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Horticulture of the United States of Pocahontas (husp)  RSS feed

 
Posts: 418
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Husp doesn't imply a lack of modern technology, just a more environmentally aware way of using it.
 
pollinator
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I'd also like to point out that Europe, Asia, the Middle East, probably Africa -- all had their local variants of agriculture that had worked well for thousands of years, and appear to still work well where left undisturbed.  I don't think that the aboriginal tribes of the Americas have the only viable model....

and the 'without technology' for husp came, I think, from some other posters following Paul's OP.  I was just pointing out the fatal flaw in the idea.

Kathleen
 
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Paleo Gardener wrote:
Husp doesn't imply a lack of modern technology, just a more environmentally aware way of using it.



War is not "environmentally aware". HUSP requires a place at peace.... "environmentally aware" could be a handicap in war. Husp would work as part of a country.... like Paul's idea of having x number of acres and going from there. I suspect it could also work after modern tech fails for whatever reason. I think that most of the people here would be happy to live this way if only on their own land or with their own neighbourhood. I do wonder though, which part of a Husp colony is going to do the environmentally aware manufacturing of the modern technology.... if there is such a thing. As I would think it would be reprehensible to purchase modern tech from some place else considering the environmental cost.... even of transporting it.... and replacing it as often as some engineer has decreed best for the bottom line. The equipment we are using to post these messages is such a case.
 
steward
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Of course the Pocahontans have a government and international affairs.  But for the most part, the Pocahantans are apolitical.  Being resourceful and self reliant, there is considerably less need for foreign affairs and entanglements.  This has greatly reduced the federal budget: no foreign military bases, a navy, while powerful, is most often stationed near the coast and performs more humanitarian missions than offensive action. 

Self-reliance and commitment to the clan/tribe also means geriatric retirement benefits are not needed.  Healthy lifestyles and preventive medicine keeps down the costs of treatment.  While there are lawyers, there are no ambulance chasers, as wanting more than you are due goes against a tradition of harmony.  Medicine and health care is available for all through the Health Care Corps.  Anyone interested can volunteer for service and go as far as they wish in developing their abilities.  Some choose to stay involved for decades, finding their place according to their abilities.  While the sciences are embraced, their is a holistic approach which heals the body and spirit.

 
master steward
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I want to emphasize a few things:

1)  this thought experiment is about agriculture and horticulture.  Mostly about what could lay beyond permaculture.  Please stay on topic (note that you can edit your older posts).

2)  in my very first post I was worried that folks would want to talk about things outside of my comfort zone or off topic.  I was also concerned about conflicting philosophies.  So I made it clear that husp is about stuff that is in my head.  If folks want to talk about stuff outside of my head, they need a different word (and a different thread). 

3)  The point of husp is that there is a lot that we don't know.  I wish to express my curiosity in this space and, hopefully, come up with a buffet of horticultural/agricultural possibility. 

I like the idea of getting a clearer picture of what husp might be.  And frankly, I don't want to spend one moment thinking about what their politics look like, what their political history looks like, or .... whatever.

As I study .... the stuff that I study:  permaculture, eco building, alternative energy, minimalist living, less toxic living, simple living ....  the people I talk with, or the people that consume my videos/podcasts/whatever seem to wrestle with each little piece.  And at the same time I keep thinking about bringing all of the pieces together and what that would look like.  It was about six months ago that these thoughts took a huge leap forward by taking a huge leap back in time and finding out that a lot of the stuff in my head was the standard practice 500 years ago where I am sitting right now.  And those practices were interrupted.

Utopian?  No.  Better?  I think so. 

All of my life I have created things from my imagination.  Human history is riddled with things created from imagination.  And every time there is one creative thought, there are a hundred destructive thoughts.  And destructive thoughts come in infinite flavors.

I like the idea of painting a rich picture of what husp might look like. 

I like the idea of practical plans on rediscovering what husp might have looked like.






 
                                
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It seems to me, one core difference in permaculture versus native gardening practices lies in the native's acknowledgement of soil/plants/animals as living beings with a SPIRIT.  There is/or was? a mindset here of respectful and interaction with another conscious, living and thinking, creative entity... some permaculturists have this mindset, I think, and some are missing it. 

When you gain this level of relationship to the living mind of Earth and the beings who populate Her, everything changes!  You can enroll their cooperation and guidance in your co-creative gardening efforts, rather than just plunging along with your own limited knowledge and skills, not to mention the entire issue of energy/vibration/manifestation from Light and other dimensional energies.  Real Magic.  THAT is what is missing from permaculture... and THAT is what I think husp would have had...  sort of a shamanic permaculture.  When all the entitities engaged in a creation, like a garden or a farm, are working in cooperation, the results are far more productive and amazing than when only one being is in charge.
It is no longer a science project, it is a beautiful parnership.
I have always considered "conventional" agriculture to be  rape.  Consent is not asked or given, there is only taking.  It is a relationship of control, of masters and slave. It is NOT a partnership, nor is it particularly beautiful.
Mindset tends to drive behaviors.  Change the mindsets, change the behaviors. 

 
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Being of native American decent and growing up on the reservation I still use much of what has been passed down and through me to my own kids and now share with grand kids.It is a part of our lives.I do not grow my food in the way of the ancestors because it would not be feasible in today's world unfortunately.But I do use my commitment to the mother earth and all with in it in the same way I choose to live my life.
  I have to agree with keralee's perspective.With the spirit intertwined with all life upon the mother earth the concept of food production takes on a little different perspective.This is how I choose to live my own life co creating with the mother earth and all with in its realms.
With so many diversified areas across the country and the different tribes which lived in each area I would look at the concept that the earth would still be respected. My knowledge of the old ways comes from the tribes which I grew up with in.They are hunters and gathers.Who lived off the lands as the mother produced more so then  using farming practices.The seeds spread to areas such as tobacco were done in the fashion of finding the areas which they grew the best when sprinkled amongst the native plants.Much like some of those here do forest plantings.Native foods would abound because they themselves would not compete with noxious plants brought into this world.Eating of foods produced from localities would in turn keep people healthier as they would not be introducing foods which their systems could not handle.The natural green pharmacy which is still available would actually be utilized more so because everyone would grow up with the knowledge of what plants could heal.
  In the barter system I could imagine that a large barter fair filled with laughter, dancing, drumming and friends would be a place fore those to trade their wares of what they specialized in, whether that be plant based, animal based,spiritual based,art based, etc similar to today's market minus the dollar signs( a Pow wow or rendezvous ).We use the barter system quite often in our lives today , when we can find others who also wish to use it.This type of market place may even be communal for smaller get togethers and exchanges based on the seasonal availability of items.
There would be large communities coming together at harvest times as well as times for processing of meats so that the abundance could be handled quickly and efficiently.Yet be a social gathering as well.Respect for the animals which gave their lives as foods would be paid as all parts of them were used and given back to the earth to be reused in a sense. 
The elders would once again be highly respected for the knowledge which they have to share with those who wish to learn and grow from it.Not tucked away somewhere but out working the lands, or gathering teaching the young basics of life through experience.
  People would again be back to enjoying the simpler parts of life, They would see the beauty amongst the earth herself not what they can gain from her.

There are a series of books from Russia based on Anastasia which reflect deeply into what the world could be if we lived in the past.They go through a similar thought to what Paul is exploring not only with in permaculture in a sense but also many other aspects of how life could of been from her perspective..

Hugs,Laughter,Light,Love
Mary
of the
Happy House
 
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Maybe in husp growing food is not important, because a garden is everywhere?
 
Posts: 146
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When I first read the OP I was rather confused about why you would chose that moment as your starting point.  Those Europeans had spent the past ~1000 years twisting their Eco-logical spiritual system, steeped in plant knowledge, into fanatical christianity, largely devoid of plant knowledge.  For what it's worth, my own fantasy might begin with a surviving band of pagans stealing a boat and coming to the new world, traveling west to avoid the puritans, and merging fluidly with the natives there.  That sounds interesting, for me.

I feel that the only thing any Europeans had to offer Native Americans is Science.  This is the prime enhancement of permaculture over "conventional", it's based on forest ecology rather than laboratory experimentation, thus it's an attempt to bridge the gap between stale science and rustic survivalism.  Science in our culture is almost fatally flawed, and mostly corrupt, but imagine a community (a primitive eco-village) where every member was encouraged to follow a rigorous path of inquiry towards a specialized mode of consciousness.  As an example, one member (or a small group) might be the Fungus Master.  Other members would be able to consult/commision this master (or their school) on anything fungus related.  So lets say I was a greywater apprentice, and wanted to experiment with mycofiltration of "polluted" waters.  I could consult with the fungus master, commision her/him to propagate the appropriate mycelia, and I'd be ready to optimize a highly refined system without spending years studying and experimenting with every detail.  In my view, pretty much every project carried out in such a place would actually be a collaboration between masters/schools, but each would continue private, specialized study to hone their edge.

I really love the impulse behind this thread, unfortunately the responses don't add up to much, for me at least.  Maybe you could shoot out specific questions for people to respond to, or prompts to get imaginations flowing?  You said you'd like to know what permies could accomplish given a few hundred years, but I'm unsure of how to approach such a concept without a few hundred years to spend.

peace

 
master pollinator
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In my region it is interesting to contemplate horticulture in concert with bison.  Because if the People were here - Comanche and Apache - the bison would need to be here too as they were.

 
                                
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Is "science" really a contribution, at least the way it is currently happening?  Keeping in mind that logic is only effective when ALL the data are known.  Hah!  Like that's going to happen!  Excessive specialization tends to narrow one's view, when nature is a huge, broad and deep, profoundly interconnected happening across multiple dimensional realities... and science hasn't even really gotten to that part of it yet, since they only recently noticed that it might actually exist. 
I would propose a balance of science/observation/patience/logic AND intuition/connection/oneness within and without.  Perhaps we have two sides to our brains, logical and intuitive, because we are supposed to be using both sides?  Equally?

In my optimal husp scenario, this is exactly what would have occurred.  The best of both worlds, opening up a new world.
 
osker brown
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^keralee

I agree completely, and as you state, science as it is "generally" practiced now is horrid, but the fundamental concepts are usable by good humored folks with an emotional sensitivity. 

This past weekend I heard a talk by Chuck Marsh, who called agriculture the most destructive force on the planet.  His view of permaculture is as the only means to eliminate agriculture and get back to "horticultural societies", where human interactions with plants are essential parts of all culture.  It made me think of HUSP.

peace
 
gardener
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there were things the Native Americans readily adopted from the europeans.
Horses; muskets; metal knives, axes and cooking pots; and clothing and blankets

they didn't like plows, fences, private property and  nonstop illegal immigration

as I understand it, their methods were extensive rather than intensive. a patch here, a patch there, rather than what we would call a jam packed "food forest"
if the population of husp grew to something similiar the US population now, would they be able adapt their growing methods to feed everybody by becoming more intensive?
 
pollinator
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Paul's podcast talking about husp with Dave Bennett: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/375-podcast-056-horticulture-of-the-united-states-of-pocahontas/
 
paul wheaton
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I wish to re-iterate:  a big component of husp is the idea that I wish to discover it.  And that I cannot get there alone.  I wish to find 20 other people that are also seeking husp, or something husp-ish, and to have exchanges of information with them in such a way that is mutually supportive. 

I think that this desire to figure out what husp is, is a driving force for having these forums.  This requires a certain type of communication skill, a certain level of knowledge and a whole lot of creative thought. 

What we now have in these forums are a big bunch of people that are willing to show a higher level of respect for the animals they raise, willing to pile wood six feet tall and cover it in dirt, and willing to pee on their soil.  This group is already far beyond discussion of pesticides, GMO, and even the lame organic standards.  I think a lot of husp can be discovered on these forums even if we are not geographically right next door to each other.

 
pollinator
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in regard to poop and pee 100's of years ago..in the Bible (or history of the Jews) it says somewhere that they were to go outside of the camp, taking a shovel on their belt, and to BURY it..

not sure about other cultures..sometime I'll look that up for you.

What you are desscribing is what I am attempting to do on our property althoug I have used modern building supplies ..when I plant I try to bring in a balance of native critter foods and native or imported human foods as much as I can to not have to purchase so much foods from elsewhere..

since our housefire and rebuild our new gardens are mostly babies though so not supplying much at this time

we also "feed" our wildlife..but don't have domestic animals.(except 2 cats)..however when I say wildlife I include things like turkey, duck, goose, phesant, wild quail as well as our bees, fish, deer, bear, and stinking little 4 legged theives..etc..
 
duane hennon
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hi Paul,

you chief, me brave

I'm still trying to get a handle on this.
are you wanting to imagine where the Pocohantians would be now if history were different (husp) or
how we can get to where they would have been (husp)
they would have started with very different environmental conditions and improved  on them
we have a lot to do just to get back to their starting conditions
so do we do permaculture to get back to their starting line and then husp?
 
Len Ovens
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Brenda Groth wrote:
in regard to poop and pee 100's of years ago..in the Bible (or history of the Jews) it says somewhere that they were to go outside of the camp, taking a shovel on their belt, and to BURY it..



"Camp". I would imagine that would have been during the 40 years of "wilderness" wandering. What does it say about when they were in the "cities"? Or was that just something that was too obvious to bother writing down? therefore, does that suggest that these things be treated differently in these two different situations? (nomadic versus static)
 
paul wheaton
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duane wrote:
hi Paul,

you chief, me brave

I'm still trying to get a handle on this.
are you wanting to imagine where the Pocohantians would be now if history were different (husp) or
how we can get to where they would have been (husp)
they would have started with very different environmental conditions and improved  on them
we have a lot to do just to get back to their starting conditions
so do we do permaculture to get back to their starting line and then husp?



Both.

I am trying to imagine what things would be like now if history were different (optimal path different). 

And  I am trying to figure out how to make those things in my head a reality.

And I think these two things will feed each other.



 
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I'm thinking one of the great side affects of HUSP would be super-localized cuisine. They say every province of India has a very distinct cuisine that's very different from any other.

Perhaps inland floridians could use their semi-tropical climate to produce something like a raw-vegan diet.  Great plains states would continue their meat-eating traditions. But still, I'm thinking even more localized than that. Like every village's cuisine will vary.

Also ridiculous amounts of varieties. I think potato would still be part of most of the HUSP local cuisines since its useful and adaptable. E.c. the Incas had 7000 varieties of potato or something like that. HUSP might have 20,000 varieties of potato or something.

Sharing just in case my thoughts are useful to anyone.
 
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Maybe you can get Mr Spielberg to make the movie "husp - Permies 1"
They would have to build the set..
....but then the set will not go away after the movie is done ! 
 
duane hennon
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
I'd also like to point out that Europe, Asia, the Middle East, probably Africa -- all had their local variants of agriculture that had worked well for thousands of years, and appear to still work well where left undisturbed.


Except where they don't.  The closest places to it are in Africa, and like the anarchocapitalism I instinctively favor the ideal images of "Galt's Gulch" and "Ecotopia" begin to look surprisingly like "Mogadishu" and "Deforested Amazon/ 2011 East Africa drought."

Kirk Hutchison wrote:
Husp doesn't imply a lack of modern technology, just a more environmentally aware way of using it.


As has been pointed out elsewhere, the natives like woven cloth and machined axe heads and hoes, and despite in some cases thousands of years of civilizations, the nomadic peoples (even the long-lived Mesoamerican societies) rarely developed them.  And Amishmen come to the city for their orthopedic surgeries and antibiotics after all.

Tribal groups even today enjoy peace and harmony with nature.  And they die before age 25 of starvation or polio or dental abcesses or warfare.

As a gedankenexperiment, it is a fun one: how can we widen and make mainstream sustainable practices?  But I wonder if we're getting too woo with envisioning ourselves as tribal nomads (tribes also tending to fight outgroup -and ingroup- regularly... Apache means "the enemy", doesn't it?) and missing the real aim of Paul's exercise.
 
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Paul, I really like the thought experiment, and your scale from animal-grade food, through to HUSP.  This summer I had clients along on a sailing trip, who are first-nations land claims lawyers, who had quite a thorough knowledge of some of the local history of the 'Salish Sea', (US San Juans and Canadian Gulf Islands).  It was on this trip that I was introduced to the notion that first nations people were involved in long-term, sustainable aquaculture that went far beyond what's imagined.  Clam shells, which in quantity, are known as shell middens, were used to terra-form terrestrial and aquatic features to create large tidal pools, which in turn support larger clam populations as they are harvested, provide fresh fish with tide changes, crab, reeds, waterfowl, the list goes on and on, but it's essentially a pantry for an entire village.  On our trip we bumped into an Anthropologist who was running an excavation at Dionisio Point, on the northern tip of Galliano Island.  In our conversation, he mentioned that the former village site at that location would have housed approximately 300-600 souls, and that their small aquatic ranch would easily have provided enough food for 10 times as many people.  Remember also that there was an abundance of wild seafood, right off the beach. 

The surplus would have been taken by canoe to the North Arm of the Fraser river among other places, where it would have been traded with people of the same nation who did commerce with other nations further upriver, where there were different food sources than in the coastal islands.  These were affluent people living with abundance, pure air, water and food, with a rich lifestyle enhanced by trading alliances with other people with complimentary commodities.  Maybe not an Eden, but not too bad, either, considering that it was able to be carried on for thousands of years.
 
              
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Awesome thread Paul!!! 

I posted a "creative"  ramble yesterday, but deleted it (as i often do) to stay in the horticulture, permaculture paradigm. I tried to write something that would not be contentious and gave up as being almost  impossible. 

I have repeatedly gone back to Wikipedia's explanation on the word logic. According to this culture, logic has ZERO to do with nature, and is 100% a neurological, mental construct of homo-sapien(love the term Wise-knowing man). I would like to know exactly how that works to be precise, but it is a conceptual agreement that the deeply religious, and the deeply secular can both agree upon because it's deeply rooted in our cultures history.

The question becomes, is HUSP simply a romantic, idealistic, luddite dream, or is it rooted more deeply in the psyche.  I say it's rooted deeply, and is an expression of  logic, but that completely  defy's the collective concept that logic as being   only a quality related to the primate brain in application to the world around it. According to Wikipedia, Logic resides only in the brain, not in nature itself, thus HUSP is just another mental construct like Logic, except  it's not logic structurally, therefore   it's fantasy idealism, romanticism, luddite according to Wikipedia's definition of logic. stupid stupid monkey's, it's all about me, as logic is a something I do according to wikipedia. NOT one place in that entry is there even a mention of Nature. 

Funny, I am pretty sure, I've never seen a single thing in nature that was not logical. Never seen a Douglas fir growing on top of Mount everest, a whale walking by talking to me on my hikes. The ocean turn purple, rise up and become a beautiful mermaid, nor the sun shift orbits, just for the fun of it. as far as I can tell, logic may be a part of nature, although according to Wikipedia it is not!!!


I want to add a conversation that was carried out by Paul Dirac, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg and possible other's (not mentioned in the story but implied) at the 1927 Solvang Conference, I don't think the conversation is disconnected from the concept of HUSP, actually. It really goes to the heart of a struggle in modernity and the split's that have occurred in how we conceptualize what is subjective, what is objective.

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/heisenberg07/heisenberg07_index.html
 
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Hi Paul
   I would like to chime in. I also would like to know how we would have used plants if the commercial farming thing never had happened in my area. I have tried many web searches for historical books on plants and gardening. The first  problem is that most  books seemingly related always deal with politics(are slanted to writers view on the people who are growing). Perhaps my way of thinking is it is not important to use the p in husp but rather it be hus. that way maybe we could get some straight answers. Like how different plants in the same area were used by different people at different times. How plants got here, how they evolved and how can we use them. When I can identify a plant I use the plant indexes on the web. But there are many I can not identify. In my area the north east there is now the invasive plant movement, for instance in my state it is illegal to buy or sell bittersweet. Bittersweet grows on my property but is no more invasive than concord grapes(perhaps I should not have said that, concord grapes may be next thing I will not be able to grow). There are less areas open to foraging so I have to plant  berries or fruit if I want to pick my own. Permaculture ideas are very impressive to me because they include thinking about people (all people inclusive) and care of the land in a sustainable way. I believe this is the goal of your idea. Remember one thing tough that nothing remains static the thread on this site about communities passing rules to let people grow own food and raise livestock is a sign that there is hope.          
 
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So let's say that this is what's in my head when Paul talks about HUSP, and if some of that resonates with what's in his head (or everyone else's) then we're all happy.

I've been trying to think of a way to contribute something to this, and I have been getting stuck trying to find a plausible fork in history that can explain HUSP (as you have outlined it so far) whilst still having some connection to human nature, and thus not resulting in some sort of "and then we all had icecream" type South Park fantasy utopia.  Trust me, I don't have a problem with utopia, but if I understand what Paul's getting it, it's "how do we get to that utopia" not "what colour is your flying car painted?"

First off, I detect a little undertone of "whitey bashing" in this concept - I am not an American, and know little about the nature of pre-European North America beyond what Hollywood tells me, but I think European agriculture 400 years ago was probably something most permaculture folks would think was awesome (few inputs, polycultures, etc.), so (for me) it's not useful to start with "what if whitey hadn't come and fucked it all up".  Cross pollination of culture is awesome - so in my head, this isn't about one culture defeating or repelling another, but just some differences in the way we collectively evolved humanity.

I think that maybe the difference is that (for whatever reason) food production wasn't something that was outsourced, in much the same way that food preparation is still (largely) not something we get other people to do, at least notwithstanding perhaps the last 10 to 20 years.  Most people, most of the time prepare most of their meals (to a greater or lesser extent), so whilst there is certainly large amounts of outsourced food preparation (restaurants, ready meals, etc), there is still more home prepared food.  So my suggestion is that the fork in the historical road is that whatever happened in the last couple of hundred years (I don't think you need to go back 400) when food production became something farmers did, didn't.  Growing your own food was the norm, with specialty items being the preserve of specialty producers, in much the same way as most people now wouldn't make their own pastry in what they would otherwise correctly described as a home made meal.  People would turn their noses up at the idea of pesticides in much the same way as most people do when they see an microwave burrito factory in operation now, and monocrops would be an alien concept, much like having an entire pantry full of microwave burritos and nothing else - it would just seem bizarre to only grow one thing when growing food was something people did.  To me, that means other things could really be quite a lot like they are now.  We could have the Internet, international travel, modern science, modern economic systems, and all the other things that we really like.

As far as getting there?  It seems that we have managed to start to turn the corner on outsourced food preparation in a relatively short period, probably because it's pretty hard to ignore the fact that it's literally killing us (whether you like Morgan Spurlock or not is another matter).  It's really plausible to me that within a decade or two, we could take a big step past (not back) eating shit food produced in factories.  Home cooking is chic, and thanks to that cross pollination I talked about, we have more interest and choice than the "pre shit food" generation (50s and earlier) could have imagined.  So in the scheme of things, 50 or 60 years to fuck up, learn our lesson, and move forward is pretty good on the scale of human civilisation.  So what if coupled to this, we made a similar leap on food production?

The rise of homesteading, backyard gardens and the like says to me that it's perhaps more in our nature than we might think, so we may yet move past industrial agriculture yet.  And we'll be better off than if we'd never gone down the path, because we'll know the error of our ways, we'll have kept the knowledge that we gathered whilst we were living that way and used it to better the future.  The fact we are able to know so much about ecosystems, and readily share that information globally is fucking awesome, and we should be proud of all the things we can do.  Some of the things we did along they way were shitty, and we should own that as the price of progress.
 
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Location: Kettle Falls, WA
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I’m inspired by something much like the husp idea. My idea is a little more specific. How might Plateau Indian cultures have evolved differently, if they could have accessed Old World knowledge and biological resources without an accompanying conquest? I’ve done a lot of thinking on this, and I’ve developed some theories I’m fairly confident with.

FOOD

My study of prehistory indicates a hierarchy of staple food preferences:
1. Big Game Animals
2. Fish and Small Game
3. Roots and Seeds
4. Intensive Use of Seeds (Agriculture) as last resort.
(a healthy diet includes other foods, like fruits and greens, but the above foods are the only foods with enough protein and fat or carbs to be used as staples)

There is only a short list of food groups in nature that are rich enough for the human species. Societies will only descend the hierarchy when preferred food resources are marginalized or destroyed, most commonly due to population pressure.

Because of Pleistocene extinctions, and because amplified human hunting pressure kept bison off the Plateau, Plateau people were fisherman. But there’s reason to believe they’d rather have been big game hunters. When horses became available, Plateau people would actually ride hundreds of miles over the Rockies, through hostile territory, to hunt bison on the Plains. Why? Would you rather wear a buffalo robe or salmon skins? They also quickly adopted cattle, amassing large ranging herds.

Only when pollution, commercial fishing, and later dams, destroyed their fishing lifestyle, did Plateau Indians accept grain farming. In contrast, many of them eagerly became ranchers and gardeners as land ownership became the norm.

The Great Basin Cultures, to the south, never had bison herds, or salmon streams. These people were specialist seed collectors. They did things for food that would have seemed desperate to Plateau people. They drove jackrabbits into painstakingly constructed nets, they set traps for packrats, they ate insects and reptiles, and they laboriously winnowed and ground tiny hard seeds into edible gruel. Food scarcity forced them to be extremely nomadic, whereas Plateau people had permanent or semi –permanent villages. Without large hides for clothing, Great Basin People wove clothing from twisted strips of jackrabbit hide or sagebrush bark.

With the salmon gone, Plateau people might have resorted to a Great Basin sort of lifestyle, but there may have been too many of them, and whites were forcing them to settle.

But, what if the Indians could have chosen which Old World things to take or leave?

I think if the Plateau Indians had had their choice, they’d have imported all of Eurasia’s larger herbivores. Think Mongolia: horses, cattle, camels (and why not elephants too? Some modern biologists want to use surviving elephants as proxies for extinct mammoths and mastodon). These animals would have probably been taken into individual ownership, but kept in unfenced communal herds, as the Indians are known to have kept their horses. Fencing, beyond corrals, seems to happen only where agriculture develops alongside pastoralism. Unlike wild bison, owned animals are less likely to succumb to overhunting, despite a high human population. If the Indians did wish to maintain wild herds, they would need to enforce hunting regulations, much like our own. The most effective way to harvest from wild herds is the use of seasonal drives into communaly constructed corals. This need not be a harrowing hunting adventure. Deer are easily caught in snares. The favored hunting techniques of yesterday would be called poaching today.

Herds of large animals would have minimized one of the Indians most important chores: landscape burning. People around the world resorted to ‘fire stick farming’ after the megafauna went extinct and took savannah and parkland biomes with them. Control of woody vegetation was once achieved largely by the megafauna. Mastodons are known to have browsed on many conifer species, and may have even pushed trees over to reach the needles. Shrub oxen ate sagebrush and rabbitbrush. Other large browsers, like the American camel, played similar roles. Without megafauna, the burden of controlling woody vegetation falls to humans, who are savannah adapted creatures. Indians thus allied themselves with the most ferocious of herbivores, fire, to maintain open spaces for hunting, berrying, and root digging.

Despite the sedentary life offered by salmon fishing, I think many people would have preferred a nomadic life with the herds. Some of the nomadic bison hunters of the Plains are thought to have abandoned sedentary farming after the arrival of horses. Herder families can be very wealthy, and villages can be cramped and lice ridden. Violent conflict over grazing territory would probably flare up occasionally amongst herders. But presumably a relatively stable system of territories would emerge.

People in fishing villages, with their large populations, could hold their own against the herders. Fishing villages would be the group most likely to pursue horticulture. They would probably grow root vegetables in small fenced gardens for their own use, and for trade with the herders. They might grow potatoes in pine needle mulch and fish wastes. Historic fisherman would do anything to keep the rivers clean, and would detest any plowing in the watershed (an early white explorer once got severely chastised for discarding a single bone into the Kettle Falls fishery).

Gardening might make the harvest of some wild vegetables, like bitterroot, obsolete. But all indigenous farmers gather select wild foods. You can’t beat serviceberries, and venison! Some important root veggies, like parsnips, burdock, Jerusalem artichoke, and groundnut would naturalize and could be gathered from the wild.

Horticulture would allow some villages to move away from the Columbia, to wetter forested areas and canyons. These villages might require domestic animals. Marmots would probably be domesticated, as have rabbits and guinea pigs. Fowl would be popular. Pigs might be controversial. Some Indian groups expressed anger at pig keepers when pigs pilfered their camas grounds. If swine went feral, some wild foods would decline. Would the pork make up for it?
It seems unlikely that irrigation would be much utilized. Our geography isn’t especially conducive to primitive canals, and our rainfall is ample for the development of dry land techniques. We know stone mulch was used to grow crops like cotton in drier areas of the Southwest.

Horticultural societies are often matriarchal. Do you ever wish that women were in charge? I do.

In moist coulees and low elevation forests, sensible people would establish fruit and nut trees: chestnuts, walnuts, pome, and stone fruits, persimmons, mulberries, ext. Our region is fruit heaven. All the food trees presently known to grow wild in the region could be planted on a large scale. It is likely that the use of certain trees near villages would be ‘owned’ by families. But even today, the vast majority of fruit trees go unclaimed. We might see a pattern of use similar to prehistoric California’s populous acorn fed villages (proper squirrels would need to be introduced if nut trees are to naturalize. The Western Gray Squirrel is the best candidate). The forests were already being managed as food forests, using burning and other techniques. Smart managers could girdle dud trees and protect good ones, favoring quality in the population. Managers would hasten the recovery of our forests from the ice sheets, by fostering a greater level of tree diversity common in other pine forests. Oaks are one particularly conspicuous absence. Indian fires were already favoring a patchy mosaic landscape, which mitigated catastrophic fire. The use of large animals, and the advancement of late succession hardwoods, would reduce fire frequency and improve soils.

One hedge against deforestation is that Plateau fishing villages where fueled by driftwood, being located near places where driftwood accumulated. Plateau people had polished stone adzes for carving, but no axes for felling. Small trees were cut with bone chisels and stone adzes. Large timbers, used only for cedar planks and canoes, were obtained as driftwood or felled with fire. However, with large animals, fuel transport would be possible. If the Romans had used coppice fueled rocket mass heaters, would they still have deforested Europe?

With abundant salmonids and mussels, Plateau people might not take aquaculture seriously, but they could benefit from the introduction of warm water fish into existing lakes and ponds (carp, catfish spiny rays). Baited basket traps are one of the easiest ways to harvest these species.

If the population became dense enough, hierarchies might emerge. We know Northwest Coast cultures became populous and complex enough to harbor slavery. The relatively egalitarian societies of the interior probably owed their freedom to their sparse population. Salmon fishing limited villages to the river bottoms. Horticulture would allow for much more of the land to be settled, and would almost certainly increase the population. History shows the freest people live in marginal areas.

With a high population density, agriculture threatens. What is to keep broad scale wheat from developing? Aggression from herders might dissuade, but only temporarily. It’s possible that wheat, with its low yields, might be ignored, in favor of high yielding root vegetables. But with a hierarchy in place, yield might be ignored for the sake of easily amassed wealth, via grain stores. If chestnut trees really do yield as much as organic wheat, we may have a solution. But much of our wheat growing area is probably too dry for chestnuts.

My nightmare is something like the Inca potato empire, where every frozen mountainside is covered in crowded suburban potato terrace. Protein starved people in tiny stone huts are sleeping with guinea pigs and burning llama shit to stay warm. No trees. No wildlife. Everybody is kissing the ass of a totalitarian communist government that sentences entire ethnic groups to labor camps. The god-complex emperor lives in a palace and rides around on a litter carried by slaves. Some of you probably think ancient farming societies were really groovy. Not me. I’d rather not have my beating heart cut out by the Aztecs or be nailed to a cross by the Romans. Empires have been making life hell long before oil and industry. Pre-oil doomerism?

Why don’t these people ever stop after a few potato terraces or a few rice paddies? Is it the elites that end up forcing people to exploit the entire landscape? Are peasants just suicidaly competitive? How do we keep this from happening? I have a few ideas.

High population density may be inevitable since small populations are vulnerable to conquest (although, nomads like the Mongols do sometimes give farmers hell, and this might be possible again in a post oil future. Climate instability may also favor nomads). But perhaps even populous societies can stave off hierarchy and population growth through ecologically sound food production. For instance, a food system that incorporates a tree, a fish, a large animal, a few small animals, and five vegetables is like a simple mini-ecology. It will be stable and productive. If it is stable and productive enough, its users will be affluent, and affluent people plan their families. An ecologically sound food system does not need to expand. Affluent people can also be more resistant to hierarchy than starving peasants. It is hard to control people who have what they need, just as it was hard to control the tribes while the bison still roamed and the salmon still spawned. If we could design a viral food system that is so weedy and insidiously productive that it is hard to destroy, that might limit hierarchy. Imagine a populous affluent society, where everyone has plenty of leisure. Old people keep up on the news, teach the young, and forge ties with the neighbors. The young people are healthy and smart, engaged in sports and hunting, and loyal to their elders. Each household is interconnected yet self-reliant. Would you want to mess with a society like that?

I should stop here. If you liked reading this, I could write more. I still haven’t covered the topics of shelter or technology. Also, if you like the husp topic, I think you might find my INPC talk interesting. It's in the videos section of my website.


 
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Paul, I think we are all struggling with your 'what if' because you are asking us, if I understand you right, to take permaculture to the next level and we just aren't there yet. I will say that in the USP I can imagine that regional differences are profound. There are no one-size-fits-all practices as husp is adapted to local conditions and takes advantage of ecological niches. However, there might be some general principles that are universal.

As someone else pointed out, the prevailing philosophy in the USP is that people belong to the land, the land does not belong to people. The idea that someone might 'own' a bit of Mother Earth is considered ludicrous. How can anyone own something that was there before them and will still be there long after they are gone? People are seen as temporary stewards entrusted with the sacred duty of leaving the earth better than they found it. To that end, soil enrichment is a given, as is the act of 'gardening' the wild. By that, I mean that people are seen as partners to the earth, seeding, planting, and grooming the wild areas to encourage healthy growth and a rich diversity of plants and trees that benefit not just humanity but all the creatures that inhabit the area. Harvesting from the wild -- both plants and animals -- is done respectfully and is one of the most prevalent ways of securing food. Why bother feeding and caring for chickens if eggs and meat are readily available from the wild? Not that there aren't kitchen gardens and corn patches but that they are merely supplemental to what nature provides free for the taking. By encouraging nature to provide generously and by taking only that which nature can afford to share, the people of USP have created a symbiotic relationship with the wilds.

This also means that population control is a given. Everyone knows that the resources of the earth are finite and that overpopulation is a recipe for collapse. And having more than one needs is seen as not only wasteful but disrespectful -- disrespectful of the earth, disrespectful of one's neighbors, and disrespectful of generations to come. Not only that, having more than one needs is seen as a burden -- the more one has, the more one has to protect, store, maintain and care for. Tools are generally part of the commons and are shared by all. While population and property ownership may not seem to be horticultural practices, they do speak to the need for surplus -- where populations are stable and needs are minimal, there is no growth paradigm to overstress the system.

In the USP, scientific enquiry is encouraged. The term 'science' has been somewhat maligned in this thread, but true science is a mindset -- observe, experiment, observe again. It is this mindset that allowed Sepp Holzer to become the well-spring of skill and knowledge that he is. It is this practice of observe, experiment, observe that has led to the huge diversity of practices adapted to local niches that characterize husp. This is why in the forested hills and mountains, WOFATI are the shelter of choice, heating and cooking are primarily wood-fired (rocket mass heaters, TLUD stoves and ovens). In the Southwest where cooling is more important than heating, homes are often made of stone or adobe and cooking is done in solar ovens. In some areas, hugel kultur is the norm while in others it is heavy mulch, contoured swales, and dappled shade from a treed overstory that make irrigation unnecessary. Foods are local as well, with trade and barter amongst regions common. I cannot imagine automobiles in this culture -- there is nothing sustainable about gasoline powered vehicles -- but there are steam-powered locomotives, dirigibles and hot air balloons, sail boats and canal boats, lots of horses, and bicycles made of bamboo, some of which are power-assisted and run on used vegetable oil. Demand for electricity is low, the need for it being largely circumvented; however, there are windmills, geothermal, hydro and solar systems that supply to the immediate area. There are even playgrounds that kinetically convert the energy of children to useful purposes. http://earlyfutures.com/2009/01/11/energy-playgrounds/ Interesting enough, the people of USP have perfected a form of architecture that uses living trees to build bridges (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jrmm7gjZGE&feature=share), tunnels, and garden structures (http://www.amazon.com/Living-Willow-Sculpture-Jon-Warnes/dp/0855328347/ref=wl_it_dp_o_npd?ie=UTF8&coliid=I2BJQ9IUU63D99&colid=1CCJZWXOXU7B2).
 
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Love the idea. I think something like it can actually happen. I was thinking lately that for real change, you'd have to essentially start your own town, with the ethics and practices of permaculture as its foundation. Then along came husp! But why not start small? Say, with 25 acres, or 50 or 100, and why not have that land right next to a city, or better yet, inside it? There might be a greater chance of starting a rippling cultural and political earthquake that would bring about real change where it's needed most — where most people live and pollute. A husp subdivision, with anti-rules! Run chickens! Use compost toilets! Decouple from the grid as much as possible!
I think if permaculture can show the public what's possible, most people will want and choose permacutlure. But people have to see what's possible, more than a youtube video (as great as they are), and maybe it's better to do that in or near urban areas to get the greatest visibility. Show people what true health and greater self-sufficiency are really like. They'll clamor for it! It can spread. As it grows, so too grows personal independence. That equates to political independence. After awhile, people will be in charge, rather than oligarchs and plutocrats. Then whole towns, cities, counties, states and even countries can become more husp-like.
Just a thought.
 
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Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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Hope I'm also not being redundant, but to add to Ludi's great list, I'd add 'Gaviotas' - inspiring read and still existing and offering tours. See wiki & these:
http://www.friendsofgaviotas.org/
http://mingo.info-science.uiowa.edu/~winter/engineering.html
http://www.amazon.com/Gaviotas-Village-Reinvent-Alan-Weisman/dp/1890132284

Oh, and I agree TOTALLY with Eric - it's a PR axiom that the most powerful change/persuasion occurs when the 'picture' changes - when folks see that their deepest desires (peace, friendship, cooperation, fun, health, creativity, sustainability, etc.) can be (are being!) met with minimal money, scarcity, competition, anxiety, conflict, destruction, etc., we'll be on the way to good times :) (Which is why the corporate culture is so full of pictures of the negative items.)

BTW, I just read '1493' which has info on indigenous vs European agriculture in America, plus the ecological, economic, social, political, etc. effects of non-native plants and animals. I really enjoyed it, and learned a lot.
http://www.amazon.com/1493-Uncovering-World-Columbus-Created/dp/0307265722/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328555260&sr=1-1

EDITED by Staff to fix broken links {Polk}

 
It will give me the powers of the gods. Not bad for a tiny ad:
please help me create BB wiki pages, and other PEP pages
https://permies.com/t/98467/create-BB-wiki-pages-PEP
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