Reminder note to self: Avoid “othering”

“The entire Universe is my true personality” — Anonymous Zen Master

I love this quote, have long believed this to be true, and have experienced it to be true.

It’s a good reminder to me not to fall into “othering” people. To call in rather than call out.

Also this, from Thich Nhat Hanh: “We have the wrong perception that we are separate from the other. So, in a way, Trump is a product of a certain way of being in this world so it is very easy to have him as a scapegoat. But if we look closely, we have elements of Trump in us and it is helpful to have time to reflect on that.” (NOTE: If you think the other guy is evil, replace Trump’s name with the other guy’s, or with any personal pet “baddie” of your choice.)

Eco-activist, heal thyself!

Some of the most challenging work we do as part of being ecosocial activists might be self-care.

One of my personal challenges is how to allow myself to truly experience the pleasures of the physical plane while trusting myself not to slip into decadence and hedonism (not really knowing where the line is sometimes). I’ve been doing extra work on this area for the past few months and it seems to be helping.

I also sometimes have trouble buying myself stuff that I really need, though I seem to be getting better about that too. Cataract surgery, therapy, new shoes. I think the shoes were hardest.

Sure I always think about eco footprint but sometimes we just need stuff. And pleasure is a legitimate and necessary part of the equation too.

Joan Pancoe, a mystic whose writings resonate deeply with me and who I have often quoted here, really makes this point deeply in the latest edition of her email newsletter. Her newsletter is free, so if you like this quote you might want to subscribe. She also offers a variety of personalized services such as consultations.

“The idea of healthy selfishness seems to push more of my clients’ buttons than almost any other teaching of mine. But with upbeat Jupiter in self-reliant Aries this is exactly the lesson presented now and, for our long-term health and peace of mind, an imperative one. …

“This selfless service to others, while bypassing themselves, comes from what I call: ‘the Mother Teresa karmic rut.’ I have to remind clients who carry this quite common rut of identity that, even if they were self-sacrificing channels of Divine energy in past lives, in this life, if ‘bathing lepers’ sores,’ metaphorically speaking or otherwise, isn’t blissful, then it’s definitely not for them this time. …

“The lesson of Jupiter in Taurus is to really get, on a visceral and experiential level that: There is no other plane of existence except the physical plane in which we can enjoy the physical senses. So, all together now, ‘AAAAH!’

“That being the case, if we don’t choose to develop our capacities for pleasure on the sense level to a point of contentment, we may end up having regret for missed opportunities when not incarnate, thus keeping us firmly entrenched on the wheel of karma (regret does that, you know), until we give ourselves permission to enjoy our senses more while we’re here.

“Furthermore, if we are indeed ‘the Divine’s little hand-puppets,’ then the only way Source can experience the physical senses is through us and who are we to withhold this delight from our Cocreator? …

“I’ve been consciously working on cultivating more capacity and tolerance to handle ever deeper levels of pleasure, joy and bliss—three aspects of abundance—for many lifetimes. How about you?
If you’re ready to enjoy Life more, here’s a very good place to start: On Pleasure, Joy and Bliss.”

And yes, and yet, I continue to minimize my eco footprint as best I can, and try to share with others the joy of cultivating abundance via simplicity (a discerning brand of simplicity which does include pleasure, as I sometimes refer to myself as an “ornate minimalist”). I can hold both of these realities, and I strongly encourage you to explore this “both-and” also.

As Joan writes in the same article:

“But when I take my enthusiasm to an extreme of over-the-top audacity buoyed by ego, that’s when I get whacked.

“So, when the positive traits of Jupiter in Aries flip to the dark side, our energies could be expressed through impatient, impulsive and mindless actions in our pursuit of whatever it is we’re after. And it is this type of greed for ‘more, different or better’ that we need to watch out for.

“I couldn’t close without this brief karmic warning label on the potentials for misuse of the energies of Jupiter through excess, hubris and entitlement. If we don’t utilize these most wondrous energies with gratitude for all the gifts of abundance given on so many levels, but instead are always grasping for more — we can be sure that at some point — in this incarnation or a future one — we will get the opportunity for a karmic do-ever with perhaps a little less easy access to Jupiter’s wonders to help us get the lesson. For more:
The Karmic Consequences of Entitlement (and it might not be what you think) …

“So too with the energies of Jupiter, it behooves us to be ever mindful to be content and enjoy fully what is with gratitude and thus stop ourselves from acting out from any hungry ghost tendencies and giving ourselves a tummy ache on the physical and/or karmic levels. The mindful balance of moderation in all things Jupiter will create the sweetest music to dance through Life to. For more: A Mystic’s Take on Hungry Ghosts, Karmic Setpoints and How to Truly Feed Our Souls.”

Rainwater harvesting milestone in Cali

#RainwaterHarvestingSuccess story:

Calif. storms help ease drought
Rainfall feeds systems set up to capture rainwater
(Suman Naishadham and Brian Melley; ASSOCIATED PRESS)

“LOS ANGELES – As Californians tally the damage from recent storms, some are taking stock of the rainwater captured by cisterns, catches, wells and underground basins – many built in recent years to provide relief to a state locked in decades of drought.

“The banked rainwater is a rare bright spot from downpours that killed at least 20 people, crumbled hillsides and damaged thousands of homes.

“Los Angeles County, which has 88 cities and 10 million people, collected enough water from the storms to supply roughly 800,000 people for a year, said Mark Pestrella, director of the Los Angeles County Public Works department. …” (this is a short excerpt; visit link to read whole article)

Gringo permies, stay home?

I always feel heartsick when fellow USA Americans in the permie movement make posts in permie groups along these lines: “Hi! We are buying land and building a house in <tropical paradise country xyz>. We are from <some city in the USA with a totally different climate> and we don’t know what grows here. It’s so overwhelming, please advise!”

I always wonder what it is that makes people (mainly my fellow USA Americans) want to go build some site and do some land-based thing in a place where they have no knowledge of the land, plants, or any people. It seems really stark and daunting to me, not to mention possibly intrusive.

I want to respond “Noooooo!!! Dont go there! Stay home! Stop colonizing other countries!”

Most of the people’s comments in response to these kinds of posts tend to focus purely on the physical land and what plants will grow there. Grrrrr. All too often we act as if this is all of permaculture or even the main part of permaculture.

Recently I was relieved to see one person reponding to such a post advise that they find an indigenous helper; offer them the land; build relationships. “Social permaculture is where you start if you dont know where you are or what grows there.” AMEN!!

There are so many of us infesting other countries/territories tho … Costa Rica, Hawaii, Puerto Rico … are some of the favorite locations where we are moving to, making life even more difficult for locals than it is already.

On a related note – Mike Hoag is going to be on the radio on Dan Wahpepah’s show at 2pm US PST 5pm US EST today — I think they’ll be sharing some observations & insights that will be helpful & relevant to this discussion. See the post Mike just made.” Very timely timing! I hope lots of people will tune in.

In a private convo recently, a fellow permie commented “It’s weird. They want to move here and we want to move there.” (“They” being citizens of various tropical countries.)

I replied that the people from these other countries want to move here bc they are starving [or not earning enough to survive, or being threatened daily with drug gang violence, etc. — added later], bc our consumerist/globalist system has messed up their ecosystems and cultures [and their homegrown economies]. We want to move there because we are indoctrinated in colonizer culture, that is what colonizers do. We jacked up our own economy, and created a soulless culture, by feeding capitalism, so then we want to move on to the next frontier where the land is cheap and the people are smiling.

Also: People who just have a food forest on their own private land are not really doing permaculture; they are just “homesteading” (which is problematic in itself). Clarification: It’s not that a person with a private food forest is necessarily NOT doing permaculture. It’s not that a person can’t be doing any stuff that’s only on their own land or only for themselves/their family.

You know what I think the difference is, I think it has to do with being a part of a community. The people I think of as really doing permaculture might be doing things on the piece of land where they live, but they are also very much woven into / giving to their local community (and also in many cases the wider communities including online communities). There are a lot of people “homesteading” and calling it permaculture. It’s not the same.

I get it about the price of land being a motivating factor for some people to move to places with lower costs of living, but the way to deal w that is build community in our own regions/country. The social aspect of permaculture is something that a lot of us USA Americans have been conditioned to ignore or neglect. I think it must be a legacy of pioneer/frontier mentality which is part of our hyper-individualistic white supremacy culture.

Further exploration:

• TikTok for one is a vast fountain of learning on this topic. Type indigenoustok, hawaiiantok, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica + colonizer, colonization, decolonize etc.

• And I just found this article: How To Decolonize The Permaculture Movement (Tobias Roberts; Huffington Post). “If you are interested in permaculture and are looking for land to create a vision of your own, why not look at land in rural Kentucky instead of Costa Rica? … After a good deal of reflection, I want to focus now on how to rescue the permaculture movement; how to save it from some of its most disturbing and troubling tendencies. … Stop Buying Land in Shangri-La Areas Around the World … While there can be positive effects through bringing new knowledge and ideas into a community, there can (and often are) unseen and ignored negative effects. When wealthy foreigners buy up land in rural, agrarian areas, this inevitably leads to gentrification.” He makes a lot of other really good points too. Don’t move to another country without making an effort to truly belong there; don’t make permaculture courses your primary source of income; stop appropriating indigenous knowledge and monetizing it on permie rah-rah YouTube channels etc.

“Decolonizing Permaculture” — Mike Hoag with Dan Wahpepah on Dan’s radio show First Nations Radio.

Off-grid in the city

This guy disconnected from the electrical grid and water for eight months — in Manhattan. (Joshua Spodek; He learned a lot; great article. Many of his experiences are similar to mine.

I actually have been thinking about this very thing lately, as we had a significant electric repair bill last week and are now facing what might be a significant plumbing repair bill.

Was just thinking about this. So many permie-oriented people romanticize moving out to the sticks and “living off-grid.” I do it in my urban place when I want to, and would do it all the time except I have “civilian” housemates who I need to provide running water & electricity for.

If it were just me here or if i had permie housemates, I’d very likely just turn off the watermain; we have enough rainwater, and also have a well (which a friend helped me retrofit with a hand-pump).

I’ve always felt like having indoor running water was a bit overrated for the cost & risk. At one point I lived without running water inside my home for 10 years, and this was in the heart of a city. I came home to my trailer one day to find a flood. Rather than call a plumber to find and fix the leak, I just shut the indoor water off. And bought a six-gallon water container with a tap. I’d refill the container every few days from an outdoor tap.

And re electricity, when it comes right down to it, I really only need electricity to charge my phone (although i cook on an electric burner & heat water with an electric kettle because it’s convenient).

None of this is to brag. I just want people to be able to work around outages; know they have options; not feel they have to panic; not get charged inordinate amounts of money for repairs.

Go read that article; he describes in detail how he did it and how he ended up making some changes permanent.

I really like his attitude, as embodied in this quote from the article:

“Attitude was more important than technology, though. Attitude made my setup doable. I’m not suggesting that “because I could do it, you can do it,” but I did tell myself that if humans could do without power for 300,000 years, then I could do so for a month.

“The experiment inspired me to learn from indigenous cultures about their practical knowledge of doing without power, including from guests on my podcast who lived among the San in the Kalahari Desert, Hadza in Tanzania, Kogi in Colombia, Tsimane in Bolivia, and Matsés in Peru. Some cultures have lived tens to hundreds of thousands of years with no electrical power—talk about resilience—and continue to choose not to adopt it.

“From them, I learned to appreciate cultural activities with friends, family, and community, like preparing food, making clothes, gathering plants, singing, dancing, and storytelling. I switched from seeing these things as luxuries to experiencing them as time and money savers. I still live in Manhattan, but I now feel I’m living in a different culture, one that values resilience, creativity, humility toward nature, and responsibility to others affected by my actions.

“Regardless of any wider effects of my experiment, it has been important to me personally. A biography of Abraham Lincoln led me to a quote of his: ‘Nothing is more damaging to you than to do something that you believe is wrong.’ In polluting as much as I was for my comfort and convenience, I was doing something I believed was wrong. Resolving that issue has at least helped me sleep better at night.”

Too many people?

The comment “There are just too many people” (and variations on it) pops up a lot in eco discussions online. It’s usually well-off people leading a typical upper-middle-class American lifestyle who are saying this.

A couple of my recent responses to “too many people” comments:

• Actually it’s not that we have too many people; it’s just that we have too many cars for the number of people.

• Fortunately it’s not that there are too many people (that would be tricky because are some of us willing to step up & volunteer to be killed?); it’s that the people in the rich consumerist industrialized countries (mainly USA) have a huuuuuuge footprint. People in most of the world have a tiny fraction of the typical USA resident’s footprint, consume far fewer resources per capita.

I say fortunately because we in the USA are only a tiny share of the world population, so if we get our act together and make thrift the cool thing instead of consumerism & excess being the cool thing, it’ll go a long way. The daily habits of mainstream USA put huge pressure on people & ecosystems worldwide, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

One encouraging trend is the “rewilding” movement, also known as Homegrown National Park. Many people are now rewilding their suburban and urban yards, and the effect is huge.

Another movement that’s gaining traction is Strong Towns, which is about reintroducing sustainable design into our towns & cities, so the landscape no longer needs to be dominated by cars and roads.

Also: The permaculture design movement is longstanding, and growing.

Yet another positive movement, though it has not yet caught on to a widespread degree, is the Degrowth movement. Check out the Facebook group Degrowth – join the revolution.

Local plant-foraging: Example of post for neighborhood group

(FB post I made this morn in BNW News. Feel free to adapt this to your own neighborhood group, congregation etc.)

Foraging for delicious nutritious wild native plants that grow on the beachside & throughout our bioregion. The things we call “weeds” have names and offer many benefits in addition to maintenance-free, unique bioregional beauty.

Lunch today will include fresh tasty greens! Too many of the veggies I’m seeing from the store, including sometimes even the organic local veggies, are yucky and slimy from being stored in plastic.

NOTE! Photo is for visual enjoyment only; do not try to ID plants from a photo. NEVER eat wild plants unless you know what you are doing. Also: To protect other species who depend on native plants, and to protect ecosystem health, never take a whole plant or even part of a plant unless you know what you are doing. And never take the first plant you see, because it might be the only one of that species in the area.

Daytona Beach Permaculture Guild offers foraging walks in the Main Street area of Daytona Beachside, & in our city’s core historic neighborhoods on the mainland. Comment below or PM me if you are interested.