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Roll your own blackout: Hit ‘em where it hurts.

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
June 12, 2001


"Defiance is beautiful. The defiance of power, especially great or overwhelming power, exalts and glorifies the rebel." — Edward Abbey

Boycotts are as American as racism and apple pie, mainly because they involve attacking people where it hurts most, the bottom line. Recently pro-democracy and environmental groups have announced a consumer protest against the myopic energy scheme designed by Vice President Cheney and the energy barons that put George W. in the White House.

Californians are just the first victims of the corporate backed wave of deregulation that promises to send other states reeling as well. This is not to say the majority of Californians are not complicit in their own undoing. Americans have long lived high on the utility hog, enjoying cheap and abundant energy, rarely questioning how it arrived in our homes, as long as it did. Those days are over.

As we are now learning, the California dream is proving to be more expensive than originally thought. Like the Dodo bird, we have been so fat and happy, our complacency has made us the perfect target. And like the 17th century sailors who ushered the Dodo into extinction, the energy barons see Californian rate payers as easy picking. But unlike the doomed Dodo, which had no where to run, we can fight back.

June 21st has been designated as an official day of action. Across the planet those wishing to strike back against corporate corruption will participate in a global "Role Your Own Black-Out." Occurring between 7pm and 10pm a consumer induced outage  of power will move across all time zones.  The intent is to show those profiting from price gouging they depend on consumers as much as consumers depend on them. Probably more so.

Three hours may seem like along time to go without electricity, but considering humans evolved without for the majority of time they have spent on earth, evidence proves otherwise. Here at the Scenic house the message we are willing to send to the Greedmongers goes much further. This year for Summer Solstice we will be going off the grid for the entire day.  No computers, no television, no telephones, nothing. Even the refrigerator will be without power. Cool, huh?

I mention this in hopes that others will join me in sending a economic message to those taking advantage of the people of California. If enough people shut off the power, the utilities that are gouging us will take a hit to their bottom line. When you think about it, we the consumers are calling the shots. If we don't like the price of avocados we learn to get by with less, live without, or grow our own. Why should fossil fuel generated electricity be any different.

When consumers start to do for themselves, i.e.; install photovoltaics or wind turbines, they will begin to experience the joy of self-sufficiency.  By generating their own electricity Californians will also taking money from the power barons that currently have them over a barrel. If California is to remain the fifth largest economy in the world, it's residents need to protect it from the grifters of West Texas.

To generate or not to generate is only part of the question. An even bigger conversation to engage in is one that deals with living lighter on the land and breaking away from consumers society. The question I think that would most benefit the residents of California revolves around our reliance on technology. Do we need an appliance for everything? Do we need a television in every room? Is it important to see our communities from space. Can we live without a salad shooter?

Roll your own Black is an idea long over due. Personally I like the idea of having our household go dark once a week as a way of proving to those who think they have us where they want us, as well as ourselves that modern conveniences are just that. The only energy crisis facing Californians is best compared to the crisis a heroin addict faces every time he needs to shoot up. His only considerations being, where is my next fix coming from, and where is the cheapest source.

Rethinking our electricity dependency is in everyones best interest. By learning to live with less we actually improve our lives. Turn off the television and talk to your kids. Get a smaller refrigerator and eat less. Turn off the radio and make your own music. The challenge is obvious, I know I'm up to it. You?

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