We are back with Part 8 of our mini-manifesto series. Skip the introduction if you’ve read any of the previous parts.
The umbrella of Doomer Optimism is not one vision for the future, it is an orientation that says: we see the world as it is, and we move forward with a practical, positive vision despite the challenges.
We defined Doomer Optimism as “a collective dedicated to discovering regenerative paths forward, highlighting the people working for a better world, and connecting seekers to doers.”
To demonstrate the variety and breadth of people engaging with such a perspective, I have asked for Doomer Optimists to write mini-manifestos clearly stating the vision for the future they are working toward.
I hope this exercise will make clear the very many thoughtful people working on practical initiatives to bring about a better future. I also want to make legible the specific philosophies and toolkits being used, so that others may find what resonates with them and thereby, find their community.
Doomer Optimists don’t all have to agree with one another. In fact, many virulently disagree. It is my goal to highlight the good work people are doing, and to lift them up. I also think of our collective as a place to interrogate each other’s perspectives. With public vetting and pushback, each of our individual visions can become stronger.
I will be releasing these mini-manifestos in parts.
Part 1: Aris Roussinos, Tara Ann Thieke and Empty America
Part 2: Joe Norman and Chris Ellis
Part 3: Shaun Chamberlin, Jeff McFadden and Adam James Pollock (AJP)
Part 4: Roxanne Ahern, Tucker Max, and Matthew Pirkowski
Part 5: Chris Dancy, Pentti Linkola Stan, and Julie Fredrickson
Part 6: Kathryn (@artsyhonker), Simone Cicero, and Solarchiect.
Part 7: Mary Harrington and Chris Smaje
In this part we hear from Willow Liana, Ali Katz, and SidewaysKoyote.
Since I was a child I was thinking big. I felt keenly the distress of the world and couldn’t stand for it. With childish urgency I felt I needed to solve every problem, right every wrong in the world. When I was 8 I became a vegetarian and was quite taken by the plight of factory farm animals. At 10 I discovered fair trade chocolate and the alternative that implied, and became convinced I must only consume fair trade products.
I cycled through causes, becoming overwhelmed by which to care the most about, which to dedicate my time and attention to enough to make a difference. The question of how to save the world rested heavily on my shoulders, and in many ways it still does.
Now I sit, rocking my newborn baby with one foot in my country home while I type. I expect my 16 year old self would see my current life as a failure. Getting old too soon. Becoming settled and giving up on my global ambitions was one of my greatest fears as a teenager. Where did things change?
Well I followed the world saving path for quite a few years. Yet, as I wound my way through it, I was followed by a nagging sense of placelessness, which was the root of my indecision about where to focus my efforts. The world needed care, but who was I to care about it? Where did I start? Who was I in relation to the world, and what was my proper place in it?
In attempting to think big, I was thinking impersonally. I was attempting to think about everything, but found myself unable to think about anything I could act on. What’s more, I realized that the world was a personal place. I could not love it without loving my place in it. The world I wanted to save was made up of networks of people who needed each other. I neglected to consider that I too was needed in this network. The fabric of life from which the energy and goodness in the world springs was becoming threadbare. Everything was becoming less personal and more generalized.
As the ‘save the world’ fatigue rose another time within me, I began to realize that before I tried to save the world, I had to be in it. If I was ever going to think big, I first needed to think small. For what is worth saving in the world if we refuse to be in it? To get our hands dirty and be present for our families and neighbors? And I realized that I wanted to be in it. I wanted to be needed by people I knew, and help people who I might know for the rest of my life. I wanted not just to save the world, but to have a stake in it. I could have picked a cause. I could have dedicated myself to solving some problem that I might never really see the impact of. But what of my family? What of the children I might someday have? What of my home town? The lands where I grew up? What would become of them?
So I chose to think small, to start. To pick someone to spend my life with, to pick a place to spend it in, and to begin to build my small part of the world. Because the more I looked around, the more I realized that the world doesn’t need to be saved. It needs to be built.
Check out Willow’s podcast with her husband Phil: https://www.patreon.com/thegoldenhour
Doomer Optimism: My Take On “What I’ve Seen Coming & How I’ve Prepared”
Love him or hate him, Tucker Max is smart … and he’s saying what I’ve known since 2009.
We are likely going into a period of revolution, war and/or depression and it’s going to be hard, but we’ll come out the other side stronger and better. Trying to build up and protect a stash/homestead/bunker from starving people with guns is a lose/lose proposition),
The choices I am making will lead (and already have led) to a great life for me and my family and my community regardless of how the future plays out.
I’m not making choices out of fear or just to avoid or prepare for bad things coming. It just so happens that the choices that will lead to a great life, no matter what, are one and the same as the choices that will prepare for the next world apocalypse — I’m preparing to thrive in any and every future reality. I think you should too.
Tucker interviewed Green Berets, and friends from Chechnya, Serbia and Croatia, each of who lived through an actual collapse of their civilization, and what he heard every single time is that there’s two aspects of being able to survive without the conveniences of our modern world:
“Community and logistics are key.
Community is this: how can I be around people I can rely on?
Logistics is this: how will I get the things I need when I need them?”
I’ve intuitively known since 2009 that the world we were building wasn’t sustainable, and I’d better find a different way.
In 2010, I bought a small farm, intending to build community on land, and create food and water security for myself and my family.
More than anything, that was a training ground in what not to do.
My farm/community experiment failed, but it set me up for learning what I needed to learn in order to live successfully in community now. Currently, I live with 6 other (very different) adults and it’s extremely enjoyable, even when there is conflict. I could not have said that in the past.
I learned critically important lessons that will set me up for success during this next go round. Fortunately, I had those years to make the mistakes and learn the lessons the hard way.
I don’t believe there is enough time for that anymore.
If you haven’t already started figuring out who you can rely on, and where you can do life and logistics with those people, now is the time.
My very short “how to be a safe person” list is as follows:
1. Get Good With Money (and the Use of Your Time, Energy and Attention): Getting good with money does NOT necessarily mean that you are the best investor, or trader, or even creator of money. It means that you are in right relationship with money based on the unique factors of who you are, why you are here and what is yours to do.
2. Get Right With Your Sexuality (Whatever is True for You Can Work, If You Are Right With It — Meaning Honest, Direct and Clear): Gay, straight, monogamous, polyamorous, married, single, or dating, kinky or vanilla, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are connected to your truth around your sex, free of shame, and know how to own your desires, fears and boundaries cleanly.
3. Take Full Personal Responsibility for Your Emotional Reality, Learn to Be in Conflict Healthily, and Deal With Addiction Honestly: The amount of power we each have is almost beyond comprehension. For most of us, that power is tied up in a complex web of wounds, projections and addictions that are the result of coping strategies we wisely developed to deal with our lack of power as children. When we grow into full mature adulthood, we can begin to wield this power with a grace that leaves no question about its source.
Each one of these topics could be a whole book. They are my distillation of the 3 key foundations to being able to live with ourselves, relate healthily with other humans and thrive on the planet.
You could simplify these topics down to three words — Money, Sex and Power.
To successfully thrive through what’s coming, you’re going to need to uplevel your relationship to Money, Sex and Power.
If we don’t face our personal relationships to money, sex and power head-on we cannot possibly be safe people. Instead, we’ll be people who are projecting our lack of safety on those around us, victims to our perceptions of reality, and completely unaware of how much power we actually have.
From that place, it really does not matter how much money you have, or whether you have food stored up, or if you can defend yourself with guns or hand-to-hand combat, you’ll ultimately implode your own community if the outsiders don’t get you first.
But, here’s the optimism part that counteracts that doomer reality … we are actually in a better position than we’ve ever been to be able to use our individual relationships to money, sex and power to create real collective transformation inside and out.
In the past, money, sex and power were used to control us. Now, we get to use money, sex and power to create the more beautiful world.
So, yes, I’m a doomer optimist. Revolution, war and depression are coming. And, it’s about time. We need it. We cannot avoid it. But, we can use it rather than be consumed by it.
An excerpt from: https://medium.com/@thealikatz/doomer-optimism-my-take-on-what-ive-seen-coming-how-i-ve-prepared-e65184d6d2cf
Agriculturalism is not a native human state.
I've been part of the back to the land movement. I've grown corn and taters, cows and goats, pigs and ducks, strawberries and pasturage. And trees.
I love "cottage culture" and backwoods cabins and the human influenced outdoors.
But stage two terraforming - agriculturalism, is not a native human state. We didn't evolve to the tasks, stressors, and UTTTER DEPENDENCY, of agriculturalism.
Stage one terraforming is, essentially, a combination of opportunistic driving of livestock, seeding, and setting of wildfires.
Driving isn't herding, but influencing the rangeland of herds by driving them in certain directions. Seeding isn't settled field agriculture, but it promotes useful growth. Setting fire to the forests isn't clear cutting, but it does clear out understory and make a more hospitable environment for preferred easy prey species - and seeding.
We've done all that for hundreds of thousands of years. In evolutionary terms, we quite literally evolved WITH fire.
Stage two terraforming is settlement agriculture. Mostly, people stay in one place, attached to the land (usually as functional slaves). We've been doing that for a while, but not that long, 11 or 12 thousand years. And not globally. Settlement agriculture plainly sucks. Slavery, disease, reduced length of and quality of life. However, it did prove to be one path toward technological civilization and massive population increase. You are here today, mostly, because of slavery.
And it MIGHT actually work out. We're getting pretty close to having the technological capability of getting past the curses of civilization (agriculturalism) and moving upwards, past our pre-civilized status.
But, psychologically, it sucks. Agriculturalism is no good for humans.
And, Stage Three terraforming. Let's call it...gardening. It's not JUST that. It is also tuning your local environment to produce happiness, contentment, healthy food, and natural game.
The problem here, is that you have to get out of an agricultural mindset and move out of "slave space" - and that requires some abundance - some internal, core, deep trust that you can eat, thrive, move, and create.
We had that BEFORE agriculturalism. People think of the hunter period as harsh, but it was truly a period of functionally high independence. There is evidence of transition between clan/hunting groups, widespread proto-civilizations with huge gathering complexes. Of a large amount of leisure time. MUCH more than we've seen since.
With that- with that core confidence that you had as a hunter in a world full of endless game, with an ability to move freely - with that, stage three terraforming - cottage gardening, co-operative multi-use farms, designed permacultures - with that, we can move forward.
I see this in a lot of the doomer optimism. It's sort of cloudy, since they are almost all literal doomers, Believing in Collapse. But the optimist side really does seem to partake of this post agricultural stage three terraforming- gardens and abundance, choice, personal connection and once again finding a focus on the You that is.
And so, I'm an optimist of a slightly different flavor, but not a Doomer. Oh, to be sure, our next phase of the game of humanity is going to be VIOLENT, and bloody, and dramatic, and ecstatic. EXCITING. But I don't see it as a collapse. That's not the direction of humans.
And I don’t see the end result as universal back to the land sustenance agriculture. If anything, I think we’ll move (finally) PAST sustenance agriculture.
I consider my friends to be gardeners of and in humanity. Hopefully that’s not too much optimism for them to handle.
An excerpt from:
Fantastic manifestos! Gives me energy in the new year!