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Occupy and permaculture

 
Will Gowen
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One question I have comes from a recent article in the Nation, "Why Now? What's Next? Naomi Klein and Yotam Marom in Conversation About Occupy Wall Street." In the article Naomi Klein states, "the key is in the combination of resistance and alternatives." Yotam Marom also states, "You usually have one or the other. You have alternative institutions, like eco-villages and food coops and so on—and then you have protest movements and other counter-institutions, like anti-war groups or labor unions. But they very rarely merge or see their struggle as shared. And we very rarely have movements that want to do both of those things, that see them as inseparable—that understand that the alternatives have to be fighting, and that fighting has to be done in a way that represents the values of the world we want to create. So I do think there’s something really radical and fundamental in that, and an enormous amount of potential." Naomi Klein responds, "A friend, the British eco-and arts activist John Jordan, talks about utopias and resistance being the double helix of activist DNA, and that when people drop out and just try to build their utopia and don’t engage with the systems of power, that’s when they become irrelevant and also when they are extremely vulnerable to state power and will often get smashed. And at the same time if you’re just protesting, just resisting and you don’t have those alternatives, I think that that becomes poisonous for movements."

Toby or anyone else, what are your feelings on these statements? Also, what are your feelings on the Occupy movement and the potential for the linking of alternatives and activism? What is permaculture's role is our changing world and especially during this time of change?

As a quick side note, Toby I really enjoyed your article, "The Myth of Self-Reliance." It brings up how our true focus should be on the community rather than the self. We need to support each other rather than isolate ourselves. The DIY community should change their focus to DIO (Do-it-ourselves). Awesome article.

Thanks for your time,
Will
 
Tyler Ludens
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The role of Occupy, as I see it, is to alert people to the problems we're facing at this point in history. When I visited the Occupy group in the nearby city, there were people there proposing solutions to the problems, but proposing solutions is only a side-line of Occupy, as far as I can tell. People seemed very interested in relocalization, which fits in well with permaculture. I think Occupy can help people see the need for alternatives to the present system which they may not have considered otherwise. Alternatives which can include permaculture. I feel that Occupy should not be expected to both highlight problems and implement solutions. Those of us who aren't interested in or capable of public protest are the ones who should be expected to implement solutions, in my opinion.



 
Toby Hemenway
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Permaculture would suggest multiple strategies, so resistance plus creating alternatives seems wise, and one without the other historically has not helped much. I know that a lot of people in Pc come from a non-violent background, and for those who don't like that sort of in-your-face activism, there is plenty of design work to do. David Eisenberg says a good strategy is "Have more fun than they do and make sure they know it." But I also am in agreement with Derrick Jensen, who says that the people profiting from gutting this planet are not likely to stop doing it just because we ask nicely or turn our backs on them. In the most recent book that he co-authors with Lierre Keith and Aric McBay, "Deep Green Resistance," they make a very good case for active resistance as being essential (though the shrill "you pacifists are stupid losers" tone that can creep in I found off-putting). I highly recommend it. They argue that just walking away to your utopia is both irresponsible and ineffective at causing real change, and give historical examples (their analogy, given the plight of so many species is, if your neighbor was being beaten, is walking away the right thing to do?). But we need those models in place to provide a fear-free alternative, or else we end up like most revolutions (France, Russia, etc), lots of dead, same old bosses. So don't feel guilty if "all" you are doing is creating paradise, but let other people know you are doing it. And give some of the food to Occupy.

I think Occupy has huge potential. The gift they've made of creating the term "the one percent" is immensely valuable, as it shows that the 99% are in the same boat, no matter what our differences. Having a name for it is a critical step.
 
nancy sutton
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Sooooo glad that you posted this, Will!! I believe that both protest and alternatives are necessary. TINA - "There Is No Alternative" - (M. Thatcher's oft repeated rationale for the 1%'s dominance) must be 'shouted down' with the truth, and with a 'picture' of the functioning, feasible, actual and appealing alternative(s)..... a slogan + unforgettable acronym would also be helpful in this 'public relations'/education campaign, that has to accompany the truth-telling Occupy campaign. To know the ugly reality and not be able to act leads to helplessness and ultimate depression.... which suits the 1% just fine ;)

And as wonderful as actually changing the current power arrangement might be, Buckminster Fuller might have been right when he said that a frontal attack will not succeed, but designing a better system will, in improving the lot of all .... and many of us are doing that but the 'PC Movement" (and fellow travelers) needs the spotlight of Occupy's reflected glare. Let's be partners - we may be two sides of the same coin :)

Someone here noted that at least one Occupy, composting toilets were being demonstrated, plus more pc revelations for attendees and gawkers. See the post in this forum "community' farm, and Suzy's 'Essex farm' in Farm Income... re: the Essex Farm in NY for a potential way to create community around thriving natural food production, eliminating the middleman and subverting agribiz. I would like some critique re: whether PC could work in this way....... ? Personality conflicts seem to sink most 'communes' but this is 'business'..a special one, for sure , but still economic at hearts.

(BTW, past 'revolutions' seem to have been short on fun and long purists.)
 
Monte Hines
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Great topic, good article, agree with Toby & nancy sutton, Occupy can do both!

Another article: Occupy Dome-ocracy: "Synergy Can Save the World"
By Pacific Domes
Published: Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012 - 7:12 am

"ASHLAND, Ore., Jan. 3, 2012 -- /PRNewswire/ -- R. Buckminster Fuller, inventor and futurist, has become a major influence in the Occupy Movement. Represented by his book, Grunch of Giants, and by his geodesic dome, Bucky's spirit is infusing the hearts and minds of humanitarians working to implement global change through sustainable design science. The time for change is now and our synergy can save the world." more at Link: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/01/03/4159467/occupy-dome-ocracy-synergy-can.html

Amazing what can happen in a short time when people get together with common cause...
You can achieve synergy...

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120103/SF26599)
1+2 can equal 4 !!!

Bucky coined the term "synergy", as represented by the picture above, to demonstrate how the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the individuals. Through the synergy of the inventive mind and generous hearts of humanity we can turn "Spaceship Earth" around. He understood that we have all the technology and resources necessary to foster Earth as an integrated regenerative system.

Link to get learn much more from Bucky: http://hines.blogspot.com/2011/12/buckminster-fuller-everything-i-know.html Bucky quotes +++

He will blow you away... gets me all pumped up and positive about our human potential... but we must act at soon.... !!!

Bucky can help us today, if we learn from what he taught... apply it individually and together with synergy.

Regards to all,
Monte Hines
Hines Farm Blog

Another related post: http://hines.blogspot.com/2012/01/new-years-resolutions-rechar.html

new years re:solutions | re:char
by JASON on JANUARY 9, 2012

As leaders in the biochar space, the re:char team tries to stay at the bleeding edge of emerging trends. We’ve come up with a list of predictions for the coming year and beyond. Comment around this time next year to see what we got right (assuming the world doesn’t end in 2012):

The Black Revolution is Coming: 2012 will be the breakout year for biochar. Soil carbon sequestration has become an emergent trend in Africa. On several occasions, we have heard Kenyan gov’t officials state that East Africa could be the ‘Inverse Saudi Arabia’ of soil carbon sequestration. In addition, Australia has launched the world’s first ever Biochar Capacity Building program to incentivize farmers to work with biochar. Multiple companies are launching bagged biochar products for horticulture with nationwide distribution. Oh yeah, and re:char has some big plans for this year, but we can’t talk about them right now….

Poop Becomes Cool: The influential Italian art and living magazine COLORS recently published an entire issue devoted to sh*t. It examines all aspects of the human waste supply chain, and how it can be improved. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also committed $42M (of which re:char is a grant recipient) to reinvent the toilet. For thousands of years, we’ve flushed value down the toilet. In 2012, we predict humans will finally give up the taboo and convert human waste products into value-added products like fertilizer and biochar.

Africa Rises: East Africa will become the most exciting place to invest and do business in 2012. The populations in the countries within are rapidly growing, urbanizing and increasing their standards of living while still maintaining ties to agriculture and their roots. Anyone working in tech, agriculture or clean energy should be looking closely at Africa.

Urban Agriculture Becomes a Necessity: As food supplies become increasingly more unstable and urbanization continues, city-dwellers will come to depend on food crops grown in urban areas. We are witnessing urban agriculture explode everywhere from Amsterdam’s Plantlab to Vertical Farming in Nairobi’s largest slum. This trend will represent one of the greatest disruptions in agriculture. Traditional farms will focus on grain production, with vegetable and fruit production shifting to urban farms.
Traditional Investment Models Collapse: Kickstarter has totally disrupted early-stage VC for hardware-based products. Tech Incubators have done the same for early-stage internet investing. The Occupy Wall Street Movement and the Financial Crisis have shown the risks associated with allowing the few to control the wealth of the many. 2012 will be the year that investment becomes truly democratized. Anyone can be an investor and can invest directly into the means of production. There will be massive losses but also massive gains in unexpected places.

Abundance: Conflict originates with resource scarcity. The West has been embroiled in conflict for resources for the entirety of the past 100 years. New models for food and energy production will emerge that will begin to create an abundance of resources in places traditionally shaped by scarcity (Africa, SE Asia, India). As these innovations become democratized, individuals will become radically self-reliant rather than dangerously dependent.

Governments Become Increasingly Less Relevant: A significant portion of the United States will be disappointed by the 2012 election. The US is so culturally and ideologically divided that it simply won’t matter who wins. In the Developed World, people feel alienated from their governments. In the Developing World, people don’t expect anything from their government. Groups like Peter Thiel’s Blueseed are subverting government policy through entrepreneurship. In 2012 and beyond, people will seek and employ new models to govern and provide social services.

I happen to agree with Jason's excellent predictions...
Looking forward to individuals becoming radically self-reliant rather than dangerously dependent... in a community sense
Monte
 
Faith Smith
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I agree we need Occupy & alternatives to the 1% slavery of everything for profit. OWS gets the message out about money running politics. Getting my own money behind what I believe in is my goal after visiting both OWS & DC. I'm in the planing stages now,hampered by the need for a sabbatical,after burnout, trying to make my gentle caring soul work around the profiteers. Many of their obstacles still bar my way; land found but how to get there from here. I have to pay mandatory profits along the way & need the protesters to help so I can poop in a bucket,harvest rainwater,build a safe,cheap home. Politics is much larger,more complicated then I can work. Together we can all be where we want to be with making slaves.
 
Cj Sloane
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Alan Attaboy wrote:Naomi Klein, to the best of my knowledge, has never had any of her positions validated against reality, so her analysis on any given topic should be given no more credence than that of a random 8 year old girl interviewed on the playground about current political affairs.


The Shock Doctrine has most certainly been validated. The IMF has used it repeatedly in the 3rd world and is now doing it to the periphery of the Western Nations. That's what they're doing to Greece right now. Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland coming up. Oh yeah, Hungary, Slovakia.

Perhaps you'd like to rethink equating her with an 8 year-old girl? Besides, my daughter had plenty to say about politics when she was 8. In fact, it's an incredibly demeaning comment to both of them. I bet Ayn Rand had interesting things to say as an 8 year old too so you've basically slammed anyone who was ever an 8 year-old girl.

Nice going.
 
Cj Sloane
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Alan Attaboy wrote:

Your complaints about intrusiveness into your life fall more under the TEA Party concerns than the class warfare schtick of Occupy Wall Street.


The Tea Party (before it was co-opted) has much in common with the Occupy Movement. Ron Paul is popular in both camps.
 
Alan Attaboy
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Cj Verde wrote:
Alan Attaboy wrote:Naomi Klein, to the best of my knowledge, has never had any of her positions validated against reality, so her analysis on any given topic should be given no more credence than that of a random 8 year old girl interviewed on the playground about current political affairs.


The Shock Doctrine has most certainly been validated.


Validated /= referenced. Stiglitz, from the World Bank, reviewing her book doesn't mean that what Klein wrote with respect to identifying problems and proposing solutions is in fact an accurate view of what is going on. I can reference Marx and Engel's The Communist Manifesto but referencing their work doesn't mean that I'm lending support to their analysis of problems or their solutions to their perceived problems.

Perhaps you'd like to rethink equating her with an 8 year-old girl? Besides, my daughter had plenty to say about politics when she was 8. In fact, it's an incredibly demeaning comment to both of them. I bet Ayn Rand had interesting things to say as an 8 year old too so you've basically slammed anyone who was ever an 8 year-old girl.


I don't doubt that your daughter had plenty to say about politics. Lots of people, of all ages, have plenty to say about politics. That fact that people have plenty to say doesn't say anything at all about the worthiness of the content of what they're saying. There is a difference between taking pride in seeing a young person starting to develop analytic thinking skills and applying them and finding profound meaning in the analysis from an 8 year old girl such that your own political views are changed by the strength of her arguments. Good arguments usually have a few things in common - they're built on a well developed understanding of the facts, they're built on an understanding of history and what motivates people, and they logically weave these strands into a coherent argument. Eight year olds don't have the analytic skills and depth of knowledge required to construct sophisticated arguments on their own. Klein has shown the same weakness as the scorching criticisms of her work make very clear. Her fans, of course, will be loyal, because they love rolling around in the confirmation bias she showers over them.

As for Rand, is that supposed to be some sly dig at me? Why would I give a care about what she wrote at age 8? She, and I, and you and your daughter, and all of us, (excepting Ender Wiggen) weren't really coming up with original and profound thinking when we were eight because we were all handicapped by lack of knowledge and experience.
 
Cj Sloane
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Alan Attaboy wrote:Validated /= referenced. Stiglitz, from the World Bank, reviewing her book...


What does Stigliz have to do with anything?

Klein lays out an economic playbook in The Shock Doctrine. This playbook has been validated because the World Bank and the IMF have continued to follow the "playbook" used in Latin America.
 
Cj Sloane
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Alan Attaboy wrote:(excepting Ender Wiggen)


I read that book. It's a very odd reference.

I don't supposed you'd be interested in sharing ways you've put permaculture to use in your life?
 
Alan Attaboy
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Cj Verde wrote:I read that book. It's a very odd reference.


I thought the reference was quite pertinent considering the point of 8 year olds making sophisticated arguments. A parent taking pride in watching their child develop analytic reasoning has no resemblance to an 8 year old making persuasive arguments which sway adults through the use of tight logic, relevant references to history, persuasive use of rhetoric, etc. Ender Wiggen is a fictional 8 year old and he achieved what other 8 year olds are simply ill-equipped to do. I thought a nod to the character fit right into the topic.

I don't supposed you'd be interested in sharing ways you've put permaculture to use in your life?


Sure I would, but I'm more a a learner on this topic and I'm here to read, and learn, from people who know more than me, who've been doing it longer, who've tried many different experiments. I have nothing really original or insightful to contribute on that topic and my contributions will be more along the line of asking questions and seeking advice. That's the way I roll - I stake out positions of topics that I know a lot of about and I'll argue and defend my positions. On topics where my ignorance level is high, I stay back and learn from the words of others.
 
Cj Sloane
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The reason for this thread's existence (IMO) is that there needs to be some reconciliation between capitalism and permaculture. In some ways the goals are totally opposite - conceptually.
One of permaculture's key themes is resiliency whereas capitalism heads towards efficiency.
 
Alan Attaboy
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Cj Verde wrote:The reason for this thread's existence (IMO) is that there needs to be some reconciliation between capitalism and permaculture. In some ways the goals are totally opposite - conceptually.
One of permaculture's key themes is resiliency whereas capitalism heads towards efficiency.


The resiliency of capitalism is pretty robust as it is. It's certainly not bullet proof but it ain't that bad either. The resiliency of capitalism lies in it operating on a diffuse basis. Many competitors trying different things so as to achieve better performance (usually performance is synonymous with profits) and the nature of the capitalist beast leads to innovation and different approaches to address the task at hand. This is a much more resilient way of doing things than crony capitalism or state capitalism. Look at how Obama put so many eggs into the basket of failed solar energy companies. That approach fails because it suffers from a knowledge problem - that approach presumes that one decision maker in government knows more, or knows better, than thousands or millions of individual and institutional actors, who face the same question. Each of the thousand or millions can try different solutions to the problem and they simply risk their own small resources, whereas Obama bets big with our money. The decentralized nature of capitalism lends it resiliency.

The whole Wall Street/mortgage meltdown is a textbook example of how forcing private economic institutions to advance the social goals of government leads to a loss of resiliency and a "bet all the chips on one approach" modus operandi.

Putting in place more regulations, more mandates, more oversight, more laws, etc simply serves to lessen the impact of innovation and decentralized approaches to various tasks and works to centralize everyone's operations into one favored approach. Imagine if government had the power to mandate that agriculture MUST be done only in a fashion prescribed by the "experts" in Washington - all of permaculture would be illegal and everyone would be in the same boat. Think of the risk of monoculture in agriculture, well the same applies to stifling of innovation in capitalism. Or look to the producer boards for Grains, cranberries, eggs, etc - they've used to power of government to shut down competition, more or less, in order to protect the economic interests of their producers, and this centralization doesn't lend itself to developing resiliency in how those farmers produce their crops.
 
Cj Sloane
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How does a capitalist raise pork v a permaculturist? What are they're different considerations?
 
Alan Attaboy
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Cj Verde wrote:How does a capitalist raise pork v a permaculturist? What are they're different considerations?


I can't speak with certainty, but here's my best guess.

I've been reading Walter Jeffries' musings over at SugarMountain Farms. He raises pork and I'd consider his methods as being Pc methods. I'm not privy to his motivations and all of his methods, but I'm pretty certain that profitability and customer satisfaction are in the mix. I have a hard time drawing a line between capitalist pork products and permaculture pork products for I think that WJ methods are designed to make him money so he falls within the capitalist arena. He's vertically integrating, on a modest scale, by building a butchershop/slaughterhouse where he and his family will butcher their own pork and thereby capture more of the value added for themselves. That's innovation consistent with capitalism, that's not permaculture (to my understanding.)

Where I see the permaculture influence in his writings is that profit isn't as strong a motivator for him as it is for a factory farm operator. I'm assuming that there is more profit to be made in factory farming than there is in using 20 acres? to raise 200 pigs. That's a less than efficient use of his land and time if profit and return to capital are the primary factors motivating him. Maybe I'm wrong in these assumptions and it is more profitable to raise those pigs the way he's raising them, assuming that there was no price differential between pasture fed organic pork and factory farm pork, for if every pork producer switched to pasture feeding their pork then it would be impossible to charge his customers a premium for his pork.

The impression I'm getting from your question, and I admit I could be totally off-base, is that you're equating crony capitalism and state-directed capitalism with capitalism and to my mind these are three different ways of doing business. While I think I can make a convincing argument that Mr. Jeffries is both a permaculturist and a capitalist, I would not argue that he is practicing crony capitalism nor state-directed capitalism - he's not using influence/nepotism nor is he using the power of government and joining a pork marketing board which seeks to punish non-members with fines and prison for growing pork without joining the cartel. As far as I can tell Mr. Jeffries is doing what he wants, he's doing it his way, he's found a market receptive to his product, he's hustled and worked hard to develop his business, he's striving to be efficient in creating value and these all ring true of capitalists operating under the big tent of capitalism. Other capitalists will favor factory farming, and that's OK, for the decentralized nature of these different approaches creates resiliency in our food supply system. The one's I have a beef with (no cross-species pun intended) are the marketing board farmers who use government to shut down competitors.
 
Cj Sloane
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Alan Attaboy wrote:The impression I'm getting from your question, and I admit I could be totally off-base, is that you're equating crony capitalism and state-directed capitalism with capitalism and to my mind these are three different ways of doing business. While I think I can make a convincing argument that Mr. Jeffries is both a permaculturist and a capitalist, I would not argue that he is practicing


No, I'm not equating those isms.

The capitalist pig farmer asks "how can I raise pigs to make the most money?" Nothing else enters the equation. The equation is much more complex in Pc. What makes money, what's good for the pig, what's good for the environment?

The fact is that the most efficient means of raising pork is a CFO. I hope you don't need me to get into the reasons why they are terrible for everyone but the farmer (including the pig).

A Pc farmer can approach raising pork thru multiple avenues but hopefully the pig is performing multiple functions, and the pigs needs are being met in multiple ways (resiliency). Salatin has pigs following cows in a pasture rotation scheme (taking care of the cow poop). He has them clean out the cow stalls by burying corn in the poop.

Some farmers use pigs to root up trees, clear & fertilize land, clean up the orchard, and so on. The capitalist farmer uses the pig for only one purpose. He relies on commercial feed (not resilient).

This is from Walter's website:
All naturally raised, humanely handled pigs fed pasture, hay and dairy in the mountains of Vermont. No pesticides, herbicides, antibiotic feeds, artificial growth hormones or other unnatural chemical stimulants. We do not feed our pigs commercial feeds, they thrive on our pastures, milk, whey, winter hay, vegetables and fruit.


His pigs don't need antibiotics because they're not living in unsanitary conditions. Maybe Walter doesn't think it's ethical to risk creating ruining the effectiveness of antibiotics in humans. Maybe he doesn't want it in his water supply. Walter is a capitalist because his capital is tied up in his business but his approach is much broader. I would not consider him a capitalist pig farmer.
 
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