Sustainability Is Political Freedom and Peaceful Protest
Every four years Americans have cause for celebration or panic. Fear grips half the nation while the other half enjoys a great night’s sleep. When power is in the hands of those you favor, it is full-speed ahead with political agendas: legislation, executive orders, activism, and reform. For those on the other side, everything must be done to restrain power and fight back. This back-and-forth process is cyclic, a never ending paradigm where half the population feels doomed to oppression.
Many people embrace activism as a means to an end, “If only we could change the system and restore justice and equality!” But your version of reform is probably very different than most others. Ideals change. Public opinion changes. Unforeseen circumstances cause major shifts in the political, social, and economic landscape. What we need is a grassroots solution; a way out that is within everyone’s reach as individuals.
This article is for those that are hungry for change and feel compelled to take action. The truth is, you are NOT powerless! There are real solutions to claim freedom and security while peacefully protesting a system that does not represent your beliefs. I do not mean to exclusively target those whose presidential candidate was not recently selected. It is only a matter of time before the tables turn again, as they always have.
Our journey towards liberty begins with identifying our most essential human needs:
The driving force behind our species and all of nature.
Another indispensable need! Agricultural industries in America make up roughly 6% of our annual GDP
Shelter. Warmth in the cold, coolness in the heat. A place to be secure from the wrath of nature and its predators. A way to dispose of garbage without contamination.
Love. Companionship. Friendship. Belonging.
Freedom to live life according to our own unique views, perspectives, ideas, beliefs, and understanding. The right to be safe from those that would impose upon us or claim authority over our bodies. Peace. The pursuit of happiness.
We are utterly dependent on a functioning economy, government, and grid-system to provide for these essential needs. Water is harvested from bodies of water, filtered, and pumped to our households where we have a seemingly endless supply. The electric grid powers this process as well as the utilities necessary to make our homes livable. Our government oversees these power plants and grids, providing contracts to private companies that build and maintain them. Massive corporations harvest the fuel and natural resources needed to supply our power plants.
The federal government maintains our global empire indefinitely, enabling corporations to procure as much fuel as desired.This same fuel also powers the trucking industry, responsible for transporting food around the country; Food harvested by heavy machinery powered by said energy.
To be functionally sovereign from such a system, we must provide these needs for ourselves:
It is free and everywhere. It falls from the sky and flows beneath us in underground aquifers. There is no reason we cannot claim this abundant resource at an autonomous level. Rainwater harvesting, groundwater runoff, ponds, swales, dams, fog catchers – there are many ways to acquire water at home. If you’re not sure how there are numerous educational resources available.
In some places in the United States it is illegal to harvest rainwater. Who could possibly own the water that falls from the sky? Some misguided reports suggest the oversimplified falsehood: “taking water upstream removes it from downstream.” After I harvest and use water through off-the-grid techniques, it is then returned to the exact same ecosystem in which it originated. It is ironic that it’s actually our water-grid system that is displacing mass quantities of water while also incrementally polluting natural sources over time.
We can experience a net-gain in water availability across the entire planet, it starts with ending the bulk displacement by utility companies and removing these absurd laws.
The agricultural industry is utterly dependent on the mass extraction of fuel for its production and transportation. GMO’s run rampant now, diluting the nutritional value of our produce in favor of longer shelf life and the appearance of health. Toxic pesticides and chemicals abound, approved by the FDA.
The solution lies in producing our own food. To be truly sustainable, that means eliminating the conventional dependency for store-bought pesticides, fertilizers, mulch, etc. A mature forest ecosystem takes care of itself, providing everything it needs for self-regulation and self-replication. We can learn from this process and create gardens and perennial food forests without having to import store-bought goods.
There is no better school-of-thought for this process than permaculture. Not to be confused as an abstract concept, this is a literal school-of-thought with text books, research, experts, videos, and every kind of educational medium out there. If you’re interested in learning more about this I recommend Bill Mollison’s text book, “Permaculture A Designers Manual”, or the website permaculturenews.org.
Food production is just the tip of the iceberg. The desertification of our earth and proceeding dust bowls are being combated through permaculture techniques. Underground aquifers and depleting water stores can be fully restored, mitigating the frequency and magnitude of droughts. Deforestation can be reversed. As surely as we are destroying the environment, we have the means to heal and improve it.
The traditional household is utterly dependent on the electric grid to provide for our comfort. Without electricity, it is little more than a shelter from predators. Renewable energy is viewed as a solution but to power a typical household in America using solar panels can easily cost $20k, $30k, $40k, or more. Half of that immediately goes to powering the HVAC heating and cooling system. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to the mortgage, plus interest.
Being forced into debt for decades at a time is not sustainable, it is not a solution. To remove the grid, government, and major corporations from the equation we must fundamentally change our perspective on what a house is supposed to be. This movement is well underway – from natural buildings to tiny homes – there are many paths forward. If you are interested in an introduction to this idea I recommend starting with these 2 posts:
There is a plethora of learning resources available. Check out youtube for all manner of sustainable architecture. There are also tons of documentaries, books, ebooks, diagrams, blueprints, workshops, conventions, and training programs available. As long as you are in a traditional American house, you are dependent. Even those powered using renewable energy still have a massive manufacturing footprint to create and maintain all the components involved.
When we expect the government to provide for our needs we must first define fairness. To measure and quantify effectively, we must look into our neighbors bowl and compare what they have versus what we have. This dynamic is relative, instilling the perspective of “What is owed to me?” Instead, if we provide for our own needs the dynamic shifts. Knowing that my family has everything we need, the excess energy we produce is a surplus that is not needed. The dynamic becomes: “What do I have to give?”
If everyone in this country was sustainable we would not be competing with one another as a means to survive. The stranglehold of corporations, banks, and governments would diminish in the wake of a collectively sovereign society. Why wage war on nations for natural resources that hold no power over our wellbeing? This is the idealism of many sustainability enthusiasts. Communities of self-sufficient neighbors with a willingness to help. It has been my personal experience here in the Ozarks where (with the exception of a few bad apples) our neighbors have been generous, selfless, kind, and eager to help.
Typically 5 out of every 7 days are sacrificed to the pursuit of income and survival: to eat, drink, be comfortable, and cope with the fact that we have to continue down this path the majority of our lives. It takes time away from family, friends, hobbies, and passions.
Everything we need to live free and prosperous lives is within our grasp, regardless of the political climate. All we have to do is educate ourselves in how to obtain it. Many who’ve claimed sustainability can offer lessons of success and failure. There are so many solutions out there. We are all connected now, you are not alone.
America is still the land of opportunity. You have the power to claim individual sovereignty and break away.
Neal Gist is a software engineer, economist, graphic designer, musician, and researcher. He started pursuing sustainable living in 2010 and recently began an off-the-grid homestead in the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. Please follow along at www.lakeoftheozarkspermaculture.com or visit his official site at www.nealgist.com