Permaculture and the Ecology of Leadership

*cross posted from the Wonder Collective

@Gaiapunk the editor of PRP e-zine will be attending the Ecology of Leadership workshop at the Evergreen State College this Fri evening.

EOL is a one of a kind natural principal based leadership curriculum developed by James Stark and Christopher Kuntzch sponsored by the outstanding Regenerative Design Institute.

Ecology of Leadership workshops are geared toward change-seekers, nonprofit and community leaders, people in personal or professional transition, eco-social entrepreneurs, and people who long to make a difference but aren’t sure how to begin.

As EOL unfolds, you learn to integrate nature awareness, inner permaculture, and leadership skills into your daily life and larger dreams. You will begin to experience leadership as a dynamic process that translates your awareness and insights into effective action toward your goals.  Click here for more information about upcoming EOL workshops on the West Coast of the USA.

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Liberation Permaculture


Permaculture is occasionally criticized for being a bit insular and middle class oriented.  I feel that this type of characterization is only partially accurate and definitely things are changing for the better very fast.  The folks who are a part of the liberation permaculture movement are radical in their approach to actively changing this perception.

Liberation Permaculture, a framework and design science that invokes the traditional knowledge of land-based peoples, provides organizers with a methodology to resist systems of oppression through building resiliency in our communities. It is a means to prepare oppressed communities for the oncoming environmental disasters while building the world we want and need now.”

Learn more about what liberation permaculture is all about and how it’s transforming the permaculture movement and it’s politics on Permaculture.tv

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

Punk Rock Permaculture turns 1 year old!

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?

  1. A new upgraded worpress.org site that is easier to read is in the works in the next few months!
  2. 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”.
  3. 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”.
  4. 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.
  5. More design tools, more technical knowhow, more eco street art and music!
  6. 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.
  7. This is just the beginning!

Sincerely,

Gaia punk

A Peace of the Anarchy!

What do punk, permaculture, and anarchy have to do with the 21st Century?

Answer: Everything!

A Peace of the Anarchy produced by lovearchy.org is a quick summary of 20th century radical activism in the USA featuring prominent antiwar hero Kathy Kelly and permaculture eco activist Star Hawk.  Has notable focus on the pacifist christian anarchist Ammon Hennacy. Folks from the War Resisters League, the IWW, Earth First! and the Catholic Worker, along with Mr. Hennacy exemplify the marginalized prophetic witness for peace and justice in the USA as they attempt to appeal to the dominant culture. These people speak on the benefits of anarchy and peace, following the radical (rooted/basically grounded) ideology and optimism that goodness will overcome evil, love is superior to hate and truth trumps falsehood.”

~evan (@gaiapunk) [tweetmeme]

Growing Power going to Africa!

allenWill Allen: Growing power—and gaining influence in development circles, too.

From Grist.com

At the Clinton Global Initiative wrap-up on Friday, ex-President Clinton made waves in the sustainable-ag world by declaring Will Allen of Milwaukee/Chicago-based based Growing Powerhis “hero.”

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.

erikaErika Allen of Growing Power.“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.

Permaculture and Protest

Hey folks Gaia punk here back on the attack,

Today I wanted to focus a bit on the news.  It has come to my attention that a real hero of mine Van Jones has been forced to resign from his position in the Obama administration as a special advisor to the Department of Environmental Quality because of right wing attacks of by the ignorant likes of Glenn Beck

another rascist white wacko pundit

another patriarchal rascist white wacko pundit on the airwaves

and his Army 0f misguided Screwballs.  I am both pissed off and in some weird way excited about this news.  I’m pissed off because it show the ineptness of Obama by not defending a pragmatic and dare I say radical leader like Van Jones from obvious bullshit red baiting, but I’m also happy because knowing Jones adversity will only make him stronger.  Van Jones is one a few folks in the mainstream environmental movement making the links between classism, racism, and environmental degradation and offering genuine solutions to all three.  There is a war on common sense going on, a war against new ideas, and folks involved in permaculture need to step up their efforts of building community resilience and promoting real ecological alternatives.  I promise as the faithful editor of prp e-zine to fight and fight hard!  Are you with me?

In other news permaculture is hitting many college campuses including Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, Warren Wilson College in Ashville, NC, and the USC in South Carolina.  All three campuses have installed some form of permaculture garden or edible landscaping and are in some way increasing permaculture education with in the mainstream academic sphere, and that’s good news.  Below are some nice photos…

my kind of dorm

my kind of dorm at Warren Wislson

USC permaculture landscaping   photo: Jonathan Sharpe

USC permaculture landscaping photo: Jonathan Sharpe

Evergreens everchanging Permaculture garden

Evergreen's ever-changing Permaculture garden

Strait from the teat (AKA Goat Fest)

Goat fest

Goat fest

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.

mookie milking a goat

mookie milking a goat

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.

Radical Community Profile: Free state Swomp (Amsterdam) under threat

recycled materials strawbale house

recycled materials strawbale house

I’m reposting this post because I just learned that they may be facing eviction 😦

There is a genuine non violent revolution going on around the globe.  One that crosses boundaries of race, creed, color, religion and subculture.  A revolution that heals the heart even as it dismantles the heartless systems of oppression.  It is of course the permaculture revolution; a revolution that is interconnected and diverse.

“…the greatest change we need to make is from consumption to
production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of
us do this, there is enough for everyone.

Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on
the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food
and shelter.” – Bill Mollison

I want to take sometime and give you a picture of some of these true revolutionaries….

The Swomp in Amsterdam is a collective squat that is guided by permaculture and its principals.  Besides providing for themselves with their garden production the Swomp does community outreach and education.  They are under constant threat of eviction and they may need some media attention soon.  Please take the time to read their declaration and the inspiring sustainable ethics by which the community abides.   Here is just a sampling of what they’ve accomplished:

  • successfully squatted a unused urban lot and turned it into a permaculture demonstration site.
  • built a strawbale home from mostly recycle materials
  • organized with numerous other collectives on a wide range of important global issues
  • provided free education to the community
  • demonstrated that one can live in harmony with one’s conscience and with the earth

Please visit their awesome blog and if you are aware of other radical communities in the permaculture vein we would love to feature them here.

p.s.  We are always looking for more contributors so if you would like to write for PRP e-zine please contact thejulianeffect(at)gmail with the subject “gaia punks.”