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Nathan Kershner

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since Oct 21, 2015
East Aurora, NY
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Recent posts by Nathan Kershner

Neil, this is a great start to some very important work. I like that this methodology can scale; the same descriptive technique can be used on a series of small patches and the larger "macro-patch" they comprise.

However, as you point out, describing the composition of a patch, while very useful, does not necessarily describe a guild, which is concerned with the relationships between plants (and other organisms). Making this work harder is the fact that a guild itself is barely more than a theoretical construct. A person can design and plant a guild with a number of relationships in mind, but the reality is that far more interactions are being created than the planter realizes or has any ability to discern.

I imagine that part of the reason this formal framework hasn't arisen yet is that there are a staggering number of actual interactions in even a small patch, and many of those will not even be discernable to an observer. In the descriptive system you've set forward, communities and subcommunities are defined based on canopy or ground coverage. I'm struggling (as it seems you are as well) with how this can be augmented to include guild relationships, where there is no single metric, such as canopy coverage. Also, different observers are likely to to place differing emphasis on particular guild functions or relationships.

I agree with Karl about the importance of this kind of work. I don't think that taking the guild notion out of it is the answer, but it is clear that integrating the notion of guilds into your framework will be a challenge.

I don't have much to add about the mycota issue, except to point out that there, too, observability may be problematic.
3 years ago
Paul, I don't know how many people are out here silently cheering you on, but I bet there are more of us than you or I know. Keep on doing what you're doing. You're moving forward, and you're right that a tipping point will come.
3 years ago
I like the look and feel. More information is presented up-front which makes it a little more visually chaotic, but ultimately much easier to find things and explore. For my own purposes, I think it's great and I have no complaints. For new users not immediately turned off by the visual chaos, I think more of them will see the vastness and awesomeness in the forums than before. (Anecdote: Google has been directing me to Permies threads for years, since nobody else on the internet is asking the kinds of questions I'm asking, yet it wasn't until a few months ago that I clued in to exactly what was going on here. I suspect this is true of other people as well, who may be better able to see the big picture with these changes.)

I am concerned that some new users may be confused or overwhelmed at first, which might turn them away... I wonder if a prominent "how to use this site" feature would be beneficial to show to non-logged-in users?
Parenting is a huge topic but one in which permaculture ideals are very relevant. There are other places on the internet that discuss "ancestral parenting," but what about permaculture parenting? (Julie Walter, thanks for the link to your blog--I'm glad someone IS talking about permaculture parenting!)

After all, what is the aim of parenting if not to create resilient, self-managing, interconnected, productive systems?

Just as in permaculture design for your landscape, I believe that the most success comes from taking the long view and observing before acting. What is trying to emerge from each of your family members and the relationships between you? How can you nudge these things toward your goals with minimal intervention, working with the nature of your family members?

There have been great responses in this thread so far. Parenting is a realm in which it's easy for people to get dogmatic and judge-y and try to push their approach on others, but there are many successful approaches that can yield healthy families. Unfortunately, there are so many options that it can be overwhelming.

Others have given you their approaches and some great resources. I will give the highlights of our experience below, but I think the most important thing is this: When navigating all of this parenting stuff, from conception to college and beyond, learn to listen to your internal response. If something doesn't sit right with you, do something about it. Guide your family on the path that you believe is best, and don't be afraid of anyone else's judgement. Don't be afraid to change your mind, either: flexibility is part of resilience.

What works for us in a nutshell:

Home birth: Both of our children were born at home and we can't imagine choosing any other option for a healthy, low-risk pregnancy.

Circumcision: I have strong feelings about this one. Why prune a tree that grows perfectly on its own?

Co-sleeping: I don't know how non-co-sleeping parents get sleep. It's enough work just to roll over and change a diaper; I don't want to have to go into a different room to do it. My wife can just roll over and nurse (our youngest is 5 mos); she doesn't even wake up for it.

Breastfeeding: We plan to do it until mom and child agree not to. Our oldest (almost 4) still nurses about once a day. I'm sure he'll stop someday.

Baby-led weaning/baby food: We start giving food when the baby starts grabbing it off our plates (6 mos with our first, 5 mos with our second). We never did commercial baby food. With our first child, we made our own for about a week. It was work. Then we realized that we could just give him whatever we were eating. Babies are fine with mushy stuff or things that are too big for their mouths. (There is nothing wrong with a toothless baby sucking on big piece of steak throughout dinner.) We don't reduce seasonings or anything else for our children, so they learn to eat what we eat. Our oldest (almost 4) will eat almost anything.

Babywearing: There are lots of reasons to do this, and lots of ways. Just like Kerry said, I think the more "ancestral" carriers are best, but not easiest.

Also, I completely agree with almost everything else Kerry said.

Kids need an immersive experience from the beginning.



This may be the most important thing! Wear your baby or have him/her nearby while you do things. Babies will watch and learn. Our experience is that, if you let your 2-year old help, you'll have to re-do a lot of things. But it's worth the investment in extra time and frustration, because our 3-year-old is already doing many things well (shelling peas/beans, sorting laundry, cutting vegetables [with a sharp knife], and many other tasks).


3 years ago
Count me in. I have 7 acres in East Aurora and am developing my permaculture vision for the land.
3 years ago