survivalism or utopia

Does watching the news upset you? Are you following the climate change science and the grim news from the arctic, do you fear for the dysfunctional future; or do you have hope for a utopia on earth, for the possibility of a new ecological humanity? In just a few years the internet has become the largest library ever assembled – we are flooded with information and mis-information, so how do we assess what is really going on and, more importantly, what to do about it?

Most people that I talk to who are questioning the mainstream narrative, range from dark pessimism to cautious optimism about how climate change and global politics will unfold in the coming decades. Ask on a good day and we may find hope that human ingenuity, kindness and innovation can actually prevail to keep the planet habitable, ask on a bad day and we can enter into fear and despair for what is surely coming. This emotional oscillation even seems to happen to the scientists I know who are actually measuring the condition of the earth, its biodiversity and climate, and who are making evidence based models and predictions; things can appear very, very dark and dangerous, and yet in a universe of marvel and creativity hope springs eternal for collective action and innovation. Ours is a time of unlimited information combined with increasing existential uncertainty; are we in an unfolding armageddon, an extinction level calamity, or the early blossoming of a conscious ecologically informed humanity? Whatever the science says, many of us are fluctuating between these polarities of thought and feeling, which can be exhausting, and which can easily lead to a malaise and a lack of action.

This emotional polarity can be seen amongst alternative communities around the world. Some take on a survivalist mentality, and some take on a utopian ambition. At its extreme, especially in the States, there are survivalists making bunkers, arming themselves and stocking up on canned foods, and in Europe we know of communities that are experimenting with free love and ecological utopia. From one angle the ‘realism’ of the survivalist mentality seems paranoid and delusional, who would want to survive ecological collapse through a return to brutal feudalism? And yet the utopian visionaries can seem naïve and wishful against the backdrop of a world in ecological and economic crisis.

At Land in Action our goal is to design and make affordable, biodegradable homes that can generate water, power andfood for everyone, sustainably. The point is to take the practical action against uncertainty and insecurity and also be at the leading edge of a wave of technological innovation that may carry us all into a future that we actually want to arrive in, or can survive with some measure of security and happiness. We aim to maximise the potential to happily survive worsening and destabilising conditions however far that goes, whilst actively migrating towards the best possible outcomes for us all – maybe its called hedging your bets!

We envisage communities where the actual physical structure of our homes mimic the interconnectivity and interdependence of nature – where waste is recycled and surpluses are shared, making resilient, sustainable communities. By taking staple food production indoors we can insure against some of the variabilities of climate change as every home achieves a level of food security which is less dependant upon a destabilising climate at a time when outdoor crops may regularly fail due to weather disruption. It also means that outdoor food production around the home supplements the diet, but can also be designed to enhance soil conditions, water cycling and biodiversity rather than simply maximising mass production, which requires chemical interventions and monoculture. In short we aim to prepare for the worst and aim for the best, taking action which generates hope and a realistic possibility for widespread survival and quality of life.

For those of us that are concerned or fearful about what’s coming, taking action is the only way of generating hope, and without hope life is empty and meaningless. Leaving the mainstream to generate alternatives often requires courage and determination which is why we need resilient communities modelling positive change and practical solutions for all to see.



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