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a safe place for gentle souls to talk about homesteading and permaculture  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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Ten years ago these forums didn't exist but I very much wanted to discuss homesteading and permaculture. I found forums and mailing lists and .... there were challenges. On some forums I would try to talk about polycultures and I would get bombarded with "that's crazy". And on other forums it would turn political. Other forums it was a hundred posts of lovely, sweet, supportive comments - but nothing that would help me advance. On other forums I was shouted down because all americans are ignorant.

So I created these forums.

When I talk on these forums, I am trying to nurture a style of communication that I think is good for a forum. And then, sometimes, I need to don the black crown that comes with being THE person that owns the forum and dictate the way things will be.

I like to think that the gentle souls will see the difference. And the icky people will say they are attempting to emulate the example I set during my dictator moments (putting the "dick" in dictator).

In my keynote at permaculture voices, I was trying to convey the message of what sort of ick is out there and how we are trying to nurture "a safe place for gentle souls to talk about homesteading and permaculture". And it does take a collection of people to defend that.

Naturally, many people will find that these forums are "too restrictive" and "unacceptable". Which is entirely true .... by their standards. So, surely, there are other forums out there that are a much better fit for them. And, of course, if there are not other forums out there that are a better fit, and this one is not a fit either, then they have to go do what I did: make forums in the way that is best for them.

It is my impression (and I could be wrong) that in order to have "a safe place for gentle souls to talk about homesteading and permaculture" we need a strong defense against the spammers, the haters, the icky people, the trolls, the corporate trolls, the "hate in the name of love" people, etc. When a strong defense is shown to a hater, then it is only natural that the hater thinks that this site is shit. And that works for me.

Different people will have different ideas of what "gentle souls" looks like or what "safe place" means. Naturally I'm following my interpretation on these for my site.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Paul - I'll retell a story I posted to another thread here as I think it exemplifies what I find great about the permies forum.

Several years ago I sat on an advisory committee for our local Community College system (the second largest in the US). One of the goals of the committee was to find ways to engage and support both students and staff through mutually beneficial interactions. The Chancellor of the college I worked for at the time sat on that same committee. She retold some advice her grandmother gave her when she was a girl - it went something like this (I paraphrase):

In life we should hold the hands of two people. In one hand, we should hold the hand of someone who knows more than us so that they may guide and teach us. In the other hand, we should hold the hand of someone who knows less than us so that they have support and guidance. In this way, we grow as a community.


Looking back on this quote, it strikes me as a very "permaculture" way of interacting with others in that it builds in resiliency and circulates knowledge and skills in a supportive environment.

To me, this forum is like that. I can learn from others who have skills that I have minimal knowledge in and I can share knowledge in areas where I might have expertise. I am simultaneously holding the hands of 100s of other people all moving towards the same goal.

 
allen lumley
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Paul W. : To use mixed metaphors, while your loyal minions do not all 'pull together,' we all>pull>in>the>same>direction>>> ! Most of us are used to the harness,
and some of us take pride in the harness that we have made, link by link, and yard by yard, Strapping it on of our own free will and by our own free will we wear it !

Like all harnesses it will sometimes wear and chafe on us, at least until everything breaks-in, and then it is rarely felt at all !

Some people can not be broke to harness, and some have a sore spot that causes them to 'Kick Over the Traces' sometimes the difference is impossible to tell !

Several months ago we had several Survivalists/Preppers/Zombie Hunters who made a short visit to our site bringing various 'Flaming units of death' and seeking
acknowledgment of their brilliant adaptations of rocket mass heaters and their personal freedom to try anything ! Explaining to them that there actually were some
rules and safety uses that should be acknowledged and respected seemed to be a personal affront !

There was probably nothing that we could have said that would have eased these people into harness, basically, they left Permies of their own free will . I believe I
learned something from those encounters, I try to say I Think and acknowledge and respect their right to their opinion. I hope No one ever needs to call me
out here at Permies because I ''Should-on'' a Fellow Member ! Big AL
 
William Bronson
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Paul, I don't always or even often agree with you personally, but the company you keep speaks volumes to me. Can't argue with results, and you have nice place here, filled with great people.
I suppose you just might be doing something right!
 
Dan Boone
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Every forum on the internet that is both useful and pleasant requires rules of conduct enforced by moderation. Some folks chafe under rules and moderation; there are no pleasant places on the internet for them, unless they find pleasant the brutal war of all-against-all that typifies the unmoderated internet.

And as for the rest of us? The advanced wisdom is that it's not necessary to actually agree with the rules or the moderation decision at any given forum; it is enough to merely abide by them in order to enjoy the particular delights of the civilized oasis in which you find them. You can, after all, enjoy a trip to Singapore for the food, even if you don't agree with the rule against chewing bubble gum.
 
paul wheaton
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I saw this
today.

Not only was this guy's tiny house stolen, but he talks about his attempts to learn and encountering ick. Then his attempt to share and encountering ick. And now he is disheartened. The people that he thought would be heroes turned out to be just people - not even noble people.

He was surrounded by jerks. And my mind wanders to the lesson "if you are surrounded by jerks, there is a good chance that you are the actual jerk." At the same time, this is 2014 and a big part of the internet is set up to be safe for people to be as hostile as they like. The problem is so awful that we embrace it as part of our modern culture. People even say "haters gotta hate."

All over the internet, people have tried to help other people, or share neat stuff, or ask great questions only to be discouraged.

My buddy, Kathy Sierra, got international fame when she received death threats that were later called a joke.

The stories of generous and creative people that have given huge mountains of free stuff followed by so much hate that the people just drop the internet entirely is disturbingly profound. One would think that the permaculture community would have less of it than the average, but I am sitting in a rather unique place to say: I think it is far worse within the permaculture community.

I suspect that a large majority of people that like permaculture will utterly hate this site because they, or somebody they know, have been censored or banned due to their hate mongering. Of course, from their perspective "I was censored/banned for no reason!"

I guess I am just thinking about how good people go out, build good things and then get mountains of awful hate sent their way and then they get discouraged. And, being a guy, and being an engineer, my brain buzzes with thoughts about how to make things better.

I have hundreds of ideas in this space. I think we are getting better and better every month with our forum software. I like the new apples system - I think that is a huge player in being able to recognize and respect integrity.

And that seems to be the core thing, really. Most of the internet is where "everybody is equal". The result is where the bad guys have the advantage. What we need is something where integrity has more value. I suppose that there can be a million web sites with a million ideas of what "integrity" means and we will each be drawn to the site that is most aligned with our ideas of integrity.

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Paul...the above is one of your most profound post I have yet to read...thank you...

I have hundreds of ideas in this space. I think we are getting better and better every month with our forum software.


I AGREE!!

My primary motivation (not anymore) for coming here to Permies.com in the first place was to improve my writing style(s) and ability to rapidly adjust style of writing as needed. It has turned into so much more!

I am here...and stay here...because of the censorship. Censorship, is part of "real writing" and the process of editing so the scope of the writing you want to do is germane to the largest audience possible while still staying true to the message. "Wild West" and "Eat or be Eaten" mentality that permeates the "internet dominion" is so rampant that it is actually becoming physically dangerous if you have any notoriety or fame...as Paul more than understands. There needs to be "safe places" that are well "edited" and "monitored" for content, and protection of all "civil" voices.

Thank you for creating and trying to maintain such a space...
 
David Livingston
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JC
I dont see it as censorship I see it as editorship
Paul he is the editor If you want to play in his park you have to follow his rules other wise he hits you and your posts on the head
I think the blog post , about the tiny houses reminds me of the recent discussion about the differance of living off something which can be seen as parasitic or living by something . I stive for the latter . As I think does Paul although if cassies videos reveal a secret 5000sq ft Wofati I may change my view

David
 
John Saltveit
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This also reminds me of being around 18 year olds. They are full of hope and energy. They think they know everything. They have fights with each other a lot. Gradually, as they learn more, they realize that working with other people in realizing the goal is just as important as the passionate goal that they are feeling at the moment. Most of the passionate feelings they have are right and will make the world a better place, but they need to figure out how to harness that energy into getting a team that can actually achieve it. It seems like part of permies is helping people to achieve those super cool passionate goals and helping us to use positive ways to find out how to make them actually come true in cooperation with others.

Some people stay in the Kardashian stage, full of energy, but not actually building anything in cooperation with others. Let's work together to help us (I'm including myself here) learn to find ways to make teammates instead of enemies.
John S
PDX OR
 
Mike Feddersen
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I try to live a karmatic life, I don't believe in reincarnation but have lived long enough to see that what goes around comes around. I borrowed a car at 14, left it 12 miles from where I borrowed it, mine was stolen when I was 20 (no theft insurance). I grew up in a town of two-faced people saying one thing to your face and another behind your back. My step-grandmother's house was great for picking on the person/s that didn't show up that Sunday. I wont even go into trying to find a decent church to go to.

Like someone said, "When you're 18 your full of yourself, then as you grow up you realize there are other people in the world." (Paraphrased)

The little house loser is for sure letting off steam but to write-off anything you have learned in your journey through the process, than to say "No!" to any charity. They take something away from people that may only have responding as a viable life outlet. I hope that made sense.

I know it is easy to point fingers and also to swear you would never.... but life is life and we're only human but it is nice that at least here there is a rule that helps with the flow of information.

I think I came up with this, sure it is just a variation of The Golden Rule but I like it, I try to remember it:

"How would the world be if everyone was just like me?" (Take a finger as you say it and point at yourself.)

If we all were like Paul, there might be some serious hope.
 
r ranson
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Beautiful thread. It needs a bump to the top.

Thank you Paul for creating such a safe and gentle environment.

I was so sick of all the put downs and you-cant-chas, around the internet that one day I decided, that's it. End of the month, I'm canceling the internet! Two days after that, I discovered this site.

Almost a year later now, and wow. I have learned so much from this place. The people here are amazing. I'm grateful for the environment you've created here and feel privileged to share my own experiences with like minded people.
 
Judith Browning
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yes...
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Mick Fisch
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What the editing really is about is enforcing a concept of good manners. Good manners vary from group to group, but their function is to smooth social interactions and allow us to function as a society with a minimum of bloodshed.

People sometimes like to pretend we are logical creatures. We aren't, we are emotional creatures that use logic for emotional reasons (usually without even realizing it).

I realized a long time ago that everyone is crazy in some area. It sometimes isn't apparent right off, but as you get to know someone over time you will eventually see pretty major inconsistencies. That's their crazy coming out.

What we want to do try to avoid the people who's crazy is going to damage us. Sometimes, what we think is crazy is just ignorance. Ignorance can be corrected by proper instruction and example. We can try to help them, but don't expect too much in the way of progress or thanks, because much of the time they aren't ignorant, you're working in their crazy zone.

We espouse beliefs and usually do our best to live them, but none of us quite live up to all of our ideals all the time. That's ok, because in order to move forward you have to know where you are, where you want to go and what you have to work with. Our ideals are where we want to end up and all we have to work with is ourselves and each other.

One of things I like about permaculture is the general acceptance that we don't know it all. We are children playing on the edge of a vast forest, occasionally noticing and finding something out about what has been going on around us. We are just starting to learn about so many areas of the ecosystem and our understanding is still pretty simplistic. "Science" is not the answer, it is a tool we use to find answers and is simply observation, developing hypothesis, testing, evaluation and rinse and repeat. That can be done by anyone and has been done for thousands of years, only it didn't have a name or recognized method of vetting.

In history, when groups are isolated innovation tends to drop off, maybe because if everyone is doing the same thing and thinking the same thoughts there are fewer jumping off points to new concepts. I appreciate the discussions on this site. Some things suggested have been really useful to me, some seem silly or useless to me. That's ok, the stuff that doesn't solve my problems will probably solve someone else's problem. The swirl of different ideas gives me new jumping off points for different ideas and concepts for my own life. Some of them will be dead ends, some will open new vistas.

I've been censured on this site at least once. I didn't really think it was justified. My choices were to get mad and leave or accept that someone, somewhere felt my comment violated the sites good manners rule. Hmm. Since then, I've tried to read my comments a little closer, but someday someone probably won't like my comment again. Excuse me, my crazy might be showing. Review, adjust and try to do better. Maybe it's their crazy coming out, accept that such things happen. Try to become the person I wish I was. Maybe get a little closer to my ideal.

We are on an adventure of creation and discovery here. Let us be generous with each other. This site isn't perfect, but is useful, usable and a pleasant place to interact as it is.
 
Julia Winter
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Mick Fisch wrote:
People sometimes like to pretend we are logical creatures. We aren't, we are emotional creatures that use logic for emotional reasons (usually without even realizing it).

. . .

One of things I like about permaculture is the general acceptance that we don't know it all. We are children playing on the edge of a vast forest, occasionally noticing and finding something out about what has been going on around us.


I think you might be right about logic!! This is where I think the internet can hurt us, because many of us end up in a media bubble of just hearing from other people that mostly agree with us. Not hearing other points of view can lead to missing important information. I think many of us try to be fact based, but it's hard. This site is a place where people from many tribes can come together and share ideas and experiences with each other.

And yes, this site has a lot of moderation. There are many people working every day to try to keep this little corner of the internet clear of the usual internet strife. It's hard work, but what has been created here is pretty special.
 
Jane Southall
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I am all about "a safe place for gentle souls".  I have ptsd.  And I love to learn different perspectives and can even enjoy a healthy debate.  But I can't endure meanness.  Just joined.  Thanks for having me.
 
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