Offer accepted . . .

By Bob | March 4, 2011 |

Just heard that our offer for this property has been accepted. 55 acres – 39 tillable – in the Sogn Valley, about an hour south of Minneapolis near Cannon Falls.

Adventures to come!

A State of Transition

By Bob | July 14, 2010 |

At the weekly informal Transition gathering at the Blue Moon Coffee Cafe this morning, prompted by a new and thoughtful presence (welcome, Pierre!), we considered the state of Transition in the Twin Cities. Here is one take . . .

Diffuse. There are pockets of Transition interest and activity in various neighborhoods around town and in various community groups. At present, none of these nodes has coalesced into a formal ‘Transition Initiative’. The Blue Moon gathering continues to provide a safe haven for folks concerned about Peak Oil and Climate Change, but awareness (or willingness to consider) these issues is largely absent from the general public as far as we can see.

This observation prompted discussion of just what Transitioners hope to – and can reasonably – accomplish, given the real world in which we find ourselves. We acknowledged that getting the message out is not among our strengths (we’re clearly not getting that job done – as wonderful as our tiny group is, it’s still tiny). Thus the massive systemic changes that most of us believe are needed are far beyond our reach – at least for now.

Given that, what might be more modest but achievable aims? The consensus this morning was: leading by example. Mostly around food but also energy and community, individuals are increasing their skills (reskilling?). In our collective view, the larger society will come to grips with the issues only when it is forced to do so. When that happens, we’d like to be ready to provide examples of resilience in our lives, homes and communities.

And we want to have fun doing it. Sharing food, music, dancing and the arts is essential as we work together towards our attractive shared vision of a more connected, more human and lower energy world and as we cope with our ‘End of Suburbia’ moments and other challenges.

What is the State of Transition in the Twin Cities? No one has the authority to say, but by example and by trial and error we all hope our individual efforts may serve not just ourselves and our families, but others as and when they decide to join the party.

How Economies Grow and Peter Schiff

By Bob | July 7, 2010 |

Ok as far as it goes . . .

Peter Schiff’s How an Economy Grows and Why it Crashes offers a gently amusing introduction to his take on Austrian School economics by allegorically representing the United States as an island with an economy based on fish. While the book effectively presents his views and offers useful insights into the current economic morass, I want to mention two of its significant weaknesses. First are the inherent contradictions of Schiff’s biases and second are the enormous gaps left by realities not measured by economics.

“The Market” is Schiff’s demigod: its magic solves all problems and leads to the highest and best use of all resources. If Government would just get out of the way, The Market would take care of everything. Unfortunately, there are several problems with this view. Most obvious to many folks today is that the present Government is effectively a subsidiary of the businesses that comprise The Market. Look at the astonishing speed with which the Government decided to lend trillions to private banks with effectively zero oversight. Consider the revolving door between business and Government brought to new heights under Bush II and barely touched by Obama. It’s a complicated mess to be sure, but at this point in our history, Government primarily serves rather than hinders business (permits for Deep Water Horizon . . .). The massive debt problems of such great concern to Schiff expanded because The Market persuaded The Government to stop regulating just as Schiff would advocate. Sadly, reality doesn’t match the tidy absolutes of Schiff’s allegory.

But there is a deeper weakness to Schiff’s work and it starts at the beginning of his tale: Schiff’s island has an unlimited supply of fish. Ask a Canadian fisherman about the Grand Banks: resources deplete. Would Deep Water Horizon exist if there was an easier way to get the oil? Resource limits are absent from Schiff’s world, but not ours, alas.

Why an Economy Grows provides a pleasant introduction to aspects of economics, and a valid critique of our unsustainable financial ways, but ultimately, something smells fishy – and I hope some of the reasons are now a bit clearer.


By Bob | July 6, 2010 |

Welcome to, Bob Young Walser’s internet outpost. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota I hope to chronicle unfolding responses to the challenges of Energy Uncertainty (aka Peak Oil), Climate Change and Economic Change in the heartland of the U.S.A. With an eye to the ideas of Transition being developed in England by Rob Hopkins and others, I wonder what the evolution of life in the Midwest will look like and I hope to celebrate the successes of that process as well as to recognize the challenges. I agree with Chris Martenson when he says that the next 20 years will be nothing like the last 20 years. We shall see . . .