Stories for the Locker Room

janaia_gtw_200.jpgLast fall I was invited to be one of five women giving a short talk at our local Nevada County Gather the Women event on March 8, 2008, International Women’s Day. Coordinator Marilyn Nyborg said the day’s theme was Being the change we want to see in the world and asked me to speak about living sustainably, and how that has affected who I am.

Here’s the video: (Journal entry continues below the video.)

My first thoughts turned to our living off grid here in rural Nevada county where we use about 10% of the electricity of the average America home. I thought playfully of my “bag lady” personna who washes and re-uses plastic produce bags, collects rainwater to flush the toilet, and other similar practices.

Robyn urged me to go deeper. I took a big sheet of paper and noted influences and themes in my life story. Like Maude in the classic film “Harold and Maude.” Like living in a household heart-family of women during the late 1970s. Like environmental concerns and prophesied earth changes. My reflections led to a lot of soul-searching.

How to distill it down to ten minutes? Robyn suggested I start with my feelings. So I did. I started with a poem I’d written in 1979 about what I care deeply about, where my passion is, and where it has led: my love of trees. Protecting the wilder lands for all the creatures. Peak Oil and Peak Moment.

Enjoy. I welcome your response.


  1. Desiree,
    It’s wonderful to hear from you, and really uplifting to learn our Peak Moment conversations are making a difference. I too think it’s an exciting time. So many of the “back to the land” values of the sixties generation are starting to look attractive. All of your efforts in self-reliance are going to be simply invaluable.

    It’s interesting how some of us have had these roots in self-reliance for a long time. I wasn’t raised in the First Depression (given that many believe we’re now entering the Second or Greater Depression), but I’ve always valued frugality, resourcefulness, using things well. I sewed my own clothes, learned canning from my mom, some handy-person skills from my dad.

    Suggestions for presenting to your community — Where are you located? There are Relocalization and Transition groups in many areas. Rob Hopkins’ book The Transition Handbook is an excellent guide for working in your community. For many of us, having a public showing of “The End of Suburbia” is a good wake-up to the issues of peak oil.

    Keep up the good work! You’re a valuable asset to any community.

  2. hi there, i just wanted to tell you how much you inspire me.

    ever since i can remember, i felt i had to learn everything i possibly could about being self sufficient. as a child i taught myself to knit and crochet, and about herbs. as a young(er) woman i got jobs in the building trades, i knew i would build my own house someday.

    a few years ago (about 2) i learned about peak oil. i felt so isolated. no one wants to deal with something so all encompassing as this. no one wants to talk about it, and when they do i get all excited but then i realize they are still living their life “business as usual”.

    so when i found peak moment tv i was so happy. i have watched all of your postings, and i laugh cry and take notes, and then watch them again with my husband.

    i have many fears but i also welcome this upheaval. i have always longed to live a traditional life. my husband and i are young and are trying our best to save every penny to buy a piece of land, to do as you are, take care of it and protect it. i also have joined forces with 2 people to try to present this issue to our community any suggestions and advice are appreciated!!

    thank you, thank you, thank you, for being an oasis in a desert of information about this important issue, and i wish the best of life to you and robyn.

  3. Anita Wald-Tuttle says:

    Janaia and Robyn,

    All I can say right now is “WOW”!! I was so moved by your story that there are tears in my eyes as I write this. Harold and Maude is my all time favorite movie, and as I approach my 81st birthday on June’s Election Day I feel I am becoming Maude more and more. And it feels so good!!!

    Having lived through the second World War I am no stranger to recycling, home gardens, limited food supplies, and rewashed plastic bags! My experiences in Camp Fire Girls and 25 years as a Girl Scout Leader have given me an uncontrolled appreciation of the Great Outdoors.

    Bring on Peak Oil! This may be the only way to wake up humanity and startle people out of their somnambulant state. There’s still a lot of living to be done, and the wise crones will be the survivors.


    Anita Wald-Tuttle

  4. Terri Hicklin says:

    Janaia…what a lovely presentation…so obviously heartfelt! I’m another “H&M” fan, and made sure my daughter and her friends saw it when they were teens. Many of us know that huge changes are coming. We, each in our own way, must try to educate as many of the “non-choir” as possible. Your beautiful tree story seems to be such a gentle teaching tool…one that could really make people think about the sacrifices that are being made daily by the unthinking and unconcerned. , They can’t, however, afford to stay unconcerned too much longer. We may need to drag them along into the next phase, rather than be drug down with them. Like your beloved trees, there are many strong branches to hold the weight. Some may break, but the roots remain strong. I have hope.

  5. Janaia and Robyn,

    What a beautiful and moving speech. It is great to see a touch of eco-feminist musings being brought to Peak Moment.

    Thank you so much for sharing something so personal with others, and I look forward to many more inspiring stories of yourself and others through Peak Moment.

    Goddess Bless,

    Laurel Ronan

  6. Stuart M. says:

    Dear Janaia (and Robyn, too),

    Thank you for sharing your very moving story with the Internet community. Your story is even more beautiful than I imagined! I too liked the movie Harold and Maude. Maude was a mystery to me: how could someone who had experienced the Holocaust first hand keep such a positive outlook on life? Being a boy (at that time) I guess I identified with Harold in that I too didn’t fit into a society that defined success as the accumulation of money and power. The movie told me that I was alright the way I was, I just had to find what made me happy and do it.

    I ignored this advice for a while trying to live up to the expectations of family, “friends” and a wife. At around the age of 34, I too hatched a plan to achieve financial independence as a way to finally break with the career treadmill I was on. By the age of 38 I had convinced myself that I had achieved this goal and set off into world to find my happiness.

    Well, I don’t want to bore you with my story again, so I will cut to today. I bought the “What a Way to Go” video featured in one of your conversations. Correct me if I am wrong, but it is basically telling us that it is too late, the Earth is doomed. We should face our end with dignity, by examining how we let things get so out of hand and by modifying our behavior in the time left to us.

    In my opinion, there are still many decades of life ahead of us. Your speech reveals a woman (two women) living with a dignity that is an example to us all. Keep up the good works, you are an inspiration.

  7. Dear Janaia,

    Your story mirrors my story in so many ways, your emotions and your deepest love of trees is my first love. So much of my childhood was spent in trees and I bonded more than anything else in nature with them and brought that into my spiritual life and witchcraft.

    I also see how the world is filled with many communities, the counseling, education, ecology and peak oil, and the world of people who overlap and share much with you. Each one who shares your journey through the internet is drawn to you because you are a community person. You reach out and touch us instinctively and naturally as so many of our leaders and facilitators do.

    We live in a time of such scarcity of good leadership, fine examples to show us the way that when we find one we, the followers, the ones so in need of it, feel so grateful for the smallest moment of relief. I would be so much more alone without your voice in this world to remind me of the things that I know and educate me in the things that I don’t know.

    I feel peak oil is upon us now, and expect at any moment the full force of it to arrive. However, I have done much educating and shown videos to this house that I live and begun to gather the materials to provide a garden for us all. I am about to begin to educate this suburb on gardening and peak oil using my downloaded videos and pdfs from my research.

    I will email you and update you as I am able. And wish you, Robyn, your communities and all of us the Blessings of Mother Earth and the Goddess as we go together down this difficult road, looking forward to the day when oil is gone forever.

    Lora Ereshan, cronewise

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