NOTE: Make sure you read the first three posts (in order!) before tackling the rest, or it could be confusing: Post 1 is Designing the future, Post 2 is Setting up the problem, and Post 3 is Estimating basic requirements.

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Web peakoildesign.blogspot.com

Friday, September 15, 2006

Building Communities: Who do we need?

So far this blog has focused primarily on developing single-family homesteads – while this is one design solution to a sustainable future, we need to ensure that we don’t lose sight of engineered community solutions to Peak Oil.

Rather than infrastructure, perhaps we should first examine who should comprise a community. I don’t propose this approach as a means to exclude people, but rather give community planners guidance to identify skills deficiencies. If a certain skill/trade/knowledge is found to be inadequate or missing, either someone from the community should acquire it or a new person should be invited.

I compiled a generalized list of occupations and skills that might be considered essential depending on the nature of the community. Please keep in mind that each community member should possess several of these skills, and preferably more than one person should be qualified in each area. Also consider the size and complexity of your post-Peak Oil community: Will you remain in a large city? Are you starting from scratch with a couple hundred people? Just a couple families? Is your community scattered or clustered?

In the near future (next few months) I will be transitioning this blog to a site that will include, among other things, a tool for community-minded people to meet up and develop plans based on individual skills, resources, and geographic locations. Keep checking back here as I improve on the PeakOilDesign concept.

Critical skills and knowledge for a post-Peak Oil Community:

Farming/Gardening (all types)
Nursing/General Practice Medicine
Specialized Medicine
Psychology/Psychiatry
Engineering (all types)
Teaching (Early childhood, K-12, advanced)
Security/Police/Military
Dentistry/Oral Hygiene
Cooking
Food preservation
Carpentry
Hunting/Fishing
Architecture
Clothmaking/Tailoring
Blacksmithing/Metalworking
Veterinary Medicine
Geology
Plumbing
Electrical Wiring
Meteorology
Religion/Philosophy
Seamanship/Sailing
Glass-making
Candle-making
Cheese-making
Paper-making
Firefighting
Animal training (dogs, horses, etc.)
Chemistry/Physics

Feel free to comment on or add to this list.

8 Comments:

At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Ted said...

Don't forget urban planning. I just graduated with a degree in Urban Planning and I am fascinated with what peak oil will bring. I want to get involved with sustainable building and intentional communities, but I feel I may not be able to until I get my loans paid off. That leads me to suggest another thing that may be helpful in a community; financial advisors and accountants. I love how your site addresses peak oil by offering practical solutions instead of just focusing on the problems.

 
At 5:20 PM, Blogger PeakEngineer said...

Thanks Ted, I appreciate your comments. You're right, we do need to include finance and accounting in our skills list -- I get so focused on the "hard engineering" parts of design, I forget about elements critical for a society to function. Even if the community doesn't use currency, somebody needs to have the skills to calculate how many yaks equal a block of cheese! :)
We might also add political science/law to the list: every society must have some rule of law to function.

 
At 12:30 PM, Anonymous kaykay said...

Great idea and one I have been looking for awhile. As a single woman (with many skills :)) I know I can't have the peak oil life I want and have not had much success in convincing my family and close friends to give up their way of life. Most don't believe it and those few who do, don't want to change. I'm very much interested in a community approach. Keep us posted.

 
At 12:48 PM, Blogger PeakEngineer said...

Hi kaykay,
Glad to have you stop by. I've found that even in the green community there is still some resistance to the idea of Peak Oil, which is healthy: something with such a magnitude should be thoroughly challenged before making major life changes. The only advice I can give on convincing your friends and family is to continue presenting evidence and allow them to draw their own conclusions. There are lots of great resources out there with advice on that sort of thing. (PeakOilBlues, Deconsumption)
Anyway, I look forward to hearing more from you as we continue developing these needed skills.

 
At 2:24 PM, Blogger Johan said...

Interestingly, as the list of skills starts to lengthen, at some point the question becomes : what skills are not useful? Because in some way, all of us have a skill, a role in the current society, and this role is appreciated - otherwise it would cease to exist.

So don't forget singers and actors, and painters, and writers. Because what would life be worth without fun and culture?

It's an interesting exercise you're doing, in the sense that we're now questioning everything we do, from the ground up. Very rationally, and very reasonably.

Personally I don't share the feeling that we need to "go back" to a more primitive way of life. I do agree that we need to be far less wasteful.

The way I see it, we have to change from flipping ever more burgers, to cooking less, but far more exquisite dishes.
(And I mean that in a metaphorical way.)

This means it will still be possible to grow value; to grow human satisfaction and development.
But not growth just for the sake of growth.

 
At 12:16 AM, Blogger PeakEngineer said...

Apologies, I had artists on my original handwritten list, but it didn't get transferred when I typed it up. Culture is absolutely required. And I also don't mean to say that people without these skills aren't helpful to post-Peak society, I'm just trying to identify the minimum skills that a community would need for a comfortable future.

 
At 11:38 AM, Anonymous trawood said...

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Conserves water.
Waste goes to mulch.
Doable off grid.
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Solar greenhouse=year round production.
When underway, minimal labor and time.
Broad range of vegetable production.
Broad range of design.
Less likely to be affected by weather.
intrinsically organic.
appropriate employment for seniors.

I hope I've covered most of the points.

 
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