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Re: [penn-permaculture] Infrastructure and resilience

From: KIM
Sent on: Friday, November 2, 2012 11:36 AM
I was given several oil lamps that were my grandparents...they have come in handy many many times.  

-----Original Message-----
From: joy <[address removed]>
To: penn-permaculture-list <[address removed]>
Sent: Fri, Nov 2,[masked]:20 am
Subject: [penn-permaculture] Infrastructure and resilience

Hi folks,
I've been thinking a bit about this whole hurricane thing, and as is often the 
case, it has turned to more permaculture-related thoughts.

When my grandfather was a boy, he had a little kerosene lamp to light his way to 
bed every night. You see, they didn't have electricity yet. During Hurricane 
Sandy, my mother used this very same lamp to read by and navigate through a 
darkened house.
I find it amazing that in around just one generation's time, we've gone from 
having no electricity, to being so UTTERLY dependent upon it.

I recognize that this is largely due to the fact that electricity has been built 
into our infrastructure. Generally, we don't put wood-burning stoves in new 
homes or apartment buildings. We think of fire as a potential hazard, even if we 
cherish the warmth of a fireplace enough to make electric versions of them.

All of this brings me back to my grandfather. In his childhood, they had a lot 
less "infrastructure", but stronger social relationships. I've had a lot of 
discussions about alternative infrastructure, how to strengthen it, getting off 
the grid "in order to be self-sufficient", etc.
But none of those are really the same as talking about the idea of 
infrastructure ITSELF as being a crutch or a potential obstacle to resilience.

Back in the day, my grandfather's community, in a town next to where I still 
live, had a very important discussion. These people were very hard-working folks 
who believed very much in the church as center of community, and in helping your 
fellow person out. These people also invented the very first insurance company 
in the U.S., and the idea of "insurance", and this was almost a scandal inside 
the church.

Why? Because they recognized that it had the potential to "relieve" folks of the 
moral responsibility of helping their fellow community members, since insurance 
would step in and do what had traditionally been done by people: re-build houses 
after a fire, loan resources, etc. In the end, it was decided that they would 
only make "insurance" available to "heathens outside of the church", in order to 
not make their own people complacent and apathetic. Obviously, the idea grew 
past those boundaries, and we now have a nationwide epidemic of insurance fraud 
and a litigious court system. Our good natures are now actually HAMPERED by 
insurance liability in many cases. Which is exactly the kind of thing that they 
were worried about. Oops.

My point is this: is infrastructure that is not based in social relationships, 
but rather, in contracts, actually an impediment to resilience, both physically 
and morally? 		 	   		  

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