The answer is the circle. The question is going to get thrown at you any time soon.

Photo: Meridith_farmer on Flickr

In the conference room, standing barefoot in a circle, holding hands together we wait for Medicine Story to speak:

“In the old ways, the tribe does everything in a circle.”

“The circle is what keeps us together, and in keeping together we survive.”

In my imagination I see how the tribe, surrounded by nature and with only a handful of tools, must be ready to respond both to opportunities like good harvests of fruit, and hardships like wild animal attacks and poor hunting success. But this is the very definition of resilience. The discussions, the decisions, the sharing of happiness and sharing of fears is done in the circle.

No corporate board, no strategy division, no planning division, no union, no shareholder pressure, no regulatory body. Just each other.

I reach back into the cultural memory I carry with me…. In the history of my ancestors, when was this the situation for them? Much of the history of my own people is that of being part of an empire, starting with the Roman Empire. It was back in the days of the Vikings that the tribe was the structure in which people lived. But I know very little of that time, except I strain to remember the model of the Viking village I saw a few years ago. In the center of the village was a large barn, where people sit in a circle.

For nearly a decade I had been searching for the answer to how we can build resilient communities that will be able to withstand financial depressions, the rages of climate instability and unexpected and huge  fuel shortages. I had thought of Energy Decent plans, Eco-villages, Permaculture, alternate currencies and many, many other things.

I had thought of alternative wisdom, using Imagestreaming and I can say that it works. A group can access deep wisdom and have good chances of developing appropriate culture and technology to survive if given half a chance.  See the information about my book “Inventing for the Sustainable Planet”.

Just this  question:

what, if anything, we might do to start preparing our community for the economic, energy and ecological crises — and perhaps even collapse — we expect to see in the coming decades?

This is asked by Dave Pollard in his excellent post on his blog How to Save the World. In fact Dave asks “How  many circles make a community.”

The answer is one. One main one.

The next question is how big it should be. Well the answer is surprisingly simple and if you don’t believe me please go out and try it for yourself.  Stand in a circle of about a hundred. Can each person say something so that everyone else can hear? Start adding people. Of course new techniques like the megaphone  the Occupy movement so successfully used could theoretically be used to spread all over a large city, but let’s get every-day practical here.

What then should the members of this circle be focused on? My answer is the basics: food on the table, a roof over your head and security.  As Dave points out, in a world of no money, climate instability and no fuel putting food on the table is not as easy as it may look. Indigneous cultures developed trial and error over a long time, handing down the wisdom each generation gained to the next. To learn more of this “internet of past experience” read the article here.

We are like some factory-farmed tame animals being let out into the wild: it is touch and go if we can adapt. But adapt we must. Despite some two decades of warnings from some of the brightest people on the planet little in real terms has been done to reconfigure the financial, energy or agricultural system into anything sustainable.

The question or the challenge is coming: it’s hard to predict HOW it will hit you. It could be a storm, it could be that the conspirator theorists are right and that the Marshall state is being ushered in, and you will find yourself highly restricted by laws. It could be, like we got a foretaste in England, massive fuel shortages. It could be economic collapse the tip of which Greece has seen.

So get ready. I have spent the last six months at least learning about the circle way, trying it out, going on courses,  teaching it and generally preparing to spread the circle way to the best of my ability.

Through the Open World Villages network we are getting ready to spread the training for circle way.

Read more about the circle way training here.

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