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rule of 15 - going beyond leave no trace - giving a leg up  RSS feed

 
master steward
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Let's start with this picture:



It took me forever to find a picture where someone is handing a mug (or cup) of tea to another person with the handle toward the person receiving the mug. Probably because people rarely actually do this. I rarely do this.

That mug is likely hot to hold for the person handing it over so that the other can grasp the handle! That's really thinking of the other person to hand it to them with the handle out.

This was, hands down, the best relationship advice I have ever received. Hand a mug of tea to the other person with the handle out toward that person.

In other words, put yourselves in their shoes. What would work better for them, and make their world just a little more comfortable, or feeling cared for?

Ahhhh.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Rule of 15

When you live with your partner, or a housemate, or your family, or when you live in community, there are shared spaces. When I live by myself, or in my own space, I can be a bit of a slob. Piles of things to go through. Dust. Debris. Dirty dishes. I'm definitely not perfect. Though if I'm going to share a space with another, it's different, and I do my best to level up quite a bit.

Here at wheaton labs, Paul and I live in what we call the Fisher Price House (FPH), it's a small, 3-bedroom doublewide (manufactured home). Over the years of bringing folks through to learn permaculture, we have shared this 1400-square feet of space with up to 15 people. All of whom need to use the kitchen, the bathroom, might want to hang out on the couch, etc. So we developed "the rule of 15."  Which basically means you can't leave things out (or behind) because someone else might want to use that space.

"Can I just leave my laptop on the dining room table?" No. If 15 laptops were left on the dining room table, there would not be space for having a meal.
"Can I just leave my mug here so I don't have to wash it?" No. If 15 people left their mugs out, you would lose track of which is yours, and again there would not be space for someone to use that table, shelf, etc.
"Can I just wash my dishes later because I'm tired?" No. If someone else needs to use that pan, or use that counter, or use the sink for washing their food, your stuff is in the way.

Or, "I'll just leave my empty water bottle (or this tool, protein bar wrapper, etc., etc.) in Ranger Doug (wheaton labs' pickup) and I'll get it later." No. It's too easy to forget and then it's in the way of someone else.

I have to say, most people are not used to this. This is weird. This is hard. This seems anal-retentive (or whatever you want to call it). It's hard for me, and I live here!

When you go to use something that is shared, whether it's a living space, a kitchen thing, a tool, a vehicle, a shared desk, a couch, whatever - if the person before you left it caked with debris, or didn't empty it when done, or it's now covered with their stuff, it's annoying, to say the least. And it can be an issue of safety, or damage, or unnecessary wear-and-tear, too, among many other things.

In a way, even in a regular household, this can be viewed as being about respect. Respect for your community members. Respect for those who will come after you. Additionally, here at wheaton labs, we're facilitating guests, even the press, and sooo many people, that it just makes things easier on all fronts to follow the "rule of 15" in the FPH and community spaces. (Note that there are other options, private space options for living at wheaton labs besides the FPH!)

Though what if, you go to use something and it's cleaner than when you last left it? Or someone oiled it well. Or they created an easier path where the going was rough before. What if someone labels and organizes one little area of the tools so they are easier to find? It's like a huge leg up, a lift, a support. They made things better just by thinking about what would work for others. I think that's a beautiful thing.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Going Beyond Leave No Trace


Loads of boy scouts and girl scouts learn about respecting the wilderness when out camping or hiking. Some, besides learning about "leave no trace," actively work to make things better by picking up trash left behind by others, or doing trail repair and the like.

In permaculture, we talk about nurturing eco-systems, or romancing nature; of improving and accelerating the natural succession of the world around us. Making things more fertile and lush. We have loads of methods and threads on how to do this in our gardens and food forests.

I think we can also nurture and improve our people and built systems, too. rocket mass heaters help make a room feel luxuriously warm with less work and less inputs. Keeping things working well, maintained and organized, saves time, money and can even impart beauty and goodwill. Giving someone a leg up builds connections, respect, and a sense of caring. It can be very purple-y.

I think the least we can do is to "leave no trace." I like the idea of going beyond that and building a better world. Whether that world is in our own homes, or in our communities.


 
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We have always picked up "signs of wild life" when out in the woods or fishing one of our rivers or streams.
Your post reminds me of an advertisement that used to be on TV, an indigenous male on a pony looks out over a field of litter and the sad look on his face said it all.
If you are in town or out in the country, it doesn't take but a moment to pick up someone's thoughtless act of ignorance so the world becomes a more beautiful place.
 
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As with cups, always hand knives and scissors to another person handle/hilt first. I remember learning this about scissors in kindergarten, and I make sure every little kid I've taught learns it as well. It's not only a respect issue, it's a safety issue.

Now I just need to figure out how to teach my little one the Rule of 15, LOL!
 
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I pick up other inconsiderate peoples trash when I hike at my favorite park. It's Beaman Park just outside of Nashville. It's my favorite park because it's all woods, no open or grassy spaces, and it's hilly. It's 1500+ acres of undisturbed nature, and when I hike off into the woods there are no sounds of people or cars, just the wildlife. It saddens me to be way off in the woods and come across an empty water bottle or granola bar wrapper. I pick them up and take them with me and deposit them in the trash can back at the parking lot when I leave. It makes me sad and also boggles my mind that people have no regard for the park (or the planet really) and treat the world as their dumpster.

Leashed dogs are allowed in the park. One day I came across a bag of dog shit on the trail. Someone bagged their dogs poop, and left it, there in a petroleum based plastic bag. C'mon man, really? If you're going to leave it, at least don't bag it up so the bugs and rain and fungi can't break it down. Sheesh....people.... I picked that up too and carried it to the trash can in the parking lot. Savages....
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Bryant, I think I recall reading or watching a little documentary how that commercial with the indigenous man shedding a tear over litter, was big industry's (was it soda pop manufacturers?) way of shifting the blame for refusing to allow bottle deposits and finding ways to encourage recycling to blaming consumers for littering. It was an interesting commentary, really. I don't know a lot more about it than this vague recollection which probably has some of the details wrong. Though I was rather surprised because I was truly touched by that commercial myself.

Nicole, yes! Handles toward the other with scissors and knives! If only we could think of others in so many daily actions with those closest to us. Hey, if you learn how to teach your little one the "rule of 15" let me know! I'm still struggling with it here!!

I'm with you James, it is heartbreaking and even angering to see how disrespectful folks are to our beautiful open spaces.

What kind of shocks me at times is that there a people who would never ever litter in the woods, but somehow they think it's totally okay to leave their granola or candy wrappers on the floor in the bunk bedroom. Or leave their dirty mug in the library where someone else might want to use that desk. It's often really good, decent, well-intentioned people. And just maybe, some times, it's good, well-intentioned folks that are accidental litterbugs in the woods, too. Someone reaches in their pocket for their lip balm and doesn't realize the granola wrapper slips out. Or, someone leaves something out thinking they will take care of it, but someone calls them to look at the full moon, or to play a game...and they forget.

I'm much happier if I think of these transgressions as simple errors. Folks didn't mean to leave that out and in the way. They didn't see it slip out of their pocket. They got busy, etc., etc., etc. When I think of them as perfectly human, but folks who are generally kind and generally mean well, I can pick up that wrapper, or that mug, and not have it create such a chip on my shoulder.

Let me tell you though...think about James' sentiment of the "savages" who left behind atrocious things, and Bryant's "signs of wildlife" comment about the impact of some in the woods or near rivers or streams. Take that kind of sentiment, multiply it by dozens upon dozens of college-age young people flowing through wheaton labs, shake it up thoroughly, then (TMI warning here) stir it by moody menopause hormones, and I've been known to use much stronger name calling than "savages!" Ah well! The worst of the moodiness is over, and the worst of the offenders have left, and I'm (mostly) more calm about it all. It helps to think of folks as truly meaning well, and just simply being forgetful (even if that's a mild self-delusion in some cases).

Is it just me or is there a disconnect with how some people treat our open spaces compared to how they treat their own homes (or the homes where they are staying)?

 
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I remember that commercial. 

When my son was in Boy Scouts we stayed on the aircraft carrier USS Lexington. Rule 15 applied at meals and movie time. We picked up lots of popcorn off the ground when the movie ended. Lots of folks snuck out and didnt help.

The carrier is a museum at Galveston Island. It was cool cuz we slept in Navy bunks and when they got us up early morning, the view was ocean, even though it was at waters edge. It felt like we were 100 miles offshore.
 
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Bryant, I think I recall reading or watching a little documentary how that commercial with the indigenous man shedding a tear over litter, was big industry's (was it soda pop manufacturers?) way of shifting the blame for refusing to allow bottle deposits and finding ways to encourage recycling to blaming consumers for littering. It was an interesting commentary, really. I don't know a lot more about it than this vague recollection which probably has some of the details wrong. Though I was rather surprised because I was truly touched by that commercial myself.



You're thinking of Iron Eyes Cody, who was actually Espera Oscar de Corti, pretty much 100% native...Italian.  But the ad had a lot of "punch" and I remember it well. We used to have a program here in road-trash capital of the US, Oklahoma, called "Don't Lay That Trash On Oklahoma", you called a hotline and got a recording of Reba McIntyre saying "Tell me who's laying trash on Oklahoma!?!!"   You could report someone tossing/dumping an dthey got a form letter from the governor.  Along with a really comprehensive program of TV spots, school seminars and such, it really had a measurable effect on the amount of trash you saw.  Then, of course, they stopped it for whatever reason and it seems like it's as trashy as ever.  Funny, because Tulsa is probably one of the cleanest cities in the country, 10 minutes out of town.....not so much.

It's a shame all around.  All you can really do is your little part, in the FPH, the park or on the road. 
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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My mom has this expression:

kick the ladder down, I'm up!

Which she always used as an example of how we can be so narcissistic that we don't think about whether others might need a ladder, or if anyone (yourself included!) might wish to go back down.

What's a good expression that means the opposite?

I like the Chinese proverb (is it?):

The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow.

Which implies that the more the gardener is in the garden, the better it gets.

Is there a similar, positive expression for the home or homestead?

 
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