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Getting out of Dodge

Living the non-American-consumer life in the Old Country

by Si Brunk

I am Si Brunk, and my wife is Oksana Brunk.
The Culture Change website has been an inspiration to me and my wife.  I use to work with the killing machine "US Army" 10 years... but after discovering peak oil and energy issues my wife and I decided to move to Europe.  Now we live in Ukraine and are soon to buy a home in a village with about 3 acres of land.  We have no car and use only public transportation. Ukraine has a great public transportation system.  We walk and ride bikes everywhere and live on $200 US a month and that meets all our needs and more. 

I enjoy life here.  I don't work anymore but am looking into farming and woodworking.  Anyway we got out of Dodge City, i.e., USA while we could.  It is going to be a very, very messed up place there in the years ahead.

We have friends here in Ukraine that still think the USA has a future and want to go there and live.  How can we steer them right?  I have laid out peak oil to them but they write it off as a Kook theory.   I can say a few things about energy here: 75% of all electricity use runs on nuclear power and 12% on hydro. Only 1 out of 30 people over 18 years old own a car : There is no such thing as lawns here; people in small towns and villages or even cities have some land and grow vegetables and fruits and store them in a pod-vol (a small basement).

A bit about us.  As I stated I served and worked for the US Army for 10 years.  Was in the Iraq "Freedom" callup but never went there.  THANKGOD!!!!! My job in the Army was Petrol supply. So I knew a few things about Petrol and oil.  Anyway I knew about peak oil and the real reasons behind the war in Iraq and when my contract ended I was out by January 2004. My wife, who is originally from a small village in Ukraine, and I felt it best to sell out and move to Ukraine... We would place all we had made in the bank and energy stocks and some silver, gold, and live off that.  It's about $225 US a month interest.  

In Ukraine the homes and crap apartments in the cities are selling high between 18K-50K. Kiev is very high now, but in villages and towns you can buy a nice home for about $8,000-12,000 US.  Some homes sell as low as $800 US.  A fair home in Mechalivka -- our town whose population is 15,000 -- runs about $3,000-6,000 US. 

The home we have has only a well with no water coming to the house but we have a drainage system. We have to hand pump our water and heat it on the stove. We have an inside bath and an outhouse, a summer kitchen and a pad vol for storage of vegetables in winter. It is about a 750 square-foot home.  Also we have a place for animals and over 14 fruit trees: plum, apple, apricots, pear.  We also plan to grow most of our foods like 99% of the other villagers in Ukraine. We walk or ride bikes everywhere or take an electric rail to the cities if need be.  Ukraine has great public transportation system and it's cheap!  The center of our town has an outdoor market and a few cafe's and stores, a park, two churches 1 Baptist ,1 Orthodox a small hospital, 2 dentist, a furniture store, a few appliance stores, center-of-the-region police station, and office buildings.  We don't have many cars here and the air is fresh.  Our town of 15 thousand  people has as many cars as a 200-person village in the USA would have.  Our village sure beats Zaporoshia: "lots of coal plants there."  That city is 1.5 hours north by electric train.  Our home is made of traditional block as with most homes in Ukraine.  Now it is heated with Liquified Natural Gas from Kazhakstan but I am looking into a different type of heat   I feel Ukraine may be out of LNG soon because Ukrainians don't want to pay heating bills... the Germans and French will pay, and thus Russia will cut off LNG to many Ukrainians.

photo by Galen Frysinger

In our town we are close to a forest and vineyards.  The Crimea is 4 hours south by rail and the Sea of Azov is 1.5 hours to the south of us.

As for us we are rather simple and even more simple. We don't have real "jobs" - just kind of do what we want.  Working 10 years for the army... I have no desire to go back to a job!  Anyway why do I need to work?  To buy junk I don't need?  Hell we grow most of our foods and all I need is enough money to pay the gas and electric... we have small property tax here, and all our bills combined a month are only about $50 US.  

I would rather live here and work at a flee market than go back to the USA! No joke! I feel many jobs will be done away with very soon in the USA anyway and most of them will be doing the same as I do now: food production! Anyway $200 US a month is very comfortable for us here.  That's more than we need; most Ukrainians in our town make $50-75 US a month and get by ...They are NOT miserable people; they are lively and enjoyable, make better friends than Americans.  We enjoy lively conversion with them.  I also speak Russian.  Money I think works against Americans in this aspect.  But sadly a lot of the TV here now is American shit that whets the appetites of Ukrainians for more and better stuff that really don't need.

photo by Galen Frysinger


The USA  makes me sick.  All I see there is fat asses and consumerism!  Last night I watched the news here and they showed America in some snow storm and I saw 100's of cars stuck in the snow:  "Why the hell they were driving in a blizzard is beyond me!"  And some fat lady in sweat pants complaining that she was stuck in the Target parking lot  -NO JOKE.  I think every day "boy the oil crisis can't happen soon enough to that nation."  I feel for folks like you Jan who have to live there!  I feel Ukraine will fare much better in the post oil world, as people are use to less and still know how to grow their own foods.  I feel before this decade is out Americans will be the place NOT to live!

On the army side I left as a SGT. I thought while in the army "What am I fighting for? So more strip malls will be built?  So more Americans can go to Wal-Mart?  So more cars can be made?  So more rap videos can be produced?  So we can kill innocent lives for oil so Americans can drive?  I wasn't fighting for one thing cultural!  America lost its culture in the 1960s. All I was, was a hired mercenary!  Once the dollar falls many troops will leave the service left and right that's the only reason most are there: $$$....take that away and America has no army.  I think you can see where I am coming from,  from reading Culture Change.

On energy note I don't agree with nuclear power. I can live without electricity if need be. I just mentioned nuclear's contribution to show that at least Ukraine will have power when the USA doesn't.  In Zaporoshia we have one of the largest Hydro Dams in all of Europe . It should be on a web site if you google Zaporoshia hydro damn...That's in our Oblast and we get most electric from there.

I again enjoy your writings!  They are to the point and right on.  If I have bothered you from what I said about America please excuse me. But as for me it is a lost cause and not worth defending!  As Jim Kunstler says it was yesterday's tomorrow!  I would rather work at an outdoor market and make $50 US a month than return to America.  My wife didn't even apply for a Green card and threw away all her USA documents; she never wants to step foot in the USA again.  She spent 5 years there in college.  We met at a local college in Ohio.

photo by Galen Frysinger

We are setting ourselves up for the inevitable!~ PEAK OIL PRODUCTION!  My wife and I feel massive change especially for the West before this decade is out. We are doing our best to become self-dependent.  Anyway we enjoy life here...and the freedom we have.  Well I was going for a walk today but it is 10F outside, burr....Oh on this note we've had a very mild winter in Ukraine thus far....Global warming???

About England

One of our friends here in Ukraine is packing up and going for more money and moving to Britain--- London at that population close to 10 million ++. I tried to tell her a little about the North Sea oil decline and how it seems very likely that Britain will be having to import natural gas this year.....In one ear out the other it went.

This girl thinks Britain is going to be like it has been for the last 50 years. I told her that island has 60 million people and can only support around 30 million via non petrol chemicals or imports.  When I think of Britain and its future the Irish potato famine comes always to my mind...had it not been viable for the Irish to flee and go to America they would have had 1/2 their population die off.

I ended talking with the girl and stating "one of the last places I would want to live in the years ahead would be London England."  she said ahhh, don't worry I'll be alright...I said "I hope...."  Maybe I am too negative but of all of Europe I strongly feel England will be the MOST fucked up place 10 years peak oil.  I have more optimism for America's future than I do of England's.... I think Jay Hanson would agree with me on England's likely outcome.
Si Brunk
Write to Si at email: sibrunk "at"

Si Brunk in his old life in the war machine

The new Si Brunk takes a stroll in the western Ukraine town of Truskavets


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