Theory Gang
14. Doomer Optimism w/ Jason Snyder

14. Doomer Optimism w/ Jason Snyder

Building resilient systems in education, community, and infrastructure

Jason and I shared a little tech struggle for a minute before deciding that he should use his phone for the interview (apologies for any little buzzies or text bings he might have gotten during the episode). Our plan failed, but ultimately we made do with our failing system and pulled our shit together enough to do what we set out to do. To me, this was representative of the Doomer Optimism movement. The way I see it:

Shit is hitting the fan. We’ve got goals, but our systems are failing. So, we’re struggling trying to figure out the challenges of new technology, faced up against physical constraints, while balancing a million things in our lives. At the same time, we recognize that together, with all the knowledge we’ve accumulated we can figure this shit out - and if not - WELP. We tried!

Jason and I connected initially on some homesteading vibes and looking at his garden tunnel compared to mine, I wondered if we had the same kind of climate. I wondered what in his garden might do better than mine, and vice versa, and if we could swap seeds or tips.

Anyone who has tried their hand at some aspects of homesteading knows that the perfect canning videos on YouTube and beautiful gardens are snapshots that are not representative of reality, but the imperfections are part of the alure. In trying to do things for yourself and your community that you otherwise might now, you learn to accept good over perfect and appreciate the value of simplicity. I think this is a good thing for us as a society and on an individual level. Starting new systems is difficult and messy, but with practice, we can refine them.  I’m excited to see what ya’ll think about this, and where you might be able to apply these principles to your own life.  

You might never be on the garden/canning/grow your own food vibes, but it seems there could be something for everyone in this movement. Food systems aren’t the only thing that will see profound changes in the future; every system you think of is changing:  family, social, work, science, tech, climate, travel, logistics, and so on. If you’re interested in this movement, my suggestion is to explore your interests and think about how they fit in your local community, and how you could leverage the power of the internet and technology to support a larger community - what Jason calls cosmolocalism.

Socially, this movement seems incredible.  I‘ve already talked to a couple people in my local area, and the concept resonates. Online, as soon as I tweeted about talking to Jason, tons of DO folks jumped in to engage. We’ve all missing a theory that links up our online lives with our physical ones. When the two realities converge, it’s a funny thing, but I’m learning from experiences like how we might be able to marry two different realities.

A new DO Twitter friend even commented on this lovely image that demonstrates many different aspects of thinking about permaculture. So, not only are the people in the movement welcoming, they’re helpful, too. I get good vibes from DO. Like, best possible outcome while maintaining that currently, shit’s cray.

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Time Stamps:

0:00 Introduction

2:24 Not-so-small talk and a sense of place

5:44 Embodied cognition

9:49  What is Doomer Optimism?

11:15 Cosmolocalism and doomer optimism political dichotomies

16:07 Minimum Viable Pluralism in Communities - we gonna fight

18:39 Top-down technocratic degrowth vs grassroots Doomer Optimsm 

23:33 Galaxy-brain future planning

26:06 10 policies Jason would implement for governments to do less harm 

27:32 Zapatistas and Kerala India as examples of resilient communities 

29:55 Uncoupling capitalism from our civilization - pros, cons, and how?

32:24 The viability of a post-fossil fuel world - redirecting incentives towards human survival

36:58 Planetary boundaries and the climate change narrative

42:13 Redesigning higher educational field schools to integrate practical skills into theory

47:09  Educational Boom and Bust the value of education in various regions and fields

50:56: Increasing demand for tradesmen and over-intellectualization

55:50  Could there be a modern-day morrill act to bolster a change in education?

58:02  Will you send your kids to college?

58:35 One of the things we don’t want to give over to AI

1:02:40 Purple collar jobs

1:05:22 Jason’s “favorite” Doomer Optimism episode: What does Regeneration mean?

I hope you enjoyed the episode! Here’s the Big Nerve Question:

How could everyday people get involved in building resilient sustainable systems in their communities?

This can be anything from social, education, food, or waste… go crazy! 

This episode is possible with support from ya’ll (thank you), and also BigNerve. Big Nerve is pushing hard to get thinkers funded and recognized. You should be one of those thinkers. To enter my idea tournament, win money, AND help me answer some really tough questions click the linked question and start playing!

More resources:

Full video episode

Jason’s Twitter

DO Podcasts

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