Gas just topped $4 a gallon where I live, and even my 15-year-old daughter is riding her bike rather than pestering me for rides. We’re turning off lights, picking up vegetables from our local CSA (in reusable bags), and wondering how on earth we are going to afford heating oil this winter, even with our new, efficient oil boiler.
Luz, Girl of the Knowing, is already on it. While it can be a tad preachy at times, this kid-friendly webcomic features Luz, a Hispanic girl, who is already thinking about life in the post-peak-oil world. Her vision is reassuring, not apocalyptic, with neighbors from a variety of Old Countries showing her how they preserve their own food, save seeds, rotate crops, and conserve water. A blackout means picnics and internet withdrawal, not panic and looting. Luz even demonstrates how to make an electricity-free refrigerator. Of course there is some irony to the fact that this is a webcomic, which Luz wouldn’t be able to read during a blackout. So far none of the strips have explained how to make your own generator.
There is an atmosphere of foreboding to Luz. She’s preparing for something that she herself can’t really visualize, but she’s sensible enough to talk to wise grownups about it. And there are a few hints of hard choices to come when Luz has to forgo a vacation trip, as well as when she eyes a friend’s pet rabbit as a possible protein source. Cartoonist Claudia Davila puts a lot of emphasis on simple measures, such as eating local foods, and self-reliance—walking and keeping a garden. The overall message is that less reliance on oil might actually be a good thing, if it strengthens communities.
Davila’s clear, simple style makes the strip easy to read, and her light approach keeps the strip interesting most of the time. At a time when news about high gas and food prices may be making kids anxious, Luz presents some ways to take control of the situation. They may not be sufficient, or even practical for some people, but there is useful information here.
Also, because Luz is a webcomic, there are some interesting discussions in the comments (probably of more interest to adults than kids) as well as links to websites with more information about peak oil and its consequences.
I interviewed Claudia Davila for Digital Strips last March.