Financial Permaculture: 8 forms of Capital

The eight forms of captial is a excellent foundation for the concepts behind financial permaculture.  It was developed in collaboration by some of my closest permaculture mentors such as Ethan Roland, Gregory Landua, and Catherine Austin Fitts.  The primary idea behind the eight forms is that they interchangeable and dynamic.  Please enjoy this text and share it with in the businesses, organizations, and groups that you are a part of.

You can find more info about financial permaculture here.

Cultural capitalism at it’s sickest: Groupon fails bigtime

Permaculture Politics:

by @gaiapunk

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.)

Best Resources for Retrofitting Suburbia Permaculture Style

by @gaiapunk
One of the major reasons I work in permaculture is because as a eco-city researcher I’ve seen the devastating effects of urban and suburban environments out of balance with natural principals.  It was my investigations in eco-city research that made me into a passionate permaculture activist because I saw how beautifully the design principals in permaculture imitated the evolutionary intelligence of nature’s own design work.  This new outlook changed the way I looked at our modern challenges and gave me a new story to believe in regarding humanity’s potential to help in the regeneration of our planet.  A huge modern challenge to this end is retrofitting our urban and suburban to be more resilient, productive, and ecologically harmonious.  One important thing to make note of is that as we make areas more attractive we need to be cognizant of economic divisions and use models like community land trust, co-ops, and mixed income planning to make sure the benefits of improvements can be shared by everyone.  This retrofitting revolution is a massive and essential undertaking presented nicely above by Ellen Dunham Jones author of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs.  I’m dedicating the rest of this post to give you best retrofitting resources I know so you can join me in creating better places both for the health of ourselves and the planet.
Shareable.net: This site features some of my favorite retrofitting content and has a focus on making society more shareable.
City Repair: is a retrofitting force to be reckoned with which started in lovely Portland Oregon and whose model of community based organizing and place making has spread all over the US
Suburban Permaculture: Jan Spencer is a consummate expert on suburban permaculture retrofitting, a good friend, and a great inspiration.
inhabitat:  Features great articles on urban retrofitting.
Planetizen: Great place to find recent retrofitting articles

Permacorps and Haiti by the numbers

My instructor Scott Pittman of the US permaculture Institute on the need for a Permcorps from permaculture.tv

Gaia punk here,

Top of the evening to everyone,
What I’ve taken to calling a “Permacorps” mission for the long term recovery of Haiti is slowly mounting.  I’ve received dozens of emails from some very qualified folks from around the globe asking how they can help plug in.  In a day or two there will be a project posting entitled “Permaculture Relief Corps” on Kickstarter.com, which is a popular crowdfunding site.  If anyone has any info related to this idea please share so that we can better coordinate our efforts.  Honestly, I’m a bit surprised by the lack of discussion some of the better known permie sites.  But, I’m not at all discouraged, because I know that what I do see on the net is just a very small sliver of what is actually going on.   What I’m trying to say is that I would like to see more of that discussion.  If anyone can contact people from the Permaculture First Responders course that would very helpful too.  There are two google docs spreadsheet I can share with folks to add regional contacts.  In a week or so it seems a skype conference call is in order to further coordinate stateside efforts. Currently, various permaculture groups working in Haiti and elsewhere are being contacted for their opinions and so far ORE in Haiti has been very supportive of this idea.
Thank you all for your awesome work,                                                                                                                       [tweetmeme]
evan
Here are approximated numbers on the situation currently from the Huffington Post…
People in Haiti needing help: 3 million. Bodies collected for disposal so far: 9,000. Number of people being fed daily by the United Nation’s World Food Program: only 8,000.
The numbers behind the outpouring of earthquake assistance are giant. But they are dwarfed by the statistics indicating the scope of the disaster in Haiti, the number of victims and their deep poverty.
“The level of need is going to be significantly higher” than many previous disasters, said Dr. Michael VanRooyen, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.
Here are some numbers, with the proviso that figures are estimates that are constantly changing.
___
THE DEAD
Current death estimates: The Red Cross says 45,000 to 50,000 people have died. The Pan American Health Organization puts the number between 50,000 and 100,000 and Rueters news has 100,000 to 200,000 possibly dead or missing
Bodies collected for disposal so far: 9,000. An additional 7,000 corpses were reportedly placed
in a mass grave.
Percent of buildings damaged or destroyed: Up to 50 percent.
Hospitals or health facilities in Haiti damaged, forced to close: eight.
Patients treated by Doctors Without Borders initially: more than 1,500.
Search-and-rescue teams on ground or en route Friday: 38.
Homeless people in Port-au-Prince: at least 300,000.
Water needed daily: 6 to 12 million gallons (enough to fill 18 Olympic sized swimming pools a day).
Kate Conradt, chief spokeswoman for Save the Children, said that the challenge ahead cannot be overcome in a few days or weeks. “This is a long-term disaster,” she said in a telephone interview from Port-au-Prince.
Helping Haiti “is going to take far more than we ever could imagine,” VanRooyen said.
So in response, the world has opened its wallets.
___
THE MONEY
United Nations Emergency appeal for aid: $550 million.
United States pledge of aid: $100 million. (some of this may be in the form of a IMF loan)
European Commission’s initial spending: 3 million Euros.
Total pledge of aid by governments around world: $400 million.
Number of governments that have sent aid so far: more than 20.
International Red Cross’ initial emergency appeal goal: $10 million.
Amount of money raised by Save The Children: $7 million.
Amount of money pledged by George Soros: $4 million.
Amount raised by Wyclef Jean’s Yele 10 million
Amount of money raised by the Salvation Army and some other charities: more than $3 million.
___
HELP THAT’S ALREADY THERE OR COMING
Number of people being fed daily by U.N.’s World Food Program: only 8,000.
Number of people a day WFP hopes to feed within 15 days: 1 million.
Number of people a day WFP hopes to feed within one month: 2 million!
Amount of food salvaged by WFP in damaged Haitian warehouse being distributed: 6,000 tons (out of a total of 15,000 tons stored before the earthquake).
Meals prepared and freeze dried by the Salvation Army in Kansas and Iowa to ship to Haiti: 1.28 million, weighing nearly 200,000 pounds.
Number of trucks carrying bottled water being trucked in from neighboring Dominican Republic: 13.
UNICEF initial shipment of rehydration liquids, water-purification tables, hygiene kits and tents: enough for only 10,000 people.
Size of Doctors Without Borders initial relief package: 25 tons.
International Red Cross pre-positioned relief supplies:only enough for 3,000 families.
Plane of Red Cross supplies sent Thursday: 40 tons.
Body bags sent by Red Cross on Thursday: 3,000.
“We are seeing overwhelming need within the city and increasingly desperate conditions,” Conradt said. “We visited two camps today with 5,000 people and only four latrines total. We were told that the number of people there doubles at night, but during the day they are looking out for food, water and family members.”
Camps like that are all over Port-au-Prince.
And this is a country that before Tuesday’s earthquake was the poorest in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest worldwide. More than half of Haiti’s 10 million people live on less than $1 a day, even before the earthquake, according to the United Nation’s World Food Program. The World Bank said the average Haitian lives on just $1,180 a year.
Nearly half of Haiti’s population is hungry and only half had access to safe drinking water before the earthquake, according to the World Food Program. Nearly 60 percent of Haiti’s children under 5 are anemic.
___
PEOPLE FROM ELSEWHERE
Americans in Haiti when earthquake struck: 45,000.
Number of Americans evacuated from Haiti: 846.
Number of Americans confirmed dead: six.
Number of Canadians dead: four.
Number of United Nations workers in Haiti when earthquake struck: 12,000.
Number of UN workers confirmed dead: 37.
Number of UN workers missing: 330.
Number of Dominicans dead: six.
Number of Brazilians dead: 15.
Number of Europeans dead: six.
Number of staffers of Christian humanitarian agency World Vision: 370.
U.S. troops there to help or possibly on their way: 10,000.
Haitian Red Cross volunteers: 1,700.
___
This report was compiled by Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein in Washington and Frank Jordans in Geneva. Edith Lederer at the United Nations in New York contributed.
___
SOURCES: The Associated Press, United Nations, U.S. State Department, European Commission, International Red Cross, Save The Children, Salvation Army, other charities.

Permaculture Relief Corps Forming For Haiti Earthquake Response?

The Remarkable History (and Possible Future) Of Permaculture Disaster Relief

Devastation in Port Au Prince photo: Carel Pedre via twitter

1/13/09

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.

Permaculture Disaster Relief

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

Water Harvesting

There are numerous ways in which a full-time Permaculture Relief Corps could operate in Haiti in short and long-term time frames.

Short Term:

Building sewage systems, composting toilets, compost and recyclying centers, rocket and solar stoves, temporary shelters (perma-yurts), water catchment, and plant nurseries.

Long Term:

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.

Design for a new village

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.               [tweetmeme]

My heart goes out to all those working and living in Haiti right now,

Sincerly,

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

Permaculture ACROSS boarders

CAPE

ORE

Chi’Bagoda (bambitat perma-yurts

http://www.oursoil.org

Can Permaculture Save Detroit?

Detroit Permaculture

Here is some completely heretical news in for the world of eco-capitalist dreamers; no silly white multi-million dollar media men will ever solve the worlds ecological or social problems.  Yeah I know what your thinking blasphemous right?  Specifically, I am referring to the uber opportunistic and freshly greenwashed faces of Al gore, Warren Buffet, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Richard Rainwater, and now John Hantz.  Hantz, a big time financial investor and longtime Detroit resident is proposing to put 30 million down of his own money to build a high tech farming operation that will be coupled with “green” estates.  In Fortune Magazine’s limited interview Hantz said that Detroit is suffering from a lack of scarcity and that the only way to save housing prices is by taking as much property off the market as possible, hence the massive farm and real estate combo.  But, couple this seemingly benign idea with a one track profit motive and instead of community revitalization one gets rampant community gentrification that pushes out the very people (the poorer residents of Detroit) that one is purporting to be “helping”.  The team Hantz has assembled thus far is glaringly white in a city that is over 80% black which is highly suspicious to say the least not to mention naming the entire operation Hantz Farm doesn’t inspire thoughts of “community”.  Rather than going to the folks who have already spent immense amounts of effort to bring local organic food to their communities and bring jobs in their neighborhoods, and then offer to assist financially in their efforts, thus far Hantz is developing a hierarchal strategy that may put those very folks out of business. Hantz’s preliminary proposals have garnered lots of unwarranted media attention even though very few details have emerged about how this farming project will be managed and who exactly will manage it.

The Hantz Farm site is just a  collection of stock photos that to me seem as hollow as their message.  Okay perhaps I’m being too cynical but right now important questions remain around what exact types of technology the farm will employ (already energy expensive technologies like hydroponics and large scale harvesters have been mentioned) , if there is even a viable market in the region, and most importantly, who will this for profit enterprize benefit the most.  “I’m concerned about the corporate takeover of the urban agriculture movement in Detroit,” says Malik Yakini, a charter school principal and founder of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, which operates D-Town Farm on Detroit’s west side. (from CNN)

Organic farming is enjoying a nice trendy resurgence as a solution to urban, rural, and ecological ills. Unfortunately, farming no mattter how popular can only do so much.  It is well known that various economic events some deliberate and some unexpected have cost the United States and urban manufacturing centers like Detroit obscene amounts of jobs.  What is not well known, is that neither local organic farming, or any green high tech green wizardry, is likely to bring these jobs back in the near future.  But, never fear, there are three simple solutions to this whole mess we’re all in along with Detroit.

ONE: Permaculture

Detroit honestly doesn’t need anymore scarcity (though real estate barons may see it differently) it desperately needs abundance, and permaculture is a complete system that designs for abundance.  If the polluted landscape of Detroit is going to be regenerated then organic farming is just not enough.

TWO: Cooperatives

The entire history of Detroit is one of total abandonment by the world of capital and a complete lack of responsibility or loyalty to the local community.  Cooperatives by their very nature encourage horizontal investment, diversity, democracy, and local responsibility.

THREE: Community Land Trusts

Community Land Trusts are set up in such a way as to encourage low income buyers into positions of ownership and avoid volatility in housing prices.  There are few communities in the the US that have suffered worse volatility in housing prices than Detroit.  What Hantz is proposing is just green veiled gentrification while the real solution for the people of Detroit lies in Community Land Trusts.  Burlington VT has many successful examples of how and why CLT’s can close the gaps of classism.

Note, I did not mention 30 million dollars from some rich white guy!  Now if that 30 million was invested in those 3 things I would surely change my tune, but if it’s invested in anything else, I really wouldn’t get my hopes up.  Currently, Detroit will likely be the venue for the 2010 US social forum and I plan on being there purposing real solutions based on living permaculture and cooperative principals not on selfish, dead, capitalist oriented ones.                                       [tweetmeme]

Organizations doing the real work in Detroit:

Evolve Detroit    http://detroitevolution.com/

Detroit Agriculture Network  http://www.detroitagriculture.org/

Detroit Summer http://www.detroitsummer.org/

Midwest Permaculture  http://www.midwestpermaculture.com/

Permie Punk Profile: Ethan Roland

Get Your Forest Garden On…

Hey Gaia Punk here,

So I was just recently accepted for a 3 month Advance Permaculture Design internship with Ethan Roland of Appleseed Permaculture in the Hudson Valley area of New York.  I am very excited for this opportunity to deepen my skills and I’m dedicated to the helping make permaculture design accessible to even more people than ever before.  Ethan is such an awesome force in the world of permaculture and vital mentor to so many wonderful folks that I decided I would take a moment to highlight some of his work.

Ethan is a full time Permaculture designer and teacher and expert in the areas of large scale perennial polyculture systems and ecological community design.  See slideshow:

Ethan studied at Haverford College and later obtained a M.S. in Collaborative eco-social design from Gaia University a innovative and global growing university through which he now occasionally teaches courses.  Ethan is the principal of Appleseed Permaculuture which collaborates with permaculture and ecological designers from all over the world.  Ethan currently sits on the board of Permaculture Across Boarders which assists permaculture projects in the developing or 2/3 rds world.  His work has brought him all over world (Thailand, Azerbaijan, Kazakastan, the Virgin Islands,) with direct learning experience and mentoring from folks like Geoff Lawton and Dave Jacke.  Ethan is directly involved with the Carbon Farming and Financial Permaculture movements.  He supports and promotes sustainable community based cooperative enterprises like the innovative cocao CSA Booyacacao.  Ethan contributes contents and expertise for Earth Activist Mentor a amazing site and service for up and coming designer like myself, folks looking for detailed in depth resources, or distance mentoring for permaculture diplomas.  Well, I hope to do a video interview shortly with Ethan and Nicolas Roberts from Permaculture.tv but until then enjoy this inspiring lecture Ethan presented to a group of UMASS architecture students and Greg Landua presentation of Booyacocao “Theobroma” production.