Zone 1

Personal/Social Assets, Close to Home

This first zone is the most intimate realm of investment. It is where we focus on our self, and those closest to us, all within the place we call home. These include investments in your own personal skills and well-being as well as actions that deepen your relationships with family, neighbors, and all those who form your net- works of support (even if they don’t physically live close to you, they are close to the heart!). Home also includes the natural world around us; getting to know the place where you live is one investment you won’t want to miss. These investments help build resilience for you, your family, and your community.

Key areas of Zone 1 focus

  • Family
  • Local nonprofit work
  • Faith community
  • Personal and community health
  • Hobbies

Permaculture Transition Manual: a new guide for smallholders

Acclaimed permaculture teacher Ross Mars has just released a new book that will be a valuable resource for the burgeoning crop of small farmers working on modest landholdings, as well as for people moving toward increased self-reliance on their property while maintaining their jobs away from home.  As Mars notes, “Today in North America, the fastest growing forms of agriculture are small peri-urban farms of less than 20 acres growing vegetables for market.”

The Permaculture Transition Manual: A Comprehensive Guide to Resilient Living is a hefty (450 page) resource that features in-depth guidance on all elements of permaculture design and personal homestead resilience—land, labor, wildlife, energy, and your own mindset—as well as case studies of four diverse projects.  We fully support Ross’s underlying respect for the value of permaculture’s insights:

Permaculture connected many streams of the world’s traditional knowledge with modern forms of science and urged ordinary people everywhere to continue that lineage of empirical investigation. The books were a prospectus for a worldwide distributed experiment in ecological subsistence agriculture for the post-industrial world.

That experiment is now over 30 years old, and I will argue that its fruits are abundant and that results have validated the original thesis well enough that we should expect it to meet the needs of a new generation of garden farmers whether they be former pastoralists settled into towns in Botswana or industrial workers made redundant by energy descent in Boston.

Check out the Table of Contents and Introduction. Then go get some dirt under your fingernails!

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Great collection of green burial info

Ah, good old Grist.  Too often lost in the modern online cacophony, I’m always grateful for the bits of their work that float to the surface of my info-stream.  This one tackles an asset that totally blurs the tangible/personal line, your own body.  Resilient investing tend to lump most of the body-related stuff into the “personal assets” row: health, career, learning.  But once we die, well, our body gets pretty darn tangible for our loved ones, and this Grist piece, Find out how you can reduce your footprint even after you’ve kicked the bucket, is a great primer on what to do—and what not to do—with your tangible remains.  As they set the stage:

As the sole species responsible for filling the oceans with plastic, pumping the atmosphere full of pollution, clear cutting the world’s forests, and bringing about what could be the sixth great mass extinction, it’s perhaps fitting that when we die, we turn our own corpses into toxic flesh bags that ensure ecological damage for years and years to come. It’s as if someone dared us to come up with the most environmentally harmful burial practices imaginable, and we dutifully complied, stopping just short of strapping vials of radioactive waste to our chests on our way to the grave.

Okay, you got my attention!  So what are my options?  Well, for starters,

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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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Climate resilience can enhance social cohesion, reduce inequity

At a conference this summer, Building Climate Resilience for Equitable Communities, Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and the Budget, announced a slew of new White House climate resilience initiatives that are targeted to helping communities at risk and reduce the inequity that has become a major source of social instability.  He asked:

“Why are some children less likely to go to college, find good-paying jobs, and stay out of the criminal justice system? Why do those who have the least stand to lose the most when the storm comes through?”

Donovan went on to outline several programs that address these questions, through the lens of federal efforts to increase resilience in the face of climate challenges, including

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Quality time is not enough: you need quantity time too!

Zone 1 on the resilient investing map is about how you build your Personal/Social assets within your Close to Home strategy.  It’s no coincidence that this is the first of our nine zones, for the investments you make here provide the strongest parts of the foundation from which the rest of your life will unfold.  Frank Bruni recently penned a short essay that’s one of the best pieces of Zone 1 advice we’ve heard in a while.  In just a few short paragraphs, Bruni reminds us that moments of deep sharing and lasting connection can’t be conjured up at will during moments set aside for “quality time.”  Rather, they occur suddenly and unpredictably.  His extended family spends a week together each summer; he used to cut his time there short, but learned that by doing so, he was missing out:

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Resilience AmeriCorps focuses on vulnerable communities

This summer, the Obama administration launched a new AmeriCorps program that dovetails perfectly with the local resiliency efforts that we’ve highlighted as part of the Close to Home resilient investing strategy.  Resilience AmeriCorps was formed “to assist vulnerable communities that lack the capacity to address climate-resilience planning and implementation.  The AmeriCorps VISTA members will increase civic engagement and community resilience in low-income areas, and help those communities develop plans for becoming more resilient to any number of shocks and stresses, including better preparations for extreme weather events.”  Or, as funding partner The Rockefeller Foundation put it: to “support the development of resilience strategies to help communities better manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable.”  Now that’s a punchy definition of resilience!

The focus on vulnerable lower income communities is especially encouraging, since many current grassroots efforts tend to involve generally better-off and already socially-engaged activists.  A White House overview of Resilience AmeriCorps stressed the importance of its social-justice priorities:

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Cities lead the way on climate, resilience

Everywhere I turn lately, there’s another reminder that cities are central to our hopes for a more sustainable, resilient future.  The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group—a decade-old collaboration among 75 of the world’s largest cities that are home to over a half-billion people and a quarter of the global economy—is on the forefront of these efforts, as is the Compact of Mayors, involving 84 cities, many of them smaller or mid-sized. Both groups are gearing up to have a major presence at the upcoming Paris climate talks. The C40 has just released a new report, Powering Climate Action: Cities as Global Changemakers, which highlights the collaborative potential of cities working together: “The evidence shows that cities are taking action even where they have limited power, by collaborating with other cities and non-state actors and catalysing wider climate action in the private sector and civil society.”

NRDC’s OnEarth magazine recently produced an issue devoted to city-based climate action that is full of inspiring stories, including 

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Scanning the innovation horizon

Resilient investors always keep their eyes on the horizon, so they’ll be ready to respond to whatever’s coming their way.  A few things out there in the haze have caught our attention in recent weeks, and we thought we’d pass them along.  One deals with a longtime holy grail, fusion energy, another is an out-of-the-blue development in brain science (wiring brains together seems to actually increase performance!?!), and the last highlights a much-hyped company that just pivoted on a dime in a new direction, exemplifying the power of a nimble resiliency when Plan A comes up short.  All three represent potential game-changing breakthroughs, fascinating in their own right and worth having on your long-term resilient investment radar.


Personal and close to home: the foundation of resiliency

The essence of resilient investing is to keep your eye on all 9 zones of our handy Resilient Investing Map—each of them is equally important.  But in some very real ways, the key to it all is how you work with your Personal Assets.  Some of this involves inner work and growth, though the heart of the personal is relationships with those around you, the investments we highlight in Zone 1.

Becca Martenson has been thinking about these questions for years as part of the Peak Prosperity community, one of key resources for localization and resiliency training that we featured in our book. She recently expounded a bit on the “how to” of building community in a 45 minute conversation that’s available for listening online or as a podcast; this page has those links, plus a transcript of the conversation if you’d rather read it. Some highlights:

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Center for a New American Dream

The Center for a New American Dream works to redefine what the American Dream means – focusing on the connections between a hyper-consumer culture, quality of life, and the environment. It offers numerous programs and tools to help Americans reduce and shift their consumption patterns. Visit website.

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Institute for Local Self-Reliance

For decades, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has championed just that. It focuses on local control and reliance particularly in the areas of broadband, energy, independent businesses, banking, waste (to wealth), and the public good. Each of these areas contains a deep database of articles, relevant rules and resources. Its website has numerous audio, video and written resources. Noteworthy is a searchable database of local, state and federal laws in areas of interest to local self reliance, such as composting, anti-privitization, beverage containers, etc. Visit website.

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