Resolution and Mitigation: Responses to the Future

I always enjoy the transition from one year to the next as I settle satisfied into the heady early days of January, the new year spread out in front of me full of possibility and promise. I take time to reflect, I read quite a bit, I often conduct some newly-inspired journaling, and I try to imagine where I want to nudge and steer my life over the next twelve months. I most often avoid predictions, but I’m a sucker for resolutions. Sometimes they’re specific and sometimes more general—often a mix of both—and I try to make both internal and external goals, shaping the way I hope to impact and alter myself on an internal level as well as how I hope to interact and impact the world at large.

This year has been no different (though perhaps the process is taking longer than usual) and it’s likely that I will write about some of these goals either in the fourth issue of Into the Ruins or in an upcoming Litterfall blog post—or both. In the meantime, though, I want to turn to you, dear readers, and ask for your insights. Yes, that’s right, it’s time again for me to prompt you all for some new letters to the editor. My last effort at this proved quite fruitful and, to my mind, led to a fascinating letters section in the third issue. I hope to duplicate that success here. Now, before we get the question at hand, I want to note that I always encourage letters focused on feedback on the previously-published issues, as well as musings and considerations brought to mind by the stories and editorial content contained within. I also encourage recommendations of good deindustrial science fiction. But to get the conversation moving here in the new year, I also want to introduce a specific subject appropriate to the moment. Therefore, I want to know what your new year’s resolutions (or just general intentions) are to mitigate the impact of decline and consequence in 2017.

Most all of you reading this should understand by now the philosophy behind Into the Ruins, and I think most all of us who are willing to can see the (not always) slow unraveling of industrial civilization and the American empire taking place around us: the continuing climate chaos and record-breaking high temperatures in the arctic, the shifting and destabilizing political scene both in the United States and abroad, fast-changing geopolitical alignments, continuing economic countercurrents that suggest a very troubled near future, the ongoing worldwide collapse of ecological stability, ever-increasing income and wealth inequality, and growing cultural divides cleaving to much of our population into increasingly bitter and brittle alcoves of mutual resentment.

There are, of course, no easy solutions for these troubles. In many cases, there are no solutions at all. But there are a range of actions we can take at the individual and collective levels to help mitigate the pain, suffering, and destruction that so consistently rises out of these sort of civilizational cycles—and which may help create a somewhat brighter future on both the near and far side of our civilization’s collapse: years, decades, and centuries from now. With that reality in mind, I’m putting out a request for a conversation here about what you are planning to do in the new year to help mitigate the decline taking place around us.

Responses to the troubles of our time may be personal or political, within yourself or projected out in the world. It may be a new way of living lightly, or an attempt to strengthen your community and create new connections. It could be the starting of new organizations or institutions, work toward political or economic change, rebellion against the system or soft nudgings of it in better directions. It may be new connections: to other humans, to non-humans, plants or animals, the natural world, the ecological cycles that swirl all around us. It may be study, meditation, personal explorations. It may be new limits, fewer screens, more thrift, less energy and resources. It may be denying yourself something and observing the internal impacts of that decision. Maybe it’s learning a new skill, finding a way to make a part of your living outside the money economy, or reducing your dependence on the industrial economy. Or one of a thousand other decisions, all of which have the potential to make the world a slightly better place and the future a bit less harsh.

Ready to join the conversation? There are two ways you can make your voice heard. The first option is to email it to me directly at The second option is to post it as a comment on this blog post. However, if your comment is meant for consideration as a published letter in Into the Ruins, please note that at the beginning. Otherwise, everyone is also welcome to post a comment of general discussion, not meant for the letters section.

While this is likely less fraught a subject than the previous political one, I want to note as always to keep your comments kind and considerate. You’re welcome and encouraged to be controversial and challenge the conventional wisdom of our time—just do it with respect and keep it free of undue personal attacks. As before, comments will be moderated, so be patient if yours doesn’t show up immediately. It shouldn’t take long, and should always be up within a day (and generally much sooner) so long as it doesn’t violate the above considerations and doesn’t contain profanity or insults.

On another note, I want to announce a few specials going on right now in the Figuration Press Store. Through the end of January, I’m offering free domestic shipping on all issues of Into the Ruins. In addition, I’m offering Introductory Packages available to new readers or old readers who want to introduce someone to the magazine. Aside from the free shipping (i.e. any issue of the magazine sent anywhere in the U.S. for $12) I’m also offering two other options of either the first and second issues sent anywhere in the U.S. for just $23 or the first three issues sent anywhere for just $33, with free shipping on both options. This is a great way to discover a good number of great stories yourself if you don’t already have all three issues, or to share them as a gift with a friend, family member, or random stranger on the street. You’ll find all options available at the store. You may also contact me directly if you’d like to mail in your payment instead of using PayPal.

Happy New Year, everyone!

7 thoughts on “Resolution and Mitigation: Responses to the Future

  1. Hi Joel,

    Happy New Year and thanks for the invitation to share.

    My partner and I are gathering with a group of friends, all of whom live within walking distance, to discuss philosophy and strategy and prepare for collapse. As a starting point, we’re reading and discussing the book “Prosper” by Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart, using the book as a guide for our joint resiliency efforts. Although we’re not going into the “bunker mentality,” it certainly seems like the right time to begin getting some supplies and support together for likely hard times ahead. Really need to hop to it and get food and water in place before the inauguration.

    Up to this point in my career I’ve been mostly a hospital pharmacist. I’m beginning to turn my almost-retirement-career toward public health, starting a course in integrative health (ie low-tech preventive medicine supplanting high-tech interventional medicine whenever possible) and have also just signed up to be a volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps. New skills I’m developing are darning socks for the first time, attempting to repair small appliances and thinking about pressure canning. It’s become sobering to realize that all of that stuff in the basement that’s been lingering there for years is now taking up valuable space that can be used for food, water or shelter, so it’s going out.

    It’s most interesting to explore the balance between preparing for hard times and enjoying current good times. I don’t want to become known as the doom and gloom person in my circle of friends, yet I think those who say preparing is fatalistic and futile are consciously in denial about how delicate is the technology (and the politics!) that makes our convenient and comfortable lives possible.


    1. Excellent, Amy! Thank you. Sounds like you’re doing some very useful things. I particularly like the thought of your public health reorientation–low-tech preventative care is certainly something we need a much bigger focus on, in my opinion. I hear you on that final paragraph, too. I think that’s a challenge for many of us who expect hard times in the future. A lot of people simply don’t want to hear such talk, no matter how rational and obvious, and become dismissive or hostile toward a sober assessment of reality. It’s frustrating, but also just part of the work.

      How is Prosper, by the way? Haven’t read it, but have taken a brief glance and been curious. Think it’s worth my time?


      1. Joel, I would imagine that Prosper is a little basic for you. It’s a very good overview of the eight forms of capital (most of us focus on financial capital and don’t think as much about the other seven). However, I think Chris and Adam’s online guide/workbook might interest you. I have as yet only glanced at that, but it looks like more in-depth thought and planning is presented there than in the book.


  2. Hi! I’m a subscriber and enjoying the magazine. Like Amy I have had a career in health care, as an Occupational Therapist in my case. Like her I also have turned my focus to low tech healing arts, combining OT with Traditional Chinese Medicine. I teach seminars on the importance of shared meals and play as powerful healing tools for treating the ever-growing epidemic of autism as well as increasing numbers of children diagnosed with ADHD and sensory processing disorders.

    I have begun sharing my own approach, Sustainable Health, using the 5 Healing Occupations of eating, playing, sleeping, working, & loving to reduce stress to reduce and reverse the ravages of chronic inflammation underlying most of the chronic illnesses I’ve treated over the last 4 decades.

    My focus this year will be writing a book for Norton Publishing on 8 Keys to Sustainable Health, continuing to give seminars, enjoy friends and family, and keep up my hobbies of spinning, sewing, & knitting. Practicing focus on the micro happiness and challenges of my life and saving my Qi for when I will need it in our future.

    Thanks for the work you do Joel and Amy. These stories give me hope for the future.


    1. Thank you for sharing! I tend to shake my head at the mess that is our health “care” system, and am really happy to hear of people pursuing more sane modes of treatment, prevention, and overall good health. We desperately need alternatives, especially since every current sign is pointing toward continued chaos and uncertainty in what passes as our healthcare (health insurance) system these days.


  3. For Into the Ruins Letters to the Editor:

    Dear Editor,

    I have the same New Year’s resolution as last year, and that’s to quit smoking… again. I know this will help the environment, but that’s not really why I’m doing it. I hope to help the environment as much as I can in 2017, but not through a single resolution. Instead, I have a series of goals. They all revolve around a common theme, and that is food. We currently use 10 calories of fossil fuels to generate each calorie of food, and that’s unacceptable. I live in a suburban environment on the edge of a rural area, so I know I can do better than that!

    First I will finish construction of my greenhouse, hopefully in time for starting seeds (but if not, I can start them in the house like I usually do). Next I want to start raising meat rabbits. This is a bigger challenge because my construction skills are limited, and I’m starting from knowing basically nothing about rabbits. If the rabbits work out, next will be quail. If they don’t I will skip the quail this year and wait til next year. Either way, I’ll be contacting my beekeeping friend to hopefully start a hive. I don’t know the time of year you start a new hive, so I might just spend this year acquiring equipment to use next year.

    Finally, I will intensify my efforts to live off the wild land base. This means more fishing (oh, darn.) and more time learning to forage wild plants. A surprising number of people around here already forage, they just don’t call it that. They eat wild raspberries and pick wild asparagus, and they gather mulberries and hickory nuts, but if you tell them you are going foraging they say “you’re going to poison yourself!’ which entertains me to no end! If all goes well, I might try ice fishing next winter…… maybe. I’m a baby about the cold!

    I hope everyone here meets their goals and I hope that the journey is more rewarding than you all dreamed possible (even if you hit the occasional snag). Let’s have a great 2017!


    Jessi Thompson


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