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Sam Phillips

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since Apr 18, 2016
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Tuscon, AZ
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Recent posts by Sam Phillips

Hi permies community,

I'm starting a project on a property with mountain foothills to the south and west and high mountains to the southwest in the sonoran desert. I would love to use some software to get calculate my solar arc and then also have the calculations account for shading from the surrounding topography and get all the other relevant solar exposure info, day length adjusted for topography, etc. Will I need to use multiple pieces of software to achieve this? Are there tie-ins for google earth? How would you go about getting this information? Any suggestions are appreciated and I will gladly accept corrections on the terminology I'm using here which I do not believe to be precise or accurate. Thank you.

3 years ago
Most of the trees aren't above 15-20ft. They are large trees for the area and elevation but not large in the realm of all trees. The property is the house on the south side all the way up to the fence-line you can see on the north and all the way to the east of the screen. Some of the washes are more noticeable and more vegetated than others here on but there are 3 washes 10-ft deep. The slope averages 2-3 degrees but is pretty irregular in different places? Thoughts on necessity of LIDAR given this additional info?
3 years ago
I was hoping there would be other solutions than that, especially when it comes to legume trees from other continents. I guess you just try to look for ones that have been naturalized near you. Or where you have friends who can send you a root nodule along with seeds in the mail. Thanks for the info. This would be a good situation to work toward changing in the scientific listings and commercial availability of starters.
3 years ago
Thanks for all the information on that Devin. I have a few more questions. What are some examples of toy grade drones? Is crashing something that normally just happens in manual operation mode or also on preprogrammed mapping missions? And what are some examples of LIDAR cameras that you might buy for a personal drone and how do you determine if your foliage is dense enough to benefit from it? Also do you save a lot of money by buying drone parts and building one as opposed to buying one premade? (like you save from buying computer parts online and then putting it together)
3 years ago
Hi permies.com community. I first got the idea of doing aerial mapping for a site on an old PDC audio of Bill Mollison, where he speaks about hiring an airplane flyover mapping service to do a 2ft contour map of your property. I have a 33 acre parcel in foothills of a mountainous area in the Sonoran desert that I'd like to get a detailed map of. It seems that most of the services available today all use drones to fly over and gather the data. I read on another post on these forums that the data from LIDAR is especially accurate around trees, which is relevant to me. My previously mentioned property is very heavily vegetated for the area. In addition to the drone mapping services, I found a website that will sell you your own mapping drone that you can do your own surverys with for only $800 but there's an $80-$90 per month fee for the use of their software to convert your data to a usable 3d map. I'm not sure what the difference in accuracy and detail is between the different services.I would love to get some feedback on what you think is the best way to go on this. Thank you community!

P.S. Link to website selling personal mapping drones: http://www.mapir.camera/?gclid=CjwKEAjwpfC5BRCT1sKW2qzwqE0SJABkKFKRbrRVqL3JCKhpSmEwUgd6HPbDSAVLiIW6Bc7Q3wioSxoCw2Tw_wcB
3 years ago
Hi permies.com community. I have some questions about nitrogen fixing bacteria that inhabit the root nodules on legume trees. I've heard that the different species of bacteria are only compatible with certain legumes. I've also heard that legumes trees will not grow well and sometimes not be able to grow at all without the nitrogen fixing bacteria that they need for their specific partners symbiosis that the plant and bacteria have adapted to. My concern is that I'd like to bring in new species of legume not already growing in my area into my forest garden to increase biodiversity and I'm how, if I grow them from seed, will they grow well and have a high level of nitrogen fixation. Do your legume trees will form an association with existing soil bacteria? Do you bring in soil or a root nodule from a healthy plant containing a compatible nitrogen fixing bacteria species for that tree? Most of the data I've found online is for the compatibility of nitrogen fixing bacteria species and annual legume crops. I'm much more interested in legume tree crops. Do you know any resources addressing the species compatibility between legume trees and rhizome inhabiting nitrogen fixing bacteria species? I know there are a lot of questions here. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Thank you.
3 years ago
Has anyone experimented with the mappir2 camera and drone? It's only $800 for the equipment but there's a $80 per month fee for the use of their cloud services. If you're just doing your property you'd only have to pay that once though and I could see it being worthwhile for as opposed to the cost of manual surveys in a consulting business if it works well. The videos on the site show the personal drones and cameras mapping agricultural fields but I could see this being very useful for a designer. Has anyone tried this? Thoughts? website: http://www.mapir.camera/
3 years ago
I grew up as an aspiring jazz musician. I still enjoy taking out the sax occasionally and playing with musicians who are receptive to ideas harmonically, rhythmically, and enjoy and participating in interplay of those musical ideas. I’m now a budding permaculturalist. I just listened to Paul’s Permaculture Velocity Talk from Permaculture Voices and it brought up a lot of thoughts for me, particularly some parallels relating permaculture and jazz history.



Both permaculture and jazz were founded on politically marginal roots from the perspective of people in power. Neither permaculture nor jazz has a particularly positive connotation in the ears of the average American today. More have heard of jazz and jazz is older, so it’s somewhat a given that more people have an immediate negative reaction to the word jazz than the word permaculture. Permaculture as a public movement is much more recent than jazz. Given the relatively young age of permaculture as a movement, I find some comparisons from the history of the relatively older jazz movement thought-provoking, offering us clues about where our culture as a movement could potentially lead.

When the average American hears the word permaculture, I think the most common response is, “What’s permaculture?” I find this to be a tricky question to answer because, like jazz, permaculture has a very wide umbrella that covers so many different areas. To put a strict definition on either of these words is by the very nature of a definition, limiting to innovation. And different people give different definitions of both subjects, some very limiting and exclusionary. Wynton Marsalis’s definition of jazz, for instance, in Ken Burn’s History of Jazz Documentary gives a definition which excludes much of what most would consider to be under the umbrella of jazz today. One of his criteria for music being jazz is that it has to swing. This excludes many sub-categories of jazz commonly considered to be under the jazz umbrella such as latin jazz and jazz fusion to name just a couple. This type of exclusionary thinking, however, started much earlier in jazz history. Jazz great Louis Armstrong publicly stated that what jazz innovator Charlie Parker was doing in the 1930s and 1940s was not jazz. Parker’s work ended up being so monumental to jazz that it became universal inspiration and information to almost all jazz occurring after that.

Other jazz artists believed that it was limiting to have a rigid definition of jazz circulating in the minds of its artists at all. Miles Davis classically responded to someone asking what jazz was with, “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” This attitude clearly discourages a strict definition from forming in an individual’s mind and encourages the interested party to be more observant also leaving the door open for innovation in the art form.

It’s my opinion that limiting definitions don’t help progress and we should keep the word permaculture as open as possible, not limiting others innovation by our own opinion about what has worked for us in the past. Louis Armstrong was an incredibly successful and great musician but his limiting comments on Parker created a schism in an art form that almost always had a marginal public opinion for various, largely political reasons. Jazz is an art-form largely created by former slaves and generations down from former slaves of a country. That sounds a lot like permaculture. Permaculture is a lot like an art form that by it’s very nature is likely to be considered marginal by a public that is conditioned to dependent on corporations for it’s subsistence, information, and security. Permaculture teaches people true self-sufficiency. Corporations are willing to invest a lot of money into that being seen as a marginal thing.

Given that we don’t have the greatest odds of being the most popular thing out of the gate it would make sense for us to all get along and show each other some mutual respect despite our different tastes within our chosen art-form, right? From what Wheaton is saying in his talk about the social problems within permaculture it doesn’t seem like we are, on the whole, following this basic idea as well as we could be. This brings up, for me, more cultural parallels from jazz history. In the early jazz days there were these things called cutting contests. After performances jazz musicians would go to a residence and have musical competitions where they would go back and forth improvisationally competing to musically speak something more impressive than what was said previously by the opposing musician, almost like a not too congenial scientific debate. The goal was to prove that you were better than the opposing musician. Another thing that comes to mind from the jazz experience is Charlie Parker, bofre he was the great innovator going to a jam session at the age of 13 and getting a cymbal thrown at him because the drummer thought he sounded bad. That sounds a lot like a regional permaculture teacher publicly calling another permaculturalist an idiot because they disagree with their opinion. Is this really the type of culture we want in permaculture?

I agree with Paul that this type of culture is a big reason for the lack of balanced gender involvement on a public level in permaculture, a problem shared with jazz. I went to a competitive audition-only based arts high school. The school was 66% female 33% male. Within the school was a jazz department. It was the most male dominated department in the whole school. I was in the top small group jazz ensemble which had 6 to 7 members depending on the year. There was never a female member. The big bands on average had 1 female member out of 20-24 members. Even just within the larger music department, and excluding dance, theater, and visual arts there were girls than boys. I also very briefly attended a very prestigious and expensive music college that had a historic core of jazz education. Their male to female ratio is more skewed than America’s top military academies.

Why is this the case in jazz? The competitive and sometimes hostile environment discourages sensitive people from reaching the higher levels. On average masculine culture tends to value competition and feminine culture tends to value cooperation. Innovators tend to draw a lot of criticism and negativity along their path to success and with art-forms like jazz and permaculture that are built on new things and innovation, there is likely to be a lot of negativity and criticism floating around out there. I think we need to mitigate that negativity as much as possible and stop it from bombarding individuals in our movement. For that reason I am in full support of the censorship that Paul talks about using on these forums in his Permaculture Velocity talk.

I’m not claiming to have the answers to any of these wide-reaching cultural issues. I do think that we can be the examples of mutual respect that we want to see and I would however like to discuss these issues with the larger community. Thanks for reading my thoughts.

Shoutout to Paul Wheaton!

Thanks for the thought provoking and relevant talk for our culture and the future of our movement. I’m very much looking forward to meeting you at the upcoming PDC.

richsoil.com/pdc
That would be ideal. The thing is I already paid for half of the PDC and AT and I thought Paul said the cutoff date for that had already passed and I won't be able to arrive until shortly before the PDC. My finances are pretty touch and go to be able to cover everything so being able to get in on that offer in some way or something would make it a lot more feasible for me. I appreciate the suggestion.
3 years ago
Would it be possible to join the ant village after the PDC and AT courses? (After listening to all the podcasts of course) And could I pay in cash at the PDC?
3 years ago