Home page and where to get Shonin Risa's books: https://sites.google.com/view/risabear

Friday, January 23, 2009

The future of monster.com

Rob at Transition Culture pulls out a list of occupations necessary to run a post-oil society (by looking at those found in a pre-oil society) :
Coppicer, hurdle maker, rake maker, fork maker, besom maker, handle maker, hoop maker, ladder maker, crib maker, broach and peg maker, clog sole cutter, bodger, charcoal burner, oak basket maker, trug maker, stick and staff maker, field gate maker, willow basket maker, net maker, stone mason, joiner, roofer, floor layer, waller, thatcher, slater, lime burner, paint maker, glass blower, glazier, stained glass artist, mud brick maker, tile maker, chimney sweep, plumber, decorator, bridge builder, French polisher, sign writer hedge layer, dry stone waller, stile maker, well digger, peat cutter, gardener, horticulturist, vintner, arborist, tree surgeon, forester, farmer, shepherd, shearer, bee keeper, miller, fisherman, orchardist, veterinarian,chair maker, iron founder, blacksmith, wheelwright, cooper, coppersmith, tinsmith, wood turner, coach builder, boat builder, sail maker, rope maker, wainwright, block maker, leather tanner, harness maker, saddler, horse collar maker, boot and shoe maker, cobbler, clog maker, knife maker, cutter, millstone dresser, potter, printer, typographer, calligrapher, bookbinder, paper maker, furniture maker, jeweller, mechanic, boiler maker, boilerman, soap maker, gunsmith, sword smith, brush maker, candle maker, artist, sculptor, firework maker, cycle builder, bone carver, musical instrument maker, clay pipe maker, tool maker. Spinner, weaver, dyer, silk grower, tailor, seamstress, milliner, hatter, lace maker, button maker, mat and rug maker, crochet worker, tatting and macramé worker, knitter, quilter, smock worker, embroiderer, leather worker, felt maker. Fish smoker, bacon curer, butter maker, cheese maker, brewer, cider maker, wine maker, distiller, herbalist, ice cream maker, butcher, fishmonger, pie maker, pickle maker, baker, barrister and coffee roaster, homeopath, reflexologist, osteopath, naturopath, storyteller, teacher naturalist, historian, jester, actor, administrator, philosopher, labourer, poet, writer, midwife, publican, bookseller, librarian.
 [reposted from the red mullet]

[risa] ... not that I think we'll get to such a future from here without a hideous triage, which I don't personally expect to survive. There, it's out in the open, I'm a doomer. But one who has always had, and paradoxically perhaps still has, a certain optimism as the ground of my being. And I think my lifestyle changes are good for me even if I am proved wrong by events.

So, on to my idea of fun:

Though I see myself in many of the occupations listed above, I've taken increased interest in coppicing, which I see as part of small farming (I'm also a letterpress printer, a chandler, a carpenter, and so on. Beloved is a flock-keeper and small farmer as well, and also a locally appreciated storyteller-folksinger-puppet theater artist, with an emphasis on participatory work with children and teaching multiculturalism. And we are both low-tech homemakers).

Coppicing is an ancient trade, which was much in demand for wattle-and-daub constuction, woven fences, and basketry until relatively recently. Tree species that re-sprout from the stump quickly, grow quickly, and are native are a sound basis for a good coppice. The fuelwood you can get from these burns with a little less heat and is a little less convenient to stack and handle than large chunks of Douglas fir, but it's markedly easier to cut! I have a small electric chainsaw, which larger trees tend to intimidate, and I like figuring out how to do things around here without gasoline.

You can get wood out of your coppice with a bow-saw if necessary, and very little splitting is required. A bundle of sticks or even twigs can do much toward keeping a small, well insulated home warm and a meal cooked, as anyone in Bolivia or Senegal could tell you; and coppice wood can provide 6" diameter firelogs on a very short rotation with the right species.

I've been experimenting, for several years, with hazelnut wood, Oregon ash, and pussy willows. I'm told hawthorn is good, but haven't seen any around here, or maybe I just don't recognize it. Ideas? Or occupations to add to Rob's list?


  1. Hawthorne is found in the wild here, but more often in town. It is a small tree with thorns. The wood is heavy, and I've heard that it makes good posts. The only other tree around here with thorns is locust (gooseberry is a shrub, and Hercules Club is rare, light, and pithy), so it's not too hard to recognize. Next time you're on Friendly, there is a row of hawthorne on the west side south of 18th. I know my local trees and shrubs pretty well, and would be happy to meet with you sometime.

    Oregon State put out a great local tree and shrub book. It is called Manual of Oregon Trees and Shrubs. Another one by them is Trees to Know in Oregon. You might inquire at the Ext Service in front of the fairgrounds.

  2. I do have the manual -- I'm supposed to check out "black hawthorne," according to Beloved who has been taking the Master Gardener class with Last Son, and I keep saying "doesn't that have thorns?" and she keeps replying, "they say this one doesn't" -- haven't investigated the discrepancy yet. So much to learn -- so little time ...

  3. I suppose there might be hybrid hawthornes without thorns, but the ones I'm familiar with have them. They aren't all over the place like with honey locust, but you can find them if you examine a branch rather closely. Speaking of honey locusts, I've heard that they've even hybridized some of those to be thornless.

  4. I think she means black locust, what do you think?

  5. "I think she means black locust, what do you think?"

    Beats me since both come in black subspecies. In Mississippi, I used trees. Here I just enjoy them, so I'm not too up on which ones make the best posts, firewoods, and so forth.

  6. If the nature of common jobs does change perhaps one's last name will mean something again.

  7. This business of being a "doomer" needs to be addressed in more detail somewhere. I'm kind of a doomer too, I do think that our current civilization and state of overpopulation is unsustainable and that there probably is no easy out. However. Running around telling folks that is counterproductive, not very motivating toward pursuing potential solutions. Optimism and hope for the future is really our only salvation (I think), and needs to be encouraged and cultivated. In that sense I am not a doomer.


Stony Run Farm: Life on One Acre

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