Sunday, November 29, 2009

Geography of a Recession

Animated map of US unemployment stats since 2007

Friday, November 27, 2009

Good Ideas....

These are taken from The God Delusion although I have heard they were not originally written by Richard Dawkins. Regardless, these are some pretty good ideas to live by.:

1. Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you

2. In all things, strive to cause no harm

3. Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.

4. Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.

5. Live life with a sense of joy and wonder

6. Always seek to be learning something new

7. Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.

8. Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.

9. Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.

10. Question everything

After 500 Years Indigenous Permaculture Rises Again

Cooperative action amongst indigenous permaculturists from around the Americas (South Dakota, El Salvador, and California's San Francisco Bay Area, to name a few), has generated growing interest in practical, low-cost solutions to many of their cultures' basic problems. This puts them way ahead of the curve in contrast to the colonial cultures in which they live.

Tribes represented by program leaders include Maya, Nahuat, Shuar, Lakota, Pima, Yaqui, Sonsonate (of El Salvador), and Oglala Lakota.

We all stand to gain a lot from their experience, experiments, and example. Bravo!

The Indigenous Permaculture Program is a grassroots organization that supports community food security to revitalize ecological health.

  • Revitalize Native and local communities through indigenous science, land stewardship, sustainable agriculture, community food security, and sustainable development.
  • Promote awareness of human impacts on the natural environment and on Indigenous communities when unsustainable choices are made
  • Use locally-available resources and demonstrate the power of conscious choices to create self-sufficient communities that care for and preserve Mother Earth

We share traditional farming practices and apply environmentally and culturally-appropriate technology, with the ultimate goal of community food security, and do this work in an affordable way that builds capacity within the community. We provide holistic support to design and implement community food security projects, inspired by indigenous peoples' understanding of how to live in place.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Drugged and Confused?

Found at
The Laws of the Pharmaceutical Industry

The main principles governing the pharmaceutical “business with disease.” It is not in the financial interests of the pharmaceutical industry to prevent common diseases – the maintenance and expansion of diseases is a precondition for the financial growth of this industry.

1 The pharmaceutical industry is an investment industry driven by the profits of its shareholders. Improving human health is not the driving force of this industry.

2 The pharmaceutical investment industry was artificially created and strategically developed over an entire century by the same investment groups that control the global petrochemical and chemical industries.

3 The huge profits of the pharmaceutical industry are based on the patenting of new drugs. These patents essentially allow drug manufacturers to arbitrarily define the profits for their products.

4 The marketplace for the pharmaceutical industry is the human body – but only for as long as the body hosts diseases. Thus, maintaining and expanding diseases is a precondition for the growth of the pharmaceutical industry.

5 A key strategy to accomplish this goal is the development of drugs that merely mask symptoms while avoiding the curing or elimination of diseases.

This explains why most prescription drugs marketed today have no proven efficacy and merely target symptoms.

6 To further expand their pharmaceutical market, the drug companies are continuously looking for new applications (indications) for the use of drugs they already market. For example, Bayer’s pain pill Aspirin is now taken by 50 million healthy US citizens under the illusion it will prevent heart attacks.

7 Another key strategy to expand pharmaceutical markets is to cause new diseases with drugs. While merely masking symptoms short term, most of the prescription drugs taken by millions of patients today cause a multitude of new diseases as a result of their known long-term side effects. For example, all cholesterol-lowering drugs currently on the market are known to increase the risk of developing cancer – but only after the patient has been taking
the drug for several years.

8 The known deadly side effects of prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the industrialized world, surpassed only by the number of deaths from heart attacks, cancer and strokes (Journal of the American Medical Association,April 15, 1998). This fact is no surprise either, because drug patents are primarily issued for new synthetic molecules.

All synthetic molecules need to be detoxified and eliminated from the body, a system that frequently fails and results in an epidemic of severe and deadly side effects.

9 While the promotion and expansion of diseases increase the market of the pharmaceutical investment industry - prevention and root cause treatment of diseases decrease long-term profitability; therefore, they are avoided or even obstructed by this industry.

10 Worst of all, the eradication of diseases is by its very nature incompatible with and diametrically opposed to the interests of the pharmaceutical investment industry. The eradication of diseases now considered as potential drug markets will destroy billions of investment dollars and eventually will eliminate this entire industry.

11 Vitamins and other effective natural health therapies that optimize cellular metabolism threaten the pharmaceutical “business with disease” because they target the cellular cause of today’s most common diseases - and these natural substances cannot be patented.

12 Throughout the more than one hundred year existence of the pharmaceutical industry, vitamins and other essential nutrients, with defined functions as cofactors in cellular metabolism, have been the fiercest competition and the greatest threat to the long-term success of the pharmaceutical investment business.

13 Vitamins and other effective natural health therapies that effectively prevent diseases are incompatible with the very nature of the pharmaceutical “business with disease.”

14 To protect the strategic development of its investment business against the threat from effective, natural and non-patentable therapies, the pharmaceutical industry has – over an entire century - used the most unscrupulous methods, such as:

(1) Withholding life-saving health information from millions of people.

It is simply unacceptable that today so few know that the human body cannot produce vitamin C and lysine, two key molecules for connective tissue stability and disease prevention.

(2) Discrediting natural health therapies. The most common way is through global PR campaigns organized by the Pharma-Cartel that spread lies about the alleged side effects of natural substances – molecules that have been used by Nature for millennia.

(3) Banning by law the dissemination of information about natural health therapies. To that end, the pharmaceutical industry has placed its lobbyists in key political positions in key markets and leading drug export nations.

15 The pharmaceutical “business with disease” is the largest deception and fraud business in human history. The product “health” promised by drug companies is not delivered to millions of patients. Instead, the “products” most often delivered are the opposite: new diseases and frequently, death.

16) The survival of the pharmaceutical industry is dependent on the elimination by any means of effective natural health therapies. These natural and non-patentable therapies have become the treatment of choice for millions of people despite the combined economic, political and media opposition of the world’s largest investment industry.

Know Your Lifeboat - Brock Dolman

This brief interview gets to the heart of Permaculture Politics which is every person's intimate relationship with their watershed (or waterspread as Brock calls it, since the point is slow it down, rather than merely shed it, so that its gifts can be used over and over). In a nutshell, water is everyone's personal (and interpersonal) Source of Life (which is important to remember if love is really the aim our game).

Know Your Lifeboat: An Interview with Permaculturist Brock Dolman
Marita Prandoni |Know Your Lifeboat: An Interview with Permaculturist Brock Dolman

Brock Dolman photo courtesy Brock DolmanBrock Dolman is a permaculturist at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) based in Occidental, California. He is a member of the Sowing Circle Intentional Community and is Director of the OAEC’s WATER Institute (Watershed Advocacy, Training, Education, & Research) and Permaculture Design Program. He also co-directs OAEC’s Wildlands Biodiversity Program.

His Basins of Relations and other permaculture-related courses are designed for farmers, gardeners, land managers, landscapers, home or landowners, builders, educators and activists who want to restore their surroundings and extend their unique ecosystem attributes. Brock also co-manages the Center’s biodiversity collection, orchards and 70 acres of wilderness.

Living up to his specialized-generalist nature, and rekindling the dwindling art of the peripatetic natural historian, his experience ranges from the study of wildlife biology, native California botany and watershed ecology, to the practice of habitat restoration, education about regenerative human settlement design, ethno-ecology and ecological literacy activism toward societal transformation. Brock recently presented at the 2009 Bioneers Conference.

EcoHearth: What is permaculture?

Brock Dolman: Well, it’s not an Alaskan hairdo. My simple answer is that it’s a design methodology for regenerative human settlement patterns. Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren named the method when they introduced it in the 1970s, but much of what it talks about is on the cutting edge of 10,000-year-old ideas. As the word implies, it is a way fostering the relationships in natural ecologies and of honoring the wisdom of cultures and people throughout time. Permaculture recognizes the foundation of history on which we stand with the modern issues we face.

EH: What are basins of relations?

BD: Most referential feedback happens on a watershed scale. Everybody on the planet lives in a watershed. Besides its poetic ring, the idea is one of a cradle, or a container as water flows overland, collecting into a river, and sometimes making its way to the ocean. Basins of Relations® are three-dimensional topographical territories created over time by geology, hydrology, fire, and uplifted and eroded land. They are about honoring and rekindling our relationship with all our relations on the planet. The most efficacious place for this is in the watershed. This is where we can have social, local, intentional community with other life forms and inanimate processes, like the fire cycle and the hydrological cycle. It’s not reductionist and it is not a NIMBY[not in my backyard – Ed.] opportunity. For a community to have regenerative settlement patterns, we’d better figure out the water cycle, which is tied to the soil and air. The fire cycle is tied to the air cycle, which is responsible for vegetation, photosynthesis, smoke and nutrient processes like those involving phosphorus and nitrogen.

EH: I haven’t heard you use the word sustainability.

BD: If you asked a friend how her relationship with her husband was, and she told you it was sustainable, wouldn’t you get the sense that it wasn’t that great? When you unpack “sustainability,” you get a question about your ability to sustain the cycles of life. Watersheds should embody the geographic scale of applied sustainability, which must be regenerative because we desperately are in need of making up for lost time.

Watersheds offer an important scale for relationship and feedback. Is the water quality cleaner and quantity more abundant or not? If the river doesn’t reach the ocean or makes a dead zone at the mouth, we need to take pause and evaluate the cycle from ridgeline to river mouth. How are humans behaving there? What is their relationship to water, soil, nutrient cycle and biodiversity? We need baseline criteria. Where are we starting, and what are we comparing our watershed to?

In the pre-contact Pacific Northwest, the salmon were so plentiful “you could walk on their backs.” What was the feedback mechanism that allowed them to flourish? If you choose indicators like the salmon, you identify keystone species. Certain critters, if you hold them up, help us track the health of a watershed from summit to sea. They reflect for us interspecies relationships.

In indigenous hydro-engineering systems like the acequias of northern New Mexico, Peru and Ecuador, or the chinampas of Mesoamerica, the whole is greater than the sum of its parciantes (water shareholders). It’s called a hydro-democracy or aqua-democracy—truly a commonwealth, when the ditch is flowing.

EH: Over history and around the world, going back millennia, many cultures have continued the erosion of soil, largely through livestock grazing. Can livestock have a restorative role in permaculture?

Blue Corn photo © Jan Mangan, BioneersBD: History has good and bad examples. Part of being a good ecological designer is utilizing case studies that express behaviors that show cultural and ecological integrity over time versus witnessing the collapse of civilization from overuse or abuse of the natural resources a community depended on.

Agriculture includes forestry, livestock and cultivation of crops. The first cut on the land is cutting vegetation—converting trees and shrubs, grasses at the hand of people themselves. We may clear it to allow for settlements. Then we manipulate it for the extraction of resources, like wood, fodder or crops. Animals were domesticated and enslaved to be put to work by people. Just as a saw can be used to prune or to kill, cows can be used to stimulate regenerative growth of grasses or to denude the land. The responsibility comes back to the people manipulating the landscape. Don’t blame the cows.

We turned away from responsible agriculture when we committed to significant clear-cutting, allowing for the loss of topsoil, and by altering our waterways. The great deforestation has led to desertification. If we undermine resiliency within the larger scale trend, we begin to set up behaviors within the smaller scale trend that weaken resilience. We’ve compromised so many processes and flows in the tapestry of life that the warp and weft are now tattered and torn. We need a methodology to reweave this world.

EH: Most people living in cities don’t think about their watershed. The water flows from the tap.

BD: Watersheds can be as vast as the Mississippi basin, the third-largest in the world that drains 41% of the lower 48 US states into the Gulf of Mexico, or they can functionally be as small as all the land in your neighborhood that flows from your yard, roof, driveway and streets to the storm drain and into your local creek or lake. Watersheds underlie all human endeavors and form the foundation for all future aspirations and survival.

At any time, less than 1% of the world’s water is available as freshwater in lakes, rivers and accessible ground water for shared use by humans and other freshwater-dependent beings. The melting ice caps and glaciers are spilling into the saline oceans. As we drain wetlands and clear-cut forests, plow soils and pave over our watersheds, we further reduce freshwater supplies. OAEC’s practical and philosophical response is Conservation Hydrology®, which advocates that humans move from a dehydration model—pave it, pipe it and pollute it—to a rehydration model—“slow it, spread it and sink it”®. Thankfully at a national level, as part of the Clean Water Act, stormwater management is increasingly based on waterspread restoration. Bio-swales and rainwater gardens serve to biologically filter storm water, enhancing its quality and allowing it to recharge aquifers while reducing floods flows.

EH: As a peripatetic natural historian, where have you roamed? What lessons have you brought home from other parts of the world?

My dad is a retired marine, so growing up I traveled a lot in the U.S and Japan. As an adult I traveled in other countries—throughout Central America, the northern Andes, Brazil, Israel, Cypress and Turkey. The year 2009 was Darwin’s 200th birthday and as a member of the Junior Darwin Overachievers Society, I’m totally interested in tundra, rainforests and a plethora of ecological diversity. What’s fun is going to places like the high, dry Tibetan plateau, where water systems are aligned with cultural religious integrity. By going to cultures that have a semblance of intactness, we can honor that and find wisdom in those traditions. Then we can incorporate those ideas back here in North America while tending the wild.

EH: How can we organize our own basins of relations?

BD: One task at hand is permeating the headwaters in our own heads and our imprint on our watersheds. We are perched on the tipping point of a “watershed moment.” Now is the time to bring our communities together to set in motion plans and processes that ensure our watersheds will remain healthy in perpetuity. Each process, like every watershed and its associated community, is unique. Often certain local, state and federal jurisdictions are ready to collaborate with communities. Get to know members on the regional water board, irrigation district, planning commission, board of supervisors or city council. Know your state and federal legislators. Your home basin of relations is your lifeboat.

Additional resources:
A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization by John Perlin
Totem Salmon: Life Lessons from Another Species by Freeman House
Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson
EcoHearth Pieces on Watersheds

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rob Hopkins at TED

Rob Hopkins reminds us that the oil our world depends on is steadily running out. He proposes a unique solution to this problem -- the Transition response, where we prepare ourselves for life without oil and sacrifice our luxuries to build systems and communities that are completely independent of fossil fuels. Rob Hopkins is the founder of the Transition movement, a radically hopeful and community-driven approach to creating societies independent of fossil fuel.

Monday, November 23, 2009

PERMACULTURE and PEAK OIL: Beyond 'Sustainability'

David Holmgren is co-originator (with Bill Mollison) of the permaculture concept and author of the recent book, PERMACULTURE: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. He talks about the need to move beyond the lulling hope that 'green tech' breakthroughs will allow world-wide 'sustainable consumption' to the recognition that dwindling oil supplies inevitably mean a mandatory 'energy descent' for human civilization across the planet. He argues that permaculture principles provide the best guide to a peaceful societal 'powering down."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Michael Rupert on Food and Energy

Collapse...the Movie

Here's a clip from "Collapse" a documentary by Chris Smith director of "American Movie" & "The Yes Men". Haven't yet seen the whole film but am looking forward to it.

Radical thinker Michael Ruppert outlines his apocalyptic vision of our world after the collapse of industrial civilization.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bloomington Preps for Peak Oil

Peter Bane and I have been proud to contribute to the creation of the document Redefining Prosperity: Energy Descent and Community Resilience. Our mayor and city council really like it and it could also be adopted by the county. It will likely serve as a peak oil transition template for many other communities in Indiana and elsewhere. Please note that it is a 257 page document and may take a while to download if your server is slow. Please share.

The specific charge of the Peak Oil Task Force is to acquire and study current and credible data; seek community feedback; coordinate efforts with other governmental agencies; work to educate the community; and, to develop a Bloomington Peak Oil Task Force Report for approval by the Mayor and Common Council outlining strategies the City and community might pursue to mitigate the effect of declining fuel supplies in areas including, but not limited to: transportation, municipal services, energy production and consumption, food security, water and wastewater.