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Permajan here,

Nice to hear from you Selco. Thanks everyone for thoughts and comments.

Most likely, SHTF will be a very unfamiliar experience for everyone no matter where they live.

There is no one size fits all suburbia. Some lots can be an acre or even more. I was visiting a friend in Rockville, Maryland a couple weeks ago. Some really wealthy neighborhoods nearby have properties of multi acres with a 10,000 sq ft mansion in the middle of it. Custom made for substantial re arrangement of land sue and social reorganization to take care of more needs onsite – as long as they have the tools, seeds, water and orgnanization and vision to be thinking and working towards making these changes before the need arrives.

I also visited the poor neighborhood of Clifton in NE Baltimore. There are many many vacant lots, hundreds of row houses bulldozed. The city has a program of “adopt a lot” and here and there are very productive [under the circumstances] community gardens. Still, the prospects there are not attractive for many 1000s of lower income residents.

I also spent some time in densely habitated Brooklyn and Manhattan. I see no future there at all if anything remotely like SHTF comes into being.

What makes a lot of sense is a kind of suburbia that is in a smaller town, with enough space for large gardens. Farmland within a few miles for row crops like grains and beans. Parks can be transformed into gardens. After a few years of reduced toxics, golf courses, too. School grounds. Look around a smaller town or many [but not all] suburban neighborhoods, there is a remarkable amount of space to grow food – not just zukes and carrots but also places for vines, brambles, fruit and nut trees. Trellises, arbors, pergolas – elevated food production in many unlikely places.

Rain barrels were mentioned earlier. Good to think about larger tanks in the 1000s of gallons range. Plus the low tech water filters to make that water drinkable. Passive solar design – attached green houses can help heat a home and expand the growing season. Certainly one’s climate will affect food, energy and water produced on site.

As Selco and others mention, having a working relationship with neighbors is important. Some cities have neighborhood associations, Crime Watch groups, emergency preparedness initiatives like Mapping Your Neighborhood, various city programs to empower citizens to take intiative. Communities of faith have enormous potentials as do the scouts, PTA, Lions Club and any other community entity that exists to some how serve the community. These assets and more were not intended to be tools of permaculture or preparedness, but they can be used that way and in a growing number of places, they are.

Seems best strategy is to localize as much economics and culture as possible so people are not so dependent on the mainstream as the economy comes unglued or some other disruption happens. Creating and advocating models of what these alternatives can look like certainly exposes the model maker to “company” at a later time but I think that risk is worth it.

The more people who downsize their needs – less energy, more plant based diet, less car dependence, lower overhead lifestyle – the more people are able to take care of more needs closer to home, and ideally, be less desperate. The more people who see the benefits of downsizing and self producing and cooperating for mutual benefit and take action to make all that happen, the better for all involved.

Here are several fotos of what some of this can look like in a better than average suburban neighborhood.

These four fotos from a neighborhood bike tour – we have been doing tours all over Eugene for years so people can see and learn from others how to go more local and take care of more needs closer to home. These fotos within blocks of where I live. Many more fotos on my website – http://www.suburbanpermaculture.org

2890 – bike tour a couple blocks from me – a one time grassy front yard turned into an annual food forest – many kinds of edible/medicianl shrubs, vines, ground cover, no need to replant every year – these are annual plants

2902 – bike tour hears explanation of Neighborhood Watch and how neighbors working together is good for everyone,,,, simple concerns for property can expand and the need becomes more clear, to all kinds of other collaborations between neighbors

2932 – bike tour visits a front yard garden – great way to meet your neighbors, keep an eye on the street and grow food

2953 – bike tour – this neighbors explaining ways to store food, sharing what we know for a more resilient home and neighborhood

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