Onno Cain

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since Nov 27, 2021
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Recent posts by Onno Cain

Hi all! So long before I got involved in permaculture, I had success producing Minecraft videos on YouTube. And after doing my PDC and doing some consulting/teaching, I've LOVED teaching new people about Permaculture design principles and core ethics. So I decided to try teaching them by applying them to the video game of Minecraft. The game has enough flexibility and semi-realistic farming elements that tons of Permaculture TOTALLY applies to normal gameplay. And oddly I've never seen anyone apply them; which seems like a huge missed opportunity since Minecraft is being rolled out more and more as an education tool for children (just to be clear, I have seen people use Minecraft as a sort of 3D design studio for their real life permaculture projects, but no one ever applied permaculture to Minecraft as a game).

And if I'm being totally honest, because my wife and I don't have access any land where we live, doing Permaculture in Minecraft together is a fun way to pretend and practice for our own future home while we save up to move to our own place. (That, and our window garden, haha)

I'm specially excited about a "Permaculture in Minecraft" YouTube series because the kids who spend a lot of time watching video games on YouTube probably have the least exposure/access to permaculture education and would benefit most by it. One of the things my PDC teachers taught me is to seek out the most vulnerable people in your community and demonstrate Permaculture with them. So far I've produced 3 episodes of "Permaculture in Minecraft" where the viewer and I focus on People Care, multifunctionality, the Fukuoka method, valuing renewable resources, Earth Care, and all that good stuff.

My wife and I also try to make our YouTube channel something healthy for modern day children to watch. We often record our Minecraft commentary sitting side by side with a webcam, so that kids watching can get just a little more face-to-face interaction with real people and exposure to real human body language (that they might otherwise be deprived of while immersed in technology). I use a webcam for this reason even on the more technical / tutorial videos (which is actually counter-cultural in the Minecraft YouTube community!). We also make videos just showing healthy non-technological living (ironically) like going camping and cooking together.

I wanted to share a link to the video series here cause I figure lots of "Permies" might be interested in something like this. Maybe you have kids or know kids that you'd like to share it with. I think it could be an exciting and surprising way to show them how cool and useful Permaculture is. Maybe you'll enjoy the series yourself! Or maybe you just want even more proof that Permaculture applies to nearly every aspect of human culture, haha. Either way, here's the most recent "Permaculture in Minecraft" episode:

My wife and I hope you like it. And if you want to support us on this project, please consider sharing the video series with someone and leaving a "like" or a comment with your thoughts. So thanks! and happy designing!
2 years ago
Yeah! I've seen people online use Minecraft for layout and real-world planning (like you say you're doing as well). But the gameplay itself lends itself well to permaculture principles and I haven't found anyone else who deliberately incorporates permaculture into Minecraft gameplay.

My most recent "build challenge" has been quick house construction using trees and mushrooms. The idea is
1) plant a tree and wait for it to grow (or bonemeal it)
2) chop the logs and plant a brown mushroom beneath the leaves before they decay. Mushrooms can only be placed in sufficient shade.
3) Bone meal the brown mushroom creating the house roof.
4) Then plant four trees in the corners of the house (so creating a 7x7 square). Birch and oak work well.
5) Harvest the leaves from these trees with shears (except along the border of the house). This creates walls.
6) Build out the walls with the leaves harvested from inside/outside. And place doors (which you can craft with wood from the first tree).

This values renewable resources and makes multifunctional use of the plants.

The one problem is that this uses up shears pretty quickly -- which aren't easily renewable. The red mushrooms can be made into houses more easily but are a bit cramped. Perhaps they're a good target for tiny-house designing. It's funny to think so but would probably work out very well.

Another option is to grow the brown mushroom as described (steps 1 - 3) but then create the four walls with four red mushrooms; grown similarly (i.e. using a tree as low-labor and resource-producing shade). The gaps can be filled with some kind of wooden block and the interiors of the four mushrooms would function as extra rooms; say one for storage; one for crafting/smelting/brewing; one for a bedroom; one for enchanting; etc.

Mike Creuzer wrote:Oh... I like this idea....

I have been working on converting a topo of my 80ish acres into a minecraft map (unsuccessfully thus far) with the idea to 'build' virtually in the game. (There is an old coal mine, I have a sawmill, I tease that I do minecraft in real life)

I like what you are doing here working on more of the principles as well. There can likely be more 'lessons' wrapped around the concept as well. You going to have some reading of the texts and maybe do some build challenges?

I have noticed that my builds in the game are trending towards permaculture principles - I build in zones and do function stacking and such.   One example is my terraced fields with water harvesting has a strip down the middle where I plant trees. I can chop my trees and harvest the crops and the tree drops get swept down to the item collection along with the crops. (probably the same as your wheat and tree flood farm)  Automatic beehives drop into the collection water streams as well.

With the new release yesterday, and starting a new world today, I am going to double down on my own permaculture design within my Minecraft builds.

2 years ago
testing testing 123
try #2 with img code

backyard pic:

and backpack sector analysis:
2 years ago
Hi y'all! My partner and I made our own board game some this past year.
It's a land management game that favors patient regenerative strategies. We called it "Youpratto".
It's largely hexagon based like Brett showed above.
We have a (pretty empty) discord for it if you'd like to join and chat: https://discord.gg/HPBXXuh9
My partner and I have a vision of using Minecraft to teach Permaculture to tech-immersed kids!
We're not quite up to speed for video production yet.

But here's a network of element analysis we did on the sub-genre of Minecraft called "Skyblock":

And a hand-drawn element analysis for two types of farms in normal survival Minecraft:

And here's some pictures of those two farms.
Riverbed sugarcane farm:

Wheat/oak tree floodhill:

We plan to post more stuff here (someday): https://www.whitestonesociety.org/permaculture
2 years ago
Hello! Just trying out posting an image. This should be a nighttime picture of a little backyard garden made from waste materials found on the property:

2 years ago
Hi Victor, I live in Lake Elsinore area. Any chance I could pick up some seeds or cuttings from your pomegranate tree?
2 years ago
Interested to know how this is going for you nowadays:

Jonathan D Davis wrote:We're in a similar boat in Riverside County - just next door. We CAN build on our lot but code enforcement is on our backs about every little detail and now we have to build a house and quickly. We received a polite little notice in March of this year telling us that we can't live or build on our property until we have a "house". We've lived here three years, growing vegetables and honey for market, in a travel trailer with an outdoor shower and independent composting toilet.

The one great choice that I made was hiring a consultant. I asked around our local community and found someone who can really defend against the county government. His fee was a paltry $500 to keep the county off of our backs - and the fee is a flat rate regardless of how long it draws on. All county complaints come through his office and he just fends them off. I would google "code mitigation" for SB county and see what pops. It's the best $500 we've ever spent! If you want to PM me I can send you my consultant's contact info but I'm not certain that he would work in San Bernardino. I think that relationships with county officials are the grease that keeps the wheels moving.

With knowledgable representation you can go to council meetings, private meetings, or (preferably not) to court and not have to worry about filing the wrong paperwork. California is great but does it ever love it's bureaucracy (and the fees!). You can do all of this on your own but I feel more confident with someone who know the building and environmental codes in and out.  

Hold tight! There's a way out of this. You just need to find it and I'm sure you will.

2 years ago
Hi S. Brown, my partner and I live in Lake Elsinore and are very interested in what you're working on. It looks great.

We're putting down roots currently in the Lake Elsinore/Wildomar/Murrieta areas, but would love to visit your Riverside property whenever possible.
And we would likely be very happy to help with any properties you ever work with in those areas (or Hemet/Temecula).
I have one PDC under my belt from Quail Springs an ecovillage of sorts in the CA high desert.
And am about to start their "land-based living" online course (their website link if anyone's interested: https://www.quailsprings.org/)

My email is christian.wolird@gmail.com
2 years ago