Wednesday, April 27, 2011

evaluating adaptation projects

(sample project list)

My family, like most others, has a limited amount of time and resources. We also have differing opinions about what constitutes appropriate adaptations to a changing world. Put differently, my wife thinks I’m crazy to consider adding meat rabbits to our yard this year and just how to decide if she’s right?

Last year I read a post by John Michael Greer, entitled The Cybernetics of Black Knights (hat tip Jack) which inspired the following system. His system which I have modified, was aimed at more narrowly deciding on which projects might be more important and timely. My adjustments are aimed at coming up with a system for making decisions about adapting strategies to undertake in the context of a family with differing opinions on what should be done when and how.

So when facing this question of what to do next how might a family more forward? Here’s what we did.

First on a separate sheets of paper my wife and I wrote down all of the projects we both wanted to undertake – for example putting up a new clothes line and adding meat rabbits. Some projects were known to both of us, projects we had previously discussed. Others fell into the category of secret longings, the refinished kitchen complete with new counter tops for example.

To say that all of the projects were directly related to adapting in place with regards to peak oil, climate change and financial upheaval would be misleading but most had a solid component of reducing our energy and resource use. While a deck on the back of our house would seem like more of an amenity than a need, it will also provide a place to live outdoors (something appropriate in my climate much of the year) and would give us a place to cook and can food in the hot of the summer without heating the interior of our house. In this way many projects were lobbied for as both lifestyle improvements and adaptive strategies. How to know then which one to start with?

We took both our lists and combined them. Then we printed two copies of the combined list. We both took a copy of the list and labeled it with a number and letter.

The numbers corresponded with the following:

1 – This is a project we could do easily with the resources readily available to us.
2 – This is a project we could do, though it would take some effort to get the resources.
3 – This is a project we could do, but it would be a serious challenge.
4 – This is a project that, for one reason or another, is out of reach for us at the moment.

A – This is a project that is immediately and obviously useful for our lives right now.
B – This is a project that could be useful to for us given certain changes we expect in the near term.
C – This is a project that might be useful if our lives if circumstances were to change significantly.
D – This is a project that, for one reason for another, is useless or irrelevant to us at this moment.

Then we recombined the list. Each project got coded with both letters and numbers with 11AA projects at the top of the list and 44DD projects at the bottom. Each item got a cost estimate and schedule time of completion. When we reevaluate the list in the future we will add an estimate of the number of hours a given item is expected to take.

This exercise will produce a rough guide regarding how to prioritize your adaptation strategies. You can refine it. Once you decide, let’s say, that weatherstripping the leaky windows of your apartment before winter arrives is a 1-A project – easy as well as immediately useful – you’ve set up an intentionality that allows you to winnow through a great deal of data and find the information you need: for example, what kind of weatherstripping is available at the local hardware store, and which one can you install without spending a lot of money or annoying your landlord.

Once you decide that building a brand new ecovillage in the middle of nowhere is a 4-D project, you can set aside data relevant to that project and pay attention to things that matter, not just to you but also to the other people in your family, which is key to making real progress.

1 comment:

risa said...

See if you mean this one:

The Cybernetics of Black Knights