Monthly Archives: June 2017

Reskilling: Why it Matters

If you’re unfamiliar with the term reskilling, perhaps it has a Small-is-Beautiful, DIY, hippie commune, neo-Luddite, back-to-the-land vibe. What you may not know is that reskilling is bedrock for the Transition Movement founded by Rob Hopkins which holds that: “… in a carbon constrained and localized world, communities will have to provide for many of their basic needs which means possessing the skills to do so.”

Of course, basic needs are open to wide interpretation. For some of us, it means fast, reliable Wi-Fi. Some of my most adored people would put shampoo, conditioner and a hot comb on their list of essentials, right up there with waterproof eyeliner (mine!). I kid, but seriously, we are so used to enjoying potable water, hot showers and plug in everything, we don’t think twice about what it takes to produce them, or what happens if they for any reason become unavailable.

I think of reskilling as a way of reclaiming the know-how that previous generations – parents, grandparents, trusted elders — passed down to us, along with values like thrift, making-do, cooperation. If even some of us embrace down-shifting, cutting back on our demands for generated power, it just might give the earth a chance to recover from decades of over-extraction.

A lot of people have been energized by recent events and in my area, weekly demonstrations along the motorcade route to/from the so-called ‘winter White House’ were a thing, along with Town Hall Meetings, and steady pressure on one’s Members of Congress when s/he doesn’t speak for you. All good, all the time. But I believe quieter forms of resistance to consumerism and the damage it is doing, belong in the mix. Reskilling IS Resistance.

So, could you make fire if you had to? Milk a cow? Forage for wild food? Sharpen tools without electricity? How about capture wild yeast to make bread? Mend or repair clothing? Could you distinguish between edible or poisonous mushrooms, or navigate using a simple compass? If these sound like Boy Scout badges, bingo! The point is, there are as many ways to reskill as there are people willing to teach what they know. But don’t take my word for it.

Check out the Firefly Gathering (thank you, Dylan Ryal-Hamilton), in Asheville, NC which begins June 29 and goes for four days. Everything from Archery and Blacksmithing Basics to Zen and the Art of Wood Splitting, over 100 classes and still growing at this writing, are being offered. No one is saying this specifically in the FAQ’s but it seems obvious to me that people go there eager to teach, AND learn. I am excited about experiencing  this event first hand…maybe next year.

More reading on this topic here:

What Is Reskilling Anyway?

Green Hand Initiative. Blogger Clifford Dean Scholz has a stunning article on Navigation.

http://www.skills-for-life.org/

http://greenhandsreskilling.weebly.com/

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Parallel Multiverses

If you have been caught up in the circus that has become Washington DC since the election, and to some extent, mea culpa, it is refreshing to remind yourself that a lot of exciting and beneficial things are happening elsewhere, that in fact, we live not so much in a universe, but a multiverse. So even with the anti-science miasma currently threatening our country, there is good news to be found about the future of our species.

Of course, you’ve heard of Elon Musk, Tesla and the plans to build colonies on Mars, heck, the man is a multiverse in one body. But much is happening below the radar of popular culture and social media that suggests that many smart people in different fields remain optimistic about the future, and are busy developing ‘workarounds’ to accomplish their goals. In addition to Musk, people like Michael Bloomberg (http://www.npr.org/2017/04/26/525675189/michael-bloomberg-and-carl-pope-on-climate-of-hope) and Paul Hawken (Drawdown: http://www.drawdown.org/)

It seems clear that we have to focus on the issue of energy: how we make it, store it, conserve or waste it, use and abuse it. Without clean, renewable energy solutions, our economy will tank. Even Exxon knows, and has known, that for a fact. What and when, remains to be seen.

Actually, the centrality of energy in human endeavor has always been true, starting with the only energy we had, namely, human energy, aka muscle power. When our reach began to exceed our grasp, some proto-Elon picked up the first rock or stick or bone and used it to pound something (and/or someone, alas) into submission. (At some point, it seems clear that our ancestors began to divide up tasks necessary for survival according to gender, but let’s leave that for now.)

Eventually, it dawned on him or her that this naturally occurring object could be manipulated, possibly improved, in some way to make it more efficient. Probably tool making was a lucky accident like most scientific discoveries (or recoveries), maybe even the making of fire. Recall that amazing scene in Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece, 2001, when the ape suddenly tosses a bone toward the sky. In a blink of cosmic time, we became the only species who could build machines powerful enough to launch us toward the stars. If this sounds as if I’m channeling Neil deGrasse Tyson, guilty!

Let me assume that if you’ve been following Transition Tales for any length of time, you know that I (mostly) want to focus on what is working, or could work, to benefit our society and all of us. The last seven months have been deeply disheartening, and many have been as drawn to dystopian fiction as I have (Hulu’s film based on Margaret Atwood’s masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale, comes to mind). Perhaps you have turned to history for an understanding of how we got into this mess, and more importantly, how we get through it. And in the business community founded on settled science, I see a glimmering.

So, if like me, you’re ready to recharge your batteries, I have two suggestions.

  1. Solar power is inevitable and solar co-ops are a way to bring dedicated environmentalists together with folks mostly interested in independent energy choices. (https://transitiontales.wordpress.com/?s=solar+energy) In the Sunshine State, they are long overdue, but forming quickly with many enthusiastic supporters. Take a look at Florida Solar United Neighborhoods (I’m on a steering committee for Palm Beach County’s first co-op launching October 4): http://www.flsun.org/
  2. I suggest you sign up for Green Tech Media, https://www.greentechmedia.com/, and give yourself a crash course in what lies ahead for energy, the who’s who and what’s what. Clear effective communication: podcasts, webinars, white papers and videos, and so far, FREE. You could do worse than read this just released article that calls out Energy Secretary, Rick Perry’s forthcoming report for the BS it is. https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/the-countries-with-the-most-wind-and-solar-have-far-fewer-outages

And if you haven’t had your fill of the Beltway Follies, this mud’s for you: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/covering-americas-climate-troll-in-chief