What Strongtowns does to communicate important ideas about resilience at the level of the community, PeakProsperity does for the individual. I could not recommend more highly the updated Crash Course for understanding what to do as an individual to prepare for the future. What makes my involvement with the site problematic is the core level anti urban bias.
A conversation released last week on their podcast stream demonstrated to me just how deep the bias runs. Chris Martenson was discussing community and ritual with a guest, and the guest shared a story(5:40), in contrast to a discussion of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, of a “town” in Spain which has a “fire festival” in which the whole “town” and the “select board” take part. This “community festival” is an opportunity for “personal renewal work”. It’s obvious that the guest is under the impression that this is a quaint tradition in a tiny village somewhere in the hinterlands; where else could a community come together for such a wild and yet fulfilling community building celebration?
Only, Las Fallas is a festival I attended in 1987 and it takes place in Spain’s 3rd largest city Valencia. Valencia. Population 800,000. Hundreds of thousands of people take part in this festival. And it is everything the guest describes it as being. And it takes place in a very metropolitan city. Home of paella, the “boys with the bats on their shirts“, and these starchitectural wonders from Santiago Calatrava.
My three days in Valencia experiencing the Mascleta, the Cremá, and the general insanity of Las Fallas will never be forgotten. Just as my evening sleeping in the María Luisa park in Sevilla during Holy Week and my two Carnaval experiences in Cádiz will never be forgotten. Of course the case can be made that our cities are not the homogenous tight knit communities that those of Spain are, but that doesn’t mean that our cities can’t become unified places where CITIzens take pride in their place and feel for the place they actually spend their day to day lives the passion they express for the abstract concept of the nation state: U.S.A! U.S.A.!
What is the current “U.S.A.” if not a collection of places which, mostly, no one gives a rat’s ass about and almost everyone is willing to abandon at the drop of a hat, or at the promise of $3,000 more a year, or a 3% difference in property taxes? How can the nation as a whole mean anything to you if not one place within it is of any particular importance?
I’m laughing and crying at the same time; Maricopa county, Arizona is the fastest growing county in America. The city of Springfield gains in population every year what Maricopa county gains on a daily basis; somewhere around 200-300 people. None of that pesky rain that ruins your whole day on the wonderfully green beautifully manicured golf courses, air conditioning not just inside, but outside as well, everything easily accessible by private automobile with absolutely no end in sight to our ability to extract fossil fuels from the ground, and absolutely no negative long term consequences to doing so! What places did those 200-300 people abandon in order to make Phoenix their new home? Who gives a shit? I might have to wear a sweater or miss a day on the links, and what place could possibly be worth that?