Thursday, February 26, 2009

Potato lead recovery

Last night I went to hear Henry Reynolds, Peter Cundall and Buck Emberg talk about survival in a recession. They were charming - Reynolds is truly all that a public intellectual should be; even his hair is exactly right - and sometimes thoughtful (except for H.R. who is always thoughtful, never anything but).

Pete's main point: plant potatoes. And build more community gardens to foster connections between people and counter racism. Gardening can save the world. You'd expect nothing else from the classic materialist. I was at peace with my decision to grow more flowers but after listening to the praises for potatoes, my inner peasant has emerged and I'm wondering if a bed of purple sprouting broccoli would do a better job at recession-proofing our household than roses ever could.

Both P.C. and B.E. were so individualist in their proposals to something that will alter whole communities. Plant potatoes, help each other, get rid of debt, live with less. Yep, yep, yep and yep: it all sounds very possible. But then I talk to a friend, a financial planner, ironing his shirt before he goes to sit behind a desk and tell people to invest in gold, and he mentions scenarios that make me feel cold inside, cold for the people who are waiting for the axe to fall, and for those who've already got the chop. (And all the while his kitten bats at the striped shirt).

And I think perhaps that for many people, planting potatoes is not going to be enough.