by Raven Cotyledon
This isn’t going to be an easy post to read, but I believe it looks at some important questions.
At Cotyledon right now, three out of four of the folks living here (basically everyone except me) are involved with the Extinction Rebellion. Wesley, the newest person in our house, is very heavily involved.
Wesley describes himself as a farmer but he came to New York City to help out with the Extinction Rebellion, which he sees as our last best chance to save the planet. He is not optimistic. It’s discussions with him that inspired this post.
If anyone still doubts that climate change is real, look at the record breaking temperatures in Alaska, along with the accompanying wildfires. (Which inspired someone to dub the state of the state, ‘Baked Alaska’.) Wesley said that he never expected to be a ‘prepper’, but given what he knows now, he is headed in that direction.
So what are the communes doing to cope with climate change? And what is any of this worth if we really are doomed?
Wesley pointed out to me that the most likely first major catastrophe is likely to be disruption of the food supply chain. One statistic I have seen tossed around is that stores only hold about a three day supply of food. Fortunately, most of the rural communities grow a significant portion of their own food. Not true of Cotyledon in urban New York, but we are associated with the Ranch and have an urban farm (Hellgate) only a couple of streets away.
Unfortunately, if the food supply did run out, there would be lots of very hungry people who would not care who the food technically belonged to. Also, dumpster diving would be pretty useless in a food emergency; if there was no food in the stores, there wouldn’t be any food in the dumpsters.
Many communes and other communities are also pioneers in off the grid living, which may be essential in a climate emergency. But the real thing that communities offer in any crisis is support and companionship and large doses of cooperation. If you are living in a community, you are not alone and isolated, and this is even more true if you are living in a commune.
This was brought home to me the morning after Donald Trump was elected. This was not something most of us were expecting, and many of us were in shock. If I had been living alone, I would have had to deal with this all by myself. I was living in Ganas and we had a community meeting that morning (as we did most mornings) and we talked together about how we would deal with this.
Communities are built to do things together and income-sharing communities even more so. We have far more collective intelligence and creativity and strength in community than any one of us has alone or even just a couple has together. As the challenges pile up, it makes more and more sense to me to figure this out communally.
But, and here’s the horrible question I began with: what if we are all doomed? First of all, I don’t think that is a given and I believe that the collective intelligence of communities makes our survival more likely. But it’s a possibility that I think we must consider. And if we need to consider it, then I think that we need to think about hospice care for the human race. When a person is dying, we try to make them comfortable, we try to figure out how to help them die well. I think that we may need to consider this for us all. And I cannot think of any better place to do this than in community where we have always focused on taking care of each other.
I don’t want to end on a down note, and I do believe that it is an honest question whether we will survive or not, but I think that either way, communes and communities are an important part of the process of either making it through or leaving the planet gracefully.
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