Sunday, February 10, 2008

When a Tsunami of Truth Rises out of 'Peak Everything'... will wash over a populace in panic!

How may we even begin to prepare for the panic that will occur when mainstream awareness of our most likely future scenarios begins to dawn? On that day, I want to have something in place! I refer you to my previous post: “Peak (Everything?) Stress Syndrome” and to Peak Oil Blues (written by my new netroots colleague, the peak oil shrink), which will give you some background for making sense of this continued effort I'm making here, today. My intention is to bring more awareness and direction to these pressing needs by repeatedly giving voice to this topic in my writings.

My dream vision would be to set up a niche, a sanctuary for all of us who are having "peak everything stress syndrome". There are many folks out there suffering situational depression--symptoms of PTSD because of the "early" knowledge we have about the global crisis we are facing. By "early" knowledge, I mean we are advanced thinkers, we see ahead of the mainstream consciousness, and realize what the future will require of us. We reel from the shock and when we get on our feet and start speaking out and calling our mates, companions, and fellow humans to action, we are scorned and repudiated and stripped of our credibility. As we persist in disseminating our message--the "news" we have foreseen (the bad news no-one wants to hear), we are proclaimed to be "doomers" and exiled from our close social connections. The more we speak out about the "inconvenient truth" which now has piles and piles of hard evidence to support it, the more the conspiracy of silence builds the walls of denial stronger. (The monkey covers his eyes, his ears, his mouth--don't see, don't ask, don't tell!)

This is a form of killing the messenger--making him believe he is the crazy one. Then the messenger becomes swamped in his own anger, depression, self pity, and desire to retaliate. This only deactivates him and sabotages his ability to accomplish the original goal. That goal is to warn: to call his colleagues into action, plan a strategy, prevent the worst case scenario, provide safety in the storm to come. I think this is what many have been going through--and I have been through it myself. But it's time to snap out of it, regroup our energies, and direct them in a productive and self-regenerating way, one that is sustainable and has no hidden agendas.

What I have thought about doing locally (here in Houston), is to enjoin a group of people, including our mayor's department of sustainability, to consider supporting a foundational fund and effort for building an eco-center which would contain information, classes, not only on sustainability, but on mental health and the emotional mastery of change. (Mayor Bill White, a friend of green construction and a candidate for the 2006 World Mayor Award, was an attendee and supporter at the recent Peak Oil Conference in Houston.)

Maybe the establishment of this effort could best be explained if placed in coordination with a "heritage days" celebration, so as not to scare people or incite resistance. Classes such as cooking, food preserving, spinning, weaving, mechanics, and gardening with hand tools could be offered--classes in which skills in living primitively on the land, living locally, could be taught. Perhaps the reasoning could be presented as how “our heritage from the past can meet the needs of our future”.

This eco-center could be a central source, an enclave, for storing information and local resources on providers of green design (architects savvy on LEEDS standards), on green builders, and on suppliers of green technology. Maybe the center itself could be a zero-energy design (one that supplies its own energy through wind and solar means, reusing water, etc.) It could be, in itself, a model for community building. This center could contain a database of current information on renewable energy technology and information about climate change and peak oil future scenarios. Films and videos could be made describing these conditions and possible outcomes.

This beginning would lay the foundation for the mental health support that will be needed when awareness of "peak everything" reaches a notable level in the public consciousness. Then we will be teaching about change, signs of stress--situational depression and anxiety and the skills for dealing with it. At the time it’s most needed, the center will be established and already known as a place to go for of information and support. I can imagine that the foundation's funding could come through the use of an alternative/complementary currency such as Ithaca dollars, Time dollars, or other database currency points that become accepted for use in the larger community as Bernard Lietaer has suggested in the Future of Money.

Another thing I would like to do through this center is to begin, with a group of others, to envision a possible future beyond what we know is inevitable—a livable and sustainable future in which we would like to live. I would like to instill hope (beyond the depressing reality we are facing) that we can still carve out a niche of safety, sanity, beauty, and order—and some form of green mobility. I know we can't count on technological innovation to save us from the power-down energy crunch and from the relocations and massive migrations to come with climate change, from the scarcity of resources and the potential for resource wars/competition--from the future pandemic of death and diminishment of our population. We who are in the know realize there is no place to hide. We don't have mega-bucks to buy an energy efficient fortress guarded by Blackwater troops.

But we have to believe we have some power to save ourselves, to create something worthwhile that will help motivate us to go forward! Accomplishing this will require a positive vision and good leadership. I like to think of our future as being healthy, happy, green, and mobile, and I believe that with as many enthusiastic people as I've run into on the Daily Kos (environmental group) and in other areas of the netroots, we can, together, come up with a plan and course of action to build the future we want, in spite of our government and its economy. It just requires taking our way of life into our own hands, designing our own local economies and fortifying them with some kind of god-juice that will protect them from the madding crowds--the throngs of those who didn't do their planning.

And so I come back around now to the original point: that we must continue to disseminate accurate information so that all people will be adequately forewarned and forearmed. This information must be presented in such a way as to avoid panic and predation. Once we do this for ourselves in our local communities in the US, we need to try to facilitate this same kind of activity in other countries--China, India, Africa, Mexico...etc. The Netroots has a basis for building these connective threads between our communities here in America and out into our global community—our Mother Earth! I’m thinking of calling this center MotherSource! What do you think?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Peak (Everything?) Stress Syndrome

As a psychotherapist in private practice, and as a stakeholder in the larger human community, I am participating in some upcoming training offered by the International Critical Stress Foundation on "Changing Perspectives on Disaster" and "Group Crisis Intervention". I am sure the community-at-large will need my skills to weather the upcoming storm arising from the combination of climate change, energy depletion, population glut, and economic disruption (what I'm calling the "Peak (Everything?) Stress Syndrome"). As individual and public awareness dawns (by degree or by cataclysmic proportions), we'll see varying effects on people of differing age and socio-economic status. The ensuing crisis will require debriefing and crisis management.

I've been onto this for a while now, myself, reading and researching all I can get my hands on and I’ve had my own personal-emotional process going on around it. (I’ve been aware these times were coming since the sixties, but how easy it is to live in denial of what is yet invisible and unfelt!) Nine-eleven was bad. But Hurricane Katrina’s massive impact, both nationally and personally (my family suffered loss of their homes and personal property), and the crazed disorder here in Houston during the Hurricane Rita scare was a further clue in my personal experience that we are living in new and unprecedented times.

Then when I began to absorb all the information and research about climate change and peak oil, and about our failing economy, I really became overloaded! I became aware that all of this was affecting me and the more knowledgeable of my boomer cohorts in a most personal and oppressive way. Just as we were beginning to make that passage into our "elder" years, those which normally signify decline and eventual death, these very same characteristics of decline in energy, decrease in wealth, loss of mobility, loss of physical and financial security were being out-pictured to us in the world at large. Suddenly, as we begin preparation and adjustment to our retirement years, the vitality of our economy, along with our retirement finances, and the vitality of the earth and humanity in general are found to be critically at risk.

I've come to my own stage of dealing with it -- planning for my own altered future, making what moves I can to prepare for these inevitable changes, trying to prepare my own family, my adult children. I think about how I can help others. I will continue to do my writing, because community action is difficult until more people become aware. The adjustment to awareness is better when it is paced, of course, and when it is addressed in a supportive environment (i.e. you are not alone in your "new" knowledge of the danger ahead). I know I'm not alone because there are so many groups of knowledgeable people “out there” equipped with the facts who have undergone this process themselves. There are many websites on the internet (some based here in Houston--The Oil Drum and Houston After Oil, to name two.) I join with those knowledgeable in the netroots (young and old) by blogging my heart out on the subject.

A dawning awareness in the mainstream is definitely indicated when one can find a website on “peak oil blues” created by a psychotherapist who is offering support. On
Peak Oil Blues people are sharing their personal stories of “first contact” with this information and reporting on their corresponding psychological and emotional effects. The online psychotherapist gives her own personal commentary about the experience, answering the queries of those who write. Another most recent indication that the mainstream media is beginning to be activated is found in Texas Monthly’s latest issue. The Future is its theme and a number of articles acknowledge the critical conditions ahead.

Anyway, I am intently aware of the need and I hope the training sessions I've chosen to take with the Critical Stress Foundation can be made applicable to the impending community crises I foresee. I believe we need an ongoing multi-faceted program in each locality for dealing with the associated social/psychological unrest arising from these complex and interwoven change conditions as they steadily and catastrophically affect us on all levels: physically, socially, psychologically and emotionally, behaviorally, and spiritually.