Thursday, October 23, 2008

Day Four, Part Two -- Virginia

Paralleling the Blue Ridge Skyline in Virginia

I'm burning the midnight oil right now, working on the campaign of a local candidate. We've got a set of them here in San Francisco, three or four or five individuals (if you take in the second and third rankings in our ranked-choice system) who have self-identified as "progressives" -- including the fellow whom I'm working for.

To me, progressive means believing in our collective effort to battle social and environmental degradation and lift the human spirit. It also means recognizing that there are real material limitations to our lifestyle -- and we are fast approaching some very serious ones such as limits on the energy, water, and soil resources of our planet. The implications for the collapse of an one of those resources is ominous. In my mind, anyone who self-identifies as a progressive should at least be open to learning about the disasters we could and do face as a species because of these limits. And I'm pretty sure that the candidate I am working for is.

Back to My Travels and My Thoughts
Once we left the state of West Virginia, our train began to travel parallel to the Blue Ridge Skyline. I could not see those mountains from the train, but I found the rolling fields and horse farms of Virginia beautiful nonetheless. This photograph does not capture the beauty of what I saw from the train window.

There is one author that I read, James Howard Kunstler, who writes bleakly about the future of humankind as the collapse we are now experiencing economically worsens and begins to encompass resource collapse. He suggests that rural parts of the nation -- especially the gun-loving South, including Virginia -- could descend into a Mad Max kind of violent chaos.

Another author, Richard Heinberg in his book Powerdown, suggests ways to avert chaos. He believes that if we successfully transition away from the energy and resource-intensive lives that we are now leading that the future will find more of us leading traditional agricultural lives, more like the lives led by the Amish.

It's a bucolic utopian dream that many of us have. In fact, on this trip, I was on my way to the farm, the place where my mother moved with her family when she was a teenager and that is now owned and run by one of my aunts and her husband. Though my aunt and uncle now derive great joy from their farming, it was no utopia for my mother or her sisters. You will see pictures shortly.

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