Saturday, October 14, 2006

Plan C, Community Solutions and the Most Important Thing Any One of Us will Ever Do

I left Megan Quinn, Faith Morgan and Pat Murphy off my "famous folk" post because I've been meaning to come back to the subject of the Community Solutions conference with everyone who bothers to read this. Because I want everyone here to read the Community Solutions "Plan C" and think carefully about how we can make this happen.

As a nation, we have no choice but to change the way we live. Even if you don't believe in peak oil, it doesn't really matter. Because even if this weren't the right response to Peak Oil (and it is), it is the right response to Climate Change. And even if it weren't the right response to Climate Change or Peak Oil, it is the right response to the central injustice in economic globalization. And even if that weren't true, it is the right response to give Americans the highest possible quality of life.

I know I sound a little like a suck up when I say how impressed I am with Pat Murphy. After all, he invited me to be a speaker, and gave me what he called my "debutant ball." But if you've actually met me, you know that if I don't like your ideas, it won't matter a tiny bit how much I like you personally. I'm a no quarter asked or given person. Pat doesn't need any quarter - he's come up with something truly brilliant on his own.

What Pat Murphy did, in Plan C and in his Smart Jitney program was question established realities. Are renewable energies really underfunded? Pat demonstrates clearly that they are not - that their limited utility doesn't come from lack of research into them. Is light rail really the best alternative? Pat shows that when you add the long term energy costs of construction, it is easier and cheaper and more efficient to use the existing car fleet, and simply put many more people in them, and use them more efficiently. With Megan Quinn, who is the public face of community solutions and a brilliant thinker on peak oil in her own right, Pat and Community Solutions have started to reconsider received ideas and create a model of the future that could work, and that doesn't simply put off a disaster upon our own children.

More than any single organization working on peak oil, Community Solutions offers hope and optimism. Faith Morgan's documentary, _The Power of Community_ offers Cuba as a model for what we could do and accomplish. And Plan C is, I think, the most hopeful vision of what we might get and achieve, if only we'd concentrate on what really matters - community, meeting basic needs, achieving a level of personal security, and finding a safe way down from the disaster we're teetering on.

I believe sufficiently in this that I've decided that my website will start a new program - the "thousand picture" program. Because if a picture is worth a thousand words, what would a thousand pictures of volunteers to live sustainably be? Because the major public opposition to any strategy of curtailment is the idea that Americans will never, ever go along with anything that means buying less, and living more simply. But I don't believe that's true - in fact, I think most Americans would like very much to live a simpler, more basic life, but don't know how to get there from here. If we who believe in good stuff like frugality, conservation, home economy and local development could stand up and say, "this is the way, and we're volunteers," there is no question we could transform the world.

If Plan C is ever to become public policy, the prejudice of public figures who believe they "know" what everyone wants must be overcome. So I'm asking for public sign-ons to plan C - to a voluntary strategy in which we gradually cut our consumption, and concentrate on creating stronger communities and happier lives. I'll have more details on my website shortly( But what I want is for at least one thousand (heck, I'll keep paying for the space if I can get a million - or 10 million - why not aim high!!!) people to sign on to the basic ideas of Plan C, and with their signature, send in a picture of yourself doing something sustainable. Send your name, email and your picture, along with a few lines about who you are and what you are doing to make your life more sustainable, and the address of your web presence, if you have one, to me at or, and I'll post them on the website. I'm going to chase down some celebrities as well, so we can all have fun flipping through the pictures looking for famous faces.

There will be prizes for the most beautiful pictures, the funniest, the weirdest and the cutest (at the moment I'm giving out hand-knitted mittens, but if you live in Florida I'll come up with something else!). I'll give out prizes once a month, or as fast as I can knit them. I want to see people in their gardens, kids collecting eggs, people riding bikes, trikes and unicycles. I'll take pictures of your homemade solar showers and your solar panels and your gardens that spell out "Victory." I want to see you wearing your own homespun, homewoven, homecrocheted, homeknitted clothing, and chopping wood. I want to see your homebuilt and home cooked products. And most of all, I want to see you - this is going to be, I think, a collections of pictures of the most beautiful, courageous, generous and amazing people in the world doing the work they do to improve upon it. Because if enough of us stand up and say we are willing, and our neighbors are willing, then our "leaders" will finally begin to follow.

So send me your pictures, and your info, along with a quick summary and your email and website. Show your face and the faces of your families, friends and neighbors. Help make it impossible to pretend that the world isn't full of willing volunteers.



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