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The Girls in Summer

The Girls in Summer

There are several reasons why there might be a near-term collapse of the global economy. I say ‘might’, because there is a slim chance we can avoid most of them. But there is one reason there most certainly will be a collapse of the global economy and that is the end of cheap oil.

The question is, in your particular part of the world, how will having next to no money affect you? In mine, in rural Alberta, we are only one or two generations away from an agrarian lifestyle where riding a horse to town was not unusual and most of the population depended on local wood and coal for winter heating.

So, given no jobs, no pensions, no global train filling your Superstores, Home Depots and Costcos with products, how will you cope?


We are absolutely planning on having to support more than one generation on our little bit of land. When I build a shed, I always think, what if one of our kids has to live in here? So I spend the few extra bucks and put in a nice window and insulate the heck out of it. (The chickens are sure happy, let me tell you.)

When the economy goes south, so will jobs, money, and opportunity. Grandparents will move back from the expensive old folks’ homes. Kids will never leave the nest. And somebody, a neighbor, a friend, a weird uncle, will always be sleeping on your couch or in your basement. We’re building Smiling House with this in mind. It won’t just be for us anymore.


It’s one thing to operate a household without fossil fuels. It’s quite another to have no money to operate your household. Sure, you can plant a garden. But what if you have three kids and six grandkids living with you? The hundred pounds of potatoes you thought would last through the winter is now suddenly gone in a month and the grocery stores were long ago emptied by people with no garden at all.

If everything that goes in your kids’ stomachs has to be produced by your own back muscles – with no safety net – you start thinking differently about your garden or your cows or your apple trees.

Everything we do now, as far as food production goes, is both environmentally motivated and done because the taste and nutritional rewards are worth it. But you could also say that it’s practice for a future when it’s so essential, we won’t eat at all if we don’t produce it ourselves. I read an interesting line somewhere in one of my climate change books about people thinking they can just “go back to the land” when the poop hits the fan. The truth is, by then, the land will already be occupied by people who know what the hell they’re doing. And they’ll be quite ready to defend it. Everybody else will be out of luck.

So, if you’re not going to practice growing a garden, shooting a deer or raising chickens, if things go south, don’t expect a miracle of experience and knowledge to suddenly descend upon you. I know this sounds like doomsday prepper talk. But I don’t think of it that way at all. The cover article of September, 2013’s National Geographic was on the oceans rising due to climate change and what coastal city planners around the world are doing about it. You can’t really call them doomsday preppers. They are merely facing a perfectly predictable future in a realistic manner. Same here.


I grew up in the city. A much smaller city than exists now. It was so much smaller that real communities existed, much like rural communities still are. I’ve often thought that if my job, my savings and all my prospects for feeding my family suddenly dry up, I’d like to be in a place where I can help my neighbors and they can help me. In a big city most people hardly know their neighbors. They are taught that houses are merely investments and they move and buy and sell according to their current fortunes. In many places, gone are the days when your neighbors would pitch in to help you if you ran into hard times.

Right now, in the country, I can completely rely on my neighbors and they can rely on me. No one will ever starve, be cold or be sent to an anonymous soup kitchen if things go badly. My neighbors and I will take care of it. So where do you want to be?