This is going to be a difficult subject to bring up – especially by me, since I was advocating the ecovillage idea. But I’d like to discuss it and see if we can’t all learn something.
I’m also posting this here in this particular forum so it receives the broadest possible audience (and hopefully, participation). Not everybody visits the ecovillage forum.
Regarding ecovillages, or intentional communities and their place and purpose –
The reason and purpose these are most often done or are being advocated are two-fold.
a) To provide a better, alternative lifestyle.
b) To enable the members to sustain themselves in the event of collapse.
I think all reasons and justifications for an ecovillage or intentional community could fit under one or both of these reasons.
They sound admirable – but do their advantages hold up under a collapsing civilization or economy?
When considering the collapse, will the ecovillages actually be better off – and for how long?
The problems arise when you consider the difficulty that will come to millions of people. Hungry people do desperate things – to say nothing of the government which is well-known to do desperate things (even now, in pre-collapse times).
Ecovillages will become targets (as will most things and everyone). But the difference here will be “noticeable targets”. Their efforts, development and sources of sustainability (food stores, crops, greenhouses, all of it) will become extremely desirable resources for many, many people.
Defending the ecovillage then becomes paramount. But is a ecovillage truly defensible? Or would the members even want to? It goes without saying that if they don’t – they won’t have an ecovillage very long.
This principle applies to the retreat, commune or any other known “resource asset”. If you’ve got something the horde wants – and they know you have it – you’re either going to defend it, or lose it.
But the question of defensibility arises. Can it be defended? An ecovillage is not a military encampment and the attitudes, skills and resources of the ecovillage is not oriented around defensibility, training or such skills.
The reality is – without going into an extensive debate – no, the ecovillage is neither defensible, or equipped with the necessary skills, resources or commitments of the people that start or participate in such efforts. That is not their focus, and precisely because it is not their focus – they won’t survive collapse.
They will be targeted – and destroyed by marauders, be they individuals, groups or governments. Their resources will prove to be too valuable to consider the human lives within.
It is well worth noting that military encampments are always setup with defensibility in mind. Not because they are “military”, but because of the assets and resources that are found within.
The only way an ecovillage will survive the post-collapse future is if the village has dedicated itself to defensibility – but this is far harder to do then often imagined.
I’m capable of hitting man-sized targets at 1,000 yards and more these days – which means a lone sniper could easily terrorize an entire “village” of granola crunching “greens”, until his demands (food, supplies, women) were met. Now imagine what two of these qualified rifleman could do… or a group of ten desperate and hungry people…
A 1000 yards is 3/4 of a mile… with a .50 caliber, you can extend this to over 2,000 yards. It’s easy to see the difficulty here.
This of course, leads directly to the question of accessibility and location. If you’re refuge or retreat or ecovillage is accessible to large numbers of people (or simply a determined few), then you’re facing a difficult proposition. Heavily populated areas or states will become total war zones. Although these will be the very areas most patrolled by any government troops (if they even bother), they will also be the hardest to defend. Imagine being in California (or anywhere near) when the hordes start leaving the cities like starving rats… those that are not armed,will be very soon (those that survive that is).
But is all this really on the plate for the future?
To narrow the argument down into bite-sized chunks, a couple of things must be first understood. These are:
1) Collapse is inevitable. This is predicated upon the belief that no energy source exists to replace the utility and versatility of oil. Moreover, it is also based upon the knowledge that our world wide situation regarding civilization, culture, government and the environment is most definitely not getting any better. It is in fact, getting progressively and demonstrably worse and there is absolutely no evidence that things are “improving”.
I think this point needs to really sink in before the ramifications of this really start to hit home.
This means collapse WILL happen. Perhaps not overnight – but inevitable all the same. There are simply too many people to support with cheap energy and plentiful resources. When these run out – they will come looking for whatever isn’t bolted down or defended.
2) Die-off is inevitable. Billions simply will cease to exist. But not before a desperate and violent attempt at survival is first undertaken. A few of these will undoubtedly make it based on skill and luck. The rest will leaven a wake of devastation behind their corpses. The ecovillage and all known resource assets (particularly food and medicine), will be the primary targets of their voracious appetites.
I see NO way around this. If collapse is a fact, a predetermined outcome of our collective futures – then survival becomes extremely tenuous (no matter what you do). It remains tenuous even in an ecovillage, maybe more so, since you’ve announced your presence and sustainability.
Therefore, accessibility and location becomes a “layer” of your defensibility (but not a security blanket – they don’t exist). Proximity to populations, highways and general access become your downfall. It’s unavoidable.
But even in remote locations you are far from immune to attack. This will most likely begin with your neighbors, who deeming it too risky to venture into town, will attack you for the assets you’ve prepared and set aside. “Know thy neighbor” is a good motto – but it won’t be enough. You’re neighbor needs to be a part of your “village” or they will become your enemy (or maybe just a trading partner, you can toss your trade goods back and forth over your barbed wire fence while keeping each other under the muzzle of your gun).
But if your neighbor doesn’t become your enemy – his will. You know, that guy that lives 3 miles down the road… or the guy that lives on the other side of him another few miles down…
The problem is, people are not preparing themselves adequately and resources (food, water, medicines, essentials for survival) will run out. And when that happens – all bets are off. Everything and everybody is a target.
Eventually, die-off will kick in and the survivors will have learned to cope with whatever they have and the slow process of rebuilding begins again (if possible).
Now, I can think of a couple of responses to all of the above that would offer a lot more “guarantee” (it doesn’t exist) then sitting on a mountain of food in your “village”. I also think this will occur to a lot of people… because they’ll learn it – or die failing to learn it. And that is to stay hidden for the duration. Stay out of sight, shut up and “disappear” while the world and its insanity rage around you.
It’s not a bad strategy – after all, who wants to be a part of the misery?
But where to hide becomes the next question. Where can you go, where you won’t be threatened, attacked, raped or killed?
I’ll post this now so that you can all start thinking about this.