Hey do you read this newsletter every week? Do you value the labor that goes into it? Have you become a paid subscriber? Think about it! Many of the people who read this newsletter the most are people who haven’t gone over to paid — and I get it, I really do, I’m constantly saying I’m going to pay for things and take weeks to actually do it. But maybe today is your day.
Alex Steffen was one of my go-tos for a long time before I left Twitter! As more environmental thinkers I used to admire have gone off the “let everything collapse” deep end (which I get but they seem to have no compassion for human suffering), Steffen remains thoughtful on that front. Community resilience FTW. One of the big things, of course being affordability, which I think needs state-level solutions in some places mainly because many conservative legislatures keep strangling local fixes.
Car-centrism is such a big part of all this …
Thank you for this - this is what got me to finally subscribe! Bookmarking links for later, but wanted to add before I dash that I recently re-ran across this gem from 40 + years ago from futurist/evolutionary economist Hazel Henderson when she was asked to consider the future:
"1980s - 2030 and beyond:
Tendencies counter to the previously described evolutionary path for the human species [she’d predicted that from 1985-1990 humans would find more reverence for nature and “a humbler view of our maternal selves”] will continue to strive to retain their dominance. Even though the competitive, patriarchal, nation-state system with all its institutional forms of hierarchy, dominance/submission, and “machismo” technologies and its aggression-based values can no longer be maintained, leaders will continue to try and shore up these social systems. As those leaders try to maintain control, they will continually propose dangerous policies of confrontation and violence, risking nuclear proliferation and war, rather than admitting that the value systems by which they rose to power were viable only in the expansionary phase of human evolution, but cannot be perpetuated as boundary conditions are reached in a finite planetary ecosystem. In a new phase of global human interdependence, only a switch from competitive to cooperative value systems can assure the continuation of human development and avoid extinction."
She's in her late 80s and still at it.
I love this level of systems thinking - and so much of it points back to co-ops, mutual aid, and other non-capitalist forms of organization and governance. Those are clearly the new answers we need, but it's very, very hard to go from thinking and writing about it to making it happen. We're trying here in St. Louis, and I feel like we have so much going for us - funding, visionary leaders, a large, amazing network of folks - but it's still a struggle. I love learning about places like Kachka, but I still feel like we're trying to invent an electric car in a workshop lit by candles.
Wow—this was a wonderful piece! Reading about policy shift here for me is like when you learn a new word and then start noticing it everywhere.
For example, I am so frustrated when people on the Right say that we don’t need to fund childcare or provide family leave because women should just stay home with their kids. But nearly all US families require two incomes to stay afloat these days. The Right is misapplying the booming economy of the 1950s to our financially stressed times.
A similar issue arises in elder care. In the past, it was extremely rare for people to live into their 80s, and families were larger, so women almost never faced the most grueling parts of elder care—caring for parents with dementia for many years—all on their own. (My mom, for example, took on most of the work for caring for both her parents and her father-in-law for years.) Right now, support for women engaged in elder care is nonexistent, as though we had very few elders to care for and plenty of family to help out.
Even in education we see it. Why do we have such long summer breaks (when parents scramble for childcare and kids lose a portion of the previous year’s educational gains) when very few of us are needed for the harvest? Why does our math curriculum push all kids toward calculus, when only a minuscule percentage of them will ever use it, and when statistics and financial literacy would be so much more useful? Why do high schools start early, depriving teens of badly-needed sleep, and elementary schools start late, forcing working parents to scramble for childcare?
Thank you for giving me a framework and effective way of thinking about so many problems in our country.
Thank you for this post! It was was an exhilarating read for a Sunday morning! And, I think it will help with my still-ongoing goal setting for 2022. I often find myself thinking about a 2018 post on the Granola Shotgun blog that coined the kind of rugged resilience I would like work toward: the mangiapocalypse, or a way of preparing for various kinds of environmental disasters and economic precarity in a way that is focused on shared abundance, strong social networks, and cooperative effort. No longer accessible on the main blog, but archived here: https://granolashotgun.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/the-mangiapocalypse/
To adapt to an increasingly "uncivilized" new normal so that We The People (not the rich, fuck them forever) will survive ... will require a lot of middle class global Northerners to walk away from concepts that have been inculcated in them since childhood.
Anyone remember Smokey the Bear? Hmmm. Forest fires can be good, actually, and I'm really glad you brought up fire.
The book linked below covers anthropogenic fire and the deleterious influence of early and mid 20th century "scientific" concepts of fire management. It was written about 30 years ago but much still holds true. Humans, fire, and natural landscapes did quite well together for centuries, and then came the modernizers.
The US has backed off on some of the more harmful fire management ideas that were instituted beginning in the Progressive era (early 20th century). But if you remember Smokey the Bear, you got a dose of the "fire is just about always bad actually" medicine.
AHEM: Good fucking piece! 💯‼
Unfortunately, I now get to leave having done the morning labor, I get to do the afternoon labor, but I will come back and run off at the mouth in response.
so never fear, or scream in annoyance, whichever option works for you
p.s. if i can edit my comments now, does this mean that such advanced 21st technology such as <strike> and <bold> and <emphasis> could be here Real Soon Now?? perhaps the substack gods will come bearing gifts soon! it could happen!