Richard Heinberg and I sit on the straw bales forming the corner of our newly-prepared compost pile here at Lone Bobcat Woods. I was really pleased to have Richard and his partner Janet Barocco come here to tape this Peak Moment Conversation. It felt like we were deepening the connection we’d made last year when Robyn and I taped their suburban permaculture home in Santa Rosa (episode 100). They’ve inspired us to begin some permaculture at our place.
In front of us, Robyn, Carolyn and R.C. tweak camera positions and mic sound before we began rolling. Outdoor tapings are always tricky — accounting for the movement of the sun while taping.
We’d taped a conversation with Richard in May 2007 (episode 63, Peak Oil, Peak Coal and Beyond). Now in June 2008 I ask for his update on where we are — because a lot has happened in this year.
Richard remarks how surreal it feels to have the things he’d been thinking and talking about for many years now unfolding much as he’d imagined. There’s a distance when it’s abstract, just ideas, he says. But now it’s real and immediate, especially the economic impacts. I feel a jolt — it feels surreal to me, too.
We talk about outer events, activities and attitudes. Richard brings in a notion from “How Do You Like the Collapse So Far?” published just days earlier. This excerpt speaks deeply to me:
As the Great Unraveling proceeds, there may in fact be only one occupation worthy of our attention: that of identifying the qualities that make our species worth saving, and then celebrating and exemplifying those qualities. If we concentrate on doing that, perhaps we win no matter what. Outwardly, it will probably look a lot like what many of us are already doing: working to save a species, an ecosystem, a human community; to make a village sustainable, or to halt a new coal power plant.
Taking in traumatic information [of collapse] and transmuting it into life-affirming action may turn out to be the most advanced and meaningful spiritual practice of our time.
As our conversation closes Richard observes, “The calm before the storm is just coming to an end. You can hear the thunder on the horizon. It’s a good time to take in breath, center ourselves, and prepare.”
I take a deep breath.
It’s been only three years since Peak Oil hit my radar. When I read Richard’s The Party’s Over, I felt like I was living in two realities at once. In my imagination I was living in the energy-scarce world he described — everybody mindful of energy use, in a contracted economy. At the same time I was living the ordinary life, where energy isn’t much of a factor in most peoples’ lives. Now both of those realities are merging, playing out before our eyes.
It’s been life-changing for Robyn and me. We’re trying to prepare ourselves and others for what’s unfolding right now, largely through Peak Moment Television. But through straw bale compost piles, too, inspired by Janet and Richard and other guests we’ve taped.
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(You can watch this conversation, “Calm Before the Storm” here.)
That evening we videotaped Richard’s excellent presentation on Peak Everything for “Kiss Your Gas Goodbye: Living Well in the New Economy” sponsored by APPLE (Alliance for a Post-Petroleum Local Economy). The DVD can be ordered here.