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permaculture vs. pictures and poetry  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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A couple of years ago I went to a presentation where the guy had gone to a lot of sustainable farms and taken a lot of pictures - and he was going to talk about that.  I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to find a kindred spirit and gain a lot of knowledge without having to spend weeks visiting a whole bunch of farms. 

I got there and there was a huge turnout.  Like, a hundred people.  Excellent! 

And then the guy presented.  There was nothing about techniques or overcoming challenges.  It was all pictures and poetry.  And the audience ate it up.  Everybody, besides me, thought it was awesome.  The guy got a standing ovation.  I was bored stupid and thought my evening was wasted. 

I presented at the northwest permaculture convergence last weekend and ...  well, I thought that a lot of the presentations were of the "pictures and poetry" persuasion.  My thoughts were:  my presentations were gonna need a much bigger room;  I need to get more of my presentations going or else people are gonna be disappointed. 

I was wrong.  Out of 380 people, about 50 would come to my presentations - a little more than average. 

The keynote seemed really heavy on pictures and poetry.  I was already familiar with the topic.  I guess I was kinda hoping that there would be some more information - but I remember watching and feeling really bored.  And then the speaker went over by 45 minutes and I was feeling a bit pissed, because the speaker was eating into the time for other stuff which could be really substantial stuff.  It seemed disrespectful.  BUT!  The crowd LOVED IT!  They ate up.  To them, it was like the best stuff ever.  And then I heard from people afterward how they thought it was so inspiring and powerful and life changing. 

The stuff that was accomplished was positive and good (portland city repair).  The speaker had 90 minutes and spent the first 80 minutes on pictures and poetry before going into the nitty gritty.  And then that seemed to be stuff that I had heard about several years ago.

I guess my point is that I was feeling ..... different from this crowd.  My passion is a very different direction. 

Many people have told me I would love reading the works of Wendell Berry.  Somebody bought me one of his books.  I tried - but I just couldn't get into it. 

During the keynote, I sat next to somebody that seemed well aligned with my position.  He even fell asleep while everybody else was riveted by the speaker.  So I am not alone. 

I think there is a lot to be said for the beautiful photography and the poetry.  At the same time, I guess my own interests are more in the nuts and bolts of how to we create things that are picture/poetry worthy. 

I guess I just felt a powerful need to express this.  I would like to think that these forums have attracted folks that are well aligned to my way of thinking on this - but I could be mistaken.
 
Joshua Msika
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Hear hear!
 
tel jetson
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was the first guy you mentioned Michael Ableman?

I guess I'm with you on the preference for instruction rather than inspiration, but I understand the tendency toward the latter.

having been involved in this stuff for a while now and having tried to give brief descriptions of what I do, it's become clear that there's a pretty hard limit on how much technique can be effectively shared with a person in a short period of time.  increase the number of people to a room full who all have different levels of experience, and that limit closes in even more, maybe to the point that an hour isn't enough to explain a pretty basic idea.  contrast that with how many pretty pictures could be shown in the same period of time.

for me, something like a permaculture convergence (or a Washington Tilth Producer's Annual Conference to give another example) is less about learning nuts and bolts and more about making connections with like-minded people and being exposed to new ideas that I'll look deeper into afterward.  I would, however, love to encounter a presenter at one of these things who is able to effectively communicate a large amount of technical information in a short amount of time to a large group of people.  I just haven't had the pleasure as of yet.

on the other hand, maybe not telling a person how to do something will lead them to figure out some new way on their own.  showing that something is possible without showing exactly how seems like it could lead to much more really great creativity than showing exactly how a thing can be accomplished.  maybe.  just a thought.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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paul wheaton wrote:


I guess I just felt a powerful need to express this.  I would like to think that these forums have attracted folks that are well aligned to my way of thinking on this - but I could be mistaken.



Yer screwed Paul.  No offense intended but you are screwed.  I am right smack in the middle of your 2 views.  I am an artist, and I prefer the practical approaches to permaculture.  However, I did notice something lacking in my garden, and for me that is art.

To it, I am looking to making my own flowforms ((they are too damn expensive)) & other Vicktor Schauberger forestry ideas onto my property while incorporating sculptures.

 
                                
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I think that presentations or modules should be dynamic and diverse so that people with varied learning styles can pick up on different ideas.

Like you paul, I enjoy presentations that offer strategies, techniques, experiments (data), and the like.
I think that poetry and pictures can be used as a hook or a short entry into a more rich presentation that inspires the learner with knowledge.

As we are entering this vortex of peak oil, peak soil, peak water, etc. it is crucial to create open environments where information and knowledge can be passed through a system. The act of teaching or giving a presentation is a system where the yield of inspired knowledge is only limited by the creativity of the presenter (mollisons principle).

We should not limit presentations to any one teaching style and, instead, be co-creative participants that lead a passionate, unique, and information rich presentation.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I've only seen one permaculturists speak in person and he was very much of the pictures and poetry persuasion.  Pictures and poetry are all well and fine, but personally I am much more interested in the physical actuality, principles, and techniques.  I want to know what someone is DOING to solve problems/opportunities in their life, not just what they are thinking and dreaming about.  I worry that permaculture could just turn into a kind of philosophy without any action behind it (like some forms of religion have become) in which people just sort of think "permacultury thoughts" but don't actually DO anything in their own homes, yards, and communities.   
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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Oh yeah, Paul, have you seen images of the gardens in Findhorn Scotland?  They have a lot of crafty art all over the place, like rocks painted that say, "Love" or "Peace"

Personally, I want to make large sculptures for my property that the permaculture can grow over intentionally.  Something like in Lord of the Rings when Frodo is gathering wood for a fire near a large head sculpture that had fallen and had nature grow over it long ago...  but in ways that help my property.. like the flow forms I mentioned above, or as a retaining wall ((I got a huge drop off issue here)). 

I think the artists are drawn to Permaculture out of the practical nature of things.  They want time to be free to explore life, and permaculture, allows that.  I also believe that artists will naturally be drawn to this out of its counter-culture which many of us believe needs to be more main streamed.  To it, it is the artists and dreamers that will start to explain this to the uneducated masses in what ever ways gets the point across about the the practical needs of permaculture for our planet in general. 

And as a dreamer of dreams, I dream of a world where more people build permaculture in tragedy struck areas instead of the same old tired earth exploitative methods of getting people back on their proverbial feet. 
 
                                                  
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No matter where you go, there you are.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Pakanohida wrote:
Personally, I want to make large sculptures for my property that the permaculture can grow over intentionally


I would love to see that!  I'm an artist by profession and avocation, and I also dream of a sculptural garden, but so far have only had energy for some of the actual gardening part, not getting around to any yard sculpture.  I think anything we can do to make our places more visually attractive is important in helping people become interested in permaculture or other kinds of sustainable gardening.  I think Path to Freedom has been very successful at this - their place is simply gorgeous, as well as very productive.  Parts of it are permacultural.

 
Brenda Groth
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Pictures and Poetry have their place..I guess..but I too find more than a few minutes of it very boring..and I would easily fall asleep.

I want meat.

I want something that I can LEARN from, teach me..I'm kinda like that robot # 5...give me INPUT !!

Sure when I'm bored and tired and don't feel like in depth education, I'll browse through a picture book, basically to get ideas, when I don't feel like reading..but If i want to read, i want good information, good instruction..and if i PAY for an education or go somewhere to learn, I want to learn.
 
Travis Philp
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It would be nice if speakers could give some mention of whether their presentation will be introductory or technical. I suppose that is all relative though... One persons fluff is another persons fancy.
 
                          
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I couldn't agree more! While pictures and Poetry are "nice" I would rather put theory to practice devising sound methods of executing Permaculture that can in turn help starving people around the world starting with my local neighborhood.

Paul, I am an aspiring "Permaculturist" but I have no patience for frill and fluff. I want to learn about the technical stuff, fruit tree guilds and the how and why they work. Swales and imprinting for desert application. Sustainable living...I am having a hard time, breaking into the culture. Seems like the only way is to take a PDC or own some property.

I have found a local community garden that rents out space (owned by a church) I am in the Salad bowl of the world, Salinas, Ca and the church maybe has 8-10 plots (1/8th of their total space available) rented, at $25 a year per plot this seems sad at best. So chances of meeting like minded people interested in Permaculture seem unlikely.

Any advice would help immensely. I have even considered moving to Montana since I have family that lives a few hours East of Missoula. Land is relatively cheap compared to California. Anyone that isn't into spiritual dancing and lovey dovey hand holding, need an intern that is willing to get in there and get dirty and make things happen.

-Chris

 
paul wheaton
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I'm glad to hear I am not alone.

I think the art stuff makes it all worthwhile.  Gathering from a few different posts, I think you all have better expressed what I'm feeling:  if I'm gonna travel 500 miles and take five days off from my other stuff, I think pictures and poetry make a great frosting for the cake, but I really want a full meal along with cake and frosting.

I just see that a majority of the people there want nothing but frosting all day every day.  And some are okay with nothing but cake and frosting all the time.  It is a minority that want meat and veggies to be a majority of what they eat and a little cake with frosting.  

I'm having a hard time accepting this as the truth, but there it is.  

I'm trying to think of a way to express this ....   maybe "most permaculture folks like to observe the beauty of permaculture more than understand how the beauty comes to pass"?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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paul wheaton wrote:I was kinda hoping that there would be some more information


Cyberneticists (an endangered academic discipline) define information as "A difference that makes a difference." (Gregory Bateson, in particular.)

Poetry may, or may not, include information. IMOO, this depends on whether the poetry is viewed as art to be appreciated superficially, or as a segment of life to be deeply experienced...but I digress.

Presentations like Darren Doherty's, by contrast, are chock full of information. The information is packed so tightly, it runs over into sarcacstic criticism. He openly rebukes our neighbors for buying in hay that poisons their land, when they might just as cheaply build a dam at the keypoint. It's uncomfortable, and his dry laughter is a symptom of this discomfort.

Your style of (paraphrasing an acronym your posts often includes) obnoxiously opinionated information doesn't leave an audience room to wriggle out of an imperative to change. Aesthetic appreciation and nebulous commitment to statements of values might absorb all the content of photos and poetry, and people might feel a little uncomfortable without that cushion between your presentation and their habits.
 
tel jetson
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disclaimer: I've never heard you speak, paul, so what follows will be conjecture.  and I didn't converge.  I don't intend to suggest that you're less than perfect, just that it's possible you might be.  feel free to administrate if you need to.


I can think of a few alternative explanations for why your nutbolt talks were not as popular as you might have hoped or expected.  again, these are speculation, just possibilities, and not intended as criticism because I am not in a position to critique.

1. your style does have a reputation and it isn't a good one.  folks who have heard you speak before were not impressed and spread the word.  could be because you're too concrete and don't include enough dazzling photography.  could be because you're abrasive.

2. you don't have a reputation.  this website is popular, but maybe in the eyes of convergers you are not well enough established as a practitioner of permaculture to be worth their time.  how many of the structures you spoke about have you built?  how many examples of doing away with irrigation do you have to your name?  looking at the schedule, it seems you were scheduled opposite some recognized names with impressive pedigrees.  you could have been the best speaker in the place, but that might not have mattered if nobody had heard of you.

3. it's possible folks just weren't interested in your topics.  what the hell is a "WOFATI", anyway?  they had choices to make.  if the title of the workshop and a short description were all folks had to go on, it might not have been obvious that your workshops would be more nutbolty than any others.  and maybe taking a risk on something unknown didn't seem worth it.

maybe (probably) it was something else entirely that hasn't been mentioned yet.  were there feedback forms at the convergence?  those might not be terribly reliable, but they could give you a little bit of insight into what folks were thinking.  I just don't think it's safe to assume that most everybody else is about "frosting".  that may turn out to be the case, but have you considered other possibilities?

paul wheaton wrote:
I'm having a hard time accepting this as the truth, but there it is.

I'm trying to think of a way to express this ....   maybe "most permaculture folks like to observe the beauty of permaculture more than understand how the beauty comes to pass"?


maybe it's not truth.
 
rose macaskie
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Its a bit odd to be against all frosting. It intrigues me psychiatrically.
i know a transvestite who told me she did not like women. Starnge to dress up everyday as somthign you dont like, i wqnted to ask her about it but didnot i will next tiem i see her., though i suppose she is like a woman who does not like women which is not so strange.
  dDd your parents despise the pretty pretty?
    Is it unmanly. It is to be an incomplete person to deny your female part or your pamale one, are theses not some of the sort of ideas that might be turned over by those ein permaculture who say that if you right love on the tube carrying water to a plant the plant does better.
Do you dislike all types of pretty or only a few.

i have had people who believe in one sort of poetry  try to manipulate me through my liking of poetry, poetry in  in a symbolic sense, nice ideas. Manipulation of your emotions puts one off anything definitavely.
  People can try to attach the admiration you have to one thing to their thing and try to make yo feel you really fetl that about a different set of ideas.  Pretend that you felt enthusiastic about somethign that was different. i have had religouse people do that to me, you start of with a film that can make you feel enthusiastic about the religiouse  for their extreme gentleness and forgiveness like the film "We're no ANgels" with robert de Niro and then they try to teach you to be anti homosexuals or sex before marriage and they are a group that harrasses people who don't agree with them or isolate them though the are more likely to harras the unprotected like me than a young person who has a family that protect them .so pretty violent and they will and try to convince you that you are turning against the feelings that a you felt when you whatched the film if you dont like all their goings on. That is terrifying, it makes you feel as if your enthusiasm for something might lead you to participating in something like the procedures of the  klue klux klan, like ppppersecution of homosexuals for example or of infidels that include protestans .
    they attack of other ways of thinking . I had heard of the communist mind washing people, i never thought too experience mind washing myself. It is a sickening mind game that puts anyone off anythign pretty pretty, at leasst you can not ever mention such things to people who will use your emotions to change your deepest convictions.
    THeir arguement is that of ghost whisperer, that  getting people to heaven is the real kindness and the God  that allows people into hevean is a tough one, so if they dont absolutely tear people to peices themselves these people will go to hell. They are mad and sadistical, lots of religions have done some very brutal things to get people into heaven. They are the people who directed francos spain and the brutal south american tyrants wone of the ideas that is not mentioned in such seductive films as "we're no angels" is that it is better to sarifice a chunk of people for the salvation of the main bulk. hence the south amreican tyrants i suppose. 

People like art i don't like. Often the art people like is conected with reinforcement of the ideas of thier own social group, parents may say that people, who like the pretty are weak or some such if the parents dont like the people who have the pretty thigns or if they dont like some weak ones who as well sa weak like pretty things they will say they dont like the pretty beause they dont like the week and warn you off all their charicteristics not just the one they dont like my father has a thing about those who have beards. 
why do you think art is about the pretty pretty any way. WHat about the art of Soulages or of giacommetti? or that of herge?+ç maybe some one who freaked you out liked pretty gardens. 
 
rose macaskie
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    What about Sepp holzers touches of prettyness i bet you can take them. WHat about his lupins and gentians and those strange and way out wooden constructions round his house and his ponds and fancy drainage system wich gurgles as the water goes down it?
to understand whats up with you an dprettyness you would have to decide when you can take it and when you cant then you ccan narow it down to some types of prettyness or maybe it will be the ocasion when pretyness occurs and not the pretty ness tha tgets you maybe you hate tea on the lawn. after all you female side seems to be quite strogn your ready symathies for a tiny house and your liking of people.
  As to how many people listen to you time is really importnt to get anywhere excceot for picaso and one or two others. People dont talk of endeavor and persistence for nothing. I heard a journalist say of Rafa Nadal the tennis player, tha t it was nice to see somone who had got there through endeavor and not just because he wore a nice suit and looked the part.  Iwould have thought it took a long time of taking and then trying to work out what works to get good at lecturing. ONe hting that works is to study the mony python lot an dpickup som einterestng gesture that hold peoples atention for instance.
    Stress and coping and friends are a big tussle  for most adult adults, that would give them a big pull. You had advice on what to do when you were new somwhere, maybe you could find your own place in the poetic side of permaculture sepp sleeps on the ground in commun with nature or some such doesn't he? 
  Your diagrams were very chunky, my son dew chunky drawings as a toddler, the outline of the heads he drew would be just inside the borders of the page. i was so impressed by such a bold way of drawing. rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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Also i dont know how anyone an answer you if you aren't more specific on what the poetry bit was about.  Ted hughes or eleanor farjon. rose
 
                              
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Couple of thoughts..

Convergences should be a convergence of diverse ways of sharing..  Skillshare, stories, networking - all part of why we should bother coming together to be part of a tribal potlatch gathering..  All have their place and make it a rich "permacultural" experience (diverse, complex, relational, etc.).

Re pics and poetry: Only if there is a story..  We got stories programmed into us as our way of making sense out of the world..  It if ain't a story, but just a show-off of purty pics, then it should be pasted on the wall someplace.. If it's poetry, then I'd rather go hear it at the Bohemian Coffee Bean (or wherever that place is where they read poetry in Poulsbo, WA)..

Yeah, I confess, it was me who snatched a sweet little nap there.. Until a rude (and large) elbow in the shoulder shook me from bliss..
 
rose macaskie
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  Paul WHeaton I thought you were god at the light side that would attract people and keep the ball rolling,  Your videos are good at that.
maybe you shoul dleave arguement in the forums they always make interesting reading i used to listen to foot ball to hear the digds the commentators have at each others. 
      If the heavy side attracted fity people well thats something . it is a thing that might snowball. It is important, the lack of technical knowledge is an important part of bad farming or of how easily the chemical companies and such can manipulate farmers to buy more products than they need or to convince them that adequate amount of chemicalls are the only way. They dont go half way like use the chemicals and a goood soil because that retains more water they go the whole hog and pretend there is no reason for anything but chemicals.
I dont knoow how to measure caring for the fate of others, obviously lots of people die and lose their houses everyday still i care about so many more peple losing their housesand getting displaced than can be considered inevitable. l have hated being away from home, I cant understrand the traditional attitude to what women like to talk about here in Spain,  that is thrity years of looking back and look at all the displaced for floods this year, too many people, who will lbe displaced and as it is caused by global warmign it is lkely to happen again every year. it is not a disaster it is the new climate does pakistan have to plan its agriculture from now on around very heavy rains every moonsooon may be coooecting water and growin gin hte dry season instead of in the wet one and a lot of earth works to reduce flooding. .  agri rose macaksie.
 
Matt Ferrall
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This is the first world.People will eat frosting until its not possible anymore.Pre historic cultures that had Art for Arts sake generaly had slaves.The earth is our slave(oil) and our food comes from the third world.Artsy stuff is great if your growing your needs."talk is cheap" is my usual response to dreamers.Also,the doers are not at the convergence because representing reality is boring when compared to  an actuall consistant relationship with ones landscape.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Mt.goat wrote:
.Pre historic cultures that had Art for Arts sake generaly had slaves.


I'm not convinced the Australian Aborigines or the people of Lascaux had slaves.  But they did some amazing art.

Most non-civilized cultures have plenty of free time for art, music, hanging out, without slaves. 
 
rose macaskie
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some philosopher said that in what is caled primitive societies athetics, religon and work were, are, intertwined. You paint your body,pray a before a tough hunting trip, and pray during it for the spirit of hte animal to accept their death, for luck and allsort of things.
    Yuo sit apart from your family the day you cut down a tree, to stop the maybe angry spirit of the tree affecting them, psychology coping with your own destructiveness technics, religiona and art.  the philosopher idea if i remember right  that now man is divided or you plough or you paint and the plougher loses the satisfactions of painting and the painter is treated as a mere creator of fluff, not true if you live in the art world but in other parrelel universes true .
      Look up Soulange if you want to see sume dramatic and black painting.
     In india the tradition of art for everyman is alive they paint trees to honor them make their own decorative mud furniture paint beautiful signs the level of ability in art in th epopulation is very high with us there si a whole question of beign a genius and we tie are self into knots over art only the moct new and able is accepted.
  i think i am going to go on about this in the trivia section to touch on how it is connected to sexism. agri rose macaskie.
 
Lf London
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paul wheaton wrote:
I presented at the northwest permaculture convergence last weekend and ...  well, I thought that a lot of the presentations were of the "pictures and poetry" persuasion.   My thoughts were:  my presentations were gonna need a much bigger room;   I need to get more of my presentations going or else people are gonna be disappointed. 


Roll on! Kudos!


During the keynote, I sat next to somebody that seemed well aligned with my position.  He even fell asleep while everybody else was riveted by the speaker.   So I am not alone. 


ROFL!

LFLondon/dirtfarmer
 
rose macaskie
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If you are bought up with a person who admires art the conversation on the subject is all about how artists  are able to help us understand our world or how they participate in making sure no silly ideas get taken too far in a country, like how they oppose communism or fascism or dictator ships and to find yourself among those who despise art is strange.
  The theory in the part of the world full of art supporters , is that you have politicians and the religious to keep things on an even keel but you also have journalists and writers of the novel and painters and all these are necessary to comment on when things are getting a bit exaggerated and wild in the political world say.
    Van Gogh’s paintings are about poverty for example, there is a beautiful and famous painting called "the angelus" by Millais of two healthy looking, well rounded, clean, well dressed and ironed, country folk praying the angelus in the fields at dawn. Van Gogh painted his own version of the poor “the potato eaters”, in a smoky badly lit interior, some cadaverous badly dresses people who look exhausted eating potatoes. Van Gogh was concerned with the realities of poverty which were terrible.
  Van Gogh also paints loneliness, isolated figures in a park and the inmates of a mental hospital and madness itself, in his a bit freakily whirling pictures. He also tried to dignify the middle class and poor by doing serious portraits of the people in his village, except Van Gogh experiments in color and brushstrokes make theses paintings look less formal than your normal portraits.
  Toulouse Lautrec paints the miseries of prostitution as in his humiliating painting of prostitutes lined up waiting in  their shirts waiting for their medical inspection French prostitutes had to have a medical inspections as a measure against for syphilis.
    Toulouse and van Gogh lived in the time of Zola who wrote book about the poor that he meant to be scientific rigorouse an pictures of the evils of poverty. They are also books in which the poor are not my good fellow type poor i bit stupid but are rounded and noble and intelligent people you can absolultely identify your most serious self with, not just your silly self. which was a break through in literature  as far as i am concerned, the poor in many books are like sam of sam and frodo not quite up to the level of the richer characters. I have not checked  out all the other French literature of the time rigorously to see if he is really the first. His books do expose the evils of poverty and the need to get rid of it. Some people glorify poverty which tends to perpetuate it.
Victorian books were so important in stopping the poverty that existed then or to outlaw the possession of slaves.

  Henry James writes about power struggles in among the well to do, not so much power struggles as about the manipulative and their victims, which for me was also a break through though in all truth authors describe squashing people all the time. In Washington Square, instead of the good doctor of your victorian novel being good, he turns out to be, though a good doctor who gives good advice and leaves a prescription, he is a person who is on the family level insensitive and so vain that he can’t love the fat and apparently stupid, so he is unkind and crushing to his nice sensitive but plump and over dressed daughter. In real life the dominating tend to be disguised as nice normal people as they are in Jame’s books. Artists are meant to give insights into the human world that allow us to evaluate our situation better. I have lived a while and if people want to say real life is more real or some such, most people don’t tell me much about their life but artist have sat down and written down their life and opinions.  Their observations on life, they tell me what they think something abnormal in real life. If mt goat told me his life, the ideas he had been taught and his conclusions, he would do what a novelist does and people are bought up with very different ideas about what is right, and it is very surprising to learn how different their ideas our from ones own. People in real life are as mean as anything telling me things. I have not found that interaction in real life is half as informative as that through the written word.
    It is harder to get very involved emotionally with films as they are quicker than books, some one dies in a film and the run up to their death is short and it is quickly forgotten but it takes yuo hours to read a book so you have a much longer run up to such emotional events and you get more emotionally involved with the characters who are also more fully described.

      I learnt a bit about advertising, the use of images is not just pretty pretty, it involves a serious and cold blooded calculation about what will work to promote your own bitch, to use the language of Ieshuh Griffin, meaning you own project, which may be only soppy project like the desire to reduce all the displacement that global warming is going to  create through flooding. I accept that there are disasters but they should be reduced as far as possible and the political situation in other countries is something hard to deal with without colonialism but we can do something about the green house gasses.

  Art is like the computer, people mystify it a lot, people talk as if it were very complicated, it is not, everyone understand if a person is painting nightmares or a ideal landscape or talking of good manners like Jane Austen does and considering how brutal people get a good doses of why you should be nice is not small thing. Her lonely fanny price is in the house of her uncle were as a poor relation she is almost invisible except to run errands for others and it is about  how important as a consequence the attention of her cousin was, who looked after her well being a little bit, making sure she got some exercise and talking to her. Which is to say, a book about how important it is to include everyone. You can find faults with all the writers, sometimes Jane Austen’s message is not so nice, still read a lot of writers and you will be able to compare and contrast a lot of opinions so imbalances should iron out. agri rose macaskie.   
 
Burra Maluca
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I'm totally with Paul on this - I've no use for all the frills and find them distracting.  About the only poem I have much sympathy with goes like this...

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree


Which about sums it for me.  Beauty is all around us, no need to waffle about it and imitate it.  Plenty of need to do our bit to allow nature to create more though.  A well designed system bursting with life is art enough and I actually pity people who can't appreciate it.  I guess we all find art in different ways...
 
Lf London
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cestin wrote:
Convergences should be a convergence of diverse ways of sharing..  Skillshare, stories, networking - all part of why we should bother coming together to be part of a tribal potlatch gathering..  All have their place and make it a rich "permacultural" experience (diverse, complex, relational, etc.).

Chuck:
Just looked at your Bios Design website. Amazing! I always wanted to have a permaculture nursery with
all sorts of common and exotic edible and landscape plants, local and international. I was a landscape contractor for many years and acquired an interest in such things. Now a market farmer. I sure would like to order some of the fruits in your catalog to plant on my farm here in NC. The Russian princepia sinensis looks especially interesting. If watered adequately would it produce here in central NC zone 6-7?

Lawrence
Venaura Farm
http://venaurafarm.blogspot.com
http://ibiblio.org/permaculture
http://ibiblio.org/marketfarming
 
Lf London
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I love art and music and think they have a place in the permascape; garden sculpture, music to listen to while you're gardening,
and much more inside the house, shop and garden shed. The zone 1 landscape should be a work of art in itself, spiritually and emotionally nourishing like a Zen garden or an English cottage garden or something abstract and random or wild and native.

A serious convergence should be fun, educational and stimulating, creative and contribute to a synergy of ideas and possibilities
for future use by all. It should exist to get work done. Advance permaculture for all participants and
within the bioregions the come from, network and lay plans for the next convergence.

I used to create little 9X11 pen and pencil stream of consciousness abstract scribblings to suggest ideas for landscape designs I might
create for clients or for my own use at home. 
 
Lf London
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Art, and poetry, presented at a convergence (especially ones which participants might have travelled long distances to get to)
should be informational, stimulating thoughts and creative ideas about the subject of the convergence, i.e. permaculture.
Not art for art's sake or art distantly related to permaculture, art that IS permaculture, in a sense. For me an example of that
is the beautiful logo for the Norwegian Permaculture Society's website, created years ago by Christer Ellingsen. It is easy to keep that image in the forefront of my mind, to recall for a (permacultural) reality check when I need it. A few pieces of art like that can go a long way, same with poetry or prose or technical lectures, how to do permaculture workshops and the like. Its all art, it reflects life,
it provides connectedness, is a breath of fresh air when you need it. It is packed with meaning, a concentrated creativity engine,
a source of life itself, sustenance, spiritual and intellectual. This forum is becoming something like that.
At an important convergence, presentations that include art and poetry should not take up more than 10% of the time involved.
Put the art out as sideshows in the lobby or in adjoining rooms for people to appreciate when and if they are so inclined before, during or after the presentations: projector & screen for media, earphones for sound plus printouts to take home. To me that would have much greater impact and meaning for attendees, something to take home and remember.
 
Matt Ferrall
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I wasnt trying to dis creative expression or art in the service of the culture.I do feel there is a current imbalance in how much art is currently consumed by the culture instead of reality.Represented experience takes the place of the real.
  Another reason the presentations are that way is that presenters are often promoters and not doers and the world needs both but doers tend not to present and presenters tend not to do.
 
rose macaskie
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mt goat, people don’t tell me things, it is interesting being with them, if you aren't you don’t learn to push and shove, and there is that agreeable buzz when you are with others good vibs and all sorts of vibs  but they don’t tell me their ideals and their life, they don’t help to stop me being ignorant and of very little experience in knowing lot of things external to my life but that may be important to me at some moment  and men have traditionally gone out to the pub more, so exchanged knowledge with others more. So they have more possibilities for knowing a bit.
Being ignorant is to the advantage of those in power and so to down reading is to strengthen the most powerful, to play into their hands. I read a good part of a book by Least Heat Moon called “Blue Highways” and he was always thrilled to find lots of people who knew such a lot in poor places in America.
  The powerful do say I should be here look how ignorant these people are, so to pretend that knowledge is not important is to pull the wool over the eyes of others. The powerful base most of their claim to respect on having or  pretending to have more knowledge than others also they can cheat others if they know more.

    If you are poor you can say that it is enough to live your life but if you are rich you have a positive or negative affect on the poor so there is no excuse for an ignorance that probably allows you to be more brutal about the lives of others being ignorant is merely irresponsible among the rich. it gives them a lot of lee way to  decide that what they do is not really too bad.
    Writers write about poverty and about those  in countries we don’t know,  so that no one can tell us lies about other peoples and people do tell lies, politicians do and the religious do too, to back up their own religion though it causes racism something they usually pretend to be against. Solzenitzkin is a writer who brought the difficulties of life in the soviet union home to us for example. How they often live in one room sharing lavatories with other families and without basic commodities like lavatory paper I have read Frank Tuohy not Solvenitzkin on all this. Solzenitzkin talks of the what life is like in Siberia for those banished to this inhospitable part of Russia for their political ideas, the program the wire tells us about life in the poorer bits of America as does the film “Freedom writers” with Hilary swank as the heroine so we know what people in those barriers are up against when they try to bring up their children to be useful citizens.
The country can be so tremendously pretty that it is not surprising that country folk despise the need for more pretty and also out in the fields there maybe prettiness but if you dont give a damn about decoration the farm yard and house were women and children spend more time might not be so pretty.
Ther are people who make use of prettiness like the church full of pretty statues and it helps them if the population has nothing pretty at home so they call buying anything pretty tremendously frivolous.

      Women’s job traditionally, has been,  is still, in great part the psychological welfare of the group, the children and the old so not  living in something that look like an interrogation centre is part of making people well and happy as is being their to talk to them instead of rejecting most conversation as not dignified enough for such a regal person and talk can be educational as well as fun and to just show an interest in the other and their company to make them feel wanted.
If you have to push through a deal with another man then you should not show weakness but if you are being friendly  admitting that you to have difficulties with things so others don’t feel overwhelmed by you then admitting weaknesses is more logical, you might say, “I had to argue it out with Obama, can you ¡magine meeting Obama, I was so nervous”, this way of talking is not silly it is just the right one for a very different end, the sort of goal that women traditionally have and if they are bad at adapting and using a more appropriate one with someone they have to strike an important deal with, well men are bad at adapting too they can be overbearing with the weak and dependent on them, as well as the poor or even in bed and  that is a bit of a kill joy to love making people talk as if it was the orgasm that was an indication of how satisfying such activities are I think that it I show amusing the whole activity has been after all orgasms can be reached by purely mechanical means the difficult thing is that it should be fun, a fun intercommunication as a conversation can be fun or a bit heavy. If one member of the partnership is trying to establish themselves as dominant and a very serious, weighty, person this activity is unlikely to be much fun which is tremendously unsatisfying.
    Women wear pretty clothes, pretty clothes make people feel at home, while men are maybe not try to make people feel at home but to be taken seriously to uphold at all moment the aspect of their the weight and importance and so their right to take a part in all the more important decisions of their group and to keep the family in order, and one way men have had of keeping the whip hand has been to make women’s part look silly. Decoration also establishes other things like we are intelligent we like sensible colors so pretty so as not to depress small children and serious enough to give weight to the family it is more complicated than it appears to be though tradition makes it easy.
    Mens things can be pretty I like the aesthetic of some lorries and boats are often lovely, the smart is taking over in boats and lorries and I am not a fan of the smart, they now look like cigarette packets.
    Women teach children to talk using short sentences that accompany actions, for example . “I am going to put on your shoe. Where shall i put it? On your foot. I am dressing you. Time to get dressed, so teaching  the verbs dress and put and this lesson is repeated every time they dress the child with a good mother at this part of mothering  children get a full time language class of the most efficient. “They are red shoes, pretty shoes, teaching adjectives. etc., and baby talk is ridiculize.  Pretty things are radicalized womens jobs are radicalized the part of them that is intelligent and patient is not acknowledged so language classes are baby talk and prettiness is frivolousness, men are very mean and they are said to be nobler and juster than women. If men can establish that their work is harder and more boring and intelligent they can ask women to spend leisure time doing what men like best instead of what women like they establish their right to all the treats.
    Being pretty is to sacrifice some of your chances of being taken seriously and having a part in things, in preference for lightening up the situation and creating less aggressive spaces. Women terrible lose out in the being in the swing of things, for me it has been so boring not to be in the swing of adult things, though I do like being with children.

.. Boys in school get so radicalized by each other for any behavior that is not masculine that it is not surprising that they so despise the parts of human activities that are traditionally female. Such as moral support for the husbands plans and the taking on of jobs in the home that could reduce the time men dedicate to their careers so they have time to make their way in life.
      When the young start their professional life their careers it may well be possible to call them unreal, people don't have Sepp Holzers discipline and knowledge when they start out, and support at this moment is very helpful for men  and men pretend that support is silly and false. They tend to reduce the importance of that support. It is what has allowed them so often to get on, it is maybe more manly to be frank about each other than to support others through all the doubts you have of their abilities but it is not maybe the best thing for society. If we don’t recognize that what women traditionally did and its importance, we are denying the importance of support and it will be  harder for a country to have a useful work force.
    The support included doing the manual work at home so the man could dedicate all his attention to getting on. Allowing him to chose friends that will be useful to him, which means the sacrifice of a support group for the woman, there is not usually leisure time enough for two groups of friends. agri  rose macaskie.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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Ludi wrote:
I'm not convinced the Australian Aborigines or the people of Lascaux had slaves.  But they did some amazing art.

Most non-civilized cultures have plenty of free time for art, music, hanging out, without slaves. 


Glad someone said it. 
 
Matt Ferrall
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Ha ha.Please note that I spelled art with a capital A.This refers to art as a specialized task within a culture.The Pacific NW tribes that had totem carvers had slaves.Tribes here that had no art specialists,no totems,no stylized art. had an artistic craftsman class and no slaves.My point was really to express an imbalance in our culture.My community is very art friendly.If they spent just 10% of the energy they spend on the arts on permaculture,we would be the most permied spot on the continent.Show has replaced substance.Representation replaces reality.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm not good at "reading into" what people write with special personal use of words like "Art" with a capital A.

I am not going to try to decode what folks say in their own personal language.  If you're trying to say something, please say it clearly and please do not laugh at me if I do not understand your personal language.

 
jacque greenleaf
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I am glad Paul said it - this was my first convergence, and it did not leave me eager for a next one.

Although I would not have posed the issue as art vs. doing permaculture. After all, one definition of art *is* the doing of something well.

To me, it was more like the difference between lower division intro classes and the upper division lab classes that prepare a person for graduate-level independent research (yes, I spent a lot of time at colleges).

To get specific, one of the sessions I attended was about mushrooms in the permaculture landscape. I was expecting hear about the best mushrooms to cultivate in an outdoor setting, how to build mushroom patches, various examples of what works and what doesn't, etc. The presenter was knowledgable, well-spoken, and had good slides. BUT - it was mushrooms 101. About the last 3 minutes of his talk, he showed a few slides of mushrooms in garden beds. In other words, he ended right where I wanted him to start. Very frustrating. The audience loved it.

I would have loved to attend Paul's chicken session, but it was not on the schedule and I had signed up for kitchen duty that evening. I enjoyed the ad hoc lunch talk about greenhouses, but I am half deaf and the noisy background made it very difficult to concentrate. And I would have loved to see slides and hear about what worked and didn't work in a given situation, and why. And so it went.

We all have to start where we are, and it is a very good thing that so many people are needing/wanting to learn the basics. But for those of us who already have the basics overview and are wanting to see how other people put things into practice, sitting through the basics again is of limited value. I think if I were organizing a convergence, I would strive to make sure that the speakers and the attendees were more clear on the purposes of each individual session/workshop, and would make sure that there was a balance of "basic" and "advanced". Or else make the sessions longer.

On a personal note, I don't think there is anything wrong with Paul's presentation style. Yes, he can be a know-it-all, but I want to hear a talk given by someone who knows more than I do about something. Why else would I go?
 
Matt Ferrall
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Ive not been to impressed with portland city repair myself.Perhaps the reason there was so little substance is that there isnt much there.Its been awile since I checked out their stuff but I still make jokes about people who think cob benches and painting stuff brightly and book exchange shacks near intersections really is a radical change.But it sure feels good to be/see positive pollyana thoughts and delude yourself about the severity of our situation.
 
paul wheaton
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I think the amazing thing that portland city repair has accomplished is getting neighbors to meet - and get to know each other well enough to form neighborhood bonds. 

I think this is a big problem in the US, and PCR is doing big things to fix that.  Good for them!

 
Matt Ferrall
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Networking is important but like art is currently imbalanced in that networking has become an end initself.Can we network our way to a better future?On the backs of others dirty work perhaps.
 
tel jetson
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what I like about City Repair is that it gives folks pause on the topic of who is in control of public space.  that might not seem like such a big deal, but it can open the doors to the sort of questions that will lead to much more meaningful change.  once folks understand that they can have a lot more power over their built environment than they thought, they are much more likely to embrace things like urban permaculture.

yeah, it isn't an end in and of itself.  City Repair patting itself on the back and resting on its laurels doesn't do anybody any good.  seems like a good jumping off point, though.  I also like the group Reclaim the Streets for similar reasons.
 
Allison Rooney
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I can relate to Paul's sentiments...though if the target audience for the convergence was early 20-somethings, then it seems to me that visual, dynamic and easily digested basic introductory information is appropriate.  However, there is a real lack of concrete information out there on the exactly-how-to-do-things side of permaculture...my speculation on the root of Paul's impatience is based on my own feelings...we need concrete information, YESTERDAY, about how to set up permaculture-based locally located food production systems.  In many ways the time for dreaming has to be secondary to the time for just getting the work done to create this localized food security for communities everywhere.  Our situation is dire, our culture is crumbling, our governments corrupt and bankrupt, our stolen energy supplies morally implicate all of us in murder.  Right? 
I think people need to know about things like earthworks and their costs, how to get on a piece of land permanently, which species and specific varieties of perennial edibles are appropriate to specific bioregions, which kind of mushrooms can be inoculated successfully in various naturalized habitat conditions, the pros and cons of livestock, how to organize and engage with your community, and more.  As someone with a background in art, and a middle ground as a landscaper/gardener, and a present ground as a market farmer on cheap but barren land in Montana, I can relate.  To take a marginal piece of ground and transform it, which is what most regular folks may be faced with thanks to prohibitive land costs, takes a plethora of resources, time and money being the major ones...I attended part of a PDC a few years ago, expecting to be informed on how to map a piece of land, how to build earthworks, how to incorporate livestock for fertility building (among other functions)...the nuts and bolts...but instead found that what I was in for was a wandering essay on a little of this, a little of that, and you could draw your permaculture plan like a kindergartener, and that was just fine. Asking nuts and bolts questions on my part soon drew the overt ire of the teacher. Really?  Can anyone in the bigger culture take permaculture seriously when this is what its teachers teach?  Permaculture IS dreamy, and beautiful, but it also has to be practical and mesh with the reality of our currency.  If you can't leave a PDC being able to draw an accurate set of plans, how can you accurately estimate the costs of the work you desire or require to undertake?  Transforming a piece of land requires planning...money...a heck of a lot of stuff like tools and expensive machinery...basic knowledge of forage species, grasses, legumes (clovers)...animal husbandry skills/knowledge...growing/farming knowledge...building skills/knowledge...financial discipline and business skills...these facts need to be presented, because the pictures might inspire, but the hard, tedious, and repetitive reality is that what happens when you try to make a living from permacultural land management can soon tarnish the early romanticism at the expense of the long term goal of making permaculture embedded in our culture.  Its not just in PDCs either, my local university recently initiated a Sustainable Ag and Bioenergy Systems degree program, but the students don't even know who Eliot Coleman is...the guru of nuts and bolts...they spend the money they could use as a downpayment on land learning how to navigate a bureacracy, and emerge without understanding how much it costs to start a farm, or how much they could feasibly net doing it...ridiculous.  So they end up disillusioned, burned out, and later on, probably jobless.  I did get alot of stuff out of the PDC, but missed the practical information.  If you aspire to make a living growing and selling stuff but have little money to spend, the nuts and bolts are crucial.  I learn alot from two publications:  Growing for Market and Acres USA.  Both publications also sell books...and some really fantastic ones, especially Acres. 
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