Oct 122015

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The following was shared with the podcast by Taylor Proffitt, and read by me, your host, Scott Mann. You can find out more about Taylor’s work at NuMundo.org or NewEarthFarm.org.

Onel is a Haitian Farmer currently spending the late summer, early fall growing season between Virginia Beach, Virginia, and New York City, New York, as an employee of the nonprofit Community Development International. After growing up in the Haitian countryside, Onel moved to Port-au-Prince to attend Universite d’Americaines des Sciences Modernes d’Haiti. He has since built an all-natural chemical-free tropical fruit tree nursery and education center. He teaches students, farmers, and community members how to grow low cost, highly productive, perennial food forests. He currently grows 5,000 fruit trees in the nursery that he actively gives to his community to help people create more food sovereignty. Onel is a grateful, humble, highly educated, quadrilingual (French, Creole, English, and Spanish) Haitian who is extremely privileged in relation to the majority of his fellow citizens.

The New Earth Farm, where I work, is one of the farms where Onel is apprenticing in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I took Onel out to see what I do for fun this past weekend. We went to the food share of the Norfolk, Virginia Chapter of Food Not Bombs (FNB). At FNB a large, organic, vegan feast is shared with underserved, undernourished, mentally handicapped, homeless, and otherwise hungry people. Onel had never been to one of these food shares, but was fascinated with the idea. We cooked organic food from the farm for those in need of nutrition in the food desert neighborhood where we serve in Norfolk, Virginia, at 19th and Omohundro near the arts district.

I knew Onel would have fun at Food Not Bombs after explaining to me the details of the wealth gap in Haiti at lunch one day. On top of a large juice bottle he demonstrated where the rich people of the capital city, Port-au-Prince, live. At the bottom of the bottle, his phone represented the poor, and a small box nearly the same size represented the middle class, in the rural countryside. “Haiti is the poorest country in the northern hemisphere” and “Two and a half million Haitians live in extreme poverty.”

Onel explained how the recent history of Haiti has been a whirlwind, politically. In 1990, the poor and the middle class came together to elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide, an unpopular figure among wealthy Haitians. After Jean-Bertrand won the presidency the wealthy came to a popular young Haitian named Guy Phillipe, who visited and campaigned with all of the universities and promised to bring money and prosperity to young people in exchange for their support. He was convinced by the wealthy to overthrow Jean-Bertrand. Jean-Bertrand was threatened by the “paramilitary leader Guy Philippe, a former Haitian police chief who was trained by US Special Forces in Ecuador in the early 1990s” and exiled to Central African Republic. The poor finally had a voice through Aristide, but then he was gone. When they needed him most, in 2010, a 7.0 magnitude Earthquake shattered any remaining hope for the under-privileged of Haiti, but Jean-Bertrand was powerless. His life was threatened and he could do nothing when disaster struck. Remember the “text to donate” Red Cross PR campaign? That money never made it to Haiti. It didn’t go to the Wealthy, it didn’t go to rebuild Haiti. It stayed in the United States, in the pockets of the Red Cross.

If you go to Haiti today, you see a nice capital city rebuilt by the wealthy class and some of the funds from the Red Cross. In the countryside, however, the socioeconomic contrast is like night and day. The serious epidemics of poverty and malnutrition continue. Dead bodies lie in the street. Deforested land stretches for miles.

With this recent history in mind, Onel could not understand how homeless and hungry people still exist in America. America is a rich country. Couldn’t the rich people take these poor and buy them a home or provide some place to live? And what about all the food in the grocery store dumpsters? Aren’t there more than enough wealthy people in the Unites States to take care of everyone?

Onel was right. Why do we have poor people in America? In the last century there haven’t been any civil wars, government coups, or massive natural disasters that crippled the entire country or economy. If more than enough resources exist to go around, why aren’t they going around? Why is the economic distribution in the United States nearly exactly the same as it is in Haiti? While the answers to these questions are obvious and not surprising, these rhetorical questions leave a dark space that is the shadow of our culture.

Onel asked valid questions. The United States gets portrayed as the promised land, even to this day, to the rest of the world. I explained that people here in the land of opportunity hold greed in their hearts, too. I explained that grocery stores prefer to throw perfectly edible food in a locked trash can than give it away to hungry mouths. I explained that the rich people would rather buy their next Mercedes-Benz or Yacht than concern themselves with the problems of the lower class’s health care. I explained that we still live in a country full of slaves, but we call them different names. We call them “the poor”. We call them “minorities”. We call them “under privileged”. We call them the victims of trauma and mental illness, when in fact these are merely symptoms of the illness we face as a whole that is consumer and throw away culture.

When I speak with Onel, we often exclaim our mutual despair for the challenges we face as humanitarians and community builders. This sadness propels us to make small changes in underserved people’s lives each day, as well as in our own lives. In permaculture the problem is often reframed as the opportunity for a solution, and both Onel and myself became and remain great friends for this reason. We actively seek ways to initiate these solutions in a world where problems exist in great numbers while the simple effective solutions exist, but get implemented by so few. We implement solutions within ourselves first before reaching out to help our community.

For Onel, the challenges he faces in Haiti include deforestation, caused from an overactive lumber industry which cut down the biodiverse rainforests of rural haiti in a drastic effort to make money; hunger; economic scarcity; and a corrupt political system. By educating youth about the importance of organic food production, teaching his community how to turn fruit seeds into fruit trees, and donating plants from his home grown nursery, he overgrows the forces of ecological and economic oppression, one tree at a time. Each time he teaches a child how to grow a fruit trees, he creates food and livelihood for his students. Each tree his students plant feeds hungry people, reforests the island, contributes to plant and animal biodiversity, sequesters carbon, offers a valuable education, and leaves a legacy.

For myself, the challenges I face in the Unites States include deforestation caused by phenomena called lawns and overgrazing; hunger; economic scarcity; and a corrupt political system. By working with local organic farms to access fresh, organic food, which I give to hungry people in the city, I overgrow many of these problems with organic, grassroots solutions, in the same way as Onel. By turning people’s lawns into organic gardens, I help to reforest one small plot at a time. By hosting a Really, Really Free market at the community peace garden, my friends and I help close the wealth gap, one winter coat and one empowering book at a time.

The inspiration in this story comes from the shared resiliency and solidarity that happens across borders, climates, language barriers, and cultural norms. Our two stories coalesced when we met and the convergence opened my mind to the possibilities of real, organic solutions relevant to each bioregion. Our solutions vary widely, but we face nearly identical challenges, and this story offers proof that no universal “cure” exists for world hunger or poverty. Organic solutions exist for every bioregion and the sooner we come together as a global community to enact these customized solutions, the closer we come to uprooting the oppression of our patriarchally dominated global mindset. Our use of permaculture principles, neither of us call it that when talking to each other, gives us hope and inspiration to change the world around us, and to actively empower those who need help in our communities.

To make meaningful change in your community, contact staylorproffitt@gmail.com.

To support the podcast and receive more stories like this one visit Patreon.com and become a patron, or head over to the contribute tab and see other ways you can help keep the podcast going and growing.

If along the way the podcast can assist you on your journey, get in touch.

Email: show@thepermaculturepodcast.com
Call: 717-827-6266

Until the next time, spend each day creating the world you want to live in by taking care of Earth, your self, and each other.

 Posted by at 10:06
Oct 082015

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Today is the discussion recorded live at The Riverside Project outside of Charles Town, West Virginia. My guests are Nicole Luttrell of Deeply Rooted Design, Jesse Wyner of Liberty Root Farm, Ashley Davis, a permaculture design certified herbalist who runs Meadowsweet Botanicals, and Diane Blust, a former government employee starting her own permaculture homestead, Chicory Hill Farm.

Join me again in two weeks, on October 22 for the second half of this conversation which includes members of the audience joining in, and when I’ll share my thoughts and comments about everything covered in the two conversations.

Opportunities like this trip to West Virginia depend on the support of listeners, and the sponsorship of people doing good work such as Jen Mendez at PermieKids. In addition to her own podcasts that explore the topics of children, permaculture, and education, which I recommend you check out if your life involves any of these three subjects, she also offers a number of courses on Educational Design, an ongoing series of EDGE Alliances — topical webinars with featured guests — and personal consultations. Recently she added a series of electronic campfires, in cooperation with Dr. David Blumenkrantz and the Center for Youth and Community, that expands on the recent conversation we shared on Youth and Community Development and Rites of Passage. Find out more at PermieKids.com.

Should you decide to join in on any of these courses or other offerings, know that Jen extended a discount of 10% off of her courses and other materials to Patreon supporters.

From here, next week on October 15 is a conversation with Joshua Peace Seeker Hughes. What started as a casual conversation resulted in a broad ranging interview about permaculture, creating opportunities, using capital to make a difference, and assisting our friend and neighbors. Joshua donated a PDC course at this farm in Costa Rica to the podcast which you can enter to win. Find the complete details by clicking on the Costa Rica tab.

After the next round table discussion, on October 29 Lisa Rose, author of Midwest Foraging, joins me to share her story. November 5 I speak with Josh and Derek of The Gibbs House project at Western Michigan University. Plus you’ll find some Permabyte episodes scattered in between those regular releases.

If along the way you have questions for me, a past guest, or just want to know more, get in touch.

Email: show@thepermaculturepodcast.com
Call: 717-827-6266

Until the next time, spend each day creating the world you want to live in by taking care of Earth, your self, and each other.

 Posted by at 08:00
Oct 012015

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This episode is a conversation with Jason Godesky, creator of The Fifth World Role Playing Game, recorded in-person several weeks ago at the Save Against Fear convention, but I start our conversation with an introduction to all this, so go ahead and give it a listen.

You can find out more about Jason and the game at TheFifthWorld.com.

If you would like to know more about Save Against Fear, the gaming convention where this was recorded, the website is SaveAgainstFear.com. The Bodhana Group, which organized the event and uses the funds raised each year to assist the children and families impacted by childhood trauma, is at thebodhanagroup.org.

As you may have noticed in our closing we ran out of time in our session, and did not get to address all the listener questions. I emailed those to Jason, who kindly responded.

Q1: “Composting toilets?”

Jason: “Do you mean to ask if I have one? No. I think that reusing what’s already built usually beats building something new; that, combined with my bioregional commitments, led me to go in with my brother to buy the house that we grew up in. It’s a fairly traditional suburban setting, and I haven’t made much headway with repurposing much of it yet.

Or do you mean to ask what I think of composting toilets? My opinion on them is the same as herb spirals, hugelkultur, and just about all of the other “cool” permaculture techniques: they’re great — in the right context. There’s several kinds of design that figure prominently in my life, especially web design, game design, and permaculture design. Across them all, I’ve become convinced that design itself comes down to really thinking through what you want to accomplish here, in this specific context, and picking the principles and techniques that focus on those goals. In each of those fields, I see people who look for the short-cut of just picking from the pre-approved list of “best practices,” but no matter how many other people have employed a thing successfully elsewhere, no one has ever applied it in your specific circumstances before. So, to bring all of that back down to earth for a moment, I love composting toilets, and they’ll probably fit in well with most permaculture designs, but the world has never seen a truly one-size-fits-all solution, and probably never will. Not even composting toilets.”

Q2: “Wow! I love RPGing. It looks like a magic free world? Is there any technology above stone age? What mechanic is used (D20, 3d6, fate)? Will it be available on drive thru RPG? Will it ever be print? Is it in beta and can my group help test?”

Jason:“The Fifth World takes place in our world, four hundred years from now, so it has all of the magic that our world has. I take that to mean a great deal of magic, though none of the Vancian fireballs that a wizard from Dungeons & Dragons would recognize. In “Becoming Animal,” David Abram writes of his apprenticeship to a Nepalese magician who taught him how to shapeshift — a long regimen of training his awareness that involved nothing supernatural, and yet ended in astonishing magic. I wonder about the ways that magicians could use altered states of consciousness to heighten “thin-slicing” (as Malcolm Gladwell called it) to go through mystical experiences that synthesize vast amounts of data, allowing them to make better decisions, which they would experience as mystical journeys and encounters (and really, what makes my neurological explanation any more real than their first-hand experience?). Hunter-gatherers learn the calls of different animals well enough to mimic them and to understand the responses they get in return, so that we can really only deny the conclusion that they speak with animals out of spite. It seems less false to me to call such things “magic” than to call them anything else.

I think that an interruption to our industrial infrastructure would not leave much room for re-starting it. The first time around, we could find sources of metal near the surface. We used those up as we made tools to dig deeper for more. Similarly, we used fuel that we could find easily to build machines that could dig deeper to get more. We’ve used up the sources of metal and fuel that we can obtain easily from the surface. We dig deeper for them because we can no longer find them more easily. So if we interrupt that process, we won’t find the metals or fuels we need to get to the depths where now find metals and fuels. It will take geological ages to push them back up to the surface. That restriction definitely limits the kinds of technology available in the Fifth World. I wouldn’t call it stone age, exactly. For example, you can’t find much flint easily now, either, but you can find plenty of broken glass, and you can knap that into knives, spearheads, and arrowheads quite effectively, so rather that stone, they use colored glass from discarded bottles. Mostly, though, I prefer to focus on their priorities. As a society, we generally believe that technology improves our lives and will ultimately save us from our problems, so we have become excellent at producing technology, and have neglected the techniques for building social bonds and deep relationships. In the Fifth World, people generally believe that social bonds and deep relationships will improve their lives and ultimately save them from their problems, so they spend as much time and energy focused on that as we spend focused on technology.

The game has its own rules. I firmly believe that good game design means focusing on a game’s specific purpose. Rolling dice, for instance, works really well in a game that keeps revolving around the question, “Can I do it?” When you have the dice in your hand, you wonder what will come up, if you can roll high enough to overcome the obstacle. For an animist game like the Fifth World, though, this doesn’t help, because whether or not you can overcome someone (and generally someone, rather than something) doesn’t usually matter nearly as much as whether or not you can connect with that person. That led me to using a deck of cards. Each time you draw a card, you don’t ask, “Can I do it?” but “What will I discover?” This, I think, makes cards a great way to focus on exploration. In this case, I tried to use that to focus on exploring both physical space and social space.

The Fifth World doesn’t have a game master (GM), like many other RPGs do. Instead, the players share the roles that a GM would normally fill. Each player ha a number of awareness points, which they use to ask questions. They choose one of the other players to answer the question, and as we answer these questions, we begin to discover the Fifth World together. This has an interesting side effect: NPC’s can seem to have personalities and minds all their own. We all build off of what we’ve already established together, but we might have different ideas of what follows naturally from any given point, so the same NPC can potentially surprise everyone at the table at one point or another.

The Fifth World presents an open source game with an open source setting. That means that the most canonical version will always exist online at thefifthworld.com/rpg. That said, I recognize how much it can help to have a book in your hand. That also gets into my business plan, and how I hope to sustain this so I can afford to put more time into it. I want to present a free PDF packet with everything in it. I’m also hoping to produce a scout book [http://www.scoutbooks.com/], aiming at a price point of $10 or less, and possibly expansions published in the same manner. Since it uses cards, I’m working on putting a custom card set on DriveThruCards. I’d like to create a better set with custom artwork for each card, but I don’t have enough art for that yet. I’d also like to make a more elaborate art book, in the style of Dinotopia by James Gurney or Gnomes by Will Huygen and Rien Poortvliet. Both of those, however, will require a great deal more art. I have a Patreon set up if you’d like to help me with that at http://patreon.com/jefgodesky.

The game still sits in a public beta phase, so I’d love it if you could playtest it and send me your thoughts. You can find the full rules and the link to the feedback form at http://thefifthworld.com/wiki/rpg

If you have more questions for Jason about the game, feel free to let me know because I look forward to recording another interview with him in the future, as well as a live-play of The Fifth World so you can hear what the experience of collaborative storytelling is like.

If you have any questions for me, or there is a way I can assist you on your path, let me know.

Email: show@thepermaculturepodcast.com
Call: 717-827-6266

After having this conversation with Jason, as well as many others off-the-record throughout the weekend, I left with a lot to process about what it means to have culture, to live in community, to tell stories, to create myths that last generations.

So I’d like to play with this idea and have created a game of creative storytelling and invite everyone listening to participate. Head over to Facebook.com/thepermaculturepodcast and, since I don’t know when you listen to this, look for a post from September 30, 2015 that begins, “A game for us to play together…” and read through the comments so that your reply adds a new sentence to the story. Just one. Then let someone else respond before adding another.

We’ll see where this goes and what a community of permaculture practitioners can create.

Though my idea of myth making comes from the tabletop and games, Jen Mendez, a show sponsor, and her collaborative partner Dr. David Blumenkrantz examine how to apply this idea of myth making to children and communities so that together we can change the story and transform the future. Join them for their virtual campfire sessions by going to permiekids.com/oursharedstory.

From here, next week is the first of the round table conversations recorded at The Riverside Project outside of Charles Town, West Virginia. My next interview is with Dillon Cruz on Monday, October 5 to continue the series on Faith and Earth Care. Tuesday, October 6 Sandor Katz joins me to discuss fermentation. Email or call me if you have any questions for either of them.

Until the next time spend each day creating the world you want to live through your stories and your actions by taking care of Earth, your self and each other.

 Posted by at 09:00
Sep 282015

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Today I look at my recent visit to the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, PA.

As I was only able to attend the event for one day, I didn’t grab any live interviews this time around. Rather, I spent my time looking at the exhibitors on display, talked with folks along the way, and sat down to catch up with Tradd Cotter at the end of the day.

Last year when I attended this event with Photographer John and his assistant Layne the focus was squarely on farm and family. This year the tone had plenty on farming and agriculture, but also included more related to the small homestead, prepping and off-grid living.

Though I don’t cover those last two topics much on the show, having a social-permaculture and re wilding bent lately, those are the places I came from when I first discovered ecological design and was looking for ways to weather the potential for both systemic and small-scale disasters. So when I saw many of the exhibitors for this year, a couple in particular grabbed my eye.

The first was L.T. Wright Handcrafted Knives. Whatever we do, wherever we go, having a good sharp edge on hand is useful for a number of tasks, even in everyday work removed from field or forest. We cut food for dinner. Open packages. Cut string. Trim threads. Peel fruits and vegetables. As you spend more time wandering you are likely to use a knife to prepare game, breakdown larger pieces of wood into kindling or tinder, or shape materials into useful tools. Whether a folder in your pocket, a fixed blade on your hip, or a chef’s in the kitchen block, having a dependable knife, or several, on hand is invaluable for making tasks easier around the house and homestead.

L.T. is making some of the most durable knives available. I know that from personal experience, as I own a Woodsman Pro made from his first knife company, Blind Horse Knives. From the pieces I handled this weekend that quality not only continues, and for a price that represents a great value on a knife crafted by hand in Wintersville, Ohio from American steel. If you are in the line for a good knife, definitely check out his site, ltwrightknives.com.

Another item in the preparedness vein are the range of solar rechargeable flashlights and lanterns from Hybrid Light. The light that stood out was the Journey 160, a 160 lumen waterproof flashlight that provides up to twelve hours of light and also includes a 5 volt, 2 amp USB port that allows you to recharge most cell phones and some tablets while on the go from the internal 2400mAh battery.

I don’t expect to rely on technology in the long run, but at the same time I don’t see it going away anytime soon, and products like this can provide a sense of normality in time of crisis, allowing a family to use see, but also to recharge some of the common features of life and use them to maintain a sense of normality during a short-term disaster, such as a weather related power outage, but looking beyond the moment they allow us to choose how we transition away from the traditional grids of civilization and prepare for a smooth, soft energy descent.


The next exhibitor to catch my eye was Container Homes of Maryland, which hails from my hometown of Hagerstown, They are taking shipping containers and converting them into tiny homes. What stood out for me is that they are offering turnkey,off-grid solutions. The model on display used a 20′ container and provides just under 150 sq ft of living space. This included a closet; a bathroom with stand-up shower and composting toilet; a kitchen area that included a sink, two-burner gas stove, and a small refrigerator; on the wall hung a high efficiency mini-split air conditioner and heat pump; two person dining-bar; and built-in full-size bed. As part of the display they also had two solar panels out front which were actively charging the included power system.

To reduce the need for electricity and lights, there was also a large skylight. When the representative, Jon Gandy, was showing me around he turned all the light off to show the effectiveness of this feature, but also saw me cringe at the thought of a skylight. In my world, skylights leak, and Jon could tell I’d had that experience, so went on to describe how they install this giant, covered, hole in the roof, which they accomplish by creating a three layer roof system that fully and securely seals the skylight in place.

For off-grid application they include six solar panels plus batteries for energy storage, and a water collection and filtration system. You can be completely off-grid with everything you need, based on the 20’ design, for $60k. The same model, placed on a foundation and tied to the grid, is $35k. If you need some more space, there is a grid tied 40’ model for $60k, though they do not have an off grid-model for this size at the moment due to the extra requirements for heating, cooling, and resource storage. As a custom container home builder, they are also able to design and build to suit your specific needs. They can be found at containerhomesofmaryland.com.

Going with that idea of being off grid and supplying our own energy, I also spent some time talking with the folks from Three Rivers EVA, a chapter of the Electric Auto Association. In addition to all of the electric and plug-in hybrids on display, including a pair of Tesla sedans which one of the members said he charges regularly from home using roof installed solar panels, there was also an e-bike making trips around the fairgrounds, which is where I spotted the bright yellow frame and big tires rolling around.

This model, from Sondors, was rather popular from all the people who gathered around it, including myself. Joining the circle the owner shared some information about the bike, which I was then able to fill in from some research on the web. Using a 36v battery and a 350watt motor mounted in the rear hub, the bike is capable of up to 20 miles an hour and has a range of 30 to 50 miles. Though the MSRP is around $1,200, the owner of this particular bike paid a bit over $1000 shipped from finding one on eBay, and Sondors is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on a new model allowing anyone to purchase a bike for a total price of $693, $499 for the bike and $194 for shipping.

Compared to the cost of a new moped or scooter, even the full retail price is a pretty good value. Tack on the cost of a small solar system at your home and you have a vehicle that costs very little to operate after the initial investment and is just right for a short commute or heading around town when the distances are a little far to walk, and this bike fills the gulf between a cruiser and something that is fully powered all the time, giving you choices between pedaling all the time, using the motor for a boost, or just letting the battery power your whole journey.

After seeing all the smiles when people saw this particular bike and interacted with the owner asking questions, I see E-Bikes like this and other innovations in this sphere as a viable way to bridge the gap where many might use a car, but not see a road bike as the way to get from one place to another, and provide security for those who would still like to use a bike, but for whatever reason no longer feel comfortable doing so over a longer distance. Even in the area where I live, that is relatively rural at 20 minutes from everywhere, this e-bike would meet the majority of my regular, personal, commuting needs in the area.

While browsing the bookstore at Mother a listener, Eric, saw my badge and said hello. While we chatted for a few minutes he mentioned his daughter was showing her rabbits at the fair, so I went down and visited Elizabeth and we talked about what it was like breeding American Rabbits and helping the breed to recover from being at risk of going away. A delightful knowledgeable young woman, when Elizabeth handed me her card I realized we live fairly close to one another, so I want to grab photographer John and go record an interview with her live. At the moment she would be the youngest guest to appear by themselves on the show and, thanks to ongoing conversations with to Jen Mendez at PermieKids, I would like to include more young adults and teenagers on the podcast. Let me know if you aware of anyone under the age of 18 doing good work related to permaculture.

One other younger person I ran into at Mother is a member of my local permaculture community, William Padilla-Brown. A budding mycologist quickly expanding his knowledge of how to identify, grow, and process mushrooms, he runs his business, Mycosymbiotics in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. He’s one to watch, including his YouTube channel Apex Grower, as I expect in a few years to hear some interesting developments come out of his world and work.

Speaking of mushrooms brings us back around to Tradd Cotter, mycologist and researcher at Mushroom Mountain in South Carolina, and author of the excellent book from Chelsea Green on all things fungi, Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremedition. I caught the end of his , which relates to his revelation this year.

Last time I saw Tradd at Mother he shared with us his research into how he could use mycelium to create medicines against human pathogens. The conversation this year expanded on that with his latest exclusive: he discovered a mycelial metabolite capable of killing methicillin-resistant Staphlococcus aures, better known as MRSA.

How incredible is that?

If you get a chance go to an upcoming Mother Earth News Fair and meet the people and exhibitors in attendance. Check out some lectures, workshops, and demonstrations. There is a ton of opportunities to expand your knowledge and inspiration at these events. The next one is coming up in Topeka, Kansas, October 24-25, 2015, and then Belton, Texas, February 20-21, 2016.

Expect to find me in Seven Springs next year, sometime in September.

Along the way and until those events, if there is any way I can help you on your journey, get in touch. Give me a call: 717-827-6266 or email: show@thepermaculturepodcast.com.

Next up Jason Godesky joins me discuss collaborative storytelling, culture, and myth-making in the context of his role playing game, The Fifth World.

Until then, take care of Earth, your self, and each other.

 Posted by at 09:00
Sep 242015

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This is Episode 1538 of The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann, a listener supported program. If you listen to this podcast as part of your regularly routine, such as when gardening, running, or on your daily commute, visit the contribute tab and find out how you can keep this program going and growing. Now on with the show.

Today’s show is a round table discussion I recorded during my August visit to the Clear Creek community in Kentucky.

On a warm summer evening, with individual tables arranged to create a single continuous space down the center of a one room schoolhouse, I was welcomed in to the community composed of farmers, WWOOFers, artists, teachers, builders, and architects. Together we shared a meal and sat as an extended family for the evening before beginning to pass the microphones from one another up and down the table. That lead to the conversation you are about to hear.

As we begin I give thanks to PermieKids and Jen Mendez for sponsoring this episode of the podcast and helping to make trips like this one, far from my home in Pennsylvania, possible. Find out more about her work on educating future generations and building community, a recurring theme of this episode, at permiekids.com, or by visiting the sponsors tab and clicking on her banner.

If you want to find out more, I recommend contacting Eric Puro of ThePOOSH.org who can get you in touch with others in the area. When they get the community website completed expect to find links shared through Facebook, Twitter, and all the other forums for connecting with the podcast.

A standing invitation remains for me to go back down to the area and currently I have plans developing for my next trip. I want to record an extended interview with Susana Lein of Salamander Springs Farm, who in addition to speaking with us here, appeared in the film Inhabit.

Ziggy and April from The Year of Mud also live in the area, and I plan to tour their space and speak with them on record during this next trip. Ziggy and I traded email message during the lead up to my trip to Kentucky, and I found out he traveled north to Ben Falk’s place while I journeyed south, but we both intend for our paths to cross soon.

Opportunities like this trip to Kentucky depends on the support of listeners, and the sponsorship of people doing good work such as Jen Mendez at PermieKids. In addition to her own podcasts that explore the topics of children, permaculture, and education, which I recommend you check out if your life involves any of these three subjects, she also offers a number of courses on Educational Design, an ongoing series of EDGE Alliances — topical webinars with featured guests — and personal consultations. Recently she added a series of electronic campfires, in cooperation with Dr. David Blumenkrantz and the Center for Youth and Community, that expand on the recent conversation we shared on Youth and Community Development and Rites of Passage. Find out more at PermieKids.com.

Should you decide to join in on any of these courses or other offerings, know that Jen extended a discount of 10% off of her courses and other materials to Patreon supporters.

Revisiting this material and spending time in Clear Creek showed the possibilities we create when living with one another, rather than living near one another. Once our basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and human interaction get met space opens up to explore the many roles that each individual fills and their relationships with others. Time existed for conversations that, as Philip mentioned in the round table, go deep. That dialog and space allow hard problems to get worked out, without the need for a judicial system. Explicit rules become unnecessary to keep and maintain the community when those involved know, trust, and care about one another.

That reinforced for me the need that each of us get right with ourselves and right with others so we can come to truly live in community and rely on our fellows so when a crisis hits people come together to create a plan and take action, rather than pay lip service or do nothing.

That gave me a better understanding of what I personally require to create an intentional community, and how to make it work. We build the kind of intimacy and trust that, at the moment, I only have with a handful of people. Moving forward in my own life, once the current dust settles and I land on my feet again, I want to adopt that idea of Sunday coffee and keep my door open for whoever wants to come by and talk and get to know one another better. To create a standing invitation for whoever wants to break bread with me on a scheduled day of the week.

A tradition I once participated in called Soup Night saw a bunch of people get together over a few pots of soup with bread and other foods to spend time together. Though we all came from different backgrounds we met around the table, around the food, and talked. Sometimes late into the night. Though I last participated in Soup Night nearly a decade ago, some people I met there count among those I could live with in community. Many people I know now, I don’t know well enough to feel comfortable doing so.

Building community does not require everyone living there to drink beer together and hang out every night of the week, but we should have the trust and respect to know that if anything happened to one or the other we would be there to see their basic needs get met. That the intention and desire to create community come from a place of authenticity and concern for others. With how far so many of us live from one another and how little time we seem to have because of the many priorities and requirements of this modern life we live, we need a shift. To give up some of those time sinks. To make building community a priority. To get to know one another with depth and understanding.

Food. Drink. Celebration. These ways, these rituals, we can come together around.

How would you bring people to your table and into your community?

I’d love to hear from you. Call: 717-827-6266 or Email: show@thepermaculturepodcast.com

From here, the next Permabyte episode comes out next week, based on my trip to the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. After that I release the interview with Jason Godesky to talk about collaborative storytelling, culture, and his tabletop roleplaying game, The Fifth World.

Upcoming interviews begin with a member of the Office of Sustainability from Western Michigan University to discuss The Gibbs House, a permaculture focused initiative on campus. After that Sandor Katz joins me to talk about fermentation.

If you have questions for them, or me, get in touch.

Until the next time, take care of Earth, your self, and each other.

 Posted by at 17:45