hello Peak Oil Shrink;
I’m hoping you (or your readers) might have some words of advice, or at least hope, for me.
I’ve been aware of the oncoming convergence of peak oil & global warming for a number of years now, and have slowly been trying to drag my partner and close friends to a similar awareness, while also starting on a long-term program to “power down” in my/our life. The idea of growing a garden, making home goods by hand, etc is not at all distasteful to me, and in fact seems like it would be a much happier life in many ways than the stressful technologically-enveloped one we are currently living. Although I’ve been working bit by bit to make our urban lives more sustainable – slowly converting our yard into a permaculture-type garden, working to make our home more energy-efficient, taking up bicycling – there’s a part of me that is deeply scared that U.S. city life is simply going to be dangerous, if not impossible, for a family if the coming crisis strikes too fast. That part is screaming to get out of the city, to somewhere with land and trees and water instead of people and cars and midnight gunfire.
Which leads me to a dilemma: how do I find a rural area that would be safe and accepting of a lesbian couple with kids? And how do I justify moving my family away from all the diversity, benefits, and supportive networks for LGBT families that come with life in a large liberal city, to a life that for them will probably seem lonely and difficult, not to mention legally and socially marginalized? It’s hard enough to deal with teachers, doctors, and coworkers already – I’m scared that moving to rural America will mean harassment and isolation, not the sort of community support that so many “doomers” claim is necessary for post-Peak survival.
I’ve seen at least one commenter who believes cities will become very violent, scary places – but others who think cities will be the most likely to reach full sustainability quickly due to density allowing for easier powerdown infrastructure transition. I think it’s the not-knowing that’s hardest: how do you plan when you have no idea what to plan for? Should I go with my gut and head for the country, or let the bet ride and dig up more of my neo-urban backyard for berry bushes? These are the questions that keep me up at night. I’d love to hear somebody else’s opinions. Maybe at least then I’d know I’m not the only one awake at 3am thinking about this stuff.
Sappho in the City
You are definitely NOT the only one staying up late at night thinking about this stuff, and you are right, there are no clear blueprints for the future.
Take hope! There are rural areas that welcome lesbian women. University towns placed in otherwise rural areas are places to consider. Ask the university folks: Do you feel safe here? Who are you out to? What’s your relationship like with police, teachers, doctors, etc.
If you are seriously considering moving, I’d ask you to do some networking within the lesbian community for suggestions in the State you are considering. Is there gay/lesbian marriages or civil unions? Have they outlawed them? Are there religious institutions that have active affirmative action statements reaching out to GBLT folks? What kind of politically active groups are their for GLBT folks? Is there an active bars scene and do people get harassed by the police? I’d go to the schools and talk to the teachers/principles, directly, about how many other “out” parents there are, or how they work with GBLT kids that are being harassed. The very least, talk to other GLBT parents who have kids in those school systems. Are their high school groups for GBLT kids? If there are, your children will feel safer there, having lesbian mothers, than if there are not.
Do the places like Craig’s List have an active W-to-W board in that spot? Do lesbians & gay men get flamed? I’d also look at the Relocalization.net and check to see which areas have active networks, and see whether there are lesbian families active.
I have no doubt that you’ll need to carefully consider the impact of any sort of move, and what it will mean economically, socially,
domestically, and personally, and I wouldn’t consider moving anywhere you and your family haven’t personally visited many times, especially during the “worst” season of the year. I might even consider renting out your home, if you own it, or subletting it, if you rent, and moving someplace for an extended time to get a feel for the place, hang out with the people, check out job prospects, visit the library, coffee shops, talk to other lesbian families in town, and generally get a feel for the place.
Final word, I want to emphasize: Look at the demographics and crime rate of where you are living now, and where you want to move to. See what types of crimes happen there. What are the attitudes toward domestic violence?
There are folks like Kunstler that speak of the benefits of New England and the Northwest Coast as places that are “community” in their orientation. Others talk about being a good 6 hours from any major metropolitan city. Ultimately, you have to seriously consider the things you most value in your life, and the types of things you are most likely to miss should you decide to relocate. Wherever you go, you will have relocation shock, and it will take longer to integrate into a rural community, than an urban one. As I’ve mentioned, we just don’t expect newcomers to stay, so we don’t get too close until we’re certain they will.
Thanks for writing. I hope this was helpful for your thinking.
Does your rural community welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered folks? What challenges have you faced being GLBT in a rural area? If you relocated to a rural life, are you glad you did? If you decided to remain in the city, what was your thinking? Share your story by writing: PeakShrink@peakoilblues.com