While the interview itself doesn't specifically deal with people with mobility issues, it does discuss the design process of recognising the means to proceed forwards. There is an emphasis on close networks which effectively cut out the "middle man" in today's economic model. In nature, conserving energy is efficient, so when something isn't necessary, nature will simply evolve without it.
Ironically, limitation is something people with mobility or developmental issues, have to negotiate on a daily basis. Their struggle is in part due to the fact, in today's society we run at a pace which is unsustainable in nature. It would never set individuals within a species to run so uniquely by themselves, let alone at such a frantic pace. Tapping into fossil energy, makes that possible for our species today.
But as the future generations have to start negotiating without that concentrated form of energy, it is perhaps best to start with those in our society who are adept at living within their limitations. They can teach us a lot. Not too surprisingly however, the "Middle Man" in our economic model has captured the market on those with mobility issues too. It has found ways to charge money to take care of them. In a fossil energy depleted future however, no one will be able to afford what it costs and our society will have a lot of people stuck in a helpless situation.
Thankfully, there are examples of individuals within a species, encountering mobility issues in nature too. They aren't discarded, they are merely amalgamated into the species and even inter-species relationships of survival. Pods of dolphins and herds of buffalo, as a whole, band together around the young, the pregnant and those who are the weakest. The strongest hold the outside, while the weak are pushed into the centre - and this is how the group survives as a whole. Alone, they can be picked off but banded together, it takes a lot more energy to take them down.
This is why I find it surprising (although understandable, as we're still in the early stages) why the permaculture design process, has developed a system which doesn't include specific weakness of our own species, at its fundamental core. It recognises care of people, care of the earth and fair share, at the core of the other twelve permaculture principles, yet I struggle to find any working models today, which incorporate those with disabilities into that new permanent culture.
Perhaps this is part of natures evolutionary process within our species, as we transcend into an energy depleted future though? It makes sense to send the strong and physically capable in to break new ground first. They can then hold the outside, as we send our more physically challenged into the centre. But how then, will those relationships look? We don't want a repeat of history, where women, children and the elderly are treated as second class citizens, while the strongest are glorified and given the most rights.
Raising this subject today, is mostly about engaging the conversation - getting it out there into our thoughts. Because we've been fed by the economic middle men for so long, we've forgotten our responsibility to those who need the centre of our group the most. As a whole, in our new energy depleted future, we will need each other. This includes the most weakest. Because if we cannot take care of them, the strongest will be left to fight it out amongst each other. That is rarely an efficient use of energy and bodes poorly for survival of a species as a whole.
So contemplate if you haven't already been forced to, what your future would suddenly look like if a weak member (or a few) suddenly entered your life. What would you have to change, being more able-bodied, or perhaps used to a certain luxury of time to enjoy your leisure activities? Things would have to change, otherwise you risk endangering your own survival. This is what an energy depleted future will look like. We are going to have to change how we relate to others, in order to survive as a whole.
I notice in many of the permaculture models we have working well today, it concentrates on animals helping us to maintain a healthy environment, and potentially reducing our workload. Of course the emphasis is on "healthy" animals. This is great if you're consuming them, because they should be healthy to get the maximum benefit. But I'm concerned that we're placing too much emphasis on being capable 100% in our human counterparts too.
As we step down from fossil hungry, to a fossil reduced society, we're initially going to have an imbalance of slightly more incapable people. I don't mean those able-bodied people who never learned how to grow their own food, but rather, those billions of people who make up the statics of illnesses which are dominating our society today. We will need to find a respectable place for them.
If we don't start the conversation on that front, we'll be caught in a future where the economic middle man, suddenly drops the sick and incapable. What if they were one of your loved ones, or that of someone you knew? If you have abilities, shouldn't they be put to more use than simply putting food on your own table today?
I know every time I'm out in the garden, digging a swale or planting a tree, these activities count more than just for me. They will touch some other living creature in due course - be that flora, fauna or a generation of people I will never meet. And yet I don't talk about that. I talk about me, "doing" an activity. That's all well and good, but I'm starting to notice the absence of a bigger picture in my frame of reference. And I wonder if this is something we have to be aware of, in our future societies conversations. What we talk about the most, will be adopted as mainstream practice.
Having the notion of care of the earth, care of people and fair share is wonderful in theory, but we have to start practicing it, as if it means our very survival. Because sometime in the future, it will.