Monday, July 21, 2008


For the first few months of this year I worked toward the goal of determining what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The strategy for meeting this goal had several parts: Complete and test the latest version of my consumption model; bulk up my creative writing portfolio with a completed novel, short stories, poems, and essays; and identify various ways of contributing to a sustainable future, including a definition of what such a future would entail.

Discussions of the consumption model and sustainability definition have appeared as short essays in IdeaExplorer, examining these issues from a variety of viewpoints which have recently converged so much that I have become repetitive. My latest efforts have focused on how to contribute to a sustainable future, examining the merits of developing new technology versus more utilization of Nature’s existing technology (exemplified by permaculture). With insights from my power model that support academic research into consumption, I’ve argued that increased transparency into the social and environmental impacts of product and service creation, as well as use, would go a long way toward improving humanity’s prospects for a long and healthy future.

It seems to me that everyone should become self-sufficient in terms of basic needs to the maximum extent possible, relying on local renewable resources and depending on the smallest community necessary to achieve this. The community should only trade with other communities for resources that do not affect this basic self-sufficiency. I've decided that I want the majority of my future efforts to support this philosophy and its implementation, since it is the core of a rational future that will serve everyone.

As my autobiographical essay Niches details, I have been strongly drawn to the idea of using creative writing as a means of education (for myself and readers) as well as promoting sustainable living. My novel, short stories, and poetry all demonstrated that I had the talent and the material to do this, though I have yet to sell any of it. Research into the writing market confirmed the assessment I made five years ago: that other than technical writing, it is very difficult to make a decent living as a writer. While the relative comparison of writing types still holds, the absolute condition of the profession is getting worse as apparently globalization is depressing pay rates across the board.

With my wife now also unemployed and prices rising, survival is subjecting my new-found purpose to its first practical test. Despite the potential personal peril, I am heartened that more and more Americans are becoming receptive to the idea of limiting consumption of products coming from distant – and therefore more costly – sources. Unfortunately, all of us are still dependent on those sources, and will probably continue to be while we build local communities and resource bases. This means that in the near term we still need to “feed the beast,” which for me translates into getting another technical writing job while I develop the skills and local personal relationships necessary for taking the next step.

On a national level, Al Gore is arguing that global warming’s accelerating progress demands that we totally replace fossil fuels with renewable energy within a decade. If such an ambitious program is adopted, there will be plenty of jobs available in creating a new built infrastructure. Writing, technical and otherwise, is likely to be among the skills needed in this transitional phase to a truly sustainable society. I’ll be available to help, if I’m not busy doing something at least as useful on another front.

No comments: