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Non-Hierarchical Paleo Permaculture Hunter-Gatherer Intentional Community  RSS feed

 
Andrew Scott
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We've been working on this for over a year now, but since it started off more on the hunter-gatherer / rewilding end of the spectrum, I've been holding off tossing it into the permaculture world. After hearing about the paleoishness of Paul, jack spirko, and Mark Shepard, sharing it over here seemed like a good idea. I've listened to all of Paul's podcasts about his community, and almost all of the others. I also found Assaf's topic with a similar goal a good attempt at thinking through something like this.

Please look at this post as "thinking out loud" with the hope of generating helpful feedback.

*I'm using "hunter-gatherer" (or HG) to somewhat imprecisely stand in for "immediate-return" (economic term, as opposed to "delayed-return") and/or "non-sedentary" (commonly referred to less precisely as "nomadic", as opposed to sedentary) hunter-gatherers. Anthropologists often classify along these lines [1], but technically, all hunter-gatherers do not fall under the categories of immediate-return and/or non-sedentary.

*I'm using "paleo" here to loosely refer to a diet informed by paleoanthropology, evolutionary hypotheses, and "optimal foraging theory". Roughly, this implies a human diet based on eating minimally processed (basically only cutting and cooking) animals, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. It also implies a diet low in processed foods, dairy, and seeds/grains. The term is a bit of a moving target that means different things to different people; I'm just using it as a placeholder for a framework for thinking about diet, and not something officially sanctioned by any book or blogger.

*Please forgive the inevitable generalizations; nuance and variety have been heinously sacrificed for the sake of conversation, and that can be frustrating.

Inspiration
"I've designed for people who have gone completely self-sufficient... they're producing all their food, raised three young boys, and they called me up one day and said, "we feel a bit guilty"... we're only doing 10 hours of work a week... What they did was they set up their own designer hunter-gatherer system that was convenient to harvest... it was like a fast-food hunter-gatherer organic system." - geoff lawton



Premises
1. A hunter-gatherer lifeway represents a peak in the psychological flourishing (happiness, well-being, etc.) of individuals. [3, 5]
2. Hunter-gatherers represent a peak in human physical health [7, 8, 9]
-- basis for antifragility: genus Homo lived as hunter-gatherers for at least 2,000,000 years, starting in the paleolithic, and some persisting until today. [4, 6]
3. Egalitarian social relationships (anarchy) represents a peak in human social interaction [4, 6]
-- basis for antifragility: genus Homo actively fostered egalitarian and anarchist social relationships for at least 2,000,000 years, starting in the paleolithic, and some persisting until today. [3, 4, 6]
4. Agriculture and its unintended consequences (slavery, the state, patriarchy, hierarchy, feudalism, control culture, false theistic religions, disease, malnutrition) destroy all of the above [5, 6, 7, 8, 9]
-- a. Flourishing
-- b. Health
-- c. Social Relationships
5. Agriculture is inherently destructive, as every farm--by definition--displaces a wild ecosystem.
6. Permaculture can restore human flourishing, health, and social relationships by acting as a bridge over the chasm of agriculture to the restoration of land and lifeways for human and non-human animals.

Sub-Premise
Thomas Hobbes was talking out of his ass when he said non-civilized peoples lived "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" lives, yet his shoddy work serves as effective propaganda to support the status quo.

Hunter-gatherer societies tend to share the following characteristics [2]
Small, Nomadic, Ever-Changing Camps
There is frequent movement of individuals in and out while a camp remains at one site, and the camps themselves may move every few weeks. When it comes time for a camp to move, the members may either move together or they may move separately, and they may either establish a new site or they may move to a camp already established by others. There are no special criteria for acceptance in an existing camp. When members from one camp arrive at an established camp, they are allowed to share equally in the camp’s resources while they live there. In immediate-return societies, it is very easy for individuals to leave and join different camps. This so-called fission and fusion is simply a part of their life. Because the composition of camps changes so frequently, each camp is defined primarily in terms of its present membership. There may be some stability in the composition of a camp (e.g., a family may move with the wife’s mother), but nothing formally holds the members together except each individual’s involvement in the current round of activity.

Intentional Avoidance of Formal Long-Term Binding Commitments
...the failure to respect formal, binding social contracts is evaluated negatively in most societies. In immediate-return societies, however, this is not the case. By avoiding such commitments, individuals also avoid the claims, debts, and future orientation that they find extremely undesirable. With a binding contract, the first party holds power over the second party until the latter delivers on his or her end of the deal. In immediate-return societies, individuals are not allowed to assert dominion over one another. So, by avoiding formal long-term, binding commitments, they reduce the possibility of social domination...

Relational Autonomy
...individuals develop a unique view of the relation between self and other. It is a view that differs from that in both individualist and collectivist societies. Like those in individualist societies, members of immediate-return societies put a premium on autonomy. Their autonomy, however, does not contrast the individual with the society as it does in individualist cultures. Rather, immediate-return autonomy grows out of repeated, mutually trusting social interactions. Each individual acts with the other person in mind, and can assume that the other person will do the same.

Sharing
...direct person-to-person sharing is the main source of economic distribution. Although individuals are allowed to possess some personal items (e.g., clothing, tools, weapons, small quantities of food), there is great pressure for individuals to part with any objects for which they have no immediate need (e.g., large animals obtained from a hunt). This high degree of sharing, however, does not mean that individuals in immediate-return societies are inherently more compassionate than other individuals. Their sharing is a by-product of their social arrangements.

Highly and Intentionally Egalitarian
Because of the high degree of non-contingent sharing, differences in resources rarely occur in immediate-return societies. When differences in resources do occur (rarely), active steps are taken to eliminate them. For example, some individuals are routinely better hunters than others. This means that a large proportion of the meat in any given camp is brought in by a small proportion of the men (Lee, 1979). These successful hunters, however, are not allowed to translate their superior hunting skills into domination over others. The group accomplishes this through a variety of leveling mechanisms.

Reverse Dominance Hierarchy
...members of immediate-return societies tend to believe that one individual should not dominate another, attempts on the part of one individual to become dominant are perceived by the group as a common problem. This leads the group to exert pressure on the would-be dominator to bring him or her back in line.

Distributed Decision Making
I asked [members of a Hadza camp] about their plans, I was hardly ever given an answer that turned out to be correct. Little by little it became clear that the reason was that there was no procedure for reaching joint decisions about camp moves and statements made were no more than guesses. The Hadza are not in the habit of committing themselves to plans. Camps are very unstable units with constant movement of people in and out. Movement of a whole camp depends on a series of ad hoc individual decisions not on the decision of a leader or on consensus reached in discussion.

Cultural Instability
...there can be no single, correct version of events or values. After all, if the values of one person are considered correct, then a different set of values held by another person must be incorrect. This dichotomy implies inequality, which is actively avoided in immediate-return societies. The concrete result is that individuals in immediate-return societies have few verbalized rules of behavior, their rituals are highly variable (and may even be dispensed with altogether), and the individuals have no single, clear idea of a moral order...

Benign View of Nature
Individuals view the relationship between humans and nature in much the same way that they view relationships between humans. Both involve the sharing of resources and affection.

Present-Oriented
...individuals usually obtain a relatively immediate yield for their labor and use this yield with minimal delay. They know within a few hours, for example, if their hunt has been successful. If it has been, they can return to the camp to eat, and if it has not, they have time to search for an alternative food source. This relatively immediate feedback allows members of immediate-return societies to maintain an extreme focus on the present.


Synthesis

Negative Assessments
Our hypothesis is that intentional communities offer experiences ranging from sub-optimal to horrible due to a failure to integrate what anthropology tells us about stable and thriving human communities measured on an evolutionary time scale.

We are skeptical of attempts to map agricultural social systems (hierarchy, feudalism, etc.) to permaculture-based communities without suffering the same negative unintended consequences agriculture has proven to foment for several millenia. Most permaculturists recognize that agriculture is a failure in terms of permaculture's First Ethic. We suggest that agriculture inherently fails on the Second Ethic because of a specific set of impulses: the causal relationship between land enclosure, domestication of the plant and animal kingdoms, and an cultural veneer--however thick--of human control. We extend this to predict that combining permaculture earth principles with agricultural people principles will lead to embedded tension between the First and Second ethics of permaculture.

We are skeptical of attempts to form egalitarian intentional communities that embed agricultural systems of (1) intensive domestication of plants and animals, (2) a mindset of control (e.g., constant management after design implementation), (3) contractual and financial commitments, and (4) sedentism (e.g., homestead or fortress mentality), into their subsistence systems. We think the inaccurate conflation of "egalitarianism" with "sameness" leads to excessive development of cultural norms.

A major limitation to permaculture and intentional communities is access to land. The standard (intentional community, not permaculture so much) mindset of purchasing the largest amount of land possible, and imposing a design on it, is the least efficient use of financial resources.

While permaculture can certainly "do grain agriculture" better than agriculture, it is inherently difficult to design ourselves out of the time sinks of harvesting and processing grains. Grain tends to violate optimal foraging theory.

[Our] Positive Directives
Establish a network of at least 3 smaller properties that members can freely move between. Rather than design more inward, we hope to increase the nodes of the community and expand outward. This is an attempt to model the non-sedentary component of hunter-gatherer peoples.
Place the highest value on Zone 5, closely followed by Zone 4, and shrinking the internal cultural values placed on Zones 3, 2, 1, and 0. This is an attempt to value hunting, fishing, and foraging over the domestication of plants and animals.
Purchase land the minimum amount of land with the maximum access to wild and/or public land. This maximizes the efficiency of invested funds, and improves ability to stack the hunter-gatherer functions of the commons.
Decivilize ourselves from the technological and economic values of our culture of birth.
Devalue work. Hunter-gatherers actively limit work to the needs of the present, and actively maximize rest and play. [2, 10, 11]
Lower barriers to entry and exit from the group while raising commitment of the members. We may have stumbled on an interesting way of achieving with this (for a future post).
Obsessively limit annual plantings, with the exception of initial and opportunistic boosts to soil quality.

Mollison and Lawton (and probably others) have specifically mentioned the influence of hunter-gatherer peoples on their thinking. Since permaculture's inception, anthropology has significantly increased its knowledge of the hunter-gatherer ancestry we all share. We would like to highlight the increased compatibility of these developments with permaculture, and invite others to use this as a basis and filter for our designs and in practice of the Three Ethics.

**It's probable that nothing in this post is novel. It is likely that others have already thought of all of these things. We would love being pointed to others working on and thinking of similar things.


References
1. "Egalitarian Societies", James Woodburn Ph.D., at LSE [PDF]
2. "Immediate-Return Societies: What Can They Tell Us About the Self and Social Relationships in Our Society?", Leonard L. Martin, Ph.D., Steven Shirk, Ph.D., at UGA [PDF]
3. "Play as a Foundation for Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence", Peter Gray, Ph.D., at Boston College [PDF]
4. "Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior", Christopher Boehm, Ph.D., at USC [Book]
5. "Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization", Richard Manning [Book]
6. "The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia", James C. Scott, Ph.D., at Yale [Book]
7. "Dawn of Agriculture Took Toll On Health"
8. "Global human mandibular variation reflects differences in agricultural and hunter-gatherer subsistence strategies"
9. "Sequencing ancient calcified dental plaque shows changes in oral microbiota with dietary shifts of the Neolithic and Industrial revolutions"
10. "The Abolition of Work"
11. "The Original Affluent Society"
 
leila hamaya
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theres a lot to think about here, been trying to get through this this morning...but will have to come back later....when the sun isnt shining. thanks for posting this anyway....
 
Alder Burns
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I like this post a lot, and it reflects a lot more thinking and research than I've ever seen elsewhere on topics like this. I've often wondered/fantasized myself about a group of people basically becoming feral....taking up a hunting/foraging lifestyle in the modern world. I've heard tell of it happening in Australia. I would not be surprised of it going on in North America too...there are certainly enough well-trained primitive skills enthusiasts out there. On the long term, there would be the challenges around "legality" to face. Most land is owned, either privately or corporately, and there are plenty of rules around the use of what public land remains. I wonder if such a "tribe" could long persist without facing charges of poaching, trespassing, "vagrancy" and such like. Could they craft a lifeway so subtle and so self-sufficient as to escape notice, even on large private landholdings, from people, their dogs, etc.?
Your idea of multiple small landholdings adjacent to larger wildlands, perhaps in different ecosystems, so as permit the migration of nomads between them (perhaps following the seasons and major foraging harvests) is a good one. The challenge would be moving the people from one site to the next. This would seem likely to involve some level of interaction with mainstream society, money, etc. And wherever land is owned, there is someone or some group that owns it, pays taxes on it, etc. Maybe the sites could be homesteads, each with a sedentary landowner following a more aricultural lifeway, and the nomads be similar to wwoofers....doing a
bit of work on the site, or exchanging some of their foraged goods, in exchange for camping and usufruct.
The larger problem seems to me that there are too many people on the planet to take up a lifestyle like this on a large scale. The advent of agriculture degraded many things, and had many negative effects, but one thing it seems to be agreed about it is that it permitted higher population densities.
 
leila hamaya
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i do agree with the majority of what you have written here, with a few exceptions (for instance: i like some annual plants), and have come up with similar ideas about the "everywhere community" i have come to call it.

being multiple extended networked communities that the people can move freely within the various places....or stay at one of the locations primarily with the option of visiting the other locations. then by the communities self organizing and finding its own checks and balances, having their own kinds of local rules and ways, people could move between them and would be drawn to one kind of flavor of community rather than another.

so much so that i have talked with most everyone i know into helping to form something along these lines, a land sharing en masse, and seeking to network as many places as possible.

it came as something of a revelation when i realized - this is what already exists...though it has many gaps and disconnections, and may be kind of subtle and not noticed....but as i see it this is already forming naturally.

we dont neccessarily have to create these places, more i think to foster this one could work on connecting what is already there and forming, trying to get land donated, or get more already established places interconnected. if you got to a point of having more than a few farms like this up and going to offer, you could potentially get more people with already established farms to want to join up...in exchange they would be able to use and go to the other places, and potentially get labor and assistance from the members on their farm/land.

the way i have visioned it is more like each place having its own rules and ways, being decided by the folks who take the most long term interest in it, which also sort of naturally just happens, instead of being more anarchistic....and having a single piece of paper with plain languange.....as being a kind of social contract, covering the really big basic obvious rules that almost shouldnt even have to be said as an agreed upon guideline for rules. although truth be told i am more anarchistic and agree with a lot of what you write here about that stuff...

it would seem this would have, or should have, been the way the world had decided to develop itself, to me it seems illogical and off that we as a collective have not developed to have this be the way land is shared and distributed among humans. instead people are either locked in or locked out it seems, locked into mortgages and having to be stuck somewhere, or having no place to ground out and be really deeply connected to the land and place.

not that i think staying in one locale necessarily makes one more deeply connected to a place, like the nomadic people you are speaking of... they were deeply connected to ALL of the places that they for that time lived in....but this does tend to be this way for many people (?)...and people should be able to have more flexibility, and at the same time stability, like this kind of situation could give.


i think the woof movement has some elements of this and other kinds of land sharing/interns/communities networks...but without the direct deep connection of people getting to have a kind of real time (though flexible) kind of ownership/long term interest in those places.
 
leila hamaya
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but totally, i agree with most all of the ideas you have presented here, you have articulated many of my thoughts about these things. i especially appreciate what you have written about "relational autonomy" and about sharing. i think its cool, and accurate view, of tribal peoples ideas about wealth, as i understand them- that the richest person of a tribe is the one who gives the most away, not the one who hoards the most...thats been totally taboo and a no no in those kinds of cultures to not share what one is not immediately using.


i am not so sure about the "cultural instability" part, but i can see how it could seem that way others being more of a controlling, orderly kind of way....but i see there was, and should be, flexibility and not concrete rigid forms of control.

i am also not so sure about the distinction between non sedentary and sedentary people, or actually i should say i am not sure about making those kinds of concrete lines between things, and polarizing in such a way. isnt there such a thing as a sedentary AND non sedentary person...being both at the same time? that would be me, ha! no seriously, i am a walking contradiction, even when i am sitting down! i will always go for the and/or - or even both at once, this is what seems real to me.

well just to say, i think everyone could have a little of both, also flexibly ...settle for a while, move for a while, and not be so much defined by movement or staying still. not even have to figure out if they want to move or stay, just see how things go and work it out as it unfolds.....
 
Andrew Scott
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Alder Burns wrote:Your idea of multiple small landholdings adjacent to larger wildlands, perhaps in different ecosystems, so as permit the migration of nomads between them (perhaps following the seasons and major foraging harvests) is a good one. The challenge would be moving the people from one site to the next. This would seem likely to involve some level of interaction with mainstream society, money, etc.


Thank you for your comments, Alder. First, I would like to say that we understand that a community completely isolated from the rest of the world, and its systems is not very practical. We have no delusions of ideological purity, but are just trying to model this the best we can in the context we've all been born into.

The following images might make what we're thinking a little clearer. Of the A, B, and C "nodes" (or small landholdings, as you so nicely referred to them), I believe at least 2 were actual properties that we were looking to purchase. I know A was. The general idea is that it would be possible to travel between them in human power in 2-3 days, and that suitable camping would be available along the way. In the hypothetical below, water travel estimates are for paddling (kayak, packraft, etc.), and would vary significantly due to a number of variables. (Horticulture should be replaced with permaculture, this is a rather old mock-up)

Details of Node A


Wide view of 3 Nodes


This location is in SE Alaska. The climate is mild, and the waters are on the Inside Passage, which is mostly protected from ocean swells.
 
Andrew Scott
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Alder Burns wrote:there would be the challenges around "legality" to face. Most land is owned, either privately or corporately, and there are plenty of rules around the use of what public land remains. I wonder if such a "tribe" could long persist without facing charges of poaching, trespassing, "vagrancy" and such like.


Indeed. Access to land is a challenge. Our current strategy is to legally purchase the land for each node. We are looking at parcels in the 5 acre range that would allow us to implement permaculture designs, including shelter, without the specter of trespassing. The rules for adjacent public land do vary widely at the national and local level. For our US properties, the main concern is that at least some of the public lands in the vicinity be open to hunting and fishing (with appropriate licenses). State Forests, National Forests, and BLM land can all be leveraged in most states. We are not obsessively concerned with the property line being shared with public land. As long as it's a reasonable jaunt to some commons, we'll consider it.

It's also possible to develop win-win relationships with other private land owners. For instance, in Texas (and many other places), feral pigs are considered invasive. There is an open hunting season on them, and many owners are happy to allow people to come in and assist with their "pig problem". A similar dynamic exists in Oregon with the wild rabbit/hare populations.
 
Andrew Scott
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Alder Burns wrote:The larger problem seems to me that there are too many people on the planet to take up a lifestyle like this on a large scale. The advent of agriculture degraded many things, and had many negative effects, but one thing it seems to be agreed about it is that it permitted higher population densities.


Regardless of our experiments, we don't see any way out of this problem without widespread implementation of smart permaculture designs. We do believe that restoring ecosystems with wild (human and non-human) animal populations in mind has the potential to surpass factory farmed meat availability. This is only BoE calculations. But if Sepp thinks permaculture can feed 21 billion people, we don't see any reason wild animals wouldn't be stacked in the designs.
 
Andrew Scott
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leila hamaya wrote:if you got to a point of having more than a few farms like this up and going to offer, you could potentially get more people with already established farms to want to join up...in exchange they would be able to use and go to the other places, and potentially get labor and assistance from the members on their farm/land.

Thank you for your comments, Leila. And yes... exactly. You have anticipated our long-term strategy.

leila hamaya wrote:the way i have visioned it is more like each place having its own rules and ways, being decided by the folks who take the most long term interest in it, which also sort of naturally just happens, instead of being more anarchistic....and having a single piece of paper with plain languange.....as being a kind of social contract, covering the really big basic obvious rules that almost shouldnt even have to be said as an agreed upon guideline for rules. although truth be told i am more anarchistic and agree with a lot of what you write here about that stuff...

In a sense, there is no incompatibility between rules and anarchy. The "Play as a Foundation..." paper linked above speaks to this point. In short, cultural "rules" are "enforced" by humor, play, and social pressure rather than violent coercion. We anticipate developing an internal culture with the rules embedded. Although it can be hard to imagine what developing a different culture would look like, the business world constantly drones on about "corporate culture". That's just an analogy, but it's a starting point.

leila hamaya wrote:not that i think staying in one locale necessarily makes one more deeply connected to a place, like the nomadic people you are speaking of... they were deeply connected to ALL of the places that they for that time lived in....but this does tend to be this way for many people (?)...and people should be able to have more flexibility, and at the same time stability, like this kind of situation could give.

We think the popular impulse to travel is a reaction to the strange (relative to the span of human evolution) notion of humans having a fixed abode. This is speculation, and it would be interesting to hear what others think.

It is likely that the deep connection to place hunter-gatherers have relates to the nomadic and fluid membership groups. These foragers were able to share information with others who had deep knowledge of other places. This is possible now, but it is not as important to us to learn about all of the areas we visit in the same way. Looking at most agriculture, it's hard to say there's much deep connection being developed anyway.

leila hamaya wrote:i think the woof movement has some elements of this and other kinds of land sharing/interns/communities networks...but without the direct deep connection of people getting to have a kind of real time (though flexible) kind of ownership/long term interest in those places.

Property ownership goes hand-in-glove with agriculture, and we are skeptical that imposing this agricultural system of control can co-exist with permaculture without some internal tension. Though agriculture is commonly thought of as a way of growing things, we view it as a framework for control--control of both earth and people.
 
Andrew Scott
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leila hamaya wrote:i am not so sure about the "cultural instability" part, but i can see how it could seem that way others being more of a controlling, orderly kind of way....but i see there was, and should be, flexibility and not concrete rigid forms of control.

I share your questioning of that terminology. It's the phrase used in the paper by Martin (linked above). It seems like flexibility or variability would indeed be better.

leila hamaya wrote:i am also not so sure about the distinction between non sedentary and sedentary people, or actually i should say i am not sure about making those kinds of concrete lines between things, and polarizing in such a way. isnt there such a thing as a sedentary AND non sedentary person...being both at the same time? that would be me, ha! no seriously, i am a walking contradiction, even when i am sitting down! i will always go for the and/or - or even both at once, this is what seems real to me.

well just to say, i think everyone could have a little of both, also flexibly ...settle for a while, move for a while, and not be so much defined by movement or staying still. not even have to figure out if they want to move or stay, just see how things go and work it out as it unfolds.....

I think anthropologists started using non-sedentary to imply something very similar to what you describe. The previous categorization was "nomadic". You still see that one a lot, but nomadic implies constant movement. If we look at groups like the Hadza, they tend to move camps on an average of about once every 8 weeks. That's only about 6 or 7 moves a year. So non-sedentary sorta kinda means that they don't stay in any one place for every season of a calendar year.
 
leila hamaya
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one of the things i found surprising and interesting in my reading about the Karuk (i live in the ancestral lands of the Karuk in the midst of their awesome and huge horticulture gardens/food forests =)) is that they had a form of private property, and also a kind of money made of shells. i suppose its less known about that there were many "hunter/gatherer" tribes and indigenous people who did a LOT of horticulture, and the tribes around here did do a lot of planting to increase and improve their gathering places and bring them closer to home, or rather the surrounding common lands.

the form of private property they had was not necessarily connected to their horticulture or hunting/gathering places, that was done on the common land they all shared, but was simpler, just being the immediate area surrounding their dwellings.

i do think that those people moved and changed their dwellings, and had a lot more flexibility and a lot more overlap of their private spaces, but they did have this recognized by themselves formally as private property. the land was certainly not bought or sold, nor was food purchased with their money/shells, but they were actually very into their money system and used it for social purposes and trading. the main social purpose being to pay off those who were wronged...there was a system where if one was found to have wronged another person, the person would then pay them off with money, and this would then be the end of the matter...

well i am perhaps getting a little sidetracked, but we are just exploring some stuff here.... also i am just paraphrasing some things i have read, but i found them interesting. i would give some links but google is letting me down at the moment and i cant find any of the reading material....

i suppose i am getting at- i disagree that all forms of personal property is directly related to agriculture, and that all of it is directly a result of dominator culture and colonialism, though with the spread of these colonialism memes and controlling ideologies there came a particularly damaging and distorted form of private property, which is one of the root causes of many of the problems we now face.

in my mind i think of this as the "sacred space of the bear", just some kind of thread of thinking and associations which i play with this thinking about territory, dominion-ism, private property and personal property/boundaries.

you can ignore the sacred space of the bear, cross those natural boundaries....it is possible for sure, but then you should be prepared to face the consequences!!!

ah idk, if this you can grok this, but this is how i have sort of come to abbreviate and refer to these kinds of issues in my own musings about this, which i feel is a very important issue to sort out as individuals and as a collective.

in my opinion, it is a bit of a contradiction yet it makes sense on a deep level, the respecting of personal boundaries and creating sacred spaces of privacy, and practicing leaving alone respect, is what makes it possible for us to become closer to each other....
 
leila hamaya
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Andrew Scott wrote:
leila hamaya wrote:i am not so sure about the "cultural instability" part, but i can see how it could seem that way others being more of a controlling, orderly kind of way....but i see there was, and should be, flexibility and not concrete rigid forms of control.

I share your questioning of that terminology. It's the phrase used in the paper by Martin (linked above). It seems like flexibility or variability would indeed be better.



yeah i think thats very off, to say there was this "cultural instability" there was quite a bit of spin there, imo. but again i can see why someone coming from a very different perspective, as being acclimated to dominator culture would give, would see it this way. also missing here is the concepts contained in the spirituality of these kinds of tribes. not that we should speak of them improperly and lump them too much together in generalizations, but the various spiritual ways of the tribes formed the foundation of their world view and their ethics, this was certainly open to different interpretations, but it formed a foundation from which they would act and see the world. it informed their ethics and cultural ways.

and they were remarkably similar to each other even though they werent shared with each other across vast distances. i am very interested in exploring animism, the spiritual beliefs and world view of tribal people of old, especially the commonalities between them, and those same commonalities as were found in the pagan beliefs of certain european and other cultures. i realize that many people are completely turned off by spirituality of any form, and who can blame them with how weird everything has become and the spirituality of other cultures with its head trip, lack of logic, and oppression. so i can understand why many people would rather avoid bringing spirituality up at all....

 
leila hamaya
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leila hamaya wrote:i am also not so sure about the distinction between non sedentary and sedentary people, or actually i should say i am not sure about making those kinds of concrete lines between things, and polarizing in such a way. isnt there such a thing as a sedentary AND non sedentary person...being both at the same time? that would be me, ha! no seriously, i am a walking contradiction, even when i am sitting down! i will always go for the and/or - or even both at once, this is what seems real to me.

well just to say, i think everyone could have a little of both, also flexibly ...settle for a while, move for a while, and not be so much defined by movement or staying still. not even have to figure out if they want to move or stay, just see how things go and work it out as it unfolds.....

I think anthropologists started using non-sedentary to imply something very similar to what you describe. The previous categorization was "nomadic". You still see that one a lot, but nomadic implies constant movement. If we look at groups like the Hadza, they tend to move camps on an average of about once every 8 weeks. That's only about 6 or 7 moves a year. So non-sedentary sorta kinda means that they don't stay in any one place for every season of a calendar year.

my understanding is that even nomadic people mostly stayed within a very small area. they would migrate in a loop and return year after year to the same places when they knew the conditions and food was most favorable. so its a misconception to say they were just nomads...like going whereever whenever...they more moved in big circles, and foraged as they went from one place to the next....while all of those places were considered HOME.
 
Andrew Scott
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leila hamaya wrote:i suppose its less known about that there were many "hunter/gatherer" tribes and indigenous people who did a LOT of horticulture, and the tribes around here did do a lot of planting to increase and improve their gathering places and bring them closer to home, or rather the surrounding common lands.

The term hunter-gatherer is most precisely used to talk about people who get nearly all of their food through hunting and foraging. Most horticulturalists and pastoralists also hunt and gather, many farmers hunt and gather, and some Blackwater employees and Raytheon engineers hunt and gather. So while it's kind of clunky terminology, it's more about the ways of procuring food they don't practice than the mere practice of hunting and gathering. Many "indigenous" or "tribal" people are not hunter-gatherers in the sense anthropologists would generally refer to them. The Woodburn paper linked above (free PDF download) is helpful on this topic.

That distinction relates to your other comments on property claims, but I'll have to respond later. In the interim, I'll just say that the two best sources I've found regarding the nuances you raise are:

Property & Equality: Encapsulation, Commercialization, Discrimination
Resilience, Reciprocity and Ecological Economics: Northwest Coast Sustainability

They're both kinda pricey, but I've had success getting both of them from the library.
 
Andrew Scott
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leila hamaya wrote:my understanding is that even nomadic people mostly stayed within a very small area. they would migrate in a loop and return year after year to the same places when they knew the conditions and food was most favorable. so its a misconception to say they were just nomads...like going whereever whenever...they more moved in big circles, and foraged as they went from one place to the next....while all of those places were considered HOME.

To my reading, most "true nomads" are pastoralists practicing animal domestication, and not hunter-gatherers. Of course I'm oversimplifying here. For example, in North America, you have people who were sorta nomadic in the summer, and sorta sedentary in the winter. Interestingly, their sociopolitical relationships tend to change coincidenal with these patterns.
 
leila hamaya
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Andrew Scott wrote:
leila hamaya wrote:my understanding is that even nomadic people mostly stayed within a very small area. they would migrate in a loop and return year after year to the same places when they knew the conditions and food was most favorable. so its a misconception to say they were just nomads...like going whereever whenever...they more moved in big circles, and foraged as they went from one place to the next....while all of those places were considered HOME.

To my reading, most "true nomads" are pastoralists practicing animal domestication, and not hunter-gatherers. Of course I'm oversimplifying here. For example, in North America, you have people who were sorta nomadic in the summer, and sorta sedentary in the winter. Interestingly, their sociopolitical relationships tend to change coincidenal with these patterns.


yeah i guess thats where i differ in perspective with what you have been outlining here. i dont see "pastoralists", horticulture of many different flavors, being sort of nomadic/sort of sedentary flexibly, or just being sedentary as being a problem...or something we need to move away from. and definitely not something to impose on people in a community settings, like restrictions.

not to say i think its not ok for you to say thats what the kind of community you want is about.....just not the kind of thing i think about in community, i am thinking more of people being allowed to be as they are, change as they change or stay the same....

i am not particularly into domestication of any animal, including wild human animals =)
so much so that i dont even go for the whole idea of a pet....
but i would not try to prevent , or condemn, anyone who was into this either.
and i have had some animals come to me and make me their pet =) but that seems a bit different...like they just show up so it just sort of happened that way. more like an animal companion, more equality and freedom in the interaction, like with some half feral cats that have taken to me.

i personally am into it all, at least for other people to discover for themselves, including growing annuals, having animals....and say different strokes for different folks, though i do personally take some issue with the domestication of animals in an unhealthy way, animal abuse (most factory farming for instance). and even if i wouldnt do all of these things, i wouldnt try to prevent others from doing so, even the things i disagree with or think are not wise, or ethical....though i would hope they would come around to better ideas and methods if influenced by others with better ways...better= more earth friendly, less controlling, more connected and open....
 
leila hamaya
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also thanks again for all the reading...i am finally just getting through most of it, its all very good food for my brain.

i especially like the abolition of work =)

http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/bob-black-the-abolition-of-work
 
Andrew Scott
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leila hamaya wrote:
yeah i guess thats where i differ in perspective with what you have been outlining here. i dont see "pastoralists", horticulture of many different flavors, being sort of nomadic/sort of sedentary flexibly, or just being sedentary as being a problem...or something we need to move away from. and definitely not something to impose on people in a community settings, like restrictions.

not to say i think its not ok for you to say thats what the kind of community you want is about.....just not the kind of thing i think about in community, i am thinking more of people being allowed to be as they are, change as they change or stay the same....

All I would say to this is that I personally feel/felt very similarly, but the anthropology has forced me to question my views. There does seem to be a very significant link between sedentism and hierarchy.

leila hamaya wrote:
i am not particularly into domestication of any animal, including wild human animals =)
so much so that i dont even go for the whole idea of a pet....
but i would not try to prevent , or condemn, anyone who was into this either.
and i have had some animals come to me and make me their pet =) but that seems a bit different...like they just show up so it just sort of happened that way. more like an animal companion, more equality and freedom in the interaction, like with some half feral cats that have taken to me.

i personally am into it all, at least for other people to discover for themselves, including growing annuals, having animals....and say different strokes for different folks, though i do personally take some issue with the domestication of animals in an unhealthy way, animal abuse (most factory farming for instance). and even if i wouldnt do all of these things, i wouldnt try to prevent others from doing so, even the things i disagree with or think are not wise, or ethical....though i would hope they would come around to better ideas and methods if influenced by others with better ways...better= more earth friendly, less controlling, more connected and open....

Have you read much Zerzan? I find that he nicely ties the unintended negative consequences of domestication with annual agriculture and sedentism.
 
leila hamaya
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Andrew Scott wrote:
leila hamaya wrote:
yeah i guess thats where i differ in perspective with what you have been outlining here. i dont see "pastoralists", horticulture of many different flavors, being sort of nomadic/sort of sedentary flexibly, or just being sedentary as being a problem...or something we need to move away from. and definitely not something to impose on people in a community settings, like restrictions.

not to say i think its not ok for you to say thats what the kind of community you want is about.....just not the kind of thing i think about in community, i am thinking more of people being allowed to be as they are, change as they change or stay the same....

All I would say to this is that I personally feel/felt very similarly, but the anthropology has forced me to question my views. There does seem to be a very significant link between sedentism and hierarchy.

leila hamaya wrote:
i am not particularly into domestication of any animal, including wild human animals =)
so much so that i dont even go for the whole idea of a pet....
but i would not try to prevent , or condemn, anyone who was into this either.
and i have had some animals come to me and make me their pet =) but that seems a bit different...like they just show up so it just sort of happened that way. more like an animal companion, more equality and freedom in the interaction, like with some half feral cats that have taken to me.

i personally am into it all, at least for other people to discover for themselves, including growing annuals, having animals....and say different strokes for different folks, though i do personally take some issue with the domestication of animals in an unhealthy way, animal abuse (most factory farming for instance). and even if i wouldnt do all of these things, i wouldnt try to prevent others from doing so, even the things i disagree with or think are not wise, or ethical....though i would hope they would come around to better ideas and methods if influenced by others with better ways...better= more earth friendly, less controlling, more connected and open....

Have you read much Zerzan? I find that he nicely ties the unintended negative consequences of domestication with annual agriculture and sedentism.


only this:

http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/john-zerzan-agriculture

and actually i still havent finished reading it after several tries to get through it.

i think he makes some excellent points, but not sure i completely agree with all of his conclusions.

again, i dont think theres anything wrong with you saying you would want this kind of community.
i would feel the same way about a place with say, only vegans, or people who all have similar religious beliefs, or almost any other theme people have about making communities.

however i do see some connections between the general ideologies of dominator cultures, the practice of animal "husbandry" (kinda loaded weird phrase), and the "fortress mentality" i think you called it...

and i think sedentary communities, communities which have some ethical animal domestication, communities where some annuals are grown COULD be beyond these traps of hierarchy and dominion ism, though it is perhaps less likely....
 
Andrew Scott
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Put together a separate post on an experimental loophole to finance the initial land purchase without really paying for it.
 
Steven Johnson
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Oh my Andrew, that is a lot of theory, but sign me up, I think that we are on the same page about having multiple places in different ecosystems and using wildlands and rewilding the lands we purchase. We cannot go back to the world all being wild, at least not right away, so we will have to purchase land and fit into the default economic system to some degree, but if we can get it started, and provide an existing system where more people can invest in a real permaculture system, i'll bet that lots of people who now give land to foundations that promise to never use it will instead contribute to a system that will use it for living only, but not for making money.
I envision a hybrid system, that gives people personal control over a very small portion of the land that they contribute toward the purchase of but retains corporate control (permaculture oriented corporation) over what is done with the bulk of the land.
Lets get this system on the ground and moving forward. We need the legal basis for it first and formost. What do you think?
Steven
 
Andrew Scott
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Steven Johnson wrote:Lets get this system on the ground and moving forward. We need the legal basis for it first and formost. What do you think?

Mollision (in chapter 14 of the Permaculture Designer's Manual), the primary text on the subject, Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities (Chapter 8 ), and academic papers (Keeping it together: A comparative analysis of four long-established intentional communities in New Zealand) recommend trusts (charitable) for the legal structure. I'm out of my depth on this aspect, but it's something I'd like to resolve. We're currently working on an application for "fiscal sponsorship" as a non-profit, but the 501c3 status that confers can be applied to a variety of entity types. Happy to hear discussion on the matter as we currently have no attorneys on the team, and could use some help.
 
Steven Johnson
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Andrew,
I have not spoken with a lawyer about this idea, at least not in a formal way, paying them for the time. I think we may need to do that to get an official opinion. I have read Mollisons Designers manual including the 8th chapter a couple times. I get the impression that most of the legal models are tied to one piece of land and group of people. Is that your take on it?
I think that an umbrella sort of organization, one which could administer several pieces of land, perhaps many pieces, might serve us better.
The principles that Mollison proposes are pretty much right on the mark for me though he did not speak clearly to me about what they were. I suspect that it was hard for him to say what he was really thinking for fear of outright rejection.
Seems to me we need a definition of Permaculture.
I was briefly involved with the Transition town movement and suggested in informal discussions that we define sustainable, or permaculture. I found that there were quite a few ideas in peoples minds, so there might be a challenge there.
We need to make the definition brief enough to be clear, and comprehensive enough as well. Quite a challenge for me, I hope for some help.
I will send this off now since I have had bad luck with losing letters here, more to follow on the definition of Permaculture and the mission statement for a proposed organization.
Steven
 
Steven Johnson
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Andrew, I have lost several letters as I was composing them. Do you know of a limit on how long they can be or something? I am honing my ability to say something quickly.
The kind of place I would like to join, or form would be like this.
An umbrella organization which will accept and hold money from people who agree to abide by the simple rules of the company. The organization would then use the money to purchase land suitable for the development of a permaculture oriented community. The land could be in one or several parcels which may be close together or far apart.
The investment would be the same for each individual and each would have the same amount of power. If a person wanted to invest more they would have to find other persons willing to abide by the rules of the organization and give the money to those other persons.
Each member would get exclusive use of a small, house or yard size piece of land, the placement of which would be decided on individually by the company in conjunction with the planned permaculture development of the land. Each person could do what they want on their own small plot but it would be so small as to not appreciably impact the productive capacity of the majority of the land.
 
Andrew Scott
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Steven Johnson wrote:The investment would be the same for each individual and each would have the same amount of power. If a person wanted to invest more they would have to find other persons willing to abide by the rules of the organization and give the money to those other persons.
Each member would get exclusive use of a small, house or yard size piece of land, the placement of which would be decided on individually by the company in conjunction with the planned permaculture development of the land. Each person could do what they want on their own small plot but it would be so small as to not appreciably impact the productive capacity of the majority of the land.

If I'm reading you correctly, this seems incompatible with the concept of small, non-sedentary, ever-changing camps outlined in the OP. The free movement of individuals between the various properties acts as a check against the social issues that tends to develop and boil over in the pressure of a system of exclusively enclosed plots of land. To my mind, this would be employing agricultural social systems (privatized and enclosed land) to the Second Ethic of permaculture. While he wrote a couple hundred years before anthropology started to get a clear picture of hunter-gatherer societies, Rousseau had some insight on this...
Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote:The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody. - Discourse on Inequality

Rather than think of individual, fixed, small plots of land that are owned exclusively, I think of it more as access to an amount of space under the umbrella, but the space is not attached to a specific piece of ground, and may move for reasons of personal preference, interpersonal issues, seasonality, et cetera. It's access to the refuge, not so much tiny fortresses within the refuge that would be built to each individuals' whims. The latter is the control culture embedded in the domestication and dominance ideals of agricultural societies.
 
Matu Collins
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Interesting ideas, and I'm with you on most of them. I think implementation will be easier after the global economy collapses.

Currently, homeless people form temporary camps similar to what you describe in the social realm. The hunting and gathering is of a different sort in cities though.
 
Steven Johnson
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Third try this morning, I will start counting the lines before something deletes everything I have written. Andrew, I know that my suggestion does not go all the way back to the garden. I wonder if that would be good, but anyway, we cant do that, the infrastructure is all wrong for it now, we have to change that infrastructure a little bit at a time. And Matu, I suggest that after the collapse, it will be harder, not easier, since the rule of law will be he rules who shoots first, not me, or you, I think. Right now, not using money is not a capitol offense, we need to use this window of opportunity.
I would like to create an opportunity for creative committed well intentioned people to invest in an enclave where cooperativeness is valued over competitiveness. To do that we will have to exclude the masses who live in the competitive world so that they do not drain our resources. We will have to use the system against itself until it wastes away from lack of use. Steven
 
Steven Johnson
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Andrew,
I see that there are people who will give land to foundations who protect it from development, but they pretty much exclude people from doing anything productive. Then I see Mollisons idea of using the land to create an enclave where animals plants and people can develop to their highest potential. He suggests that we grow the food and eat it right there, never putting it into the economic system in the first place. There were people who did that around here once upon a time. And there was a conscious program to kill off the herds of buffalo in order to starve them into submission to the money society.
 
Be Dert
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I am so in love with this angle. It has a lot in common with some of my own most recent thinking on intentional community forming, and I intend to keep in the loop (as in following this topic) as best my schedule allows. I'm not down to move to Alaska, but if there are others who are into this model or something like it, and are interested in starting up something similar in the southeast (I nominate West-Central Georgia), please feel free to holler at me. I'm currently sitting on a little over 4 acres that I'm not able to put to much use given lack of funds, experience, and participants. This particular spot wouldn't likely make a great long term home base, but there is just stupid amounts of land around here and I would really love to see the land in and among this cluster of small towns (Luthersville, Haralson, Sharpsburg, Hogansville, Greenville, Senoia - basically, Walking Dead territory) get populated with paleo-permies, such that we're able to share/trade labor and equipment, have people to socialize with who appreciate our peculiar charms, and maybe even constitute some sort of voting bloc of some local significance at some point. I don't mean to derail this topic with discussion of how my ideal vision would vary, but I would love to discuss some variation on this type of project in my own bioregion with anyone who would care to pm me about it. If we get some substantial interest going, there may be a post dedicated to it in the near future. In the meantime, cheers and I'll return to lurker status for a while. - Bert
 
mark masters
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A friend in South Africa has been living with the last of the trackers, the Kalahari bush men. Here is a link to his site. He was a National Geographic camera man and started his own production. He has a piece on a woman that can talk to animals very effectively.








http://www.senseafrica.com
 
Benett Freeman
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Wow! I’m delighted to find a thread ANYWHERE on the internet where the posters are talking about the kind of ideas I’ve been having the past few years, AND where Bob Black’s ‘Abolition of Work’ is linked to, AND Zerzan and other thinkers…

I’d really like to get stuck into as much dialogue as possible with all the contributors to this thread. Looks like many of you are in PNW. Maybe those of you that are close should think about a meetup?

However, there are areas in which my current view parts ways from the consensus here…

Andrew, you specifically advocate a strategy based on legalism – a.k.a. ‘going by the book’ – and non-remote locations.

I strongly advise against going this route. Those in control of the recognised legal systems in almost all countries you can think of are, in my opinion, extremely unlikely to ever let something the likes of what Andrew talks about in his OP, happen. All of my past life experience working close to governments, and my wide research into the ‘men behind the scenes’ tells me that it would be far better to find remote locations where it is possible to create not only sufficient cultural distance for the project not to be contaminated with the ideological poison of the incumbent civilisational paradigm, but ALSO enough PHYSICAL distance, too.

There are without a doubt spots in North America, South America and Siberia – not to mention certain Pacific Islands – where such a project could be initiated. Sure, as you go more remote you increase the difficulty of getting there initially, and transporting any necessary start-up tools, but you also increase the likelihood of going under the radar.

I would urge that if such a project is to go ahead, that it used encrypted means of communication and act with stealth, to give itself a chance of getting off the ground. Otherwise, you seriously risk getting incarcerated or worse. Most states are fairly heavy-handed now and they will only get worse as time goes by, in my view. I see no reason whatsoever to be optimistic about this, though I’d love to think the opposite.

Secondly, you talk about how you DON’T want to be ideologically pure, but all of my present understanding of ethology and psychology suggests that the ideas that people hold are of even more importance than whether they live in governments or not, sedentary or not, etc. If you initiated such a project without getting agreement on the FUNDAMENTAL principles by which the project WERE being initiated, would you not see it unravel over time?

Be Dert says he doesn’t want to ‘derail’ the thread by talking about his own vision, but I think this is exactly the sort of thing that we ought to be discussing, and discussing HARD.

Matu Collins mentioned the global economic collapse, which I think most of us realise is not too far off now. I think that when the proverbial starts hitting the proverbial on that front, states will be forced to take their eyes off of some balls and concentrate on others. Bottom of their agenda will be what a small community of 10-20 chancers will be doing in the wilderness. They will be concentrating their efforts on maintaining order in the cities etc.

The overall process would, I suggest, take three stages: 1. Agreement of the fundamental principles on which to found the community. 2. Reconnaisance of candidate sites. 3. Pooling of resources and moving in a vanguard.

This is why I think that the recruitment and agreement phase needs to be done PRIOR to the collapse (with perhaps a small, final contingent being brought on board DURING the early days of collapse as spiralling events helps some people realise that what we’ve been saying is accurate) and the reconnaissance of exact sites and moving of the vanguard to be done as soon as we’re certain that collapse proper is underway.

I also think we need to burn our ships on the shore, to a large extent. Though I doubt we need to think of NEVER stepping foot in Statism National Park ever again, I think it’s safer and more conducive to the success of the community to have a long period in which they concentrate on establishment and avoiding the outside mess.

I think I’ve said more than enough for my first post on here. I’d love to hear what you all think of my ideas and how they fit with Andrew’s EXCELLENT first post.
 
Andrew Scott
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It appears I've missed a few notifications on this thread over some months. Some good points have been raised. I'll be semi-off-grid for a few days and hope to get back to this afterward. Don't let me hold things up; I'd love more brainstorming in my absence.
 
mark masters
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So, Craig Foster is now working on a project that is exploring a time when there was a golden age of humanity in a hunter gatherer model. The communication that humanity had with the world, the diet and the energetic relationship to the health of all our relations. His site is really worth taking a look at, I feel that it really ties in with what is being exchanged here.

Through the co creation of environments that produce sustenance in their natural state, combined with responsible decisions around the processing of natural materials, I can address much of the impact that I have as a human being, while giving something back in return.

Great thread, thank you,

Mark,

The link to Craig's site… http://www.senseafrica.com
 
mark masters
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I have spent a lot of time thinking about value systems, language, the physics of reality and personal paradigms. I have experienced tremendous changes in my own life as a result of finding my own clarity with these ideas. Permaculture has aligned with much of what I have discovered about myself. I feel that I have barely scratched the surface when understanding nature and my own personal place within it.

Negative Assessments
"Our hypothesis is that intentional communities offer experiences ranging from sub-optimal to horrible due to a failure to integrate what anthropology tells us about stable and thriving human communities measured on an evolutionary time scale."

We seem to be immersed in our perceived reality, sort of like asking a fish about water, "What water?" I feel like it is difficult for any of us to know just how deeply our values and perceptions have been effected. Just the way we interact, is often tainted by competitive, superficial values. To consider integrating a cultural value system based on personal and communal communication from the source field, or however profound you want to describe a natural value system….We may not have a point of reference sufficient enough to comprehend everything we would need to achieve such a transition. (My personal feeling is that we all have the code).

My wife and I are living in the mountains of northern New Mexico, we live in a community that is mostly hispanic. These families have been here for 400 year. When I am in the mountains, I can see the impact of human interface with nature in a big way. Scars everywhere, not a lot of foresight. What I also see in this community now is a spirit of cooperation and learning. The people know that things are not the way they used to be. The environment is begging for attention. People here are changing in response to these condition. I feel that in the event that our social systems were challenged, this community would work together.

So we are interacting, bringing these ideas to people one at a time. Paradigms are hard to change sometimes, but demonstrating a working system that can be integrated into an individuals life that will reduce the wight of the load, that is something we can do today.

I really encourage you to take a look at the link that I left in the last post. Craig is recreating the life of a family living in the golden age of the hunter gather. He is doing this with the help of the last of the Kalahari bush men. All his work is fascinating, but this current project is exactly what we are talking about here.

I am grateful to have these exchanges.

http://www.senseafrica.com/





 
leila hamaya
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We seem to be immersed in our perceived reality, sort of like asking a fish about water, "What water?" I feel like it is difficult for any of us to know just how deeply our values and perceptions have been effected. Just the way we interact, is often tainted by competitive, superficial values. To consider integrating a cultural value system based on personal and communal communication from the source field, or however profound you want to describe a natural value system….We may not have a point of reference sufficient enough to comprehend everything we would need to achieve such a transition. (My personal feeling is that we all have the code).



i agree that we "all have the code" as i understand what you are getting at here.
i think in our core, true selves, this is what we all know, it is like rather than have to come up with new ideas and ways... we have to strip away what is preventing us from these central core ways of perceiving and interacting with the world. they are already there, though perhaps, in some people, more deeply embedded under some layers of dominator culture's values and weirdness.... so its a matter of stripping away what has been wrongly and superficially imposed upon us.

and to act in that way, to be coming from our core true selves, is much easier all around. trying to hold the damaging and false illusions and ideologies of dominator culture is what is difficult, going with that core is more of a matter of letting go and just being naturally.
it's the suppression and oppression of that core, and trying to put up masks and trying to conform to dominator culture, trying to be good enough or whatever while the whole thing is set against us from the beginning...the dice are loaded, yet we somehow are supposed to win in spite of the odds....this is difficult to maintain and to keep attempting to control, yet theres little to no support to just let that unravel, and the paradigms and damaging ideologies have to be actively addressed to be dissolved....
this is what we do to OUR SELVES and other self that makes life much more difficult, and with devastating consequences to the world, nature, our communities.

though perhaps the way we have gone as a collective has some sense to it, even the wrong way may have some purpose...there would seem to be at least some valid reasons and goals for why we have gone off in this direction. maybe its just the example of what not to do and why, but there could be reasons why we have grabbed onto these modern ways and perhaps some things could be considered worth keeping. of course many people did not choose this way of life, contrary to commonly held ideas, but rather had it shoved down their throats, without much choice in the matter-they were forced to join in the disempowering game of master/slave...but peoples participation and continued support of these ways must say something about what it offers (especially for those who might be in a position to get the "master" role rather the "slave" role).

as people living in first world paradigms, and having grown used to "modern conveniences", for a variety of reasons i can see holding on to some of what modernity has given us. i think we can be true to that core self, not participating in dominator cultures lose/lose game, get over our collective abusive/control trip and distorted forms of private property, but still have some of the modern ways, and some of the modern ideologies. even though "independence" "freedom" and "autonomy" are all misused double speak in modern contexts, especially when spouted by governments and authoritarian (control) figures, i do think there is a valid need for these things, which is why the double speak and propaganda can be effective. now these ancient cultures may have actually had a truer form of real autonomy and freedom, but i would imagine there was also not the ability because of their contexts to explore these more fully, being that people were pretty much stuck with each other. and they also had their cultural conditioning, tribe specific, i wont be so idealistic as to suggest it was all roses, and that everyone was always on board with it all... this may have been a contributing factor to their keeping more respectful relations with each other, being stuck together without other options, one that would be difficult to replicate, if that was even wanted, in a modern community.

or as i was saying above, there could still be some ethical animal domestication, sedentary people who just wanted to stay put and even with the "fortress mentality" ...etc etc...that people would still want to perpetuate and keep on with, even though it is not strictly in line with this ancient way, do we need to be? can we even be? because now we have known these other ways....

i suppose this is a baby and the bathwater type argument.....
 
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Those in control of the recognised legal systems in almost all countries you can think of are, in my opinion, extremely unlikely to ever let something the likes of what Andrew talks about in his OP, happen. All of my past life experience working close to governments, and my wide research into the ‘men behind the scenes’ tells me that it would be far better to find remote locations where it is possible to create not only sufficient cultural distance for the project not to be contaminated with the ideological poison of the incumbent civilisational paradigm, but ALSO enough PHYSICAL distance, too.


in the fourth, and best, intentional community i lived in, the physical remoteness was one of the things that really seemed to help the community. it was an epic journey to even get there over small one lane, dirt and rock, roads for hours, the whole time praying you wouldnt just fall off enormous cliffs! there arent that many people who are willing to go so far out of the beaten path, and this did act like a sort of filter of people naturally.

there has been a buzz phrase lately around these parts, "two sticks to freedom".
considering that there is only one main road that leads to this part of the mountains....i will leave up to you to figure out what the two sticks are...i think this is kinda always somewhere in my mind for where to live in the last...o ten years or so...feeling like this whole messed up culture is in it's death throes and where might be a good place to hide out =) and be able to access certain things, water, forest land, etc..and be in a remote location. it is difficult though to live way out in the middle nowhere without a good community of people....well its difficult even to find a place to be what with "real" estate and such being as it is...but i keep inching along somehow, making a way..... i feel i absolutely cannot go back to living in anything remotely like an urban or suburban setting....and that the sort of people who are willing to go off the beaten path, way way way off the beaten path and even way off the not so beaten path, are the people i can most relate to.....

but i also think the whole memes of EXCLUSION and EXILE and ISOLATION are very strongly embedded in the same dominator culture that i think we are all trying to "get away from" ...so i question that whole line of thinking. community is found right where you are, as is, if you make it so.
it's more an extension of the kind of control culture, seems completely contrary to REAL community that people need to be chosen, accepted, conforming to another's ideas of acceptable behavior and ethics...the idea of choosing one's neighbors, that one should have the right to be able to do so, i find offensive in many ways. the *kick out* game, and the *what have you done for me lately* games of many, most, community projects are dysfunctional and also stemming from this control culture. everyone it seems, wants to be the landlord !

YET by not doing so, it would be difficult to create the kind of new culture we are all wanting to encourage and be a part of. seems if there were enough people in a similar groove about many of the core ideas, then later this kind of community could be more opened up to more "normal" types and people still caught up in the ideologies/lifeways....without affecting the whole as much....plus the idea with the "everywhere community" (at least more how i have visioned it) would be that there was free movement and very different kinds of sub communities, a diversity of flavors of communities with different ways, within the larger community. then by self regulating within the various groups there could be more open and more closed groups, groups who were temporary people and still tied to the system, some who were very remote and very difficult to get to geographically.

what i am getting at with this, even the previous posts, is that IMO and in my musings along these lines, i always come back to the idea that it is best not to reject and exclude, even the most damaging ideas and ways and people, rather to let things fall away and let things fall apart according to their inherent integrity or LACK OF INTEGRITY- structurally or ethically. so any kind of over all structure, umbrella organization, which encourages this, rather then using coercion, enforcement, rejection, or exile, is preferable.

rather than people trying to mold the whole community into their personal preferences, with the "not in my backyard" thinking that tends to effect REAL community cohesion, there would hopefully be a natural congregation of similar people to each different flavor of community. i have even visioned that something like a HOSTEL of sorts could serve as a gateway to other linked in networks of communities of different kinds- some open, some closed. some in public and some very hidden and remote. rather than anyone being kicked out, or demanded to conform...they could be promoted =) and encouraged to move on to one of the other projects that might be more suited to them....with lodging and a set up waiting for them at another location....

natural remoteness and geographic isolation is something that would work to foster that naturally filtering people. only so many very rare folks are willing to go that far out of the mainstream.
 
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came across some writing today that really moved me, by an author who i appreciate. anyway this reminded me of this conversation, though it is a bit off the side into a different avenue for exploring around these topics.

but this stuff seems central to the things discussed here, and i have come up with some similar conclusions as the writer.
i somewhat disagree with a bit of it, more i tend to think it is possible to have these same ways of being in the world, without having to ONLY hunt and gather, or being inside the context of a hunter gatherer immediate return society, without having to return to a completely primitive style society...as i was babbling about above =)

i think it isnt so much about how the practicalities are worked out, the specifics of what people are allowed and not allowed to do, but that the issues discussed here are understood. namely not objectifying nature, and not exploiting each other or nature.objectification, manipulation of each other, selfishness greed and control are the core issues that i think need to be understood.
i do think that one could be a sedentary person, doing horticulture, and not falling into all the traps of the agriculture (exploitive) models of cultures.

i know this is contrary to the way many people think, with the trend being if we just build green and grow "organically" etc, the nuts and bolts and practicalities, then everything would be fine- the rest would work itself out...i tend to see it the opposite way, if we get these things straight then the nuts and bolts practicalities work themselves out to align with the natural ways.

because other wise many people think they are effectively solving this problem, and its all greenwashed, looking like it is a solution, but shallow....they are still maintaining the control dynamics, exploitation and dysfunction of the dominator culture. this is hard to communicate but its this sort of stuff which i feel is one of the core issues of why communities dont work, still modeling the control cultures models, still holding on to objectifying and selfishness. no matter how many groovy practices they keep, or how many fancy shiny cool alternative systems they build....or how much the people are not allowing certain things.

but here, some sharing

http://genealogyreligion.net/meaning-of-life-alienation-animism

a large excerpt:
What Is the Meaning of Life? Animism, Generalised Anthropomorphism and Social Intelligence (2002)

Alienation is often regarded as being an intrinsic part of the human condition, and this sense of division is at the root of much religious and philosophical questioning and questing. People do not feel at home in the world. Life seems intrinsically meaningless. If the meaning of life is by fortune to be found, then it is something that people must discover by strenuous endeavour, an act of faith or sustained intellectual exploration.

However, although this analysis is commonplace, it seems unlikely that human beings should have evolved such that their existence felt meaningless. Why should natural selection generate creatures that inevitably experience a chronic state of alienation? Most mental states, such as the emotions of fear, anger and disgust, are potentially useful adaptations that usually benefit survival and reproductive success, at least under the kind of conditions under which humans evolved.

A possible explanation is that the meaninglessness of life is an accidental and harmful side effect of useful mental abilities; perhaps alienation is the price paid for consciousness? But I suggest that when humans originally evolved, they indeed felt “at home in the world,” and that feelings of division and alienation are by-products of cultural change.

The need to discover a meaning in life is not part of human biological destiny, it is an artefact due to biologically-recent economic factors.

Animism

The point at which the majority of humans ceased to feel a spontaneous sense of belonging in the world can be identified with some confidence. It was the cultural transition from hunting and gathering to an “agricultural” mode of life. In other words it is usual for hunter-gatherers to feel that life has “meaning” — but rare for everyone else.

The typical spirituality of hunter-gatherers is usually termed “animism.” But animism is not a fixed and dogmatic creed in the way of “book religions” such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Animism is more a spontaneous experience than a set of beliefs, theories and practices — characterised by general form rather than specific content.

In an animistic world all significant things are agents, animate and sentient. There are no objects – only subjects. A hunter-gatherer experiences a world in which human-type relations do not stop at the species boundary, but extend out into the animals, plants and landscape. A man may shift form to become a bear, or a bear may become a man, or there may be a synthesis of the two. A particular tree may be conscious, have a personality and memories, and may require informal and formal acts of respect.

Such specific features of animism are secondary. The core feature of animism is one of humans dwelling-in and moving-through a world that is alive and aware, and potentially in communication with humans. For the animist their world is wholly “peopled.” Nothing is indifferent to the human observer, and the observer is personally concerned by every entity. The animistic world is bound together on both sides by feelings — likes and dislikes, desires and fears. Each person is at the centre of a web of reciprocal emotions. Each person’s place in the world is defined by this mesh, nothing is isolated and independent, every thing is linked to other things by affective bonds.

A world composed of human-like natural entities is a world saturated with meaning — because every significant entity in the compass of experience has its own “nature,” intentions and feelings. The agencies of animism display human characteristics. Bird David describes how forest-dwelling hunter-gatherers characterise the forest as a parent: the spirits of the forest will give foods and gifts, and socialise with the tribe. Like a human parent, the forest may go to sleep and need awakening, or may become angry if treated without respect, and require propitiation. Other natural agencies are enemies who may be blamed for mishaps.

Adaptive Anthropomorphism
.........................................................

Recollections of the animistic experience should be accessible by consideration of pre-literate childhood. The developmental history of each modern child “recapitulates” the global history of the human species. Without technologies to measure time, or any physical records of previous events, the sum and meaning of human affairs is held in memory. The mind is the measure of all things. History and prediction attain actuality only in the here and now of the lived moment where past, present and future come together (“ceremonial time”). Experience is filtered and structured according to the associational modes of the human mind. Recollection can occur in many sequences and orderings, may jump between events, simultaneously consider disparate entities, shape selected elements into a story, and may include dreams or visions of the future. Just as time is experienced in a non-technological society, so the world is perceived.

For hunter-gatherers, the observed divisions of space and time are potentially permeable — as permeable as the categories of the human mind. In such a culture, nothing in the world of experience is alien, nor are humans divided from anything perceived or imagined, precisely because all experience is human. The nature of the world is shaped and defined by the nature of the mind.

Social Intelligence

The animistic world view is a consequence of the evolved nature of human intelligence. Human intelligence is substantially social intelligence, a set of psychological adaptations which evolved as an adaptation to the problems of social living. Humans see the world through social spectacles. Consequently, hunter-gatherers (and children) spontaneously anthropomorphise the natural world.
..............................................................................................................................

The [Neolilthic] Transition

For a hunter-gatherer the natural world is the subject of a social relationship, it is not a separated and inert object available for manipulation. The natural world is composed of personalities that must be engaged-with, communicated-with, a set of inescapable relationships. Care is needed when dealing with entities that have their dispositions, intentions and memories, and who are more powerful than humans. Since humans exist only by the consent of these personal powers, there is a sense of “balance” that needs constant attention and work to maintain, excessive demands or inappropriate behaviour might destroy the natural order.

All this is changed by the development of “agriculture” (following Brody, the term “agriculture” should be taken as shorthand for all complex economic systems: which include complex sedentary “hunter-gatherers” such as the Pacific North West American Indians, systems of herding and pastoralism, classic agrarian peasant societies, and modern industrial-mercantile states.) Agriculture involves a profoundly different relationship between humans and the natural world. In agriculture the natural world is no longer a source of food, it is raw material for the production of food. Human survival depends absolutely and permanently on the mastering of nature by man. The natural environment must be transformed, forced into artificial patterns, and must be sustained in this state.

With the advent of agriculture, at least some significant part of the natural world becomes separated from the social world, an object instead of a subject. The food producing environment is no longer a parent, it does not share its abundance with the farmer — rather, the farmer toils to hold back the continual encroachments of the natural world, and forces it to yield sustenance by strength of limb and sweat of brow. The balance of nature is actively prevented from returning to equilibrium. Although animism continues to feature in people’s beliefs and practices (after all animism remains the spontaneous mode of thought among all people, in all societies), humans cease to anthropomorphise the whole significant world, with the consequence that the world is no longer experienced as a whole. Only certain bits of the significant world are regarded as sentient agencies. In particular the economy is necessarily objectified and manipulated, because human survival depends on it.

The seamless integration of significant experience as a network of social relationships is lost in the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture. Life becomes divided, and humans alienated. From this point, not everything means something.

The Nature of the Meaning of Life

Every individual in every society starts life as a spontaneous animist inhabiting a meaningful world composed of sentient agencies. However, in agricultural societies the child is socialised into an instrumental attitude towards those parts of the natural world upon which the economy depends. The child learns to treat as objects things which were previously treated as agents. Animism is regarded as merely a naïve or uneducated belief system.

On the whole, learned objectification clearly “works,” in the sense that societies which treat significant aspects of natural world as objects include all the most powerful societies, the ones that have the greatest productive capacities, and the greatest ability to understand and manipulate. This should not need emphasising.

Alienation is not an accident. Objectification is necessary for economic efficiency hence societal survival. The need to function in the economic realm means that this division — at least — is inculcated into each new generation. There are sanctions. If socialisation fails and the animistic attitude of generalised anthropomorphism is carried through into adult life, the probable outcome for that individual is economic ineffectiveness, consequently low status. But individual experience of the “meaning of life” has — in effect — been sacrificed to group power.

When people do not feel at home in the world this is because their cultures have “taught” them that significant aspects of the world are objects with which there can be no legitimate social or emotional relationship. And this implies that when people in modern culture seek “the meaning of life” they are often deeply mistaken about what kind of a thing they seek.

Possibilities

Typically people expect the meaning of life to be conceptual knowledge, information about how things work and what they should do about this. For instance, people imagine that the meaning of life might be something like a modern religion, or a philosophical system. Perhaps they envisage a “cosmology” giving an account of the history and purpose of the world, linked to a description of how humans generally, and themselves specifically, fit in.

In other words, traditional discourse on the meaning of life is about propositional knowledge — knowledge about organisation and purpose. Purpose is often particularly sought after. People tend to assume that each human life and the world are part of an unfolding story — a divine plan — leading towards some kind of goal. Life should consist of progress towards that goal. For such individuals, discovering the meaning of life would be about discovering some information, then planning and managing one’s life to live in accordance with this information.

Dogmatic religions provide various stories and goals. Yet religious belief and practice in agricultural societies embodies the same divisions and alienation as the rest of these cultures. Indeed, religions are “agricultural” phenomena — religions are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Much the same applies to philosophy.

Purpose, progress, aims, goals and plans are alien to the animistic mind. In fact, the idea of “purpose” in life is itself a primary source of alienation, since purpose involves abstracting an idealised narrative from the actuality of the world, and matching each individual’s own life against that narrative. The act of comparison creates the state of division.

Hunter-gatherers have a very fluid and responsive way of living, appropriate to moving through a world of personalised powers. Bird David describes how gatherers on a foraging expedition will not be looking for specific things, nor will the route be pre-arranged in detail — they set off in a direction, gather what they see, go where the impulse strikes. Such a venture cannot “fail” and gatherers are seldom disappointed whatever the outcome — every expedition will always come back with something useful. And to have found something confirms the essentially benign relationship with the natural world who nurtures and supports them.

Brody gives an account of Inuit hunting that demonstrates how discussion proceeds in a fluid, unstructured way. The hunt is not so much planned as imagined, with some of its infinite possible alternatives. Any “plans” that emerge are not regarded as binding; each direction taken, each action or movement towards the hunt affects whatever comes next. For animists, hunting is not so much a matter of outwitting and forcibly killing animals; but a receiving of animals that are ready to “give” themselves. Animals will be obtained only if and when it is right to obtain them, they are a gift from a cosmic economy that should not be artificially forced for fear of distortion and damage to an essentially benign system.

In stark contrast, modern life is a strenuous journey through an indifferent environment which will only yield under duress. The natural world must be coerced and manipulated into producing, the produce must be hoarded and guarded. Consumption needs to be regulated by time and place. A modern economy entails strategy, deferred satisfactions, explicit purpose, fixed and mandatory plans.

Agricultural thinking is restricted in scope since not only are plants, animals and places typically regarded as inanimate objects — but even the mass of human beings are seen in this instrumental fashion. Politics, war, economics and management (for instance) are predicated upon an objectification of humans. All this objectification must be learned, and is probably one fundamental reason for the incremental extension of the educational process in developed countries — continual economic growth depends upon ever increasing success in overwriting animism.

Yet, however childish and foolish animism seems to the mass of Westerners, animism is not wholly alien to the inhabitants of modern cultures. Because animism is the spontaneous picture, it is liable to recur at any moment. For instance, there may be a resurgence of animistic ideas in solitude and away from economic constraints, in the company of children, in heightened states of mind that may temporarily be induced by art or by intoxication. For such periods people cease to feel alienated or divided from the natural world and feel emotionally connected with everything else by relational webs of significance. They briefly experience “the meaning of life.”
...................................................
 
Andrew Scott
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Matu Collins wrote:I think implementation will be easier after the global economy collapses.

That could very well be right. What is the current thinking on whether or not we should give the economy a little nudge over the cliff? David Holmgren's recent essay, "Crash on Demand" seemed to hint that if economic collapse is good for earth and people that maybe we should help bring it about by pulling our financial support from the system.
 
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Steven Johnson wrote:...I know that my suggestion does not go all the way back to the garden. I wonder if that would be good, but anyway, we cant do that, the infrastructure is all wrong for it now, we have to change that infrastructure a little bit at a time.

Thank you for your comments. I think you are right that changing the system through its own political process can only be accomplished by tiny bits. I'm less convinced that we should take the current world around us as a given. The only thing we really know about complex societies from history is that they are temporary--collapse or not.

Steven Johnson wrote:I suggest that after the collapse, it will be harder, not easier, since the rule of law will be he rules who shoots first, not me, or you, I think.

The narrative of all governments tends to be that we are better off with them. The anthropology of post-collapse societies and/or post-disaster communities seems to provide an inconvenient counter-point to the Hobbesian view.

Steven Johnson wrote:Right now, not using money is not a capitol offense, we need to use this window of opportunity.
I would like to create an opportunity for creative committed well intentioned people to invest in an enclave where cooperativeness is valued over competitiveness.

You may be hitting on something here in questioning our assumptions about money. Sacred economics (free and legal PDF and epub) by Charles Eisenstein makes a good case for rethinking money in terms of natural systems that most readers of this thread would probably appreciate.

Steven Johnson wrote:I see that there are people who will give land to foundations who protect it from development, but they pretty much exclude people from doing anything productive. Then I see Mollisons idea of using the land to create an enclave where animals plants and people can develop to their highest potential. He suggests that we grow the food and eat it right there, never putting it into the economic system in the first place. There were people who did that around here once upon a time. And there was a conscious program to kill off the herds of buffalo in order to starve them into submission to the money society.
In Paul's podcast about Joel Salatin's visit, there is mention of Joel's interns regularly being offered free land upon which they can implement their newly learned magic. To me, this is a real-world example of Mollison's idea in action, and I think it's possible to expand this tendency. I definitely hear what you're saying about the usual land trust dynamic that includes some sort of "reserve" that precludes human intervention--no matter how badly the land is currently damaged, and no matter how restorative the intervention might be.

The point in your last sentence was raised in the audience Q&A in this talk by Mark Boyle ("The Moneyless Man"). The history of agriculture is a history of colonization and its newer iteration as totalizing neoliberalism, and your point should definitely be considered.
 
Andrew Scott
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Be Dert wrote:I'm not down to move to Alaska...

If it's not clear that we're not exclusively focused on Alaska, I'd like to make sure that' I've said our vision is for a global network. Many members of our group are in Cascadia, but many are in other parts of the U.S. and elsewhere on the globe.


Be Dert wrote:...if there are others who are into this model or something like it, and are interested in starting up something similar in the southeast (I nominate West-Central Georgia), please feel free to holler at me. I'm currently sitting on a little over 4 acres that I'm not able to put to much use given lack of funds, experience, and participants. This particular spot wouldn't likely make a great long term home base, but there is just stupid amounts of land around here and I would really love to see the land in and among this cluster of small towns (Luthersville, Haralson, Sharpsburg, Hogansville, Greenville, Senoia - basically, Walking Dead territory) get populated with paleo-permies, such that we're able to share/trade labor and equipment, have people to socialize with who appreciate our peculiar charms, and maybe even constitute some sort of voting bloc of some local significance at some point. I don't mean to derail this topic with discussion of how my ideal vision would vary, but I would love to discuss some variation on this type of project in my own bioregion with anyone who would care to pm me about it. If we get some substantial interest going, there may be a post dedicated to it in the near future. In the meantime, cheers and I'll return to lurker status for a while. - Bert

Sounds great! We encourage similar efforts, and certainly don't want to hold anyone up. If you have questions and/or suggestions, please let me know.
 
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