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Category Archives: Relocalization

Outsourcing is now an option

I grew the tomatoes on the upper shelf. The tomatoes on the lower shelf were part of my weekly vegetable pickup. Technically, where I live is a food desert. The nearest grocery stores are about twelve miles away. A shocking number of rural people get most of their food these days from dollar stores such […]

Are you ready for power failure?

⬆︎ My solar panels can produce, at most, a modest 150 watts of power. That’s enough to keep some deep-discharge batteries charged at all times. The solar power also is a supplement to my small generator. Clearly the risks to the power grid are growing. This is true not just in the United States. Just […]


Whether we approve or not, Amazon is now important for rural people, just as the Sears catalog was many years ago. We recently put up new signs to help keep the Amazon trucks from getting lost. I usually think of myself as a hermit, hiding down in the forest, ruled by a bossy, devoted, and […]

Environmental justice: The people fight back

Al Gore This is a rather long photo essay. I hope you’ll bear with me. People sometimes ask me why I choose to live in a rural and seemingly backward place like Stokes County, North Carolina, after 18 years in an urbane place like San Francisco. Stokes is a poor county in the foothills of […]

Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia

Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia, by Steven Stoll. Hill and Wang, 2017. 412 pages. ★★★★★ During the past couple of years, an extraordinary series of books have brought to our attention just what a sorry state the world is in. Ramp Hollow is the latest. Some of the others (many of which I have […]

An abbey literary update

Ken’s third book, This Land Is Our Land, has been in the final editing stages here at the abbey and is due at the publisher, Penguin Random House, next week. The book is scheduled for release in March 2018. When the idea for this book was hatched last April, Ken was here at the abbey, […]

Trespassing Across America now in paperback

Ken’s second book, Trespassing Across America, was published last year in hardback. The paperback version was released yesterday. It’s available at Amazon and at most bookstores. One of the abbey’s bookshelves is reserved for the abbey’s own output. It will grow next year with the publication of Ken’s third book, This Land Is Our Land, […]


Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger, Twelve/Hachette, 2016, 170 pages. “As modern society reduced the role of community,” writes Sebastian Junger, “it simultaneously elevated the role of authority. The two are uneasy companions, and as one goes up, the other tends to go down.” Anthropologists have found, Junger writes, that in tribal societies […]

Dreaming of a local economy

Recently, while rummaging in an old cedar chest that was being moved to the attic for storage, I came across my photographs from a trip to India in December 1994. The photo above particularly catches my eye. I took the photo in the Main Bazaar of Delhi’s Paharganj district (which is just across from the […]

Local milk!

While in the Winston-Salem Whole Foods on Monday, I was pleased to see milk from a local dairy in the dairy case. It’s grass-fed milk, and the dairy is Wholesome Country Creamery in Hamptonville. Hamptonville is in the Yadkin Valley not far from where I grew up. Not since I was in San Francisco have […]