Do We Depend Too Much on Electricity?


| 5/15/2013 2:04:00 PM


Tags: off-grid, human powered, Linda Holliday, Great Depression,

three girl friendsWith so many people preparing to survive economic depression as previous generations did in the 1930s, I wonder about our “advancement” since that humble time.

Over the years, I’ve talked to many elderly, country folks who gave little thought to the Great Depression. Perhaps it was because they were children at the time. But, I think their contentment during those hard times was because of their families’ self-reliance. Their root cellars were full, water was free and trading among neighbors was a way of life.

Another vast difference is that most rural areas didn’t have electricity in the 1930s. In fact, many areas were not electrified until the mid-1950s. As such, country folks did much of their work by hand, grew and preserved their own food, and relied heavily on horsepower and each other. Their skills were not limited to one trade. On any given day, a farmer could find himself as a carpenter, veterinarian, plumber and mechanic – using mainly human-powered tools.

When electricity, inexpensive fuel and motorized equipment reached everyone, those old treadle sewing machines, galvanized wash tubs, hand-operated push mowers, kerosene lamps, hand pumps and all manner of non-electric tools and appliances were tossed in the city dump. Horse-drawn farm equipment was left to rust behind barns or, worse yet, hauled to the front yard to be adorned with petunias.

Americans migrated by the millions to the suburbs where they could mow 3 acres of grass every Saturday before driving 30 miles to the supermarket for some corn dogs, potato chips and year-round watermelon.

Compared to many nations, we Yankees are ridiculous – turning up the heat in winter so we can take off our sweaters, and then turning down the air-conditioner in summer so we have to wear jackets indoors in July. We had enjoyed decades of a seemingly unending supply of cheap fuel, plentiful food and clean water, and many of us simply never practiced conservation.

mrswaterbuck
5/28/2013 9:31:28 PM

Oscar and Jerry D,

Thank you both for your comments.  I appreciate hearing all sides of every situation.  To what extent sustainability is practical is not the same for everyone.  Here, I enjoy doing as much as possible without relying on energy.  I prefer to water my garden with a 2-gallon watering can instead of using a sprinkler or garden hose because I get a good look at each plant.  The same applies for laundry and other household chores.  I think, too, that the more tasks one does by hand, such as pumping water, the more conserative we naturally become.  Thanks again for sharing your perspectives.

Linda Holliday


OsO
5/22/2013 5:20:33 PM

Linda,

I´m from Colombia, South America. Thanks for your wonderful words, full of images of happiness and nostalgia. I´m 40, but grew up in the country side of this beautiful land, where economic depressions is part of what we Colombians call "normal". I call "poor" to those who can´t use their imagination and human power to get things right. Oscar

 


OsO
5/22/2013 5:16:06 PM

Linda,

I´m from Colombia, South America. Thanks for your wonderful words, full of images of happiness and nostalgia. I´m 40, but grew up in the country side of this beautiful land, where economic depressions is part of what we Colombians call "normal". I call "poor" to those who can´t use their imagination and human power to get things right. Oscar

 





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