My First Veterans’s Day

My wife is a Veteran. I’ve always stayed clear of the military as much as I could, although I spent a lot of time with returning Vietnam Vets in my early twenties. It seemed then that most of my male contemporaries were gone to war or returning ragged and unable to cope much with life back home.

I danced with them on Maine summer nights away from college, watched them get drunk driving me home and felt helpless to make anything right for them or for myself. I married a guy with a high lottery number after a three year college deferment. That was after I was asked to join the revolution by a guy who was interviewing me for a job in social services. I was a bit of a radical working in the ghetto of Newark, New Jersey, but I wasn’t ready for anarchy.

Do you feel like big brother is watching you? Sometimes when I write about myself, I wonder if some government agency will pick up on words I write and show up to question me now that our basic citizen rights have been terminated. My father is one of the few remaining WWII veterans. He has a purple heart and taking him to Applebees today for a free meal was a sweet experience today. My mother turned 90 yesterday and my father is on his way to 92. That they live together in their house, drive a four wheel drive car and pretty much take care of themselves is some kind of miracle. They spent their lives as Christian missionaries and ministers. Their faith is deep and all encompasing. Their longevity may have something to do with that sense of pupose they carry.

Moving to rural Maine is like moving to another planet. People here work hard, at least those who can find work. There is a deep bone poverty here. Many natives seem isolated from the rest of the country. I observed a lot of respect for veterans today, the kind

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Only 15 Days Left!

If you want what visible reality

can give, you’re an employee.

If you want the unseen world,

you’re not living your truth.

Both wishes are foolish,

but you’ll be forgiven for forgetting

that what you really want is

love’s confusing joy.

From Essential Rumi

by Coleman Barks

I’m working on staying upbeat, but we have only raised 2% of our goal and there are only 15 days left. Can you help? Here is the Indiegogo site. Just Connections. I want to give you a few reasons to join us.

1. Seven million Americans are stuck in poverty from part-time jobs. Corporate America is making mega millions off the backs of both the educated and uneducated poor by offering lousy low-paying part-time work keep their costs low and putting many into poverty. If you are still in a great full-time position you are in the minority. Part-time job poverty. Even worse is the following fact.

2.Many older Americans have lost all hope of retirement because of pensions dissappering and the stock market stealing all their former wealth, but the possiblity of getting a job if you are over 50 is horrible and over 62 almost impossible. Older Americans are unable to get work.

3. Young college graduates for the past several years have no hope of employment. Recent college graduates are unemployed.

We have no hope for a good life based on our current economic model. We need an alternative that is not based on greed but on the love of life, each other and sharing. It is possible, but we have to start now, we need to join together to make it happen. Our power is great, the possibility unique the opportunity timely, Please think about it.

Thanks for listening. Thanks for caring. Thanks for jumping in!

The Upsetting Reality Of Modern Day Poverty.

kathleen kerridge

This is a post about a subject very close to home.  My home.  It is about politicians who wouldn’t know poverty if it chewed on their overpaid arses.

It’s about Jamie Oliver.

Now, to put this out there, I loved Jamie.  For years and years, I idolised the man.  He taught me to cook, when I could barely operate a Pot Noodle and we lived off Smash (dehydrated potatoes) and pasta (we even overcooked that).  I would watch all his shows and learn, slowly, from the TV.  In less than a year, I was able to cook a three course meal for 15 people.  Gourmet became easy and I was soon laughing my way through 3 meat roasts and cooked-from-scratch curries.  I owe my skill in the kitchen to Jamie.  I have a lot to thank him for.

Jamie Oliver was good to watch, when I had money.  Before I had…

View original post 1,149 more words

Long Time Gone and Food for Thought

I just spent every inch of my energy for two months helping put on a wedding for 100 people at our house. It happened and turned out great and now back to Permaculture and the Art of Living.

My partner and I are now back on track to get our mushroom business started. I’m working on a narrative about why this business is such a good investment. In my research, I came across this reprinted article on Carolyn Baker’s blog: http://carolynbaker.net/2011/04/20/20-reasons-you-need-to-prepare-and-store-food  I am also by the way reading her new book, “Navigating the Coming Chaos,” which is extremely helpful. Here’s a fun video of her telling a story with her drum.


The statistics on food are abysmal. Costs, radiation contamination, pesticides and GMO contamination, as well as the huge cost of transportation with the cost of Petroleum soaring and food products being used to produce ethanol. Secondly lack of water and soil make growing food a deeper challenge. Permaculture addresses many of those issues, but an even deeper need is spiritual and communal. We are in dire need of a place of communion for sharing our grief and our passion to make it better. Community is also one of the only possible venues for survival as things disintegrate,  unless you are one of the very top per cent whose wealth may help you survive the coming transition to a post-industrial society.

I’m not talking about on-line communities although I am part of quite a few. The community of which I speak is the old kind I grew up with, but in a newly created contemporary way. We are attempting that creation here in the San Fernando Valley through a world wide movement known as Transition. There are many obstacles now when things are only beginning to fall apart, but I believe that developing extended family and friends as well as extended neighborhood communities will be extremely valuable in the near future. How? Any way that works for you. Have neighbors over. Make amends with your family and friends and begin to share resources in some way. Growing food that can be shared is a good way to start. How about lending a hand to the guy that comes by to pick the cans and bottles out of your recycle. Recently I began a conversation with a local landscaper about how to get certified in Permaculture and why. Potlucks are great gatherings if there is something to initiate and guide the time. Any kind of alternative currency or time exchange barter group or co-op.

I’d love to hear some new ideas. It’s helping me to not feel so much grief at some in our country who are rejoicing over the death of another human being. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with grief, but if I turn that energy into doing something for the community of life, I feel better. Peace out and in.

Running Fast in the Slow Lane

It’s been an amazing holiday season with great needs, great gifts and wonderful celebrations. I’m learning a lot about letting things happen as they will. Amazing I could get this far in life and not know how little control I have over events and timing that are part of my life. Still, I do know that life is precious, deep, full of love and joy and that I have a part to play in celebrating that on this gorgeous planet.

I’m growing Shiitake mushrooms on the kit my daughter-in-law’s sister gave me for a Chanukah gift. Say nothing of reading Paul Stamets’ wonderful tome, “Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms,” that were part of her gift. I’m obsessed with mushrooms and understand the author’s claim that they can save the world! Watch him here:

http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world.html

Want to try growing mushrooms at home? Here’s an article to help.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/11/oyster-mushrooms-coffee.php

More fungi here later. Happy spawning.

Permaculture Discovery Part I

So the list below that kind of goes on is the comprehensive one I was given in my Permaculture Design Certification class. It covers a lot, but I like Dave Holgrem’s Design Principles below those because his seem clear, practical and easy to understand. I’ll enjoy discussing them at the beginning of the year with my Permaculture Discovery partners as we explore how to use the principles and ethics to live full, abundant and holistic lives.

We’ll start by working with water in the landscape. When we are done listening and playing games, we’ll be staking out a swale on the steep hill in my backyard using a simple triangle rigged with a homemade plumb bob and center line. See the video below.

The second gathering will work on sheet mulching an area in one of our yards. See instructions and example in the second video below.  Happy Permaculture experimenting in 2011.

Ethics (core moral values)

Care of Earth

Care of People

Redistribute the Surplus

Principles (fundamental tenets or rules for conduct)

Observe and Interact with Natural Systems

Practice Conservation

Value Diversity and Edges

Reciprocity

Many Functions for each Element

Many Elements for each Function

Catch and Store Energy

Appropriate Scale

Attitudes (manners, feelings, positions to guide action)

The problem is the solution

Yield is only limited by the imagination of the designer

Least change for the greatest effect

Relinquish power

Integrate rather than segregate

Respond creatively to change

Strategies (goals to prioritize and focus efforts)

Too many to list – specific to a particular system or area of interest

e.g. Water

Capture and store the water on site

Use water as many times as possible in the system

Conserve water as much as possible

Water leaving the system should be clean

Techniques (specific methods for obtaining a goal)

Too many to list – specific to a particular system or area of interest

e.g. Water

Dig swales on sloped land to spread it-slow it-sink it

Use a front-loading washing machine

Install a rooftop rainwater catchment system

Capture and use greywater

David Holgrem’s Permaculture Design Principles

1)Observe and Interact
2) Catch and Store Energy
3) Obtain a Yield
4) Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback
5) Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services
6) Produce No Waste
7) Design from Patterns to Details
8) Integrate Rather than Segregate
9) Use Small and Slow Solutions
10) Use and Value Diversity
11) Use Edges and Value the Marginal
12) Creatively Use and Respond to Change

None of Us Are Free/Economic Inequality Causes Crime, Depression, Early Death, etc.

With so many billions of dollars swirling around from Washington and so many unemployed, underemployed friends, family, etc. I think it’s time to talk about economic inequality and the affects it has on humans.

An amazing article by “Yes Magazine,”interviews  British epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson about what happens when a society has unequal distribution of wealth. The most telling statement to me was,” Inequality affects our ability to trust and our sense that we are part of a community. In a way, that is the fundamental mediator between inequality and most of these outcomes, through the damage it does to social relations. For instance, in more equal countries or more equal states, two-thirds of the population may feel they can trust others in general, whereas in the more unequal countries or states, it may drop as low as 15 percent or 25 percent.” Read the whole interview here http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/want-the-good-life-your-neighbors-need-it-too

He is talking about Us here, that is the U.S. and the difference between us and Sweden or France and even the difference of what state in the U.S. we live in and how unevenly distributed the wealth is.

Yesterday, I was part of a debate about whether the documents that WikiLeaks leaked should have been made public. I was astonished that some people who I thought were close to me politically thought it was wrong! Here are a couple of the reasons given.

1. Didn’t trust people with the information. Dolts would use it to cause more harm.

2. It was like a schoolyard tattletale.

The first thing seems like the result of living in an unequal, consumer society and the second seems like judging whistle blowing as bad behavior because peers who may have been doing harmful things should be protected, kind of a “gansta” mentality, in my thinking.

All this brings me to the giant need we have for community and sharing. A very interesting conclusion of the above study is that in order to deal with many of the ills of our society we need to bring more economic equality to our societies. Another point Wilkinson made is that we are not consumers because we are selfish but because we are such social beings that it is extremely important to us to be accepted by our community. The anxiety and mistrust of fellow human beings this produces deeply affects both the poor and the rich. In other words, poverty is not the problem, but inequality is what needs to be solved.

My work in trying to spread Permaculture without the huge expense ($1200 and up) it takes to get Permaculture Certification. There may be a place for getting certified, but it has become one of the main means by which Permaculture designers get income and share the knowledge. I do feel like knowledge is power and that with holding information is a way of controlling the masses. I consider the soldier who leaked the documents to be a huge hero and am grateful that there was a place he could send what he found.

We are all living with more anxiety and fear these days post 911, but most of mine comes from watching our rights get eroded by governments who claim to be protecting me and are probably scanning this post for reasons to put me on some list…..Or maybe it’s because I live in such an unequal society! There has not been such a vast divide in income in this country since 1928, the year before the Great Depression.