Lifehouse book cover

I’ve been very much looking forward to reading Lifehouse: Taking Care of Ourselves in a World on Fire by Adam Greenfield, so I was delighted to discover today that, despite having a release date of 9th July, I could already download the ePUB!

Adam generously featured on an episode during the last season of our podcast, The Tao of WAO and was generous with his time. Go and listen to that to discover what the book’s original title was, and also pre-order the book!

I have a particular suspicion of the kind of book that spends 10 chapters telling the reader the many problems that face the contemporary world, and then follows with a final chapter that offers something - socialism, say - as the simple solution to all our woes. I call this the ‘11 Chapter problem’, and warn every author to avoid this trap. It is often easy to diagnose the problem; it is far harder to think clearly about what we are meant to do about it. More often than not the reader is already well aware of the problems: the reason they pick up a book is to find solutions. And this is why I am so excited about Adam Greenfield’s Lifehouse: Taking Care of Ourselves in a World on Fire. Here is a book as a toolbox to build actual, hard-tacks answers to the crisis of the Long Emergency.


It starts as a building - a church, a library, a school gym - that is the Lifehouse. This is a place for everyone to go to in an emergency - a flood, fire, or hurricane. It will have a kitchen, beds, clothing storage. But it will also be its own power source - with generators or renewable energy from a wind turbine, or solar panels on the roof. It will also be able to produce its own food with vertical farming technology installed. It will be a tool library that allows for repair and restoration, even outside the emergency - with 3-D printing technology. It will also have a skills library so that the community knows who is a doctor, nurse, teacher or transport.


But sustaining that effort for the long term - the long emergency itself - is hard. Often communities fail to plan far enough ahead. They split and betray each other. They face insurmountable opposition who wish to take away their autonomy. The Lifehouse is designed with this in mind too. It is not an afterthought, but a deeply considered means in which to think about the future.

Source: Verso Book Club: Lifehouse