Melanie Williams at Where Simplicity Leads has some excellent thoughts on the difference between tools and skills in self reliance:
When I was just getting serious about simple living a few years ago I read an article about self-reliance which really stuck with me. The author said that the biggest mistake people make when starting out is thinking that in order to become self-reliant they have to go out and buy a bunch of stuff. I remember thinking that was kind of funny–what kind of self-reliance is that? Self-reliance is really more about skill-building than it is about tool-getting, but in the early stages it’s easy to believe all you need are the right tools (or at least to believe that the right tools will get you a very long way).
Tools of course are important, and when we’re first adopting a simpler and more resilient lifestyle it might become very obvious, very quickly that all the tools and gadgets and gizmos we’ve acquired over the years are precisely all the wrong tools and gadgets and gizmos needed for self-reliance. Riding lawn mowers, microwave ovens, GPS navigation, bread machines, rototillers, dishwashers…not so important. Root cellars, chicken coops, grain mills, spades, shovels, buckets, jars…very important tools.
Read the whole thing. And not just because she uses the same blog template I used to! 😉