My instructor Scott Pittman of the US permaculture Institute on the need for a Permcorps from permaculture.tv
Gaia punk here,
Wow a whole year!
Yep, it has been roughly about a year now since PRP e-zine swung into full gear and we’re pretty happy with what has been accomplished thus far. This e-zine was conceived as a place to highlight inspiring radical permaculture and eco-city projects and the many incredible folks behind them. Part of the impetus behind this project was to attract more radicals towards permaculture and more permaculturalist towards radicalism if that makes any sense? Radicalism in terms of the fix shit up variety as opposed to the fuck shit up (not discounting the validity of the latter it’s just there is plenty of that on net already). Punk is a representation of the culture we carry and recreate along the journey. What is next for PRP-e zine?
- A new upgraded worpress.org site that is easier to read is in the works in the next few months!
- We are always recruiting more writers of diverse backgrounds for the zine so if you’ve been camping on something you would like to put out there we welcome you to submit just email thejulianeffect(at)gmail.com with the subject “gaia punks”.
- I am currently hashing out the framework for a permaculture media co-op with the editor of Permaculture.tv if your interested in affiliating your site or work and would like to discuss more about that project also just email me with subject “media co-op”.
- Once the site is revamped I will set about crafting a up to the second permaculture job /worktrade board and course listing that could be automatically updated via twitter for convenience.
- More design tools, more technical knowhow, more eco street art and music!
- Thank you all for coming and if you could please leave a bit about who you are, where your from, and suggestions for what you would like to see on this site in the future or anything else in the comments of this post. We do this for you folks and for the health of the planet thank you again for all the great support.
- This is just the beginning!
The real news was buried in the press release, though. Toward the bottom of a listing of verbal “commitments” from NGOs and foundations, we findthis:
Growing Power commits to strengthen food security for school children and their care givers in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Growing Power will build a new model of local food systems to ensure adequate nutrition in the short-term and build a long-term foundation for competitive African human capital in the global market place.
So Growing Power will be bringing its community-based, low-input style of agriculture to Africa—under the aegis of a group most known for its top-down, Big Solution way of development work.
I got Erika Allen, daughter of Growing Power founder Will and leader of the group’s Chicago operations, on the phone Monday to talk about the announcement.
She told me that in the current phase, Growing Power is hoping to raise $2 million to get its Africa initiative started. (The Clinton Global Initiative doesn’t so much fund specific projects as match funders with projects.)
Allen described the proposed initiative as a “cultural exchange”—Growing Power reps would be learning about how food production currently works in South Africa and Zimbabwe; looking closely at local assets, resources, gaps, and needs. And food-system actors from those places would visit Growing Power sites in the United States—not just at the flagship enterprises in Milwaukee and Chicago, but also at partner projects in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Mississippi.
From there, Growing Power and its partners in southern Africa would work on “modifying our production systems to local resources there.”
She stressed that what works in Milwaukee won’t necessarily fly in Zimbabwe. Here in the United States, Growing Power essentially siphons off some of the enormous food waste generated by a modern U.S. city and transforms it into fertile soil, which is then used to grow food. But African cities generate less compostable waste.
“The challenge will be to find the systems that work in areas with less excess,” Allen told me. She cited Growing Power’s aquaculture setup, where waste from tilapia tanks is used to fertilize watercress, one example of a low-input system that could work in Africa.
“Overall, it’s about helping people use their resources to build soil and grow food,” she said.
In a single sentence, Allen had articulated a vision completely counter to the top-down model of development that has dominated U.S. policy since at least the Cold War—the agricultural model most famously promoted by the recently deceased Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug. In this model, imported agrichemicals and seed varieties provide the path to food security in the global south. And trade is venerated with an almost religious zeal—nations should only produce food insofar as they have a “comparative advantage” in a particular crop. “High-value” crops like fresh produce should be exported to the industrialized north, where consumers can pay top dollar for them; “low-value” staple crops should be imported when expedient.
Make no mistake—even though more than a billion people globally lack sufficient access to food and farmers in the global south operate in a state of permanent crisis, that model still dominates today. The“Millennium Villages” concept for Africa championed by Harvard’s Jeffrey Sachs hinges on “new advances in science and technology.” To help boost food security, these showcase villages receive subsidies for imported fertilizers and seeds.
And the Gates Foundation, which has been organizing a massive attempt to transform food production in Africa, has made a game attempt to be open to new models of ag development. But as Annie Stattuck, Raj Patel, and Eric Holt-Gimenez show in an excellent recent article in The Nation, the overall thrust has been in the direction of high-tech “solutions” to the continent’s food problems.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has recently taken a deep bow to the conventional ag-development gods, by putting agrichemical-industry stalwarts in charge of both agriculture negotiations at global trade talks and USDA-funded research. Analyzing the latter appointment, that of the Monsanto-affiliated Roger Beachy to lead the USDA’s new National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Science blog recently wrote that:
Beachy’s interests in biotechnology and the developing world closely match those of his new boss, USDA’s Under Secretary for Research Rajiv Shah. They also fit with President Barack Obama’s desire to increase agricultural assistance to developing countries.
The Growing Power initiative points to a new direction. In place of costly and often ecologically and socially ruinous high-tech methods, the Allens present a vision of appropriate technology: techniques that communities can own and manage themselves, without the perpetual need to commit precious resources to toxic agrichemicals and patent-protected seeds.
As debate rages about how to “feed the world” amid population growth, climate change, and fossil-fuel depletion, projects like this one are critical. I’ll be watching it closely.
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.
Pittsburgh PA July 20-26th
This year’s CrimethInc. Convergence is a mere three weeks away. In Pittsburgh we are busy stock-piling foodstuffs and getting together a child-care collective, amongst other numerous tasks, but we wanted to announce a few things we’ve got in store for this year; rest assured that these are just the beginnings of the mad schemes and maniac plots we’re devising for the end of July. Our aim is that this year’s convergence opens up the space for new and exciting experiences, inspiring conversations, and connections with new and old friends alike. To facilitate this environment, we have a schedule of workshops and events, to which much more will be added in the coming weeks. Of course, every one of these workshops and events is contingent upon the active participation of those who attend.
Anyone with questions about what they need to bring or what items could be useful to our organizing can consult the list here, and those who want to share ideas beforehand or are looking for rides can coordinate on the Convergence forums. Any queries, concerns about the accessibility of the space, or offers of help can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our website will be updated frequently in the next three weeks.
What follows is a initial list of some of the workshops that will be offered this year. Don’t think this gets you off the hook. We ask that everyone who plans to attend, in fact we demand, that each and every beautiful and unique individual coming to Pittsburgh doesn’t sit passively listening to others talk or perform; we couldn’t bear not being graced with your exceptional talents or insights as well.The convergence is like a giant potluck of epic proportions, and it requires that every single person bring something to share. If you are used to talking a lot in front of crowds and being in charge, challenge yourself further by supporting the efforts of others, or even presenting or performing something that goes beyond the limits of what you’ve done in the past. If you have a workshop to present please post on the forums or e-mail email@example.com.
Pittsburgh Organizing Group’s Tactical Trainings
A locally based anarchist group will offer a series of workshops from their “tactical training initiative,” including Participating in a Mass Action 101, Lockboxes and Lockdown Devices, Beyond the Boardroom: A Workshop on Strategic Corporate Research, Working With The Media (for Anarchists), and An Introduction to the Global Political and Economic Frameworks. More info here.
The Organization and Benefits of Freeschools to Small Communities
An open discussion on Free Schools compared to other methods of organizing with a focus on small communities.
The GnuRadicals will offer a series of workshops on computer security, including: An “Introduction To Free Software,” which details the theory and history of Free Software and what that means for anarchists; a “Digital Security” workshop that outlines the state of the art in digital security, evading electronic surveillance, and communicating anonymously; an “Install-Fest” that walks participants through installing the necessary software on their computers; and a “Wireless Games” workshop that instructs participants on how to crack encrypted wireless networks, followed by a city-wide effort to crack and map as many as possible. All convergence attendees should bring their laptops if they have one and would like to participate.
Squat 2 Own
A workshop about political squatting, experiences organizing around housing issues in the South and how these topics relate to homeless solidarity, foreclosures, big banks, human rights, etc. A documentary may be shown if facilities are available, and more info can be found here.
Urban Permaculture/Guerrilla Gardening
Examining the concepts and principles of permaculture and its application to an urban setting. Hands on projects will be part of the workshop, as well as an exploration of the theme of blending anarchist direct action with permaculture. Depending on supplies and proximity to appropriate spaces, guerrilla planting, mushroom log placing and rainwater barrels can happen after the workshop takes place.
Story-Games: Collaborative Creativity, Entertaining Each Other & Abandoning the Media Machine.
What are Story-Games? They look like a handful of people sitting around talking. Some have you inventing the next part of the story, some have you speaking for one of the characters in the fiction. First we’ll have a guided discussion about story in our lives, then a very accessable lecture on Story-Jamming, learning to say Yes, and How To Make It Up As You Go Along. Then we’ll play a few story-games. It will be easy and fun.
Carnival of Solidarity: Tapping into the Radical Potential of New Orleans Mardi Gras
Next Year’s Olympic protests in Vancouver (Feb 10-15) will be happening at the same time as the culmination of Carnival in New Orleans. We are considering the possibilities of organizing solidarity actions in New Orleans during that timeframe. Also, there is discussion of staging radical actions/ outreach amidst the backdrop of Carnival/Mardi Gras every year from now on. This idea is still in the beginning stages; so, the workshop will be partially a brainstorm/thinktank session.
Intro to Botany and Plant Morphology
We will examine evolutionary development of vascular plants, plant nutrient uptake/nutrient deficiencies, some plant propagation, and maybe if time allows looking into flowers/seeds and a quick tutorial on plant breeding and germination. A plant walk in a nearby forested area will follow, if time allows, or be a separate additional workshop.
A workshop on gender as a social construction, transgender issues with healthcare, trans involvement in the LGBT community as a whole, and looking at ways to generally promote the visibility of the trans community.
Urban Hunting and Gathering
How to acquire and encourage wild and feral foods in an urban setting. We will cover animal processing (field dressing, using all parts of an animal, hide tanning, meat preservation), basic hunting and trapping strategies, medicinal and edible plants commonly found in urban areas, and whatever else folks want to discuss.
Herbalist Q & A
Come ask questions and I’ll do my best to answer them! Anything from abortions to headaches to medicine making.
Basic Medical Training
A workshop on basic emergency medicine, covering chemical burns, infection prevention, reduction of dislocations, blunt trauma and broken bones. Perspectives from alternative/holistic approaches will be given as well as from an experienced EMT.
Anti-Semitism in the Anarchist Millieu
Exploring and exposing the unfortunate propensity for anti-semitism in the anarchist milieu – presenting a few tenuous proposals for attacking this with more than just good intentions.
Convergence Reading Group
A contemporary yet classic anarchist text will be distributed to anyone interested at the beginning of the Convergence and near the end we will facilitate a discussion based on our reading. Feeling limited by the workshop format, this will be an attempt to give participants a common thread that extends beyond the alloted time. A discussion about people’s successes and failures in starting and continuing anarchist reading groups in their local communities will follow, or be a separate workshop altogether.
Community Autonomy: Building Networks and Infrastructure
A collective brainstorm on how we can build a network of communities that identify with the movement toward radical sustainability, and how we can build new infrastructure, both physical and social, that can move us toward greater autonomy from oppressive institutions. More info about the presenters here.
Musical Instrument Skillshare and Construction
A positive and encouraging space will be facilitated for folks to learn how to play instruments the want to learn about and teach about ones they know about. This workshop will also aim to create a marching band out of interested attendees to perform later on during the week.
Radical History Bike Tour
Local Pittsburghers will lead a bike tour through the city, visiting the many points of intense radical history that touched these streets. From the site of the Homestead strikes, to the tunnel that Emma Goldman and her comrades tried digging into the prison, to the armory that William Weisiss tried to raid, to the place where the knife that Alexander Berkman tried to stab Frick with is kept. We will have some bikes on hand, but please bring a bike with you if possible.
We’ve also got folks planning discussions on disability issues bringing their personals experiences, a Graffiti Walk, morning yoga, rewilding skills like sling-making, a workshop on basic vehicle mechanics, and a facilitated discussion on writing and editing.
In addition to the workshops there will be evening fun playing urban capture the flag, a radio powered treasure hunt adventure, an epic dance party, a puppet show, spontaneous games of all stripes and an inventive Hat Band that can hopefully expand upon this longstanding international tradition. Since we’ve chosen an urban location this year we’re planning a short swimming retreat out of town, and on Saturday July 25th the Convergence will help boost Pittsburgh’s new monthly Really Really Free Market (bring anything you can to give away!). Ambitious plotting is in the works for other activities, but remember that these can only succeed with the self-motivation and self-direction of the attendees. And so that is what we ask you to bring to Pittsburgh in three weeks time; we can hardly wait to see what you have in store.
Remember, meet at the Northside Commons (W. North Ave. and Brighton) by the pond, on Monday, July 20, anytime between 12 pm and sundown.
Next time, we’ll be able to announce more workshops!
Appendix: Another Tour to the Convergence
Froseph is going on yet another tour revolving around this summer’s convergence. The Wild Nettle Bookmobile, Winona, Minnesota’s anarchist literature distributer will also be along for the ride. Check out their new website! Along with the usual goods, The Wild Nettle Bookmobile hopes to raise some much needed legal funds for the RNC 8, the MKE 3 and Bash Back!. The dates are listed below. The ones marked “(help!)” are not confirmed. If you live in or around those places and would like to host this tour, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
23-Madison, WI at the Lothlorien Coop w/Thistle
26-Detroit, MI at the Trumbellplex w/Ghost Mice and Heathers
27-Ann Arbor, MI (help!)
1-Dayton, OH (help!)
2-Athens, OH at Brown Town
5-9-Philadelphia July 5-9 (help!)
9-13-Punxsutawney, PA July 9-13
13-27-Pittsburgh, PA CrimethInc. Convergence
29-Lexington, KY benefit for Hugh
30-Louisville, KY (help!)
31-Bloomington, IN (help!)
2-St. Louis, MO (help!)
3-Kansas City, MO (help!)
4-Lawrence, KS (help!)
5-Omaha, NE (help!)
6-Des Moines, IA
One of my favorite little Permie maxims is, ” Unity Through Integration and Integration Through Diversity”. There are many different possible configurations of garden beds each with different advantages so here is a brief bit about some different types and terminology.
- A garden bed that has been raise off the ground and in which the soil is held in a framed box of some sort. These can also be made as table beds for easy access for folks with physical challenges. Raised box beds work well for climates with lots of moisture and appeal to those of us with tidy sensibilities
- A garden bed that has different layers raised up without a frame. The advantage of not having a frame is that you actually get more space for plants because the bed is a parabolic curve.
- This innovative bed is made by piling wood, newspapers, rubbish and compost up, and then covering that pile with dirt, mulch, and vegetation. These beds are usually raised but could be sunken too. The wood and rubbish act to attract water as well as aid mycelia (fungal) growth which is beneficial for your plants.
- Mandalas are beautiful circular and sometimes spiral patterns that may also incorporate forms from sacred geometry. The advantage of a mandala bed is it’s unique beauty and also that they’re non-linear which can mean significant space savings. Some mandala designs have seed start beds in the center and more established plants on the outside which is a super convenient way of organizing your plants.
Raised Bed (Boxed):
Raised Bed (unboxed):
A sunken bed is a bed that has been dug down in order to gather more moisture and works very well in dry-land settings.
Mandala Bed :
Please enjoy and share these two manuals on how to make a raised bed as well as a hugelkulture bed…
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,
We want to know….
So you may know a bit about Permaculture and the inspiration behind this e-zine or maybe you don’t, but we would love to learn more about you. Please if you would, leave a comment about what brought you here and perhaps a bit about yourself and your interests. Describe as much or as little as you wish. You could also leave a link that you believe would be of interest to PRP e-zine, or if you have any advice or something you want to see here we would love to know. Thanks
~ the Punk Rock permaculture contributors
P.S. : We are always seeking new contributors if that is your bag…
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.
So what does punk rock and permaculture have in common?
First of all, both movements speak strongly about community and autonomy. Punk popularized the DIY ethic now becoming DIO (Do it ourselves) which means even more attention is being paid to community sufficiency. Self governance has been essential to punk since it’s inception. Punk activism has long placed emphasis on non hierarchal structure advocating for anarchistic (without rulers) governance, and systems based on consent, and full participation which are also essential to any permaculture operation.
Secondly, both movements have spoken up joyfully and loudly for the earth. Whether it vegan folk punk bands singing about treesits or earth activists creating temporary sustainable community at climate camps as training grounds. Permie punks are a organizing force to be reckoned with.
Finally, embracing diversity is key to both movements. As I always like to remember “unity through intergration, intergration through diversity”!
Permie punks unite!
Recently, my roomate just left Olympia for the Earth Activist Training permaculture course and so I though I would highlight what this inspiring course is about.
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.
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!
The twenty first century is a century of global convergence. Never before has humanity had the power to spread ideas and modes of being as quickly as today, never before has there been a greater need to examine what has come before so that we might build today what is coming….
The horrendous problems and also staying power of exploitative capitalism are well known. Today we are faced with a social crisis, a credit crisis, a labor crisis, a housing crisis, a extreme food shortage, an environmental mega-crisis, and of course the energy crisis; the fact is that capitalism is a system designed to create and exploit crisis. This year 100 million people are likely to face possible starvation due to food shortages and hurtful policies. Instead of endlessly playing with in one economic game, occasionally bending the rules, sometimes even breaking them a bit, today we have the option of creating a wiser, more just, dynamic, and dare I say, more colorful game. A new economic system that fully incorporates the principals of living systems instead of ruthlessly denying them is on the verge of creation. This is the basis behind permaculture economics. It is imperative now that innovative alternatives aren’t seen as optional bandages for a wounded world, but are once and for all embraced as lasting solutions.
It is not enough to just value living systems if our everyday actions are contrary, destructive, and apart from the foundations on which those systems are built. One point of importance we must all collectively realize is that money generated by exploitative means is a entirely different form of money than money that is generated by just and sustainable means, and should in all ways be recognized as such. This point is not easily discerned especially since everything gets mixed up in circulation; just like with so many destructive products the biggest lie is one of omission. Triple bottom line accounting is one solution that has started to gain ground at taking into account these so called social and environmental “externalities”. But, how can we make an entire economy that recognizes these distinctions and can incorporate the proven principals of living systems, and who is already working to do so?
Perhaps one of the most exciting experiments in alternative economies is the local currency movement which guarantees more accountability with in a local economy because the people that use the currency have control over it. Unfortunately, this experiment is also in danger of always remaining as a experiment, albeit a successful one, do to the fact that it can never transcend the local scale. Whether we like it or not trade and commerce at the global level is here to stay simply because demand for global goods and services will not decrease until population does, and also because it is nearly impossible for any system no matter how sustainable to get all of the inputs from the local region including steel, lumber, plastics, and whatever other little necessary evils infiltrate our lives. Localism has a very prominent place with in sustainability but it can not be a panacea with which to fix all our current global woes. So what options are we left with?
Fortunately for us all it already is working. Currently, social micro lenders, green lenders, and permaculture credit unions, are providing the ground work for this incentive system by giving lower interest rates for socially and environmentally responsible projects. In essence, they are creating social and environmentally responsible capital. Community Land Trust are providing healthy living environments at affordable prices without the destructive and volatile swings of speculation. Others are doing important work by linking up green consumers and producers with online technology such as “green mapping”, green consumer rebate cards, and online barter systems, all of which are becoming increasingly popular.
Here is the most favorable scenario: first, green mappers using open source online technology target potential entities who would be interested in participating in this alternative currency. All participants will be measured by a social environmental index each year (many of these indexes already exist and have proven successful). Theoretically, at the top of this index would be entities such as green cooperatives, while as, non profits might be more in the middle since they may be green though not necessarily socially democratic, and at the bottom would be single proprietor green business or traditional businesses that are environmentally sound with employee stock ownership plans. Participants would be allowed to exchange their national currency or even local currency in for this alternative one, but would initially be prohibited from exchanging back (note, the value of this currency would be pegged to the average of all currency markets hence reducing volatility). Making this currency as digital as possible would cut down on prohibitive printing costs and increase its general liquidity. Having lower interest rates on loans made in this alternative currency based on an entities social environmental index rating provides a strong incentive for businesses to have the most progressive business structure possible. Once proven successful this incentive would then draw other entities into the alternative economy thus growing the transactions and trades of social environmentally friendly alternative goods and services. Seemingly ironic, this kind of economic activity will help substantially support multiple domestic economies with out the negative effects that we’ve seen from neo-liberal globalization thus far. It is possible to develop lending rules that would allow growth to primarily be horizontal in nature and create more diversity while at the same time minimizing monopolization and speculation. This type of horizontal and diverse growth with be more beneficial for all and create more stable economies. It is my conviction that the future as my generation will determine it will have a global economics system in which all social environmental cost will be accounted for.