This is another moment of topical stream of consciousness stemming from the thoughts I’ve had since releasing the piece earlier this week about a permaculture world. Go back two episodes and check that one out if you haven’t already.
During that previous show I mentioned that, if one has the means, they should invest in the things they believe in so that others might do the same. At the time my focus was on material goods. Now I want to take that a bit further, and look at spending our money and time, if we have extra of either, to invest in non-material things we believe in from this wide wonderful world we find ourselves inhabiting at this moment in time.
There are quite a few people in the permaculture community that pushed my thinking in asking why it’s so important to use investing, in material things, but also ourselves and others, as a way to build a better world. Some of those that come to mind are Ben Falk, Bob Theis, Dave Jacke, and Ethan Hughes.
Ben Falk got to when I read his book, The Resilient Farm and Homestead. When first flipping through the pages I landed on a section where he mentioned having a slate roof and copper gutters because of how long they last, and that paying for them upfront became an investment in the future because those two materials could last more than a human lifetime. At first it was hard to consider justifying the monetary cost to someone, as one of my considerations is about how to get the ideas of permaculture, and with that natural building, home renovation and construction and so on, into the hands of those who need it the most. But as I sat and chewed on the thought for a while, it became that, if one has the means, this is a good way to spend one’s money, because it does cost less over the long run. Then there’s was the second interview with Bob Theis, which came out just before this episode, so go back one show and listen to that too before continue. Anyway, Bob and I spoke about standing seam metal roofing, it’s lifespan, and that the steel can be recycled at the end of the roof’s usefulness. As I’m in the process of replacing the roof on my own house, and looked at the numbers, Ben and Bob are both right. It does make sense to use this material. That roof will outlast me if I stay in this home, and still provide solid protection for the next owner, but my family still needs the means, right now, to make that happen, rather than make a cheaper choice. I’ll admit, it’s at the limits of what we can afford, but I’d rather do that than put ashpalt shingles back up. By making this decision, and understanding the short-term trade-offs for my family and my, perhaps incorrect, understand of the way markets are supposed to work, my family directly helps, in our small way, to keep the roofers with the necessary skills to install these materials in business, as well as the manufacturers. There’s a long string of people who benefit by deciding to do this, and there are ancillary benefits of, hopefully, helping to keep the price down for others who follow this road behind us, while also making a choice close to the core ideas of permaculture.
That last part, of all the people that this benefits, goes back to Dave Jacke, and building up the larger structures that are necessary to make this really happen. To network, communicate, and lend our aid when and where possible. To, as I often quote from Ethan Hughes, meet people where they’re at to help them meet their needs, and not inflict our own perspective on them. But, also from Ethan Hughes, to recognize the impact we can make by deciding to place our money and time where it matters to us. That moment in Ethan’s story where he talks about being in a room with a bunch of other permaculture folks and they tally up their net worth and find out it’s millions of dollars really stuck with me that we can, all by giving a little of ourselves, ensure we have a much bigger impact in the world than we can imagine.
And all that leads to this final part, and that there are a lot of projects out there that need our help to get off the ground and flourish. You have ones, I’m sure, that are important to you that you’d like to see people help you with. I know I have my own. There are two at the moment, beyond the podcast, that I’m putting my energy into. My friend’s Will and Ben’s project “Restoring Eden” where they want to have the space and resources to investigate, and report back to the community, on Zone 4 permaculture, and how tending the wild can be a viable opportunity for people. I’m putting this out and they have less than 2 weeks left in their campaign, they need your help to get there. And, so you know, I do have a stake in this one, having pledged some of my own funds to the project.
Something else on my radar is The Molina Center, because their executive director, David Pitman, contacted me. The Molina Center is looking to use permaculture as a way to assist at risk youth. They want to build a center where youth can come, learn about permaculture and business practices, and leave with real skills and tools for their future. Though the website for The Molina Center is still in development and needs more information to clarify a lot of the path ahead of them, I called Mr. Pitman as a follow-up to the information he sent me, and he was completely transparent about the state of everything at the center, his background (which includes music therapy), their research (which is being handled by one of their staff members who is a PhD candidate), and answering a question I had about their non-profit status. He even went so far as to send me copies to those documents. So, even though they might not be very far along, everything looks to be in-line with their mission and offer to be open and honest along the way.
I find this project important because of what it adds to the literature of how we can apply permaculture to other systems and structures. I won’t call Permaculture a design system for everything, but as I’m learning from my friend, and listener, the philospher, who for his privacy I’ll call David B., PhD, there are some philosophical underpinnings that cast a wide net across the whole of human experience. And The Molina Center’s project also bears personal meaning to me, in my role as a father and knowing what a difference meaningful mentors can have. And, as a friend, to some people in Pennsylvania, who run a non-profit called The Bodhana Group that benefits children who were victims of abuse.
In the end, this stuff matters to me, and I know there are projects that matter to you, and places where you step-up and donate your time and money. I want to know about those projects, and groups, which you find important. The ones you support. The ones that could benefit from reaching a larger audience and the broader permaculture community, so that we can let others know.
I’m not asking that you put up money for everything that makes it onto your radar, but rather to recognize that, though we might not have the financial capital to share, we have other ways to help those people and projects that resonate with us. We can share what’s happening with our social circles, via social media, or if we live near a project, donating our time and skills. On this show it’s important to me for you to hear as many voices and ideas as possible so you can find someone you might not heard of who you can connect with. The same goes with these projects. As David Holmgren spoke to that idea of exploring a niche, and becoming a master of several areas, if we all dig in and dig deep within ourselves, we can see the ways that we can make the biggest impact with our skills and who we are.
And, because I’m thinking about the ways we can help others with our own capital, please check out “8 Forms of Capital” by Ethan Roland and Gregory Landua. There’s a lot of good material in that article that I keep coming back to. We can use those ideas to build the socio-economic structures required to make permaculture flourish in the world in which we live.
If we work together, giving a little of ourselves and our time, we can design and build a better world.