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Paul Wheaton and Jennifer Richardson discuss radically different financial strategies, including Jacob Lund Fiskar's Early Retirement Extreme (ERE), why Jen exchanged it for life at wheaton labs, and how the new SKIP badge program can help people develop useful skills.

Paul has talked with Jacob Lund Fisker in previous podcasts. ERE is largely de-coupled from the money economy and has a very helpful community but they won't help with paul's greenhouse kickstarter as they won't spend money. Jen was tempted a year and a half ago and caved in for the goodies. She won a ticket to wheaton labs PDC and then volunteered for the wofati experiment over the winter.

Jen was 20% of the way to ERE. Wheaton labs offered a 'shortcut', including a natural home with permaculture garden. She lives very frugally and plans to stay forever. She likes trying to save humanity with her projects and being able to sit down for meal with like-minded people to share ideas. For people keen on the Gert destination, wheaton labs is a good shortcut, but not for other people. More EREs would be very welcome there.

Wheaton labs is not a commune. There is no free love. The vast majority of people are not a good fit. There is an opportunity cost to being there, though there *are* roles that could bring in money. Jen is confident that she could make $50 or $60 000 a year doing events and rentals, but it's not what she wants to be doing. Paul's podcasts give you a good idea of who he really is before you arrive and are a good filtering mechanism. He can exclude anyone who is isn't a good fit.put summary here

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Podcast 059 - Early Retirement Extreme
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This did bring up and crystallize some interesting points.
Without claiming to be an expert on either path, going to live at Wheaton labs does have some major differences from ERE.
   The main difference I am thinking about is that, with the traditional ERE path, you can ultimately live without working.  As long as you stay in your budget, you can do whatever you want.  At Wheaton Labs, even if you get your acre and develop a permie garden, you still need to work to eat. (goes without saying that, if this is what you love to do, it is not a drawback). What does strike me about this difference, is the resilience of your lifestyle in each path.
 Once you've achieve your ERE lifestyle, you have tremendous personal resilience. If you get injured or sick and need to spend a year recovering, you can do that, because you have the income to cover food and shelter without having to do any work.  On the other hand, you have much less systematic resilience - meaning that in a major societal disruption, you are not super well insulated; your income depends on the stock market doing well, and your food supply can be disrupted by - for example - a worldwide pandemic.
  If you go for a self sufficient permaculture lifestyle, without building up the cash savings that ERE does, you have a lot of systematic resilience (lots of insulation from societal disruption).  But personal resilience is not automatically built in; if you get sick even for a few weeks during the harvest period for your staple crops, you are in trouble for the next year.
   I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts on what you need in order to have personal resilience within a permaculture lifestyle.  For the sake of discussion, maybe two scenarios: one, you are willing to live at Wheaton labs, and have an acre there.  Two, you are not "adult" enough to want to store your feces in buckets for two years, and so have decided to live on your own on a couple of acres in the country, and built a self sufficient permaculture system on that property. Also for the sake of this discussion, let's clump "developing passive income streams" into the same category as ERE - both are saying that you have money coming in for which you don't have to work. Is that what you need to be resilient in the face of personal accident? How much do you need to feel safe in each scenario?  Does community play a role?  How much could you depend on the community to help you (i.e. bringing you meals for a week vs. feeding you for a year). Is it just a matter of having a full year of food and fuel stocked up, so that you can make it to the next harvest if you miss your main one?  Are you comfortable depending on the social safety nets, like welfare, if you need them? Is it fair to do so if you aren't working and paying into those systems?
  Just some food for thought.
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I think Gerthood is the best imaginable end goal, in my opinion; I think it would be nice if more people wanted Gerthood, too. This does remind me of what Alan mentioned in an earlier podcast that there’s a bit of knowledge and explanation that’s necessary to help Gerthood look more appealing to a broader array of people.
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Lina Joana wrote:
  If you go for a self sufficient permaculture lifestyle, without building up the cash savings that ERE does, you have a lot of systematic resilience (lots of insulation from societal disruption).  But personal resilience is not automatically built in; if you get sick even for a few weeks during the harvest period for your staple crops, you are in trouble for the next year.

Part of the wonder of permaculture is that it doesn't fall apart if you skip two weeks during harvest time. Harvest time usually happens all year round. Every day, I go outside and pick a 3 cups of berries and 3 cups of peas. I could also pick a bunch of nasturtium and dry it for nasturtium chips, or cook up the kale and radishes that self-seed everywhere. I could walk around all my hedges and pick a bunch more salmonberries and red huckleberries and thimbleberries. I could did up the potatoes sitting merrily in the ground. But, right now life is a bit too crazy for that. I have two kids, we have enough money for food, I work from home, so, I just don't spend an hour or two every day picking food. I spend 30 minutes wandering around my property and picking the fastest ones to pick that don't require cooking and that my kids love.

Some years, all I managed was to get out and pick all the berries every day and then froze them for smoothies, because berries are crazy expensive and I wasn't going to waste them. My garden was overgrown and messy. But none of the plants died because life was too crazy. I just spent time later on when life was less crazy, and I pulled the weeds out or sheetmulched the garden bed, or grew potatoes over all the weeds to get my garden bed back.

The thing is, with permaculture you can take a break at any time without a massive loss because:

(1) The harvest is spread out over the year. I don't just grow a bunch of blueberries that ripen all at once and that have to be preserved all at once. I grow blueberries, black currants, clove currants, gooseberries, josta berries, red huckleberries, salmonberries, wild blackberries, wild strawberries, domestic strawberries, Himalayan blackberries, honeyberries, apples, peaches, cherries and plums. There fruit in the garden from late May until October, and it's usually enough that i don't have to worry about preserving it, because it gets preserved in my kid's bellies! (And that's just the fruit. I've got potatoes and carrots and radishes and kale and nasturtium and wild edibles for veggies)

(2) The permaculture system is largely self-sustaining, especially after a few years. I haven't watered my garden--except for when I had little seeds sprouting in my "Zone 1" gardens--yet this year. The squash hasn't been watered. The blueberries and fruit trees and potatoes have never been watered. The happy soil and hugelkulture helps maintain them. Since a lot of my plants are perennials and/or self-seeding, I haven't had to plant them in years.  Radishes and kale and parsley and nasturtiums grow wild. I never need to buy onions because I always have chives. (Yes, even in the snow. I usually can dig under the snow and get some green chives!)

I think the best of both worlds is to have a well-established permaculture garden, and a good stash of savings. If you have both, you can weather the times when you have not time or ability (pregnant, sick, crazy-busy, disabled, whatever), as well as when you have supply-chain or financial problems.
glass bowl of golden raspberries, red raspberries, blueberries strawberries, blackcap raspberries
I took this picture yesterday. I pick this many berries every day for months.
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Does anyone know the exact quote from Joe Rogan about hippie chicks? I found it once and then I lost it. When Jen talked about being the only woman there it made me think of it. I’m not sure if Jocelyn counts, but I think she should count like twice...
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I feel really humbled by this podcast. I am amazed you could get by on $50 a month per person (we have kids, are ERE and started the permaculture journey around 5 years ago).

I have particpitated in group building projects and seen the amazing results they achieve. This podcasts has re-enforced how powerful and life changing a small group of people, instead of just the individual, can be. Paul's out reach, book and teachings, I hope, really take off and reach as at least as many people his work deserves. We have already shared the book through the kickstarter.

We live in farming country and are surrounded by farmers working all hours under the sun. Our neighbours have all of the required equipment to re-purpose land - mini (and big) diggers, tractors, water resources. They, more than most, could probably gain ERE \ permaculture so quickly through re-purposing land, selling un-needed land and equipment, yet keep themselves to themselves and have to work all day and often nights to keep the farm runnning and paying for all of the toys and their repair.

We are slowly adding swales, ah... but for a few hours with their digger! We are engaging and hope they will have more interest in the future We will continue to persist, bribing with lovely jam and chutney from the garden, to over come our outsider city folk tag with a "play farm".  

Personally from what I have seen society is setup to "teach/direct" a certain way of living - a certain "groupthink" which is against thinking, discussion and understanding. More of "accept  the way it is" and move on? I have found it hard to even discuss alternative living as the "groupthink" automatically protects its stance by attacking the messenger - sadly as Paul has found.

Thanks for the insights!
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