Monday, September 29, 2008

Bill Mollison: Repairing Dryland Systems

Wow, I love this guy more and more. Since I live in the West of the USA, I am mindful of the importance of water and the fact that we are living in a semi-arid desert completely dependent on irrigation for our survival.

The first part of this video shows 60 year old swales that were built in Arizona during the 30s in response to the dust-bowl and the topsoil being blown away from over-grazing and the clear cutting of forests. Our president at the time called for and created work crews of engineers and hydrologists to repair our country, this is the same type of consciousness we need today combined with the knowledge of permaculture and ecological thinking (whole systems thinking). Seeing these swales gives me so much confidence in their effectiveness. A little human effort can create the conditions for nature to naturally repair itself. They are so powerful that they can turn a desert into a forest, which was also shown in geoff lawtons example in Jordan.

As I drive around town I see work crews replacing sidewalks or putting up apartments and strip malls and big box stores, imagine the work we could do if we put those people into repairing the earth and working for sustainability. How about digging up the concrete and installing fruit and nut trees, and tearing up the strip malls and big box stores to plant gardens in the rich soil underneath? Maybe I'm too radical.

These days feel similar to how I felt in the late nineties when people looked at me funny when I tried to explain to them what the internet and e-mail were, and how important it was for them to check it out.

Watch and learn the wisdom of Bill Mollison and Permaculture.




Saturday, September 27, 2008

Your Backyard Farmer

I'm looking to do something like this in my area, combined with permaculture. It's the future!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Crash Course

A crash course on your money, the economy, oil supplies and how they are all connected and what that means for your future. I know we are all busy, but this is a serious concept that we must all understand. I promise you that it is worth your time and will help you understand the sense of urgency that many of us have. There is little time and much work to do, so let's get started!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Johnny Appleseed

As I'm working towards creating my vision of fruit and nut trees all around town offering an abundance of year-round food, I stumbled upon this great page with history on Johnny Appleseed that I never knew!

Side note: This link came from another blog who's author started it in 2004 preparing for a hard peak oil crash. His history reads as an amazing story! He bought land in a remote area and visited it in his off time to develop it, but has since realized there is too much work for one man and would prefer living in a small community (100ish) or live in a city - much like what I have realized over the past year, but I'd rather live in a small town than a big city. Or at least any city that has an established "green belt" where food can be grown in close proximity to where it is consumed.

Here's some inspiring quotes from the appleseed page, much of which is from Michael Pollan's 2001 book "The Botany of Desire". Turns out apples were used primarily to make hard cider which is very easy to make. It wasn't until after prohibition that apples were marketed as healthy and to be eaten as themselves.

"He was constantly on the move and had no fixed residence for his entire adult life. "

"He was of medium height, sinewy and large-boned, with dark hair down to his shoulders and bright blue eyes. He wore a coffee sack with holes for his arms and legs."

"His lifestyle and preferences were completely opposite the norms of frontier life. He was a vegetarian. He preferred to sleep outdoors and avoided towns and settlements. He thought it cruel to ride a horse, chop down a tree, or kill a rattlesnake."

"He was friendly with the Indians, bringing them medicinal plants. In turn, they treated him kindly and helped him on his way. "

"When he stayed with a family, he preached news "right fresh from Heaven," often the Sermon on the Mount, but many times adding his own ideas based on the writings of the Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) [Who taught that we must learn how to treat eachother with charity aka unconditional love]. Chapman saw himself as planting not only seeds but the word of God.

Swedenborg's doctrine is appreciative of humane values. Everything on earth corresponds directly to something in the afterlife, so the natural world and the spiritual (or mystic) world are intimately interwoven. The key to righteous living is to do good without looking for recompense. To study and love nature promotes one's spiritual growth. An apple tree in bloom is both a natural process and a "living sermon from God." "

"The same landscape his countrymen treated as hostile and heathen, to be conquered, Chapman saw as beneficent. In his eyes, even the lowliest worm glowed with divine purpose."

"He enjoyed the company of Indians and children. Pollan says, "He moved easily between the societies of the settlers and the Native Americans, even when the two were at war. His ability to freely cross borders that other people believed to be fixed and unbreachable between the red world and the white, between wilderness and civilization, even between this world and the next was one of the hallmarks of his character and probably the thing that most confounded people about the man, both then and now.""

Friday, September 12, 2008

The End Of Suburbia

This film really put the whole American system into perspective for me and like many others for the first time, I truly "got it". Our way of life is on an un-sustainable path with dire consequences if we wait for others to fix the problems and do not act ourselves.

The film discusses the history of suburbia and the economic growth that was fueled by access to cheap oil. It also talks about the peaking of natural gas (soon as well) and the history of the 70s farming revolution which greatly increased food yields by being dependent on nitrogen fertilizer which is made from natural gas and gas/diesel to harvest,process and transport the food to market.

Essential viewing for anyone in North America. Disclaimer: This film is from 2005, so their perspectives on solutions are a little dated and pessimistic, but the unprecedented severity of the problem in human history is still the same. The future is not written in stone, is up to us to create it! The sooner we prepare for the transition and create a vision of abundance for the future, the better our lives will be!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The amazing power of Algae

I've been getting a lot of emails about algae recently. This video first in particular about a closed loop bio-reactor which the man proclaims could fuel all of the US with a small area in new mexico!. I'm not sure of the validity of that claim but depending on the source of energy making the algae (hopefully renewable), it could definitely be a piece of the puzzle to transition to a sustainable world.

A quick youtube search brought up a few more inventive uses. Such as using exhaust from power plants (natural gas and coal) to create algae and then to use that algae for other uses, such as creating bio-diesel, ethanol, health food, paper, bio-plastic, animal feed or hydrogen! Plus, the algae reduces pollution by 80%!

Not sure of the EROI on these technologies but I like the direction that we're going. In nature there is no waste, one system's waste is another's fuel. We need to start valuing our waste stream and start re-using it! It's too valuable to throw things away to the air or the landfill! For example, I'm now keeping my plastic bags and washing and drying them inside out for re-use. Works well clipped on to a clothes line outside. And saving food in sealable containers (aka tupperware) so we don't use any throw away plastic wrap or aluminum foil!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Carrot Mob: Make it Rain!

Carrotmob Makes It Rain from carrotmob on Vimeo.

Everyone needs to buy things. But we tend not to spend our money in a socially organized way. So Carrotmob, a new environmental advocacy group, had an idea: what if those seeking the same kind of product got together, pooled their dollars, and used them to collectively support local companies that were also doing the most to save energy and help the environment? Watch what happened when Carrotmob pulled a big crowd together to spend a lot of money at the local liquor store with the strongest environmental commitment.

We have the power. There are more of US than THEM.

This is why I believe in the power of the Transition Towns approach. Which says we can have a BETTER future, if we start now and work TOGETHER!!! We need to be POSITIVE. We need to approach this from a SALES perspective. No one is motivated by getting LESS. People will do things if they think they will get MORE!

Lets get through this by creating Abundance! And we could have party and aBUNdance as Brad Lancaster would suggest!

For more info visit CarrotMob's Site.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


The Times Online reports on the Dexter cattle breed, “the world’s most efficient, cutest and tastiest cows."

For between £200 and £2,000, people can buy a cow that stands no taller than a large German shepherd dog, gives 16 pints of milk a day that can be drunk unpasteurised, keeps the grass “mown” and will be a family pet for years before ending up in the freezer.

The Dexter, a mountain breed from Ireland, is perfect for cattle-keeping on a small scale, but other breeds are being artificially created to compete with it, including the Mini-Hereford and the Lowline Angus, which has been developed by the Australian government to stand no more than 39in high but produce 70% of the steak of a cow twice its size. The Dexter originated in the south of Ireland in the 1800s as an ideal “cottager’s cow”, producing enough milk for the house, and a calf a year.

Today’s mini-cattleman follows a similar pattern, choosing to keep a single “house cow”, collecting the milk each day and using artificial insemination to produce one calf annually for meat. Many people start with one cow and let it produce a calf before sending it to slaughter at the age of two, when the meat is at its most tender and high in healthy omega3 fats.

Just right for the garden: a mini-cow (from Arbroath)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Container City