Okay, I didn’t watch the superbowl but I did watch a couple of super bowl ads. Now why would somebody like myself who detests most advertising watch cheesy superbowl ads? Well, superbowl ads are excellent windows into the influential cultural zeitgeist (spirit of the times, or literally the time ghost) The insights gained from superbowl ads can last much longer than the fleeting victories from the great spectacle itself. I wanted to share a couple of quick insights I found related to modern culture, the economy, and ecology. The first one came from the very cliché motorolo xoom commercial (“a tablet to change the world for the better”). Yes, it may sound incredible, even heretical, but the tablet computer (and by extension smartphones) have replaced the automobile as the central cultural object of techno-fetish for the 21st century. Oh my!, crazy I know. In the previous century an author I admire greatly named John Steinbeck wrote “Two generations of Americans knew more about the Ford coil than the clitoris.” Amazingly, our digital interconnectedness has officially dethroned the car for good and the percentage of young American who got a drivers license this year has dropped dramatically. Overall, due to the mobile web we really don’t need to drive as much and that’s a good thing.
Look for the tablet to receive mythical cultural attention in the next three years filled with a blind optimism that will likely never examine the hidden costs that desperately need to be ethically addressed. This is the dark side of optimism that all to often only comes to light in a tragic and inevitable flash. Personally though, I feel that mobile web technology will continue to play a critically important -but perhaps not the most important- role in humanity collectively redesigning the way we do things on this planet. My beliefs stand on a paradoxical position because I often look at the hidden costs of this very technology I advocate that society use effectively, expressively, and creatively to share those salient insights that can bring rapid changes in culture, world-view, and actions. In a recent video I posted here by Van Jones on the connection between hidden ecological and socials costs he said, “We can’t trash the planet without trashing people first”. This particular quote looks deep beyond trite quick fix “solutions” to get towards the roots of the controversy. When we run from paradox and controversy we refuse to make sense of the complexity and interrelatedness of the issue and in the words of the zen tradition we “get stuck in the branches while forsaking the root”.
This brings me to my next superbowl ad insight provided indirectly by oh so clever Groupon. Groupon as you may know is a multibillion dollar social e-commerce company known for social innovaiton and yet they deliberately wasted a considerable amount of money on a couple of extremely offensive and highly telling ads. What makes these particular ads so offensive is that besides being callous and insensitive they also lead us to optimistically believe we can simply buy our way out of any ecological or social ill without ever getting to the root of their causes. In my opinion Groupon has not only promoted their company in a very disgusting way, but they are actively promoting a largely unnoticed ideology that is fundamentally dangerous. How dangerous? Well, maybe not as dangerous as dictators but very dangerous non the less.
It is my belief that by using Permaculture as a design system and way thinking about the world we can bring society much closer to alleviating root causes rather than continuously mitigating effects. Permaculture does this by promoting the simple ethics of earth care, people care, and fair share, and also by examining the world in a holistic way that implicitly accounts for the interdependence of systems. I’ve posted a example of one of the terrible Grouopon ads below along with another video, almost a rebuttal if you will, by brilliant modern philosopher Salvoj Zizek. I want to know what your reactions are to this post and the videos so I also threw up a a little poll, enjoy.
(p.s. please come back for the next post where I rip apart the save the whales cliché (also insensitively made into a dumb groupon ad) and give some startling new details about why saving the whales may be one of the most important things humanity can do for health of the planet, and well, humanity.)
Permaculture is occasionally criticized for being a bit insular and middle class oriented. I feel that this type of characterization is only partially accurate and definitely things are changing for the better very fast. The folks who are a part of the liberation permaculture movement are radical in their approach to actively changing this perception.
“Liberation Permaculture, a framework and design science that invokes the traditional knowledge of land-based peoples, provides organizers with a methodology to resist systems of oppression through building resiliency in our communities. It is a means to prepare oppressed communities for the oncoming environmental disasters while building the world we want and need now.”
Learn more about what liberation permaculture is all about and how it’s transforming the permaculture movement and it’s politics on Permaculture.tv
I love this video…
Makes me think of how eager people (especially like me) get once they learn the implications of permaculture design, enjoy!
What do punk, permaculture, and anarchy have to do with the 21st Century?
A Peace of the Anarchy produced by lovearchy.org is a quick summary of 20th century radical activism in the USA featuring prominent antiwar hero Kathy Kelly and permaculture eco activist Star Hawk. Has notable focus on the pacifist christian anarchist Ammon Hennacy. Folks from the War Resisters League, the IWW, Earth First! and the Catholic Worker, along with Mr. Hennacy exemplify the marginalized prophetic witness for peace and justice in the USA as they attempt to appeal to the dominant culture. These people speak on the benefits of anarchy and peace, following the radical (rooted/basically grounded) ideology and optimism that goodness will overcome evil, love is superior to hate and truth trumps falsehood.”
Hey Gaia Punk here,
I have two amazing events to report back from this weekend. First off, I have to say that I was very excited to witness what amounted to probably the biggest amassing of bike punks in US history friday night in Seattle WA during the Dead Baby Downhill after-party compounded by the fact that Seattle was also hosting the North American Bike Polo Championship that same weekend (congrats to Seattle for winning another tourney! Good luck at the worlds in Philly)! After the Dead baby after party a couple of friends and I drove to the foothills of Jacksonville, OR for the first annual Strait from the Teat Fest (aka Goat Fest) at the Boone’s Farm. This festival was a punk and dance festival hosted by an organic permaculture farm and goat dairy. There were lots of wonderful bands including, the Hail Seizures, Razzamatazz, RVIVR, Mutoid Men, and many more who played on a wooden stage in the midst of a beautiful oak grove under a massive moon. The hosts were extremely gracious and I think everyone had an amazing time. Below is a interview I did with Mookie about the Boone’s Farm and history of Strait From the Teat Fest.
Gaia Punk: What is the history of the Boone’s Farm and how many folks are involved?
Mookie: I had been doing sustainable agriculture for a few years when I came to this area 8 years ago with the intention of starting a agricultural education center that would promote the next generation of farmers and radicals. This was the goal around which the Boone’s Farm was founded. Right now we have 8 people living here, 3 full timers working with the organic goat dairy, 2 working with the veggie farm, and 3 half time interns who help all around and also work on political campaigns. Besides our growing commercial operation we have a revolutionary program called Turning Tables in which we grow and 1 acre of veggies that we give away at no cost to families in need to help ensure that everyone in our community has access to wholesome organic produce.
Gaia Punk: That fits perfectly with the permaculture ethic of “fair share” or returning the surplus to your community and to the earth.
Mookie: Yes, exactly.
Gaia Punk: How did Strait From the Teat (aka goat fest) evolve and where do you see it going?
Mookie: A lot of us here at the farm have punk and or DIY influences. Farming of course can be very DIY. Eventually folks learned of our farm as a inviting punk friendly space and it became a way point for various band and musicians on tour. It was from these relationships and friendships that the idea for Strait from the Teat as a yearly festival arose. This festival is a place for people to speak out against the oppressive systems that we don’t want, but most importantly a space for folks to see and realize community in action. During the festival a natural skill share organically emerged and in the future we hope to bring even more educational aspects for the benefit of everyone attending. It seems obvious to me that there can be no resistance without food and no celebration without music.
Gaia Punk: What permaculture techniques and or principals do you employ at the Boone’s Farm?
Mookie: Well water management is critical and recently we just finished a key line dam that after this years rainy season will provide ample amounts of water for the farm during the summer. We also employ many permaculture practices in our produce production. Two principals that really stick out for me on the farm are planned redundancy and on site resourcing. Something that we don’t do is employ hierarchies such as the teacher/student dichotomy because as far as I’m concerned we are all learning and sharing from one another.
Gaia Punk: Do you think permaculture is being popularized by it’s interactions with various sub cultures, and if so will it have lasting effects?
Mookie: I feel permaculture is just the labeling of a ethic that could easily be describe as sanity. I feel permaculture as an idea will eventually be absorbed into the mainstream and hopefully become accepted and commonplace. I feel it is the destiny of the term permaculture itself to disappear. I think it is very important that permaculture can’t remain as something to be bought or sold but must become knowledge that is freely shared. This is what we’re working for at the Boone’s Farm
Gaia Punk: I agree completely. Thanks so much Mookie I’ve had a incredible time listening to all the great bands at Strait from the Teat and learned a whole lot too. I hope you know you got lots of allies out there.
Mookie: Oh, I know it. Thanks to you too, have fun and keep up the great work.
I’m reposting this post because I just learned that they may be facing eviction
There is a genuine non violent revolution going on around the globe. One that crosses boundaries of race, creed, color, religion and subculture. A revolution that heals the heart even as it dismantles the heartless systems of oppression. It is of course the permaculture revolution; a revolution that is interconnected and diverse.
Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on
the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food
and shelter.” – Bill Mollison
I want to take sometime and give you a picture of some of these true revolutionaries….
The Swomp in Amsterdam is a collective squat that is guided by permaculture and its principals. Besides providing for themselves with their garden production the Swomp does community outreach and education. They are under constant threat of eviction and they may need some media attention soon. Please take the time to read their declaration and the inspiring sustainable ethics by which the community abides. Here is just a sampling of what they’ve accomplished:
- successfully squatted a unused urban lot and turned it into a permaculture demonstration site.
- built a strawbale home from mostly recycle materials
- organized with numerous other collectives on a wide range of important global issues
- provided free education to the community
- demonstrated that one can live in harmony with one’s conscience and with the earth
Please visit their awesome blog and if you are aware of other radical communities in the permaculture vein we would love to feature them here.
p.s. We are always looking for more contributors so if you would like to write for PRP e-zine please contact thejulianeffect(at)gmail with the subject “gaia punks.”
The history of the Landslide Community Farm is analogous to one of natures little accidents, a mutation if you will, that with in a certain given context becomes crucial if not startlingly beautiful.
Landslide has grown from a couple of fixed up “farm houses” to a non profit in control of multiple city plots used for urban farming. Landsliders are using permaculture techniques, inclusive outreach, and smart campaigning to get strong rapport with city (even enough to fight off a unjust eviction attempt). These permie punxs along with their equally amazing neighbors are making their urban environments more livable, more ecologically sound, and if dare say, all around more krunk. Landsliders are truly stout folks with aspirations that include more than just themselves, but instead a desire to elevate the relationships around them, including the earth, and the greater Pittsburgh community as a whole. Many Landsliders volunteer with collectives like Food NOT Bombs and most likely a dozen other awesome radical or progressive projects too numerous to mention here.
It is my view that permaculture is really 10 % physically oriented and 90 % percent community oriented because ultimately it is the community that will implement the work that is most needed. The first rule for building community is just being inclusive by making what your doing accessible, affordable, and autonomously oriented. Even when all the steel money is long gone it is the history of our relationship with the earth and others that will remain. Landsliders are leaving a history in Pittsburgh that anyone would be proud of.
go Gaia punks go!
Vandana Shiva Is A Eco Warrior Goddess…
Hi folks Gaia Punk here,
While I was having a blast at my Permaculture Design Course in Costa Rica my instructor Scott Pittman of the US Permaculture Institute started a “Heroes” and “Bad Guys” list. Very high on the “Bad Guys” list of course was Monsanto and very high on the good guys list was the ever lovely Dr. Vandana Shiva.
Shiva participated in the nonviolent Chipko movement during the 1970s when woman actually hugged trees to prevent their felling. A world warrior in fighting poverty and enviromental destruction with community resiliance and nonviolent action Vandana shiva has garnered countless awards and appreciatioin from numerous organiaztion, instituions, and countrys. We have much to learn from her kind of militant wisdom! See her excellent camio in the ONE Water documentary.
La Pura Vida de Permacultura
This is Permie Boi passin’ the good word from La Florida, Costa Rica where I’m in the middle of a fabulous permaculture design course at True Nature Community instructed by Scott Pitman of the Permaculture Institute.
I’m having a wonderful time learning, exploring, and sharing. The landscape here is amazing but in a lot of cases in need of regeneration. Even though true nature is a gringo (expats) community, (for now) it is very nice to see that they have intergrated themselves with in the larger community through helping to support and share with the local ticos (Costa Ricans) in multiple ways. This is a sharp contrast from much of the negative colonialist like developments happening in many ecologically fragile areas of the country. The people here from True Nature really practice what they preach at every level and also run a amazing educational service organization called CREER.
The students attending this course are from all over the world and are very excited about what they will bring back to where they live as am I. In the morning we wake up to amazing to an amazing landscape full of colorful chirping birds (Tucans even!) and verdant plants. We’ve been eating fresh local foods cooked with local recipies and Luna of True Nature has been kind enough to offer a free yoga class to those who enjoy it. It is amazing to see how much we’ve been able to improve the site in just a few days by building rain swales and various watercatchments. I know that all of this rewarding work will be greatly appreciated after our departure. I just recently saw an amazing animal locally known as a pizote’ (super cute!) for the first time and I’m extremely excited to continue to explore the rich ecology of this area. Much more more to come soon.
Living la pura vida,
The worlds toughest plant….
Okay if you didn’t already know I love bamboo and bamboo buildings so I thought I would share two of my very best links I’ve found thus far:
Hey permie punx here is a wonderful manual that I came across in my studies so I thought I would share it with everyone! Enjoy!
Lets get our
In partnership with Blooming in Space a new radical permaculture communities and resource blog punk rock permaculture e-zine wll feature profiles of radical autonomus communites from all over the world.
Escanda is a radical autonomous community in the beautiful foothills of Spain. The community is involve with many local and international education projects on a variety of subjects including radical organizing and campaigning, permaculture, and renewable energy. They are very open to visiters who love to work and skill share with in a wonderful ecological community setting.
What would the permaculture approach to vertical farming look like?
Most permaculturalist agree that we must grow more food with in our cities, but does that mean inside the buildings of the city itself? Vertical farming has been making some big headlines lately and so I’ve decided to approach some of the latest ideas and innovations and examine them through the lens of permaculture principals. This idea has been around for a while (think terraces in Asia) and has some very strong merits. Bill Mollison remarked that “95 of the cost of food in a city like New York comes from it’s transportation, storage, and packaging.” Growing in a high density fashion has the potential to save ample land and resources if done correctly. But, as a permaculturalist I have some serious reservations about vertical farms. Most of the skyscraper type designs would grow food hydroponically This requires considerable energy and maintenance the trade off being a year long growing season; that is if your not dealing with constant “technical difficulties”. Dickson Despommier the leading proponent of the vertical farming idea had this say, “You can control nothing outdoors, and you can control everything indoors. That means no floods, wildfires, hailstorms, tornadoes, or droughts. Plant diseases and pests are more easily controlled, too, meaning less need for herbicides and pesticides.”
“And indoor agriculture is more efficient. One indoor acre of strawberries can produce as much as 30 outdoor acres can. In general, indoor acreage is four to six times more productive, in part because of the year-round growing season. Outdoors, you might get one crop [per year]; indoors, you might get four or five crops per year,”
Now, I might disagree about his use of the word “efficient” because it may not account for the imbued impute energy of a large hydroponic system not to mention large steel and concrete building. His emphasis on control is also a little unsettling too, simply because it was a disproportionate emphasis on control, instead of more flexible whole systems design based on relationships, that got us into the current food crisis mess in the first place. Now I wouldn’t throw out the idea of vertical farming entirely I just think there may be a better use of our energy and resources. Skyscrapers alone use ample amounts of energy in their construction let alone ones potentially holding complex hydroponics systems. Some of these designs incorporate aspects of passive and active solar, wind, housing, rainwater harvesting, methane digestion for energy, composting, aquaculture, and other generally cool features you would expect from the sustainably minded. But, here is what my friend Richard Register author of Ecocities: rebuilding cities in balance with nature had to say about it, “the notion of filling a building [with plants] and artificially supplying the light for the plants … from any kind of energy system is one of the weirdest ideas I’ve ever heard of. It’s not serious agriculture. It’s just not…. It’s an intellectual plaything.”
“A better answer is to develop, over time, more compact, energy-efficient cities along the European model, he says. That would free up land near urban areas for conventional agriculture with “100-percent-free solar energy” falling on it. Urban community gardens and high-intensity conventional commercial gardens could also supply part of the need.”
I echo Richards sentiments; it seems to me that before we consider growning food in farmscrapers in the future we should reclaim what is already available to us now. New York City alone has 1700 unused and vacant lots! If space is the issue well I’d rather get rid of some streets. Mo Town in Detroit is starting to turn into one large urban farm and should’t we encourage ideas from the bottom up, as in from the community, versus developers first. This doesn’t mean I think vertical farming is a absolute dead end. Like I said I still think that it is an idea with good merits but it needs to be more scalable and less impute intensive. If vertical farming becomes a euphemism for taking the industrialized petrol based monoculture outside and then reconfiguring that inside (which is what some designs looked like) then I say no way! Recently, one design called Sky Vegetables caught my eye. This design was developed by 22 year old Keith Agoada, a University of Wisconsin business student, and took home a 10000$ first place prize in a competition for creative start ups. Sky Vegetables is basically a big box remix with vegetables being grown on the grocery store roof (in greenhouses), complete with rainwater harvesting, solar panels, compost, oh and large unsightly asphalt parking lot too of course. I believe if you were to add affordable housing and office space to a idea like this, scale it down a bit, build most of the building with Glubam or with recycled wood, and of course take out the parking lot, well then I might sign on to vertical farming. Until then, when I hear the word vertical farming used I’m going to think of a forest garden.
Take care and fair share!
P.S. Check out my next post on this subject when I examine arcologies and the way in which they aproach vertical farming. Oh, and sorry about the typos I have to stop typing so late.
clearly it’s true.
—Don’t let the cute smile fool ya
BE WARNED!— because
I know that if you’re like me then the very, very, last thing you want to read about in these times is anything with the taglines: fiance, corruption, negligence, scheming, losses, or economic gloom and collapse. No these things are not very fun or funny (okay sometimes they’re funny.) But, thinking about alternatives is essential. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research on permaculture economics, finance, and theory. I’ve found lots of good work out there in the noosphere. Today though I was laughing a bit at the antics of Carlo Ponzi of the imfamous Ponzi Scheme fame the predecessor of the Madoff Scheme that the already broken banking and fiance industry is currently freaking out about. It is a wonderful aspect of life that criminals can teach you almost as much wisdom as saints, and if you know how to learn your lessons from their mistakes they might even teach you more.
It seems some people have a hard time learning lessoons. So what if the whole of global economy we’re to come unraveled in on ultra Ponzi Scheme? Unfortunately, as many of you know, it very well could; that is if people we’re to simply stop buying government backed bonds in the current precarity. Well, “precarious times call for precarious minds”, or as I like to call them the “carefully minded”.
. I just started tearing intoToolbox for Sustainable City Living by Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew cofounders of the Rhizome Collective in Austin TX who are definitely of the carefully minded sort. Along with great knowledge and methods the awesome illustrations in this book are done by my good friend Juan Martinez, also from Austin TX, a member mutant bike collective, and the amazingly prolific Beehive Design Collective based in Maine.
Lets just say I love this BOOK!!! This is one of my most favorite Permaculture books to date!! Go get it because it’s only ten bucks online! We need more books like this and more folks doing applied urban permaculture work in the cities!
Permie Punx Unite!
Last months plant was Wheat Grass this months miracle plant to save the earth is Bamboo!
So I’m currently constructing a low cost, low weight, highly efficient bamboo yurt (similar to the one shown). Incidentally, I have grown to love this incredible and lovely sounding plant called bamboo, which incidently is also native to every continent but Europe and Antarctica.
I just thought I would give you a little primer about the state of bamboo construction today, the newest developments, and it’s incredible aesthetics.
Some quick facts:
Strength and Durability
Bamboo is a fascinating material due to its incredible strength, regenerative properties, and its natural aesthetic beauty. In structural engineering tests, bamboo has a higher tensile strength than many alloys of steel, and a higher compressive strength than many mixtures of concrete. It even has a higher strength to weight ratio than graphite.
Bamboo has been used as the standard building material for the majority of the world for thousands of years. There are many examples of buildings constructed entirely of bamboo, which are now several hundred years old. Due to their strength, these structures have even withstood 9.0 magnitude earthquakes.
Typically trees such as the ones used in conventional wood fencing take 30-50 years to regenerate to their full mass. In the meantime, there is less oxygen produced, less carbon dioxide consumed, and more soil runoff in the spot where that tree was harvested – all producing negative environmental effects.
On the other hand, bamboo is the fastest growing plant on Earth. Some species have actually been measured to grow over 4 feet in 24 hours. A pole of bamboo can regenerate to its full mass in just six months! Bamboo can be continuously re-harvested every 3 years, without causing damage to the plant system and surrounding environment. During the time it takes to regenerate, the bamboo plant’s root system stays intact so erosion is prevented. Continuous harvesting of this woody grass every 3-7 years, actually improves the overall health of the plant.
It is believed that if bamboo were planted on a mass basis it could completely reverse the effects of global warming in just 6 years, and provide a renewable source of food, building material, and erosion prevention.
The key to making bamboo a viable building structure that could eliminate the need for input intensive steel and concrete buildings is joiners. Innovations in bamboo joint technology will allow for the realization of hybrid buildings that have steel vertical supports with all floor and roof suspended by bamboo!!
Here are two examples of the latest technology:
Be sure to read about Glubam compostite beams another wonderful innovation that is set to make the sustainable bamboo market explode in the near future Bamboo resins and composites are also growing in demand and if all this isn’t exciting enough then just look at this bike by Calfee Designs! Damn!! I want to ride.
Here are some great links for you to explore:
Recently, there was a splendid conference that took place in Hohenwal, TN-USA regarding Financial Permaculture. This is perfect timing since were in a economic crises and we need whole systems solutions more than ever right now. Check out their blog for great resources and see my post “my thoughts on permaculture economics” for some good insight as well.