Notes from Windward: #66


Returning to our Roots

sustainable living; Windward's past and future goal

     It might seem to someone who's recently become aware of Windward that our focus on sustainable living is something new, something embraced because the concept is currently getting wide exposure, and so I'm thinking that it would be worthwhile to write a bit about how what we're doing is nothing new; rather it's the culmination of a focus on self-reliant living that was a key part of what got this adventure underway.

     We got our start during the chaos that resulted from the oil embargo of 1973, a time when traditional economic systems were in flux. Back then it was illegal for Americans to own gold, and shortly after Nixon declared that the dollar would no longer be linked to gold, folks who were paying attention knew that the world was about to change, and not for the better.

      Watching what happened to those who relied on the "full faith and credit of the United States Goverment" was an eye-opener, and ever since then we've worked towards becoming as self-reliant as we could figure out how to be. We don't use the term "self-sufficient" because we have no desire to cut ourselves off from the world at large -- we're quite happy to trade value for value -- we just want to insure that we retain as much control over our essential systems as we can.

     As Billie Holliday sang so well,
          "Poppa may have, and momma may have,
           but God bless the child that's got its own.

     Many of the secular communities formed in the 70's derived core concepts from the work of some visionary author; for Twin Oaks, it was the work of B.F. Skinner -- for Windward, it was the works of Robert Heinlein. If you're not familiar with Heinlein, a good place to start would be The Moon is a Harsh Mistress which describes a sustainable society on the moon that has to make fundamental changes or face ecological collapse. If you're wanting a quick glimpse at our philosophical beginnings, that's the book I'd recommend -- noting of course that what we're "plotting" is an evolution rather than a revolution :-)

     If you have a bit more time, Heinlein's core work is Time Enough for Love which features The Notebooks of Lazarus Long, a collection of sayings which are as amusing as they are thought-provoking. I'd recommend getting a copy of the book, but if you Google [notebooks lazarus long] the collection of sayings are available at a number of websites.

     Perhaps the saying from Time Enough for Love which best typifies Windward and our approach to sustainability is this one:

     "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

     Although Heinlein doesn't use the term "sustainability," I would suggest that he's laid out a pretty good description of the approach to life that is essential to building sustainability on both the personal and community level.

     Sustainability requires that one becomes adept at dealing with cyclical events; Windward got its start admist the changes unleashed by one energy crisis, and is working steadily to be prepared for the challenges that will soon be upon us as humanity braces for the impact of fundamental change in its life support systems, changes which will force people to return to their roots.

     For Windward, those fundamentals are best expressed in the Notebooks of Lazarus Long. If you haven't read them, I'd invite you to take the time to do so. It will be time well spent.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 66