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The Beat of the Oil Drum




Final thoughts

Where We Fit In

References and Links

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A Quiet Drum Beat

On an overcast day in April I found myself sitting on a bus on my way to my first Peak Oil Meetup. * As I waited in the cold to catch my transfer connection snowflakes spit from the sky making me wish I was still in my warm bed wrapped in a cocoon of covers. During the twenty-minute wait, I thought back to when I had learned about the event and wondered if it would be worth the early rise, the numbing cold, and the adventure of riding public transportation. I remembered how I came upon the event while doing research into citizen engagement of Peak Oil in Minneapolis. With oil and food prices on the rise maybe people here in this metro area were starting to talk. Sure enough they were and that was how I found myself standing in a bus stop braving the Minnesota weather with a very talkative elderly man telling me about how he got mugged after a glass bottle was hit over his head. As I reflect on it now, it reminds me of a quote I heard on the radio recently “with every great adventure comes great adversity.”

The Meetup web site describes the motivation behind the event. The individual who organized the meet up wrote, “There are many disparate Peak Oil working groups in the Twin Cities. I think we need to be aware of them all (I am not even) and speak more with a collective voice. We should work together to re-localize the Twin Cities beyond what it currently is.” This citizen was referencing a larger issue behind the Peak Oil movement: people are disconnected from one another; and cannot find like-minded citizens and in turn, feel alienated and frustrated. This Meetup was an invitation to individuals to become engaged in their community around the issues of Peak Oil and for similarly minded people to join together to follow one drumbeat.

The setting for this Meetup was a small locally owned café near downtown Minneapolis. Inside, it was quiet with a few people drinking coffee and reading about the news of the day. I was a few minutes early and found a table in the back and waited for others to arrive. I curiously peered around to see which of the people in the café might be a part of the Meetup. When I saw a man locking up his bike in front of the café and a green Honda Hybrid pull into the parking lot, I knew I had come to the right place.

The Meetup started with three people and soon grew to five. We began by sharing our names and how we had become engaged in Peak Oil. It was clear that these members of the community were concerned and ready to talk.

As I sat around the table I wondered why these five people had shown up. There were four men and one woman, all white Caucasians, with a range of professions including an attorney, and a member of the National Guard. Why these individuals? Because the event was publicized solely word of mouth and on-line, I realized that in order to find out about it, a person would either need to be connected into the network of Meetups on oil, or undertake a computer-based search with the keyword Peak Oil Minneapolis or Twin Cities. Computer access might have been a limiting factor. Also, the website invited “Anyone who would like to discuss the topic of Peak Oil and what to do about the situation in the Twin Cities.” This invitation implied you some knowledge about Peak Oil and a willingness to discuss the topic at some depth was expected. These factors, perhaps unintentionally, limited the number of people who might have felt welcome to attend the Meet Up.

Introductions gave way to fast paced and animated conversations ranging from personal lifestyle changes to blunt descriptions of what a world without cheap oil would look like. The group was very receptive to each individual’s opinions, and constructively worked through issue after issue about society will face in the future with constrained energy resources. Consensus was not reached on every topic but everyone expressed their feelings and listened to others with respect. We were all unified around the fundamental ideas behind Peak Oil, namely, that our society runs on oil as a cheap energy source, and that the resource will become scarce within our life times, and with that will come fundamental changes to society as we know it.

After two hours of discussing Peak Oil’s implications on society the Meetup drew to a close. We concluded by discussing the next steps for the group. As a general consensus we all agreed that what took place in this coffee shop was very good and that we should meet again in a matter of months. In the meantime the group has a vision to start a web site resource where more people can see what is going on in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area with the hopes of connecting individuals and spreading awareness to others who are looking for a place to learn about and discuss the implications of Peak Oil. As one individual reflected in a post on the event site "It was great to talk openly with others about crucial issues facing humans. We made strides in clarifying the intention of the group, and agreed to meet again to continue the process."

After reflecting on that Saturday morning and afternoon I realized that we had indeed started a beat of our own on the drum for Peak Oil. It may be quiet now but it is beat that resonates in the lives of many individuals. It is growing stronger and gaining strength thanks to resources like

Meetup logo

*History of Meet Up, other Peak Oil meet ups: is an online resource for bringing people together. This is company is based in New York City under the name of Meetup, Inc. The company believes in working to promote “self-organized groups to meet people needs (and change the world)." The web site provides a way for individuals who are interested in a particular subject to be connected in their shared interests. The Meetups range in categories from card games, sports, arts, literature, religion and many others. There are hundreds of Meetups happening in cities around the country. The web site enables people to meet new friends, and learn from others. The meet up slogan encompasses the purpose behind the site: "Real Groups Make a Real Difference"

"I think it is important for people to feel empowered in facing the challenges posed by peak oil and related issues; the opportunity to meet others engaged in the process and talk about creative responses contributes to positive action." Member of April Peak Oil meet up

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