Transition Whatcom

Do you have a Personal Energy Descent Action Plan?

The aim of the transition movement is to move toward building an Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP) for your city or county. I’ve always thought it would be important for each family or individual to have their own plan too. Each of us has different circumstances and, hopefully, each is planning for the future. And I look forward to sharing our plans.

I have only found one site on the internet that describes an individual EDAP…there must be more. This is an 11-page plan from Transition Stroud, Gloucestershire, England, west of London. Check it out at

Call it what you like. We call ours the Culver Jump for Joy Plan. I will start to describe our plan in my next post and if there is interest, I will organize a discussion of individual plans.

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TaDa!! Introducing the Culver Jump for Joy Plan

We took the idea that cities are using in the Transition Handbook. A big piece of paper with post-its. You may know we’re building a house and living in a room in our shop building. The only wall space we have is above our bed. And when I got on the bed to hang the paper, I felt like jumping for joy. Here I am jumping for joy!

First, in the left column we gave ourselves credit for what we have already accomplished toward a more localized lower energy lifestyle. And gave ourselves a big wahoo!

Then we laid out our three-year plan (we’re too old for a 20-year plan). For us the main categories are Energy/Transportation, Food, Emergency Preparation, and Community. That doesn’t mean we aren’t pursuing Health, Finance, Waste and a bunch of other things. We are off and running! Are you with us????
I am listening! I love the spread sheet idea that is visual and can show both accomplishments & priorities!
There are so many new & old things to do to reclaim the health of the earth & our communities.. and many require either time or resources...sometimes slowly down and just taking a walk or gardening or reading saves energy!
I'd enjoy seeing a close up picture of of the chart with the headings & columns!

We have another picture of our EDAP but the sticky notes are not readable unless you have a photo program or something that can enlarge them. I'll post the other picture now. David
Thanks for sharing your EDAP Judith and David. I call mine Uncrash Living, a light bounce, I'm striving to live lightly on the earth, peak oil global warming or not... I think it would be a great next potluck/meeting topic. See you tonight.
HI David & Judith, Here are few items on our wish list for changes that I didn't notice on yours, as we each have unique land & family situations:

* Human Nutrient Recycling ( ie. humanure and any water used for cleaning the body, dishes, clothes. - ie black water & gray water). Our culture wastes these nutrients by flushing them either down the sewer or the septic tank. There are models of alternatives, but I have not yet found someone local I can recommend to do installations.

* Water pump powered by either hand pump/bicycle pump or by a diesel generator that can be powered by local farm biodisel or recycled plant oil, and if feasible, to have some solar panels to power an electic pump during high sun summer days.

* Cooking stove - changing out our electric stove to something that will work when the power goes out in the cold winter and using a solar oven during sunny days. (Are you cooking on wood or what is your plan A & plan B for that?)

* Reducing Stuff - of what is brought into our home or put on our bodies to not being made from any oil-based plastics- This is a huge challenge in our culture. I now often tell the store cashiers that I am reducing my use of plastics- then I will open the container & leave the plastic at the counter and take the actual item with me in my cloth bag....
It is so sad & annoying, that our grocery stores are still buying plastic bags for groceries when so many of these bags are not recycled but thrown away and end up in the ocean on one of the floating 'waste continents". ( I recommend reading Chapt 9 'Polymers Are Forever' in the book; The World Without Us).
Medications are still being put in plastic bottles. I aim to buy products in glass containers and not plastic containers, or to use bulk products when available.

Re solar panels versus trees-using-solar-energy: There are homes in our bioregion that still have the benefit of tall native trees that benefit the whole community by providing oxygen, but due to the shading of the homesite, there is not a realistic payback to install solar panels and expect them to provide enough power in the darker winter months to pump water and provide other electrical needs. Although taking down a tree to provide more sunlight for a solar panel might benefit the home owner in the short run...does reducing this long-lived oxygen producer benefit the living community in the long run? The trees also provide the benefit of keeping the H2O cycle flowing from ground to plant to air, and reducing rainwater runoff into the sea.
It can be a hard choose to keep a tree, when you are hungry & want to grow food on your land, and your neighbors who are not allowing the forest to grow (ie mowing lawns), do not want to share their sunny land space to have food grown.

We are currently collecting rainwater, but do not yet have the resources to collect all of it in a large enough system that would allow for gravity flow water into the home.
Each homesite is different and what works on one site may not work on another with different topography & vegetation, and family resources.

I would enjoy being part of a network of work-parties, where we committ to helping each other install more sustainable home systems. Currently locally, I have been part of garden work parties, and also helped build a rocket stove.

I really like this discussion topic you started, and thus clicked on "join" Ferndale group to network with you.
One of my connections with your region, is having helped provide some plants for the community garden, & friends in the area.
This is great stuff, David and Judith! I suggest reposting this in the Main Forum so that it has more visibility to the entire Transition Whatcom network.

Some resources for individual and family energy descent planning include:
The Post Peak Living website, with their "Uncrash Course":

Chris Martenson's "Crash Course" (a 20 part series of short videos):

Matthew Stein's encyclopedic book, "When Technology Fails":

Steve Solomen's book "Gardening When It Counts"

Albert Bates' "Post Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook"

And, of course, anything you can learn about Permaculture (see me for how to get a copy of Bill Mollison's "Introduction to Permaculture")

I haven't yet taken full advantage of all of the above resources. Having put so much focus on community preparation (Transition Whatcom and Sustainable Bellingham), and local govt. preparation (Peak Oil Task Force), I need to catch up on personal/family preparation. Taking a Permaculture Design Course last summer was a great step, however, and I highly recommend it to all.
I forgot to mention one of my all time favorite peak oil books: "Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front" by Sharon Astyk.

Here's a Review

Review: 'Depletion and Abundance’ by Sharon Astyk
by Frank Kaminski

Why are so few peak oil authors women? There’s been much debate about this, and no one has yet arrived at a definitive answer. But whatever the reason, Sharon Astyk has established herself as a true rarity within the peak oil community by virtue of being a woman who has chosen to write about peak oil. The perspective that she offers is thus both uncommon and vital.
Her new book Depletion and Abundance is a call for communities, families and individual citizens to mobilize in the creation of a “New Home Front” in America (analogous to the Home Front that existed during World War II). This New Home Front would center on the crucial work traditionally done at home (such as housework and cooking) that Astyk holds to be far more important to our national economy than the “formal” economy of “taxes and forms, official business, job growth and GDP statements.”
Our present culture demeans these sorts of domestic activities because of its uncritical acceptance of the Victorian-era division between the private realm (traditionally the province of “female” work like cooking and childrearing) and the public realm (long associated with the supposedly “male” activities of economics and politics). But this division is wholly artificial, and we need to get beyond it if we are to formulate a productive response to the crisis now facing us.
Astyk sees us gradually moving toward a peasant economy as peak oil and climate change conspire to turn us into a poorer nation with dwindling access to basic necessities (much less our beloved, gosh-wow gadgets). What she proposes is that Americans begin making this transition now, while there’s still enough time to do so gracefully. In Depletion and Abundance, she shows how rewarding life on her New Home Front could be, immeasurably improving our health, nutrition, sense of community and overall well-being.
Chief among its benefits would be all of the extra time that we’d have. While it may seem common sense that a life of farm labor would leave a person with fewer hours of spare time than our present automated society allows, Astyk demonstrates that this is simply not the case.
She points out, for example, that people in medieval times worked far fewer hours than Americans do today, and that most people in modern-day peasant societies also work less hard than we do. She also describes how she and her family have seen their own leisure time increase significantly since they abandoned the formal economy. (Astyk put a career in English literature on hold after becoming peak oil-aware, to take up a life of subsistence farming with her husband and kids in upstate New York.)
As for the benefits of increased health and nutrition, these would come as we shifted our medical system away from treating existing diseases and toward preventing disease in the first place by fostering good health habits. Our health and nutrition could also be helped by moving toward a locally grown, organic diet far shorter on meat than our present-day American diet, and completely free of pesticides and other industrial chemicals. Astyk offers a wealth of practical advice and personal stories related to gardening, food preservation and the cultivation of herbal antibiotics like garlic and eucalyptus.
Another benefit that Astyk foresees as we shift to a subsistence way of life is an improvement in the quality of our home life. As life becomes more local, parents will spend more time at home bonding with their children, as well as with each other. They will no longer be scattered among the separate, competing spheres of home life, work life and a school system segregated by age group. Extended family members will grow closer and learn to bury old conflicts as hard times make intergenerational households the norm.
With regard to family size, Astyk advocates one-child families and delayed childbearing as part of an effort to reduce the global population to 1 billion within the century. (This is familiar advice within the peak oil community.)
On schooling our children, Astyk proposes an entirely new educational system that does a better job of integrating kids’ school and home lives, helps them develop a deeper connection with nature and offers practical training in matters such as agriculture and sound environmental practices. She gives plenty of interesting, entertaining examples of how she and her husband are providing just this sort of education for their own children.
A final benefit of implementing Astyk’s New Home Front would be a fairer distribution of resources among all of the world’s people. Because each American is the equivalent of 30 people in the world’s poor nations in terms of consumption, any cuts that Americans can make will go a long way toward freeing up those resources for others. We should welcome such curtailment measures as part of ensuring a “fair and just share” of resources for everybody.
What I’ve described so far of Astyk’s vision may sound like a blind romanticism of peasant life—but it isn’t. Astyk backs up all of her claims with hard evidence. For example, she cites a follow-up story on participants in PBS’s documentary series Frontier House, who found that they unanimously preferred their newfound lives of austerity to the luxurious modern-day lives that they had left behind in order to film the series. And of course, Astyk knows what she’s talking about from firsthand experience, having devoted her life to subsistence living ever since becoming peak oil-aware. In short, her book truly embodies New Society’s slogan “books to walk the talk.”
This, along with Astyk’s unique perspective as a woman, a mother and a peak oil activist, makes Depletion and Abundance well worth a read. The ring of authenticity to her writing will hook you—while its relaxed style, ineffable humor, personal anecdotes and comforting touch will soothe your melancholy peaknik soul like a warm hand on the shoulder.


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