“Watch out, rocks ahead!”

The jolt in our civilisation is much on my mind at the moment. Watching the Trillion Pound debt programme and reading Fleeing Vesuvius: Overcoming the Risks of Environmental and Economic Collapse, I am trying to arm myself with the facts. The scale of the figures involved in our current economic situation are mind-boggling.  The problem is that they are almost inconceivable to this little, well-educated human mind.  The FEASTA publication suggests we ask ourselves three questions: what can I do, what can our community do and what is out of my hands?

And that has been my approach thus far. We are moving our money out of banks, investing in real, useful things: insulation for our house, bicycles, a water butt, books for knowledge, a full bulk-bought store cupboard, education for ourselves. We are borrowing our mortgage from family and paying back to the banks what is theirs so that we are not caught up in their mess. We are keeping open minds about our “work” and earning potential, diversifying our revenue-streams, so that we are not reliant on one source of income. We are trying to make ourselves as self-sufficient  as we can, simultaneously rooting ourselves in our community – supporting local business, individuals and services. We are building up community capital, investing time in friendship, skill exchanges, swaps of unwanted products: clothes, books etc amongst firneds and our freecycle community. I have been a big fan of Rob Hopkin’s Transition Towns Movement and we are guided by its principles and actions. I consider us to be a Transition family, more of which another time…

I am not trying to get apocalyptic, but at the same time, major, major changes are happening around us, especially in Ireland and the UK which are changing the way we will live and work and our financial standing for generations to come. Gone are the big cosy pensions, the two foreign holidays a year, the jobs for life, the free University education, free old-age care, mortgage relief for the unemployed. We are being expected more and more to provide for ourselves and our families: we must anticipate our needs, to be response-able.

The image I have chosen for this post is symbolic: each family can try to be an island, to prepare themselves to withstand the stormy seas, but still we are reliant on the mainland for many of our survival needs. Also we that understand a little about the challenges which coming can be like lighthouses to others, showing the way through the dark seas, “Watch out, rocks ahead!”

The Chinese character for crisis is danger plus opportunity. And this is where we are. Some days we are hopeful, the world is full of new promise and exciting changes, the next it is like staring into the abyss,  as we assess and await the unknowable. I feel like a consummate Girl Guide and am working hard to “be prepared”.

And you… how are you and your family responding to the changing economic climate? Is it all alarmist hype? Are you hoping it’ll all blow over? Or are you making changes and preparations for a different way of life?

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