« The End Of Suburbia, pt. 1 »

Today has been quite a day for The Activist Presently Known As Ed.

my peak oil letter to the editor of the UT, june 2005.Union Tribune letter to the editor, 6/5/05Of course, today was the day that I have worked a month to realize—my End of Suburbia showing and speech was held at my church tonight, but even before that, as I walked into church earlier in the day for the service, Kelli had already gotten a clipping from the newspaper with a letter to the editor that I penned in the last week in response to last week’s rather surprising and pretty detailed look at the early implications of the oil crisis. This is the first time I have been printed as an activist, though there some signs of print on TAPKAE the musician scattered over the last few years of the late 90s. The evening’s show was announced from the pulpit and in the bulletin for the day, and I was asked after the pulpit announcement if I had anything to add— “please come.” It was good for a laugh throughout the building. I saved my wordiness for later.

Then after church, I did the first part of the setup in the downstairs, set up the big screen TV that was so graciously lent to me. I spent the afternoon making up the various bits that I was going to hand out, gathering stuff together, and rehearsing my speech. I got to the church at 5 pm and spent that time doing more setup and arranging things, posting info sheets, and scribbling stuff on a chalk board, and rehearsing. Kelli brought me some tasty food-flavored product from a local fried-meat shack, and I chowed. Before long, my two hour buffer was all over.

There were about 26 in attendence, which for a first time out isn’t too bad at all. Most of it was made up from my congregation, but there was a notable group of four folks who piled into a Prius and drove down from Carlsbad. Hey, they didn’t need me, did they? I delivered my speech which officially began the public mission of It ran for 22 minutes which admittedly was a little long, though it happened that somehow, I lost my digital copy of the speech and was left with a printout from last week which I worked out the most, but up till the last hour or so, I didn’t know if I should read it or just go down a list of talking points. I went with the speech, and while it was well regarded, I feel funny about the way it sounds on recording, though I was keen to edit it right away when I got home. It was almost a moot point. I got a few lines into the speech proper and realized I hadn’t started the CD recorder, so I restarted while only a few lines were lost. I will probably post the speech as an mp3 on Look for it.

The movie took up the next 80 minutes and then we got into a group discussion and Q&A. This is something I had done before, so I was better prepared to field some specific questions, and felt better about that because by now I have pretty much memorized the movie, even from about 5 viewings. There are two hold outs in the bunch, who both are very smart. Both are scientists, essentially, and do in fact know their shit far better than I. But one of the things that still doesn’t seem to reach them, as far as where I am coming from, is that whether or not we can power cars and homes with other fuels, we are still left with the matter of car culture being a destructive thing, and suburban layouts being a disaster zone. The scientists rattle off plans of high tech solutions and other developments, but I still feel that the real issue is a humanitarian one that can’t be addressed solely with number crunching and new gizmos.

And, there was the usual comments from the crowd at large that this was all too dismal a thing to think about, and that is something that is always hard to deal with. Because, really, none of us has the real answers of what to do, and helplessness is rampant in the face of this. I come at it more and more that there is virtue and sense in the decay of the suburban system because its failure will ring in a new era in human history, which gives us all a new chance to get it right. So if super technology is the ticket, fine, but I really think a key part of any solution has to be sacrifice on a personal level, because we simply can’t do this forever, and in some cases, I ask, why would we want to, given the damage is has already done.

I’d say it was a good day, all around. I got some delightful praise from people, and that helps keep a good spin on the topic at large. I feel very different about peak oil as an activist and educator than I did as a guy who most every week uncovered more and more utterly scary stuff about the possible consequences of all this. Putting all this doom to a better use has been a lot easier for me.

For now though, I have to crash out. I've been up for 20 hours already. Yow. It hasn’t been this driving a day since my wedding. Yow.

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