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paul wheaton
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In this article the author says goodbye to writing a column about trying to live a greener life.  In the article she says "I'm lucky we don't do witch trials anymore, or this column might have ended a lot earlier."  referring to the level of anger people expressed at her concerns over the debatable value of fluorescent lights, and the big price gap for organic food over conventional.  

I think this may very well be the biggest problem in the eco world today.  And may very well be the worst cancer in communities.

When somebody is starting down the eco path, many people that are further down the path appear to think that the beginners are fools.  And that the people that are further down the path are insane.  

The level of zealotry is unnerving!  And how angry somebody can be if others do not choose to live their lives in exactly the same fashion  .... is vulgar.

I think the fluorescent lightbulb thing is an excellent example.  It is sold as an eco item.  But with the lower power consumption comes a list of problems.  So is it really eco?  It turns out to be debatable.  And now some eco people get terribly angry if you suggest that fluorescent lights are anything but perfectly eco.  And some other eco people get terribly angry if you suggest that fluorescent lights are even slightly eco.

So, if one were to take the energy that is devoted to this sort of anger and redirect it to helping to spread knowledge and receive knowlege, I would think everybody would move a little further down the eco path rather than a few people moving backwards or leaving it entirely.

 
                              
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just saying that zealotry and self righteousness, wherever it is found, is always accompanied by ignorance, not-truth and blindness and etc.

the eco-community would of course be horrified by this comparison, but I see a lot of the same Puritan attitudes, same ol same ol--what goes around comes around in human attitudes.

That's why I like reading about that forest gardening japanese guy--he just did it, "organically" by (it seems) trying to live in a state of harmony--different notes that go together in beauty, rather than everyone playing the same note.

My garden texts are Gary Snyder, Barry Lopez, Wendell Berry, Edward Abbey and (most importantly) reading my land. 

This is an extreme example, but it really chaps my hide when I hear a greenie living in New York city spout that clearcuts in Oregon need to be replanted with hemp because it's "renewable"(I'm not making that up). Ridiculous ignorance from someone who fancies themselves as someone who luuuuuuuvs the earth and wants to "save" it.

(sorry if that wasn't nice)
 
Diana Leafe Christian
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Location: Earthaven Ecovillage, North Carolina; Ecovillages newsletter http://wwwEcovillageNews.org
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I call this attitude "Eco-Fundamentalism" and find it difficult to live with in community too.

      I'm sorry to say that sometimes this attitude can be expressed by a permaculture teacher who seems doctrinaire, or by visionary but inexperienced  brand new graduates of the PDC. Then I call it "Permaculture Fundamentalism."

     Here's a Permaculture Fundamentalism story. One of the neighborhoods at Earthaven Ecovillage in North Carolina, where I live, is called Village Terraces (VT for short). Its residents are movers & shakers who often serve as focalizers of Earthaven's committees or as focalizers of whole groups of committees or as facilitators or minute-takers in our whole-group Council meetings. Even a nine-year old boy who lives there is on the Ethanol Fuel/Livestock Food Co-op committee! 

Almost every VT member is either an entrepreneur  or a retired professional. Almost every one of them can read a spread sheet -- which I sure can't do!

      The VT neighborhood is devoted to permculture design, nutrition (the Nourishing Traditions diet promoted by sally fallon), process & communication skills, healthy child raising, and sustainable agriculture.

    Like everyone at Earthaven, their passive solar buildings are completely off the grid.  VT uses roofwater catchment water and recycles their greywater (and they have a well); and they use composting toilets.  They have a huge and abundant vegetable garden and a small-scale farm with dairy cows, chickens, ducks, and pigs. They use the Voisoin Rotational Grazing method to reduce their labor (they all have day jobs), and increase soil fertility. Their motto, "Build Soil, Grow Food." They're the most successful and well-developed neighborhood at Earthaven, in my opinion.

     A permaculture teacher at Earthaven had a history of wanting quite different things than most people there wanted, and  often not wanting what most did want (and would threaten to block proposals, or actually block them). In 2008 the VT folks wanted to drill a well in their neighborhood, which they had permission to do from the community's original Site Plan, created by three permaculture-designers who helped found Earthaven. So they went through the Land-Use planning process, and  got official permission through a Council meeting. When she found this out, the permaculture teacher (who couldn't attend the Council meeting because of other commitments) was upset enough that she called a community-wide meeting to protest, and to propose that the decision be overturned. Her proposal wasn't passed, and VT did drill their well, which now supplies their neighborhood and an adjacent small neighborhood.

     This permaculture teacher sent an email to the community saying that she considered the VT neighborhood as not using permaculture, and  sais it was harming the Earth.  As a permaculturist, she said, she knew that this was wrong. Because in permaculture, one receives from the Earth (as in gettting water from a spring or pond) but one never _takes_ from the Earth (as in drilling a well) -- would never puncture a hole in the Mother's breast to wrest water from her by force with an electric pump. And wouldn't use an electric pump to bring up water through an off-grid method because it isn't sustainable. And that needing water to grow food isn't sustainable either because if one lives in a forest ecosystem, as we do, one should not try to have more people than could live off of home gardens with raised beds & small animal protein, like chickens, and from what one can hunt and gather in the forest, such as acorns and squirrels. Thus, because of ther well and livestock, Village Terraces neighborhood is not practicing permaculture, she said, and she would no longer take visitors there on her tours, because she felt ashamed of VT for violating the principles of permaculture.  (By the way, these are the classic tenets of ecofeminism, but not of permaculture design, as far as I know.)

        But of my friends at VT told me that when David Holmgren,co-founder of permaculture with Bill Mollison in the early 70s,  visited Earthaven a few years ago (before this incident happened), he said he was very impressed with the VT neighborhood and all it had accomplished. He found Village Terraces to be one of the best examples of permaculture design at Earthaven, he said.  He advised VT neighbors to do as much to the land with backhoes and other equipment as they wanted, in order to create the landform that would be the basis of the whole design, and plant the trees and shrubs, pasture and garden afterwards. That's what he'd done at his permaculture site in Australia, he said.
     
      So, Permaculture Fundamentalism on one hand, and (hooray!) David Holmgren on the other. Let's not let Eco Fundamentalism, or "Permaculture Fundamentalism," run our communities. Let's be "patient educators," as Robert Gilman recommends, with our more zealous and perhaps doctrinaire friends, and not let them get away with this!

     Diana Leafe Christian


       
 
paul wheaton
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This gets bigger!  And scarier!

In a way, the woman had a point.  While I disagree with her philosophy in more ways than one, I thought she had a great point of feeling shame when giving a tour.  Of course, there can be other people that could have similar feelings about the opposite - feeling shame about not putting in a common well. 

And .... the funny thing is ... that after a few years ....  years after getting so militant about an issues .... a person might change their mind.

"Eco-Fundamentalism" or "Permaculture Fundamentalism" ....  I cannot think of a better expression for this, although I  wish there was an expression that you could utter and then things would be smooth.

One path to smooth ... in my obnoxious opinion .... is to recognize that "eco" or "community" or "permaculture" is not a boolean value (on/off, yes/no, true/false, in/out) but more of a multi variable spectrum.  Some folks are further along a path than others.  And there are many paths that intersect.  I think things will be much smoother if we accept that "eco" comes in infinite flavors.  Some folks are big on fluorescent light bulbs, some are big on candles, some are certain that incandescent lights are the most eco.  Some are cool with the dark. 

And then there is community.  If there is even a little bit of the problem, then it will be amplified by a factor of 40!  Hooo Doggy!

Hmmmm ....  I just had a thought.  While this woman was pushing for change, she, of course, wanted things to go her way.  And she wanted other folks to live their lives according to her standards.  And, the others, wanted her to live their lives according their standards.  It seems to me, that what this woman needed was a patch of land to demonstrate her philosophies.  And these other folks needed a patch of land for their own philosophies. 

Well ...  I'm wandering off of the point ....

Anger. 

More specifically, inappropriate anger. 

Over light bulbs

More specifically, person A insisting that person B must advocate the standards of person A.  Person B may have evolved beyond that standard.  Or might not yet be persuaded by that standard.  And the persuasion that person A brings to the table is anger and hostility. 

With hunt. 

"If you do not advocate what i tell you to advocate, then I will burn you at the stake.  And, by the way, I am advocating peace, love, beauty and COMMUNITY!  So if you are against me, you are against peace, love, beauty and/or COMMUNITY - so burning you at the stake makes the world a better place." 







 
paul wheaton
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Bytesmiths wrote:


This is all feeling a bit surreal, because in another thread, it seemed one of the most important values to people was the "freedom to disagree." And now in this thread, the disagreeable people are the bad guys!




And I feel comfortable that my message has always been consistent. 

I think my concern in this thread has to do with folks that are inappropriately angry.  Rather than seeing themselves on a path where there are lessons ahead and lessons behind, they are certain that they have arrived at the knowledge destination.  Further, now that they know all that there is to know - anybody that has a thought that is not perfectly aligned with their own is wrong.  And if they keep spouting off that wrong stuff, then they are gonna confuse some ignorant putz - so the best thing to do is to club them into submission! (usually the club is entirely verbal)

When attempting to understand anything as rich as community living, there is something like 40 tons of stuff to know to be all knowing.  Well, maybe it's actually a million times bigger than that.    Some people do great in community knowing about three pounds of stuff.  Diana probably knows about 1500 pounds of stuff.  I might know 100 pounds of stuff.  And you, Jan, might know about 100 pounds of stuff.  And yet, even though our knowledge, by weight, is the same, yours looks mostly aqua colored and mine looks mostly brown.  And the funny thing is that Diana's looks a bit light-maroon. 

Of the three of us - I would say all three of us are on the path.  I would say that none of us have reached the 40 ton mark (or whatever the value may be). 

So in that other thread, I think people get the freedom to disagree because they are at different places on the IC path. 

I think that people get the freedom to disagree on this thread too. 

The problem, IMOO, has to do with people who will not permit others to think differently.  They won't allow people to disagree. 

Far too often, the worst communicators are those with the big sign that says "the stuff coming out of my mouth is good communication!  If you don't like what I have to say, then you must be a poor communicator!"

As for David Holmgren ...  he has a fascinating approach to permaculture.  I'm more of a sepp holzer follower myself. 



 
Diana Leafe Christian
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I'd like to respond to Paul's May 22nd comment and Bytesmith's May 23rd comments.
First, the folks at Earthaven who wanted to dig a well in their neighborhood did not, as Paul's comment suggests, also insist that the permaculture teacher agree with or also use their kind of irrigation or agricultural systems. They were fine for her to employ her preferred methods on her homesite and in her neighborhood. This was not a conflict between two parties who each had the view, "o it my way; the right way!" Rather, it was a conflict between a party who said, "o it my way, the right way, and I'll block proposals that will allow you to do it your way," and those who said, "Let's each do it the way we prefer and see how it turns out, share the information, and all learn from all these agricultural experiments."

Second, to respond to Bytesmith's comments: "In my experience, the inability to put yourself in someone else's shoes, the reluctance to experience empathy, is one of the biggest problems in community. Empathy requires vulnerability, which requires trust, which requires respect. . . . You don't have to finish up agreeing with them, but you have to think agreement possible in order to empathize. And surprise, surprise: when the other person discovers that you think it possible that you might, under some circumstances, agree with them, they're more likely to agree with you!"

I winced when I read this. I could be reading this into it (since reading an online posting sure doesn't give you the other 97% of the communication — body language and vocal tone), but from just reading these words alone, the post seems a little like a reprimand to me, and perhaps a bit self-righteous.  So please let me say that in the example at Earthaven, people had spent, at that time, about 12 and a half years extending empathy, kindness, understanding, and so on to the permaculture teacher who often wanted different things than the others wanted. Much, much (much!) time was spent going to see her, listening to her and empathizing, trying to give, give, give to help her feel heard. Over time increasing numbers of people became so frustrated they gave up, and finally there was a large group of people who were simply exhausted and demoralized, if not fed up and pissed off. A classic case of compassion exhaustion.

Thanks for reading this.

Diana Leafe Christian
 
paul wheaton
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Diana Leafe Christian wrote:

First, the folks at Earthaven who wanted to dig a well in their neighborhood did not, as Paul's comment suggests, also insist that the permaculture teacher agree with or also use their kind of irrigation or agricultural systems. They were fine for her to employ her preferred methods on her homesite and in her neighborhood. This was not a conflict between two parties who each had the view, "o it my way; the right way!" Rather, it was a conflict between a party who said, "o it my way, the right way, and I'll block proposals that will allow you to do it your way," and those who said, "Let's each do it the way we prefer and see how it turns out, share the information, and all learn from all these agricultural experiments."



I am glad to be corrected.  Please help me understand the difference.

the one woman is of the position:  all of you must live your lives according to my standards.

this bunch of other people were of the position:  howzabout we do it our way where we live, and you do it your way where you live?

And the woman had the ability to block the group from doing things their way, but she goofed and the people did it their way which made her mad. 

Do I have it right? 







 
Diana Leafe Christian
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Yes, that's it. 
Diana Leafe Christian
 
                        
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I consider myself a member of the RVing (recreational vehicle) community. Travel to me isn't a bug that bit me, it is my very soul.  I get a lot of criticism for this way of life.

At present I am prepping for another five or ten years of travel by RV, a long process that will last a couple years. A major goal this time around is to turn a used RV into a green, sustainable unit. At first I figured the RV community would be a good resource as they understand the limitations of an RV and special considerations one requires. Space, weight, durability through heavy movement and use, climate variations a small space brings, etc. That didn't turn out to be the case. I have now felt the sting from those upholding the consumption life to to those that expect everything to be green & eco 100% now now now.

A large portion of the RV community I have had contact with during this project is against change.  There have been debates over light bulb types, use of plastic, pesticides (used to keep bugs out of the RV), dumping practices, even what constitutes being green. More often than not you would be bashed and the modern consumption way of life heatedly defended.

However, it does seem to be improving over the last year. Perhaps the economy down turn has helped. Maybe the green word is becoming more widely accepted. Recently there are a bit more people that  agree, even a few RV makers trying to be more green, there is more willingness to change and a tad  less number of people being hunted on both sides.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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This info in an article by Bill Ryan, Center For Community & Economic Development, University of Wisconsin Extension, reminded me of your RV community discussion.

Studies have shown that the percentage of Americans who worry about the environment “a great deal” or “a fair amount” has increased from 62% to 77% between 2004 and 2006.

<snip>

Consumers born before 1950 are the least green.
 
Henry Bjorklid
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In Finland we call this 'eco-fundamentalism, or instead of the word, it is often called "eco-fascism".

Whatever it is called, I do not much care, but the attitude "I am right and everyone that does not agree, are wrong"-is just working the wrong way. In the end nobody listens.

I use plastics every time I eat, my false teeth that is, so I can't condemn plastics in all its forms. 
Seriously; my own philosophy does not be a very deep green one, I am just trying to use oil and such that is not renewable, as little as possible. I try to avoid to buy anything that is not locally produced, as the transportation is a big "energy-eater" in the drama.
On the other hand, I like sausages, even if I know how it is connected with the use of land etc. I'm just a human. I have faults, but so what?
I think that if we live together, we should show what is wrong and what is right, by our own examples, not only forbidding.

However deep our thoughts are, I am also seeing a trend that people with much knowledge are not integrating with the rest of the community and thus show their examples, but more like separating from the community. This is not always true, but much of this is coming trough as some kind of "von oben stalinism" in my country.
I guess that the readers here does not understand what this means, but it is like fanatism and snobbery in one and the same package - refusing to talk to "those igronants" - "we know best-people and the paria should not try to explain something in our presence..."


Henry
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Eco-fundamentalism and eco-fascism--good words for it, Henry! Thanks!
 
Fred Morgan
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In life, there is something called the 80/20 rule that most successful people either know, or understand at a basic level. Achieving 80 percent of the results requires about 20 percent of the effort - and nothing is harder than the last 10%.

It is called a Pareto if you are curious in stats.

Anytime I get one of the purist around me, I just ask them to go do something success at 100% - and either they will become reasonable, or nearly kill themselves trying to be perfect - either way, the problem has been solved. 

 
Kathleen Sanderson
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It's interesting to come across this thread, which I hadn't seen before.  A few minutes ago I was reading an article about how Global Warming advocates are saying that anyone who disagrees with them should be silenced, by force if necessary.  Here's a link to the article:  http://mensnewsdaily.com/2010/01/27/climate-greenshirts-the-rise-of-eco-fascism/ ;

I'm of divided mind on the Global Warming issue, but regardless of whether or not the world is warming, I don't think we humans have nearly as much to do with the situation as some of the advocates of it would have you think (if that was so, then why is Mars also warming, LOL!?!).  So it's pretty hard for me to be dogmatic about it. 

There seem to always be some people, in ANY community, whether religious or eco or anything else, who think they know best and should have control over everyone else's lives.  Generally they are wrong!  But often they do end up in positions of control/power, simply because they want it and normal people don't.  So how do we deal with that, either in national government, or in a small community??

Kathleen
 
                          
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Kathleen, that article is biased. I'd like to present some different bias for your consideration.

Being as objective as possible, whenever I see an article that calls any group of people "fascist," unless they are actual members of an openly fascist political party such as the BNP, it is clear that the article is propaganda, not an effort to understand and convey truth. That was true when we--meaning myself and my friends, in this instance--were calling the Bush administration "fascist," too. A little less objectively, I think it's especially interesting that an editorial with the word "ecofascist" in the title points to the words of one person who (correctly, as it happens) characterizes historical Nazi social policies as right-wing, and calls that evidence of the author's assertions. That's hypocrisy as well as incorrect--the author is saying it's okay for him to call someone an ecofascist, but you'd better not say Nazi policies were socially right wing. He also misconstrues that academic paper--Cass Sunstein's paper advocates "cognitive infiltration," which is a fancy term for understanding the entire worldview of someone who believes differently than you and reasoning as if you believe that way too, in order to predict what they might do and make arguments that might persuade them. "Planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups" means "persuading," and it's just what my friend the conspiracy theorist is doing when he pulls out seven different kinds of (false) study to try to make me believe that microwaved food causes AIDS. In any case, the government has been literally infiltrating climate activist groups for decades--ask my friends who went to protest at the GOP convention in St. Paul. (And here I become emotionally involved.) That's where you saw suppression of free speech--I watched a video of the protest and saw my friend get knocked over by a police horse and hit with tasers 17 times as he lay on the ground peacefully, not resisting except to cry out in pain, because he wanted to spread the word that the actions of the Republican government were causing widespread devastation. Contrast that with someone suggesting corporations should perhaps not be allowed to pay off politicians as much. It's just as wrong to say that "Global Warming advocates are saying that anyone who disagrees with them should be silenced, by force if necessary" as it is to say "Global warming deniers are all liars"--neither is true. Only some people who say global warming isn't real or caused by humans are lying, and only some global warming activists are saying that some people spreading misinformation about global climate change should be silenced.

I think in the general community of people who are concerned about potential human contributions to global warming, what I've seen is this--a desire to have open and respectful dialogue with people who are unsure about the science, and a desire to disprove the assertions of people who are deliberately misconstruing the science to further their agenda. Unfortunately, the people who are misconstruing the science are taking a lot of intelligent, thoughtful people along for the ride. Because of their political machinations, we're hamstringing the process of making the necessary social changes to preserve the climate conditions that have allowed our society to flourish. And unfortunately, because of the way the political process is structured in the US and in many other countries, talking has become action--political speech is being used to prevent necessary and lifesaving actions. A paramedic has the right to freedom of speech, but not the right to spend time arguing about her or his freedom of speech when she or he is supposed to be resuscitating a dying person. That doesn't mean I think we need to stop people discussing their doubts about the nature of global climate change, but I think the people who are being paid off by big oil to lie and misconstrue need their lies to be revealed--and in large measure because of the state of science education in the American school system, it's proving hard to do that effectively.

In any case, the global climate disaster--and for millions of people already displaced or dying because of the climate shifts in their region, it is already a disaster--is just one indicator of the changes we have got to make to prevent widespread suffering and death. The end of cheap energy in the form of fossil fuels and the crisis of soil fertility due to industrial agriculture are two other big signposts. Getting bogged down in whether global climate upheaval is 15% or 85% caused by human activity is a dangerous red herring. Whether we're more on the 15% end or the 85% end, most of us concerned about having healthy food, clean water, breathable air, and comfortable places to live should be able to agree that we have to stop emitting pollutants, stop throwing gases into the atmosphere that may be making things worse, stop razing our forests, etc. Efforts by people who are paid to spread misinformation about global warming distract from making these changes that I think we can all agree are necessary.

Incidentally, here is your answer about Mars: it isn't warming.
 
                    
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Wow, Kerrick, that whole post was very well written and thought-out. 

Getting bogged down in whether global climate upheaval is 15% or 85% caused by human activity is a dangerous red herring. Whether we're more on the 15% end or the 85% end, most of us concerned about having healthy food, clean water, breathable air, and comfortable places to live should be able to agree that we have to stop emitting pollutants, stop throwing gases into the atmosphere that may be making things worse, stop razing our forests, etc.


INDEED.  In fact, I think re-forestation of the world would solve the "climate crisis" but who am I to say? 
 
                          
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Thank you, Marina--Incidentally I hope you feel better and I love your sig line.
 
                              
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Yes Kerrick, well put.

Here we might want to start focusing on solutions rather than arguing so much about the problem.

Instead of flinging blame it is time to shift the thinking to "What should we do now?"  Cause quite frankly, it doesn't really matter who caused it if we don't start correcting things ASAP.  If we do manage to survive and anyone still cares by that time, then you can see if there is anyone left to sue or any courts left to sue them in.

A agree with the initial feelings behind this thread.  It is upsetting that there are "eco" people out there who will witch hunt anyone who doesn't parrot their exact line.  I fear it is mostly a type of snobbery or the need to put some one else down to feel better about them selves.  Boiling it down even further, it is insecurity.  Having dealt with people in other areas of life that are like this, once I realized that their difficult to deal with behavior was caused by their insecurity, I tended to pitty them.  And it does not always work to build them up since if they are insecure enough, they become like the small dog that is panicking because they think they are the pack leader of the house but know they are not really up to the task of keeping strangers from entering.  So, while knowing what is causing their difficult behavior might make it easier to understand, it doesn't necessarily make them any nicer to deal with.
 
jeremiah bailey
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I think what Paul originally stated had to do with people arguing needlessly over "what to do now." I tend toward the live and let live mentality. I'm not perfect at it, as I've had some moments of do it my way or else. That's the thing: nobody is perfect. The sooner more people become comfortable with that (both that other people aren't perfect and that they aren't perfect themselves,) I think the better. And there are those who'd say mind my own business to my saying that.
 
Marsha Hanzi
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I really appreciate the respectful tone of this forum!

We are all trying to make the best decisions all the  time in incredibly complex situations. Other péople may disagree with some of our decisions but, hey they are NOT in our shoes!

We are all trying to find a way to create a lifestyle that has more  joy, beauty, and abundance in it, leaving space for joy and beauty for the others as well ( including  all the other forms of life), trying, so to speak , to find a better way to occupy the Earth.

I was deeply touched by what Bertram Russel said ( he was a famous philosopher of the last century): "It is embarrassing to admit that I think the best thing we can do is just be a little nicer to each other". (That´s why I appreciate this forum!)

Max Lindegger once said in our PDC that there will always be compromises in our systems, but we always make them better and better. If those outside could only appreciate this and have the patience to let people work things out.

What´s the use to have a wonderful system and still be fighting and judging? That is NOT the lifestyle we desire!

Having lived on the land for the last 6 years, trying day in day out to make the best decisions in light of all the factors involved, it is really irritating when someone ( usually involved in Permaculture) arrives and says we "should have" done this or that...Interestingly the people involved in agroforestry don´t do that- I think they understand complexity better. And yes my experience with David Holmgren was also very positive- lots of respect for the work already done...

And yes I have become a BIG FAN of sepp holzer´s style of "Permaculture" In his last book ( which hasn´t been translated into English yet) he confesses that he is not happy with the label "Permaculture" even when he calls it "Holzer Permaculture" and is looking for another term.

It is important that we be aware of the energetic rule that you stregthen that which you focus. (You give it your attention, which is a form of energy, and it gets bigger and stronger).  I think that is a basic flaw of a lot of environmental movements, and actually the reason I left the Brazilian PC forum yesterday. Just too negative.  If the environmentalists could only focus on the beauty of the planet, the love for that river and mountain (sounds like bio-regionalism!) it would awaken a lot more support than all the criticising. It is profoundly depressing and disempowering to always be reminded of the destruction - anger is a poor motivator, giving very mixed results! But being inspired and uplifted creates ENORMOUS energy.

The STARTING POINT of Permaculture is basically negative, focussing on impending collapse and scarcity (David Holmgren was travelling the world talking about Peak Oil), whereas the starting point of the Anastasia movment is positive: that Earth is a beautiful and abundant place and every family can live well and in  joy on one hectare of land. And we can already witness what incredible motivating power this has had...(12 million books sold in Russia alone, hundreds of new projects popping up over the world.)

(PS I helped found the first PC Institute in Brazil, the Bahian Permaculture Institute in 1993.)

Marsha Hanzi
Marizá Epicenter of Culture and Agroecology
Bahia, Brazil
www.marsha.com.br




 
                    
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Welcome to the nice(r) forum, Marsha!  Really enjoyed your input to this thread. 

I'd just like to point out that some of those wild outbursts of criticism can be motivated not by anger or insecurity, but by genuine feelings of pain/anguish over what it happening to our planet.  It can be really really difficult to have an idea of the consequences of our actions on the future and NOT get passionate about change, and therefore equally passionate about the people that aren't changing their habits. 

At the same time, I fully understand that taking my mom by the shoulders, shaking her and sobbing "WHHHHYY ARE YOU BUYING WILD CAUGHT SALMON!!!" isn't going to make her stop buying it.  That one is an especially touchy subject between us.  Even my conversation with her about MY decision to stop eating seafood was a pretty tense few minutes.  I was careful to just state the reasons behind my decisions, without adding any "YOU SHOULD"'s  or  "YOU SHOULDN'T"s.  Of course, they were implied just because of my decision, and that's why it was uncomfortable for her.  It didn't lead to any sort of argument though. 

My mom and dad lived and worked in Alaska during the final hey day of the fisheries there.  I was raised on king crab and salmon.  Cod was "fish bait" and we didn't eat it.  Again, I can't accuse my mom of being part of the reason there are so few fish left in the oceans, but in reality that's pretty accurate (there were millions of other fishermen out there, and everything they did was legal, but still, it was their livelihood and I think at this point it's fair to say everyone was taking too much).  To this day she believes that seafood is healthy and delicious, and thinks my decision is crazy.  But, whatever, I value my relationship with my mom and if I made it into a BIGDEAL it would harm our friendship.  I hope that eventually she'll come to the same realizations I did without my (direct) prodding.   
 
                          
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It's my understanding that wild-caught salmon from well-managed fisheries is a better thing to do for wild salmon populations than eating farmed salmon. I understand this from what's been told to me by a friend of mine who is a major salmon and watershed activist. He's involved with SalmonAid. If you know something that refutes their arguments, I'd be interested to hear it. I don't eat salmon either way, but I'm interested in knowing the whole picture.

Marsha, I appreciate what you say about positive motivations. I agree that we need a vibrant, compelling, attractive vision for the future to draw people into the work and keep ourselves focused and motivated. It has not been my experience in the area where I live that permaculture as a philosophy or permaculturists as individuals are fixated on scarcity and impending collapse--indeed, I've sometimes been frustrated because my own idea of what an energy-descent society will most likely look like does not seem to be one many permaculturists share. (I've been most influenced in this by Sharon Astyk, who does not describe herself as a permaculturist.) I've met a lot of optimistic, energized, hopeful, abundantly-resourced people in permaculture and a lot of peak oil types who have moved away from permaculture because it seems too unrealistic to them. I'm striving to become one of those optimistic, energized visionaries while still maintaining the awareness that some resources are depleted and positive thinking will not make new oil reserves suddenly appear in accessible places. I think these two ideas about our future--that easy and cheap fossil energy is all but gone and what is left is going to be harder and harder to get to, and that if we make the right decisions and do the work the future can be better, more enjoyable, more abundant, and healthier for all of us--are compatible.
 
                    
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Well, we both think farmed salmon is disgusting, and I think it's probably dangerous to your health as it's created with GMO corn fish food, so...  That's not really our argument.  I'll look into the SalmonAid rationalization and get back with you.  Thanks for the info!   
 
                              
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I'll make a little comment about wild caught or fish farms.  The question is a bit more complex than that.  There are different kinds of fish farming.  Some methods of fish farming can cause major pollution problems for the areas where they discharge their waters.  Other methods of recirculating aquaculture that has some method of purifying the water for re-use or purifying to remove the nutrients before discharge can be far better.

Other issues with fish farming have more to do with fish feed.  Feed is the biggest cost in fish farming.  What the fish are fed will have a huge impact on the growth of the fish and thus the profit for the farm.  I think the feed for fish is one of the biggest challenges to those who wish to grow fish organically or sustainably.  Fish feed with high % of protein generally have a large amount of fish meal from wild caught fish.  For fish that doesn't require as much protein, much of the feed is made with high % of corn and soy (with their associated negative agricultural issues) which sadly has some major health implications (as in say catfish, wild caught catfish has a far better omega 3mega 6 ratio than farm raised catfish who's feed has so much corn and soy in it.)  So many of us search for ways to feed our fish to make them healthier for us to eat.

Anyway, as we search for better ways, we still must do that which is needful to feed ourselves and families.
 
                    
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I wasn't thinking about back yard aquaculture when I said "farmed fish."  I was thinking about the large scale operations capable of supplying supermarkets.  Those are the ones that pollute nearby waterways, and are just generally examples of industrial scale farming which is bound to have negative effects. 

It may sound surprising given my probable "pro-meat" rep, but I do not think it's necessary for a person to eat salmon to be perfectly healthy.  I also think consumer demand for these kinds of products is the major force behind their over-fishing.  (I haven't looked into the organization Kerrick mentioned yet, I'm willing to admit my mind might be changed.)  So it leads me to think that by abstaining from eating wild caught salmon (and other things but salmon's the big one) I am reducing the demand and hopefully that will lead to reduced fishing of that species. 
 
                    
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To use another example, a whole lot of farmed shrimp come from what used to be mangrove lagoons in south east asia.  The destruction of these natural lagoons can be blamed on the local government and farmers, but they wouldn't have the incentive to construct shrimp farms without the buying power of the west willing to pay for it. 

It just goes along with wanting to know where my food came from.  The origin of fish is usually vague, especially in restaurants (which is where my mom usually wants to order myself and herself fish). 

I feel like this should be under another thread:  "choices and consequences" or something.
 
paul wheaton
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Yeah, I think the salmon stuff either needs a new thread, or just let it end with this one.  I think i would rather see the salmon discussion end.

I like these forums to be more about how to do good things than about how to protest against bad things.  There are heaps of sites all over the internet all about people being angry about how stuff sucks.  My idea of permaculture has more to do with nurturing. 

In fact, I think the point I was attempting to make with this thread is how unfortunate it is that there is so much anger around issues. 

 
Henry Bjorklid
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This is a topic where we have to learn to walk on glass. 

I have not posted here for a week I think, being overwhelmed with work.
Shortly:
I was at a seminar last week. There was a discussion-hour. It went like this:
"... and it is very good as people use solar-panels..." Read: "Let's consume as it is labeled 'Green'"
"...and the market is now aiming at 'Passive-House'-buildings..." Read: ...the houses that are extremely expensive as they have all the tech, so that the consumer, stress on the word "consumer", can continue playing with his remote-control and does not need to think..., getting a "green"-conscience by buying things, by buying.
So I asked people: "o you know where in Finland goes the line, where we are too much north, e.g. in Lapland, where the sun does not shine for six weeks..., where goes the line that humankind use more energy to produce something, that the gain will ever be?"
About Passive-House: "Why does the buildings, that use so very little energy when used, have to be built with concrete and all kind of tech, so that the person that lives there, can't ever spare so much energy through his life, compared with the energy that has been used to get the house there, built in whatever fashion?"
And: "Soon there will be some guy selling us warmed up swimming-pools that can be used 30 degrees under zero, claiming that the system will partly be up-warmed by some new Gizmo-invention (that also needs electricity). Will you just buy it, because the ads says that it is "greener" than any other swimming-pool near the North Pole?"
OK, I asked for it, and you know what kind of answers I got from the (litterally) Mercedes Benz-people. [sub][Champagne people trying to be "chic". (murmur, murmur....)][/sub]

[center]
__________________________[/center]

A few days later, the biggest printed media corporation,  in the Nordic countries asked for pictures of our planned house!
They are going to make a Theme exclusively about "Future Living", multicolour,  glossy paper... The reporter had been reading my Finnish blog for almost a year and he told me that his mother had put him on my mailing list! God Bless All Mothers!
So you guess, we have been busy!!!
The paper comes out in beginning of March.

Now think about it: The whole magazine is filled with house that are "very eco", costing in the range of 400.000 - 700.000 €. [sup][Big number and five zeros.][/sup]

Somewhere there between, will our 10.000 € house [sub][Small number and four zeros.][/sub] stand with natural design and architecture. 
It will be a joke in such proportions...

[center][/center]

I will send you guys photos about the paper. Here you can see the front page of the actual magazine:
http://asiakaspalvelu.hs.fi/hsteema/

It is published only four times a year, but hits home at the middle class and even more; the upper middle class and those with money.


O, I am so happy.
[center]
---------------------------[/center]

I liked this "Choices and Consequences" by Marina Phillips in her post!
I think we should coin it, as it is short, esy to understand, and above all;  tells it all!



Henry
 
                    
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I like these forums to be more about how to do good things than about how to protest against bad things.   There are heaps of sites all over the internet all about people being angry about how stuff sucks.  My idea of permaculture has more to do with nurturing. 


I believe acknowledging that your actions can have both good and bad effects is part of what guides our decisions.  I do not think that refraining from buying things that you believe have negative consequences in the larger world is a "protest," but a way of supporting what is right.  Sometimes that support involves abstinence rather than action, and sometimes it's motivated by negative feelings.  I appreciate your focus on the positive and practical, and I feel that I contribute to those things in many threads about many topics, but insisting that "we don't talk about those kinds of things here" is borderline suppression of true emotions and factual events. 

I was trying to use the salmon thing as an example of a point of personal pain within myself and my family, to offer an explanation for all the intense feelings that really are out there, and aren't going away until the problems that cause them do.  Understanding what makes people angry can have an important effect on developing more compassion for what they feel.  I think a little more compassion would help all of the things expressed in this thread.

Congratulations, Henry, on getting your house featured in that fancy magazine! 
 
rose macaskie
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i like what marina says about the pain of being seperated from family by ideology, it  is great and for me a suprise, everyone knows it hurts if a boyfriend leaves you and no one talks of the pain of disagreements with your family if you suffer for a few years from the loss of a boyfriend and more intensly at first you suffer the loss of family for ever i have not yet died  i don't know if it is till you die but i am not going to change ideologies because of my family though it hurts to argue with them i believes in ideologies i used to want to be a martyr.
  Paul Wheaton says that people say things that can lead astray others and so you have to club them verbally.
      That is the  attitude of some religiouse people to some of my attitudes however in the end clubbing has taught me to talk out i used to be very reluctant to teach any ideas that where mine i believed in everyone having their own ideas and in the ideas being out there on the television onad such for those who wanted to pick them up.  So clubbing is not such a good idea maybe there is no answer and rightly, clubbing those who disagree is faschist and totalitarian. I used to be afraid of hurting people, i have been so clubbed that i feel people are stronger than i used to think they were and am not so shy of hurting them. rose macaskie.
 
Scott Reil
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Having just taken a pounding for supporting nuclear power (because no one bothered to listen long enough to determine I was talking about thorium nuclear reaction, using the world's most prevalent radioactive source, with no potential for runaway reaction or weaponization, and a forty year half life for it's most radioactive waste element). I feel this conversation implicitly... less than popular positions don't even get airplay, let alone a fair hearing...

Now I have been on the other side, chiding people for denialism of GW, and just about forcing Mom into composting kitchen scraps, but that's because I am always mindful of David Browers warning that "a polite environmentalist doesn't get much done", and tend towards polite but firm assertion. It has bitten me on the ass a few times when someone takes umbrage at the questioning of a dearly held belief ("Well water is a greenhouse gas too! Should we stop drinking water?!", but for the most part, if you keep it conversational and interrogative, rather than the Dan Akroyd method of debate ("Jane, you ignorant slut...", you can eventually find some commonalities and begin to break things down to factoids and solutions rather than ideologies...

Sometimes it just doesn't work and either the eco-nazis or the Burn Hot And Short crowd go for each others throats. Here's the problem with that scenario...

Nobody ever wins. Nobody changes the others mind, and no information of value ever gets disseminated. All that happens is the other faction becomes surer yet that the opposite faction are a bunch of pinheaded yahoos who couldn't make a sound decision if their life depended on it, and it does. Meanwhile anyone espousing a middle of the road opinion is dismissed from both sides as too stupid to see the black and white that the issue CLEARLY is.

So even IF you are on the factually supported side of an issue, you can send people running in the other direction with an intransigent position, no matter how "correct" you are.

And anyone who disagrees is a jerk...

S
 
Rita Vail
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My daughter lives in a community that decided to eat only raw food. This is in Hawaii. Recently a fellow took his sledgehammer to the cookstove. People looked on in shock. It was my daughter that asked him if he noticed that there were children watching him and consider how the violence may affect them. Also, stoves can be used to heat water, dry food, etc.

This story illustrates several things. One - principled action often has unanticipated consequences. Very sensitive people, children or otherwise, can be easily traumatized, even by passionate criticism.

Two - most conflict comes about because of people having different goals. One hallmark of communal living is the endless discussions of goals and how to reach them. (And I do mean endless.)

The most enduring and peaceful communities (and I have lived in several) come together to meditate, do yoga, eat, and celebrate. This bonding keeps people aligned without the constant, boring business-type meetings that cause some people to give it all up in disgust. I don't mean that you can avoid all meetings, but they sure can kill a lot of time and joy.

It is good to have peacefulness as a community goal.

Different people will always have different goals. I am chemically sensitive and not broke. Therefore I prefer incandesents or leds, organic cotton, hemp and linen (even towels, dishcloths, shoes - everything). Others want to use plastics so they don't have to throw them away, to keep them out of the landfill.

I am getting old, so it is easier for me to have patience with those who are just learning, but younger ones are fired up. They will calm down eventually, but we need their energy, so if you can practice tolerance, all will be well. Anyway - if you know what it feels like to "take a pounding" then, for heaven's sake, refrain from giving one.
I love this forum,
Rita
Rita
 
                        
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http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/russell/

I would just like to make a polite correction to Masha's post above:

I was deeply touched by what Bertram Russel said ( he was a famous philosopher of the last century): "It is embarrassing to admit that I think the best thing we can do is just be a little nicer to each other". (That´s why I appreciate this forum!)


Bertrand Russell was one of my favorite philosophers.  I still remember him as alive and well
spouting semantic puzzles like:  'the round-square cupola on Barkley Hall'.
Didn't realize I was from "the last century", but I probably am.
 
paul wheaton
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RitaSparrow wrote:
My daughter lives in a community that decided to eat only raw food. This is in Hawaii. Recently a fellow took his sledgehammer to the cookstove. People looked on in shock. It was my daughter that asked him if he noticed that there were children watching him and consider how the violence may affect them. Also, stoves can be used to heat water, dry food, etc.


"The tribe has spoken...drop your sledgehammer and leave the tribal council area immediately."

Some people are just nuts.
 
Matt Ferrall
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I would like to believe in the live and let live philosophy but its not possible.We are all interconnected .If someone near me puts in an electric well,they are lowering the watertable which makes it harder for people with non irrigated land to subsist.It makes it harder on the salmon(they are starting to ban new wells in some areas here and we get 50" of rain a year).If someone chooses to fill the enviroment with mercury from compact florecents,guess who that affects?Any sort of scale doesnt work because everyones ideas of what eco actually is is different.It is important to take it all in stride and remember the bigger picture(our consumption choices on a consumer level account for less than 10% of resource use)
 
C Shobe
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This reminds me a lot of the debate between omnivorism, vegetarianism, veganism, raw vs. cooked diets, which foods should be avoided and which are best, etc.

At one point, I spent 4 months living in some trees to try to protect them.  In total, folks including myself spent nearly 2 years doing such only to see everything lost in the end.  In my mind, the biggest mistake we made was trying to force those with opposing viewpoints to accept ours via direct confrontation.  The "battle" aspect and small victories along the way were exciting and motivating.  But of course this approach just caused those with opposing viewpoints to raise their defenses and not consider what each other had to say.  I believed that even though there was a lot of rejection of the value of the lives of old trees in our immediate surrounding, those who did agree and media coverage would overwhelm it.

Eventually that proved false, but moreover, even if those efforts had been successful, the reality remains that while that battle might have been won, the overall war of such battles across the world would continue to be lost.  Those who watched the media coverage mostly had a reaction to "you're nuts!" much like the guy taking a sledgehammer to his cookstove, rather than seeing the points that we would have liked others to have shared.  So I think that rather than expending vast amounts of energy trying to force an idea into the heads of a bunch of people who won't ever be receptive to it that way, it makes a whole lot more sense to try to transcend dogmatism, and instead try to educate others while accepting them even if they don't agree.  Generally, I find that those with differing opinions generally have some reasons for their belief.  Maybe I will never agree with some of them, but if I inquire about them, I may find that some of their insights help further my own knowledge, even if it does not convince me that my original opinion on a particular topic was wrong.  Other times, I find that I have been so ignorant to details, that I may end up changing my mind.  Even if I don't agree on a particular thing, I think it's better to accept that I don't really know anything for certain, and be accepting in an "agree to disagree" fashion.

The best way to encourage others to be receptive to your own input and opinions is by being willing to consider theirs.  Perhaps the other person is ignorant about many details that you've considered, but they will probably just be inclined to retaliate against your input, no matter how valid it may be, if you aren't willing to give them the courtesy of trying to understand where they are coming from.  Statements like "I believe that fluorescent lights have more negative environmental impact than benefit" tend to lead others to asking a receptive "why" much better than "You're wrong, stupid!  Fluorescent lights are bad for the environment!"

I try to remind myself of this constantly, as I'm surely not perfect at what I preach.  But I like to believe that, had I taken a more reasonable, accepting, and sharing approach rather than fighting a battle, those trees I cared about might still be alive today, or even if they weren't, it probably would have had a greater impact on other people.

At the end of the day, nobody can decide things for other people - a person can only change themselves and how receptive they are to others is dependent on how much respect they have for them.  So the best thing we can try to do to help others make better decisions is to share our insights with them, in a cooperative manner than tries to build mutual respect, rather than provoke negativity.  We can all observe that ignorant actions often have negative impact on a lot of people, but you can't force a person to learn or believe something they don't want to.
 
tel jetson
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just skimmed the thread, and the brief mention of bio-regionalism caught my eye.

I've always been confused by sports fanatics' pride in the teams they live closest to.  I'm also confused by national pride.  those are both basically pride in geographical location, which seems strange, though it's very widespread.

pride in deep ecological connection to a place makes a whole lot more sense to me, because it requires real action.  it doesn't seem like it would be such a great leap from getting into a brawl over the local soccer club to bragging about how great a place's ecology is and what's being done to interact with and improve it.

maybe I'm way off and being too optimistic, but it seems like that energy that is frequently directed towards obnoxious hooliganism could be channeled into a different sort of regional pride, supposing it was framed the right way.

if there end up being stupid drunken fights over which bio-region is better, well, I'll take that over a new billion dollar sports arena.
 
Scott Reil
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MT Goat raises the salient issue, the tragedy of the commons.

All the lovely "live and let live" scenarios are dissappearing under an avalanche of low level pesticide residues, BT corn detritus, carbon fumes and slow temperature creep. We in the Northern hemisphere are already burying the folks in the tropical regions, with low level islands flooding and searing heat manufactured from our infernal combustion. And those of us here making any effort are drowned in the din of "not damaging the economy", as if depleting natural resource and destroying reproductive systems that are providing free services we cannot replicate made some sort of economic sense (it DOESN'T).

We are beyond live and let live and well into live and let die. We have been for some time; our disregard of our fellow species is as long as our history on this planet. It is little wonder to me that it has extended itself to our fellow man, but it has clearly done that also. My imperative questions run more to the issues of water, air, food, and the rights of other species, and the answers bring me to native plants, alternative energy and technology, geothermal, and even thorium nukes. Sometimes it's lightbulbs. I'm thinking LED, though, All that mercury? How's that green?

"Burn im! 'Ees a witch!" 

Where is that line between eco-fascism and comitted eco-warrior? How does the tree hugger address the Hummer pilot? What right does the Hummer pilot have to damage the common? What right do Americans have to use 25% of the world's resources? And why does everyone want to be like us?

Or am I witch hunting?
 
Al Loria
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Scott Reil wrote:
What right do Americans have to use 25% of the world's resources? And why does everyone want to be like us?


Self-centered nature, greed, covetousness, etc.  We have been the model, and the world wants their crack at it.  With China, India and Brazil and other countries coming online, the economic advantages of same will use up the already depleted resources at a more alarming rate.  The exponential growth of consumerism worldwide will produce a vacuum of resources sooner rather than later, IMO.

What to do? 
 
Switching from electric heat to a rocket mass heater reduces your carbon footprint as much as parking 7 cars. Tiny ad:
2017 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree - 15 workshops in one event
https://permies.com/wiki/63312/permaculture-projects/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree
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