Critical skills to face collapse

Something that’s always been below the surface of my consciousness is that the root of our social and political problems is inadequate education. It’s not “I know if people understood ______ issue”, they would agree with me. I know I’m not always right. There are so many things we can have honest disagreements about. But you cannot have such discussions with people who refuse to accept basic facts and reasoning. It is about not falling for disinformation. It’s about critical thinking. It’s a real problem when emerging school policies are intended to make it impossible for students to be able to think critically.

At Scattergood Friends (high) School the focus is on preparing students to be lifelong learners. Which means developing critical thinking skills. At the Kheprw Institute, a youth mentoring community, the students are taught to be critical thinkers.

Rapidly emerging educational policies are intended to make students NOT think critically. Banning books! I never thought I’d see the day. Telling teachers they aren’t allowed to teach about racism, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

I was intrigued when I saw the article ‘How Do We Teach the Critical Skills Needed to Face Collapse?” by Dave Pollard, How To save the world, September 10, 2022. He goes into some detail about these skills, but for now I’ll just list the soft skills and hard skills he says we need to face collapse.

So civilization, at least as we know it, is going to collapse — political, economic, social, educational, health, transportation, technological systems all will fail, a bit a first, and then more and more.

We have no idea when it will be complete — could be in 10 years, or in 40. We have no idea how it will play out — how quickly, where first, what systems and governments will go first.

We don’t even know how people will react to this Slow (and Permanent) Emergency. So how can we possibly prepare for it?

I think the best answer to this is to teach a lot of people a lot of skills, hard and soft, that they don’t currently have, so that we’re kind of ready for anything. Here’s a list of ten possibly critical soft skills, and ten possibly critical hard skills, that very few of us (in most countries) are competent at at the moment. The ones in italics are, IMO, those that it is important that most people learn; for the remainder, it’s important that some people in each community be very competent at them:

Soft skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Group facilitation
  • Helping people cope
  • Preparing healthy food
  • Caring for the young, old, and sick
  • Imaginative, reflective and creative skills
  • Mentoring
  • Listening, noticing and attention skills
  • Conversation
  • Community-building

Hard skills (that require some specific technical knowledge/experience

  • Growing and harvesting food
  • Making and repairing clothing and shelter from the elements
  • Accessing clean, safe water
  • Weaving, fabric-making, pottery and other crafting skills tha that make life much more pleasant and comfortable
  • Medical, medicinal, and injury-healing knowledge and skills
  • Food preservation
  • Bicycle construction and repair
  • Basic engineering skills
  • Ecological skills
  • Decommissioning-nuclear reactors and petrochemical sites

Building Communities-The Vision

For years I’ve been thinking about how to build communities as collapse occurs. I’d thought there would be millions of climate refugees moving inland in the country as their homes and communities are ruined by rising sea levels, severe storms, drought, collapsing infrastructure and social systems. It’s clear now that no place will really be safe. Here in the Midwest we’ve had severe flooding, drought, and strong storms.

We need to build model sustainable communities. There have been numerous such experiments in intentional community. But this model must be created with the intention of being replicated many times over with minimal complexity, using locally available materials—a pre-fab community.

Pre-fab components

  • Community hub with housing and other structures
    • Simple housing
      • Straw bale houses
      • Passive solar and solar panels
      • No kitchens, bathrooms or showers (community ones instead)
    • Stores, school, meetinghouse
    • Central kitchen, bathrooms and showers
  • Surrounding fields for food and straw
  • Water supply
    • Wells, cisterns and/or rain barrels
  • Power
    • Solar, wind, hydro, horse
  • Manufacturing
    • 3 D printing
    • Pottery
    • Sawmill
  • Communication
    • Radio, local networks
  • Transportation
    • Bicycles
    • Horses
    • Pedal powered vehicles
  • Medical
    • Stockpile common medications
    • Essential diagnostic and treatment equipment
    • Medical personnel adapt to work in community
  • Spiritual
    • Meeting for worship
    • Meeting for business
    • Religious education

I plan to write more about critical thinking soon.

2 thoughts on “Critical skills to face collapse

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