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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Moving Back to the City?

Moving Back to the City?

Lisa F.
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 438
Mainers begin making life changes that could slow urban sprawl to a crawl.
By TOM BELL, Staff Writer

Jeff Keating is tired of spending money for gasoline to support his 25-mile round-trip commute between his home in Yarmouth and his job in Portland. So he's buying and moving to a Munjoy Hill fixer-upper, figuring that the gas savings alone will put $163 per month into his pocket.

Jill and John Harlow of South Portland already live fairly close to where they work. So they took a different step: They ditched their Chevy Suburban and became a one-car family.

"I'm sick of being held hostage by gas prices," Jill Harlow said. "There is no reason why we can't walk and do healthy things. We don't have to drive everywhere."

Observers from a variety of perspectives say that the Keating and Harlow households may be the leading edge of cultural shift that will have profound ramifications: If high oil prices are here to stay, a way of life will change.

For the past half-century, they say, cheap energy has fueled the migration of Maine's population outward from cities and villages and into the countryside. As energy becomes increasingly costly, the flow will reverse.

"We see people rethinking their commute, rethinking where they live, rethinking their distance to shopping," said Alan Caron, president of GrowSmart Maine. "This will have an extraordinary effect on where we live and where we shop."

It will take decades to play out, he said, as government, businesses and families make decisions after factoring the effect of costly energy.

It also will take time for people to make major changes to their way of life. Right now, most families appear focused on quick and relatively easy changes, such as adding insulation to an attic or getting an old wood stove out of storage.

Moreover, many people aren't sure whether the current high prices are the result of short-term supply-and-demand problem or something permanent. Such uncertainty fosters a hunker-down approach rather than a transformational one.

Still, with economic growth in China and India driving up worldwide demand for oil, many people believe that a fundamental change is occurring in the economics of energy, said former Gov. Angus King, who has been promoting wind energy as an alternative source of electricity.

Electricity makes up 10 percent of the average Maine family's annual energy bill, he said. Home heating oil accounts for 40 percent, and the rest is transportation.


full article: http://pressherald.ma...­
Ted M.
TedMarkow
Brunswick, ME
Post #: 66
"We see people rethinking their commute, rethinking where they live, rethinking their distance to shopping," said Alan Caron, president of GrowSmart Maine. "This will have an extraordinary effect on where we live and where we shop."

Well, I'm rethinking mine.

I'd love to work within walking or biking distance and am trying to "think outside the box" in terms of what I can do to work in my town. This includes working for myself...again. I'm even thinking of that SPIN gardening system that was mentioned here a while ago. Anyone heard more about that or learned their system?
Penelope
user 5846522
Portland, ME
Post #: 31
SPIN gardening system?
Ted M.
TedMarkow
Brunswick, ME
Post #: 68
Penny,

This is the SPIN web site:

http://www.spinfarming.com/­
Penelope
user 5846522
Portland, ME
Post #: 32
Oh yeah! I remember now. Thanks Ted.
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 187
Although moving back to the city is one alternative suited to those who work for someone else in a city, there are certainly alternatives. You had better grow spinach the first year as a throwaway crop or forget gardening.

As Ted suggested, you could work for yourself. That is what I do. I live in the country and often my vehicle does not leave the driveway. Of course I don't make all that much but don't require as much either. Houses, taxes, and many types of aggravation are lower.

I was thinking about decentralized shopping. If someone put a supermarket right around here, I bet it would get plenty of business. I'm sure five or six towns around would go there rather than Rockland or Augusta. Corner stores are too expensive and have too little selection. That said, we do have farmers markets and interesting places to shop around here. Anybody been to Morses Sauerkraut lately? Three miles from my house. One of the best deli's in Maine.

It's important to consolidate your trips now stopping anyplace along your way that you think you might need something. Making special trips out for one or two things is becoming too expensive.

Spin gardening is something that certainly makes sense. I have been suggesting get rid of their lawns for years. What good is your lawn? You can't even play golf there. My brother who always thought expansive lawns were great, now pays $30 a week to mow the lawn and has an expensive machine to do it. I have a $25 used mower I have not used yet this year. So far I have weedwhacked here and there. My front yard is all woodchips.

I have to say that I didn't see a lot about it that shows uber imagination though. Traditional equipment, techniques, and sales. You have to be a real farmer to do it and buy a lot of expensive stuff. Tillers, greenhouses, trucks, and all kinds of other stuff. Just plain row gardening too. Flat, with lots of dirt turned up. Weeding. Runoff. I was getting a sore back and hamstrings just looking at the pictures. Many of the crops shown require major babysitting and maintenance and premium water. If you get public water and sewer, this may not be a doable idea. Don't leave the house for too long or your lettuce..... Then you have to go out an hustle the merch.

It looks like a good idea that needs some imagination applied to it. Where is the fruit? Alternative crops? Companion planting? Shade crops? Perennials? Are greens really your best income per square foot where space is at a premium? Something on a somewhat smaller scale that just feeds the family throughout the year may make more sense for many but you could make a subsistance living from a large yard I guess. Most farmers I know seem to need more land than that.
Lisa F.
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 443
Good points David. I'm guessing that if anyone in this group on took on a "SPIN-like" gardening program, it would much more permacultural than the folks in the web site. For those of us in urban or suburban environments, let's be thinking about how much food we can be producing (perennial as well as annual) in our own neighborhoods...not just our own yards, foraging included.
Sue M.
user 3284483
South Portland, ME
Post #: 39
Yes, foraging the neighborhood can be a large part of subsisting. As I've told people in this group, there are two apple trees quite near to me that could supply me and a few other people with enough eating apples and applesauce, etc. for year round consumption. I just have to figure out a way to keep the fresh ones loner. I was eating them thru the first week of March. I was impressed!
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