Friday, September 30, 2011

John Robb's classic piece on Resilient Work

Tuesday, 30 June 2009
JOURNAL: Resilience Judo

There are growing signs -- from a black swan in savings/debt reduction to massive debt loads to quarterly trillion dollar losses in personal wealth to stagnant/falling consumer purchases to persistently low consumer confidence -- that the parasite ridden American "consumer" is finally dead. If this is true, the economic model of the latter half of the last Century is likely dead too, and that will mean wrenching change. It's my belief that the dominant solution is to prepare for a local future to ride out this storm. Here are some of my random (more random than I would like) thoughts on what you should do to prepare:

* Ruthlessly reduce debt. Nothing on credit. Pay off every loan. Strategically walk away from underwater assets (like homes that are worth less than the mortgage). This will allow you to stay one step ahead of the death throes of the old economy.

* Turn your hollow home into a productive asset. Most homes are devoid of any productive capacity. Adding energy, food, etc production to them turns them into real, productive assets. Get your assets out of financial derivatives (stocks, bonds, etc.) as fast as you can and put them into productive assets (not commodities) you can touch.

* Make everything you can yourself. Grow your own food. Produce your own energy. Make/repair your own clothes. Turn costs into savings. Reskill to do this. The new "fashionable trend" isn't what you can buy, it's what you can make. Anyone that buys "designer or branded" anything is a fool.

* Work online. Convert your skills into something that can be sold electronically (most of my complex work is done this way). Develop the skills necessary to work as part of a virtual team. Telecommute whenever possible (and push to do this, even if it means less money), reduce the number of cars/dress clothes/etc you own in synch with this conversion (and move to a less expensive locale when possible!). Always have two jobs going at the same time.

* Build a local business. Own assets that produce and sell that production locally. Even if it is small, it will help down the line via contact networks/experience (a new spin on modern "networking"). Develop the niche skills that sell locally. Group/tribe up when possible to tackle larger opportunities.

* Barter. Cashless trades. Convert what you have to what you need. Skill set bartering is amazingly effective. Become part of a local barter network (the backchannel).

* Bring your family home. Grow your home to accommodate more people. Bring back parents and grown kids (with their families). This will allow you to pool incomes and radically reduce workload/ costs. It's also beneficial for security. NOTE: I've found that consideration/ compromise is the best way to handle an expansive family home environment.

* Suggestions welcome!!

This change doesn't require cute and crunchy notions about "lifestyle" environmentalism. It's all about mitigation of stresses in the short to medium term as living conditions deteriorate, while at the same time preparing to ride the resilient community wave to rapid and sustained long term success/wealth.

5 Job Non-Negotiables


1. I need to be challenged by the work, in a good way
2. I need to feel un-ambivalent about it being good
3. I need it to be healthy
4. I need it to pay well
5. I need it to be able to accommodate different lifestyle choices or needs at different times

Home School Modules

Becca is on to an amazing niche -- providing classes/ babysitting/ socializing opportunities for parents homeschooling their kids. We could build an ecology of these as modules.
(list of WA homeschool and unschool resources)


Geometry through Carpentry
- Housebuilding for Children
- Carpentry for Children
- Examples here.
- Geometry curricula.
- Construction and Trade lesson plans.

Using excel to track financial data, make budgets, and organize events.

Gardening and garden planning (using excel).

Making presentations on a subject using powerpoint.

Wilderness, blogging, photography, gear, survival skills, situational awareness, team work and leadership.

You could charge $200/mo for 8 hours/wk, that would cost parents $1000/mo for full-time education for their kids, which is still less than most private schools and would have a teacher:student ratio of 1:6 and no overhead. More realistically, they could have their kid in 2-3 modules at a time, and do the rest themselves.

A teacher could make $1200/mo for 32 hours with 6 kids + 16 hours preparation and follow-up. 1200/48 = $25/hr

There may need to be a coordinator or counselor that can make sure needs are being met as far as well-rounded education, meeting testing needs, guidance for higher ed, etc.

Unschooling and dual approaches to systems

Survival Podcast episode on Unschooling with Courtney Clay:

Jack: "I would sit down with my son and say, okay, this is what you need to do to pass, now tell me what you really think."

There is a way to approach all dealings with rules and norms (formal or informal) that acknowledges the "hoops" aspect of things social. This is similar to my frequent maneuver with youth where I lay out those things we simply need to accept based on their being too big to take on or a necessary sort of evil. This includes many bureaucratic necessities and rules that we may agree are better there than not but for which we wish there were any number of sensible exceptions. This is also what I pointed out during the strategic visioning process with Sharon and Robert -- that in identifying the program's goals and objectives we were doing it for two audiences: ourselves, and funders (or others to whom we are accountable or dependent upon). The result is two different but related sets of goals and objectives, one that we can put our hearts to and really dig into, and one that we can hope to make reflect as much of the first as possible within the constraints of the norms and expectations of the institution that we depend on, and using its language.

This is a clever way to deal with the cognitive dissonance of needing to pander to, or even support, systems that we find questionable at times, encumbering or simply dumb. We could kill or dehumanize ourselves trying to align ourselves full-being with the supra-human systems we reckon with daily. Instead, we find ways of referring to these systems as a sort of weather system, with which we must interact effectively in order to get on with our work.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Seattle Area Trade Degrees

South Seattle Community College
Fact Sheet about South Seattle CC's Aviation Maintenance Technology program; web site here; info on AAS-T degree with both Powerplant and Airframe certifications (160 credits); Link to just the Airframer and Powerplant joint certificate program (147 credits); recent article states program "has so far seen a hiring rate of 85 to 90 percent."

Total Cost ~ $8500 for two years; 4 quarters per year with 1 month off between each quarter; one 17-credit class at a time, 5 days/week, 5.5 hrs per day.

WA Aerospace Training and Research Center
Offers a 12-week intro course - 4 week core skills online, 8 weeks of advanced skills including 4 weeks onsite (27.5 credits). Emphases include assembly mechanic, electrical assembler, composite manufacturing and repair. $4800 total.

Shoreline CC
Fact sheet on Solar/PV Design & Marketing at Shoreline; 5 credit course.
Fact sheet on Clean Energy Technology AAAS degree at Shoreline; 90 credits, 4 quarters [only 75 credits without GenEd, primarily electives in business, econ, CAD, graphics]:
"Emphasis is on residential and commercial buildings with specialties in passive solar and sustainable (green) building Design and photovoltaic (solar electric)system design...students obtain a background in alternative energy and an understanding of practices in high performance and zero energy building practices including alternative energy systems, green building techniques, and designing and installing residential and commercial electric, metering and control systems...strong- hands-on component... Entry level wages range from $14 to $25 per hour."
Fact sheet on Clean Energy Tech Certificate; 60 credits, 4 quarters

WA State CC's Workforce Development Green Academy Education Program offers classes on particular topics including Solar/PV installation.

A guide to the hazards of welding gases and fumes.

Energy and Science Technician at Lake WA Institute of Technology. ~50 (minus GenEd & Word & Excel). Focus in BioEnergy, Renewable Energy Tech, Industrial Lab. 30-35 creds core, ~30 creds elec (e.g. 15 creds bio, 5 Electronics, 5 PV, 5 Wind, etc... or ~55 creds in addition to 35 cred core to cover my bases in Bio Energy, Electronics, PV, Wind & Water, and Architectural reading/estimating.

Also, I-BEST Energy Certificate (same page) is 28 creds and covers the basics:

ETEC 110 Introduction to Alternative Energy & Energy Management 5
ETEC 121 Biomass and Bio-fuel Basics 5
ETEC 123 Introduction to Photovoltiac Systems 4
ETEC 124 Fundamentals of Water and Wind Power 5
EASL 085 ESL Energy Technology Applications I 3
EASL 086 ESL Energy Technology Applications II 3
EASL 087 ESL Energy Technology Applications III 3

Estimated costs: $12,000 for AAAS, $3200 for I-BEST Certificate

List of all Lake WA Institute of Technology programs including:
Architectural Graphics
Computer Security and Network Technician incl an additional certificate in Linux and Open-Source Operating Systems
Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technician certificate
Electronics Technology with a range of options incl printed circuit boards
Engineering Graphics - Mechanical Design emphasis
Environmental Horticulture
Machine Technology certificate
Motorcycle, Marine, and Power Equipment Service Tech AAAS
Multimedia Design & Production
Welding and Fabrication Maintenance Technology certificate (9 kinds of welding)

Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee participating workplaces
Air Washington website and directory of Aerospace Apprenticeships section referring to the rest of the pdf.
Forum thread on non-defense aerospace jobs
Wage and job data for 161 WA state aerospace companies

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Personal Learning Goals (revised)

Yeah, I'm over school.

I don't think I've learned anything that can help someone directly. I have learned things that allow me to be useful within a framework established by Someone Else. Things that help organizations impress funders and clarify what they're doing. Things to write on bureaucratic forms and things to say to people in interviews so they think I'm smart.

I have learned a little bit more about clear thinking and getting to the point. I like matrices and logic models. I have learned excel and how to make pretty presentations.

What's next?

I don't want to be a bureaucrat. Nor a therapist. Nor an administrator in another organization achieving modest results on rich people's paychecks or state whims.

I have a clear sense of what I think is right. I have a clear sense of what I think is smart.

- create sustainable wealth; do not create waste
- add or maintain energy, beauty, and harmony
- treat others with respect; act with honor
- be motivated by fear and selfishness to the least possible degree

- don't put all my eggs in one basket
- develop myself holistically
- honor the trades as well as the arts
- stay fluent in the most recent social and technological innovations, but do not be easily enchanted
- increase my powers of will and self-discipline
- stay physically fit, mentally clear, and spiritually attuned

In this context, I am weighing options for what comes next. On the radar:

1) Get a social work or admin job that doesn't take all my time and energy; use my free time wisely to develop my self and my hobbies for personal growth and satisfaction.
2) Same as above, but develop another professional skill -- such as programming or web design -- that is virtual, can be practiced anywhere, and which I can learn on my own.
3) Embrace risk -- learn farming, machining, programming, whatever; move wherever to do it; go whole hog for the social experiment.
4) Get a job doing something I kind of really like the idea of in Seattle. Discipline myself to perform it to the best of my ability. Build insitutional importance and power for an idea or practice.

Skill areas and practices I have that I am most interested in continuing:

- tai chi and bicycling/running
- gardening and small livestock
- building with wood
- writing; presentation
- data organization

Skill areas and practices that I would like to learn or cultivate:

- working out with weights for upper body strength
- meditation
- car maintenance and repair
- bicycle maintenance and repair
- welding and fabrication; machining
- web site design
- databases
- basic electronics/programming/arduino
- gun use; hunting
- martial arts

In addition, I would like to turn one of these into a money-maker that (a) I enjoy, (b) makes a lot of money without being a regular 9-5, (c) is transportable or virtual, (d) I can learn relatively quickly, and (e) is at least morally neutral, preferrably morally ahead of the curve. I would like it to score well on all the criteria of Right and Smart.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Culture as the defining element

High-performing cities stay high-performing cities, according to Geoffrey B. West, regardless of what industries come and go and what the national economy does. Culture is the most long-lasting of human creations and the hardest to kill. What is resilient culture? If culture is the lynchpin of resilience -- and of well-being -- how do we fortify it, help to create it, or enable it?