Posts Tagged ‘tangible assets’

Preparedness tips for non-preppers

OK, so you’re totally on board with The Resilient Investor‘s goal of being “ready for anything”—you’ve clarified your own idea of where the world seems to be headed, while also realizing that you don’t really know when or how one of the countless wild cards in play might change the game in fundamental ways.  You get that focusing significant energy Close to Home will pay off no matter how the future unfolds; perhaps you’re also committed to pushing our society in those enticing Evolutionary directions.

And yes, you recognize that there is a chance of painful disruptions to life here on American Easy Street.  Maybe you think any hiccups are unlikely to be severe . . . or you harbor a secret dread that’s too nebulous to really figure out how to address.  You certainly aren’t into being a serious Prepper, stockpiling supplies, fine-tuning a “go-bag,” and overlaying that kind of dire filter onto your day to day life.  If it comes to that, you figure we’re all toast, or we’ll all be in it together, and there are better ways to spend your time in the here and now.  But you also have a niggling sense that you could be a little more prepared for a  societal speed bump: it’s not so hard to imagine some sort of grid snafu (cyber-attack or solar flare) or regional weather or terror event that could make things rough for a week, or maybe even a few.  Just-in-time supply chains, vulnerable water supplies, our reliance on fuels and electricity. . . yeah, there are a few weak links out there.

While we’ve pointed to writers and resources that aim to help you prepare for various Breakdown scenarios, if you don’t really identify as a “Doomer,” you’ve probably held off on digging into all that very deeply.  Well, here’s a less-scary entry point for those of you that have been thinking you really consider doing something: a well-curated collection of The Best Emergency Preparedness Supplies from the good folks at Sweethome/Wirecutter.  

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Mindless consumption always becomes excess consumption

A quick and simple think piece on reducing consumption caught our eye this week.  9 Intentional Ways to Challenge Consumerism in Your Life addresses a topic that lies at the heart of resilient investing’s Zone 5 (Tangible Assets/Sustainable Global Economy), yet one that we rarely take the time to really grapple with.  Joshua Becker, author of Simplify and Clutterfree with Kids offers up (you guessed it) nine themes to consider, and the comment thread that follows is also rewarding.  His core thought is the one in our headline: mindless consumption always becomes excess consumption.  If this triggers a twinge for you, then you’d probably benefit from taking a look at what Becker has to say. These two struck us as especially fruitful:

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New Grist series: Industrial Evolution

We all recognize the plusses and minuses wrought by the industrial revolution.  But how many of us are tuned into the potentially even more transformative potentials of the current Industrial Evolution? The venerable eco-media site Grist is putting a new, more human spin on some of the same territory covered by the folks at Singularity (the techno-zeal of which can sometimes be more than a little discomfiting, even as it inspires).  Grist’s Industrial Evolution series starts with this statement of purpose:

What if we were on the brink of a sustainable tech revolution, and we didn’t even know it? Not the kind of revolution that would put solar panels and low-flow shower heads in every home in America, but one that would fundamentally change how our technologies interact with the natural world?

Thanks to recent advances in biotechnology, we can now engineer biological systems like machines. And thanks to advances in sensor technology, wireless networking, and materials engineering, we can build machines that act biological. Together, these trends could usher in a more sustainable future — one where our built world seamlessly integrates with the environment, rather than disrupts and destroys it.

But that will only happen if we develop these new technologies in a conscientious and responsible way. In this series, we speak with a group of individuals who are doing just that. They’re scientists, artists, and thinkers, and they see a high-tech, sustainable future on the horizon.

There are ten articles in the series so far, with more continuing to be rolled out.  Check it out!

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A solid look at the (crucial)(freaky) topic of geoengineering

Hovering around the edges of the ongoing global conversation about climate change is the (specter)(promise) of geoengineering.  Many of us are (cautiously hopeful)(deeply unsettled) by the whole idea.  How about you?

2016.01.28 Remaking the Planet

This is one of those topics that every (informed)(caring) human will want to stay in touch with over the coming decade or so.  It’s hard to imagine a 2025 scenario short of total breakdown in which the need to compensate for our decades of feet-dragging hasn’t pushed geoengineering into the center of public discourse.

In the spirit of staying informed, this recent interview with Oliver Morton of The Economist is one of the best quick overviews that I’ve seen in the past year or so.  For starters, he reminds us that climate is not the first global system that we’ve purposefully engineered:

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Deep retrofits offer wide-reaching returns

I have long advocated for deep energy retrofits; as we developed the resilient investing system, this became an obvious Zone 4 activity (tangible assets, close to home). “Remodel your house so that it uses dramatically less energy,” I’d proclaim, “It’ll be more comfortable, and you can save money and the planet at the same time!” Experts like McKinsey assured me that insulation and heating systems pay off very quickly. After two years of actually tackling it at our house, the practicalities are—surprise!—a bit more complicated.

When you take a closer look at an older house you don’t see just outdated insulation; you also see drafty windows (and possibly mold), and a

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Super-efficient “passive house” design scales up to apartment buildings

Highly efficient, tight homes that stay cool in summer and warm in winter with little or no outside energy have been a “thing” in recent years.  However, the relatively large up-front investment left this breakthrough as yet another green lifestyle option for the well-heeled.  That’s rapidly changing, though, with the opening of large apartment complexes utilizing the German passivhaus approach to design.  Portland, Oregon’s smattering of high-end private “passive houses” have now been joined by the The Orchards, an affordable housing complex of 57 apartments:

“Every day I find a new reason to love it,” gushes Georgye Hamlin, whose one-bedroom apartment is as noiseless as a recording studio. “It’s cool, it’s quiet, and I don’t even hear the train. During the heat wave, my girlfriend came over to sleep because it was so cool. Yay for German engineering!”

Cornell University has broken ground on the world’s biggest passive building, a 350-unit apartment house in New York City, where Mayor Bill DeBlasio is laying out an urban vision built around this kind of building:

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Investors tapping into water as new “asset class”

A key to social resilience in the coming decades will be providing fair and reliable access to water.  And now is the time for resilient investors to consider how they feel about private companies taking the lead in making it so.  A recent NYT article introduces some of the key players in one of the leading edges of this hot-button topic, parched California:

“Water has been taken for granted, but reliable access is no longer guaranteed,” said Disque D. Deane Jr., a Wall Street veteran who runs Water Asset Management. “It will be seen as an asset class that will be allocated in portfolios like health care stocks or energy or real estate.”

The article does not touch on the most contentious issue, privatization of municipal water systems.  Instead, its focus is on desalination plants and delivering underground reserves in the Mojave to coastal cities.  Social and environmental considerations are likely to be deployed by both advocates and critics of projects like these; it’s bound to be another issue that splits the establishment green community (as have GMOs, nukes, and larger ideas like ecomodernism); so if you want to make an informed choice that reflects your own best thinking and deepest feeling, we recommend that you aim to become at least somewhat informed about the debate here.

For starters,

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Resiliency networks for smaller cities

In recent weeks, we’ve featured the work of several networks of cities and of mayors that are working together to tackle climate challenges locally.  But if you live in a smaller city (or aren’t a mayor), you may be interested in a couple of other organizations we just came across. Resilient Communities for America includes over 200 city and county councilmembers (and mayors) and offers free resources to help your community track emissions, plan for solar and resiliency, and more.  The larger ICLEI (launched in 1991 as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives; now rebranded as Local Governments for Sustainability) has hundreds of members in 42 states, and over a thousand from around the world; dues for cities under 50,000 are just $600/year. Either or both of these networks could really help you jump-start local initiatives or take the next steps.

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Farmland venture starts redemptions to first investors

Iroquois Valley Farms, one of the first ventures that raised investment monies to purchase and restore farmland, has successfully completed its initial phases and begun offering redemptions to its early investors.  Going forward, investors will be able to redeem their investments any time after a 7-year hold period.  The original 100 investors had bought in without knowing when, or if, they would get their money back, seeing this as a long-term investment in  Iroquois’ mission of preserving and providing access to farmland.  Having reached this point, Iroquois is gearing up to scale their project by raising $20 million in new investment (accredited investors only).

Since 2007, Iroquois has purchased 25 farms in Michigan, Maine, New York, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana; 70% are being farmed by young farmers, most of them from second or third generation farming families.  As with the investors, the farmers leasing land from Iroquois have the right to move forward, by purchasing the farms after seven years of working them.  Likewise, they are welcome to continue leasing for as long as they’d like.

We love this model of farmland regeneration and ownership; kudos to Iroquois Valley Farms and its initial investors for showing that it can work for young farmers, for the land, and for investors. Visit their site to learn more; here are a couple of stories about farmers they’ve worked with:

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Small homesteads: a rich life now, ready for “what if”

Homesteads designed to increase self-suffiency are not just a throwback to the 60’s or a prepper fortification against total breakdown.  In today’s uncertain world, they are investments in personal and local resiliency that offer substantial returns in any future scenario.  And it doesn’t take much land to shift your family’s balance from total dependence on unsustainable (and potentially fragile) global food and energy systems, toward a much more rewarding and reliable balance of local, regional, and global supplies.  After a few years, you may even find yourself feeling a lot less nervous about the “what if” consequences of a major economic or environmental crisis that could disrupt your access to distant goods.

But where to start?  And why would you want to?  We recently came across a great introduction to these questions, in a profile of Melliodora, a 2-acre homestead in a rural village setting; click through for more details.

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Inspiration and practical advice: investing in food, soil

Resilient investors are typically very attuned to the need and opportunities for investing in local, regional, and global farmland and habitat regeneration. Even recently, it was often difficult to find viable avenues for making these investments, but things are changing fast.  See our Zone 6 resources for many tangible, evolutionary options; and here are two recent online articles that offer both practical advice and big-picture perspectives that may inspire you to dig into this zone more actively.

The first is a great overview from Don Shaffer of RSF Social Finance.

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“2001 miles from Wall Street”: NPR interview with Hal

For two minutes on Wednesday, the dulcet tones of Hal’s voice went out over the NPR airwaves. He was featured on the Marketplace Morning Report, being interviewed from his home, which host David Brancaccio determined is “2001 miles from Wall Street.” The other stories, including floods in Texas and Greek economic ills, set the stage perfectly for his concise intro to The Resilient Investor, which offers a technicolor array of investment options in place of Wall Street’s shades of grey.
Listen here; the interview begins after the musical interlude, at about 3:45

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