Van Jones remains as one of the most eloquent, honest, and influential people working at the nexus of environmental and social justice. Van is a personal hero of mine and his social philosophy is very akin to the ideas driving the liberation permaculture movement to which I subscribe.
My instructor Scott Pittman of the US permaculture Institute on the need for a Permcorps from permaculture.tv
Gaia punk here,
The Remarkable History (and Possible Future) Of Permaculture Disaster Relief
Yesterday the island of Hispanola was hit with a devastating 7.3 magnitude earthquake near Port-Au-Prince the capital of Haiti . Many multiple story buildings have completely collapsed including the major Hospital in the region. Thousands may be killed or trapped in the rubble and aid is being mobilized from around the world. With little to no backup power, sewage, water, housing, or food aid systems in place, Haiti, which is currently the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, is in a VERY DIRE SITUATION. Without a doubt resources and expertise are moving en mass to Haiti, but beyond this temporary relief, what will sustain this nation of 10 million people when it’s left in an even poorer position than ever before? This is where permaculture design comes in, with an adaptable and ever evolving tool kit that can be of vital assistance in disaster relief and the long recovery period to follow.
During the war in Kozovo back in 1999 when displaced refugees flooded into Macedonia Geoff Lawton and a crack team of eager permaculturalists secured international aid to design and implement the master plan for the Cegrane Camp Permaculture Rehabilitation Project, a large refugee camp that provided relief for over 43,000 people.
Geoff created the design around water capture and storage. The final design called for 7.2 km of swales, with an estimated water holding capacity of 30 million liters, greatly reducing the flood potential. Many passive solar strawbale buildings were constructed by trained locals who quickly grasped the simplicity and efficiency of this natural building technique. Large gardens, composting toliets, and chicken tractors all came together in a very short time span. The skills and systems thinking acquired during this process may help secure sustainable employment and economic development for the entire region for years to come.
Another successful implementation of permaculture relief took place in Cuba during the early 90’s when Cuba was suffering from a crippling petroleum embargo. Working with a grant from the Cuban government Austrailian permaculturalists, including Robyn Francis, traveled to Cuba to work with hundreds of Cubans on sustainable food systems design. Robyn, a well traveled expert in permaculture education in the 2/3rds (developing) world, helped local organizers use permaculture design prinicpals and techniques in their urban agriculture efforts. During this time, worker cooperatives were set up, market gardens and public transportation flourished, little to no pesticides or fertilizers were employed, and catastrophic famine was avoided. This partnership has continued to be highly successful and now some of the most experienced urban permaculture experts in the world come from Cuba because of the courageous spirit of the Cuban citizenry. Currently, the Cuba-Australia Permaculture Exchange (CAPE) is working on sustainable housing developments using natural building to compliment the work they began together with urban agriculture
There are numerous ways in which a full-time Permaculture Relief Corps could operate in Haiti in short and long-term time frames.
Building sewage systems, composting toilets, compost and recyclying centers, rocket and solar stoves, temporary shelters (perma-yurts), water catchment, and plant nurseries.
Permanent natural buildings, water storage, earth works, renewable energy, permaculture food forests, broad-scale reforestation, farms, aquaculture systems, health centers and schools.
In 2003 following a intense hurricane, a team including Eric Davenport, an American architect, and David Doherty, a Peace Corps Volunteer, worked for several months with the local community to rebuild a rural village after severe flooding. This team was then joined by Frederique Mangones, a renowned Haitian architect, and engineer Frantz Severe of ORE draw to the challenge of designing low-cost housing adapted to Haitian rural family activities. In the fall of 2003, a team of permiculturalists also offered their expertise to the village project.
|Today their team in collaboration with the local community and the Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Environment ORE is working on:|
– Low cost relief from floods
– Waste management & recycling to protect the environment
– Hygienic toilets to improve family health
– A community center to bring people together
– Privacy to reduce stress within families
– Green spaces to enhance quality of life
– Fruit trees to generate income
– Utilizing daily wind patterns, heat and cooling cycles
– Covenants to protect their community
Haiti is in desperate need of our assistance which can not come soon enough. 8 out of 10 Haitians live in abject poverty and need the long term commitment of folks working for a sustainable and abundant future. Please check out the links below of organizations doing great work in this field.
If you are interested in the formation of a Permaculture Relief Corps like the one I’m proposing please email thejulianeffect(at)gmail.com and I will keep you up to date on the latest developments.
My heart goes out to all those working and living in Haiti right now,
Evan Schoepke (@gaiapunk) *CORRECTION*: I had previously mixed up David Doherty (peace core volunteer with Darren Doherty (broad scale permaculture designer), sorry about the confusion.
Principal of Gaia Punk Designs
I’m really excited to see this film and debute it in my community. It has a great cast of main characters:
Jamie Lee Curtis | Bill Logan | Andy Lipkis | Vandana Shiva | Wangari Maathai | Wes Jackson | Sebastiao Salgado | Lelia Deluiz Wanick Salgado | Paul Stamets | Miguel Altieri| Pierre Rabhi | David Orr | Majora Carter | James Jiler | Fritjof Capra | Peter Girguis |Alice Waters | Gary Vaynerchuk | Janine Benyus | John Todd
but it also stars my most favorite environmental super-celebrity DIRT!
I love this video…
Makes me think of how eager people (especially like me) get once they learn the implications of permaculture design, enjoy!
It seems as though Pittsburgh is either the De facto capital of the rust belt or a city in the midst of a revolutionary transformation. In recent years Pittsburgh has become a epicenter for green building, bike paths, solar composites, and one of the professed launching pads of the new “green economy”. This is fascinating because Pittsburgh could also be considered one of the many coal capitals of the world, and anyone who has studied the issue knows that there is absolutely no way to make coal “clean” as long as your using mining techniques such as “mountaintop removal”. There is nothing like synthetic stench of two faced liberalism to hide the odious fact that the root of some very serious issues like housing, poverty, gentrification, and classism are not being addressed. The city of Pittsburgh’s role during the current wholly undemocratic G20 summit is to act as a PR spin machine to distract the public from the main show of global power grabs behind the scenes and behind closed doors.
While the media is very focused on equating anarchists with terrorists, they’re also wholly ignoring the police harassment and abuse that has already taken place even before the summit. The Seeds of Peace collective has been repeatedly attacked by the police solely because of the fact by that by bringing a bus to act as kitchen and medical support for the g20 resistance they’ve been made an obvious target. Yesterday, the Landslide Community Farm and the Cyberpunk Apocalypse Writers Guild house were raided for no plausible reasons by swarms of cops trespassing without warrants or accurate justification. The Landslide Community Farm and the Cyberpunk Apocalypse house are centers of different type transformation happening in Pittsburgh, that of radical culture.
These centers are the works of truly earnest folks, that divide up what free time they can muster into making art, hosting cultural gatherings, giving out free food, planting permaculture food forests, building bike co-ops, fighting all forms of oppression, and re-envisioning all that has been abandoned in the shadows of steel that is the forlorn rusty spine of Pittsburgh. Some of them are even proud to be called anarchists. These groups and many, many, others like them are true community builders something the G20 aristocrats will most likely never understand. Perhaps the new face of Pittsburgh is not the gilded “green” skyline for the rich but the rainbow of diversity in an urban farm for everyone.
For more info about the Landslide Community Farm visit: www.punkrockpermaculture.com
For real time updates on the G20 resistance visit: pittsburgh G-finity
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.
That is the question many will be asking in the weeks leading up to the 2nd Water Woman Festival this OCT 1,2,3,4 in Joshua Tree, CA. Water Woman has sprang to life as the new alternative / compliment to the Burning Man Festival. If your tired of festivals where everyone is burnt out from too many late night drug banazas and would love to learn something more from your communal experience then Water Woman is just the festival for you. Water Woman will hopefully (if all goes well) feature incredible eco based art installations, permaculture and natural building workshops, great music, and a warm welcoming community of folks dedicated to living harmoniously with the earth. I hope to attend and see you there!
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!
Amazing Urban Permaculture Workshop in Brooklyn, NY
I just got back from a little eastcoast permaculture tour visiting folks in
Toronto, Montreal, New York, and Burlington VT. All I can say is that things are poppin’ right now in the world of permaculture.
So I don’t normally post too many course announcements here solely
because there are just so many, but this one is unique. It is a urban permaculture workshop with exceptionally experienced instructor Larry Santoyo of Earthflow Designs. Larry along with my awesome permaculture
design course instructor Scott Pittman work together with the US Permaculture Institute doing projects all around the US and the world at large. Here are the details about the workshops:
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.
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:
The liberation mutation…
Thanks to 100 Sommerville for inspiring this post:
I want to share with you all a very interesting project born from the grasslands of Kansas but sweeping the globe.
is exporting sustainable, appropriate, and farm based technology in order to create a replicable model for community sufficient ecovillages all around the globe. Please help them spread the word, gather knowledge and resources, and network, by checking out there blog, wiki, and the Factor E Farm itself.
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.
At the living edge…
Permaculturist work with both the land and water, oh and the sun and wind too, but lets just look at some neat water stuff today. Sustainable aquaculture is a great way to increase biodiversity and beneficial relationships with in a landscape. Here is a great film to watch with permaculture farmer Sepp Holzer who created more than 70 ponds and wetland areas covering about 3 hectares on a Austrian mountain no less.
and here is a little film detailing the possibility for urban aquaculture!
For further exploration Tool-kit for Sustainable City Living is also a great resource for DIY urban aquaculture and aquaponics techniques.
Is it possible to create floating islands that are biologically diverse in the worlds largest dump the North Pacific Gyre?
For those of you who may not know the North Pacific Gyre is area in the Pacific Ocean (twice the size of Texas) that collects lots and lots of plastic junk from ocean currents all over the world.
This massive flotilla of plastic junk just swirls there and is overtime broken down by sunlight and the motion of the waves. This is extremely troubling not just because it is an eyesore, but because it threatens wildlife, and even phytoplankten the very lungs of our earth. For a long while now I had intended to prepare some sketches for an article about the idea of using floating islands- a permaculture technique that involves building islands out of debris and then planting beneficial plants that provide micro habitats and clean the water- as method to transform the Pacific Gyre.
It seems a visionary canadian architect named Michale Barton already has! Well, he at least made some nice pictures anyway, it’s a start.
Although difficult the idea is not at all impossible…
From tree hugger:
“We couldn’t make this stuff up: this man, Reishee Sowa of Puerto Aventuras, Mexico, apparently grew tired of trying to live self-sufficiently on dry land, and did what any of us would have done. He built his own island out of used pop bottles. 250,000 of them, plus some construction leftovers and bags of leaves, make up “his island,” though he’s quick to point out that it’s technically not an island by traditional standards. “You see not even the president is allowed his own island in Mexico,” he says, “but technically I don’t have an island, I have an eco space-creating ship.”
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.
It’s time to get retro….
retrofit that is
Hey everyone I really wanted to share this great video about my good friend Jan Spencer’s suburban permaculture retrofit house in Eugene, OR. Jan is a extremely knowledgeable permaculturalist, a awesome mural painter, and all around upbeat and very friendly guy. We first met two years ago during his west coast permaculture bike tour and we had a great time together coming back with some friends from the Ecocity World Summit in San Francisco. He showed us around his place which was such a cool retrofit I thought I would share it with you here.
Grow your own food!
This is an inspiring little video from the folks at the Lama Foundation in New Mexico.
You can fix all the worlds problems in a garden…..
Part three of my ten part inspiring permaculture video series is Greening the Desest with Geoff Lawton from the Australian Permaculture Research Institute
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!
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.