Sebastopol futurist sees hard times ahead

  • Adam Taggart is the president and co-founder of Peak Prosperity, which provides insights into the economy, energy and environment.
    (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

A year ago, Adam Taggart chose Sebastopol as a "high resiliency" town from which to warn the world that its economy is poised for a long, hard slog.

Taggart and author Chris Martenson are the co-founders of PeakProsperity, a contrarian website known for asserting that humanity's best financial days lie in the rearview mirror.

PeakProsperity draws more than 250,000 unique visitors a month, Taggart said. Along with bracing predictions — "Blast Shields Up! Prepare for Incoming!" warned a recent headline — the site calls readers to consider a road less traveled, namely finding ways to boost their quality of life with less money in their pocketbooks.

According to Martenson's book, "The Crash Course," the worst-case scenario within the next two decades is "jarring chaos" caused when unsustainable debt and the end of cheap oil bring financial crises. The best case is a steady decline of global living standards.

In keeping with their convictions, both men left behind careers in corporate America — Taggart as a vice president at Yahoo and Martenson as a vice president at SAIC, a Fortune 500 company. They each moved their families to small towns with ample farmland and residents who look out for each other.

Outside Sebastopol last week, Taggart sat on his back deck with an unobstructed view of Mount St. Helena and the hills around Santa Rosa. The small ranchette near new vineyards and old apple orchards gives him the chance to raise a half-dozen chickens, a small garden and a few bee hives.

A jar of honey, he said, is "great social currency."

Western Sonoma County has a high degree of resiliency, Taggart maintained. He likes it not only for its climate, farmlands and watershed but also for residents who embrace sustainability and typically know their neighbors.

Should basic services ever be "compromised," he wrote later, "I'd rather be in Sonoma County, with Sonoma County people," than in Silicon Valley.

Despite their concerns, the two men seek to distinguish themselves from those futurists who "live in the doom-and-gloom space," Taggart said. They maintain that their readers subscribe to the website in order to forge connections with like-minded people and to find ways to build a more holistic vision of prosperity.

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