Update 2/2014: how quickly things have moved along. Not so many years ago (3?) I took a Sustainability course from Coursera. I learned a lot, some of it useful, but mostly it was about learning the Establishment view and how to talk about the issues as they defined them (not as they actually existed). Which is what education is, really. Learning the language of the discipline, and staying inside the lines. But honestly... most of the articles they had us read were from The Economist ('nuff said about that source), with "information" such as the claim that nobody will die because of Fukushima. The best thing about the course was seeing a global discussion taking place, with people sharing their own viewpoints and trading ideas. Even by then I was already thinking Resilience, which is beyond Sustainability as it gets into greater realities of changes we could expect to deal with.
Now, in 2014, even resilience seems hopelessly optimistic considering how fast the climate is collapsing worldwide... At this point, I recommend John Michael Greer's most recent posts on Archdruid Report, and his book Green Wizardry. Plenty of good information and ideas there for living more resiliently in a changing world. Nevertheless... this page shows how it looked to me only a couple of years ago -- so optimistic! -- and really, whatever crises we find ourselves dealing with in reality, it never hurts to have fun with it when we can. To be creative. To take chances. Which is to say, go for the future. If you and your community pull through your particular situations, you'll be well positioned to deal with a new environment together. Probably an ever changing one.
|wordle by Jon Shahub for The Future We Deserve|
UPDATES: Okay, this page keeps growing longer and so many of the projects I'm finding cross boundaries - isn't that great!? - so from now on I'm going to just add new links as I find them, in this section, latest first! (For more, see the original section, below.)
Climate Change post: this is another post I keep adding to: http://mypersonalblogccm.blogspot.com/2009/12/never-give-up-never-surrender-video.html
Open Money: discussions http://www.extraenvironmentalist.com/2012/07/11/episode-45-opening-money/
The Myth of Sustainability; Dr. McPherson discusses the path we're on and templates for living in the future in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIP0O1NJVZA Long video, and at the start he reviews the crisis, which probably won't be news for you, but at about minute 23 he gets into a vision for how to live in the future. Then at about minute 43 he takes questions for another 45 minutes. This is the discussion that's going on now. Agrarian anarchy, transition towns, more. He says, "I'm an optimist. I believe we can move forward -- if not as a society, then as individuals in communities." See also his blog Nature Bats Last, and his fine book, which really gets to the bottom of the personal experience, Walking Away from Empire.
Philosophy: The Uncivilization Manifesto: http://dark-mountain.net/about/manifesto/ Must-reading.
Rethinking money: What is it? Is economics a science (even a dismal one), really? What is the definition and how do we apply the scientific method, if it is? What about gold? What are the memes we need to supplant to have real understanding, in order to build a different human future, a better one than our past? This is the best source of "new story" that I've found yet: The Lost Science of Money by Stephen A. Zarlenga of the American Monetary Institute. It goes beyond (or beneath) Libertarianism, Marxism, or "Economics" as this country currently practices and finds common sense and a reform bill (2990) introduced by Dennis Kucinich (where would be be without him all these years, putting the rest of them on notice?)I haven't found an affordable way to read the actual book yet, but am looking; what I have heard, though, on this two part podcast on Gnostic Media, has me convinced at this point in my life. (Here's Part one; here's Part two. There are two additional interviews as well.)
The Future We Deserve--100 days, 100 visions of the future: http://thefuturewedeserve.com/ (read PDF of book free at this site)
The Four Horsemen and resilience: http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2012/06/the-horsemen-of-self-replication.html
Immense Possibilities: http://www.immensepossibilities.org/ Host Jeff Golden celebrates successful projects that build resilience. Produced by Southern Oregon Public Television. Great subjects! Watch streaming on website above, and at SOPTV site. Time banks, soul of money, state banks, food projects, more!
"It won't be a cakewalk" - as we disengage from dependence on corporations, they will fight back: http://www.resilientcommunities.com/big-ag-fights-back-michigan-turns-small-farmers-into-felons/
Open Source Permaculture project and free ebook and wiki, crowdsourced: http://www.indiegogo.com/OpenPermaculture
Home wastewater treatment system: http://biorealis.com/biofilter/drumbiofilter/
Resilient cities worldwide: http://commoncurrent.com/
Titanic Lifeboat Academy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDW2Z9O1kbo
Local food: talk by authors of 100-mile Diet about history and progress of locavore movement in different areas; local traditions etc; very interesting!.: http://18.104.22.168/downloads/ES_101203_Show.mp3
Incredible Edible Todmorden: a town just does it http://www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk/
Nomadic farming: http://www.resilientcommunities.com/extreme-resilience-nomadic-farms-and-farmers/
and for details, http://www.riverparkfarm.com/_blog/Riverpark_Farm
This page started out as a post mainly on food (click here to view that, with commentary) but I kept adding to it, gradually realizing that what people are calling resilience, and the innovative ways people are finding to create it -- not least through social networking and open source sharing -- has reawakened my hope and a lifelong passion for this kind of thing. It's finally happening! So here is a page where I can continue to collect this sort of information and share it.
Some good, quick background to resilience:
Are You Robust or Resilient? Good intro to the philosophy of resilience.
For a quick summary of what it's about, see this article from 2009, "Resilience in the Face of Crisis: Why the Future Will Be Flexible" by James Cascio
Some Resilience wikis:
Appropedia, a resilience wiki: http://www.appropedia.org/Welcome_to_Appropedia
Miiu, a wiki for open source resilience information: http://www.miiu.org/wiki/Main_Page
Resilient Communities site: http://www.resilientcommunities.com/
Green Wizards Forum: http://www.greenwizards.org/?q=forum
John Robb's blog http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/ is a great source for resilience information with an emphasis on military issues; then he began splitting the resilience info into his Resilient Communities site (listed above). See http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2011/12/why-a-focus-on-digital-change.html , and I first heard of some of these activities from links he sent from Global Guerillas. (Update: now he's poised to announce what looks like a commercial venture in resilience information--selling shovels to miners?)
Vinay Gupta mind map of links: http://www.pearltrees.com/#/N-u=1_517483&N-p=34309154&N-s=1_4256598&N-f=1_4256598&N-fa=4256529
What follows is a loosely organized collection of links, starting with information from my original post focusing on food, and following that, other types of concerns. I'll probably reorganize this later. Meanwhile I'll keep adding to it, so check back. And please send me anything you have to share.
Flag of Indian Independence, 1921.
Gandhi's charkha goes to the heart of the question: the spinning wheel
was the movement's icon for self reliance and independence from colonial rule.
Manufacturing Locally - even at home!
already on the market: http://cubify.com/cube/index.aspx
Open source design http://www.opensource.org/
The Hexayurt guy: open hardware can end poverty: http://blip.tv/the-hexayurt-project/ending-poverty-with-open-hardware-vinay_gupta_rough_cut-5046488
Also from Vinay Gupta - a mother lode of conversation about where things are going: http://thefuturewedeserve.com/
Makerplaces; hackerspaces in libraries: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/10/143401182/libraries-make-room-for-high-tech-hackerspaces
Share privately on the Web: open source project to develop Privly http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/229630898/protect-your-content-anywhere-on-the-web-privly?ref=category
Open source book scanning and publishing
Tiny Houses forthcoming documentary: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/meretemueller/tiny-a-story-about-living-small
Living Bridges: http://mypersonalblogccm.blogspot.com/2012/03/living-bridge-sustainable-green.html
Bjarke Ingels: http://mypersonalblogccm.blogspot.com/2010/04/bjarke-ingels-3-warp-speed-architecture.html
New urban eco-landscapes: http://mypersonalblogccm.blogspot.com/2011/02/new-urban-eco-landscapes.html
Microbial home: http://www.yankodesign.com/2011/10/21/the-microbial-home/
Green cities: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/earthrise/2011/10/2011102794411505302.html?utm_content=rssautomatic&utm_campaign=twitter&utm_source=SocialFlow&utm_term=june&utm_medium=tweet
Flush with pride: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/earthrise/2011/10/201110279352689462.html?utm_content=rssautomatic&utm_campaign=twitter&utm_source=SocialFlow&utm_term=june&utm_medium=tweet
Local food: An interesting news item forwarded by TJ Geezer shows that people are waking up in a big way to a preference for local food. That alone can go a long way to break the absurdly energy-inefficient agribusiness-and-distribution cycle. And anyone who has eaten mostly local food knows it's better.
Local food demand growing faster than infrastructure, USDA finds Local food infrastructure needs to deepen to ensure production can grow in line with consumer demand, which may be greater than previously thought, according to a new report from the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS).com/Market/Local-food-demand-
infrastructure-USDA-findsHere are some interesting links about food to look into, in no particular order. Many of them have videos, and offer ways to connect with the reality of food and the promise of a saner culture, and besides, this is really fun!
Local food production http://www.livingeconomies.org/node/776
Local food distribution: The Bucky Box: software for local organic deliveries by small growers http://www.buckybox.com/
Interesting blog by a guy who's travelling around the country mulling over resiliency approaches:
A Northern California neighborhood reinvents itself, becoming a shared kitchen garden, with some inspired community leadership:
Town in UK growing all its own food: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2072383/Eccentric-town-Todmorden-growing-ALL-veg.html
Public Food Forest in Seattle breaks ground: http://crosscut.com/2012/02/16/agriculture/21892/Nation-s-largest-public-Food-Forest-takes-root-on-Beacon-Hill/
saw that in great blog: http://ranprieur.com/
Permablitz Melbourne: "Eating the suburbs--one backyard at a time" http://www.permablitz.net/
The Free Farm in SF http://ht.ly/1fZUAW This is the group that referenced Gandhi's spinning wheel as the model, which struck me as perfect.
Stock Box addresses food desert problem:
Beyond Farmers Markets: http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2011/10/beyond-farmers-markets-and-onto-the-resilient-community.html
Nutrition issues in food deserts: Jamie Oliver has done a lot on the national scale to raise people's consciousness. Here's the talk he gave upon winning the TED Prize for his vision of teaching every child about food.
The Pie Ranch (educational farm): http://documentaryvideos.org/share-the-pie/
Online gaming can make a better world http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html
Farmville for Real: If you have spent any time on Facebook, you've probably been incredibly annoyed by Friends who play Farmville (unless you play it yourself!). In fact people get so caught up in the game that it crosses over into the real world with smashed friendships and so on. Others find it therapeutic. Personally I have no interest in Farmville, but now look -- it might just have helped people create a model for growing real food!
renegade farmers: Already farming, or want to do it?
Open Farm Tech (open source technology): http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/?old-url=true&
Global Village Construction Kit: http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Global_Village_Construction_Set
More young people turning to farming: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/story/2011-12-24/young-people-farming/52163914/1
Seed libraries: http://www.miiu.org/wiki/Seed_Libraries
Urban Farmers and aquaponics: http://www.urbanfarming.org/
Kansas City: the Urban Farming Guys https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Urban-Farming-Guys/148736628491372
Urban Homestead Journal: http://urbanhomestead.org/journal/
More on aquaponics and hydroponics: http://www.conceptualdevices.com/2011/06/malthus-a-meal-a-day-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-about-the-food-and-love-the-population-bomb/
Hydroponics for apartment dwellers:
Windowfarms (I supported this Kickstarter project and hope to have some of these eventually): http://www.ted.com/talks/britta_riley_a_garden_in_my_apartment.html
Note: if you plan to build one yourself re-using plastic bottles, be sure to use the right kind of plastic. Info in this here: http://www.resilientcommunities.com/are-window-farms-safe/
Aerogardens (I'm growing my daily lettuce in these cuties, above): http://www.aerogarden.com/
PlanterPonics (another one I just heard about): http://www.miiu.org/wiki/PlanterPonics
Better business and food growing models... As the culture shifts toward the consciousness that agriculture as it has been practiced for the last 10,000 years is at best unsustainable and at worst destructive to all life on the planet, people are beginning to create alternative models. It might not be necessary to go back to a hunter-gatherer past; what are our brains good for, anyway, if not creativity? For example, permaculture (more on that below). And if the Bioneers had been around earlier, my life might have been very different; who knows. You can see their conferences on Free Speech TV - and buy their sponsors' organic products in stores.
"Yeoman startups": http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/03/garden/sheep-lawn-mowers-and-other-go-getters.html?_r=3&emc=eta1&pagewanted=all
Growing sprouted fodder for livestock: http://www.chrismartenson.com/blog/growing-sprouted-fodder/72618
Permaculture is a sustainable model: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture Find your local permaculture people, such as this organization: https://sites.google.com/a/mind.net/siskiyou-permaculture/
Bioneers: Honoring the web of life. Somehow this got left out of my post earlier, probably because of an editing mistake: http://www.bioneers.org/
Bioneer conferences viewable on FSTV website: http://www.freespeech.org/search/node/bioneers
Biodynamic gardening/farming: though someone apparently has trademarked the term, "biodynamic" has been in general use for some time in connection with (and sometimes taken as the same as) permaculture, French intensive gardening, forest permaculture, or bioneering. Here is a page on YouTube with a lot of videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHU3KeGlrGY
CSAs: I was a member of a CSA (community supported agriculture group) for several years in my former location. This helped small organic farms stay in business while connecting them directly with a local market, who in turn had access to the very best food possible. It was hard for me as a single person to use up a full share, but it was a great experience. For a family or a group that cooks together for shared meals, though, the usual CSA model would work great. And nowadays there are probably CSAs that aren't completely family-oriented... Here's a website to check out: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
For non-vegetarians: advice on alternatives to factory farms:
To any aware, informed person who isn't a sociopath, buying (and thus supporting) supermarket meat is abhorrent on ethical grounds alone, never mind the health issues (which are serious). I've never been much of a meat eater, and morally I'm a vegetarian, yet I've never succeeded entirely as a vegetarian either. And I couldn't bring myself to buy factory-farmed meat. It's a holocaust out there, folks. How can anyone connect with that in a healthy way? There was never a term for people like me so I invented one for myself: ethical vegetarian (sometimes lapsed). If you don't care about the animals, care about yourself - you're an animal too. Sorry about the sermon but this is really essential to everything.
As a member of a CSA I got to know some local organic growers who could provide me with chickens and lamb from their farms. I knew how the animals were treated and it was a compromise I could make, while approaching the food with respect and gratitude to the animals in a mindful way. It was very healing to do it this way. Where I live now, my co-op does the work for me in finding the right sources. If you don't live where you know the grower, you can learn a lot from their website, and you can contact them directly with your questions and get a sense of it and trust your feelings. All these sellers have websites now. It has to be good for you to make the effort to be kinder to the animals destined to become part of you. Until you do it you can't imagine the weight it takes off your psychic shoulders to remove yourself from the realm of factory farms.
Sharing food with (not donating money to) overwhelmed food banks: The current economic crisis has greatly increased the number of people who no longer get enough to eat. Of course, depending on local conditions, some areas are harder-hit than others, but I think this is something all communities should get ready for. Some citizens of my home town of Ashland, Oregon, were concerned that the local food bank had become overwhelmed by demand from the newly-poor after the 2008 economic crash set in. They invented an elegantly simple, highly successful project that's now being copied elsewhere. It enables those of us who don't have much to spare to give just a little food - real food, not money to an organization - and when a lot of people do this, it really adds up. And it brings neighborhoods together. Check it out:
Here's a video they just produced, from the April pickup.
Two Food Documentaries and some Good Books
My two favorite documentaries on agribusiness (and, in the first one, alternatives to it) are:
The Real Dirt on Farmer John (a wonderful documentary narrative of personal journalism that takes a midwestern farm boy through the decades, the destruction of family farms, vision quest, and rebirth into the CSA movement)
The Future of Food (a fine documentary on the facts behind the GMO situation).
For background on agribusiness and biotechnology (GMOs), I also recommend the excellent book Food Inc.: From Mendel to Monsanto by The Nation writer Peter Pringle. Here's my SLJ review of that one, where I recommended it to adults and older teens:
Biotechnology inspires hope in some and horror in others. A complex topic, it invokes many contemporary concerns-third world famine, biodiversity, corporate responsibility, the ethics of corporate ownership of the processes of life itself-and involves a bewildering array of interrelated national and international legal, political, scientific, and economic forces. Public discourse is polarized with scaremongering on one side and arrogance on the other, and it is difficult for the nonspecialist to arrive at an informed opinion.
Here, in readable, journalistic fashion, Pringle provides what has been missing: facts and explanations, reasoned argument, and common ground. He reveals many dimensions of several controversies that will be familiar to most readers from media coverage, yet remain poorly understood: Is the monarch butterfly endangered by pesticide-laced corn? Are we throwing away our heritage of biodiversity? Are plant hunters cultural pirates?
As the title indicates, Pringle points out the danger of a few large and poorly regulated corporations owning and controlling so much of the world's agriculture and genetic technology, but he doesn't demonize. Rather than simplifying a complicated subject, he accomplishes the more difficult task of presenting the complexities of genetic science, academic politics, corporate strategies, or international treaties in such a clear and interesting manner that readers come to appreciate and understand them. This is a book to satisfy curiosity and engender concern, and any of its chapters would provide an excellent subject for discussion groups.And I just remembered two fine fictional treatments of Agribusiness and related culture - Great American Novels by Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres and Moo - reviewed in this earlier post.
And see also the short story The Dollar Menu
Peak Oil: Great 30-minute animated documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOMWzjrRiBg
And in a more general sense, two documentary films stick in my mind, capturing the spirit behind all this:
What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire takes the viewer on a personal journey deep into the global crisis and its emotional component, and offers not "a happy chapter" at the end, in which someone else seems to be able to fix things, but rather a realistic, and even better, bit of wisdom: working together, each of us will start doing what we can. Really, this is the only way. And it's what human communities have always done. Everything else, those grander schemes, are bound to be brought down by ego, exploitation, and more of the same old sociopathic power games that got "civilization" into this mess in the first place.
If you think you aren't strong enough to watch the whole movie, see the last, inspiring chapter here, "Let's Build a Boat" - and then you might want to go back and see the whole thing. He does something very different, and very powerful, in this extraordinary film, but you have to see it and be open to it to understand fully. It's best to see it with a friend or in a group, because you'll probably want to discuss it.
Journey of the Universe approaches the classic questions (who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going?) through a scientific appreciation of the processes and possibilities of creation, and (at the heart of it) what this tells us about our own species' potential for creativity and change. It's a lovely, inspiring film. You can view the trailer here.
If you like the feature film, there is a also a study program designed around it. It's a ten-part lecture series by Swimme, and my neighborhood has been meeting weekly to watch and discuss it: The Powers of the Universe. It's arranged around ten key concepts and warrants more than one viewing, and lots of discussion. It offers a new perspective on how we fit in with the rest of reality, what it means for us, and where we might be headed next. Check around to see if anyone is offering it where you live, or ask your public library about it. You might not be comfortable with all of it (I tend to be put off by the assertions of intentionality in it all, which smacks of religion to me) but overall it's really a fantastic series and if you bear with it, you can't help being pushed in new directions. That's good for anyone!