Riot for Austerity – A Project

A few days ago I stumbled upon a blog that challenges its readers to cut their  emissions by 90% within a year and to hold them at that level.  The writer proposes that people do this by reducing use in 7 areas:

Riot for Austerity Year 2 Outcomes from MamaStories

  • Transportation
  • Electricity
  • Heating and Cooking
  • Garbage
  • Water
  • Consumer Goods
  • Food

(I’m not sure what the basis of a 90% emissions reduction target is.  Here is one thought. Looking at National Ecological Footprints produced by the Global Footprint Network,  the 2007 data indicates the US global footprint was then 8 hectares/person while the global average was 2.7.  In comparison, the average for Europe was 4.7 hectares per person while the average for China was 2.2 hectares per person. Their figures show that  global footprint exceeded the biocapacity in 1975 and that in 2007 the available biocapacity was 1.8 hectares per person. Getting from 8 to 1.8 is a 77% reduction.  I don’t doubt that available biocapacity has decreased since 2007.)

In any case, reductions to a consumption levels that matches the biocapacity of the planet is a good preliminary target on which to base any attempts at self-regulation (Principle 4).

This project was originally started in May 2007 at Simple Living but stopped.  Sharon Astyk one of the co-developers has resurrected it at Casaubon’s Book  here.

I don’t know what is doable in a year’s time, but this format makes a lot of sense in terms of tracking my use and making reductions.

This will also be a good blog to follow; there should be lots of good ideas that are relevant to permaculture beyond the garden.

Riot for Austerity – Project Information:

  • Leverage Point Priority: C (Increase access to feedback.)
  • Importance: A
  • Difficulty: 1 (collecting the feedback) 1 and 2 (initial reductions)
  • Cost: $0 – collecting the feedback
  • Comments on functions: This activity will provide feedback on electricity, natural gas and water use, food consumption and waste reduction.

My First Projects List

Without doing any detailed analysis of functions and elements, all the reading I’ve done has given me a preliminary list of projects to undertake. Here is my first project list:

Explorations Into Permaculture Projects List
Project Leverage Point Priorities Importance Difficulty Timing
Begin growing transplants myself E A 1 spring
Canning of locally grown produce E A 1
Solar Panels E A 3
Monitor energy use using fuel bills and existing meters C A 1
Plant rye grass for mulch C A 2 fall
Cherry Tree Guild C A 2 fall
Blueberries C A 2 fall
Purchase Rocket Stove C B 1
Drying of locally grown produce C B 1
Elderberries C B 2 fall
Ducks C C 2
Chickens C C 2
Bees C C 2 must order by February
Thermal window Shades – west window A A 2
Thermal window Shades – north window A A 2
Thermal window Shades
– east window
A A 2
Purchase 2 months extra provisions A B 1
Wood Storage A B 2

Here is a link to the table as a PDF: project list 081111 for blog.  How did I create this?

After listing the projects that are floating around in my head, I assessed the importance and difficulty as discussed in the Evaluation Matrix from Powering Down.  They suggest that one asses difficulty using a four point scale (1-4) in this way:

1.  A project that we can easily do, resources readily available.

2. A project we can do, but it will take some effort to get the resources.

3. A project we could do, but it would be a serious challenge.

4. A project that for one reason or another is out of reach for the moment.

They suggest the following scale for assessing importance:

A. The project is  immediately and obviously useful for us now.

B. The project could be useful given certain changes we expect in the near term.

C. The project might be useful if circumstances were to change significantly.

D. The project is useless or irrelevant to us at this moment.

Finally, I used the A-F rating system to assess the degree of leverage as I detailed in my earlier post, Moving From Pattern to Details part 2. For example:

  • Developing a way to grow my own transplants in my zone 1 rather than buying store-bought transplants (grown who knows where) is a way of evolving the system structure, substituting local producers for long distance ones (F).
  • Monitoring my energy use and the actions I take to impact my energy use is a way to increase my access to feedback by creating a new feedback loop (C).
  • Enhancing my ability to create good compost by adding and harvesting rye grass, strengthens a balancing feedback loop. (C).
  • While both storing dried produce and canning increase my available food storage and cut losses of yield (C), canning substitutes a local producer (me)  for long distance ones  (E, since I already buy quite a bit of canned food).

I created a table in  an excel spreadsheet and then sorted the projects based on leverage point priority first, then importance then difficulty to come up with a preliminary sequence to follow.  This sequencing strategy is preliminary.

Looking at this  I can see how it is easy to come up with projects that have an A and B leverage point rating.  Its harder to identify projects with  C, D, E and  F ratings.  They are far less obvious.

P.S. I’m no longer stuck.

Also see: More Thoughts on Prioritizing the Project List and Last Thoughts on Prioritizing the Project List