10 Skills to Hone for a Post-Oil Future

To learn how to live in a post-petroleum world, recall the pre-petroleum world where blacksmiths made everything: tools, nails, hinges, lamps, hooks, gates, and railings. Wheels, even! With a barrel and some fire, a blacksmith could turn rusted car panels into cookware. Think of all the scrap metal we’ll have when the oil’s all gone.

Find a shoelace and a copy of The Shipping News. Knots can weave rugs, fashion snowshoes, repair almost anything. A diamond hitch holds a load on a mule or a sled. A bowline to cinch a tarp, a Prusik to climb a tree. While fighting a forest fire, a friend once fixed a shovel with parachute cord, half-hitches, and pine pitch. And when the parachute cord runs out, there’s plenty of sinew. From knot tying, it’s a short hop to basketry.

Crosscuts are remarkably effective. Not chainsaw fast, not ax slow either. Problem is, since anyone can use one, anyone can ruin one by dragging it through dirt. Good ones haven’t been made for seventy years, so this lost art may be in high demand. Pick up a file, spider set, and how-to manual on eBay for about twenty bucks.

The Homestead Act required settlers to prove-up by planting fruit trees. Nothing symbolized self-sufficiency more. But plant an apple seed and—as anyone who’s read Michael Pollan knows—you get sour apples. To get sizable, recognizable fruit, you graft. Heritage apple guru Tom Burford encourages everyone who knows how to graft to teach five others. My partner started by teaching the kids at the local one-room school. Her advice: bring Band-aids.

If the Polynesians could crisscross the Pacific without a GPS, we can too. Read Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki for inspiration and Chet Raymo’s 365 Starry Nights for elucidation. Few of us will build a balsa raft, true, but remember: before planes, trains, and automobiles, travel by water was faster and easier than by land. Less light pollution will certainly help us find our way.

In seventh grade the nuns forced me to practice cursive for three weeks straight, which seemed pointless and cruel in the Apple II era. But maybe the nuns were on to something. How will we communicate without LED screens? Smoke signals?

Once my partner and I tried to install a used cast-iron sink in the bathroom only to find we needed an antique hanger and fixtures to boot. An old-timer neighbor kicked his boot toe into some fir needles in his yard and—voilà!—Restoration Hardware in the duff. Hoarding gets a bad rap when there’s a Home Depot on every corner, but not reducing might actually be the key to recycling and reusing.

Mechanical advantage doesn’t require fuel. A pulley or block and tackle magnifies force, so you can lift heavier loads with less effort. No crane or excavator needed. A grip hoist or come-along requires no energy source but your own. You’ll appreciate the addictive magic of this fact when you’ve lifted a thousand-pound footbridge all by your 120-pound self. Believe me.

Ask people in the developing world or anyone who travels by foot, and they’ll tell you: if it takes a long time to get somewhere, you’re going to stay a while. So we need to be prepared. Keep clean sheets on hand. Save up on food. And patience.

Early to bed, late to rise, saves on lamp oil and firewood. Plus, sleeping saves energy, mostly your own. It also keeps you healthy. Lack of sleep has been linked to heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, psychiatric disorders, and poor quality of life. Why wait for the power reserves to run dry? Start now and get a jump on the future.

What would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments section, below, and read more Enumeration entries at orionmagazine.org/enumeration.

Ana Maria Spagna lives and writes in Stehekin, Washington, a remote community in the North Cascades. She’s the author of five books of nonfiction including the memoir/history, Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus, winner of the River Teeth literary nonfiction prize, and two essay collections, Potluck and Now Go Home. Her work appears regularly in journals and magazines such as Orion, Portland, and High Country News. She has twice been a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. In 2015, she will release two new books: 100 Skills You’ll Need for the End of the World (as We Know It) and Reclaimers.  After working many years on backcountry trail crews, she now teaches nonfiction and serves as Assistant MFA Program Director for Northwest Institute of Literary Arts.


  1. What would I add? Try fishing, hunting, trapping, wild gathering(Particularly acorns around here. Along with that would go knapping(glass is similar to obsidian) arrow heads etc., twine making, basket making. Additionally building wild shelters, making clothing, boat building.

    One of my best survivalist tools was a spear gun. When I was cruise sailing small fish would come to feed off the growth on my boat and I would spear them when they got within say a couple of feet of the surface. Also a bungee cord hooked to a fishing line when trolling for large fish. It prevents the line from breaking or the hook bending when you hook a big one.

  2. Sewing, unless we will all be in fig leaves and draped with animal skins. Oh, and butchering.

  3. How about gardening and becoming a vegetarian? Then you’ve got your own food supply and you don’t need to use any fuel to prepare your meals because you won’t really have to cook anything!

    Who’s with me?!

  4. To these I would add certain the “skills” of personal traits and virtues, none of which I exemplify, that oil has rendered temporarily less necessary now than at other times in history:

    1. Modesty
    2. Patience
    3. Collegiality
    4. Civic-mindedness
    5. Empathy
    6. Sharing
    7. Improvisation
    8. Interiority
    9. Equanimity

  5. I’d add carpentry and animal husbandry. Plus welding and electrical skills. I don’t think electricity is going away, even without fossil fuels.

  6. Basic hand woodworking skills
    Food acquisition and preservation skills

  7. I agree with J.D. that personal traits and virtues are vital, not just how-to skills. I think the most important “skills” for everyone to have in order to thrive in a post-oil society are the ability to communicate clearly and respectfully, share and cooperate, and be kind. We’ll need each other’s help. We’ll need community more than ever.

  8. I do like J.D. Smith’s essential skills. You can take them with you.

  9. Gardening. Food preservation. Basic carpentry. Sewing. Bartering. Sharing/communal ownership of tools/equipment.

  10. Playing a musical instrument. There’s nothing like making music with friends if you’ve run through all your campfire stories. Not top-ten essential, of course, but it can definitely enhance the slower lifestyle we’ll all be enjoying.

  11. I have a friend who is learning to make beer so that when things get bad, she’ll have something to trade.

  12. I agree with all of the above comments. I would add that we will need to learn the skill of living & thriving in less sheltered space (smaller houses, or back to multi-generational homes) to lessen our energy demand. Perhaps reinvent human privacy?

  13. Agree with Gretchen re: multi-generational living. Also learn to forage and teach others. Learn about herbal teas and medicines for health preservation and teach others.

  14. Archery and rifle skills seem important, though I know not many want to talk about weapons these days. You might need to eat a squirrel or deer once or twice, or defend your children from Tina Turner’s Australian gang

  15. Grafting is #4, and is one of my skills…but it’s almost useless without the knowledge of WHAT to graft–we must know what varieties do well in each bioregion, and this is the kind of knowledge that comes with time, persistence, and observation (we’ve been able to temporarily avoid these requirements by propping up poor variety choices with pesticide use). Here in the Ozarks, I graft Arkansas Black and Williams Pride apples (not Gala and Gravenstein), Magness and Maxine pear (not Bartlett and D’Anjou), and selected pawpaw varieties. WalMart and Lowe’s thinks it doesn’t matter (actually, they don’t think at all) and offer the same varieties in Skaneatles, NY, that they offer in Albuquerque, NM. Agri-Culture should be distinct and suited to the Place. “Fruit for the Ozarks” is my grafting song.

  16. If you are as old as me, you might remember the “Injunuity” (sp)(pc police) wisdom printed on the cardboard separators in the Shredded Wheat boxes in the late 50’s/early 60’s. Complete instructions for living off the land, and I had the complete set! Lost them somewhere along the way. Damn.

  17. Seed-saving is the first thing that came to my mind. And how about building, starting and maintaining a fire without matches or fuel.

    I really like a lot of the other suggestions, especially butchering, preserving, foraging, bartering, musicmaking and the nontactile skills. And from Spagna’s list in the article, I really like rigging and knot tying. Super practical and yet they probably wouldn’t have made my list.

  18. Good thing i am old. i can’t do any of them. GADS—will pass this on to my children and grandchildren.

  19. Almost forgot – the bicycle. Get a good one and learn how to maintain and repair it.

  20. I used to think this return to primitive skills was important. I like the primitive skills I have. But I now believe we are headed for a different future with less scarcity but new challenges. The number of connections between people is growing very fast, and with those connections come solutions to problems. Since the big bang, variety has been increasing in the universe through proliferation of connections. This leads to more options. The challenges will come, I think, from the need to create new order in the wake of technology’s rapid destruction of old order. Robots will unemploy millions, but they will have food, clothing and shelter, because technology makes production more efficient. The need to stabilize the climate will become obvious and the employed and unemployed will work together on this global project, leading to other global projects.

  21. If you think civilization is going back to cave-people days, think again. Google is operating its offices in Silicon Valley with alternative energy. Look at forbidden knowledge Tv “Clean Energy: Too Good to Be True?”

  22. Several have mentioned gardening, and at least one has mentioned foraging. I had not noticed salvaging or water craft construction, which I recommend. Considering the second item on the original list—knot tying—rope making comes to mind. For the sake of comity, basic skills of democratic organization, public debate, deliberation, and cooperation are important. Come to think of it, the skills of parenting, child rearing, and nurturing may become more important for every individual in a post-petroleum age.

  23. spinning, weaving, pattern making and hand sewing. I’ve acquired an old treadle sewing machine – no electricity. Seed saving and gardening for sure. Knowing edible and medicinal wild plants and how to turn them into food/medicine.

  24. I’d add brewing and distilling. And perhaps most important of all, mindfulness and compassion.
    Peace & Courage

  25. 10 skills are not nearly enough, and I appreciate the additions to this list, especially the human values list by J.D. Smith. I am also glad people added gardening, food preservation, and other essential skills mysteriously left off this list, which I found incomplete.

    The main thing that bothers me is that sustainability gets a bad rap from its detractors who believe that we will “go back” to living under primitive or harsh conditions–that we will have disease and starvation and back-breaking labor to survive and that simply is not true. We must think of the Industrial Revolution as just a passing phase, where we gained a lot of knowledge and technological know-how but which has gotten out of control, mainly, because, our economies, are food production systems, our governments, and other institutions and organizational components of society have gotten too big, which is why even people inside of corporations can’t control them or change them unless they change the whole culture. If you want to think in terms of the idea of progress (in that humans throughout their existence have changed the way they do things–thus a progression) then sustainability represents an advance. Renewable clean energy is a technological refinement (or “advance”) as is biomimicry (creating durable materials by mimicking nature’s processes rather than industrial processes) as is sustainable agriculture practiced on a small scale. Yes, we likely would still have electricity. We may still have cars and computers, but we could see big changes in how we live with relocalization being at the heart of this change and along with it the disappearance of the nation-state as an organization of society replaced by the watershed or bioregion as the principal organization of society with more emphasis on community and decentralization of government (town democracy and losse confederations). And we will very likely return to using the skills discussed here–the loss of these skills to “labor-saving” machines has actually been a setback, not an advance for human society. Another change will be massive ecological restoration, including integrating our human developments and especially cities into the natural environments that characterize their particular places and were lost during their development. The end of the fossil fuel age will mean new kinds of manufactured materials that do not create alien chemical compounds that contaminate and pollute our land, air, and water. But as I said, the key will be relocalization–an emphasis on local foods, local economies, local manufacture of essential goods, community-scaled renewable energy systems, local entertainment (live music, theater, dancing in the streets, arts festivals, etc.), and most of all knowing your place, knowing the plants, animals, lay of the land, and the limits and possibilities of what you can do in a particular place without depleting it. A culture of sustainability is a complex thing–the marriage of high technological sophistication with a paleolithic sense of closeness to the earth, the use of appropriately-scaled technology (technology should be an enhancer and aid to our common endeavors, not something that dominates us over which we have no control), and rediscovering our affinity and love for the natural world (that is coded in our DNA and is what makes us human, which is why our present age, with massive destruction of the natural world, has been so dehumanizing and is turning us into savages). None of us are experts in sustainability–it is something we will learn as we go, but we better get going now–and maybe relearning these 10 skills is a good place to start…but then we keep on going with the primary purpose in life to love and care for one another and the earth and to make sure that our technologies and manufactured goods serve that purpose rather than defeat it (as is happening now).

  26. Carl, Thanks for this comprehensive post! Yes, we are in a much better position to use what works and leave what no longer serves life for all.

    (Inadvertently hit remove from this. Trust this post will reinstate me. The conversation is so worthwhile.)

  27. I’m with David M – Think basics. Learn to fish, to garden, to forage. Get good a sharpening knives and scissors.

    Get really good at preparing and repairing solar and wind installations.

    Think all the tradesperson skills…

  28. By many accounts, we won’t be living in a “post-oil future” for another 100 years or so. But there’s no reason that we can’t learn and practice these skills right now. Using fewer fossils fuels and more of our native muscle and brain power will be good for everyone and lead to a more satisfying life.

    As a beekeeper, I would of course add beekeeping. When done on a small scale (2-4 hives) you can produce 75-100 lbs. of honey annually without using any power tools. It’s all very 19th century. Another great skill would be to make an ice house, such as an Amish friend of mine uses. Only instead of ice blocks, they now use plastic milk jugs filled with ice — a sustainable use of an unsustainable product!

  29. While blacksmithing, rigging, and navigating by the stars may all be useful skills in a post-oil future, there is still the more problematic question of how to support ourselves during the transition or descent period that we are in now. If you try to set up as a blacksmith or hang out your rigging shingle in most areas of the United States these days, I am guessing you are not going to fair all that well. Yes, you could take these up as a hobby, so that you might pass on a skillset to someone from a younger generation, but there is the real problem of how to meet the mortgage today, when jobs are becoming scarce on the ground.

    My list would include learning various repair skills–small appliances (those that can be/are worth repairing, not a huge selection), bicycles, sharpening, mending–someone mentioned welding.

    The dilemma also becomes choosing something that not everyone is likely to be doing for themselves at some point. In other words, who are your customers–who can pay for your services or goods?

    Advising people how to transform a small lot into a productive food system may be a useful source of income. Unfortunately, business related to security will also probably experience a boom.

    Trying to raise important questions in your local community, and offering suggestions as to how to mitigate some of the issues we face, will be a key role for some to play.

    To the poster who pointed out the Atlantic article, here is a rebuttal worth reading:


  30. This has been an intelligent and thoughtful discussion. I would add that fortunately we have a group on the scene to learn from: the Old Order Amish. And I am glad I still have my portable typewriter and treadle sewing machine and the old cookbooks. Peace!

  31. While this type of discussion is interesting and entertaining, I believe that it is quite unrealistic. Our government is certainly preparing for something major to happen in this country with the extreme militarization of local police and millions of body-bags manufactured over the last few years for FEMA.

    The Club of Rome and other components of the NWO have plans to reduce global population to about 1/2 billion. I do not think they plan on just allowing the peasants to return to an 18th and 19th century existence. WE are seen as unsustainable under UN Agenda 21. Read more: http://www.postsustainabilityinstitute.org/what-is-un-agenda-21.html

    Skills such as those described are wonderful to know and may help some through the transition period. Whether we are at an end of energy as we know it or not is a question that is up for further discussion. There is reportedly enough methane trapped in ice in the sea floor to power the planet for a long time to come. Japan has just launched a ship to explore getting it out somewhat economically.

    As for the present, I raise my own chickens for eggs and meat and keep a small garden so I can have cleaner food without the GMO diet that is being foisted upon us ‘for our own good.’

  32. Best learn how to find and purify water. Much of the world still doesn’t have clean water. It seems like a basic that is being over looked. Cannot make beer without clean water.

  33. Glad to see Orion dipping its toe into this pond. A thorough treatment of this subject is way beyond the capabilities of the magazine or this forum, I’m of the opinion, but I’d encourage all who don’t know of it to check out John Michael Greer’s Archdruid website. Mr. Greer has devoted lots of time, and lots of ink, to the subject of appropriate technology and hosts his “Green Wizard” board for that purpose.

    I’m always bemused when the cornucopians weigh-in with the,“Wait…I was told we are going to be energy independent now and the party doesn’t have to end” catechism. (Just keep singing that song to yourself until you feel better)

    But generally, yes, more skills the better in this world. I think it is just a sign of the times that we want to consider these skills to be exotic, alternative and retro, and that a short lifetime ago many considered them to just be what you did to live. Really, it was not that long ago… even when applying the atrophied sense of history we Americans typically possess. Sad, but we’ve not fallen down too far to be able to get back up in another short lifetime. This is not about going back to prehistoric times, or probably even pre-electric times. Some of them are things you can do just to feel better on a boring day and sleep better at night for it. Get you some.

  34. Charla….the U.S. Govt.’s job, amongst its other obligations, is to be prepared with contingency plans for many “worst case” scenarios. With the could-happen-any-day possibility of a domestic terrorist nuclear attack, the supplies, training and munitions you describe would be unremarkable. Ditto as to a Cat 5 hurricane on the East coast.

    Really,the world as it is is scary enough…no need for fantasies. I’d feel much worse if I knew the U.S. Govt. was NOT making such plans.

  35. I’m a gardener, wooden boat builder and clean energy and watershed activist. I’m also still employed — at 65 years old — in the high tech world. And I’m a recovering ideolog.

    Oil depletion and climate disruption certainly pose grave challenges, but you have to take seriously the extraordinary new phenomenon of billions of minds connected by powerful media. Never has there been such a proliferation, convergence and evaluation of ideas. Never has so much information been available so immediately to so many. This matters beyond what we can imagine.

    Also, most of the people throughout history who reached my age are alive today! For most of the world, never have food, clothing and shelter been so cheap, and that’s not all because of cheap fossil fuels. The cost of solar roofs is approaching the cost of tin roofs. Change is happening at an extraordinary pace. The wealth gap is growing and will probably keep growing, but there’s a good chance that the percentage of people who can afford the necessities will also keep growing. At the same time, unemployment will rise because robots will be providing us with the necessities. The percentage of people dying violent deaths has fallen century over century, and it continues to fall. What does this mean? We don’t know because there is no precedent for this confluence of phenomena.

    Fight on! Read Orion for your soul. But look outward from your usual media sources, listen closely to people you disagree with, and try to solve local problems with solutions that meld the old and new.

    Think about getting a job as a specialist. Consider that since the big bang, entropy has been advancing, and with entropy comes variety. A few sub-atomic particles > elements > inorganic chemistry > organic chemistry > life > sexual reproduction > humans > culture & technology, which is now sowing variety of new things at an unprecedented rate. There are unforeseeable risks now, but also countless new possibilities.

  36. I agree that it is probably too late to go “back” to the pre-technology decades and we can only imagine how this will play out but no scenario seems pleasant. We are not going to give up our “convenient” life or our addition to “energy” and all we can do is hope we will be prepared for what come’s next.

  37. We’re all trained corporatists. To me it takes a lot of faith to think this modern corporate state is going to hold together in perpetuity even with all its remarkable achievements. But it is unfortunately almost all we know.

    We’re killing the goose that lays the golden eggs but have become such skilled egg extractors that we refuse to own the price of that collective skill. We are weakening our nature based services and engaging in an accelerated killing of our fellow species. That can’t be good.

    I know those times when I have for a while ventured out beyond the corporate box, sometimes inadvertently, I’ve felt considerably more alive, at peace and intelligent.

    I think reinvigoration of self-sustaining communities, or even individuals, is the way to go at whatever level of appropriate technology that works. And yes whether you want to face it or not there needs to be lot less of us to allow it to all come together. My guess is nature or man made disaster will take care of that.

    Oddly enough if we started out with nothing and all human creations were wiped clean we would have a better shot at future human survival, acknowledging the extreme travail that such a drastic transition would unleash. But we wouldn’t have the killer corporate machine to deal with. We would fish, we would hunt, we would gather, we would farm. We would learn and apply what we needed.

    Nothing wrong with keeping a foot in both camps. At least it gives you choices if and when things break down.

  38. Please excuse my error as of course I meant “addiction” to energy, fossil fuels perhaps and our insistence on convenience and comfort and speed.

  39. Weaving, spinning, any methods of cloth/garment making (knitting, sewing, crochet, nålbinding, sewing, fulling, etc.)

    Basic trapping and hunting. Smithing of several sorts.

    Honestly, though, we can work things out as a species. Ingenuity isn’t the problem. Being able not to automatically loot and murder when the lights go out IS.

  40. With knowledge of the past, we can select what “new / old” knowledge and skills we will need for the non-oil future. Everyone will not need to be a blacksmith, weaver, fisherman, and farmer. The specialty trades of today will be adapted to the new present. Also, the day we run out of oil, will not be a day but a long term limiting supply with people adjusting to the day when there is no oil. The answer is education for the next generation.

  41. While the skills listed in the article and in this discussion thread are valuable and necessary, they all seem to suggest that, in a post-oil word, life in America will resemble life on the 19th century western frontier. Underlying this discussion is a nostalgia for frontier individualism, when man used his wit and resourcefulness to overcome brute nature. Have we given up completely on renewable energy sources? Will things like hospitals be absent in a post-oil world? Using this line of reasoning, it would be more efficient to rid ourselves of the weak and disabled, who will only hold us back. That’s how nature works, right? Let the predators take care of them; we’ll be blazing the trail to the next fertile meadow. Navigating by the stars, really? I have access to over 30 maps of Kentucky alone at my local library. But seriously, in a post-oil future, it will be impossible for us to maintain the level of affluence we enjoy today. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to become a society hunter-gatherers and artisans. This article has a seething individualistic impulse. It doesn’t imply that the future will require any partnership or communities. It’s not the skills I have a problem with–we should learn them, improve upon them, teach them to others. It is the article’s assertion of an every-man-for-himself attitude and its exclusion of more feminine skills that is problematic.

  42. I see now that the issues I raised in my previous comment have already been addressed. I apologize for the harsh redundancy. I also would like to apologize for being unnecessarily rude. I haven’t slept much lately. For that, I should take this article’s advice.

  43. Throughout most of these wonderfully creative and insightful comments, I see a thread of stories that seek to unite, not that seek to divide. Speaking and writing with the concept of unity at the core will be (is) key to a sustainable future.

  44. Medicine medicine medicine! A vast percentage of wares in a modern hospital are oil (plastic) based. First aide may be one of the most important skills, yet is often forgotten. Ever remove an appendix? I haven’t.

  45. We’ll be living in densely-populated, walled cities, as done in ancient intelligent civilizations. We will need to let the earth regenerate itself while we re-learn who we are and how to get along with each other.

  46. “Honestly, though, we can work things out as a species. Ingenuity isn’t the problem. Being able not to automatically loot and murder when the lights go out IS.”

    ding ding ding

  47. 11. Porch Sitting
    Porches are places where our private lives come into conversation with community. They provide cool places to gather on hot evenings as well as the last available daylight for the tasks of the day before electricity is needed. Cultivating a porch culture is cultivating a neighborhood.

    12. Tinkering
    If something is broken, little harm will come from taking it apart to see how it works. In the process you may fix it or gain insight into how things work. Most of the great problem solvers were tinkerers of one sort or another.

    13. Making Soil
    You can grow a garden on an asphalt parking lot, but not without soil. If you can make just 5 cubic yards of good soil a year from kitchen waste, leaves and assorted organics you will be a post-petroleum hero.

    14. Wants, Needs, Means
    Knowing the difference between what you want and what you need is an art and a survival skill. Finding happiness in developing the means to provide for your needs makes the list of wants seem trivial.

    15. Windows, Transoms, Fans
    Architecture is an old art. Long before air conditioning people built homes that made cold and heat tolerable without much input from fossil energy. Take double hung windows for example. By lowering the top sash and raising the lower sash you allow air to circulate through a room in a very different way than by simply opening the bottom sash all the way. We should all reengage with architecture to make our lives comfortable.

    16. Animal husbandry
    Even in an urban setting one can keep a small flock of hens, a few rabbits and maybe a goat. Raising animals provides eggs, meat, manure for compost and items to barter.

    17. Work Party Organization
    A small handful of people can do an amazing amount of work in a short time if the effort is well organized. Learning how to gather a team, insure the proper tools and supplies are in order and the plan of attack is well thought out is the difference between a new chicken coop and a few boards nailed together. If you’re not a good organizer you can still be a good team member. They best way to get someone to help you paint your house is to help them paint theirs.

    18. Borrow and Lend Well
    Develop a rock solid reputation as someone that always returns what you borrow in better condition than you found it. Need a hoe? Borrow one. Then return it promptly, clean, and sharper than you received it. When you loan something, be up front about your expectations and don’t be afraid to go and retrieve it if it doesn’t come home promptly.

    19. Be at Home
    Learn to be of your place. Know the wind patterns, the native plants, the limits of your soil, the lay of your land. Know when to sit still and when to spring into action. When you are as comfortable spending a day at home as you are traveling the seven seas then you are truly at home.

    20. Capture Water
    A tremendous amount of fossil fuel is embedded in most municipal water systems. Learning how to capture, hold onto, distribute and clean rain-water is a good thing to explore.

  48. Orion’s community has done a wonderful job of beginning this important discussion. The top of my list would be water collection, gardening & food preservation, shelter-building, and the essential skills of empathy and cooperation. As others have said, there is no need to wait until a post-oil future:it is rewarding to begin practicing these skills right now

  49. I would add storytelling to the list. We won’t be able to out-source our entertainment once the electricity goes.

  50. How to use tools. One good reference is “Basic Hand Tool Skills” published by the Bureau of Naval Personnel in 1954.
    Another excellent shorter book is “Hand Tools”
    published by General Motors Corporation in 1943

  51. As a blacksmith, knife maker, gardner, hunter,horseman whom lives far from any urban area I find this interest encouraging. But I wonder if people understand the that building this experience is a long term commitment and takes years of follow through to develope a skill? Some time its seems to me people can approach these things with the same casualness as getting a new app. for a smart phone. Would have liked it better if the author also dealt with encouraging the commitment involved.

  52. Hey we are with you Ama

    Growing food is not only critical to getting ready, urban food production and living vegetarian is indeed the first, simplest and most effective way to avoid the mess we are sliding into.

    We are working toward a future where we produce more calories and kilowatts than we consume.

  53. Today, I am thinking root cellar. Up until the 1950’s my grandmother kept he milk in the cellar at the foot of the stairs. In fact, she would not have a problem with this topic, Even her christmas tree was lit with candles. I question if she had an electric motor in the house which was build in 1899. So, we do not have to go that far back. The house had arts and craft furniture, a wood kitchen stove, a coal parlor stove, a light in each room (not a bare bulb), and four bedrooms. City water, and an out house.

  54. We prefer to take the best from the past, like producing as well as consuming and applying modern technology to allow is to live sustainable in our community. Living car free and eating vegan are basic. Producing more energy than we consume and feeding our surplus back into the grid is our long term goal. Sustainability does not have to depend on deprivation. We have cut our carbon footprint by 80% and actually improved our lifestyle. Find out more by visiting our website.

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  57. A:on question so I will answer one of mine why crosscut saw sharpening I believe that hunting and gathering is more in portent if you live far from a town of a store.
    C: what are you going to do with a tree other than wood if you hunt you don’t have to walk for a long time to eat and plants make grate medicine if you are sick.
    E:all you can do with wood is Bearn it I mean that is in portent but not as in portent as food or medicine.

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