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Community Liaison, World Without Oil (2007) *

Client: ITVS via Writerguy.

Vetted/ranked/responded to hundreds of user-submitted written, audio, and video entries. WorldWithoutOil.org

* 2008 winner, SXSWi Web Awards, Activism

Chuckles Manifesto

Just what in the heck makes a good ol’ Texas boy who works at an evil big box store think he can help save the world (also known as “Mama told me that tunafish had gone over, but I ate it anyway”)?

This morning when I woke up and looked outside, I saw the yard full of glossy black grackles. It seemed like something… I dunno – an omen? I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately on a certain glossy black substance, and now I’ve got these birds looking me in the eye, watching to see what I’d do next. They didn’t know which way I was going to jump – and honestly, neither do I. But I feel like I’ve got to do something, and soon.

You all know our story by now… airport snowstorm, mysterious stranger in what seemed like a tuckered-out and unguarded moment, dire-sounding prediction about an oil shock on April 30. I think some of the Eight took it more seriously than others. I know I scoffed at it, mostly. For all I knew it was some darned viral marketing thing like you read about in the papers. But there was that little spark deep down inside me that wondered if it could be true. In legalistic terms, I guess I could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the dude was hoaxing us. So the eight of us – eventually ten – decided that we would throw it to the wall of the internet and see if it would stick. The internet’s a real funny place; almost a scary place. Just about anyone can put in their two cents’ worth, and anyone else can read it. Immediate, widespread publicity, not filtered, just out there. And some really amazing things have come from that, haven’t they? Instant fame, instant notoriety, instant gratification. And in a lot of cases, there’s been an upswell of online activism that’s caused big changes in society. Just ask Dan Rather. What better place to start a conversation with the world about its future than on the ‘net? Some of us were gung-ho. Some of us were nervous about retaliation. Some of us were ambiguous. But in the end, we decided that it’s better to be safe than sorry, and we let y’all know about our airport experience.

A couple of months ago I was pretty apathetic about the whole darned thing. We’ve gotten along just fine this far – what could possibly happen to make the world go to hockeysticks in a handbasket? But the more I read, and the more I lived in 2007, the more concerned I got. I’ve watched gasoline prices climb to $3/gallon. I’ve read reports that indicate that big oil countries just aren’t producing as much as they used to, even though demand and prices are on the rise. I’ve read blog posts by a woman who survived post-Katrina New Orleans and knows how rough we’re gonna have it if something happens to the oil. I’ve read about Warren v. District of Columbia, which states “a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen.”

Do you hear that? Does it scare the pants off you? Because it petrifies me. Courts have ruled that Uncle Sam has no obligation to give you squat.

So here’s what we need to do, people. We’ve got to learn to work together. We’ve got to learn what we need to do to become self-sufficient. We’ve got to research how to live in the case of losing our oil. And we’ve got to get a game plan in place yesterday. What will you do when and if it all comes down?

It’s a tough question to answer. The scenario is almost unimaginable. I’ve done a lot of primitive camping, but I know that when I come home I can pop a TV dinner in the microwave and have a hot shower. I take that for granted. Don’t most people? But now I know that it’s up to me to do everything I can to make sure I keep those gifts, those luxuries, available to everyone. It’s up to me, and it’s up to you.

How will you save the world?

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