On my way to work this morning, I was entertained by radio reports of the history of Leap Year. It got me thinking: where was I four years ago? Where were you? Where will we be four years hence in 2016?
I can honestly say my life hasn’t changed much on the surface: same job, same home with same overcrowded canine population, same wonderful husband... But, inside, I am so much a different person than I was then, it can hardly be adequately described.
A few months earlier than that Leap Day of 2008, I had seen the movie The End of Suburbia at a public showing at the Old Gregg School. That night I wrote in my journal that my life would never be the same, and it sure hasn’t been. Introduced for the first time to a cast of characters (and for some ‘character’ is a very apt word) including James Howard Kunstler, the late Matthew Simmons, Colin Campbell, Julian Darley, and Richard Heinberg, I had my eyes opened to a number of conundrums swirling beneath the surface of everyday life: peak oil, population overshoot, climate change, the mass extinctions under way, global economics, big ag and big pharma determining our food choices.
Well. It was a lot to take in. Still is. And I chose the term ‘conundrum’ purposely. One of the things I learned from the Post Carbon group who showed End of Suburbia and a whole list of enlightening documentaries since then, is that you can’t call most of these things ‘problems,’ because problems have, at least theoretically, solutions. Conundrums, on the other hand, are problems with no answers, no solutions, no way to satisfactorily deal with their effects.
2008 is now famous for the violent drop in the stock market, for the steep increase in the price of oil, and for the bailouts of big banks. But, you may say, the world didn’t end, right? Suburbia hasn’t ended. The DOW is almost back to its all-time high. And every day we’re told that more oil has been found and, next thing we know, the U.S. will be an oil exporter!
I would argue that for many people, the world did end. Their world anyway. People lost their jobs, their houses, their health care and then their health. Whole communities, whole cities crumbled. I have been very lucky. We here in Penns Valley have been for the most part. But I don’t think those conundrums have gone away, and that’s why I’m involved with the Learning Garden. In fact, that’s why there is a Learning Garden.
In 2009, three men from our Post Carbon group, market gardeners and/or farmers, founded the Learning Garden to help our community see how to wean themselves from the mass-produced foods shipped in from all over the world, and thereby become more self-sufficient and Penns Valley more resilient.
In the process they created a community of gardeners and foodies and locavores. And I am grateful to each and every one of you for your support, your ideas, your sharing. The Learning Garden continues to grow, in every sense of the word.
I have a good idea where I’ll be on Leap Day 2016: happily living in Penns Valley, gardening and probably caring for way too many dogs. What state the world will be in is another question. Let’s just make sure that, then as now, we all still
Buy it Locally Grown
or Raise Our Own!