Can Permaculture Voices guide us through climate change?

 

Dominic reminded me that the way we talk needs revision. There is no “solution” to climate change; nothing to stop the forces already in motion. “We have to go through it.” What there are, instead, are ways of living during the escalation of natural disasters. Perhaps, against the odds, if enough of us change fast enough, the living earth will be able to rejuvenate itself and life on earth will persist into the far future.

Note: each subheading links to a summary of Tweets, one for each day of the 4-day conference.

Permaculture Voices is launched

Karl asked the most relevant question: What is the best path forward? Participants at the first Permaculture Voices conference in Temecula, CA spent four days searching out and following their own answers. A star-studded cast of some the living earth’s most well-known champions provided a scientific and ethical framework for the monumental economic, cultural and lifestyle changes required (of North Americans, in particular).

Eating locally grown food is the most obvious feature of permaculture; its discourse has begun to effect public opinion and (some) public policy. However, being a local hero in-and-of-itself is insufficient to guarantee a future for your children and grandchildren. Earth will lose its breathable atmosphere within decades if we persist in delaying fundamental changes in energy consumption and dismantling corporate agriculture.

Action Packed Presentation Schedule

If one wanted to notice, there were visible absences in the conference demographics. People of color, women presenters, and international representation, for instance, were seriously under-represented. Some of these imbalances were aired publicly and grumbled about privately, but perseverating on them would be a mistaken use of energy along the lines of the “feedback loops” Allan Savory refuses to entertain in the mission to let cattle (and other livestock) save the planet. Women (especially white women) need to step up and start doing epic shit (echoing Paul Wheaton and paraphrasing Larry Santoyo).

 

https://twitter.com/MontadoFarms/statuses/444884615346798592

The more significant yet rarely spoken tension is class and the luxurious privileges of whiteness. Not just white skin privilege (which varies according to social class), but the attitudes of whiteness that celebrate individualism and the myth of independence. It’s damn scary to realize that I don’t know enough people with the skills to help me survive; humbling to realize how little I have to offer in regard to growing food or tending animals; and terrifying to consider that not only is my incompetence not unique but rather it’s the norm. 

 

Building Urgency: Reaching for Permaculture Velocity

Toby Hemenway illustrated why there are no energy solutions that allow Americans (especially) to continue to consume so much power. We have to stop. Now. It’s really that simple. We have to suck it up and suffer for the sake of future generations. No presenters talked about how to make these transitions on a meaningful scale but I did hear of places (cities and regions) where significant progress is underway. Why not in more places?

There are a lot of excuses to postpone lifestyle change. These (mostly selfish) rationalizations combine with general tendencies of insularity (sticking with one’s own kind) and the drive to take care of immediate family first. The latter is reasonable, but permaculture as a movement can’t stop there. We need more Willie Smits’s and Geoff Lawtons and Allan Savory’s doing good works on massive scales (none of them are American, hmmm) demonstrating and modeling that complexity can be holistically managed and climate change perhaps mitigated by an unprecedented, massively-collaborative surge of homo sapiens seeking to survive.

Reaching for the tipping point

We need better soil for growing food and other critical biomass, and we have to stop the spread of deserts. There are ‘technologies’ – methods, behaviors, attitudes and manual human effort – that can make HUGE DIFFERENCES in a QUICK TIMEFRAME if we JUST START! Biochar is relatively easy and contributes on several fronts. Permaculture principles need to be imposed on all agricultural facilities, asap. Policies encouraging postmodern cattle drives are desperately needed to help reverse desertification around the world.

The thing is that we in the west (and those in the east aspiring to the west’s lifestyle with disregard for its awful consequences) can no longer have it all. We never could, but the bubble of privilege maintained the aura of illusion for a few generations. I admit I’m worried about how well I’ll hold up when my comforts begin to diminish.

At the same time, I’m honored and humbled to be called to participate in the greatest undertaking humanity has ever faced. Geoff, Paul, Allan, Toby, Diego Footer, Nicholas Wooten, Jessica Schilke, Souki Mehdaoui, Ryan Harb, Elaine Ingham, Doniga Markegaard, Nadia Lawton, yes yes even Joel Salatin and Mark Shepard (but I have to ask if you’re playing too close to the monster?), the other presenters and participants, and all the permies in the community house, with each your own specializations, commitments and passions: THANK YOU for your bright hearts, light spirits, and deep compassion for the living earth.

 

Memory of a Circle

“It is over.”

With this epigraph, Charles Genoud begins his book on the non-sense of time. Near the end of Gesture of Awareness (pp. 164-166), Genoud writes:

I hold on to the notion
of a subject.

On the impersonal world of experiences,
with a single letter, I
I trace a person,

as if creating
a blower of the wind,
a rainer of the rain.

A single letter
sets two worlds apart:

the world of object
and the world of subject,
and thus comes exile.

We are all storytellers.
We spin the fiction of our lives,
the fiction that we are.

I may move
my hand in a way that one
could call circular—

but there is no circle.
Can my hand be
at more than one place at a time?

If so,
where is the circle?

One is holding only traces, memories:
it is through such traces that one speaks
of movement, and of a circle.

The fiction that I am
is created in a similar way.

Holding to traces of past moments,
holding to imagined future moments,
I draw an enduring character, I.

But just as with the circle
seen in the movement of a hand,
I am no where to be found.

Once I’ve created the main character, I
once I’ve put distance between
myself and experience—

my story can’t be but a story of exile,
of a hopeless wandering.

Exile can end only with end
of the split between
object and subject;

exile can end only if the fictitious nature
of object and subject
is seen through.

As the main character
is also the storyteller,
he resists his own ending.

The world of traces, of fiction,
isn’t another world

as there is no real world
with respect to which it could be
other.

The memory of the circle
drawn by my hand is only
the trace of a trace,

the trace of something that
never was.

I’m also looking forward to seeing a ragged assortment of Monks and Nuns when the Human Sushi Platter will be guest of honor at an event hosted by Hot Mama.

Creatives versus Doomers: WE Are the Planet

Neal Stephenson has said that he is interested in “the attention span of our society” and comments that we have “350 years of perspective” on the scientific process. In the face of climate disruption, can Cultural Creatives prove the Doomers and Deniers wrong? This week, a symposium at UMass Amherst aims to “Harvest Hope.”

Neal Stephenson said that we’ve now got “350 years of perspective” on the scientific process, and that he is interested in “the attention span of our society” (p. 269, Some Remarks).

Me too.

Twiliocon-developer renaissance 2013-09-19 at 7.41.52 PMLong dialogues are challenging for many reasons. They require perseverance, for one thing, and humility too – because if you stick around long enough you’re bound to encounter perspectives and learn things that cause you to realize some of your own failings and limitations. Thus, long dialogues require courage of a very particular kind. Inspired by some teenagers a few years ago, I began calling this kind of courage “character.” (Specifically #KRKTR, but I will not elaborate upon that digression here.)

Climate disruption and it’s characters

The 2013 scientific report on climate change reiterates  that the “debate on science is over, [the] time to act is now” and another study on the timing of climate change reveals shocking results: “Regardless of the scenario, changes will be coming soon,” said lead author Camilo Mora. “Within my generation, whatever climate we were used to will be a thing of the past.”

DGR quote from Arundhati Roy  2013-05-08 at 10.00.29 AMDeniers are caught up in the zeitgeist, playing the political and social drama. The Doomers have already given up. Guy McPherson leads the charge, passionately arguing that hope is dead and only love remains. Avowed Doomers have a head start on the rest of us, because they believed the science from the beginning and have been preparing for the collapse of industrial society. Those Who’ve Given Up more quietly immerse themselves in the immediate concerns of self-gratification and accommodating friends, family and coworkers. Cultural creatives are exercising a different kind of imagination, proposing a mythological kind of speculative living that holds out the promise of transformation.

“When we realize we are the planet,
we’ll be more inclined to do what’s necessary to save it.”

 ~ Christian Williams
reviewing Journey of the Universe for Utne Reader.

12% of the Solution: Biochar

Twelve percent is not enough, of course, to reverse the damage to the atmosphere. Taken in conjunction with other large-scale initiatives (whether these are led by government or quarterbacked by leaders in localized communities), restoring the soil of the planet—the earth of the earth—is essential. Using principles of holistic design based in geographical features and natural processes, there is no reason why human ingenuity cannot be turned to the creation and implementation of a greenprint for the planet. The only obstacle is us getting in our own way.

Biochar: For the Roots is the first in a projected series of Greenprint videos. A captioned version is available here. The series premieres at the North American Biochar Symposium: Harvesting Hope hosted at UMass Amherst from Oct 13-16, 2013.

The Real Value of Interpreting

Here is the script for the lightning talk I gave on June 15, 2013 at Interpret America’s 4th Annual Summit. It was first published by the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) on their weblog and then in the Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT) newsletter. The slides continue to receive views too: at Slideshare (static slides),  and Authorstream (animated slides). The video of the talk is contracted to be published by Interpret America.

holding_cloudswaterboathands_SacapuntasI am excited to talk with you today about the real value of interpreting, which is communicating pluralingual relationships into the future. Now, that’s quite a word, pluralingualism, but all it means is two or more languages used at the same time by people interacting with each other.

I’ve been thinking about interpreting in terms of history since the late 1980s, which is when I met Deaf people and began learning American Sign Language. At that time, the American Deaf Community was in the midst of an empowering movement for social change. The Bilingual-Bicultural movement included criticism of signed language interpreters. The criticism focused on what Deaf people called “the machine model” of interpreting. When the profession was established in 1964, it had quickly become dominated by interpreters with weak or no ties to Deaf culture.

Continue reading “The Real Value of Interpreting”

Peak Connectivity and Social Resilience

The “intersection” in this blog entry on social resilience involves computer science and brain science. Combining the social aspect of resilience with the human-computer interface and education has potential to enhance sophisticated problem-solving around the globe. For instance, what if we gamed Twitter?

The “intersection” in this blog entry on social resilience involves computer science and brain science.

What if we gamed Twitter?
What if we gamed Twitter?

While Professor Beverly Woolf and colleagues from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst presented on smart tutoring at the Artificial Intelligence in Education conference, I listened to a webinar from Dr Dennis S. Charney, MD, from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai present data supporting his “resilience prescription” for individuals.

Stimulating processes of social resilience

Two of Charney’s eight resilience principles, however, involve other people: role models and a supportive social network. Combining the social aspect of resilience with the human-computer interface and education has potential to enhance sophisticated problem-solving around the globe.

The developing world has 4 billion mobile phone subscriptions. In Africa, average penetration is a third of the population, and in north Africa it is almost two-thirds. South Africa now has almost 100% penetration. In sub-Saharan Africa, mobile phone ownership is 30%. ~ Dr Beverly P. Woolf

The potentials for knowledge communication through savvy tele-education exceed youth. These technologies can also enable adults who care about intercultural social networking and mass organizing for social justice. Continue reading “Peak Connectivity and Social Resilience”

Slow Learning vs Fast Living

I can only offer what I know, what I have learned, slowly and at the cost of many dear relationships. Diversity matters. The differences among us are more important than the similarities, because they enable creativity. Here we are, thrown into consciousness and connection. What shall we make of this precious chance?

(Not) rushing into the urgency of now (while still arriving)

Turning the World Upside Down
Turning the World Upside Down

Every day I face the irony of needing to hurry up to slow down, or perhaps it is the other way around, of slowing down in order to speed up my alignment with lifeforce—call it chi or God or Gaia or maybe it is just with other humans in society, thinking of society as a verb—the actions of living together through culture, work and art. Continue reading “Slow Learning vs Fast Living”

The ANSWER . . . is DIRT (the question is irrelevant)

One of the challenges of inspiring people to care about transforming land to better grow food is making the lifestyle appealing. So far, no go! The aesthetic is monotone: white people playing folk music. This is seriously problematic! Forging alliances is not easy work, but it is meaningful labor.

   Life Affirming & Life Enhancing

cows save the planet

It is the stuff of Douglas Adams-style science fiction, but what if it were true? That cows could save the planet? Not by themselves, but with a little help from their biped friends–especially everyone who has ever harbored a herding fantasy or wants their children and grandchildren to enjoy special elements of the natural world.

Large-scale rotational grazing would require a massive leap of imagination and concerted effort of collective will.  Humans–lots of us–would have to decide to choose to salvage a living planet rather than continue to pretend catastrophic climate change isn’t happening. While most people delay, many people all around the world—alone and in groups—are already acting on the decision to try. Continue reading “The ANSWER . . . is DIRT (the question is irrelevant)”

Spontaneous Action Research: Interrogating Intersectionality

The challenge of making the invisible visible, of bringing those aspects of relationships and identities that have been silenced into awareness and open conversation, was a common problem across seven international research projects explored at a workshop on “intersectionality” hosted by the Center for Gender in Organizations at the Simmons College School of Management.

Context:

Q: How many intersectionality scholars does it take to count who’s at the dinner table?

A: One Japanese waiter. (Male.)

“Be gentle.”researchmethodsB

Charlotta’s request came toward the end of the 2nd meeting of our Working Group on Research Methods at the “Interrogating Intersectionality” conference sponsored by the Center for Gender in Organizations at the Simmons College School of Management. Charlotta was the last member of our group to present. At this point we had been engaging with each other for about 2 & 1/2 hours, and I was glad that everyone was reminded about our interaction being blogged. We had negotiated authorization during my presentation on the first day, and clarified the boundaries (of who & what might potentially be bloggable)  at the start of this (2nd) session while welcoming Lisa to the group.

“I don’t have ownership of this project.” Continue reading “Spontaneous Action Research: Interrogating Intersectionality”

Emergency Management Interpreter Training in Massachusetts

Use google to search for #demx and use Twitter to participate in spreading information about the professionalization of a new subfield in emergency management interpreting.

Introduction to the Incident Command System and Interpreter Strike Teams

FireTracker2 RT Pope quote

Discussion during this introductory module demonstrated the importance of interpreters taking four of the FEMA courses offered free online before attending ASL Interpreter Strike Team training, including NIMS 100.B, Introduction to the Incident Command System, and NIMS 700.a, National Incident Management System. Two additional NIMS courses are also recommended as the minimal requirement for preparing to become an emergency management interpreter – IS 800.B, Introduction to the National Response Framework and IS 7, A Citizen’s Guide To Disaster Assistance. Additional recommended coursework is listed at the Florida Interpreter Strike Team’s webpage.

 

Self-Care and Trauma Mitigation

toys and self-care EMI trainingIdentifying the behaviors that indicate depression or other responses to trauma are crucial to maintaining emotional and cognitive balance before, during, and after interpreting in emergency management contexts.

English Transcript for “Holding Time: The Significance of Deaf Interpreters”

What’s the real difference between CDIs (Certified Deaf Interpreters) and ‘regular’ hearing interpreters? It’s not only language and internalized culture….Something else that could be described simply and taught to interpreters to help them realize one thing to do differently.

This transcript is offered instead of captions for a 14 minute videotaped conversation in American Sign Language with Deaf elders Winchell and Ruth Moore.

View the ASL vlog at  http://vimeo.com/loosevariable/holdingtime Continue reading “English Transcript for “Holding Time: The Significance of Deaf Interpreters””