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Staying in the city or going rural?

 
Jesse Chastain
Posts: 8
Location: Eugene/Roseburg
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Hello,
I know this topic has been thrown around a million times, but since geoff lawton is on the forums, I thought I would try to get his (and anyone else's) opinion about it. I live in one of my favorite cities in the whole world (Eugene, Oregon) and I know that if I am going to be in a city, this is where I want to be, but lately I have been considering moving back to the countryside so I can have more space to work on permaculture projects. My question is this. When considering the possibility that our society could and may need to go through extreme change, do you believe that, in order to help transition humanity to a more sustainable way of life, it is more productive to start/join a rural homestead/ecovillage to set an example of a better way or stay in the city and try to improve the current system? Thank you for all that you do, Jesse
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Staying in the city doesn't necessarily mean staying in that mindset. You could be just as much of an agent for change within the city since people will see what you are up to. Quite often in rural locations only the immediate neighbors have any idea what goes on on any given property.

Check out what Will Allen and Company have done within the city of Milwaukee. I think they're definitely showing a different way and doing it in a more public way than someone who lives on a farm.

One of our members has "bloom where you're planted", under her name. I like this because it demonstrates that you can be useful no matter where you are.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9421
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I think people should live where they feel the most comfortable and the most at home. A lot of people feel extremely lonely in the country, although this would not be a problem in an ecovillage because it is a village. Other people (like me!) find the city too noisy and crowded.

I think very large cities (over 1 million) are unsustainable. Before the petroleum age only the very largest cities had a million or more people, and these cities were surrounded by dense and intensively productive farms, not by suburbia. I think cities will have to get smaller to become sustainable. Without cheap energy it is very difficult to keep densely populated cities healthy. In the past, the death rate in cities was much higher than in the country, due to communicable disease. Permacultural handling of humanure would relieve a lot of the danger of communicable disease in cities post cheap energy era.

 
                              
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It's a paradox...A or B?...yet in my mind, it's both...
I believe...We need to purify our selves and the earth right where we are BEFORE we start to live lives in another place...
I for one do not have the kind of experience or skill necessary to create/live-in an eco-village...Yet I dream to create one/live-in one...
I see the city as a kind of training ground, a place to learn the skills, to be an example of a new/ancient/sane way of life!

 
Adam Gulliford
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I think one thing you need to do is honestly ask yourself if country life is going to be fulfilling. Do you think you would be missing something if you weren't able to do city things like going to bars, shows, or being able to converse and exchange ideas with a very diversified population. Are you okay with the fact that the grocery store might be an hour away and specialties even further? I think when we take an honest look at our current behavior we can best answer where we will feel most fulfilled.

I also believe you by no means need land to do more permaculture projects. I've seen other threads on here dealing with land share programs. Besides, if you grow your network I'm sure you'll find other interested bodies that have the land you crave but lack the knowledge.
 
Jesse Chastain
Posts: 8
Location: Eugene/Roseburg
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Thank you for the comments. Preference isn't really what I am trying to get at with this particular question. I know that we all have a choice between city or rural and that great permaculture projects can be done in any and all settings. I am more looking for opinions about the fundamental paradigm shift that needs to take place in our society and whether cities, because of their population densities let's say 10,000 people plus, are too dependent on the current system to be truly sustainable. If we collectively put our energy into transforming cities into highly functioning permaculture systems, does that make it possible for them to be self-sufficient? Should we be working toward transitioning to smaller communities of people? Thanks again for all the input, Jesse
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9421
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I would say cities over 1 million, surrounded by suburbs, are probably not sustainable. I think preference is an important aspect of deciding what we should do as a society. I prefer to live in the country. I think it would be offensive for me to tell people in cities how they should live. I would be offended if people in the city told me how I should live, for instance those people who think cities are more sustainable than the country and that everyone should move to cities leaving the countryside for the wilderness.

People who live in cities might want to look at this discussion: http://www.solviva.com/Greyburg_Greendale.htm which might help them decide what kind of city they prefer to live in.
 
Cris Bessette
gardener
Posts: 780
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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Jesse Chastain wrote:Hello,
My question is this. When considering the possibility that our society could and may need to go through extreme change, do you believe that, in order to help transition humanity to a more sustainable way of life, it is more productive to start/join a rural homestead/ecovillage to set an example of a better way or stay in the city and try to improve the current system? Thank you for all that you do, Jesse



I think the problem with Permaculture is that to outsiders it looks like some kooky, hippy idea. "maaaan, these carrots are like, so tasty- I grew them in cow sh1t dooood!" Look up practically any permaculture video on youtube, you'll see what I mean. (sepp holzer and Geoff Lawton are exceptions lol)

My opinion is that WHEREVER we live, we need to get the squares to dig permaculture instead of freaking them out by emphasizing any counter-cultural basis. How many hippy communes that started out to save the world ended up just being the "long hairs on the edge of town"?

Infiltrate the local Master Gardeners club, community gardens,etc. and turn on those normal cats that that don't grok the lingo.
Bring it to the mainstream wherever you are.
 
Geoff Lawton
permaculture expert
Posts: 48
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Hi Jesse
if you love living in the city I would say stay there and work on permaculture and have fun because if you are not having fun you have got the design wrong.

We need to effect positive change everywhere as a ethical design science evolution in thinking for all of humanity.
 
Eric Thompson
Posts: 370
Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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You know Jesse, a lot of people would say that Eugene IS the countryside! I spent some time there and it is a top notch permie city! I think you can live there and make a good situation of the space you have and the great community there. For a little more space, there are lots of opportunities nearby to own or work a little larger space. If you have a little of both, and the rural space is really for you, it will call to you and you will feel yourself reluctant to go back into the city...
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9421
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Most people live in cities so I think it is extremely important for permaculture to be promoted in cities. Most farmers (at least in the US) are old and stubborn and won't change, so in my opinion, it is less helpful to try to promote permaculture in the country.

My rancher neighbor sprays herbicide on the native persimmons because the raccoons like to eat the fruit. He doesn't even raise poultry as far as I know , he raises beef cattle (I, on the other hand,do raise poultry - and I LOVE the persimmons) so I don't know what he has against raccoons, but he is willing to kill one of the few species of tree which are thriving in our drought in order to spite the raccoons. He has killed every single persimmon tree on his land, as far as I can tell. How can I reach him with permaculture? Ranchers are among the most stubborn people on the planet. If you intend to influence them with permaculture, you better know what the hell you're doing.
 
Come have lunch with me Arthur. Adventure will follow. This tiny ad:
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