How to Become More Self-Reliant and Sustainable Locally
The best way to have food security, a healthy lifestyle, and be resilient in the face of massive global changes is to understand the basic principles of permaculture and regeneration. Sourcing your food or products locally is less expensive and more healthy for you and the planet. Climate instability and supply chain disturbances will be catastrophic for those places that are not connected with abundant farmland, water, and food sources. From backyard gardening, to water harvesting, to educational programs, to working with local government, permaculture is becoming a powerful vehicle for much-needed change.
Every living thing including plants, animals, human societies, and ecosystems have a natural life-cycle. When food, nutrients, and energy are abundant there is rapid growth and expansion. At a certain point all growth will reach its limits and begin to decay.
For example, a tree may grow branches that extend farther than and become more heavy than the trunk can hold. When a strong wind blows or the snow comes it will break off overgrown tree limbs causing them to fall from their own weight. This is the natural cycle of birth, expansion, growth, decay, death, and regeneration. All life forms and systems are subject to these cycles. Permaculture teaches us how to prepare for and thrive within these natural cycles.
Opportunities and Limitations: Throughout all of history a country’s geography and local resources dictated its strengths and weaknesses. Arid desolate places had small communities of humans whereas lush and abundant river valleys had large thriving cities. Today cheap fuel and energy have created many opportunities that allow us to trade resources across the globe and thus live beyond the normal constraints of our local ecosystems and geography.
For the past century humanity has seen explosive growth in population, technology, and consumption of our planet’s resources. This is like the tree reaching for the sky, only limited by the nutrients or strength the trunk and roots can provide. All growth cycles are followed by decline and decay.
“Just as geopolitics tells us that the free trade era is closing, demography tells us that the era of consumption-driven growth that has been the economic norm for seventy years is coming to an unceremonious end.”
― Peter Zeihan
When you buy locally you are supporting artists, farmers, and business owners in your community. You are also reducing your carbon footprint because the goods that you consume do not need to be shipped thousands of miles to reach you. When you grow vegetables in your garden to supplement your diet you are also getting fresher, organic food that is healthy while saving you money.
Creating Local Change: We each have the ability to bring this awareness into our local and state governments as well as the school system. Currently many communities have budgets for tourism and sustainability. Local sustainability and resilience makes communities more valuable to residents, to the local tax base, to tourists, to children, and families. It is an easy sell for those willing to dig in and create these changes.
Educating Yourself: When you are knowledgeable on these topics you will be in a great position to lead your community in the right direction. Understanding the basic principles of permaculture and regenerative practices is easier than ever thanks to the internet. We are now witnessing a global movement of people who are working together to educate themselves and each other about these important tools for shaping a better future.
Resources for Inspiration and Learning: Due to climate change there are many places across the planet now experiencing wildfires, droughts, extreme heat, flooding and severe weather. What most people don’t realize is that there are many solutions to these challenges. Andrew Millison, Oregon State University Instructor and online educator, has a Youtube Channel with a huge collection of permaculture success stories globally. In addition he works with the university and other instructors to offer numerous online workshops. This October they will be hosting a free Permaculture Summit that you can learn more about here.
We often hear the phrase, “think globally and act locally”. Now there is a practical step-by-step path to making huge impact in the world around us. From backyard gardening, to water harvesting, to educational programs, to working with local government, permaculture is becoming a powerful vehicle for change. When political instability, supply-chain disruptions, or climate change hits close to home you will be grateful to have the knowledge and skills to be self-reliant and sustainable locally.