The Permaculture Podcast

    Episode 1222: Radical Possibilities with Ethan Hughes


    Click here to download the episode. | Open Player in New Window

    My guest for this episode is Ethan Hughes and we talk about Permaculture and Radical Possibilities.

    Ethan lives on a electricity and petrol free homestead covering 110 acres. Our conversation was conducted over one of the few pieces of technology at the site, a landline telephone located in a space that is separated from the rest of the living area.

    Ethan, his wife, and the others who share the homestead with them operate the on a gift economy. The short and quick way to explain this is that they give gifts freely and have others give gifts in return, though not necessarily on a one to one or quid pro quo basis, which we clarify more fully in the interview. Though it initially sounded impossible to me, they are able to do this and support 9 full time adults and 2 children on the site, while still receiving over 1500 guests through their space for tours and classes.

    I wanted to call this episode Radical Simplicity, but changed it to Radical Possibilities because the powerful message that came through from the conversation was the power we have to create change when we open ourselves to the numerous of opportunites available and of human beings ability to creativily solve problems, especially when guided in a meaningful way.

    Overall this interview challenged many of my previous notions about the personal requirements to transform the world. Many of the examples I encountered previously dealt with people who spent years saving, paying off debt, and then leaving the western lifestyle of working to live, though they retained a certain level of wealth and financial independence. Ethan made his changes utilizing non-financial capital, relying on friends, neighbors, and other contacts to do good work. He and the community he lives in made, and continue to make, choices that allow them to live freely on very little of money, but with lives full of abundance.

    Ethan and his community are an experiment and this lifestyle may not work for everyone. Please do not compare your life and choices to his or anyone else. Take the steps necessary to live your better life by your own making.

    David Holmgren’s 12 Principles of Permaculture
    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.

    Ethan’s Contact Information

    The Possibility Alliance
    85 Edgecomb Road
    Belfast, ME 04915


    Charles Eisenstein
    Sun Oven

    Contact the Show
    Email: show (at)
    Voicemail: 717.827.6266

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    10 Pings/Trackbacks

    1. […] Radical Possibility […]

    2. Kurt LiebezeitKurt Liebezeit
      October 2, 2012    

      This was the most amazing and inspiring interview I have EVER heard. I was astounded at Ethan’s wise approach to life, and his willingness to “meet people at the level they’re at.” I am going to share this interview with everyone in my family and social circle!

    3. ChrisChris
      October 30, 2012    

      This is great, I think that it is one of those podcasts that has to be heard a few times, just in order to take it all in.

    4. […] Podcast with Scott Mann.  I was listening to an episode of it yesterday that referred back to an older episode with Ethan Hughes, a permaculture teacher and practitioner who lives completely off-grid on as part of a small […]

    5. November 30, 2012    

      I second Kurt’s comment, above — absolutely amazing interview. I listened to this episode when it first came out, and re-listened to it yesterday after it was mentioned in the interview with Chuck Marsh. Ethan’s embrace of limits as the key to abundance really struck me, especially since the topic of limits (and our national aversion to acknowledging them, to our own detriment) was discussed in some depth by John Michael Greer in a recent interview he had with Chris Martenson at He is truly blazing a path, showing us an example of something that is truly a better way to live if we can just make the necessary changes over time. I really liked his conclusion that the key to making these changes is the TIME, that we have to let go of this drive to fix everything NOW and just STOP once in a while. Thanks for the podcast, Scott!

    6. […] curveballs in the process, make this a nice extension to several of the past interviews, including Ethan Hughes and Dr. Bern Sweeney. After you listen to Steve, I recommend going back through the archives, if […]

    7. […] romahdusalustukset alkavat ahdistamaan, kannattaa kuunnella Permaculture Podcastin inspiroiva Radical Possibilities with Ethan Hughes-jakso, joka esittelee Ethanin siirtymistä kohti lahjataloutta. Permakulttuurisuunnittelukurssin […]

    8. […] Ethan Hughes on the Gift Economy […]

    9. January 31, 2014    

      My friend James Samuel in New Zealand told me about this interview. I had heard about the Possibility Alliance, but did not know much. Wow, I am so inspired! I want to read this, and savor it. I will add to my To Do list to transcribe this talk, so people without electricity can read his words, and be inspired to take the next step. I feel deep gratitude to everyone who enabled me to listen to these words. Diane Emerson

    10. RLM McWilliamsRLM McWilliams
      February 7, 2014    

      “Supernovas are exploding, like cosmic composting.” Ethan Hughes

    11. Damon BaragwanathDamon Baragwanath
      April 27, 2014    

      I’ve just finished listening to the pod-cast Radical Possibilities with Ethan Hughes and I feel exceedingly humbled by his philosophy and harmonious approach to living life. Further, I realize that this path is not only obtainable but a necessary step in our journey towards a more healthy, loving and nourishing existence on Mother Earth! Thank you Ethan Hughes.

    12. […] “So, it’s funny that when you actually apply these radical core principles, people think you’re nuts. But yet, I think a lot of times we take these principles as a hobby. We have our herb spiral and we think our permaculture done. So we’re trying to invite people to really embody these principles, which when you do it, your life will not look the same.” – Ethan Hughes, The Permaculture Podcast interview with Ethan Hughes on Radical Possibilities […]

    13. […] you took one hour to listen to THIS INTERVIEW, which is referenced below, I PROMISE you'll be so exceptionally glad and inspired. Best thing I've […]

    14. February 19, 2015    

      Thank you for sharing this interview. I can’t remember how many times I have listened to it. It’s such a motivation to share my surplus outside my family. “An apple tree doesn’t hoard the apples; it lets them go for people, birds, insects…”

      • February 19, 2015    

        I’m glad that Ethan was so gracious with his time. Both of his interviews have touched a great number of people’s lives as a result of those conversations.

    15. […] associated with taking up active work on my Rethinking the Job Culture project again, I found a podcast featuring an interview with Ethan Hughes, a man who lives on an experimental homestead in Missouri that is operated completely according to […]

    16. […] Possibility alliance and Ethan Hughes’s interview on the permaculture podcast […]

    17. […] associated with taking up active work on my Rethinking the Job Culture project again, I found a podcast featuring an interview with Ethan Hughes, a man who lives on an experimental homestead in Missouri that is operated completely according to […]

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