id=Kj696NKYrfAC&pg=PT1&lpg=PT1&dq=Wycliffe+bible+medical++manual&source=bl&ots=FdUPf6b5VD&sig=ygAX4Tq2tZDusrXe6lV3_nneRKw&hl=en&ei=TPLSSfTVEoyItAP9u_D5Cw&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA1,M1

  • Another point about EMT training: it’s equally useful and applicable to animals, domestic and wild, that you may have in your life.

  • H’mmm…unfortunately my degree only qualifies me to help you with the “insane” part. ;-D
    But in your case, I wouldn’t mess with it.
    “A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free.”
    – Nikos Kazantzakis

  • nice post Guy,
    if your bleak scenario comes true,
    meds will not be available anyway,
    (presumably they all have a use by date).
    No need for a Doctor to write you a prescription.
    Worst case outcome, would any of us trust a doctor to perform
    major surgery in the post industrial age?
    ie without all the ancillary support infrastucture
    that makes it possible in the first place. Infection
    rates would be notoriously difficult to control.
    Post op outcomes in pre industrial surgery often
    failed through poor hygiene practices.
    Granted we have better knowledge now.
    Peak oil may mean peak health care.
    For example hip replacements, heart surgery etc
    Doctors are not gods, eventhough they are deified somewhat.
    A nurse may be easier for you to recruit and may be more
    useful.
    For minor ailments and minor surgeries, you probably
    gonna have to do it yourself. Guy, just be careful when you
    split your firewood.
    I am sure there are herbal treatments (natural effedrines)
    to keep you awake at night, you know marauding hordes of
    flesh eating zombies gathering to raid your larder. 🙂

  • If you can, and it’s getting extremely difficult to get antibiotics as fear of immunity is extremely huge, try to get your hands on a few of the major antibacterials with long shelf lives. The Tetracycline and derivative family (Doxycycline) are good choices, but will make you sensitive to sunlight (Shelf life of two or three years, THROW AWAY AFTER THAT) and Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim) is an EXTREMELY powerful antibiotic capable of knocking out a urinary tract infection or if need be a regular staph infection or in an extreme situation, MRSA. (Shelf life 5 years) Ospamox (Amoxicillin 4 year shelf life, DEFINATELY THROW AWAY AFTER EXPIRY) is great for pesky infections like tonsilitis/strep throat. Strep throat has a good chance of waxing you if left untreated, so amox would be nice to have around. As always keep out of direct sunlight and store in a cool dry place. Only do this if you really think it’s going to get real bad though, and don’t just take whatever you think might help you, you could do more damage than not.
    I am *NOT* a doctor. I am a paramedic. Any advise you get here is info only and I am not responsible if you do something dumb and take four of your amox pills, then stop so your strep throat is immune to amox because you wanted to keep a few. If you’ve got a doctor handy, consult them, do not self medicate.

  • Ms. Meixner, I must say that sounds heavenly compared to isolated suburban (or even urban) living.
    matt, I’m guessing Guy already knows about creosote bushes and their natural ephedrine. 🙂
    Regarding surgery, I have to say, most of the people I’ve known who’ve had surgery recently ended up with some kind of sepsis or hemorrhaging. So, I’ll have to agree with you that even doctors of modern medicine would be robbed of much effectiveness if technology, energy, antibiotics, and speedy transport became unavailable.

  • Codeine is an excellent and powerful pain killer that lasts forever.It is readily avaliable over the counter in Canada.It’s usually combined with aspirin or tylenol(Acetaminophen)and sold under many differnt brand names,but Canadians generally refer to as “2-2-2’s”as that was an original and popular brand in Canada.Canadian law limits
    the codeine to 8mg per tablet.Four of those =32mg or equivalent to one Tylenol #3 which has 30 mg of codeine.
    Tylenol #3 is frequently prescribed by doctors and especially dentists.If you ever get any do not throw it away,but save for when you need an effective pain killer.I used to regularily bring it back from Canada, but since 9-11 the border crossing has become a pain and I don’t know if that option is feasible today.

  • Professor Guy:
    We got a message for you that was inadvertainly diverted here.Don’t ask me how.
    You need to call 520-791-4022 and ask for Mr.Wolf.

  • Very funny, Frank (the telephone number provided by Frank is for the local zoo). I didn’t call, but I know all about Mr. Wolf. Need I point out that the story about the boy who cried wolf actually had a wolf in it?

  • Professor Guy:
    What is today’s date?
    I’m sure Charlene still appreciates me.
    Frank

  • I have come across many discussions regarding what to do about medical conditions after the collapse. Most of them focus on how to continue the current medical/medicine paradigm. I have taken a different route. About 20 years ago I discovered that the current medical/medicine paradigm was flawed because it was driven by the same financial/political forces that drive almost every other aspect of modern society. The current medical system is driven by profit and is engineered to come into play after the ailment or disease has appeared. In the new world that is now forming we survivors will have to take full responsibility for our own health. This means it is our responsibilities to get as healthy as possible and learn everything we can about our bodies and how to maintain vibrant health. I have spent the last 20 years searching for this knowledge and training as best as I can to apply it to my own life. There are doctors and health practitioners that can teach you how to prevent, control, and overcome most ailments and as well as serious conditions like Heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, etc. The idea is to learn the cause and prevent things like cancer before they overwhelm you. The knowledge is out there and available to anyone who seeks it. My personal quest led me to discovering the phenomenal ability of the human body to heal itself, the power of plant based nutrition, and the amazing healing powers of fasting. If you are interested in learning more I recommend you read the works of Joel Fuhrman, M.D. (http://www.drfuhrman.com/), T. Colin Campbell, PhD (http://www.plantbasednutrition.org/), Alan Goldhamer, D.C. (http://www.healthpromoting.com/), and Jeffrey S. Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN (http://www.healthscience.org/).

  • Amoxycyllin is available in Mexico (if you dare) at close to nothing per capsule. Tetracycline is available in powder form mixed with other stuff for poultry drinking water, ok for human and other animal uses. Any feed store (OK in Tucson, Ft. Lowell and Dodge) should have this. Codeine can cause problems: allergic reactions, plus it depresses respiration so don’t use it for chest trauma and I think it’s contraindicated for head-injury pain too. Go online and read every bit of fine print you can google about these drugs. Might be good to have something like Flagyl on hand too for misc. little critters that are not bacteria nor viruses. You are on your own as far as taking this ideas and putting them into action though: proceed w. caution, and get to know a doctor well enough socially to talk over these things.
    An epi-pen and lots of Benadryl or generic equivalent are good for allergic reactions, and the latter works for sleeping pill functions in most but not all people. Do not drive after taking it!!

  • good one frank,
    Cesar, Michael Pollan suggests similar regarding food and nutrition,
    ie good soil = good food = good health, (pretty obvious),
    also dont eat anything your neolithic ancestor would not recognise
    as food. Eat grass fed animals if you can. Nutrition (non industrial foods)
    is an overwhelming vital factor contributing to our health that is not
    truly appreciated or nor understood.
    The doomer mood on the blogosphere seems to be shifting somewhat
    from ‘collapse’ to perhaps a kind of ‘transition’. Are you
    oscillating Guy? It is easy to imagine different scenarios
    playing out.
    All doomer roads lead back to Catton. The problem with Catton
    is the existence of India. Up until recently their fossil fuel
    use would have been by comparison miniscule and yet they reached
    the 20th century with enormous pop relative to land base.
    Granted their environment is degraded and to quote asimov via
    bartlett that ‘human dignity, civilisation and human rights
    can not survive over population’. Well civilisation can, dont know
    about the other two, when civ survives in this existence, what you get
    is a caste system. No doubt established centuries ago,
    this suggests they have always been over populated (relative to the
    available resources).
    Human rights go out the window and ‘civ’ stumbles along. perhaps?

  • Frank, a lot of people order prescription meds from Canada,
    so I wouldn’t think it would be a problem to bring OTC meds across the border.
    But then, that would be entirely too logical, wouldn’t it?
    Regarding general health, a return to “uncivilized” foods (i.e. not overprocessed)
    would probably promote better health. So there may be some real benefits to
    a post-carbon life.
    Guy, I had to cheer your choice of wording, “K-12 concentration camps”. During our early years
    of homeschooling we lived within view of the local elementary school playground. My two kids
    referred to the children on the inside of that chain-link fence as “the prisoners.”
    By the way, what’s with the lack of wrap-around with the text on this thread?
    I’m having trouble reading across the grey on the right, so I put hard returns in this post.
    Makes me feel like Matt. 😉

  • There’s no question post-carbon diets will be better than industrial diets, filled as the latter are with high-fructose corn syrup. This post pays considerable attention to issues of personal health … after all, it was targeted at MPH students. I’ve been looking into EMT and CERT training, and will pursue them, if all goes well, this spring and summer. Thanks, everybody, for the insightful comments.
    Final comment, for Matt: I have a difficult time imagining the industrial economy will persist through the year. The annual 9.1% decline in crude oil supply, beginning this year, makes me wonder how Wall Street will get through the “sell in May and go away” mentality, especially since we’ve only experienced a decline rate of 0.5% during the four years since we passed Hubbert’s Peak. But of course, I could be wrong. I’m growing quite accustomed to that feeling.

  • Wilderness EMT takes it to another level, in which you’ve got almost no access to the accoutrements of modern medicine, just your bare hands and bare brains, plus maybe a bandana and a pocket knife.

  • Wendy:
    The key to codeine is the prescription.Doctors and others feel they are under great scrutiny,and are very cautious in prescribing anything containing a controlled substance.I haven’t been to Canada recently,but I hear anecdotally that border personnel are asking specifically about anything containing a controlled substance and are confiscating the same.I’ve been taking 2-2-2’s/Tylenol #3(codeine)for years and found them to be very helpful.If any Canadian can buy it over the counter it can’t be that harmful,and my doctor advised me to save extra Tylenol #3 for any time I need a better pain killer.

  • The friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you. – Elbert Hubbard
    That’s also the essence of community.

  • REsponse to Wendy’s question about driving 1/2 mile:
    Yes, I agree that it is crazy to drive 1/2 a mile (hybrid or no) so that we can walk 2 or 3 miles and then turn around and drive back home. Although I usually bike this or just walk it, when I go with one particular neighbor we drive because she has an intense fear of walking or biking beside busy roads.
    I am trying to figure out how to start a movement to make 30% of our roads car-free so that we have infrastructure that is realistically friendly for pedestrians and bike-riders (or electric vehicles/wheelchairs/bikes that go 25 miles/hour or less). For you and for me it is easy to bike or walk while sharing space with cars and trucks, but this is just not true for a large percentage of Americans. For example, I tried to bike with my kids to their school, but even though their was a marked bike lane going both ways all the way to school and back, we had so many near fatalities that I immediately gave up trying to do this. I tried to bike on the sidewalks and gravel off the road and we constantly ended up with flat tires. So, I just sort of gave up, but am still brainstorming solutions…
    Although I see myself as an idealistic person, I want to draw attention to my realities, too. For example, last night I wanted to check out after an intense day and so I drove 1 mile down to Blockbusters for a fluff movie (yes, I know I could have talked to a friend, called my folks, written a letter, read a book, gone to sleep, done yoga, folded clothes, or done any number of other things). I have biked to the shopping mall that Blockbuster is in many times, so, no need to have driven my car. Why did I drive? Well, because I am still unnerved by the car hijacking that took place on the road in front of our community 2 nights before and I felt safer that late at night, in this neighborhood, in my car rather than on my bike. If gas was just too expensive, or if I were a better person, I would have not given into my desire to tune out in this fashion and would have come up with a different way…
    It is such a constant struggle know how to behave these days, what to do. Sometimes I just feel like getting fun times whenever I can because I am not too sure how much longer I’m going to be alive anyway!

  • Here’s a link to the walkscore.com site. I guess there is a petition.
    http://www.walkscore.com/transportation-bill.shtml
    Not surprisingly, my current neighborhood FAILED in epic fashion on the walk score, but I’m in the market for another one.
    So, http://www.walkscore.com is a big part of our decision-making.
    Community. Now there’s a nice thought!

  • Haha Charlene, my neighborhood scored 89/100 for a walkability score, but I *DARE* you to try walking there. A casual walk down Franklyn avenue might result in you getting robbed or far, far worse.
    Furthermore public transit is a disaster. If you’re going to ride in many areas you’d better bring a friend, a SWAT team, and mounted cavalry. Attacks on buses and light rail are nearly epidemic. Just last night there was a gang beatdown where, reports say, eight to ten teenage males attacked an elderly couple and beat them severely. They’re expected to recover, but who, or better yet, why would anyone want to ride a means of transportation where even the elderly are subject to attack? I’m a police officer and carry a firearm even in plain clothes and I wouldn’t risk riding the bus.
    Public transportation sounds great. The problem is in getting it to work. You can enact whatever legislation you want to try and end violence, but that’s like banning spoons because they’re what made Rosie O’Donnel overweight. Furthermore Public transportation isn’t as much about transportation, saving the environment, or physical health as it is about control. In some cases it’s all about the environment, but the people that make the laws use it as a piggyback for controlling where you go and what you do.

  • Well, I should say I’m pairing the walkscore with the city data on reported crime stats, LOL.
    Unforunately, it does seem most of the “walkable” places here also happen to be in some shady places. I don’t care if the rent
    add suggests the place HAS been “regentrified”…regentrified my…well, you know. Even so, there are some nicely livable
    areas with good walkability to be found as well.
    I don’t know about public transit as being a means for controlling people. That seems a little tin-foily, even for
    my tastes which often, I fear, lean to that crunchy, aluminum flavor.
    Honestly, a poorly planned suburban layout complete with inadequate public transit seems more likely to control people.
    When you don’t have the gas money and you don’t have a public transit option, you’re stuck, aren’t you? Or when the public
    transit is ruled by thugs because it is, as already mentioned, poorly planned, again you’re stuck, aren’t you?
    Stuck=controlled in my book.
    No, you can’t legislate violence away, but I don’t think that’s a good excuse for, in essence, saying “F it”. I’m sure there
    are plenty of public places in the world were people aren’t beating the hell out of each other every night. Clearly, there
    is some reason for this?

  • I disagree Charlene, here’s why:
    If I am creating bus routes I have them going to some places but not others, with different concentrations of transit for different areas. Some suburbs are covered, while others have no public transport to speak of. If I make the bus routes I can pretty easily dictate where to concentrate lower income people (The principal ridership of public transportation) and where lower income people are simply not welcome. (Ridership is staggeringly low for the wealthy) Further, crime rates follow bus ridership proportionally. I’m not saying *EVERYONE* that rides a bus in a criminal, nor am I saying that *EVERYONE* that rides abus is poor. What I am saying is that crime follows lower income just as much as public transit ridership. By manipulating the routes of public transit crime as well as lower income people can, and is, concentrated where public transit is most convenient.
    I can further position businesses that might appeal to lower income people along those same public transit lines, while making the route shy away from a business that I might not want to get higher business. Businesses in my hometown regularly pay to have a bus route moved closer to or adjacent to their storefront so that traffic is increased.
    Just because I’m not overtly controlling them does not mean there is no control. I first had this disagreement with a criminology professor, I, like you, said that the belief that Mass transit was control was a bit too tinfoil hat for me. The professor disagreed and showed me why it is. I stood corrected.

  • So, why not privatize “public” transport and have several lines competing?
    Companies could buy the land, own the buses, rail cars, etc. then do whatever keeps them in business.
    Poor people probably couldn’t keep them in business as well as people with “disposable income”.
    So, they could market it to upscale travelers as a convenience and cater to
    those clientes who won’t scare or beat up granny?
    So, maybe there is a capitalist solution to transit?
    I imagine, in such a scenario people would be at the mercy of corporations, but we are already, so I suppose this
    could work. Corporations get to market products and get money, and people still get to ditch cars without being
    beaten for their pocket change. Not necessarily perfect, but workable?

  • Edit to add: the State may not care if granny gets beaten, or if thugs follow certain pathways, but I bet
    Big Captialists would worry about it. It would be bad PR. They would lose business for their transport line.
    A smart businessman wouldn’t want thugs running his business for him. He’d have a totally
    different motivation than the Nanny State. Think about it.
    See this is the problem I have with pure socialism or pure captialism, both fail. A little
    capitalism doesn’t hurt, nor is socialism all bad. It’s about balancing it out.

  • Okay, so I checked out the walkscore of my home. It rates a 3 out of a hundred, and says I’m “car-dependent”.
    HA! Their criteria is that I am over a mile from most of the schools, bars, and wherever else they think I need to
    go. Yup, I live in the country, half a mile from the city limits. But a measly mile or two is supposed to make me
    “car-dependent”? I regularly walk/jog anywhere from 2 to 6 miles every day just for fun, and can ride my bicycle
    to anywhere in town in 20 minutes. It’s a small town. The road I live on is known for being a popular walker/jogger
    route so when I do walk my dog down this country road (with no bike or pedestrian lanes and not even a shoulder),
    everyone that drives by slows down, waves, and moves to the other side of the road to pass. Sounds to me like my
    little walkscore “fail” is better and safer than those who live in urban settings like Turboguy’s. By the way, public
    transportation still requires gasoline, so that will be gone too if Professor Guy’s predictions are correct.
    I still think rural and independent as much as possible, in a place with a good network of community, is the way to go.

  • Wendy, I agree with you totally.
    Charlene: You said, “So, why not privatize “public” transport and have several lines competing?”
    That does sound like a great solution. Problem stems from the fact that the government would be cut off from a pipeline of funds that would instead be going to line the pockets of CEO’s which has been deemed lately to be a very bad thing.
    Then there’s the whole problem where you’re having the same problems you have now where some areas are devoid of mass transit while others are saturated.
    Also I just don’t want to ride public transportation, I can afford not to. I drive a car which gives me unbelievable freedom to go where I want, when I want to go there and don’t have to stand in the cold for twenty minutes to board a bus which costs me $2.50 per ride. Driving my car is actually far cheaper even when gas was nearly $5.00/gallon. This is factoring in gas, license tabs, maintenance, etc than it is for me to ride the bus, and my car can’t even remotely be confused for an economical one.
    The problem with the “Upscale” mass transit is that it would be attacked as class warfare. Why should only well off people be able to get to ride in relative comfort while we downtrodden have to ride in the rolling dungeons Mass transit has become in this country. As for s***heads ruining business for a bus company, the bus company really has no recourse. They could hire off duty police officers, which at nearly forty dollars an hour for overtime would be a business suicide.
    Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree with you, what we’ve got is the best solution, but it could and needs to be better. Until the people in charge of the Mass transit situation get their act together people aren’t going to ride mass transit unless they’re forced.
    What’s really funny about the “Walkability” standard they’ve got there is the freezing hell that is winter. Having to walk in thirty degrees is fairly inconvenient. Having to walk in sixty degrees F. below zero isn’t just inconvenient, it’s a harrowing ordeal! A mile might as well be on the other side of the moon when it gets blisteringly cold like that. If some eco friendly, greenpeace person wants to go walk around to a bus stop four blocks when it’s so cold water freezes in seconds, by all means let them. I’ll take my nice warm gas guzzler and get there without frostbite.

  • Agreed on facing inclement weather. I wouldn’t necesarily want to walk anything more than 1/4 a mile in 120+ heat
    with the kids. I’ve tried it, unintentionally, and it was a nightmare. Myself, I don’t mind, but in the hottest weather
    you could forget me venturing out with the kids for a “nice stroll”. Below zero, likewise.
    I imagine the bus company could figure something out, whether it would be totally legal and above-board would be another
    matter entirely…
    As far as mass transit goes, eventually something will workable will have to be worked out. I doubt personal transport
    will go away (even if it is in the form of a mule and a good strong cart in Guy’s scenario). I just think more civilized options
    will have to come about. The downtrodden are typically the ones who get the short end of the stick. In a privatized
    mass transit system, maybe the good people just stuck in a bad class would benefit from some sort of voucher system.
    Think of it as the “good student” discount as applied to transit. Then again, this would probably come off as class warfare as well.

  • Dear Guy —
    I am not following the blog currently and so this little blurb may be out of context with current discussions. But I thought you might find it of interest in context of prior discussions; in particular my comparison of our failing civilization to the ship Titanic. I just happened across a new book in the public library as follows: Titanic’s Last Secrets: The Further Adventures of Shadow Divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler (Thorndike Press Large Print Nonfiction Series) (Hardcover)
    This book provides evidence that the ship Titanic (not unlike our modern civilization) was fatally flawed in its very design and construction. The actual sinking of the Titanic occurred because of structural breakup at the surface following taking on seawater after a collision with an iceberg. The builders of the ship and the owners had little concern after that collision and many, many passengers stayed on board and even below decks in comfort because the ship would not sink for days and that staying in the ship would be even safer than the 70 foot lowering of the lifeboats from upper decks to the ocean. As a result, when the back of the ship broke due to poor engineering, many hundreds of passengers and crew were drowned with no chance of survival because they felt safe in the huge ship. The builders of the ship bought into the mistaken idea that ocean-going ships could be enlarged in size indefinitely by simply scaling up the engineering of smaller ships. This was a fatal error, and this new book shows that the manufacturers and owners of Titanic must have known after their own investigation of the tragedy of the fatal design flaws, but kept those facts secret.
    I see vital comparisons with our civilization. Obama is part of the problem because his “changes” are institutionalized scaling up of failed past civilizations and protection of those whose engineering resulted in systemic failure. The role of government in the U.S. and elsewhere is to protect the financial interests of the status quo and deflect accountability and maintain profitability of the elite and the investor class no matter what. The ship is sinking and the breakup point may be lower than predicted. Our civilization is beginning to show its stress cracks and breakup can occur at any time.

  • Memo to Our Stan:
    Welcome back!!
    You have been sorely missed.Please pay more attention to us.I’ve been trying to keep this group in line,
    but it has not been easy–could use your help.
    Frank

  • Interesting piece you wrote there, Guy. I remember reading years ago an anthropological study on what size communities work best, and it turned out that 150 plus or minus is about ideal: big enough for some diversity and variety, but small enough that everyone knew everyone else by name and face. Our community here is about 200 mostly retired folks or non-commuting, locally employed younger people, and the community we have together just arose naturally without sitting down together to form committees to draw up an action plan. I think that happens everywhere, completely naturally, IF the numbers in the community are small, in the low 100’s.
    It makes for an interdepence which everyone understands, and it acts like a damper on extremes of behavior, like picking public fights at the school board meeting or quitting the fire department in a huff. Some folks move here and then in a few years, move away again, usually because it was too isolated economically (no bookstores, no theaters, no Starbucks) and not because they felt isolated culturally. They sometimes express a wish for more anonymity, which is hard in a rural county where everyone knows you by your hat or your dog, let alone your vehicle.
    Last year I got a real estate license. I didn’t do it for the money, which I don’t need, but because for the past 22 years, over and over biologists and birders we know have been asking me to help them find land here. I did it to be able to legally help those friends and others here who for reasons of age & health are suddenly having to sell and move. It has been more work than I ever envisioned, even in this “bad” market — turns out there are a lot of folks looking for a place with water and potential for solar. Not to mention community: tomorrow something is happening that I doubt would occur in even a large town or small city, as 4 neighbors decided spontaneously to meet me at a place (totally off the grid) I’m listing, to help clean it inside and out. The house’s absentee owners are popular and when I mentioned that the tenants had left it a bit of a mess, this project just happened spontaneously without my asking for it.
    The list you linked to of how to live in a community is thought-provoking and it made me appreciate this community when I realized I’d done most if not all those things except for read somebody a story, if you count back to St. Patrick’s Day when we dance and sing in the streets.
    I don’t think you can force-engineer a community, and it would be a mistake to try to screen people for “compatibility” or similarity of “values”. That diversity is what makes my community quirky and fun — we have liberals who fly the peace flag and in-your-face right-wingers with Ann Coulter bumper stickers.

  • Memo to rothmoofe:
    Welcome.Saw your posting today (April 5,2009)on a previous entry.
    Give us your imput please.
    Frank

  • Frank, I don’t think roth is a person. That’s probably a spammer bot. I could be wrong, but rarely am about these things…