I wrote this a couple days ago, but still it's very relevant. Now I just have more info. The Olympia Farmer's Market has stepped up to the task, created a relief fund in which farmers and others hit by floods are receiving 100% of donated monies. Also, I have contacts for workparties I'd like to go to, but no transportation. If anyone else is interested, please send me a message...
---------------------------------------------------------------------- Where are the permaculture voices when disaster hits?
Here in Washington State we're facing the clean-up of a major flood event, and I read in the papers that a dozen groups are down there to help the residents put their lives back in order. Mormons, especially, seem to be very organized. What I'd like to see though is someone taking a long-view of the situation, almost say, a 'site assessment', and being able to host that conversation in the communities where disasters strike, and for all the people who would like to lend a helping hand.
For example, last year at this time I was down in Biloxi, MS helping out after Hurricane Katrina. It was a year after the storm and the place was still a mess. Aid groups are doing an excellent job at getting food and resources where needed, but I would like to know that aid groups are able to see the bigger picture. In that community, the storm yes was harmful, but the racism and the loss of shoreline ecosystem were the real disasters. As a further example, we were rebuilding houses with the usual cheap materials, including sheetrock, which are highly susceptible to molding again. Plaster and lathe, which does not rot easily, is in fact cheaper to install, but needs more human hours. There were hundreds of people coming down for the weekend, the month, but not one person to teach how to install plaster and lathe walls.
Just an example of how much the permaculture community can Help if we were only organized to do so.
And to get to the current flooding situation in Washington. It's important that people get the mud out, find each other, get their lives back in order. If I can find a way I'd like to help with that sometime this week (if anyone's interested, email me!)
BUT, why do these floods happen? Because our current patterns of development, aka Asphalt, don't allow rain to percolate naturally, instead causing massive flooding downriver (or down the road). I'd also like to be a part of that conversation if I go to help shovel mud.
Also, when floods happen, everyday objects that were sitting on desks or in living rooms or in barns, they in one fell swoop become Garbage, a huge pile of it. I fancy not just the dumptrucks coming to take it away, but someone similar to myself sifting through..."this can be cleaned and used again"..."this can be turned into a ___" ... "this should be composted", etc.
Also in my ideal world, resources that go to flood victims would have the longview in mind. Whether it's kitchen gear, or books, or tools from the barn that need to replaced, it would be so ideal if those resources could be appropriate. Long-lasting quality items that may be secondhand versus something bought brand new at Wal-Mart, that may break next year.
Permaculturists are in an ideal position to juggle all these factors in our minds. We're designers, aren't we?
The difference with disasters is we need to design crises away Fast, get people fed and warm. And then, as a step above other aid groups, look at how the prevention and the cure are tied together.
Until we do so, I'm disappointed that we're just a bunch of talk and no action.
Tomorrow I'll post more about specific resources needed for the farmers and others hit by the floods.
Hi Kelda, I live in Duvall near the Snoqualmie Valley, now after this second flood the farmers are getting weary...and wondering if they may need to prepare for a 3rd flood in February when the snow melts. At the Sno-Valley Tilth meeting last night we were discussing something along the lines of your post. This was not necessarily a permaculturally focused approach, but we could see the need for a Flood Corps to help before and after for Valley Farmers. We talked about some kind of orientation and simple training for folks who want to act along the lines of the volunteer fire crews. I wonder if this same discussion is taking place in other riverside communities...and yes I can see that your ideas could drastically impact the 'status quo' solutions if that orientation were incorporated into this training. Unfortunately, the farmers are so busy dealing with their disasters, they just don't have time to think clearly or to see the big picture. Do you know who to contact at the Olympia Farmer's Market, we'd like to hear how other communities are dealing with this...Thanks for your rant, here's looking forward to the day when your approach is the norm.