Over the past two weeks, and still currently ongoing in some parts of the country, an unprecedented winter storm swept through the United States. The ice accumulation overall created some particularly disastrous conditions. From Texas to Virginia roadways became covered with ice, as did everything else. Resulting in road closures from impassable conditions as well as several accidents, including a horrendous 130 car pile up on the Texas interstate.
Iced over limbs snapped off of trees causing several millions of dollars of damage, power lines collapsed knocking out electricity leaving millions of people cold and in the dark. The outages also affected water supply services and treatment facilities across many states. Creating “catastrophic system failures” and leaving many communities such as 9,500 residents of Hopewell, Virginia without running water for days. Elsewhere, food shortages quickly became the ensuing issue due to the loss of power in homes and grocery stores.
All in all, it was an unpredictable natural disaster. It wasn’t the first time, and undoubtedly will not be the last. But what could have been done to better prepare or protect these communities from such a disaster? One thing that is clear is that such precautions need to be taken on the individual or localized level. Governments seldom take such measures and it leads to millions of people suffering.
Additionally the reactions to the disaster from some of the ruling class should further exemplify they are only out for themselves. One such example is Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who rather than attempting to improve response efficiency to restore power to his constituents, instead chose to flee to Cancun. Though some would say, and we’re inclined to agree, that it may be better for Ted Cruz to be sipping mojitos south of the border rather than actually writing policy at all. It goes to show what many have said for quite some time — politicians are not going to save anyone.
At times their responses are even the antithesis of helpful. When government officials send armed agents of the State to prevent starving people from feeding themselves amidst blackouts, as we recently reported was the case in Oregon.
Clearly, it is the people who need to be the self-reliant ones.
The Houston Chronicle echoed this sentiment in their own way. Amidst the disaster they published a piece in which they interviewed a local survivalist about her preparations in order to gain a better idea of how people could help themselves. She shared her expertise on preparing for natural disasters and the like; suggestions for survival equipment, non-perishable foods, water collection, and other skills and techniques to utilize them that are useful in such a scenario.
But there is also an underlying irony in this, the age old notion touted by many; that survivalists and preppers are traditionally mocked and ridiculed in the mainstream as “paranoid” but typically become the first ones people run to when the stuff hits the fan. In reality, anticipating unfortunate events should be a common practice.
Bad things do happen and it is wise to ensure you are amply able to provide for and protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of an emergency. Keeping a fire extinguisher or first aid kit in your house, owning a gun, a toolbox and a tire repair kit in your car, none of these things are paranoia. They are sensible preparedness. The same is true for preparing for large-scale events. You don’t need to be a doomsday prepper gearing up for nuclear war or the zombie apocalypse. Natural disasters like storms, hurricanes, and long-term power outages are tangible disruptions that deserve consideration in everyone’s life plans.
Being able to rely on and sustain yourself should be an imperative life skill. Because if the recent storm, not to mention the hysteria that gripped most of 2020, is indicative of anything — it is that this system is fragile. Too much of a disruption from the norm and it falls apart too easily. But what if in addition to personal household preparedness, there was a way for households and communities to have better protected themselves from rolling blackouts and food shortages, outside of our fragile system? There is.
For years now, a number of decentralized communities have utilized two techniques that produce a reliable supply of food and means of generating much their own electricity. When combined and if implemented properly by a society determined to gain independence from the establishment, these technologies could serve as the solution to protect against similar situations in the future. They are micro-gridding, and permaculture.
Firstly, it goes without saying decentralization is key. Continuing to rely on the same old establishment systems that requires dependence and complacency, and ultimately create these problems, is counterproductive. That means needing to take a measure of responsibility. Self ownership is liberating but it also means you have to work for it.
That concept may be intimidating to some who have been conditioned to accept the State taking care of everyone. But who is better qualified to run your life? You? Or some corrupt bureaucrat who doesn’t even know your name, much less entirely oblivious as to what happens to you in times of crisis? Decentralized communities offer more sovereignty for everyone and greater control for locals to be in charge of their own lives and resources. Consequently this means they are more capable to provide for themselves and withstand harsh events that can weaken or even cripple other localities governed by a broader more centralized, and often more oppressive and less efficient system.
A microgrid is an energy systems network sourced and produced locally. Shared between users and operates independently from a centralized grid, though at times could also be connected to one.
According to How Stuff Works, —
“One of the key advantages to the microgrid approach is that it allows local users to make smarter choices regarding their use of power”…. “As previously mentioned, microgrids don’t necessarily exist apart from the larger, nationwide power grid. When it makes economic sense, a local community could purchase electricity from outside sources. If prices were to rise, it could all but completely cut itself off from the grid, only using the grid’s overpriced juice in the event of local shortages.”
“Microgrids will not only allow for the optimization of power sources, but also power uses. For instance, a properly equipped microgrid could deal with an energy shortage not by cutting off all power, but selectively killing feeds to certain ends. For instance, the system might prioritize vital communications and healthcare-related energy expenditures, while cutting power to superfluous uses or to appliances such as refrigerators which can usually get by with occasional, short-term power outages. Another huge advantage to local power production is the optimization of heat energy. Large power plants also tend to create a great deal of unused heat. In fact, between 60 and 80 percent of a typical power plant’s energy consumption never becomes electricity. On a local level, however, that energy could be used to heat water for regional use.”
However, microgrids aren’t just useful for producing a limited amount of power. When utilized appropriately they can be almost entirely self-sufficient.
A 2018 study conducted by Dutch energy systems engineers found — “decentralized micro gridding can provide 90% of a neighborhoods energy needs”. When covering the report, an article from Vice notes:
“Microgrid technologies could make a local “techno-economy” 90 percent self-sufficient, through the decentralised sharing of energy at the local level between multiple households.
The new approach could even pave the way for “100 percent self-sufficiency in power, heat, and water, and 50 percent self-sufficiency in food production”, according to the report’s author, energy systems engineer Florijn de Graaf.”
“If optimized properly, microgrids could play a pivotal role in supporting efforts to transition to renewable energy systems and meet climate targets, finds the report published by Netherlands-based energy systems company Metabolic.”.
Whatsmore, in 2016, TFTP covered news of this kind of network being used to full effect. In Ta’u, American Samoa, the project was undertaken by SolarCity Corporation after its acquisition by Tesla. They aimed to convert the entire Island to operate on a renewable energy source. In approximately one year, they installed 5,328 solar panels creating 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity, and 60 Tesla Powerpack batteries for 6 megawatt hours of energy storage for 600+ residents on the island.
As our article stated, reports indicate that the microgrid will allow the island to maintain full power for three days without any sunlight, and a full recharging capacity time of seven hours.
“Factoring in the escalating cost of fuel, along with transporting such mass quantities to the small island, the financial impact is substantial,” SolarCity co-founder and CTO, Peter Rive wrote in a blog post about the project. Rive noted that the microgrid also eliminates “the hazards of power intermittency” and makes “outages a thing of the past.”
Fast forward to today, in the instance of the previous storm or the next one, communities using microgrids would have suffered fewer outages and total system failures would have been less likely to occur. Furthermore failures would have been easier to pinpoint in a smaller grid. A concentrated infrastructure resulting in a more rapid repair response – given each community was knowledgeable in maintaining their grid – would mean a quicker overall restoration of power in the event of an outage.
The self sustainability of microgrids would have made power outages much easier to handle. Many people would have still had heat, and lights, and running water. As opposed to the harsh reality faced by millions of Americans that lost access to all of the above during the winter storm.
But what about food? That is where permaculture makes its appearance.
Permaculture is defined as a system of perennial agriculture emphasizing the use of renewable natural resources and the enrichment of local ecosystems. In essence, it is a garden that utilizes the environment to remain self-sustaining. The concept originated in the mid-1970s by Tasmania University professor of environmental psychology Bill Mollison. A system was developed to integrate agriculture, horticulture, architecture & ecology, with ethical philosophy.
The most prominent aspect of permaculture which differentiates it from conventional farming is that it is regenerative. As pointed out here by our colleagues at Collective Evolution —
“Most of us are all-too-familiar with the ill effect the industrial food system has had on our planet. Species extinction, ecosystem destruction, salinity issues, the removal of top soils, deforestation, overfishing, soil toxicity, and climate change are just a few of the externalities of an overly resource intensive system which leaves many with excess and many more people hungry.
The difference between permaculture and modern industrial agriculture is that permaculture works with nature as opposed to against nature. Permaculture is a design science which observes natural systems in an attempt to learn from what they offer in the way of design, stability, and resilience. Hence, permaculture looks at the whole system and values how it all works in a synergy of balance and abundance. Permaculture focuses on techniques and practices which help re-establish this balance by creating places of diversity and abundance through restoring natural habitats which benefit all — not just humans.”
“Our reliance on long distance supply chains not only makes us vulnerable to external influences to the system but also leaves us blind to how, what, and where our food is coming from. We have no control over how and what is done to the food we eat. We have chosen to be dependent consumers as opposed to responsible producers. While not everyone has the luxury of a backyard or land there are many things which can be done to get started. Pot plants, planter boxes, community gardens, urban gardens, and land share schemes right through to local CSAs help reduce our reliance on long distance supply chains. The key to this is focusing on local solutions.”.
Even if one doesn’t have the resources to immediately hop up and start a fully functional permaculture garden, as mentioned above the initiative to take small steps can get people going in the right direction. For example, just last week The Free Thought Project reported the extraordinary story of a Florida man who has used his stimulus check to create his very own “independent, black owned, total organic and local urban neighborhood food farm.” Feeding himself and his neighbors, helping them achieve food independence and attain freedom from government assistance.
But lets say that a permaculture system had already been implemented prior to last week’s storm, or last year’s title wave of panic buying. With the information presented here it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. There would have been far less people panicking, and far less people going hungry. Despite the harsh weather, additional stores of food and the ability to produce more ensure that no matter the scenario we do not go without for long. Because as always, critical thinking, preparedness and self-reliance are the best means of surviving disaster. With this system everyone eats, waste is reduced, efficiency is improved, and the ecosystem is better protected. Do you see a downside? We certainly don’t.
One question remains to be answered however, and that is how do we go about setting up these communities? Of course this answer requires a bit of flexibility depending on region and other variables. The simplest would be independent mobilization. To personally put forth the initiative to implement these systems for yourself and encourage others to do the same in an effort to organize a network. This may be easier said than done. Though thankfully there already exists a loose community of liberty minded people focused on creating solutions outside of the State that could potentially help get a leg up on the problem — the Freedom Cell Network.
Freedom cells are valuable for a multitude of reasons, as their core principles promote Liberty, preparedness, education, and unity — as well as providing a safety net in the event of emergency scenarios like natural disasters. In this segment from The Conscious Resistance, Derrick Broze goes into detail explaining exactly what a freedom cell is, and how we can go about getting involved. Whether you’re in a rural area or a big city, freedom cells offer the opportunity to contact and network with like minded individuals and create solutions with these goals in mind.
Though the concepts of Freedom cells, microgrids, and permaculture are not all mutually exclusive, combining multiple aspects of these concepts potentially open limitless possibilities. When appropriately integrated with one another they can present a community solution that is a force to be reckoned with, based around humanity and voluntaryism. Nonviolent solutions that provide efficient alternatives to the status quo is the establishment’s worst nightmare. As they provide humanity the opportunity to seamlessly circumvent the old way of doing things that primarily benefit the predator class.
The French poet Victor Hugo said it best – “No army can stop an idea whose time has come”.
The personal self-sustainability of the individual, augmented with the capabilities of a self-sustaining community is the recipe for a cleaner, more sovereign and capable civilization.
Now more than ever, finding viable alternatives to opt out from this broken abusive system is vital for our civilization to take its next step in evolution. The solutions for humanity to begin moving towards a freer, more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world exist. But we have to act on developing these strategies and creating new ones; as individuals, and in doing so encouraging the togetherness to voluntarily do so collectively as a society. The possibilities for change are abundant. But it starts with us. We must act on it, and be the change we wish to see in the world.