Sunday, February 20, 2011
It’s clear that humans will be sustainable soon- that or extinct…
I began the New Year doing some freelance work on a sustainable concept web-site. I was asked to research and define green criteria and standards for sustainable products as well as facts on where we are in relation to where we need to be.
Unholy Mega-Piles of SHIT People!!! We humans suck at being sustainable! There are now nearly 7 billion of us treading heavily and toxically upon our evermore fragile planet.
I’d somehow managed not to know that a plastic bag is used for an average of 15 minutes, or that 1 million of them are handed out every minute, and that 500 Billion to 1 Trillion of them end up in landfills or by the side of roads and middle of the Pacific… AND THEY take 500 to 1,000 years to bio-degrade! YIKES!!! Pop into the Dollar Store- 1,000 years, Petco- 1,000 years, the market- 1,000 years X’s 10,…
One would hope that the picture brightens with recyclables- Shockingly- NOT! Only 2 out of 10 water bottles gets recycled, the rest (approximately 26 billion) end up in land fills or being incinerated. In the US alone we use 1.5 million barrels of oil just to produce water bottles.
In my day-job I work to support sustainable agriculture because the toxic residue of the industrial Ag is not sustainable. Chemical farming is devastating to our ecosystems, our bodies and alters the bio-chemistry of our minds. I felt that I was aware of the environmental threats we are living with. It was an unhappy surprise to discover that the average American introduces 25 gallons of toxic, hazardous, chemicals into their own homes each year. These are mostly cleaning products and most of these end up in our sewage plants or ground water. At the sewage plant those toxic chemical along with human waste get processed into bio-solids then sold to conventional farmers as affordable fertilizers- (sewage sludge is not allowed in organic farm production.)
I was also asked to research the impact of our conventional clothes, electronics, toys and more. Too many issues to list and no good news… like cotton accounts for 25% of the plants pesticides use.
But there is great news- from energy to electronics and everything in-between corporations and individuals are making huge efforts to clean, green, and recycle, to incorporate renewable and sustainable elements at every step of production. The question will be- Do we reward their efforts with our purchase power? If the money is there, more will follow. And we will be that much closer to our destiny and evolution into sustainable humans.
Meanwhile- Take reusable bags to the market, don’t buy water in bottles, know your cleaning products, recycle, and research lifespan and renewability of purchases. Oh yes, and buy organic whenever possible. Our collective futures depend on a quantum leap involving many baby steps. It all makes a difference.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
“The fundamental truth of our time is that this culture is killing the planet. We can quibble all we want—and quibble too many do—about whether it is killing the planet or merely causing one of the six or seven greatest mass extinctions in the past several billion years, but no reasonable person can argue that industrial civilization is not grievously injuring life on Earth.” Derrick Jensen
The tenants of permaculture came out of the 1960’s, a time when there were half as many humans on the planet, there were no GMO’s riding the winds decimating heirloom seed, and an awareness of the need for man to Self Regulate waste, chemical farming, reproduction and consumption were clearly identified. How brilliant would it have been if personal permaculture had been embodied by the masses in the 60’s? …If wishes were fishes…
“The fundamental truth of our time is that this culture is killing the planet.” At what point does this reality kick in and every fiber of our being, every action of a lifetime, law, religious doctrine all fall into alignment with our sustainable future? There are those for whom the bio-ethics took root, who have been living, designing, planting, creating, and prospering sustainably. But even with the most evolved beings I know there are gaps. Those funny little spaces when an aspect of self is not in step with the rest. The friend with the all Green-Home and fresh organic food who had a bug control company spraying Malathion quarterly under and around the house to keep the flea population down. The person who owns the Prius to protect the environment but routinely dines on diet coke and fast-food.
Is there a psychological or biological resistance to owning personal responsibility, feeling one’s connectivity to everything, and integration of a sustainable life? Seemingly YES! The internal directive to CONSUME has become the vampire among us and the illusion of being independent autonomous beings a potentially deadly game.
When self regulation fails, traditionally laws and religious doctrines would fill in the gaps- “Thou shalt not kill”, “Don’t litter” come to mind. Sadly, preservation of resources and self regulation have not been in the short term interest of business and governments. Corporations that sell and earn billions of dollars, no matter how toxic or wasteful- are celebrated as successful. People would much rather hear their president tell them to go to the malls and spend money- as did Bush following 9/11, than to pay down their debt and save- as did Obama after the collapse of the Banks, even though the latter was in their best interest. The reality is religions lag and governments dally. This is an evolution of consciousness moving from ground to plant to person.
The embodiment of sustainability is as fundamental to the evolution and survival of the species as was learning to stand up-right, or a written language… It is our next frontier and our only future option.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Somewhere outside of vows of poverty or lust for greed, nestled in a system of sustainability, lives the third tenant of permaculture…Produce a yield.
Is it just me or does that strike a chord of the profoundly obvious which wedges bits of sky into one’s imagination. For me, Obtain a yield- has an organic resonance of abundance.., a bushel of apples, a leg of lamb, and invokes an image of thriving land and community.
In permaculture, obtaining a yield can never live outside of a sustainable system which includes
Observe and Interact, Catch and Store Energy, Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback, Use and Value Renewable Resources, Creatively Use and Respond to Change. It’s capitalism with built in do-no-harm guiderails.
Obtain a yield. The yield can be love, health and wealth, art and beauty, or adventure, ecstatic, play and avocados. Think multi-cropping…Sweet!
So, how to apply Obtain a Yield to self?
Well…returning to permaculture’s agricultural roots, one must know the intended harvest before deciding on which seeds to plant. Intention becomes the key word once harvest has been identified.
It’s important to sow intention with care because life’s yield soon follows. There was a time when I lacked the attention span to notice that the manifest world I was stepping through with disregard and sometimes disdain was the litter of my yesterdays’ longings, each one dismissed for the next but with no real intent behind any. For me it took owning the outcome of the shotgun-spray of my mind’s vomit, (life drama which demanded loads of attention with no real Tah-Dah,) then learning to excavate beyond ever-changing whims of desire to tap into the deeper yearnings of soul. It is to those deeper yearning I marry my intent and creativity.
Somewhere between awareness and discipline I’m learning to articulate creative-intent in such a way that I can obtain a yield which sustain me… and can be shared. Intuitively I know my garden and grove both exist to produce a yield, and that my fruitless banana trees must be replaced by banana plants which yield bananas. And that our fledgling accreditation company, A Bee Organic must produce a yield to fulfill its function of Certifying the World Organic but just until the use of chemical farming, irradiation, growth hormones in livestock, sewage sludge, and GMO foods are outlawed rendering the USDA Organic seal obsolete. At which time we can joyously retire the Bee! If I refocus into the linear-capitalist perspective, the dictate is to make money. From make money I would not so want my industry to succeed as to make us obsolete. So at some level energetically I’d undermine the USDA Organic seal, which honestly happens (I’m sure unconsciously) within the industry.
Being a from-the-ground-up, systems-based doctrine, permaculture gives the blueprint for getting downright global and not losing connection with the lines of energy I know and trust, so Obtaining a Yield resonates a big YES!!!
Where else can we Obtain and share yield???
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
"In nature's economy the currency is not money, it is life." — Vandana Shiva
“…And taking one step back…its currency is life-force.”~Ro
Catch & Store Energy, is both practical and archetypal. On the practical side we really must lower our foot print on the planet. And along those lines everything counts. Capturing and storing energy may be as simple as channeling water from gutter downspouts into barrels and using the stored water to water plants in yard, wrap water heater in a blanket, invest in solar, or pre-cycle…that’s when we decide not to generate trash by buying unpackaged produce or bringing your own bags to market, there is then no need to recycle the bag and is referred to as precycle.
On the archetypal side Catch and Store Energy could be called Open and Value Energy.
If you really want to get esoteric, one can Transmute Energy.
Catch/Open: Einstein figured out what great Sages have long intuited… It’s all energy. Exercise is one form of opening energy, fresh organic food and great company would be other ways, creative expression yet another. One could go to the gym for exercise, meet friends for drinks, and the market for food, then go home to a crafts project on a Saturday…, or one could join a community garden and visit while shoveling, get creative while planting edible flowers and veggies, then harvest fresh produce from which to share and create original mouth-watering meals, meals which could be shared... Most of us can only uphold a to-do list for so long, then life happens and we get off track. In a systems approach there are living containers in place to support one’s life, creativity, goals and intent. A to-do list may get lost or forgotten but the container lives. An example would be my intended morning walk, where weather, business, or company would happen and…weeks later…. I’d start walking again. Now our community walks around the lake Mon-Fri. 9:00 to 10:00, three laps-three miles, with more dogs than people. We each have days when we can’t show but regardless the walking continues.
Store/Value: Fill self first. Learn to fill self on all levels, body, mind and spirit. Fill with the finest fuels of exercise, meditation, music, prayer, fresh whole organic food, loving relationships, stimulating books and conversation. And… stop feeding dead things. Dead things are people, work, ego…anything which does not grow or produce something life affirming with the energy. Learn to recognize healthy growth patterns and look for those in allocating time and energy.
Transmute: Further down the list of permaculture principles is Produce a Yield. Transmuting energy as a life-affirming gift or discipline should probably fall under produce a yield but it relates here as well. Joy, anger, fear, love, desire, sadness, are all energy flavors which can be used individually or in combinations to create. The act of creation is an act of transformation… be it a quiet act of kindness, setting a boundary, changing laws, planting a seed…
Friday, March 26, 2010
"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love…and then we return home.” ~Australian Aboriginal Proverb
The first of the twelve principles of permaculture is to Observe and Interact, which is very similar to Aboriginal Proverb to observe, learn, grow, love. To observe in the purest permaculture sense would be to observe a piece of land, its eco-system, natural resources, the arc of the sun, prevailing wind, drainage, natural pooling areas, identify plants, bug, and animals. So now…what would that look like with self?
You can observe a lot just by watching. ~Yogi Berra
Hint: The elements of self do not look like…
-A list of unrelated items sent to the insurance company as the content and value of ones life.
-A seating list at a charity event with people arraigned according to their ability to donate.
-Checkboxes of species found in your back yard, _Lizard, _Spider, _Bird,..
In all of the above instances the stuff, beings, or nature have been objectified, listing and quantifying are not the same as observing. The first step to observing is to set aside what one thinks they know, along with stories and opinions. This helps to make room for an opening in which information and relationship can take form and flavor.
With all of the many things that one can observe and interact with, self, community, family, friends, co-workers, nature, try focusing from the ground up. Check out some dirt…can you find ground? Remember eating it as a kid? Do you have edible dirt, or could yard chemicals or other be making it toxic? Is it hard as a rock or soft and earthy rich vibrant and pulsating with life.
Here’s the deal…. It all begins and ends in the darkness of soil.
The ground on which one stands must be grocked to understand life as permaculture and in turn understand to show up as a whole element in a sustainable system. Once one has ground… the sky is the limit because sky plays off of ground.
The body is the interface with this life. I say start with ground because if we want to interact from a place of being a part of the system as opposed to apart from the system we need first to feel our place in the system…Artist, caretaker, worm food…
We are beginning to wake up and realize that ecology and self are one. Yikes!
Forget about hormone-laden milk…Got Dirt?
Saturday, March 13, 2010
“We are also concerned about the negative consequences for humanity and for creation resulting from the degradation of some of the basic natural resources such as water air and land, brought about by an economic and technological progress which does not recognize and take into account its limits.” Pope John Paul II
The three ethics of permaculture are- care for the Earth, care for each other, and Fair Share- living within limits while redistributing surplus.
The first two, care for the earth, and care for each other are self explanatory. We are not there yet but the pressure to be ecologically responsible as referenced by the Pope is growing. The seeds have been planted.
Care for each other has been taught for a while now too…do unto others. Progress has been made, progress to be made…
Self-set limits however… for most… sheer heresy.
Sky’s-the-limit is a religion unto itself these days and yet there are those who understand self-limits from a place a of seamless dynamic beauty with-in limits, of stuff, consumption, and reproduction, then sharing surplus. It’s living the embodiment of the story of loves and fishes, owning the abundance and fulfillment in taking what is needed… then passing on and sharing the rest.
What is enough? Must be answered differently by each from vows of poverty simple, sparse and eloquent, or the Bill Gate’s model, amass fortune, keeps plenty for self and strategically invests the rest back into humanity, or…something in-between. It’s not about right or wrong, closer to Goldilocks and the Three Bears, taking the time to understand too small, and too big, and finding our Just Right!
There is another piece which must be in place though in order to begin a sustainable life and that is a real connection with the timeless place of self which connects with all of life. It lives in everyone but not everyone chooses to live from the there. Not living from the place of connectivity to self and the eternal is in truth not living, but that’s hard to explain to those who mistake ideals and opinions as path and passion. It’s the difference between George Washington Carver lovingly coaxing seeds to self-evolve into new and specifically useful hybridized strains, and Monsanto mutating seeds to tolerate poisonous herbicides so they could sell more Round-up. The thing is, we do this with ourselves, we mutate self into accepting toxic unfulfilling lives which look good from the outside if viewed from one angle. …Smile!
Understand that sustainability is not a to-do list of buy green, drive a Prius, and recycle. Those are optional elements of a whole interrelated system. At the center of the system is self and self’s-connection to the whole…Once clearly owned and connected- life, planet and future can be retro-engineered and accessorized for sustainability. Choices become crystal clear, like food grown with poisons which burn soil, pollutes water and kills off companion eco-systems, can not then be packaged without preservatives and labeled as NATURAL…