[permaculture] Relocaliztion Handbook

Keith Johnson keithdj at mindspring.com
Sat Sep 30 12:33:55 EDT 2006

If you've always wanted a guide for evolving a post-petroleum culture, 
here's a start.

Keith Johnson
Permaculture Activist Magazine
PO Box 5516
Bloomington, IN 47408
(812) 335-0383
also Patterns for Abundance Design & Consulting
APPLE-B (Alliance for a Post-Petroleum Local Economy - Bloomington)

    This Action Handbook is based on excerpts from the forthcoming
    Relocalize Now!
    Getting Ready for Climate Change and the End of Cheap Oil.
    We have designed this handbook to share ideas about projects and
    initiative that
    Local Post Carbon Groups and interested community members can start
    ately in order to start developing a Relocalization strategy for
    their community. 
    Only by working together on Relocalization projects locally, such as
    building a
    community garden or starting a car cooperative, will we effect the
    change we
    would like to see in the world.
    Each section of this handbook includes several synopses of
    Relocalization projects
    ideas for communities. For a more in-depth look at each of these
    project ideas,
    please visit the resource section on www.relocalize.net

    Start a Food Co-operative

    Help support local farmers and promote sustainable agricultural
    practices by forming a food co-operative to purchase and
    distribute organic and locally grown produce. Forming co-ops can
    make organic local food more affordable because as mem-
    bers of a co-operative your group will have more purchasing power.
    Individuals can pool their orders and receive discounts
    for large quantity orders.  
    Develop a Garden Gleaning Project

    Organize a Garden Gleaning Project to harvest fruit from backyards
    where the produce would otherwise go to waste. Project
    volunteers are matched up with property owners who do not have the
    time or capability to harvest the fruit on their prop-
    erties. The harvested fruit can be shared between the pickers,
    property owners, community organizations and local food
    banks. The Garden Gleaning Project can range from a few friends and
    a couple of fruit trees to a citywide organization that
    coordinates a large group of volunteers, runs workshops, hosts
    harvesting celebrations and produces preserves, juices, and
    jams. A Garden Gleaning Project can work both in urban and rural
    areas, wherever fruit trees exist but are not being used for
    their fruit by their owners.

    Co-operative Grocers' Information Network: www.cgin.coop/manual.pdf
    Cooperative Directory Service: www.coopdirectory.org
    Start or Join a Car Sharing Co-operative

    Start a car co-operative in order to offer car sharing as a viable
    transportation alternative in your town or area.  Instead of
    each owning a personal vehicle, members of a car coop own a number
    of cars collectively for use when using alternative
    mode of transportation, such as cycling and walking, is not
    possible.  Car sharing greatly reduces personal automobile use,
    cuts the number of cars on the road and shrinks the financial and
    air quality costs of our society's over reliance on private
    transportation.   At the same time cooperatives provide the
    reliability and convenience of owning a private vehicle.   Car co-
    ops can vary in size from a few friends sharing a car to 30,000
    members sharing a large fleet of vehicles.

    Start a Walking School Bus

    Organize a Walking School Bus so that elementary school children can
    get to school in a safe, healthy and fossil-fuel-
    free manner.  Walking School Buses are programs that allow children
    to walk to school in a supervised group along a
    predetermined route and pick up additional students at assigned
    stops.  The program can provide an alternative to the
    conventional and congested vehicle drop off and encourage both
    supervising parents and children to get out of their car and
    back into community space.  The school bus program ensures that
    parents feel confident that their children are safe, while
    it providing the opportunity for kids to socialize, stay fit, and
    learn the importance of people-powered transportation at an
    early age. 


    Definition and history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car_sharing
    CarSharing Network: http://www.carsharing.net
    Cooperative Auto Network: http://www.cooperativeauto.net
    Autoshare Toronto: http://www.autoshare.com
    Boulder CarShare: http://www.carshare.org

    Produce a Documentary Film Meta-Project

    Produce a documentary film about the work your local post carbon
    group is doing, with a particular focus on the processes
    behind each project. The film can centre on one project your group
    has completed and can outline the various steps it took
    to achieve your goals. Alternately, your group may wish to outline
    several ongoing projects that you have been working on
    and show how the initiatives were started. Your film will serve as a
    tool to inspire other groups to begin their own projects,
    a means of encouraging greater understanding of the challenges of
    peak oil and relocalization, and a call to action for those
    new to the issues. It is best to start documentary films during the
    initial stage of a project so that you have footage of each
    step along the way.

    Develop a Community Walking Tour

    Organize a walking tour of your community. Highlight the region's
    pre-globalization history, discuss areas of concern,
    and demonstrate to the participants the possibilities and working
    examples of relocalization and positive alternatives. A
    knowledgeable guide will engage participants by introducing points
    of interest, explaining their significance, and share ideas
    about how the situation could be improved. The purpose of the tour
    is to educate community members about the localized
    networks that used to exist in their community, to create awareness
    about the current positive and negative attributes of
    your region and to illustrate the potential your community has for
    building a strong post-carbon, relocalized future.


    Maps of communities by walking distance - A Very Beautiful Place:
    Common Ground: http://www.commonground.org.uk

    Natural Resources

    Understanding your community and bioregion and its resources is a
    great starting point for deciding which projects and ex-
    periments to undertake as a Local Post Carbon Group. An assessment
    of your local natural resources requires researchers to
    gather information and coordinators to compile the information in an
    accessible and useable form.  Map the natural features
    of your community and bioregion and include the location of arable
    land, weather, flora and fauna.

    Society and Business

    Along with taking an inventory of your community's physical
    features, it is valuable to conduct a community asset inventory.
    Do this by making a list of the community groups, public projects,
    non-profit organizations and businesses in your community
    that are working towards one or more aspects of Relocalization. This
    type of assessment is a valuable first step in identify-
    ing local capability and skills and will provide your region with a
    list of resources that might be incorporated into a process
    of neighborhood visioning or regeneration. The very process of
    creating an asset inventory encourages community members
    to start forming valuable connections and relationships with one
    another. Find a way to share this information with your
    neighborhood; your group could compile the information in a
    Community Guidebook (see Engage in Local Governance &
    Your Community).

    Municipal and Regional Political Structure

    Get to know the local municipal and regional political structure.
    Doing research into the arrangement of local politics will
    help your group understand who makes the decisions, who holds sway
    in which areas and who to approach with different
    ideas and problems.  Compile a synopsis and contact information on
    all advisory committees, commissions and working
    groups. Find out what laws stand in the way of relocalization and
    through what processes they can be changed.

    Local Skills Database

    Compile a database of who has what practical skills in your
    community.  Local skills can be as simple as an expert knot-tier
    or as complex as how to build, install and maintain solar panels.
    Community members may develop these abilities in their
    paid employment, or practice these skills in the form of hobbies.
    Organize the information in an electronic database, which
    will allow you to make adjustments as community members learn new
    skills and people move in and out of the area. The
    database will allow you to quickly locate skilled people in the area
    who can help your group conduct research projects and
    undertake action-oriented projects. A skills database can also be
    helpful when establishing local money or bartering systems.
    Developing this type of database and presenting the information in
    an effective way will help your community value and
    appreciate local skills and talents.

    Local Needs Assessment

    Collect current information on the amount of locally produced food,
    energy and water being produced in your region. Deter-
    mine how much produce is transported into the region in order to
    meet local demand. Identify local sources of food, energy
    and water and calculate how much additional food, energy and water
    is required to create a self-reliant region.

    Conduct a Personal Energy Audit

    Conducting a personal energy audit is a valuable way to understand
    how deeply complex and interconnected our society's
    relationship is with distant, unknown and non- renewable sources of
    energy. The exercise will help you become more con-
    scious of how much energy you use in a typical day.

    Set Goals for Reduction

    Once you and your group members have completed personal energy
    audits, create goals to reduce the amount of energy
    used by each member of the group, say by a factor of ten. By working
    together, the group will be able to support each
    other. The single, most effective way to reduce general energy
    consumption is by sharing energy use. A large portion of
    individual energy use is through private personal mobility, namely
    cars, followed by electricity and heating. Taking action
    to substantially reduce the amount of electricity or heating used in
    an average home is a formidable, medium- to long-term
    task. Do research into local and federal grants and investment
    options to finance the retrofitting of homes for energy use.

    Willits Economic Localization Project:
    Home Energy Saver Web site: http://hes.lbl.gov
    AC Power Measurement device:
    US DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy "Energy
    Savers" Web site:

    Community Post Carbon Guidebook

    Upon completing a Community Assessment Inventory (see the Take
    Inventory of Your Community fact sheet), create a guide-
    book that outlines the various businesses, services, manufacturers,
    organizations, media outlets and programs that are work-
    ing towards relocalization in your community. This informative
    pamphlet, booklet or online resource will serve as a resource
    for individuals and organizations that want to know where to put
    their money, how to get involved and what is still needed
    in the area to create a self-reliant post-carbon community network. 

    Form a Community Coalition

    Form a coalition for groups and organizations in your community that
    are working on relocalizing the local economy. The
    goal is to have a wide range of informed organizations who are
    interested in how their work fits into the bigger issues of the
    global energy crisis and relocalization. Create the space for these
    organizations to get involved in effecting solutions. Your
    Local Post Carbon Group can assist coalition members create new
    programs to deal with the coming crisis, add new thrust to
    the organizations' existing advocacy programs and help them connect
    with a network of organizations with similar aims. The
    coalition will bring together people from different backgrounds and
    allow members to see how their work fits into the peak
    oil context and why what they are doing is important in a energy
    constrained world.

    Run for Municipal Office with a Relocalization Platform

    Understanding your municipal government and how it works is
    essential for working towards relocalization. Running as
    a candidate in a municipal election on the issues of low energy
    living will give these issues a higher public profile in your
    community, especially if you win. If you are successful you will be
    able to bring the issues of peak oil and the positive options
    of relocalization to council chambers. By asking the right
    questions, even during election time, you will be able to force other
    leaders to address the issues of peak oil. Running for office is an
    effective vehicle to share information about relocalization
    with your community. We encourage anyone who is interested in
    politics to consider running for municipal office. Regardless
    of the outcome of the election, your voice, opinions and questions
    will be heard and reported on in the local media.

    Post Carbon Institute
    action handbook engage in local governance & community
    The book How to Run for Local Office: a complete guide for winning a
    local election: http://www.winelect.com

    Reclaim Public Space

    Work with other members of your community to revitalize an existing
    public space or to create a new site for neighborhood
    interaction. Each community will have a different vision of how to
    develop such a project and how the finished product will
    look, function and be managed. Project ideas include reclaiming an
    underused parking lot, converting an intersection into
    public space, or redirecting an existing park back towards public use.

    Barn Raising Project

    Use Barn Raising as a means of getting work done on a community
    project.  Members of a community actively decide to
    come to the same place at the same time to achieve a specific goal.
    The activity can be something that benefits a small sub-
    set of the population, such as installing a solar water heater for a
    community member, or it can be a larger goal of the entire
    community, such as creating a new community garden. The key features
    of Barn Raising event are doing work and finding
    time to socialize.

    The City Repair Project: http://www.cityrepair.org
    Project for Public Spaces: http://www.pps.org
    Definition and history:
    http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?BarnRaising ;

    Hold a Film Screening or Film Festival

    Film screenings and film festivals are a valuable tool to raise
    awareness about the energy and ecological predicaments of
    our society's dependence on fossil fuels. Film screening and
    festivals are especially effective if participants are given the
    opportunity to discuss the film after the showing. These types of
    events are a great opportunity to increase community
    knowledge and advocacy, to raise funds for sponsoring groups. It is
    a good idea to provide a sign-up sheet for participants
    to get involved in the local Post Carbon Group events and meetings.
    Coordinate Letters to the Editor

    The letters to the editor section of your local paper represents is
    a valuable forum for getting your message about peak oil,
    low-energy living and global relocalization to the community, which
    includes both local citizens and politicians. The editorial
    section is one of the most read sections of any newspaper. Letters
    to the editor help editors decide which topics to cover in
    future news stories and editorials.  Additionally, elected officials
    often carefully monitor this section and the editorial page to
    gauge local opinion.  Coordinate your efforts: gather together
    several local organizations and plan to write editorials to the
    same newspaper within the same week. The more letters an editor
    gets, the more weight your letter will have.

    Raise Awareness with Press Releases

    Writing press releases can be an effective means of sharing your
    message with your community. Focus your story on specific
    issues, perhaps something that is happening in your community, and
    outline the positive actions that your group is taking
    to deal with these challenges. A well-written press release can
    raise community awareness about the ramifications of our
    society's over-reliance on cheap energy and will encourage others to
    speak out about these issues. Press releases can inspire
    people to action and will give your group and its activities legitimacy.

    Visit the Resource section of the Relocalization Network website at
    Press Release Newswire: http://www.prweb.com
    Press Release Free: http://www.prfree.com

    Form a Relocalization Committee

    Form a Relocalization Committee in order to develop greater public
    awareness about peak oil, the local and regional
    ramifications of energy shortages and the looming environmental
    crisis, and preparations at the municipal/regional level for
    an energy-depleted future. The committee can work to identify local
    laws and ordinances that inhibit relocalization and to
    develop laws that would encourage local self-reliance.
    www.relocalize.net <http://www.relocalize.net>

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