Mud City Press

Home Spaceship Earth Book Reviews Buy a Book Bean and Grain Index Short Stories Contact Mud Blog

The Willamette Valley:

Through the Lens of Peak Oil

The modern world, our global economy, and our remarkable material wealth have all been facilitated by the availability of cheap oil. For one hundred and fifty years we have vaulted ahead, propelled by the miracle of aged and condensed sunlight. Ever faster and bigger cars, jet airliners, sky scraping buildings, spaceage plastics, cheap and abundant food, we have lived like never before on a seemingly free flowing river of black gold. But now, as the stark reality of peak oil and the geophysical limits of petroleum as a natural resource come to bear, it is time to reassess.

The rising price of petroleum and all its byproducts has now begun to effect just about everything that we do. Each time we get into our car, each time we ponder a long airline flight to visit friends or relatives, each time we hear the throb of the furnace fan come on, each time we enter a grocery store, we should pause to rememder that oil, for so long the foundation of our society, is a finite and dwindling resource. Perhaps one day, gasoline will be rationed. Perhaps electricity will be available for only portions of the day. Perhaps we will spend our money on food first then think about secondary needs. Our lives will change; no, they already have!

Eugene, Oregon, at the south end of the Willamette Valley, is the home of Mud City Press. And while those of us who live here in this valley watch the outside world adjust to peak oil through our various electronic windows, hand held or poised upon our desktops, it will be the changes in western Oregon that will mean the most to us, and the rest of the world will recede from our close focus as we scramble to cut energy costs, grow our own food, and retool our local economy.

So what can we expect in the years to come as the Willamette Valley works through these changing times? How will our lives look without cheap oil? What will be the price of a loaf of bread? How will we get from point A to point B? No one has a magic mirror to see into that future, but the Willamette Valley is unique, and as a region with tremendous agricultural capacity, there are things that we can do to prepare for the transition, particularly regarding food security and lifestyle changes. The following articles explain and explore these and other possibilities.

Table of Contents

DESCENDING THE OIL PEAK
In March of 2007, the Portland, Oregon City Council published a report on Peak Oil. This report lays out a comprehensive plan for preparing Portland for rising energy costs. For anyone interested in finding out more about Peak Oil, what it means economically, and how an area might prepare for it, reading this report is a good place to start.
RELOCALIZING EDEN
A region's capacity to produce, process, and distribute some significant portion of its own food has always been a measure of social and economic stability, but as we face the unknowns of peak oil and climate change, securing local food resources will become one of our highest priorities. Oregon's Willamette Valley provides an apt case-study for addressing this situation.
LANE COUNTY FOOD SECURITY ASSESSMENT 2009
This document was prepared by the Lane County Food Policy Council and is an overview of food security in Lane County.
THE SOUTHERN WILLAMETTE VALLEY BEAN AND GRAIN PROJECT
We hear the slogan "eat local" over and over again, but what does it really mean? It's about preserving local food systems. It's about food security and common sense management of the pantry. The Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project is a step by step plan to rebuild the south Willamette Valley's food system by getting local farmers to grow more beans, grains, and edible seed crops. See Index of Articles.
REBUILDING OUR LOCAL FOOD SYSTEM: The Future of Agriculture in the Willamette Valley through the Lens of Food Security
Food security in the Willamette Valley today is entirely dependent on the global food system, government response to catastrophic events, Hispanic farm labor, and petroleum-based fuels and farm inputs. Every aspect of this is suspect for one reason or another. The key to increasing our future food security is to create some measure of self-reliance. In the ideal, the future Willamette Valley agricultural model would be based on rebuilding our local food system and using sustainable farming practices to do it.
LANE COUNTY LOCAL FOOD MARKET ANALYSIS
The Community Planning Workshop at the University of Oregon spent eight months in 2010 researching and writing a local food market analysis for Lane County. This work was funded by the City of Eugene, Lane County, and the Eugene Water and Electric Board and was made public in the fall of 2010. The Lane County Local Food Market Analysis now serves as Lane County's most complete evaluation of our local food system. The entire document is availble here as a pdf.
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THE LAND
Elaine and David Kost have taken 9000 square feet of Oregon soil and turned it into a cornucopia of food.
STIMULATING LOCAL AGRICULTURE
Jody Woodruff writes about the work of Mud City Press editor Dan Armstrong and organic farmer Harry MacCormack in this article from The Sentient Times.
CITIZENS STATE OF EUGENE AND LANE COUNTY REPORT 2009
The Citizens State of the City and County is a citizen initiative to draw attention to critical failures by the media, governments, business, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations to address the fundamental causes of the ecological, energy and economic crises. On Monday, January 12, 2009, noon at Harris Hall, CSCC will release a report highlighting key issues–food security, transportation choices, land use, forest protection and restoration, and a vision of how these shifts in policies and priorities could benefit the region now and in the future.
ALTERNATIVE AMERICA: How One Community Thrives, Not Just Survives
Melanie Rios explains how the residents of a small community in Eugene, Oregon radially reduced their ecological footprint and improved their quality of life.
SOLUTIONS TO GLOBAL PROBLEMS START CLOSE TO HOME
Jan Spencer begins culture change right there in his backyard. Front yard too! This is a good one from a fellow Eugenian. See some great photos to go with the article at Jan's webiste.
EUGENE, OREGON: COMMUNITY AND PERSONAL COLLAPASE PREPARATION (Part I)
Carolyn Baker interviews Mud City Press editor, Dan Armstrong, about food security in Eugene.
EUGENE, OREGON: COMMUNITY AND PERSONAL COLLAPASE PREPARATION (Part II)
Carolyn Baker interviews Mud City Press editor, Dan Armstrong, about food security in Eugene.
PERMATOPIA
Eugene-based writer Mark Robinowitz addresses solutions to climate change and peak oil through the concepts of permaculture.

Related Blogs

WHAT DOES RELOCALIZATON MEAN? Mud City Press Blog, 5/14/2007.
TOWARD A SUSTAINABLE EUGENE, Mud City Press Blog, 12/5/2007.
EUGENE 2020, Mud City Press Blog, 1/7/2008
RE-IMAGINING THE FAIRGROUNDS, Mud City Press Blog, 3/23/2008.
LANE COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS REGIONAL FARMERS MARKET AND AG CENTER, Mud City Press Blog, 6/12/08.
WHAT DOES FOOD SECURITY MEAN? Mud City Press Blog, 12/5/2008.
LANE COUNTY FOOD DISTRIBUTION PROJECT Mud City Press Blog, 8/17/2009.

Home Spaceship Earth Book Reviews Buy a Book Bean and Grain Index Short Stories Contact Mud Blog