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paul wheaton
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And I am Paul Wheaton.

In all seriousness, I am a bit baffled as to why anyone would want to hang out with me, come to my place or attend a class that I teach. 

People seem to insist that i go to charm school - but if I did that, then these annoying people would want to be around me more.  Yuck!


----

We wrapped up our PDC the other day and I went around the room and asked each person to name one thing they liked and one thing they think could use improvement.   One guy seemed to suggest that I needed a full on personality change.   Apparently, he didn't like the way I talked to ... anybody. 

So ...   I think I can read into that that we have different styles of communication.   Through all of my efforts in permaculture, I have recently run past the 100 million mark.   I have uttered "permaculture" to over 100 million people.  And along the way, a few people seem to think I'm cool and a few others have suggested that I'm some sort of monster.   The people with "monster" on their lips seem to have arrived at that conclusion by commanding me to do something.  And I didn't.  Therefore:  monster, asshole, dick, douchebag, etc.    It really makes me think of the essay I wrote all of human history and 90% of human psychology fits into one sentence and here is the sentence:

Most people NEED to hear their own opinion from all other people and are frustrated that they don't have the might to make it "right." 


This one guy had been insisting for days that I need to obey what he tells me.   And if I take what he says and rephrase it in my head as a suggestion:  the suggestion doesn't even make sense to me.  Of course, he feels pretty strongly that I don't need to understand it, I just need to obey.

Back to the last day of the PDC:   I suggested that rather than changing my personality, that maybe the thing I should do is to put a bit more effort into letting people know more about me when they are thinking of buying a PDC ticket.  People that agree with his analysis will then avoid the pain that he is feeling.   I felt that my suggestion was more plausible and he did seem to go for it.  And this thread is an attempt to satisfy that guy.

Here is two and a half hours of about 150 people suffering through a presentation of mine:




And here are some related threads with lots of commentary:

paul wheaton is impossible to work with

paul needs to change

breakfast with spiderman

Wheaton's Law of Reflective Douchebaggery

be nice; don't be a dick; be a dick

being an asshole is relative and subjective

respect: a critical ingredient for community

Wheaton's Law of Subjective Crazy

And during the PDC, I felt compelled to write this essay: bulldozer bumper cars


Well, the guy that desperately needed me to obey his stuff couldn't wait for me to write this - so he is warning the world about me!



Oh yeah, the sweet and quiet Nick Fouch.   He came here for a week before the PDC started.  Everything seemed perfectly fine.   He even appeared in a couple of my videos, including this one:



Such smooth and happy times. 

So, what happened?  How did things change?  Nick and Esther arrived and things seemed a bit off.   ?? 

In her video, Esther said that I invited her out.   But actually, she wrote to me and asked if she could attend the PDC and make videos about it.  We struck a deal for her.  And then came the bit where she would like to bring the whole family.   This seemed fine to me, but then it sounded like she wanted me to feed the whole family.  And Nick would attend the PDC and get certified.  So we struck a deal!   At least I thought we did. 

When they arrived and seemed a bit off, I thought it was because they were going to arrive before the tour and video the tour.  But they arrived after the tour was over.  Damn.  Unfortunate.  I wrote it off as nothing more than a late start.  Oh well.  

As part of our arrangement, we struck a deal trying to figure out the cost of food.  We left out the total cost of being here because, as i wrote several times "I'm thinking we won't be able to keep Esther out of the kitchen!"  Apparently, this was my error. 

Just before the event, Jocelyn broke her toe, so we were struggling in the kitchen.   As we are trying to figure out what is wonky, I asked "hasn't Esther been helping?" and was told that she has yet to help out in the kitchen.   Well, that seems odd.  Maybe it's because she and her fam are still getting settled?  About an hour later I found Esther in the kitchen on her computer and asked about kitchen stuff. 

Gotta stop for a moment here.  I have watched about a dozen of Esther's videos.  She's always smiling, happy and eloquent.  Seems super smooth.  And I talked to her on the phone a couple times before she came out.  Same.  Smooth.  All good.

And now it was like her whole body was posessed by some other being.  Holy shit!  Dafuk?  Earlier I used the word "monster" - I'm not sure I've ever been as harsh to anybody as what I was being subjected to at this point.   Yowza.  I have a really thick skin, so I rolled with it.   The cook split because it was too much.

I think I caught 20 minutes of firey hell.  The gist of it is that when I wrote something about charging just for the actual food and not for all the other stuff (food prep, cleaning, site use, whatever) or charging a regular ticket price for the kids, I kept saying "I'm thinking we won't be able to keep Esther out of the kitchen!" - so I thought "just the food" would be fair.   In the end, for the deal we struck, I was thinking that I was being super generous.  But I felt they had made some big contributions on youtube and I like being generous to folks that have shared so much.  Apparently, they liked the lower price, but did not like the idea of working in the kitchen.  But they never said anything about the kitchen.  Apparently, according to the Fouches, if I knew Esther better I would never suggest the "kitchen" word. 

So I really don't get so say anything during the 20 minutes of firey hell and yelling the whole way, Esther is out the door.  So I have learned that I am feeding five bellies and not getting any extra kitchen help right when we really need it.  Jocelyn heard the 20 minutes and she decided to bully through with her broken toe.

About 45 minutes later I am in my office working when Nick and Esther come in.  Nick is super angry.  Monster mode?  Again, nothing like what I have ever seen in their videos.  Same firey hell.  Only this time I get to say my piece.   So I make it clear that I agree:  they never did say that Esther would help in the kitchen.  I said it three times and they just never replied to that.  I pointed out that all this stress could have been bypassed if they pointed this out months earlier.  I was kinda hoping that they would own that bit.  Nopers.  Esther proposes that nick eats with the rest of the students and she and the kids eat their own food.   I agree to this.   Although there are two huge problems with this:

problem 1)  I am now down a kitchen helper

problem 2)  Ticket sales were limited by the number of people we could feed around the tables.   So if this had been worked out months earlier, we could have sold more tickets.

The "firey hell" thing was so extreme, it was one of those things that you don't really recover from.  So Nick and Esther seemed to avoid me.  To me, all day long, every day seems to be "make the best of it." - and the time with the fouches seemed to be more of that.  Oh well.

Nick found nits to pick.  He festered.  He complained about little things. Oh well.

And apparently, I have committed the crime of being too much like Esther's mom.  And that is supposedly a bad thing.  And while I have never met Esther's mom, I suspect that I would like her.  Fist bump to esther's mom, Carla Emery, author of the Encyclopedia of Country Living.  Rockin.

So I gave a lot to get some nice video summary of the PDC.   I thought it would be some nice PR.   The dozen videos they put out before this one was nice enough - but beacuse of the last video, I think I learned that the fouches do a poor job with PR trades.

----

In the words of the great philosopher Popeye "I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam".  Thousands of people have expressed that I have to change my personality.  Nick is not the first.  Nick is part of a massive club.  Nick and Esther thought it would be cool to come to my place.  What they found was somebody that they very much wished was different.   Wishing for me to be different is okay.  Wanting me to be different is okay.  But demanding me to be somebody other than who I am is not okay.   But it is totally fair to warn people away. 

If we suppose that Nick and Esther are at level 3 on the wheaton eco scale and if I may be so bold as to put myself at level 8, then by "observation 1" nick and esther would find me to be nuts. 

---

If you follow the links in this post, you will find that I am loved.  Deeply.  Yay!  I don't seek the admiration of all people.   Two or three is plenty.   When I record my podcasts I feel I do it for the 12 people that are thoroughly "my people" - not for the thousands that download them.

And when I was the keynote at PV1 and presented on "permaculture velocity", I pointed out that permaculture suffers from a lot of hate-from-within.   I think some people might not believe it to be true.  So let this be an example. 

---

There's a lot of nutty stuff in the fouch video.  And, as always with human beings, the accused is always guilty until innocence is proven. 

I'm glad this is up.  If people don't like me and what i am doing, then definitely don't come here, don't look at my stuff - there is surely other stuff and other places you will like much better.
 
Casie Becker
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I'm tempted to thumbs up this post, except I don't see a need to support bad behavior. You're putting a more positive spin on this than my understanding of it. In my experience, the only behavior that's too unbearable to handle politely for a couple of weeks, would also be so bad that I wouldn't have been staying for the PDC.

I felt like the money I spent just to spend a few days at the lab last summer was well spent, even without the added value of a PDC. I didn't see signs that anyone was being exploited or undercompensated for time they spent working on your projects.

Perhaps you inadvertently hit on an emotion trigger of Esther's and after she exploded the rest of the problems were caused by them vainly trying to justify her initial reaction. In such a situation, having a solid and justifiable complaint against you may have been easier for everyone concerned. Otherwise, every level of petty ridiculousness would add to their discomfort and embarrassment. Unfortunately that's a self perpetuating problem. Particularly as they keep digging that hole.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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And then there's us. And we still like (respect, appreciate, support) you.

You can't please all the people, all the time. My mom would say, "Let it roll off, like water on a duck's back."

Congrats on the 100 million. That's saying something!
 
Deb Rebel
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Paul, you're you. We know you, we love you, you're smokin' hot on camera.

Don't let this one little glitch mess everything else up. It doesn't deserve to live rent-free in your head, on bandwith, or causing you ulcers.

There's no win here but there is also not surrendering turf just because.

Let it go. We all know otherwise. Move on. The only ones looking bad right now are them, especially if they keep picking the scab and digging the hole.

I had some bad stuff happen to me in distant past, first time I went to the college health center therapist (twice) and that is what they taught me. My body healed, my life has moved on, and I can (and did) set it aside and get on with life. I learned from it but I put it in a box and buried it, figuratively, and went right on with my life.

You got good things going. Keep it up. Step around the pothole in the road with the lurking alligator, and keep going. You don't have to go through the pothole.

I'd pass the good chocolate if I was there sitting on a RMH bench tonight.... life is too short to not eat good chocolate, either. You and yours are still 12 acorns out of 10. Remember that.
 
Tj Jefferson
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This may come down to one of two things- either the fratricide of any community that seems to occur when a certain size is reached, or simple personality differences.

The fratricide is, unfortunately, a byproduct of the search for money (a proxy for power) or plain power. I think this partly is the chase for ancillary income streams, it provides controversy to drive viewing and they are now positioned in opposition to the Amazon of Permaculture(tm), an alternate brand name. What people don't realize is that you have been absolutely open in your quest for alternate income streams, have discussed what worked, set up what didn't, etc. I find that refreshing. This disconnects money from power- you are telling people how to make it in much the same way.  If it is just about the power, well, there is a reason some people choose the homesteader lifestyle. It's psychologically easier to be king of a tiny kingdom than dutchess once removed of a big one.

Or it could just be a big-ass personality difference, rolled into family issues and tied up in a bad day. We have all been there. I just have never put it on YouTube. I remember I read a post where you disagreed with someone who was a biggish permaculture name. But you never said who they were. Maybe you told your friends, or maybe I am too stupid to figure it out, but it doesn't matter. Courtesy is partly just not pulling the private into the public. There have been posts where people mention unrealistic interns or other personality conflicts, but I cannot remember anyone mentioning a name (I am sure those people know if it was about them, but they were not called out specifically).

Either way, one of his statements (did not get through the whole thing, just not that into it) was that you, Paul, are "well-read but not the kind of person with his hands in the manure." This is the crux: no one can do everything at all times. You were trying to keep a PDC running, deconflicting silliness, and trying to do twenty other things. The fact that you were not stripping bark with the best of them is kind of silly. I suspect you have a broad knowledge, but your highest value (to me anyhow) is by leveraging 1000 other people who otherwise wouldn't have a platform. There is no way I would have had the input of some subject matter experts without your efforts. I couldn't care less if someone knows more about cob than you do. But someone who knows more about cob than I do is on here for sure, and I can access that!

There is a strong element here of the "dropout hippie" mindset that networks are bad. If you didn't make it with your two hands it is not valid. If you don't have the knowledge in a well-dogeared book you just don't know it. This is just unscalable. There is no way you have the mental, emotional or time resources to both perform under Metcalfe's law and be the world's foremost expert personally.   

Stay strong. I have not gotten through the scant materials out so far from the PDC and I got my money's worth already. 
 
Julia Winter
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Sigh.

There might be a reason those two live off grid in the woods with just their kids.  There might be several, now that I think about it.

I was enjoying their daily summaries of the PDC, the last video makes no sense to me.  I've been out to wheaton labs multiple times, and had a lovely time.  My kids heard enough of your podcasts that they can identify your voice in 5 seconds or less "that's Paul Wheaton!"  And then, you taught them that cool card game I keep forgetting the name and rules...

Esther complained in the video that she thought it was "false advertising" that Wheaton labs doesn't have a lot of farm animals.  I don't know what sort of advertising she is referring to.  I know that once you have sufficient safely fenced paddock space for chickens, then that system will be developed.  Most of what they say in the video is innuendo and confusion.

I say forget them.  I'm glad you can write about this with humor.  I laughed out loud at the idea that you might enjoy Esther's mother!  What I see is ever increasing success, and more and more people being drawn in.  As you get more people wanting to come, you can get pickier about who is allowed in, and I'm hoping this will lead to less drama.
 
nancy sutton
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Well, I just found this brouhaha, as I had just checked out the Fouch's vlog.  So this (below) is the comment I posted ... (Jocelyn, did I go to far, too?)  I had watched their vlog a few times, mainly because I own one of her mother's original books, but Mrs. Fouch has always seemed way too smiley/smarmy... well, downright 'papal' to me... she definitely 'protests too much' while stabbing in the back here : )   I think we can all offer our best wishes and say a prayer for them : )

" ..I think this video may be more a revelation of the Fouch's 'worldview' than an objective picture of Wheaton Labs and Paul.  Having followed Permies for many years, it seems to me that Paul has been quite vocal about his unique modus operandi, and his unique plans for the tremendous personal investment he has made in his land and permaculture projects.  I believe the Fouchs indicated their newbie status re: Permaculture in general, and Wheaton Labs in particular... and their expectations may have been a tad (or totally?) unrealistic.  Apples ain't oranges  ... and it betrays ignorance to expect them to be :)    But it is pretty low to offer to discourage folks from checking out Wheaton Labs, when there are sooooo many people, for whom it is a wonderful experience....."
 
David Livingston
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No one is perfect we are all human . unless you are this chap Mr F and Mrs too by the sound of it . ( I refuse to watch the you tube clip even to give them a click would hurt )
Have these folks ever read your blogish stuff listened to pod casts ?  Obviously not .  I have my own expectations of what the camp ( and Paul )and what it  would be like and I would expect to like it from, what I gather, the reasons these folks dont
and they drag their children with them .............
 
John Derry
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I wrote my two cents on their YouTube video. It took a while to work out what to say, I've been watching them for months - ever since I built my RMH alongside theirs using the same plans from Ernie & Erica, and I've been loving their daily PDC vlogs. That said, Paul inspired me to quit my IT job, move to Ireland and start a permaculture based smallholding - I know which side my bread is buttered.

It was surreal to watch their latest video, so many of the claims were emotive, subjective and unsubstantiated. It really isn't how I'd have expected them to behave, even if they did believe everything they said.

It is very easy to tear down and criticise. I wish they really stopped and thought about the impact Paul's work has had on global permaculture, before feeling qualified to pass judgement with their newly gained PDC whose ink had only just dried. Even a few of their audience questioned the fairness of what they chose to do.

Suspicious as to how thick your skin can really be Paul, please keep into perspective they are just one couple on a different path to yours. Remember all those who think you and your contributions are awesome and are looking forward to watch the lab evolve over time.
 
Thyri Gullinvargr
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I have not watched the video so I'm just going by what you've written.

First, it sounds like you assumed Esther would be happy to work in the kitchen. From your description of the reaction, it also seems like she may have resented that assumption. So perhaps on both sides there should have been some clarification of expectations. It seems like something to learn from for the future.

Second, I think I remember you saying you want to focus on good things and not the things that are wrong. I think it's reasonable to have posted something to try to avoid the issue in the future and as damage control. That being done, it seems like it would be best to turn your limited time, energy and attention back to the good things that are important to you. It's my experience that in contentious situations things tend to fizzle out if one side stops putting energy into them. I'm hoping you won't let this be an energy suck. I will admit that my experience has more to do with one to one interactions or group interactions rather than public interactions on the web.

I'm actually wondering if there's an opportunity here. It would be kind of cool if people with other opinions of the PDC posted reviews, either text or Vlog. I don't think it's useful to have them mention the Fouchs, but having honest opinions from other people could be useful.
 
joe pacelli
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Let me get this straight- In their video, the story in their heads is that 2 parents brought their kids into an allegedly "unsanitary" environment with "emotional abuse" and "red flags", and yet they kept their kids in this environment so they could keep YouTube content flowing Sounds pretty sane to me.

That video they posted says more about their judgment than anything else.  Some people just have to play the victim role in order to justify their own irrational and contradictory behavior.

I recall very early in the permies podcasts, before the acquisition of the labs, these points were established:

A) not really grooving on the whole 'bring your kids to work' situation
B) the lab will be a fiefdom
C) he reserves the right to make whatever rules he wants

Seems crystal clear to me.
 
paul wheaton
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During this PDC I shared the thing about "all of human history and 90% of human psychology can be fit into one sentence":

Most people NEED to hear their own opinion from all other people and are frustrated that they don't have the might to make it "right." 


The PDC is being live streamed and there was a psychologist watching.  He wrote to me:

I absolutely agree with that statement.  I'd even add to it:  "...and are frustrated that they don't have the might to make it 'right', so instead they transform the problems unique to their brain into everybody else's problems.."

This is pretty much the root-cause analysis of social dysfunction.


I got regular support from several students - one said that I was doing a good job of being an adult in the face of childishness.


----


A few important take aways:

People are so .... human.    There is really nothing new here.   People insisting that other people live their lives their way.  And here we see them trying the "might makes right" using the tools at their disposal. 

People hated sepp holzer so much that a woman wrote a book about how awful sepp was.  Willie Smits, Joel Salatin, geoff lawton ....   all have an army of super pissed off detractors and it is all the same:  "you must submit to my crazy", "no thanks" "then I will dedicate my life to fucking up your life."

I hope folks can see how this reduces the forward velocity of permaculture. 

When the PDC started, I told people that this permaculture site is still under construction.  It will be about seven years until we are actually ready to show the public.  Plus, we have several experiments underway. 

It seems most people were cool with that.  A few felt like it was important to measure success based on current status.  (sigh)


By reaching 100 million people, I am going to teach more, but I am also going to get more people demanding that I be vegan, or christian, or love earthships and only earthships, or whatever.  And "no thank you" is an unacceptable answer

And now we have a video of what this looks like.  Which, of course, was not the sort of video I thought they were offering me in our trade.  And they have their own problems.   Apparently their neighbors also have different values - and they are struggling with that.  People.   And Esther's mom.  So it would seem that I am not the only person in their world that they are displeased with.  Just as they are not the only people in my world that wish for me to be somebody that I am not. 

----

When teaching a software engineering class, they would often be 7 hours a day for five days.  $2500.  Did not include food or a place to pitch a tent.  And the students didn't hang out in the classroom after 5.   I'm sure there might be drama once in a while, although I can't think of anything right now.

In my PV1 keynote, I talked about going through 100 times more drama on permies.com than on coderanch.com.  And the whole keynote was on "why". 

What we are seeing with the fouches is not new.  It isn't new to me and it isn't new to others in the permaculture world and it isn't even new to them.


I still believe that the solution here is that we all need to embrace "there are many schools of thought under the permaculture umbrella."





 
paul wheaton
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Thyri Gullinvargr wrote:I'm actually wondering if there's an opportunity here.




A few people have told me that they are doing this as a publicity stunt.  Create drama - drama gets more youtube views than anything. 

At the same time ... the video of all this will be going up soon.
 
Thyri Gullinvargr
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paul wheaton wrote:
Thyri Gullinvargr wrote:I'm actually wondering if there's an opportunity here.




A few people have told me that they are doing this as a publicity stunt.  Create drama - drama gets more youtube views than anything. 

At the same time ... the video of all this will be going up soon.


I actually meant an opportunity for positive press from other students for you, but what you said is certainly a possible motivation for them also.
 
paul wheaton
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joe pacelli wrote:That video they posted says more about their judgment than anything else.  Some people just have to play the victim role in order to justify their own irrational and contradictory behavior.


I would speculate, and I am no psychologist, that they:

1)  hornswaggled me and felt some shame about that.  In the end, they did come up with a solution that goes back to being fair, but it did leave me screwed because it was presented during the pdc instead of months earlier.  I think they felt some shame about not being good communicators earlier.

2)  that lead to them showing up a day late and not videoing the tour.  Compounding shame.

3)  Then there was the big blow up.  The volume knob was a few notches past "too crazy."  All in the face of me that did not respond in kind.   More shame.

4)  Shame leads to resentments and now everything that they see about me and my place is through shit colored glasses.  Which lead to weird demands.  Which lead to their powerful need of activating "might makes right" to the best of their ability.

Again - just some speculation on my part.


 
paul wheaton
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Thyri Gullinvargr wrote:I actually meant an opportunity for positive press from other students for you, but what you said is certainly a possible motivation for them also.


I am thinking of the reviews from the people that watch the videos also.

Apparently, my presentations were "unbearable".  I suppose people watching the videos can make their own choices.
 
Anne Miller
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Paul said: I still believe that the solution here is that we all need to embrace "there are many schools of though under the permaculture umbrella."

I agree though some folks can do more harm than good with their dysfunction.  When they should be promoting permaculture or whatever it is they believe in,  they are making a distraction.

I hope Jocelyn is feeling better and on the mend with "boneset".
 
paul wheaton
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Anne Miller wrote:I agree though some folks can do more harm than good with their dysfunction.  When they should be promoting permaculture or whatever it is they believe in,  they are making a distraction.


On the bright side, they seem to really like all my friends! 

Of course, they didn't arrange a trade with my friends, nor all the other stuff.

 
paul wheaton
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Casie Becker wrote:Perhaps you inadvertently hit on an emotion trigger of Esther's and after she exploded the rest of the problems were caused by them vainly trying to justify her initial reaction.


I think that is exactly what happened. 

Apparently, the reason that they did not communicate with me months earlier about the whole "esther in the kitchen" thing is that topic is some sort of emotional trigger.  I think I brought it up three times and three times they did not respond.  So, maybe long before they arrived, I pushed that button without knowing it was a button.  

And, apparently, my personality is too much like Esther's mom.  So another button.

So I watch a few of their vids and think "seems like lovely folks."  She contacts me about a trade.  I feel like we have things worked out.  Of course, in 2017, it seems like nearly every time you work out an "interesting" trade, it is freakishly loose and you just make the best of it.  I had no idea that I had somehow, inadvertently built some sort of bomb and the trigger for the bomb is mentioning help in the kitchen.

 
paul wheaton
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Karen Donnachaidh wrote:And then there's us. And we still like (respect, appreciate, support) you.

You can't please all the people, all the time. My mom would say, "Let it roll off, like water on a duck's back."

Congrats on the 100 million. That's saying something!


Thanks Karen!

I do what I do for the few people that groove on what I do. 

Somehow your post reminded me of these lovely images folks have made.  My guess is that I have written this stuff somewhere or said something in one of my podcasts.



 
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Deb Rebel wrote:Paul, you're you. We know you, we love you, you're smokin' hot on camera.


I know that I am arrogant and vain, but I don't think I'm "smokin' hot on camera" - you must be buttering me up for something!


Don't let this one little glitch mess everything else up. It doesn't deserve to live rent-free in your head, on bandwith, or causing you ulcers.


I think the important takeaway here is the powerful example of what our internal strife looks like.  It is difficult for people to believe that there is internal strife without examples like this.   This sort of thing was the #1 reason that I created the wheaton eco scale so many years ago:   a woman was quitting her weekly column about trying to be more green - not just hate was sent her way, but death threats. 

I think the thing to do is to see this, embrace that this is not just happening, but is more the norm than the exception.  And if we want to make things better, we need to do a bit of housekeeping in our own community first.

 
Caroline LaVin
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I have never heard Nick and Esther speak before. What a shock to watch just the first few seconds of the video above. They just ruined any credibility they might have had, in my opinion. If you want to be a professional, you NEVER publicly denounces another professional in the field. Low class, in my opinion.

Oh, and one other thing.  Years ago I used to go to annual dog training camp. Yup. The instructor was a brilliant out-of-the-box thinker. And she had sooo many people (other trainers and instructors) making fun of her methods, running her down. At one camp I turned to my friend, another devotee, and asked her why did this go on? She said, Caroline, if Dawn is saying her way is more successful, better for the dog, and is "right", then others are taking it that their way is "wrong".

That exchange has helped me deal with a lot of situations in life.  I understood the hostility brought on by a different way of thinking.
 
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Either way, one of his statements (did not get through the whole thing, just not that into it) was that you, Paul, are "well-read but not the kind of person with his hands in the manure." This is the crux: no one can do everything at all times. You were trying to keep a PDC running, deconflicting silliness, and trying to do twenty other things. The fact that you were not stripping bark with the best of them is kind of silly. I suspect you have a broad knowledge, but your highest value (to me anyhow) is by leveraging 1000 other people who otherwise wouldn't have a platform. There is no way I would have had the input of some subject matter experts without your efforts. I couldn't care less if someone knows more about cob than you do. But someone who knows more about cob than I do is on here for sure, and I can access that!


One of these days we need to come up with a phrase or word to describe how people need to see the leader spend just as much time in the field as the folks in the field, plus come up with the money to fund all the things, plus do all the money shuffle stuff, plus get the word out about events, plus, plus, plus plus ....

I used to be putting in a hundred hours per week and was instructed by my doctor that that is way too much and I have to cut back.  So I've cut back to about 75 or so.  And feel a little awkward with "what do I do with this extra time?" 


I had planned to spend three times more time at the PDC than I did.  But, at first there were issues with the recording and I needed to help with that.  Then the fouch mess and one other student went weird.  Then I spent eight and half hours listening to different people express their opinions about talent night - and in hindsight, I think this was a new fouch development (Nick is the one that pressed it during one of my morning sessions with the class).  Drama, drama, drama. 

So, for people to love tim and all the other instructors, I get to be "the bad guy".  The "blame sponge."   No biggie - it is a role I am used to.  Of course, some people are bigger drama queens than others.

---

I think a bigger thing is what I have written about several times in the past:   when I had my hands in the dirt on mount spokane, I realized that there was no way that I could accomplish, in my lifetime, even 70% of what sepp had accomplished.   But already at that time, I had three times more stuff in my head that I wanted to do.   So I went out and started to try to solve the rather massive problem of community.  And now my head is full of ten times more stuff that I want to accomplish.  And my time is spent on trying to structure things so that I might be able to achieve all that before I die.  It would be a lot of people.  So rather than getting back into the dirt, it would be wise to create a framework for 30 people.


 
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Julia Winter wrote: As you get more people wanting to come, you can get pickier about who is allowed in, and I'm hoping this will lead to less drama.


And THERE is the magic recipe!
 
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This may be one of those things you'll never have a clear answer to. When you deal with people, you're going to have occasional "What the ----!" moments. Or, as I used to call them, "Wonderland moments".

When I owned my gym, one of the employee's daughters called there looking for her mom, who had not came into work yet. When she came in I told her about the call. She said she wondered where the daughter was when she called. I checked the number on my Caller ID and told her. She got pissed off and didn't speak to me for two months. Go figure! What did I do wrong?

When you say, "not just hate was sent her way, but death threats", that was a lot of the reaction I got when I decided to sell my business. People said, "I paid for YOU, not new owners that I don't know."
 
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(but) you are an open book...I've never known someone who so clearly explains who they are and openly discusses what they are doing and thinking......

...and all of the ant, boot and gapper stuff is discussed here at permies and explained in detail...problems, successes and all.....and open to input and discussion.

The Fouche's clearly did not do their homework.....

...so  disappointed in them for airing their negativity in that way.

 
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nancy sutton wrote:Well, I just found this brouhaha, as I had just checked out the Fouch's vlog.  So this (below) is the comment I posted ... (Jocelyn, did I go to far, too?)  I had watched their vlog a few times, mainly because I own one of her mother's original books, but Mrs. Fouch has always seemed way too smiley/smarmy... well, downright 'papal' to me... she definitely 'protests too much' while stabbing in the back here : )   I think we can all offer our best wishes and say a prayer for them : )

" ..I think this video may be more a revelation of the Fouch's 'worldview' than an objective picture of Wheaton Labs and Paul.  Having followed Permies for many years, it seems to me that Paul has been quite vocal about his unique modus operandi, and his unique plans for the tremendous personal investment he has made in his land and permaculture projects.  I believe the Fouchs indicated their newbie status re: Permaculture in general, and Wheaton Labs in particular... and their expectations may have been a tad (or totally?) unrealistic.  Apples ain't oranges  ... and it betrays ignorance to expect them to be :)    But it is pretty low to offer to discourage folks from checking out Wheaton Labs, when there are sooooo many people, for whom it is a wonderful experience....."


Thanks nancy!

That was a part of all this that seemed pretty odd to me:  I was offering a PDC, after having taken a PDC and taught at many PDCs.  And a student was very insistent that I have to modify my standards for a PDC.  I thought my standards were already really good, and the suggestions didn't even make sense to me.   So then the student thought the best form of persuasion was many different forms of fallacy. 

Dear student:  you are attending a PDC.  You are welcome to enjoy the parts of the pdc you like best.   You are welcome to skip a bit if that is what makes you comfortable.  Of course, if you skip a critical bit, then you won't get a certificate with my name and signature on it.  But, I would guess that at that point, a certificate with my name and signature is of very low value.  So it all works out. 

Apparently, this student thinks ....  after never having completed a PDC or been involved in the discussions of how one might offer a PDC ...   that I absolutely must comply with his PDC vision rather than my own. 

In the end, this student stuck to his values and did not get a PDC certificate from me.  He thinks that was wrong.  Or, more specifically, that I was wrong for not obeying a student.



 
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Karen Donnachaidh wrote:This may be one of those things you'll never have a clear answer to. When you deal with people, you're going to have occasional "What the ----!" moments. Or, as I used to call them, "Wonderland moments".

When I owned my gym, one of the employee's daughters called there looking for her mom, who had not came into work yet. When she came in I told her about the call. She said she wondered where the daughter was when she called. I checked the number on my Caller ID and told her. She got pissed off and didn't speak to me for two months. Go figure! What did I do wrong?

When you say, "not just hate was sent her way, but death threats", that was a lot of the reaction I got when I decided to sell my business. People said, "I paid for YOU, not new owners that I don't know."


 
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Judith Browning wrote:(but) you are an open book...I've never known someone who so clearly explains who they are and openly discusses what they are doing and thinking......

...and all of the ant, boot and gapper stuff is discussed here at permies and explained in detail...problems, successes and all.....and open to input and discussion.

The Fouche's clearly did not do their homework.....

...so  disappointed in them for airing their negativity in that way.



The argument they make is that they should not have to do homework.  I suppose I could extrapolate from that: Whever they go, all people should be maleable and obedient to the will of the fouches.

BUT!   That easy homework is the function of this thread. 
 
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David Livingston wrote:No one is perfect we are all human . unless you are this chap Mr F and Mrs too by the sound of it . ( I refuse to watch the you tube clip even to give them a click would hurt )
Have these folks ever read your blogish stuff listened to pod casts ?  Obviously not .  I have my own expectations of what the camp ( and Paul )and what it  would be like and I would expect to like it from, what I gather, the reasons these folks dont
and they drag their children with them .............


I like the idea that we do something, like provide this thread, so that people like the fouches can steer clear of coming here.  And people that enjoy my company will come instead.

 
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John Derry wrote:Suspicious as to how thick your skin can really be Paul, please keep into perspective they are just one couple on a different path to yours. Remember all those who think you and your contributions are awesome and are looking forward to watch the lab evolve over time.


I would like it if there are ten times more voices in support of my stuff than against.  But I doubt that will happen any time soon.

I made a career out of going into the most dysfunctional offices and fixing things.   My thick skin comes from thousands of people being so ... human. 

I think the really sad part here is the demonstration of how permaculture will only allow the people with really thick skin to be in a leadership role.   I've been told that I am now a global leader and that is seriously fucked up.   There should be a hundred people far better than me, and far more pleasant.  Willie Smits is quite pleasant - maybe we need a hundred more of him.

At the same time, sepp holzer's model is what we turn to for cold climates.  Sepp is famous for being harsh.  And in podcast 111 I explore the idea that we, sepp's audience, are so incredibly mean to him that we make him that way, OR the same audience was so incredibly mean to all aspiring leaders, and 99% of them decided to go quiet rather than continue to go through the gauntlet of nasty.

 
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If a man pissed off two people a week (starting from birth), every week for 72 years, he will have alienated 0.0001011892% of the world (Based on a population of 7.4 billion)

Ricky Nelson covers this problem better than I can and I'm quite surprised no one has posted a link to this:

 
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I'm not interested in watching the video.  It just fuels the conflict and increases their view count - which is probably the goal of such a video.  I've already made my own judgements about Paul.

There are two things I've noticed about Paul while working with him on permies.

He's extremely generous with people.  He provides opportunities for people to do epic shit, but that generosity runs out when people try to take advantage and/or boss him around.

He's one of those rare people who says what he means. The problem with this is that sometimes people choose to believe you mean something completely different than what is said.


Pitty about the kitchen thing.   I would have been thrilled to help out and see how good food is prepared for such a large group.  Sure, it's probably all chopping onions and meditative (aka, small repetitive tasks) work like that, but what an opportunity to learn!  An entrance fee of chopping onions for a free self-guided lesson in cooking awesome food for the masses. There is so much one can learn from just helping in the kitchen.  That's an opportunity people here would have to pay some serious money to get. 
 
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I'm assuming that you get many calls and emails from people who are downright delusional in their expectations. People who would have a very difficult time fitting in. People who would be social poison.

 Now you don't need to turn these people away completely. You can send them on to Mr. Fouch. I'm sure, that with their superior people skills, they will have no trouble accommodating all of the world's crazies.☺
 
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Paul, I'm not getting the mop out to baste you evenly with butter. I have watched a LOT of instructional videos over the time. I have suffered with many a person that shouldn't be in front of the camera but I wanted to try to glean the contents/information. I'd listen and watch you any day. In my opinion you have a great way, good voice, easy manner and the camera loves you. Period. So. Be happy. I love you in front of the camera.

I have also taken many an instructional course, in person, online, regular old correspondence (by mail). And it comes down to, I have to do my part to get the reward (completing it and getting the certificate, etc). If I don't do my part, then I've wasted MY time and MY money as I won't get what I paid for. You do not owe me despite my money being paid IF it's clear what is expected besides my money to get what I paid for and I didn't fill my end of the bargain.

Some people don't get this, they paid their $ and they expect to be handed their X despite their not fulfilling their end, when it was clearly spelled out. Or worse, the contract as worked out is interpreted differently and this doesn't come to light until after things are in progress. I have been a contract artist and a professional artist, which means that producing art was my day job. In this I learned:

Have a contract no matter what. It gives something to fall back on and if things bollux up it might actually be useful. (I would do consignment to store, the store signed an invoice, were serviced regularly, and anything missing from the invoice list they had to pay for. I would set the price, they kept half. They didn't own the merchandise until sold but were responsible for it) Once a store got padlocked for not remitting their city sales tax and the place was seized and a sheriff auction of contents proceeded to settle debts. The owner had a bunch of collectables in there but wasn't allowed to remove them... he had friends and relatives showing up with receipts trying to claim the stuff out. I showed with my contract and showed it to the deputy, and I was allowed in to collect my stuff. Else without that wording my merchandise would have been seized and sold, and I could go through an expensive attorney stint to file to get the value back. One other, the manager of the store sold stuff well below the half price mark and expected to give me half of what they sold it for. The contract said otherwise. The owner happened to have stepped in during that conversation, paid me off in full, had me remove everything and fired the manager. (he had finally figured out why the store was going in the hole...)

No partner. I did this twice and got badly burned twice. They didn't get the clue on how a business should run and left me holding the bag with a lot of debt.

I will not: give you studio space, tools, buy you supplies, pay you to do your thing on my nickel, or pay your enterance fee. If I want to support you I will buy your art or I will buy you a meal (support the arts, feed an artist). I will work consignment and I have a contract, and take some of your work to fill out my booth-I will ask you though. I have had artist friends work for me to pay off a debt, but it was clearly spelled out and it wasn't fun work, drudgery bread and butter churning work. Every one of them found out what being a real artist was like--eye opener.

I think the thing to learn as much as you may hate it, is to clearly spell out things, write it down, make two copies and have everyone sign both and give them theirs. It's clearly spelled out. Sometimes the other side will then truncate to just what the contract specifies and I live with that, at least if the contract is fulfilled, that is what I agreed to. (I used to hire my spouse to work for me, honest. a) he would do what he was told then, with no arguments. He wanted to be paid, right? b) when that bit was done, it was done. c) I could write it off--after a four day show and a 150 mile drive home, having him unload the trailer was worth it.)

Now my spouse is disabled, but. We are going to do something or go on a trip, especially the latter, I make him a list. He can rest if he needs to, and if he finishes his list, even if I haven't finished mine, he is done and can sit down and wait. He did what was expected.

It's great to do things the handshake way, but I think you've moved into the 'dreaded dratted piece of paper between us' stage. Do consider it. It's definitely more hassle. I think this bit however has brought it forth, that in some cases, it may be necessary to start doing that. Sigh.

Still Paul, you've accomplished so much, don't get discouraged. Keep on doing! This is but a pothole in the road with the lurking alligator. Just step around the pothole and keep going... leave the alligator to rule their little pothole. You have the road and the whole wide world.

 
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Perhaps I am a total nincompoop at all things.  Or maybe all things except managing forums. 

I have had over a thousand people tell me that I manage forums "wrong".   I was pretty keen that I only wanted forums for talking about stuff I like the way I like to talk about stuff. 

And, mysteriously, these forums have become the largest for permaculture.  This is one school of thought under the giant umbrella of "how to run forums." 

Much like that, I have philosophies in how i want to run my life, what sort of PDC I wish to run, teach and host, experiments with community, permaculture ....   everything.  Maybe in ten years my site will be "best" by the standards of a few.  Maybe not.  But maybe.
 
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Deb,

This reminds me of the thread about how all of the projects here at wheaton labs would be 7 times further along if people just kept their word:

https://www.permies.com/t/63361/permaculture-projects/extremely-high-cost-flakes

 
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paul wheaton wrote:Perhaps I am a total nincompoop at all things.  Or maybe all things except managing forums. 

I have had over a thousand people tell me that I manage forums "wrong".   I was pretty keen that I only wanted forums for talking about stuff I like the way I like to talk about stuff. 

And, mysteriously, these forums have become the largest for permaculture.  This is one school of thought under the giant umbrella of "how to run forums." 

Much like that, I have philosophies in how i want to run my life, what sort of PDC I wish to run, teach and host, experiments with community, permaculture ....   everything.  Maybe in ten years my site will be "best" by the standards of a few.  Maybe not.  But maybe.


During my passes at college I took art for three years. I did the classes in backwards order but. First two years the head of the department (we were on quarters) let you have your first quarter 'off' then required as part of your grade to go to a show, fair, or some sales outlet and sell your stuff. One a quarter. Even a card table in the student union. (one pottery guy did this). He said in four years you do your show get your degree and if you're not making a living at it, you've wasted your time, my time and your money. Third year we changed heads and he was an 'art for the sake of art' person and we clashed mightily as my style wasn't his (had to invoke the dean every quarter as he graded majors differently, against policy). The only piece he had sold in 11 years was something loaned to a show and the after, everything had been loaded into a trailer and a guy hired to drive around and drop stuff off, the trailer was stolen. So the insurance had to pay him. One quarter we had the argument and I sat there after and tossed off four pieces exactly in the style he liked. A few days later at the critique he was smiles at what I laid out for the critique and other stuff was nearby but not on the cloth. My style, not his. He asked, and I said, YOU TOLD ME WHAT YOU WANTED FOR A GRADE, so I treated you like a client. There's your order. (point to the stuff laid out.) The other? My style. You want your style, you're cramping MY style and you're not supposed to do that. (invoke dean the first time and got my grades changed).

I was doing shows quite heavily and quarter end and critique often didn't line up with deadline to be ready for show. I had two nearly line up and went through critique and got ripped a new one. I said "Fine, I'll take this under advisement." Then next week before going to show, laid out two banquet tables full of stuff and photographed it for inventory purposes. Went to show. Came back. Laid out a hanky and shot four pieces (all I had left). Then reached in a back pocket, took out a thick wad of folded cash, mostly big bills and tossed it on the table. It fluttered into a nice pile. He, one instructor, both of the grad students, and a few others seen. I said "That is what I think of your critique." and cleaned up and left. I decided not to do my show (that is what your fourth year revolved around) and left department at end of that quarter.

Paul, you do. You get results. People like you. You have the hide to take the critiques and keep going.  You're doing it right. You prove time and time again, without trying, you're doing it right. Sally forth. Take the critique under advisement and do what works anyway.
 
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Deb Rebel
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paul wheaton wrote:Deb,

Your story is a ringer for the fountainhead.  Read it?


I have now.

People don't change, do they? We always hope they will. Some few do...

Paul, I try to do what I call 'living well'. I live my life, try to do good, and once in a while there is that moment, that vindicates it. Makes it worth it all. Despite all the crap you had to wade, swim, or climb over.

Paul, I do think you 'live well'. Just keep on doing what you're doing. Let them dig their own hole. What you got, works. Don't break what works.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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