I am pleased to finally sign up for the Permies forum board. I've enjoyed some of Paul Wheaton's YouTube videos, and I've been to the Permies website multiple times, but always too busy with my own quest for World Domination to sign on as a minion of Paul's Glorious Empire.
My work is rooted in the basics of survival: shelter, fire, water, plant and animal foods, etc. We all have these same basic needs, just different methods of meeting those needs, depending on whether we are lost in a vast wilderness, homesteading a country farm, or living in the suburbs or the concrete jungle.
Wilderness survival skills are a big part of my life, because I love nature, wilderness, and not growing up. For example, as I kid I loved to built "forts." Now I call them "shelters" to legitmize my continued fort-building. My book Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills is all about playing in the woods and reconnecting with nature. I've also produced four videos in the Art of Nothing Wilderness Survival Video Series, covering the same kind of fun. I teach wilderness survival skills to school kids through our Outdoor Wilderness Living School (OWLS) program: http://www.owlsschool.org, and I've produced a video about our work with the public schools, titled Classroom in the Woods.
Being able to identify and utilize wild plants is a big part of wilderness survival and a particular passion of mine. I wrote Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification for myself initially, and it has proved useful to tens of thousands of other people as well, becoming my best-selling book. I also have a children's botany book called Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids Ages 9 to 99, along with the Shanleya's Quest Patterns in Plants Card Game, which are becoming increasingly popular with young and old alike.
Homesteading is also a big part of my life, because it is nice to be able to come home from playing in the woods and have an actual house to live in. But I hated the idea of getting a job and working all my life, so I worked a little, saved nearly everything, bought land, moved into a tent, and built a homestead from the ground up, avoiding the need for a mortgage. My permaculturist mentality shows through in my permanent approach to architecture: I like to build with stone. I built a passive solar stone and log home with a big greenhouse on the front. This project, and several others, are featured in my book Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction, along with my Slipform Stone Masonry DVD and Build Your Own Masonry Fireplace DVD. I also wrote Direct Pointing to Real Wealth and Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, and the Blossoming of Human Spirit. Being a do-it-yourselfer, I founded my own publishing company, HOPS Press, LLC.
Growing actual vegetation is a bit challenging here at home, living on a dry, south-facing slope of decomposing granite at 5,600 feet in elevation in the Northern Rockies, where the trees don't leaf out until the middle of May. I've probably killed ninety percent of the trees that I've planted over the last twenty-five years. And yet, I do have something vaguely resembling permaculture now. This place will be specatacular by the time I am two hundred years old!
My grand plan for world domination is to nurture our Green University, LLC program into a legitimate, credentialed alternative to mainstream education, connecting the dots from wilderness survival to sustainable living. Instead of freshman, sophmore, junior, and senior levels, we have Hunter-Gatherer, Homesteader, Caretaker, and Ecopreneur. Mostly we just play in the woods, but the name sounds pretty important and official: http://www.GreenUniversity.com
My hobby project is the Jefferson River Canoe Trail, a segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. We recently raised funds and bought a parcel on the river to be used in perpetuity as a public floater's camp. Yay!
So, that's me in a nutshell. Thanks for allowing me to join the group!
Thomas J. Elpel
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit