Finding Home Part 1: The Journey Begins

Nothing is more important than finding the right place to call home and putting down roots. It is even more important when it comes to finding a home at the onset of what James Howard Kunstler calls “The Long Emergency.”


The Long Emergency is the era where ecological, economic, and energy crises converge to shape the future of humanity. Mr. Kunstler has traveled all over the United States, giving lectures on the “Long Emergency” themes in town halls, libraries, and Universities. Given his extensive tours of American life through his travels, it is prudent to take his advice on where to put down roots.


On his recent January 7, 2022 blog post on Kunstler.com, Mr. Kunstler asks these questions to reorient our minds for the coming era:


"The broken giants will have to be replaced by lower-scaled systems for producing stuff, moving it, and selling it. That includes food, especially, by the way. How are you going to be part of that where you live? What role can you imagine yourself in? What are you good at? What do you dream of being good at? Can you assemble a social network for yourself? Do you have any ability to look after the public interest? Can you speak coherently? Do you mean what you say? Are you grounded morally in right-and-wrong? Can others depend on you to keep your word? These are the questions that will matter going forward, not whether you were vaccinated, or voted for Mr. Trump, or know the lyrics to God Bless America."

The above quote lays the groundwork for a series of blog posts that will explore various topics to narrow down the options of potential areas to call home. In this series, we will look into socioeconomic forces, crime, education, mobility, environment, population density, and so much more that will help you determine what areas are a good fit for you.


Cultural Context:


For me, context is critical in establishing a holistic understanding of any topic. First, it’s essential to explain that I am not a professional in any below fields except plant cultivation. I’m a researcher and love diving into any and all sorts of topics to expand my knowledge base. This does not make me an expert; it only helps me become more knowledgeable on the subject. Apart from the data, the information here is entirely based on my opinion. Also, keep in mind that so many variables exist that I do not pretend to know what regions of the United States will be better to live in over others. Like everything in life, we have to take available information and use it to the best of our abilities.


This series is based on my experience of the local culture in Appalachia (Ridge and Valley Provence, to be exact). I believe understanding the local culture allows us to identify places that can adapt to a changing world or places that will make necessary adaptation almost impossible due to unhealthy/hindering belief systems. Sure, a location may be scenic or have an ample water supply, but how do the people act who inhabit the area?


Unsettling to see so many dropouts

Understanding the local’s culture and belief system is key to finding the right place to live. Simply put, do you feel comfortable with the people around you? Do you feel safe? For example, I do not subscribe to the idea that a geographic location reflects an individual’s self-worth or identity. To explain this unhealthy behavior, psychologists have coined the phrase collective narcissism. Collective narcissism is defined as:


"An emotional investment in a belief in the unparalleled greatness of an in-group contingent on external validation. It is a group level equivalent of individual narcissism. It focuses on grandiosity and entitlement of an in-group rather than the self. An individual that scores high on collective narcissism tends to perceive a larger number of threats and stereotypes of another group. Its own personal insecurities combine with more aggressive behavior display and derogatory towards other groups looking for more validation from peers. The behavior towards other groups tends to be cautious and easily sways to aggressiveness if the group is criticized".

Keep in mind all humans have narcissistic tendencies known as the ego. The refusal to be introspective and self-aware enough to manage the ego defines a true narcissist. When someone is saying, “you’re not from around here, are ya?” or “I’m from [insert their location]” in the context that they are superior to you, this is an example of collective narcissism.


Know Thy Neighbor:


Let’s take a moment to define what low-class means in the context of this Finding Home series. In his thorough book Strategic Relocation- North American Guide to Safe Places, author Joel Skousen defines what low-class means to him:

"We define low-class as people who have chronic bad judgment, insensitivity to conscience, and who lack the ability to sacrifice short-term cravings for long-term advantages. This form of personal corruption afflicts all economic levels though it shows up more in the poverty levels simply because chronic bad judgment almost always takes a person toward poverty. A few problem people are able to evade the consequences of vices or bad judgments for a while, but it eventually catches up to them."

And the congregation said AMEN! Keep in mind low-class does not necessarily mean financially poor. People of all socioeconomic classes can be low-class. Can you think of any politicians, CEOs, or celebrities that fit the above definition? Expanding on Joel’s description, in a way, low-class people can be linked to lower levels of emotional intelligence. Those who lack emotional intelligence exhibit a plethora of unsavory characteristics. According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence can be defined as:


“The ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence is generally said to include a few skills: namely emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same.”

To conclude, let’s now define how emotionally unintelligent people behave. A person lacking emotional intelligence “…believes the world is against them, and that it’s never their fault. They can’t deal with frustration or manage their emotions. Hence, they are prone to combative, aggressive, and at times, manipulate behavior in order to bully others into getting what they want.” Here is an excellent example of a person you do not want to raise a family or a homestead near.


Meeting many of the criteria for a low class person

Checking out the locals on Facebook is a great way to get a feel for who they are. Here are some examples of the types of people you would be wise to avoid. You will notice flipping the middle finger, tongues sticking out, substance abuse, and illiteracy are rampant in low-class people. A common theme amongst this demographic is that they fully believe that all other people behave like them. They are the only group that lives in such a dog-eat-dog world, of grandiose narcissistic delusions and chronic low emotional intelligence (plus general intelligence). When people like this believe it is acceptable to post these behaviors on social media, their local culture is degenerating into savagery. Be smart! Run as fast as you can away from people and places like this!


Note:


Before we continue in the series, I want to be clear that unsavory people exist all over. I believe small towns are the future but not all of them. Resources and the quality of inhabitants will determine which ones survive in a future of decline. I myself am searching for rural land outside of a small town to build my future. That is why I am writing this series to show what I'm doing to find the "best" location for our new farm. Furthermore, I am only highlighting low-class people due to the fact that their chronic bad choices are a drain on the community and lead to harming others. Notice again, that I am not talking about poor people. By most standards in American society, I live way below the poverty level in regard to income and living conditions. Still, this does not make a person undesirable or "low class". Some readers may think that I am being harsh, but the reality is, is that you need to be informed as much as possible about what people are like in order to find your perfect place. Relocating is not cheap so we need to look at the good sides AND the bad sides of people we may encounter. Knowing what to look for and what to avoid will be invaluable as the Long Emergency unfolds.


Personal Background:

The view facing east from our property

My partner and I lived in 4 different locations together before moving to our farm here in the Appalachian Mountains. Before dating, my partner lived in several states, such as North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Louisiana. Although I have only lived in two states, I have traveled through 20 different states over the years and have learned what I like in places and what I do not.


Being on a limited budget and when our jobs required us to look no further than 4 hours away from our previous home, we found 11 acres of flat land with good access and a stream for $35,000 in the mountains.


After losing my job to the lockdowns and Chris’ through his resigning, we decided to move to our budding homestead in early Spring of 2020. We picked our farm’s location, primarily focusing on a compatible climate for specialized crops, access to water, flat land, and population density within Appalachia. Unfortunately, I was naive that these were the only things to concentrate on in our search. Since that time, we have been on a steep learning curve in various areas that I will expand on in this Finding Home Series. Just like you, we are currently searching for a new homestead. Using the knowledge of what we have been learning over these two and a half years, I am hopeful this information will help you in determining the perfect place to put down roots.