When individuals and communities do not govern self, they risk being ruled by external forces that care less about the well-being of the village.”
T.F. Hodge, From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with “The Divine Presence”

We are witnessing the growing dependence of people on multinational mega-corporations and governments for many of our basic needs. Dependent people are by their very nature subordinate to those upon whom they depend. This inevitably leads to at least some measure of control and limiting of options for the dependent person. The old saying “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” comes to mind.

Self-sufficiency has the added benefit of being prepared in case of a potential disaster such as violent weather events, political upheaval, economic instability, or disruption of energy or food supplies. Many people obtain personal satisfaction from the knowledge that they can provide for their loved ones in case of hardships, and by the knowledge that they are countering environmental degradation by sustainable living and reducing their carbon footprint.

Self-sufficiency can be motivated by love or by fear. As you work towards self-sufficiency consider which of these emotions are dominant and work towards guiding your efforts using love. This will add to the positive energy in your community, help to strengthen its connections between people, while adding to your personal power.

By becoming self-sufficient one can break free of controls and limitations imposed by others. However, this does not mean that as an individual, one should be absolute in this endeavor as that would only serve to separate you from others. This would have the effect of reducing the formation of connections and the resulting communities. Self-sufficiency is positive, and is a GIFT to your community when guided by love and when it contributes to the efforts of a larger community. As communities develop self-sufficiency, they naturally become less dependent on external entities such as governments and large multinational corporations. Mohandas Gandhi wrote “Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being.” Total and complete self-sufficiency makes the assumption that one can do everything themselves and this can be both unrealistic and very draining. A better approach would be to work within a small community to share the effort required for the success of a small self-sufficient community.

The first step in the process of self-sufficiency is to just declare your independence from corporate and external dependencies you have. Your strong intent in this first critical step will build your inner strength and start the process of manifesting your desire. This declaration may make you anxious at first, but once you start the process, you will see and feel your personal power grow. You will find that tangible and social needs will be met. As you take more and more responsibility for your needs and those around you, you will find you will have more freedom to be who you really are and to live a purposeful life.

A community that is self-sufficient is dynamic, provides friendship, companionship, and support. Many local jobs will be created as the demand shifts from corporate mass produced products, to goods from local craftspeople and services from community members. More on this will be covered in our Money chapter.

The essence of community, its heart and soul, is the non-monetary exchange of value: things we do and share because we care for others,
and for the good of the place.”
– Dee Hock

The necessities of life such as food, water, shelter, and energy are the critical areas that efforts to be self-sufficient should start with. Each of these will be examined in this part. Again these efforts can be individual or community in their scale. People or communities that are not dependent on external entities are much more free to develop their inner power and to live in love, rather than in fear. They are much more free to live in a way that is in harmony with creation and to reject the values of those who seek to rule and exploit.

Food is certainly a basic necessity, and there are many problems associated with the industrial food we system we have in regards to its growing, harvesting, transportation, and processing. The easiest way to break your dependency on our corporate industrial food system is to simply grow your own food.

One of the most radical and revolutionary things you can do is grow your
own food and eat from the land.”
–Bryant McGill, Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life

You do not necessarily need large areas of land. This can be done in rural, suburban, and even urban areas. Consider backyard gardens, balcony gardens, roof gardens, community gardens in empty lots. Plant some fruit trees, plant some nut trees, plant some berry bushes. What a GIFT when harvest time arrives and you can share your abundance with your neighbors and thus develop ties with them.

There are many growing movements such as the Slow Food Movement, the Grow Your Own Food Movement, Sustainable Food Movement, Local Food Movement and others. Each of these movements are working towards breaking us away from the industrial, mono-culture, factory farmed, chemical ladened, mass processed, and genetically mutated corporate food system .

Do an Internet search for these movements and you will discover that so many people are already involved in making this happen. Take comfort from the fact that the numbers of these workers of light are growing and as more and more people become aware, more will also join in an ever expanding community, creating the potential of viral growth of these movements.

Those at the apex of the industrial food complex who are ruled by greed and benefit from the artificially induced scarcity will not be induced to make the changes that are needed. By making them irrelevant and unnecessary we will make their economic models obsolete and their systems will just wither away without any need for confrontation or power struggles.

Our power will come from within , it will come from our Personal Power. Once you discover how more and more people are joining these movements (and communities) you will not feel alone and helpless. This is another wonderful example of people forming cooperative communities and freely sharing their knowledge for others to build upon and then sharing these GIFTS with the world.

While you are increasing your self-sufficiency and your personal power, begin the process of doing your own cooking. If you take the time to prepare your food for yourself and those close to you, an awareness develops about what goes into the food. You will probably not be adding high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, partially hydrogenated oils, MSG, or other common corporate additives to your dishes. An Internet search on the benefits of home cooking will reveal just how important this is. Preparing your own food will become a pleasant activity that can involve the entire family or neighborhood and in turn build connections.

This article will not attempt to cover the details of food self-sufficiency as your Internet searches of those communities will provide as much information as needed. Even if you or your community cannot locally grow all of your food needs, any reduction in your intake from the corporate industrial food system, reduces your dependency and their power over you by that same amount, while increasing your personal power.

Another area for critical need is water. If you live in a rural area, you probably are already self-sufficient in water because you get your water from a well, river, pond, or lake. Most suburban and urban communities depend on water being delivered through a system of pipes and pumps. At this time, most of these are utilities are publicly owned and under the control of the people through some form of local or regional governance. However, there has been a concerted effort by those with vast accumulations of monetary wealth to remove this life sustaining resource from the commons and to place it under private control all in the interests of making profits. Anyone who depends on this life sustaining privatized water is certainly not free.

If you have a local public utility to deliver your water it is important to remain vigilant about any attempts by those with accumulated wealth to take over your system. In a reporti, titled “The State of Public Water in the United States,” in what Food & Water Watch says is “the largest U.S. water rate survey of its kind,” showed on the average, for-profit water cost 63% more that the average public water in the U.S. Some states were significantly higher such as New Jersey charging 79% higher, Pennsylvania 83% higher, and New York and Illinois charging more than double. For-profit corporations do not purchase public water supplies for the benefit of the communities, but for their profits.

If your system has already been plundered, your best action is to reduce your intake of their “product”, which used to be a GIFT from nature to all before it was privatized. This of course does not mean that you should reduce the amount of water you drink, but to use sources outside of the supply that is corporate controlled.

The easiest solution is to place rain barrels at the bottom of every gutter down spout to catch the rain water that comes to you as GIFT from nature. This can be used to water your gardens and if necessary it can be purified for drinking. Another advantage of this for your plants is that rain water naturally contains fertilizer in the form of nitrogen from naturally occurring lightning and from phosphates from the Sahara desert. In one of nature’s great wonders and ironies, the Sahara desert which is the driest area on the planet contains sand that is rich in phosphorousii and this sand gets picked up by massive sand storms that can be seen by satellite crossing the Atlantic to the Americas where it is dropped by rain naturally fertilizing the huge Amazon basin as well as your plants and gardens. In our home we have always found that our house plants would look healthier after being taken out during a rainfall, rather than being watered from the tap.

If you have privatized water in your area and have ownership of the land you live on, drilling your own well is something to consider if your local governance allows it. Often the well water will be of a higher quality than your privatized water supply. If the quality of the water is not as good as the piped water, it can still be used for heavy usage areas such as watering your lawn, your gardens, washing your car, washing clothes etc. Perhaps you can GIFT some of your well water to your neighbor when watering his or her lawn and gardens. The idea here is to reduce your usage of corporate water and thus reduce their power over you by the same amount, while increasing your own personal power.

Shelter is another critical element in self-sufficiency. The most important part of being self-sufficient in regards to shelter is to carry as little debt as possible. Debt is corrosive and should be avoided to the degree possible. We will not debate the pros and cons of ownership vs renting, but be aware that if you are in debt and paying a mortgage, you may technically “own” your home, but the holder of the mortgage, usually one of the big corporate banks is holding a lien against the home. If you were to default on the mortgage, they can take ownership to cover the lien. If you sell the home while there is a remaining balance on the mortgage, this lien needs to be paid before title can be transferred to someone else. Get that debt paid off as soon as possible by increasing your payment towards the principal of the loan. Perhaps you can forgo that dinner out or that new gadget to make those extra payments. Once you have cleared your debts, your personal power will grow as you free yourself from the grip of external forces.

If you are looking to move, consider the community that comes with the new location. Consider the distance to the sources of your necessities. Do you have to drive miles to get to a grocery store? Do your children need to be bussed to get to school? How many miles will you have to drive to get to your job? Are there small local businesses in the area to provide alternatives to large corporate outlets.

If a decision is made that it is in your interest to remain in your current residence, reach out to your neighbors and start making connections and thus forming communities.

When deciding to move to a new home, you may want to consider some of the following questions: is public transportation available, is shopping for basic necessities within walking distance, and other questions that reduce your consumption of fossil fuels. Using a bicycle will not only lower your energy use, but have the added benefits of reducing the costs of the energy and provide you with exercise to maintain better health. It will also make you less dependent on the big energy corporations.

If your home properly insulated? Many utilities offer free energy audits. A home that is not well insulated can have good insulation installed that will not only reduce your heating costs, but will also make your home feel warmer in cold weather, as well as cooler during hot weather. A self-sufficient community will be able to create good employment for local people who install this insulation as the community retrofits its homes, stores, and factories.

If you have south facing windows, consider planting deciduous trees that will naturally shade the direct sunlight during the hot summer months, and drop their leaves so that passive solar heat can help warm your home during cold winter months.

One of the most exciting technologies to allow you to harvest solar energy is through the use of solar panels. The prices have been steadily falling and there are financial incentives offered by the federal government that will cover 30%iii of the costs of materials and installations of solar panels. Many states have additional subsidies that when added to the federal subsidies makes solar an attractive option for many people. Most states mandate that any excess power generated by the panels can be sold back to the utilities. It must be a very nice feeling watching your electric meter turning backwards and having the utility send you a check rather than the other way around. When you consider the subsidies as well as the credits from utilities, solar power becomes a very attractive option. This is something that people from both sides of the political spectrum agree on, conservatives like the idea of decentralized energy production under the control of individuals, rather than from a centralized government sanctioned monopoly. Progressives also like having the ability to sideline the corporate utilities. Both sides like saving money, increasing their energy choices, as well as reducing pollution. This model creates a community that is significantly more self-sufficient and resilient. This is a win-win for all, except for the big money corporations.

There are other options to reduce energy usage worth considering such as: timed thermostats, wind power, energy efficient heaters and air conditioning, geothermal heat pumps, LED lighting. greenhouses, efficient appliances, fuel efficient cars, public transportation, town centers, efficient home designs for new construction, car-pooling, bicycle paths, radiant barriers, solar attic fans, solar water heaters, and many others. If any of these potential solutions appeals to you, an Internet search will provide you with the information you need. (Another example of a community where people are freely sharing their knowledge as a GIFT for the benefit of many others.) A small up front investment can not only save you money over the long run, but will also increase your personal power by the same amount as the money you saved.

A community that can reduce its energy usage is empowered by the same amount as the energy reductions. A community that is able to achieve full energy self-sufficiency is one that has significantly broken away from the corporate model of extraction, burning, and pollution. Once a critical mass of communities have successfully broken with that model, the corporate model will become obsolete and irrelevant and will eventually wither away without huge legal and power struggles.

In the end, it is we who have to take our power back. It is we who need to stop mindlessly giving our power away to others. It is we who will make the changes that are needed, not someone else who we have given our power away to.