Saturday, December 17, 2011

A subversive Plot: How to Grow a Revolution in Your Own Backyard

Roger Doiron is founding director of Kitchen Gardeners International, a network of people taking a hands-on approach to re-localizing the global food supply. Doiron is an advocate for new policies, technologies, investments, and fresh thinking about the role of gardens. His successful petition to replant a kitchen garden at the White House attracted broad international recognition. He is also a writer, photographer, and public speaker.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Gen Y Guide to Collaborative Consumption

(BTW, all through this story are hyperlinks that are NOT underlined and some may be hard to find. If I knew how to make them more obvious I'd do that. So, use your mouse to find them.)

From Shareable
By Author, Shareable editor Beth Buczynski.

When our parents graduated from college, the bachelor’s degree was a coveted badge of honor. It gave applicants instant cred (and usually a larger paycheck) no matter what the job. Now, having a bachelor’s degree does nothing to make an applicant stand out from the masses. And if you’re applying for a job well below your skill level because you’re desperate for a paycheck, that B.S. degree will probably get your carefully crafted resume tossed in the trash.
American youth are slowly realizing that the old system is broken, and no longer holds the answer to all their dreams and desires. We’re discovering that stable, satisfying careers can be found outside the offices and factories around which our parents and grandparents built their lives. We’re acknowledging that the pursuit of bigger, better, and faster things have plunged our country into a time of despair and difficulty. We're convinced that business as usual isn’t an option any longer--but what's the alternative?
Together, we’re learning that instead of waiting for politicians and corporations to fix the system, it’s possible to create a better one of our own, right under their noses. A new way of living, in which access is valued over ownership, experience is valued over material possessions, and "mine" becomes “ours” so everyone's needs are met without waste.
If these ideas get your blood pumping, there’s good news: young people all over the world are already making them a reality. It’s called collaborative consumption, (or the sharing economy) and it’s changing the way we work, play, and interact with each other. It’s fueled by the instant connection and communication of the internet, yet it’s manifesting itself in interesting ways offline too.
If you’re ready to connect with people who can help you save money, pursue your passions, and reduce waste, here's a quick-start guide to your sharing experience:
1. Remove all items from the box and assess
Sit down with yourself (or some friends) and talk about what you’ve got, what you need, and what you could live without. Take stock of what you’d be willing to share, rent, or give away. Write down all the things you really need to be productive/happy/connected. Then, cross out all the things that you want just to have them, and highlight all the things that involve a valuable experience. Now you have a list you can tackle through sharing.
2. Connect to the power source
The collaborative consumption movement empowers people to thrive despite economic climate. Instead of looking to the government or corporations to tell us what we want or create a solution for our problems, we take action to meet our own needs in a creative fashion. This is our power source. Start looking for ways to share at school, on community billboards, by asking friends, or use the resources below:
  • - A roomate finder and roomates search service which covers thousands of cities nationwide.
  • How to Start a Housing Co-op - one of the best affordable housing options around, and shared food expenses and cooking can increase your savings.
  • Guide to Sharing a House - buying a home by yourself may be out of reach in high cost areas, but shared ownership might be the ticket.
  • Cohousing Directory  - Cohousing is homeownership in a neighborhood that shares.
  • Craigslist - find almost anything including a house or housemate on Craigslist.
Social Food
Personal Finance
  • Lending Club - An online financial community that brings together creditworthy borrowers and savvy investors so that both can benefit financially.
  • Zopa - Where people get together to lend and borrow money directly with each other, sidestepping the banks for a better deal.
  • Prosper - A peer-to-peer lending site that allows people to invest in each other in a way that is financially and socially rewarding.
  • SmartyPig - social savings bank that enables you to save for specific goals and engage friends and family to contribute.
  • How to Save Money by Sharing
Entrepreneurship / Work
  • CouchSurfing - An international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries and territories around the world.
  • AirBnB - Connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay, all over the world.
  • iStopOver - Homeowners worldwide rent out space in their homes to travelers looking for unique accommodations.
  • Park at myHouse - Provides affordable and fine-free parking by enabling property-owners to rent out their empty driveways, garages, car parks etc. to drivers needing somewhere to park.
  • Roomorama - An online marketplace for short term rentals all over the world.
  • Tripping - Tripping enables you to connect safely with locals who will introduce you to their towns, their cultures, their lives and their friends.
  • How To Swap Cities - a guide on how to swap offices with someone from another city inspired by SwapYourShop.
  • Submate - a Parisian startup that helps you discover new people and things to do as defined by your regular train and subway commutes.
Land / Gardening
Media (Books, Movies, Games, Music)
  • BookMooch - Lets you give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want.
  • - An online swap marketplace for books, movies, music and games.
  • Goozex - A unique trading platform for video games and movies.
  • SwapaDVD - Trade DVDs for free.
  • Paperback Swap - Trade paperback books for free.
  • SwapaCD - Trade CDs for free.
Redistribution Sites (where uneeded stuff finds a loving home)
  • Freecycle - The original grassroots organization for giving and getting free stuff in your town.
  • craigslist - The ultimate free classifieds site with categories for free stuff, barters, and shares.
  • eBay - International online auction that allows you to buy from and sell to other individuals.
  • ecoSharing - The first sharing website that lets us share what we own with people we know and trust: our friends on facebook.
  • SpiltStuff - A new site that organizes local communities to buy in bulk and "split" the goods and the cost, thus reducing waste and unnecessary consumerism.
Renting and sharing of general goods where you live
  • Chegg - Rent expensive textbooks on the cheap.
  • Better World Books - Save big on used textbooks.
  • Textbookflix, - A system that lets you rent text books in the same way that you rent movies from Netflix.
  • Students for Free Culture - An international, chapter-based student organization that promotes the public interest in intellectual property and telecommunications policy.
  • Bloomsbury College - Crowdsorced learning for the entrepreneurial student.
  • CafeScribe - A new service that lets you download electronic copies of your textbook, add friends, and share your notes.
  • Notely - A collection of online tools (including a Facebook app) designed to help busy students organize their hectic lives.
  • Class Notes - A Facebook app that enables students to share handwritten or printed notes from class.
  • Free Technology Academy - free college classes on open source technology and standards.
  • Open Courseware - free college course materials offered by scores of top universities from around the world.
If you don't see the sharing solution you need, check out our huge list of how to share guides on Shareable.  Or add resources you know about in comments.
3. Press the power button
Once you discover local opportunities for sharing and collaborating, it’s time to add the power: you. Get involved. Create a profile on sharing/renting/bartering site and actually list some stuff you could trade. Contact the moderator of a local offline sharing group and offer up your goods or services. Collaborative consumption requires a venture into a social world, even if it's only online; you need to get out there.
4. Sync with other devices and enjoy
Ideas like eBay, Netflix, and GameFly are pretty well-known examples of sharing, but it's important to remember that options exist offline as well. Sure, the internet makes it safe for us to share with strangers, but that doesn't mean you should forget about the satisfaction of sharing face-to-face. Coworkingbrings collaboration into your professional life; a local food co-op brings sharing into your pantry, and skill-sharing communities bring comraderie to your weekend hobbies.
Don't be afraid to let sharing/bartering/collaborating go viral in other areas of your life as well. You'll discover, as Rachel Botsman does in What's Mine is Yours, that "over time, these experiences create a deep shift in consumer mindset. Consumption is no longer an asymmetrical activity of endless acquisition but a dynamic push and pull of giving and collaborating in order to get what you want. Along the way, the acts of collaboration and giving become an end in itself."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

“Building sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.”

Thomas Linzey: Turning Defense into Offense: Challenging Corporations & Creating Self-Governance
This excellent video was filmed at the Bioneers Conference in San Francisco. Linzey  and his team teach communities to resist the oppression and toxicity of large corporations. See

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, the local economy, and quality of life.  Our mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.

Established in 1995, the Legal Defense Fund has now become the principal advisor to community groups and municipal governments struggling to transition from merely regulating corporate harms to stoppingthose harms by asserting local, democratic control directly over corporations.

Through grassroots organizing, public education and outreach, legal assistance, and drafting of ordinances, we have now assisted over 110 municipalities in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, and Virginia to draft and adopt new laws with over 350,000 people living under these governing frameworks.  These laws address activities such as corporate water withdrawals, longwall coal mining, factory farming, the land application of sewage sludge, and uranium mining.

Thomas Linzey: Turning Defense into Offense: Challenging Corporations & Creating Self-Governance from Spread Knowledge on Vimeo.

Permaculture - A Quiet Revolution

This video from the 8th International Permaculture Convergence in Brazil is worth rewatching. Hope you will share it.

Permaculture - A Quiet Revolution from Spread Knowledge on Vimeo.

Uncle Sam Wants You to Raise Chickens!

Our city council tonight is considering removing the 5 chicken limit and eliminating the requirement for getting permission from adjacent neighbors. There would still be a small annual registration fee and inspection. We hope to expand the limits to include other animals, too, overtime.

The impulse of rapid change and shocks to the economy may cause it all to happen much faster as people stop waiting for permission and simply take command of their own local destinies. Do all you can where you are...and take a stand. I guarantee, it WILL be challenged. Find your allies and hold strong.

Meanwhile, where the hell are the leaders who will stand up and say that all citizens must begin to throw off the chains of their dependency on the industrial producers, of food-like substances, that are destroying our soils, air, water and health? Don't wait for them to tell you. BE THE LEADERS! BE the ones we've been waiting for!

This article from Mother Earth News reminds us that once upon a time our government EXPECTED us to raise our own food to demonstrate our patriotism in a time of war (which we've been in for some time now, if you hadn't noticed). Now they want us to be dependent on huge, impersonal, uncaring, greed-motivated industries who produce nutritionally empty, over-processed, over-packaged, over-transported crap that keep us sick and dependent on a bloated industrial drug / insurance monopoly. We, the people, can do better.

Uncle Sam Wants You to Raise Chickens

… Or he did, back in 1918, as this poster illustrates.

Funny how things change, isn’t it? These days, people have to fight and petition and beg and plead in many municipalities to get their government to let them keep a few backyard hens. And even when city leaders permit it, they lay out complicated rules about how many, where and how the birds must be housed. And please! No roosters!
 As the poster so rightly points out, two hens per person will keep a family in eggs. The flock will take minimal effort, cost little and provide plenty of enjoyment, because chickens are fun to watch.

Read more:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Steep Exponential Curves Ahead...Reduce Speed

Chris Martenson Lecture On Why The Next 20 Years Will Be Marked By The Collapse Of The Exponential Function

In this video courtesy of GoldMoney, Chris Martenson, economic analyst at and author of ‘The Crash Course’, explains why he thinks that the coming 20 years are going to look completely unlike the last 20 years. In his presentation he focuses on the so-called three “Es”: Economy, Energy and Environment. He argues that at this point in time it is no longer possible to view either one of those topics separately from one another.
Since all our money is loaned onto existence, our economy has to grow exponentially. Martenson proves this point empirically by showing a 99.9% fit of the actual growth curve of the last 40 years to an exponential curve. If we wanted to continue on this path, our debt load would have to double again over the next 10 years. By continually increasing our debt relative to GDP we are making the assumption that our future will always be wealthier than our past. He believes that this assumption is flawed and that the debt loads are already unmanageable.
Martenson explains how exponential growth works and why it is so scary that our economy is based on it. In an example he illustrates how unimaginably fast things speed up towards the end of an exponential curve. He shows that an exponential chart can be found in every one of the three “E’s” for instance in GDP growth, oil production, water use or species extinction. Due to the natural limitations on resources, Martenson comes to the conclusion that we are facing a serious energy crisis.
This energy predicament is namely that the quantity of oil as well as the quality of oil are in decline. He shows that oil discoveries peaked in 1964 and oil production peaked 40 years later. Martenson also shows how our return on invested energy is rapidly declining – the “cheap and easy” oil fields have already been exploited. In 1930 the energy return for oil was 100:1 or greater. Today it is already down to 3:1 and newer technologies such as corn-based ethanol only provide a 1.5:1 return. Martenson predicts that the time in between oil shocks will get shorter and shorter and that oil prices will go much higher.
Not only oil but also other natural resources are being rapidly used up as well. At the current projected pace of use, known reserves for many metals and minerals will be gone within the next 10 to 20 years. The energy needed to get these non-renewable resources out of the ground is growing exponentially. So we live in a world that must grow, but can’t grow and is subject to depletion. The conclusion out of all this is that our money system is poorly designed and that we need to rethink how we do things as quickly as possible.
After finishing his presentation Chris Martenson answers questions regarding a rise in efficiency, alternative technologies and oil prices. He also responds to questions regarding electricity, shale gas, gold, silver, platinum, palladium, and uranium and the race for global resources.

For more on exponential curves see

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Want a pesticide factory in your intestines or increase abortions? Eat GMOs or animals that eat them. 



Saturday, July 16, 2011

$14.3 Trillion

The US Debt Ceiling is $14.3 Trillion. This video will help you visualize that.

The Story of Cosmetics

The Story of Cosmetics, released on July 21st, 2010, examines the pervasive use of toxic chemicals in our everyday personal care products, from lipstick to baby shampoo. Produced with Free Range Studios and hosted by Annie Leonard, the seven-minute film by The Story of Stuff Project reveals the implications for consumer and worker health and the environment, and outlines ways we can move the industry away from hazardous chemicals and towards safer alternatives. The film concludes with a call for viewers to support legislation aimed at ensuring the safety of cosmetics and personal care products.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

TEDxBloomington -- Keith Johnson -- "Food Security and Resilence"

I have never prepared more for a 10 minute talk than I did for this TEDx Bloomington event. Even so I was a bit nervous and stumbled over my words but overall I'm pleased with the results. The TED experience was wonderful and I got to play with some fine folks.

Here are the rest of the talks:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dr Huber's Warning

On January 17, internationally recognized plant pathologist Dr. Don Huber, wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack warning of the discovery of a new pathogen and a possible link between Roundup Ready® (GMO) corn and soybeans and severe reproductive problems in livestock as well as widespread crop failure.
Less than 3 weeks later, the Obama administration approved 2 new Roundup Ready® GMO crops, set to be planted this spring... Read on about Dr. Huber's discovery. If it gives you pause, sign the petition to ask Sec. Vilsack to stop these seeds from being planted until further research is done.

In 2010, more than 365 million acres were planted worldwide with genetically engineered (GMO) seeds.
The U.S. leads the world with more than 165 million acres of GMO crops, mostly Roundup Ready® crops.
Monsanto owns patents on the genes of more than 93% of soybeans, 80% of corn, and 95% of sugar beets planted in the U.S. -- all genetically modified to be resistant to the weed killer Roundup.
In 2007, more than 185,000,000 lbs. of Roundup were applied to U.S. crops, the year the Bush administration halted reporting of the herbicide's application rates.
In 1992, U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle announced that GMO foods would not be "hampered by unnecessary regulation", freeing Monsanto of the burden of independent testing or labeling of GMO foods for the American public.
Are you eating GMOs?

Dr. Huber Explains Science Behind New Organism and Threat from Monsanto's Roundup, GMOs to Disease and Infertility from Food Democracy Now! on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


1. Resource Evaluation. Does the pre-design study:

  • Evaluate the terrain, flow of water, plants and wildlife?
  • Analyze the climate?
  • Research the history of the area?

2. Site Design. Does the development/design project:

  • Preserve fragile ecosystems?
  • Use natural grades to contain new run-off?
  • Ensure that a minimum of earth & vegetation are disturbed during development/construction?

3. Circulation. Does the layout:

  • Minimize distances between points of destination?
  • Cluster medium and high density areas while leaving other areas undisturbed?
  • Include non-residential functions within residential areas?
  • Provide safe paths for self-powered means of transportation?
  • Include paths that are as direct as or more direct than routes provided for motor vehicles?
  • Provide the self-powered paths on a separate grade where possible to enhance safety?
  • Have paths (such as sidewalks) ramped to street level to allow easy access for wheelchair pedestrians and bicyclists?
  • Provide routes for connecting with the mass transit system and facilities for encouraging ridership?
  • Provide a way to upgrade nearby road facilities to accommodate self-powered transportation?
  • Provide the least maintenance to roads by keeping their slope under 11%.

4. Infrastructure. Is your development/design project:

  • Designing roads and utilities to minimize energy costs?
  • Using the most efficient types of outdoor lighting only where needed?
  • Integrating infrastructure into natural habitat?

5. Power. Are you taking an approach that:

  • Exhausts all biological and non-tech solutions first?
  • Uses the most energy-efficient method of performing tasks?
  • When possible, uses renewable energy directly instead of indirectly?
  • When renewables are not available, uses fuel (eg natural gas) directly instead of through the production of electricity?
  • Generates power within the development from co-generation or renewable sources?
  • Contracts for maintenance with a utility or renewable energy equipment specialist?
  • Minimizes lengths of distribution lines?

6. Building. Is the development/design project being designed to:

  • Orient streets on an east-west axis so that the predominant sides of buildings╩╝ glass areas will face within 20 degrees of north and south?
  • Incorporate natural ventilation, day-lighting and passive solar heating into building designs?
  • Situate building so that they do not block solar access to adjacent buildings?
  • Situate buildings in such a way that they do not block natural ventilation of adjacent units?
  • Use renewable energy sources for water heating and space heating?
  • Use architectural guidelines to ensure quality designs instead of imposing minimum square footage requirements?
  • Minimize the use of incandescent lighting?
  • Promote wall and roof surfaces that either reflect (in hot climates) or absorb (in cold climates) the majority of the sun╩╝s heat?
  • Promote the use of locally available non-toxic materials for building components?
  • Provide a low-cost method for upgrading to renewables at a later date. were renewable systems are not presently cost-effective?

7. Landscape. Does the design:

  • Preserve natural landscape and habitats?
  • Incorporate landscape design that provides shade from the summer sun?
  • Employ landscape materials that will minimize long-term requirements for maintenance, irrigation, pesticides or herbicides?
  • Use native vegetation?
  • Use natural biological controls to reduce pests, avoid toxic chemical use?

8. Water. Do the design and facilities:

  • Use drought-tolerant plants?
  • Mandate low-water-use toilets (1.5 gallons/flush or less)?
  • Reuse water (eg household greywater) for watering landscape?
  • Where needed, distribute drinking water using solar energy?
  • Use efficient hydraulic designs and pumps?
  • Collect rainwater to serve as the water supply?
  • Use groundwater only in quantities that can be replenished?
  • Use natural means for water treatment and water disposal?

9. Food. Does the development/design project:

  • Include food-producing landscapes sufficient to meet the needs of residents?
  • Integrate tracts of food-producing lands throughout the design that can be gardened or farmed without excessive quantities of polluting machinery?
  • Provide guidelines to grow crops organically?
  • Offer methods to use solid and liquid wastes from the sustainable development as fertilizers?

10. Wastes. Does the property and management agreement regulations/guide lines:

  • Include on-site recycling centers?
  • Require separation of organic waste from other garbage?
  • Provide for a community tool and appliance sharing/renting center?
  • Allow only non-toxic, biodegradable and recyclable items to be sold within the development?
  • Provide for periodic collection of toxic materials?
  • Ensure the use of natural biological systems to treat sewage?

11. Education. Does the development/project design sales team:

  • Offer literature on all aspects of sustainable developments?
  • Offer “how-to” workshops on projects that enhance the sustainable community?
12. Miscellaneous. Do the regulations:
  • Impose noise limits on regularly-used equipment and ensure good sound insulation in closelyspaced units?
  • Permit clotheslines, solar collectors, and other items that reduce energy use?
  • Encourage the use of natural ponds and lakes a “swimming holes instead of an energy-and chemical-intensive swimming pool”?
  • Create a neighborhood association to help maintain the quality of development?


Record your score for each characteristic in the Score column, then multiply this score by the weight to get the weighed score. 5 Excellent! ! 4 Good! 3 Average! 2 Mediocre !1 Poor 0 Non-existent
The minimum weighted score points require for a viable permaculture design project/development is 400-420.

Characteristic                             Weight               Score             W/Score
Price                                               10
Water                                              10
Development ease                       10
(include political ease)
Commercial suitability                   8
Percent utilization                          8
Aspect (Solar)                               8
Privacy                                           8
Natural resources-local                8
Electric power                               7
Access                                          7
Proximity to service facilities      7
Comfort (max/min temps)           7
Size                                               5
Soil suitability                               5
Character (personal taste)         5
Natural features (views)              5
Natural boundaries                     5
Wind (good and bad)                 4
Tree cover                                   4

Bonding to each other
Bonding to the community
Clear aims of the group
Membership processes
Decisions making protocols
Tolerance and generosity
Forgiveness/ability to let go
Bonding to the land
Spiritual connectedness
Connections and relationships with the outside world
Structure and processes
Reflection and evaluation
Clear communication
Clear philosophy
Safety and trust

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Genetic engineering is a threat to food security, especially in a changing climate. The introduction of genetically manipulated organisms by choice or by accident grossly undermines sustainable agriculture and in so doing, severely limits the choice of food we can eat.

Once GE plants are released into the environment, they are out of control. If anything goes wrong - they are impossible to recall.

GE contamination threatens biodiversity respected as the global heritage of humankind, and one of our world's fundamental keys to survival.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Defining Characteristics

From the ever useful and information-rich Energy Bulletin

Published Mar 15 2011 by Resilient Homes blog,
Permaculture: Deconstructing a Definition

by Lisa Fernandes

The question “What is permaculture?” is notoriously difficult to answer in one sentence. It defies the “sound bite” culture we live in.

Let’s start with what permaculture is NOT. Seriously, it has nothing to do with permafrost. It is not sheet-mulching, though some may use that as a particular strategy. It is not a variant (or deviant:) of “organic,” though it may use many organic growing strategies. It is not getting a bunch of people together to stomp some mud in a kiddie pool and build a cob oven, though that’s a pretty darn good time in most permaculture circles. Finally, it is not some rarefied ivory tower of secret knowledge that only those who have worshipped at the church of the holy sacred PDC (permaculture design certificate) get to experience.

Permaculture, at its core, is a design process (1) and set of techniques (2) for creating resilient (3) and [truly] sustainable (4) human habitats and healthy ecosystems. (5) Now, I will footnote the daylights out of this definition, which is one of many definitions currently in use, all of which have virtues and drawbacks.

(1) Yes, you have to do design, even if it’s only in your own head, that helps chart a course from where you are today to where you want to be going. Permaculture design, unlike many other design disciplines, is informed by a set of design ethics and principles which are flexible and powerful. Think of the permaculture design as a really, really well-thought out “map” for creating the best possible chance of manifesting a particular vision or set of goals. As with most maps, a printed,visual version of that is often far more helpful (especially in group settings) than that map you keep in your head. And, as with most maps, they only work if you know where you are and can formulate an idea on where you want to go.

(2) The techniques are not the discipline. Sheet mulching, swaling, herb spirals, flowforms, de-paving, renewable energy, cordwood saunas (OK, this list could run into next week, but you get the idea) are NOT permaculture, they are techniques and strategies that we may employ in the service of good design based in real, articulated goals and visions. Those techniques and strategies may be invoked when needed, just like you choose the best tool for the job out of your tool box. Permaculture design is one of the most powerful ways to expand, organize and then intelligently use the toolkit available to you.

(3) Resilient: the ability to withstand shocks or disruptions and the ability to bounce back and/or rebuild with the least possible amount of distress or dysfunction. I would posit that resilience comes in a bunch of flavors: personal, household, neighborhood/community. There are more, but for the purposes of permaculture design, these are the most common types of resilience that need attention and can be enhanced with good design. Creating integrated, healthy, whole ecosystems (within which human habitats are embedded) calls for organizing ourselves in a way that is not beholden to unlimited cheap fossil fuels and not reliant on stable, unchanging climate patterns.

(4) Sustainable as a word gets put in the same bucket as “green” and “eco” for me. It’s like the hackneyed photo of the human hands holding soil and teensy weensy seedling. They are overused, examples of greenwashing and mean many different things to many different people. Technically, it means something that can be continued…what?…. indefinitely? As one of my students said recently, even “dysfunction can be continued indefinitely.” So, is that sustainable? I don’t have the new definition, so I use the word very sparingly and ask others what they mean when they use it.

(5) A sort of core, or common, view among permaculture folks is that humans are a part of, and not separate from, the non-human ecosystems around us. Therefore, our fate is embedded in the fate of the interconnected set of relationships and elements in the broader world. As such, many of us use the term “landscape” to include people, buildings, villages, etc. along with forests, fields and streams. It is one integrated whole and the designs we create do focus on the “landscape” which includes food production, ecosystem health, soil fertility, buildings, energy, waste, economic systems and much more. Permaculture also seeks to learn from and work far more closely with the patterns of organization found in parts of our ecosystems that have evolved over several billion years. So we often model our design work and strategies on “patterns in nature” and encourage something called “pattern literacy.“

Every single one of these footnotes is worthy of complete exploration in its own right, and I may get around to that via this blog and encourage others to do so as well.

And, while this is all very conceptual, one of the powerful things about permaculture is that it tends to attract real roll-up-your-sleeves and let’s-get-this-done kind of people. We do spend time thinking through design and learning new ways of working with and in the world, but almost to a one, permaculturists are actively changing the way we live, right now, starting at our own doorsteps and working out from there.

Editorial Notes
About the author:
Lisa Fernandes is the organizer and founding member of Portland Maine Permaculture and has been a student of permaculture and green design since 1992. She is a certified permaculture designer, team trainer and group facilitator and owned a training & consulting business for several years. She studied political science at Boston College and then environmental studies at The Evergreen State College while designing & implementing municipal waste reduction & recycling programs with a focus on organic waste recycling. Lisa is a gardener, certified Master Composter and has studied medicinal plants for nearly twenty years. She has worked in the public, private and non-profit sectors and currently brings her varied experience to developing & delivering sustainability and resilience-building events and permaculture designs for the local community. She currently serves on the Cape Farm Alliance and provides staff support to the Eat Local Foods Coalition of Maine (ELFC) and sits on the Southern Maine Partnership for Sustainable Communities. She is a proud member of the Portland Food Coop (Member-Owner #11) and the Slow Food Portland Convivium. Lisa serves on the board of the Permaculture Institute of the Northeast (PINE), helped launch The Pattern Factory design studio at Newforest Institute and is the principle permaculture designer in Resilient Homes, a solar hot water and permaculture design company. Lisa and her family are actively working to convert their 1/3 acre property into a demonstration site for resilient and sustainable “post-carbon” living.