Sunday, March 2, 2008

Love in VT to Permaculture in Cuba

My friends and I took a little field trip Lincoln, VT, to Metta Earth Institute: center for contemplative ecology. Lincoln is a special place. A town a the center of a spiritual vorex much like the now touristy Sadona, AZ. A place where native tribes used to gather. It seems to be hidden now, tucked away in the green moutains of VT. We had our own synchronistic meeting. It was the first of their film nights at the Institute, "The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil," run by yogi's Gillian and Russell Comstock. They were very eloquent, encouraging and uplifting people.

The seven of us that had crammed into one car on the way up to Lincoln were the only people that came for the film. We ended up sitting in a circle with Gillian and Russell, drinking nettle tea talking for almost two hours. We got a chance to cover everything we could think of from their experiences in eco-villages to community and communication techniques to eco-building. We couldn't ask for more. We discussed unconscious ranking in groups to the unconscious sexism, classism and ageism that we must become conscious of.

We were all able to look beyond the "cultural taboo" age gap, to see the beauty in the non-authoritarian power we all have and could bring to a circle discussion as equal beings. It seemed to be inspiring for all of us. By the time we watched the film we all felt like family.

The film was great and reinstated why we're working the ecological magic that we are. It was about the forced Peak oil crisis in Cuba and how they came together to use urban and rural permaculture on a national level. It is the Permaculture experiment of the century.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

My mission

This is a draft but I wanted to get it up...
My basic vision is a piece of land about 100 to 200 acres, used for the development, research and example of sustainable lifestyles. I can see a cluster of alternatively built homes to maintain as much of the natural environment as possible. A cluster of structures will have a lot of privacy but will also means cluster of infrastructure which will help with energy and resource conservation while creating a sense of community. I believe that our structures need to be low profile as to maintain the natural beauty of our beautiful rolling Vermont landscape. I see farming enough land to provide most of our own food as well as contributing to the local food network. (Keep in mind, once the ball is rolling, the valuable posibility of teaching children farming/gardening/permaculture techniques and even taking in a few international interns. One of our more fringe members Hailey it working in PA is working to write grants for similar non-profit goals.) We will use a diversity of renewable resources for our energy (seeing as none of us really feel the need to reject technology all together) and hope to some day provide our nieghbors with it.

Potential population for our community will be up for decision or adaptation, as will everything in time.

(Our common vision should be something that guides us, it is something we should hold ourselves accountable to, a journey not a destination.) A beautiful mission statement can be found here on the Cobb Hill community website. They are the basic universal principals that my group holds dear. Reading mission statements from other communities will help to strengthen and inspire our own ever changing mission statement. Which should be one of the next steps for both of us no matter what our situation is.

We are meeting weekly as a community and more often as smaller groups, soon to be committees. We have around 10-15 members of our community. All are at different levels of involvement from those that are finishing their degree's (and are therefore focused on school first, yet some of them are completing degree programs in applicable fields,) to those that want to contribute to this community but may not be able to live their, to people that have various quantities of capital and want to be a part of the entire process (like myself,) to people who may not have large amounts of capital but are willing and enthusiastic about getting their hands dirty and putting the labor hours in. A goal is to develop a structure that integrates (rather then segregates) these various groups into a functional whole; one in which individuals have equity while the whole is greater then the sum of its parts.

As a community we discuss our ever evolving vision (principal) and mission statements both individually and as a group. We discuss "non-violent" communication techniques, non-authoritarian decision making techniques (consensus) and the meaning of "community" itself, as these things will be an evolving part of the process the entire time.

Through meetings and e-mails we share each-others research about:
  1. Eco-villages/communities around the globe in order not to reinvent the wheel.
    1. examples of communities that we have gathered info and statistics about. We need to compile by-laws and legal paperwork templates from them soon.
      1. White hawk
      2. Earth Haven
      3. Abundant Dawn
      4. Dancing Rabbit
      5. The Farm
      6. Eco-Village at Ithaca
      7. Cobb hill
      8. Meadow dance
      9. Metta Earth
      10. Atamai
      11. Findhorn
      12. Steward Community Woodland
  2. Permaculture (which is fairly all-encompassing)
    1. eco-building
      1. straw bale
      2. cobb
      3. earth bag
      4. adobe
      5. subterranean
    2. alternative energy
      1. wind
      2. solar
      3. hydro
      4. veggie oil and bio diesel
      5. gravity
    3. rain water catchment
    4. bio-dynamics and farming
    5. alternative waste disposal/recycling
      1. grey water
        1. four season grey water techniques
      2. black water systems
        1. composting toilets
    6. natural synergy
      1. design techniques learned through observation of biotic and abiotic.
      2. consensus (us synergizing with one another)
  3. Ideas for non-profit
    1. kids farming opportunity
    2. tours and public outreach
    3. retreats
    4. international internship/scholarship opportunities
    5. earth care
    6. sustainability research
  4. Financial and Legal structures
    1. Searching for the best way to giving proper equity to all members.
    2. likely scenario - two incorporated companies: non-profit farm/educational corporation (community owned and operated) and a equitable shares holding Owner/developer Corporation used to buy and develop land.
      Just one idea.
  5. We feel that creating Permaculture on our current properties is a way to get the project rolling and to be a part of the Vermont community. So this summer, while the land development committee is in full swing we plan to use:
    1. 10 acres of land ready to be mapped, designed, worked and sown.
    2. A 6 bedroom house on the outskirts of Burlington, VT ready for:
      1. hub of an urban permaculture and outreach
        1. communal living/sharing
          1. arts and music
        2. alternative energy
        3. urban farming
        4. alternative waste disposal
        5. part of our community network, housing
          1. workers/ interns
          2. community members with jobs in town

Monday, February 25, 2008


Permaculture contains ethics that lead to principals. Some of the ethics overlap the principals. The principals lead to methods. The principals and the methods overlap each-other. The methods lead to outcomes. The outcomes overlap everything because it works like the our cells work in our body. It is a self regulating perpetual cycle, and we are part of it. There is no "one solution." To me, permaculture is the synergy of all elements.

The basic ethics of permaculture.
  • Earthcare – recognising that the Earth is the source of all life (and is possibly itself a living entity- see Gaia theory) and that we recognise and respect that the Earth is our valuable home and we are a part of the Earth, not apart from it.
    • For example

      Conservation of Biodiversity
      Clean air and water
      Restoration and conservation of forests, habitats and soils
      Recycling and pollution reduction
      Conservation of energy and natural resources
      Appropriate technology

  • Peoplecare – supporting and helping each other to change to ways of living that are not harming ourselves or the planet, and to develop healthy societies.
    • For example

      Health and well-being
      Nourishment with good food
      Lifelong learning
      Right livelihood and meaningful work
      Community belonging
      Open Communication
      Trust and Respect

  • Fairshare (or placing limits on consumption) - ensuring that the Earth's limited resources are utilised in ways that are equitable and wise.
    • For example

      Networking and sharing
      Distribution of resources and wealth
      Reduction ofconsumerism
      Rethinking current notions of growth, progress and development
      Making a contribution

The basic principals and Methods of permaculture.

  • Value and Gratitude - the power of prayer and the power of the positive
  • Use slow and small solutions (scale) - I know this is true with human societies that haste and expedience breakdown value, beauty and understanding. Scale plays a great role. Joy from accomplishment of simple tasks. Feeling of accessibility, the absence of alienation and the ownership of process. { I can only assume this is true with the rest of the world }
  • Use edges and value the marginal - the edges or the places where two micro-systems meet seem to be the most fertile and fruitful areas, value them. { I'm not yet sure if this can be related to human societies but I know that like everything else the humans on social borders have access to the resources on both sides of that border}
  • Use and value renewable resources and service - I consider this in the same vein as energy planning. It can also be catching and storing of energy but this must be regulated in order to stop the hording and greed that surplus energy (power), surplus in general can induce. - Use biological resources where ever needed and possible.
  • Use and value diversity - reflect the diversity in our world by living diversely and putting diversity into every thought and micro-system.
  • Creatively use and respond to changes - This goes hand in hand with reinvention and the constant revolution.
  • Apply self regulation and accept feedback - This is a principal that we must look to our planet for example. { watch Gaia video below }
  • Observe -> Interact - This may as well be part of the ethics of permaculture. It is in the observation of everything around us and inside of us that will guide us to interact and not interact with love. Observation of the physical with all the senses and the observation of the space in between everything with our beings will bring empathy, understanding, balance, and enlightenment.
  • Design from patterns to details - Look at the larger scope of a project or of the world and then work your way to the smallest details. This will give us a complete perspective of every detail and their interconnection. It will help us see the patterns in those details as well. "Think globally act locally."
  • Integrate rather than segregate - Everything in this world provides multi function. Observe and integrate in order not to waste precious resources.
  • Relative location - It is similar to the idea that every choice we make needs to be guided towards the betterment of our world. All things can benefit from everything else in some way with out taking away from it.
  • Nutrient cycling - important and principal method to produce no waste.

The basic outcomes of Permaculture.

Obtain yield
Produce no Waste { both part principals }
step towards a sustainable world once again

Ethics principles and methods
A new beginning

David Holmgren { the co-founder of the permaculture movement } has developed these 12 design principles for permaculture:

  1. observe and interact
  2. catch and store energy
  3. obtain a yield { I consider crossover outcome }
  4. apply self-regulation and accept feedback
  5. use and value renewable resources and services
  6. produce no waste { I consider crossover outcome }
  7. design from patterns to details
  8. integrate rather than segregate
  9. use small and slow solutions
  10. use and value diversity
  11. use edges and value the marginal
  12. creatively use and respond to change
I have, above, put them in my own words with out writing a book on them. There is so much detail to put into each element.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Quick note: Latest video

This video is a little long but I really enjoyed it. It's a scientist explaining Gaia the ancient Greek deity of the earth. Check it out if you have some time. I think it pertains to permaculture because in it, Stephen Harding explains the connection between biotic and abiotic. Remember a main principle of Permaculture is "integrate rather than separate."

Check out more of these great educational video's at

Introducing: Eco-Village

So I've been working on a project with some of my friends and comrades. We are working towards a sustainable settlement, using our camaraderie as a force to create a part of the Permaculture our world needs.

It is a grand Project. When I say grand I really mean... like... grand scheme: ambitious, bold, epic, big and yet small. Extravagant to some and yet not so extravagant if you think about it. It's actually quite simple. It's seems to actually be a project based on the least resistance and most broad realization and understanding of life itself. It seems to be a key element in ourevolution both spiritually and physically.

In grand...I also mean that it causes a lot of resistance from mainstream society. From what I'm gathering Permaculture in it self is based on designs and planning in order to integrate rather than segregate from our natural environment. I think that our own internal organization is another element of Permaculture and part of integrating with our natural environment. But it will also take a lot to integrating with the larger authoritarian global dominating legal and financial organizations to make it happen in the first place.

I guess right now, while we are learning about integrating with our natural environment - with out friction - we are focusing as a group to figure out the best way to work with the government and the banks although it seems at some points to challenge our ideals. (keeping in mind the legal and financial need for status like non-profit, corporations and co-ops, grants, loans, mortgages and taxes)

We are having community meeting to work out our designs, plans, process, communication and details. I hope to have a draft of our mission statement, vision statement and business plan completed soon. We've found a piece of land that seems, for now, to be the perfect location for our Eco-village. I'll tell you about that later.


What is this...Blog?


I joined the blog bergade. I knew it would happen someday. Well here we go. Lets so how well I open up my thoughts and experiences. For now this is my Permaculture Blog for the online deign course I'm taking. Check it out.