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what to do with two million dollars  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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I did three interviews last week for tv stuff. I think in the last three years I have had nine production companies show an interest in putting me on tv in some form or another. It will either happen or it won't.

Last week, two different interviewers for two different production companies asked the exact same question. If I had a budget of two million dollars, what would I do on my land? I think "two million" is pretty specific.

I thought my answer was poor each time. I guess I'm just used to trying to do everything on the cheap.

So I kinda want to open it up. Two million bucks. What would be good use of such big money?

(I have now typed and deleted a bunch of different things here - and doing so led to better ideas ...)

963) Set up a contest to build five 10x10 wofatis. Each contestant will be paid $10,000 to build their entry. The best wofati will be awarded a $40,000 bonus. Point are awarded for low materials cost (25%), low man hours (25%) and most comfortable through the montana winter (50%).

964) Similar contest for freezer wofati.

965) Similar contest for growing a lemon tree outdoors in montana.

966) similar contest for an air well

967) similar contest for a humus well

968) similar contest for a rocket mass heater shippable core

969) similar contest for maximizing food production (measured in calories) on an acre without fertilizer or irrigation

970) similar contest for Jean Pain hot water systems

971) similar contest for wheelie bin pooper systems

972) similar contest for greywater systems that would be active all winter

973) similar contest for natural swimming pools

Any other ideas?

 
Ann Torrence
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Some fraction of it for infrastructure for value-added products, any/all of:
-cheese-making facility
-slaughterhouse
-cidery/meadery
-commercial kitchen
-gasifier

esp if you can use them to engage your neighbors to change their ag practices, like we only slaughter animals raised this way here, we buy grass-fed dairy for cheese, you can rent the kitchen to make beyond organic products 1 day a week, etc. Because so long as they are stuck in the commodity system due to lack of capital, lack of vision, lack of markets, they will keep on their steady decline.

then you start generating some income to perpetually fund the Wheaton world domination experiments. And who doesn't want to put Wheaton extra sharp cheddar on their apple pie?
 
Eric Thompson
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How about setting up more of the land as a demonstration area - like good examples of bricks with a science museum or guided tour flair to it? Some larger things with models and explanation for what you see on the land.

This could go for rocket stove, living fence, terraces, hugelkulture, wofati, paddock shift, etc. The more explanation behind the demonstration, the faster visitors and interns can pick up and understand things. The goal would be to be more of a guided educational destination than a theme park environment, but a little extra presentation always seems to spark the learning process.

By using funding for materials and intern basics, $2M may cover over 50 bricks!
 
Michael Cox
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Some towards immediate capital heavy projects/kit to kick the pace of lab development into overdrive. You want to show permaculture can be attractive for regular farming types - they are used to investing heavily in their businesses upfront for a higher return. You don't need to play them at their own game, but you can show them that cash can get the permaculture ball rolling...

Some towards "The Wheaton Trust" or whatever - an investment outside of your own work that can throw off cash to keep the labs ticking over, providing a steady baseline income year on year to make sure you get over the humps that will inevitably come in an experimental project.
 
Ken Peavey
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Would this be a budget for a season of 26 episodes? Half hour or hour?

Seems to me this is an opportunity to show the viewers a look at each of several projects in depth.
Building a wofati or Dick Proenneke cabin from start to finish offers appeal. The series would sell the dream of a simpler lifestyle, inviting people to consider self-sufficiency as a realistic alternative.
Build it and they will come, or perhaps emulate.
Give it a round door and explore the woodshop. Add heat with an RMH. Add all the comforts of home with Jean Pain hot water showers, an outdoor kitchen, and solar power cart.
Gather, grow, preserve food-I could fill every episode with food alone.
Livestock brings in meatsmithy, yorkshire pudding, curing a $4000 ham, a cold smoker for bacon, sausage making, and suede. Harvesting an animal on TV would be a decision to make. PETA would have a cow.

Production limits the time available to put all these projects together. One homesite can only do so much. Several homesites would offer a wider canvas and can expose the viewers to ideas they could implement at home.

Is 'Won't you be my neighbor' still available? With the exposure of a series, privacy would demand that production be in a separate and distinct location. Closer to a large town can draw in tourists. Get the land, build the home base, add systems, then get those tourists involved with classes and workshops. The whole thing becomes the Wheaton Permaculture Center after the TV show is done.
 
Penny Dumelie
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Depending on how much of the two million you want to use on one idea...

A start-up contest for someone with drive and ambition but currently low on start-up funds.

- contestants lay out their plan for their permaculture enterprise and the best entry, that is thought to be the most likely to succeed, wins $XXX to start their idea.
.
The idea is meant to increase permaculture practices and spread it across the globe, one person at a time.

 
Jay Grace
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This is always fun to think about. Thecwhat if you won the lottery scenario.


Buy a bout 300-500 acres or so. Somewhere around the southeast and adjoining management land.
Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana to be specific. In a somewhat centralized location to larger cities ( more than an hour, less than 3)

Get a "few" pieces of heavy machinery. Dozer, track hoe, dump truck, sawmill and a couple tractors.

Make a few giant 20acre hugelculture spirals and mazes for pick-your-own permaculture Eco-tourism.

Start a small U.S. tea farm.

Bring things like muscadines, maypops, acorns, pawpaw, hickory nuts and other under utilized wild ( and exotic) foods more into main stream.

Grow 100% of my own food.

Start a tiny home community. Where rent is based per square foot.
Something along the lines of +/-$1.00/ sqft per month, all inclusive. Power, water, and food. All produced from the farm.


Proceed over the next 50+ years to recreate a Southern Krameterhof.

.....make a million dollars a year.

Reinvest all profits and fund others to do the same.
Give zero interest loans out to beyond organic farms.

Shamelessly promote permaculture, zero debt, anti-gmo, geoff lawton, Paul Wheaton, the guys at Farmstead Meatsmith, jack spirko, sepp holzer, and Dave Ramsey.

Pretty much everything that everyone else would do.
 
Cj Sloane
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paul wheaton wrote:
963) Set up a contest to build five 10x10 wofatis. Each contestant will be paid $10,000 to build their entry. The best wofati will be awarded a $40,000 bonus. Point are awarded for low materials cost (25%), low man hours (25%) and most comfortable through the montana winter (50%).

I'd be real cautious with the contest concept, considering what happened with the tomato contest! Personally, I'd prefer to see you use the $2 million to take the time to do these projects yourself, maybe with an innovators weekend like the RMH, and document every step of the way. I'm willing to bet a nickel that anyone handing you that money wants to see what you do with it, not what other people do with it.
 
Ann Torrence
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Thinking more. I don't watch much tv, but I can only imagine what tv people think they can sell:

Survivor meets Deadliest Catch meets Duck Dynasty

which calls for advertisers, who like things like

cute girls
mayhem from dangerous work, esp with blood
cute girls in bikinis
manufactured internal drama and strife, esp people quitting in the lurch
cute baby animals
explosions
cute girls covered with blood and guts, preferably crying

in that model, the producers will need stories that wrap up in an episode, or at least leave the audience hanging. The proof of concept for a lemon tree is just too long to present well in that format. And since you aren't voting gappers off the Laboratory, there's got to be some artificial drama. What could work:
- a rush to get a wofati up before the snow, best with trees falling dangerously and Tim hollering at the gappers and needing to improvise because someone forgot to order a critical component
- a rush to build a RMH, kind of like what's going on in the tipi right now, only exaggerate the misery
- bake-offs and build-offs, esp with overly competitive dudes under loads of time pressure, like the RMH workshop only not so cooperative. "Who took my bricks!?!?"
- guest stars on adventures. Take a politician or celebrity on a ride on the electric tractor up a mountain and drop them off with only a knife and a book of edible plants.
- guts & glory, like a slaughter day, smokers, sausages, escaped squealing pigs. Loads of blood opps here. Bonus points if a badged official shows up to muck things up
- grizzlies attacking the bee hives! Forest fires! Maurading neighbors on ATVs!

these things aren't $2M expensive, but it might take liberal applications of money to soothe the residents' nerves during filming. And to hire the crying models because the real gapper women, while uniformly beautiful as far as I can tell from the photos, have more sense than to run around job sites in bikinis and cry over a bit of guts.

Now if these folks wanted to do a permaculture version of Victorian Farm, that'd be a lot more useful to the world and fun to produce. Then you really could do some big projects, but they'd still have to be achievable in a season and have some drama involved. Why am I so cynical that for $2M, they really want Hells Kitchen Garden?

Either way, you're going to need more baby critters. A constant stream of baby critters for the entire production time. A feast of fecundity.
 
Cj Sloane
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Ann Torrence wrote:
Now if these folks wanted to do a permaculture version of Victorian Farm, that'd be a lot more useful to the world and fun to produce. Then you really could do some big projects, but they'd still have to be achievable in a season and have some drama involved. Why am I so cynical that for $2M, they really want Hells Kitchen Garden?

Either way, you're going to need more baby critters. A constant stream of baby critters for the entire production time. A feast of fecundity.


Victorian Farm did a great job showing the baby critters and ultimately eating the critters at the harvest show. Of course, we are the natural audience for that type of thing.
 
Sam Barber
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Food systems, Animal Systems ,bacon systems, Perfect the wofati design, Build the 20 person wofati, More bacon.
 
Tom OHern
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I would look for existing farms, where the owners want to convert to permaculture. Think "Extreme Makeover Home Permaculture Edition". Use the money for earthworks, water works, food forests, etc. How quickly can you take a traditional farm can convert it to a Polyface Farm like system? Show people how to set up a silvopasture with a blue sky budget, and then end the show with, how it could be done more frugally. Bonus points if by the end of the process, it can be demonstrated that the farm now produces more food with less energy inputs, and makes the farmer more money.
 
William James
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This is just off the cuff,

1 million: the largest swath of marginal land I could find with existing and diverse vegetation.
0.5 million: soil improvement, seed, wildcrafting (mushrooms, medicinals, acorns, nuts, sap-syrup = NTFP), animal systems.
0.25 million: cheap alternative housing systems.
0.25 million: paying/housing carefully chosen, highly capable and highly motivated people to do amazing things them via a farm-incubator project which in the long run pays for itself via off-farm sales.

But yeah, people would want to see what Paul does, even though it would be more energy efficient for him to encourage others to do amazing things (eg. contests). That said, Geoff Lawton's Zaytuna farm has lots of people managing it and somehow he still gets the credit.

One thing to separate is whether the goal is to produce a highly functioning model farm, to improve the ecology of the place, or to just do some technically amazing but simple things that can inspire people. Or all of the above. The point is that you probably spend money differently in each case.
William
 
Ken Peavey
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The expense needs to be justified.
A big swath of land does not portray permaculture ideals. While some land may be necessary, there are places out there which could host a project.
It may make sense to build a Jean Pain system in the woods behind someone's residence. This has the benefit of not coming with a property tax bill.

The New Yankee Workshop (Norm Abrams) was filmed in a small shed behind the producers home. The show ran for 20 years with no investment in real estate.

A useful feature of permaculture is that many of the projects involved don't cost much. They take time and effort.
$2M would go a long way.

Ever watch the New Yankee Workshop? Norm Abrams did not build everything, he built some parts and some things. For the most part he Presented the things being done.
Someone else put together the Early American Style hutch and cupboard. I swear there had to be a couple of people just to clean up the sawdust between every take.
There was someone to fetch the lumber and someone to handle the payroll for the crew.

The project would need an ancillary support crew. If the crew is moving from place to place, there would be the expense of hotels, but I think a bus or two fixed up to shelter them on the road would be an adventure all by itself and much more frugal then dining out on McJunk every night. Add a truck and cargo trailer for materials and tools and the whole operation is mobile and self contained. Travel to different destinations to showcase what people are doing in different situations. Spend a little time there putting together an earth sheltered greenhouse and RMH then move on to the next location. In a single season, there is no way to establish a food forest. Food forests already in existence in different levels of development would be needed. The road crew is indispensable and offers jobs and adventure. Paul's best use here would be to narrate and host. Kinda like Marlin Perkins. "Look at Jim grab that water buffalo. Good job, Jim."

To make up for the time involved for travel, a fixed location of just a few acres with a shed could explore other aspects: kitchen, workshop, spoon carving, seed saving, beekeeping, worms, hugelkulture, swales and keylines, planting/growing/harvesting/selling and using. Subject matter that the show can come back to-compost for example. The fixed location becomes a working farm and education center to infect minds. While Paul would be able to host in person, there is still a need for a crew. I'm starting to think $2M would be a tight budget.

I can see some long term residual income stemming from a successful run-getting renewed for another season would be a real prize. There would be folks close to the fixed site that may wish to attend classes and seminars or purchase the produce and meat grown. Longer distance folks may want some of that seed that was saved in episode 17 or the measured drawings of the RMH or Wisner's The Art of Fire. Put some of those hand carved spoons on eBay. Paul action figures can pick up a log.
The Empire grows.

As for baby duckies and bunnies, yeah, front and center at the start of every show.

Mass communicating is a powerful force. A single season would be a real treat. Permaculture would become a household word. Show the viewers things they can do to improve their lives, homes, and make the world a better place, perhaps they will demand more. Another season puts permaculture on the map with a big red pin.
There are millions of people out there Who already have a small piece of land and a dream. Sell the dream of farming and self-sufficiency. Show them how it all fits together. Show them they can do it. Give them hope.
 
Michael Cox
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I've rethought...

I think you should looks at getting a top quality PR professional of some sort on the team. Full time salary, who's job it to turn what you are doing on the ground into media and public friendly formats. Your project is not just doing permaculture, but showing to the world both that it does work in practice and how it works.


They could act as a liaison between you on site and the rest of the world...
 
William James
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Ken Peavey wrote:
A big swath of land does not portray permaculture ideals.


China's Loess Plateau is a huge example of permaculture ideals, and it is "approximately the size of France, encompassing 640,000 square kilometers". Big swath of land indeed.

Agrocology needs to be done on this scale and permaculture design gets the goods.

http://eempc.org/environmental-challenges-facing-china-rehabilitation-of-the-loess-plateau/

 
Ann Torrence
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Ken Peavey wrote:
Paul action figures can pick up a log.

I want a Paul action figure! And a Timmy. Can you get a RMH accessory kit? And a Wofati model?

If you've been in a Cabelas or Walmart in the last 12 months, you've seen the Duck Dynasty co-branded junk.
I want a permie lunch box! An eco-warrior water bottle (no plastic!) and a funny hat, all natural fibers of course.
And Paul-apporved overalls will be in every Target in America.

Wouldn't it be awesome to use the force of the American marketing machine for good?
 
William James
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One direction is tons of money going into PR and publicity, hoping to get (or do without via the same channels) sponsorship with large entities (NBC, FX) with Paul becoming a sort of Anti-MartaStewart but a million times more enjoyable and life-changing.

Pros:
-reaches the TV crowd, which is a huge crowd and would make a big splash.
-probably focuses on small changes around the home that can be adopted by many people.
-has the potential to get people interested in land conservation through agroecology and permaculture design.

Cons:
-Might not actually immediately 'do' stuff physically that is of great impact, that is, it won't physically regenerate much land (unless you count the echos of land being regenerated because of inspiration).
-Might be a flop and a lot of money is wasted, while lining the pockets of the fat-cats.

Another direction is taking the 2 million, doing internet-based publicity for biggish projects along the lines of 'extreme makeover' (complete with poor farming family - a good FarmAid project), but actually showing land getting Flipped.

Pros:
-Would actually have an immediate physical impact on a scale larger than the above option.
-Could potentially reach more people than TV.
-has the potentially to get large land owners interested in investing in their own property via agroecology and permaculture design.
-economic risk is lower, so more money goes to land reclamation.

Cons:
-Might get lost in cyberspace without huge interests backing it, so it wouldn't reach the Pueblo.
-Might only be geared toward people with large swaths of land, so individuals might be left feeling powerless while the above option could turn more people on to permaculture.
-Might be a flop and while land was reclaimed and a few families helped to create awesome businesses, not much else would come of it.

There could be other directions to consider, but if the first option seems the bestest, then the immediate work would be finding the appropriate people that can make it happen. Think Bioneers. Think Green Lefties with deep pockets in the entertainment business. Building a base of work, videos, and such and hoping it gets noticed by them would be counterproductive. They make stuff happen, so it's best to start leaning on them. If something similar to the second option seems like the bestest option, then the appropriate starting point would be to contact those organizations and people that can make it work. That means agriculture-support organizations, people with land, people in universities doing progressive forestry research, and the like. Pitch them a low-budget video series that highlights their organization and gets seen by millions and brings in cash flow via the internet.

If either of the above options seem interesting, what I think is needed is a few dedicated (and well-connected) people to get the ball rolling in that direction.

In the end, both of the above options can be done without 2 million as a starting point, so that should be factored into people's thoughts on this. Sure, 2 million would help, but what if you just asked someone like Bob Barker (someone who in 2010 bought Sea Shepard a boat for 5 million) and he just wrote you a check for 2 million. The point is that the starting point is not 2 million, it's more about asking the right question to the right person and the ability to do something Epic with whatever they give you.

William
 
paul wheaton
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I'm pretty sure that the two million would be just for projects. The idea is to think of what the projects might be and, thus, what the episodes might be.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Buy any and all land available around the lab.

Buy any tools, equipment, etc that you have been doing without.

 
Penny Dumelie
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Maybe the projects could be partly related to PEP. Each episode could have a PEP project, maybe current highlights from the lab or "what we did this week" kind of deal, Paul's tip of the (week?), past episode updates, and occasionally a permie friend highlight where you talk about the good stuff others are also doing.
Some of the big names of course like Sepp and Geoff, but there are all kinds of people doing all kinds of good stuff.
There could also be where in the world is Paul? episodes for the times you are out and about visiting other permies/locations.

Just a thought to share too...
When I heard about the TV program, Utopia, all I knew was that it would be a show about a group of people living together to create their own world of awesome. I had high hopes for it, thinking it would be about creating something from scratch and developing systems to support their citizens. I was thinking The Colony (the tv series not the movie) mixed with Living in the Past, Preppers, Mountain Men, and Survivorman, but without the scripted drama and fake crap.
It was none of that, mostly horrible, and now it's cancelled

I would love a real show about living on a piece of land in a perma way. There is enough drama-filled, scripted garbage on tv.
Not to say you would make something with scripted drama, but I do think there are many more like me who want something real to watch instead of sparkles.
 
Ann Torrence
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paul wheaton wrote:IThe idea is to think of what the projects might be and, thus, what the episodes might be.

Ok, being (kinda) serious now. Thanksgiving episode, grow the food, raise the turkeys. Esp a bunch of heritage breeds, invite Jimmy Flay or some other celebrity chef to do throw down and decide which breeds of turkeys tasted best. But also some foraged foods on the land, some hugelkulture food, the seedling tomatoes project. And a crazy RMH based way to cook a turkey, of course. Tell the story of every main ingredient in the meal. Finished with, what else, pie!

In fact, every episode should finish with pie. Huckleberry pie. Lemon meringue pie. Apple pie. Mincemeat pie. Chicken pot pie. Whatever ties into the show. A ginormous pie plate big enough to feed 20 people. Because permaculture is all about care of people, and sharing good food is a great way to share that message.

Lemon meringue pie episode is the building and planting of the lemon tree, but it is a spendy one because you take the cameras to visit Sepp! Got to have some pigs for the lard, but it's a chance to talk about climate modification and earth works. Make a pie and share with Sepp, invite him to come eat another in Montana...

Apple pie - if you want to do a bit on seedlings, here's the chance. Get Stefan Sobkowiak to bring some apples, talk about pests and pruning and mixed plantings. Debate the merits of seedlings vs grafts. Pollinators. You've got some cideries nearby, time to pay a call to Montana Ciderworks or blow the budget and go to Wisconsin to see Mark Shepard's cidery.

I could go on...shall I?
 
William James
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Yeah. A cool format would be the one that is repeated, but diverse enough that you wouldn't get the feeling that it's the same damn thing as yesterday's show. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, but in a structured way. And things that carry over from week to week, so that you have an interest in keeping up.
William
 
Ken Peavey
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An aspect of permaculture I find interesting is the way projects interact, grow, and lead to other projects in a loop.

Backyard Chickens is a fine example of how way leads to way. It may inspire some folks to raise their own flock.
A handful of chickens in the backyard produce delicious eggs.
No need to feed them purchased feed when they will enjoy kitchen scraps and grass clippings.
Rather than limit their diet, put together a compost heap so they can forage.
Alternately, set up a Black Soldier Fly breeding project to produce feed.
Rather than a coop, put them to work tilling in a tractor.
Chickens love worms, so do tank raised fish.
Using the warm water as a heat sink will keep a greenhouse warm.
Lots of seedlings from a greenhouse get transplanted into raised or hugelkulture beds amended with leaf mold and worm casting tea.
These can be mulched with hay or wood chips.
The resulting harvest can be dried by the sun, fermented, canned, or cooked on a wood stove, with the kitchen scraps going back to the chickens.

Any one of these projects can appeal to the audience.
The series of relationships teaches permaculture.
 
John Saltveit
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I would set up a program by which people could send in a request and get free fruit trees for the parks in their neighborhood. The parks program would have to agree. Most people live in suburbs, then cities, then in the country. Fruit are an easy access to permaculture because everyone likes fruit, but not everyone loves brussels sprouts. If they're in the park, they stay and grow. Children see the fruit growing, get curious and show their parents. Now they want plants in their yard. Most people move every 5-7 years, but the idea of being able to grow your food can come with you. I have done this program with my trees in local parks. I want it to spread. People have done this in many parts of the country, most famously in Seattle.
John S
PDX OR
 
Penny Dumelie
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Ann Torrence wrote:

In fact, every episode should finish with pie.


I like this. A wrap-it-up scene with pie and conversation.
 
Nicola Marchi
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Well 2 million really isn't a lot of money. 2 million is enough money for 1 person to live well in a large city for about 20 years ($100,000 x 20 years.) 1 person to live reasomably well in the country 40 years ($50,000 x 40 years.) And from there you can rationalize 2 people for 20 years 3 for 13ish...

When you consider how many people could be involved in the Wheaton empire if Paul got major traction (permies as a common household subject in 10% of homes in the U.S.) 5-20 people could easily be involved.

Lets say 10 people became dependents of Paul's empire, including himself, that would mean the empire had enough money to run for about 4 years without additional income.

I would definitely prioritize using the money in projects which had prospects to generate a significant income within 4 years, obviously this time line would be dependent on a serious asessment of dependents the empire would acquire.

I'd start off by talking to all the Chefs you could get a hold of and asking what they wanted but had a hard time finding. Focusing on higher value, lower work products like meats. If you had a tibetan restaurant that was looking for yak, you could work towards getting a herd of yaks, etc.

I guess I'd say to follow Sepp's example, and do what no one else does in your area, if you can find a market. The money would be used for paying employees and rapid buildup towards what could finance the empire. The simple fact of how widely it would be publicised would be enough to infect many brains.
 
brad roon
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At least 3 permie homesteads. One done just by hand powered labor for the most part. One done with access to all the tools to help - excavators, etc. and something in between.
Hopefully similar locations to have reasonably valid comparisons. Obvious is cost, the biggest factor would be time. Assuming all have access to similar plant materials how much longer would the hand-work take to develop to production stages over the machine assisted purchase of a permaculture set-up.

An aspect some may not grasp would be the intensity of the innate knowledge one has by putting in one's every change in a direct, hand's on manner, versus essentially buying a permaculture set up. The knowledge of interactions would likely be much more personal and intense. Theoretically this would give better understanding of the interactions, provide analyses and solutions for imbalance or improvements, next stages, additions, etc.
 
D. Logan
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I could see doing something similar to the husp idea. Buy a large piece of land and then offer portions more or less for free to permaculture minded people who will agree to abide by certain limits for a set period of time. Each person would have their own freedom to do with the land what they wanted within the set guidelines, but with a goal. Everyone would be trying to innovate or try new combinations of things. New ideas could then be incorporated into a central location within the property and regular videos, design plans, etc could be offered to the public at a reasonable cost that is used to keep up on the taxes of the land and provide for things needed until the land itself could become productive enough. The more damaged the land is to start, the better because you could then document how clearly the principles are helping.

Personally, I would avoid working with networks for reality TV. They need drama to get ratings and if you aren't providing it for them, they are just as likely to try doing things to make drama start. I am convinced some of the things like the Turtle Island situation or the sudden appearance of the fire department at a house that had long been gone on Moonshiners were things the producers set into motion without telling the people on their shows. Alternatively, educational programming can be made entertaining and not have to have drama. Cooking shows, woodworking shows, gardening shows, building shows and the like all prove this.

There's a lot of interesting options on this thread.
 
Ann Torrence
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Here's a $100K episode. Early, maybe first in the season.

Sea berry pie: 3 famous permaculturists. Geoff Lawton for sure, Ben Falk?, Eric Toenmeiser?, Mark Shepard? you get the idea. Bonus points if the PDC cohort is drawn mostly from permies.com members. (hint hint, pick me, this is my idea)

The 3 instructors team teach a PDC, grab some B roll footage of the class for the intro, but the story starts when at the end of the 72 hours, they divide the class into 3 groups and create 3 designs for Arvin's place or the "Be My Neighbor" parcel (since you already have your design done, right?). This introduces the false drama that tv needs, including dramatic gratuitous music. We'll see bear sign, deer trails, water, degradation, problems that become solutions. I really want to see you find that underground creek. If you've found it, bury it and dig it up again for tv. Only slightly kidding there.

The theme is observation, walking the land, sectors, zones, etc. Walk the Wheaton Lab (or drone fly it) too, showing the opportunities/diffrerences/challenges of each. Illustrate for tv each of the three designs with 3D animations, as the designers talk about what is possible. Kind of like those home decorating shows only trees are growing, water is flowing.

How to decide among the three plans? An American Idol style poll? Supreme dictator? A redesign? An expert panel? Dunno.

Spendy parts will be paying the three instructors their regular rate plus a nuisance/model fee, and the illustration modeling. Training a gapper-type up to use some modeling software could have long term utility for future video, so worth the money to invest in the equipment. Or even hire someone from Hollywood to do the modeling.

End with the start!!! Show with excavators at work. Mud flying. And pie.

Why sea berry? Because Ben Falk is going to bring some. A new project doesn't have a pie, it has to be contributed by those who come before. Ben's going to bring propagated sea berries and some fruit. Or whoever, they bring something from their land to kick start the new project.



 
Julia Winter
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I think one of the best things you've done so far is the innovator's event. If you had $2 million dollars, I would do more things like that. Use the power of the inter webs to find innovators, and bring them to Montana to share their awesome. Hire minions for them to use while they are here, and buy them the materials they need to do and show the awesome.

I'd love to see multiple experts doing large scale earthworks, with big machines and professional operators (bring up one of Geoff's! Bring Geoff himself!) I think that could be very good TV as well.
 
Peter Ellis
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Am I reading the question correctly? What would you do on your land with two million dollars?
Not what sort of TV show would you produce with two million dollars?

There is a tremendous divergence between the two questions. In terms of what you could do on your land, two million is a lot of money. For producing a tv show it is a short, frayed shoe string.

I cannot pretend to imagine what you, Paul Wheaton, might want to do on your land with that much money.

I can imagine what I might want to do were it me with a couple of hundred acres of pretty much raw land to work with and the offer of a two million dollar budget.
I would focus on productive infrastructure systems. A commercial scale oil extraction machine, preferrably something that could work with a variety of feedstock, from sunflower seeds to hazelnuts. The equipment for refining oil into biodiesel. Pretty sure that can be done for well under a hundred grand. A generator that can run on the biodiesel, for electricity when the photovoltaics are not getting it done.
Buy a good size excavator that will run on the biodiesel. Maybe spent about two hundred thousand at this point.
Get a whopping solar photovoltaic system installed, say another hundred thousand there, maybe more.
Electric portable sawmill.
Can you tell that the focus is on the energy systems and tools to allow doing just about anything we might want to do on the land going forward? I see these kinds of tools and equipment as capital investments and the major cost sinks of trying to do anything relatively big with permaculture.

Water pumps and pipe.
Data recording devices and monitoring systems (early on in discussions about wheaton laboratories there were some posts about some independent montioring stations that had moderate range transmission built in and a person could drive by on an atv with a receiver mounted and pick up the data on the fly. I am thinking about that sort of thing, but maybe long range enough that they are all reporting to a stationary base camp receiver). Some serious software for data crunching and generating reports.
Surveying equipment.

And what would I do with all that?
First thing would be distribute the monitoring equipment to cover the property as completely as practical and start getting data. Data for observation purposes in deciding what to do now and for historical purposes later, as a comparative baseline to show how the things we did to the land changed the environment.
Next would be a detailed survey as part of the water evaluation, figuring out keylines and keypoints.
Work up the water management strategy for the entire parcel. Prioritize the implementation, identify elements that can be executed in discrete phases and start with the first phase.
In parallel with the water management design, develop the overall design for the property and coordinate work to be done in implementing the plan in conjunction with the water management phases.

And while we are at it figuring all these things out and starting implementation, bring about a hundred people through for no cost PDC training complete with hands on experience doing these phases.
At the end of twelve months, be able to power all of the onsite systems and equipment without any off site inputs. Have shelter infrastructure for all the equipment in place. Year round housing for (pick a number) people constructed from on site materials - I would allow for bringing in electrical and plumbing supplies from off site.

The details of what one would do with the equipment are so widely variable I think it impractical to try and really go anywhere on that part. The money goes into the tools to empower you to build whatever you can imagine.

I think I would still have enough left at this point to buy a large volume of plants and animals and do a bunch more free PDC programs with people getting the plant and animal systems in place.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I think it would be wise to consider ways to get a lot more. There are probably hundreds of green, homesteader type products that could be featured on a show like this. The makers may be willing to buy add space. Although the production company will want the cash from adds, you could end up with mountains of free stuff.

Solar panels, windmills, electric tractor, cordless tools, surveying equipment, food processing equipment,gardening tools etc... are all useful things that could be advertised while in use and left behind when the party is over. The Solar Living Center has many items to add to the wish list.
 
Dj Wells
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I don't think it is any coincidence the same question was posed to me last week regarding one million dollars...!

I am SO glad you included the WHEELIE POOPER, because I am communicating with a professor of engineering at Narunya University in India to help design sanitation systems to be used there. I am proposing to use Permaculture Design principles as much as possible. Sadly, they are no longer allowing BUCKET latrines, and are making people pay (and take out loans if necessary) to build what ever is approved.:
"Construction of bucket latrines is not permitted in the rural areas. The existing bucket latrines, if any,
should be converted to sanitary latrines and the unit cost and sharing pattern shall be identical to that of
construction of individual house hold latrines."
This is very hard on the poor, especially since they are used to "open defecation" where ever....

While there is provision for an ecological approach, there is no "manually removing" allowed:

"Eco Sanitation structures that allow storage of human excreta and urine, for composting or converting
to usable and safe manure or fertiliser can be taken up under Total Sanitation Campaign. It should,
however, be ensured that it does not involve the practice of manually cleaning and removing human
excreta and is not in contravention of any existing provisions of law."

The last email I wrote I brought up the idea of a portable structure (I'm thinking on the lines of a chicken tractor idea?) so I was THRILLED to see you are thinking about this problem, too. This is a PRESSING problem in India, and elsewhere, so if we Permies can help develop a viable solution now, it could become a standard, perhaps globally. What do you think?
 
Genevieve Higgs
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Small, well thought out things are better than mega-projects. Giving good people a bit of support so that they can make their own efforts go further works well.

So maybe it would be good to find 16 people/groups that have a worthy project that needs about a two year's worth of subsidy to get under way. Said project should need about about $35,000 in capital investment to go forward, and it should be something that could help further our understanding of permaculture type things either by providing a step by step example or by providing good quality data.

These people should be required to provide comprehensive documentation so that others can learn from it. To keep them accountable maybe they could set-up 24 (monthly) objectives. When they hand in that clear 24 month plan they would be given access to $35,000 ear marked for investment in their project. Each month when they handed in the documentation on how they achieved the month's objective or the sincere analysis of why it wasn't possible to plus a revision of the year's plan they would receive a stipend of $2500 to help them with (living?) expenses. At the end of the 2 year long project when they handed in the concluding documentation they would receive another $30,000 if they agreed to be a demonstration site for a predetermined period. Hopefully they would be able to use that last chunk of money as a spring board for further development. Thus each project would get $100,000.

This would be like a gentle support for the people pioneering feasible accessible techniques. You wouldn't get pie in the sky projects because its just not enough funding. But that's good, because any system demonstrated should be the sort of thing adoptable by your average person/group with average finances. Hopefully you could get things like a neighbourhood putting in a grey-water harvesting facility, or a school planting a food-forest, or a family turning half their farm into a swale-powered perennial csa market garden, or a construction guy specializing in installing RMHeaters in everyday homes.

By documentation I could mean videos, blogs, written articles, scientific type measurements etc. Civilized ways of sharing information. If it had to be made into TV format I guess cut the thing down to 12 projects, use the other $800,000 to turn the thing into a contest and a tv-show.
 
jamie michelle
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Hi!

I used to work in media production... just left that world this past spring to dive into my own exploration of permie world.

Just some thoughts to save efforts and direct constructive thought...

... obviously there's contract specifics glossed over, but I wouldn't expect that 2M budget to include any outside production sourced talent, editing or location logistics. Think of it as more of a creative budget.

And the production company would generally have no involvement with the network's advertising buys. Oh wait--just realized you meant featuring small businesses within the parameters of the storyline. I don't know how that would go over from the production company POV, but on Paul's side of things, that vetting, pitching, approval can be a big time suck.

Apologies if this is too obviously but just want to share this is totally a great time to pad out that creative budget with wheaton labs "expendables" of sort. Anything that you've already have/had on a wish/need list should be thrown in there and would be easily justifiable (think of it as rental coverage of a talents tools/kit/space/insurances etc.) though I doubt anyone would bat an eyelash. Just covering your arse will eat up budget quickly!

Jamie
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Here's my ideas:

971) a contest to see who can come up with the best contest
972) burn it, and use it to add carbon to the soil
973) just leave it right out on the field, it will decompose at its own pace when the snow pushes it down
974) the problem is having the money only makes you relevant to the .00002% of viewers who have 2 million dollars in discretionary funds, so if you spend most of it on a contest you're on teh right track and then spend just the part of it on your own stuff that is proportional to what would be of use for others to emulate (farmers or regular people).
975) cute girls in bikinis
976) or not. I don't think there needs to be any manufactured drama. I mean, a lot of people do enjoy watching documentaries. It isn't going to be reality-TV, quite ,but it can have
_some_ viewership.
977) I like the extreme permaculture makeover farm edition,and a home edition too
97 throw 2 million at some single change for a whole city--like buying everyone a rocket mass heater and seeing what they do with it. do they adapt? or bee huts for everyone.
979) trust your intuition. You can get a lot of great ideas from other folks, but that can only be a prompt to spark your own idea, the idea that's your own. You'll know the right idea when you see it.

This thread is so much fun!
 
Richard Gorny
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With 2 millions I would apply scientific research methodology to all permaculture trials and experiments. Results in a form or scientific papers would have been published online in Scientific Journal of Permaculture. I would encourage others to contribute, either by sponsoring similar research and article submission or better yet by giving people opportunity to do some research on site.
 
We should throw him a surprise party. It will cheer him up. We can use this tiny ad:
Permaculture Playing Cards
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/digital-market/digital-market/Permaculture-Playing-Cards
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