Friday, August 7, 2009

July Summary: Good News Truly Upside Down

The main characteristic we noticed in our News Updates during the past month was a near obsessive drive to make us think the economy is getting better in the sense of heading back to the life we were knew it prior to 2008. We doubt that most people are experiencing personal signs of such a return in their daily lives though.

This kind of cognitive dissonance might lull us into some kind of restless false hopeful expectations, but it doesn't contribute to a real sense of eco-nomic well-being, because it conflicts openly with real life experience.

The most important thing we can do for our eco-nomic well-being right now is to accept that we're not going back and that's a good thing. It won't serve us to go back. Back is what got us here. We need to go forward.

Fortunately the "eco" part of eco-nomic, which is clearly not better, is helping us pay attention to what's really going on. There has been so much news about climate and weather disruption throughout the US that it's pretty hard not to pay attention.

Most of us are experiencing this personally in one dramatic way or another: too much heat or too much cold, serious flooding or serious drought, a pervasive feeling of "Whatever happened to summer?"

We just returned from Phoenix where it was over 110 degrees throughout the week (100 at midnight; 115 one day) and news anchors there were warning folks not to let their animals walk on paved outdoor surfaces.

Our friends in Portland are sweltering too, because they're not used to over 100 degree heat. A colleague in Maine is baffled at the endless rain. Friends in New York are shivering when they're usually sweltering.

Granted if the dire aspects of the financial side of our eco-nomic situation are lessening somewhat that will give us more time to make the changes we need to make to live in a more eco-nomically sustainable way. And in this reguard we continued to see some very promising signs this past month that people are doing just that.

Now, let's just have to keep moving forward in directions like these:

* Money spent at locally owned businesses creates more local business
Tough Times Lead to Local Currencies Daily Time Magazine 7/32
Communities and their residents all fare far better when money spent in local communities stays in the local community. Local currency builds strong local communities. Too bad times have to get bad before we do good things.

* Don't have money, but we've got time; volunteering is on the rise
Economy Low, Generosity High USA Today 7/28
This looks like a snapshot from the future when money has become less important and we do more for ourselves and each other.

* Small scale local farming becoming a national trend

New Generation of Farmers Gong Small Scale Daily Camera 7/26
More evidence that this positive trend is catching on.

* Now that people are experiencing financial distress, they don't want to be alone.
Recession Lesson: Share and Swap Replaces Buy and Grab
Washington Post 7/17
Since being alone will be increasingly difficult in a lower-energy world, it's good that we're instinctively moving in that direction

* Local utility at forefront of the local-is-better movement begins providing 70% of its water from its own backyard
A Utility the Fills Its Own Aquifers LA Times 7/20
Every home and every community needs to be begin collecting its own otherwise wasted water run off.

* Young people find their calling in organic farming
On Tiny Plots a New Generation of Farmers Emerges USA Today 7/14
In his book Peak Everything, Richard Heinberg points out our impending need for 50 million farmers.

* 47% of consumers say they already are living more simply and find life richer living with less!
In Recession, a Simple 'Silver' Lining USA Today 7/9
This is GREAT news that is looking like a long-term shift in fundamental values.

* Belt tightening is underway; savings up, borrowing's down
A Fundamental Shift; Consumers Are Saving Rather than Spending Los Angeles Times 7/9
This is more very good news, but it also hints that the economy will face some difficult times in the short terms as our economy adjusts to living within our means.

* Banks pull back severely on card lending: new cards down 38%
Banks Get Stingy on Credit USA Today 7/7
I know what terrible news this is for many merchants and some customers, but it is a must if we are to begin living within our means. See U.S. Debt Shrinking at a Glacial Pace

* Developers are creating subdivisions around organic farms to attract buyers
Organic Farms as Sub-Division Amenities New York Times 7/1

* Community gardens in urban neighborhoods a source of future food security and much more
Urban Farming Movement Like a Revolution CNN 6/29

* Milestone for consumers as they try to avoid further debt
Consumers Opt for Debit Over Credit Cards NPR 6/29

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