Princeville Development

SUBHEAD: Now a proposal to rezone Princeville for 312 new timeshares.   By Sylvia Leutz on 20 January 2009 There is a new Proposal from the Princeville Corporation to rezone two parcels of their property (“The Meadows” and “The Greens) from Single Family Home zoning R-4 & R-6, to R-10 in order to build a new 312 unit Timeshare Project. They are on the Planning Commission Agenda for the rezoning on Tuesday, January 27, 2009! I am against this Rezoning proposal because: 
Kauai does not need any more Timeshares!
image above: Prince Course 14th hole by golf artist Larry Dotson. Look no timeshares anywhere in sight.
· We already have more Timeshares on Kauai than on Oahu (according to the Visitor Plant Inventory 2008 recently released by the State of Hawaii, Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.
· If this rezoning is approved and 312 new Timeshare Units are built on Kauai, we will have more timeshares than Oahu and Maui!
· Timeshares have a greater impact on the community than any other use with an 85% occupancy rate. The typical timeshare visitor spends their week touring the island. This proposed project would add approximately 265 vehicles per day to Kauai’s already crowded roads… or 530 vehicle trips per day in Kapaa as these vehicles come and go to their Princeville destination. The North Shore does not need any more Timeshares!
· Princeville already has more timeshares than any other area on the island with 756 units. A rezoning to permit 312 new additional units would be a 41% increase in Timeshare units for Princeville.
· The North Shore’s roads, beaches and stores are already crowded.
· Timeshare Resorts are not compatible with the rural atmosphere of Kauai’s North Shore.
· Rezoning of this property will change the character of the North Shore. This property is currently zoned for Single Family Homes which would or could be occupied by local residents and even part-time residents who add to the community through their commitment of time, energy and investment in the community. They respect and care for our area in a way that many vacation-only visitors can not. I am a Princeville resident. I am not anti-growth… but I am for protecting and preserving the character of our community and island. I am writing this letter to you and others in the hopes of raising awareness of this issue. There will be a presentation of the proposal at the Princeville Golf Course Ali’I Room at 6pm, Wednesday, January 21st where representatives of Princeville Corporation are introducing the proposal to members of the Princeville Community Association. This meeting is not well publicized but I believe it is open to all interested community members. The only other opportunity we will have to let our feelings known will be at the Planning Commission Hearing on Tuesday, January 27, 2009.

The Real New Deal

SUBHEAD: Part 4 of a 6 part presentation on salvaging our civilization.    By Richard Heinberg on 10 January 2009 in The Post Carbon Institute
PART 4: SOLUTIONS The obvious answer to fossil fuel depletion and climate change is to simply substitute alternative energy sources for oil, natural gas, and coal. However, this solution quickly bogs down on two fronts. First, there are no alternative energy sources (renewable or otherwise) capable of supplying energy as cheaply and in such abundance as fossil fuels currently yield in the time that we need them to come online. Second, we have designed and built the infrastructure of our transport, electricity, and food systems – as well as our national building stock – to suit the unique characteristics of oil, natural gas, and coal. Changing to different energy sources will require the redesign of many aspects of those systems.
image above: Electric tram on Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich from http://www.heimburgerhouse.com/dons_photos/Alps_adv.htm
The energy transition cannot be accomplished with a minor retrofit of existing energy infrastructure. Just as the fossil fuel economy of today systemically and comprehensively differs from the agrarian economy of 1800, the post-fossil fuel economy of 2050 will profoundly differ from all that we are familiar with now. This difference will be reflected in urban design and land use patterns, food systems, manufacturing and distribution networks, the job market, transportation systems, health care, tourism, and more. It could be argued that these changes will occur in some fashion whether we plan for them or not, that it is only necessary to wait for the market price of fossil fuels to reflect scarcity, with higher costs forcing society to adapt. However, lack of government planning will result in a transition that is chaotic, painful, destructive, and possibly (if the worst climate forecasts are realized), unsurvivable. As a recent study for the U.S. Department of Energy showed, a passive approach to the fossil fuel depletion problem would lead to “social, economic, and political costs” of “unprecedented” scope.1 Once again: bold action is required. We need to reduce our overall energy consumption, and restructure our economy to run primarily on renewable energy – and the federal government must lead the way. This energy transition should have five components: a massive shift to renewable energy, and a retrofitting of our transportation system, our electricity system, our food system, and our building stock. 1. Make a massive and immediate shift to renewable energy The development of alternative energy sources must be a cornerstone of any plan to reduce our national reliance on conventional fossil fuels. However, many alternatives being discussed – including nuclear power, industrial-scale biofuels, and low-grade fossil fuels such as oil shale and tar sands – suffer from serious drawbacks, including low energy profit ratios, high environmental impacts, or a limited resource base. Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and advanced geothermal clearly are a long-term solution to the nation’s and the world’s energy problems. However, further research is needed into new energy storage technologies, as well as new photovoltaic materials and processes, and new geothermal and tidal power technologies. While much of this could be accomplished by the private sector, the economic crisis is likely to delay or undercut needed funding, increasing the need for government support. The U.S. Department of Energy should be tasked with undertaking a rapid but thorough assessment of available alternative energy production technologies using a carefully mapped set of consistent criteria. This assessment should be formatted in a way that helps states and communities, as well as the federal government, make practical planning and investment decisions. Given the immediacy of this need, Post Carbon Institute, in collaboration with the International Forum on Globalization, is conducting a preliminary comparative review of alternative energy sources, using criteria including energy profit ratio, environmental impacts, scalability, and materials requirements. 2. Electrify the transportation system America’s existing investment in highways, airports, cars, buses, trucks, and aircraft is enormous. However, this is a transport system that is almost completely dependent on oil. It will be significantly handicapped by higher fuel prices, and devastated by actual fuel shortages. The electrification of road-based vehicles will help; however, this strategy will require at least two decades to fully deploy, given that the average passenger vehicle has a useful lifetime of 15 years.2 Meanwhile, road repair and tire manufacturing will continue to depend upon petroleum products, unless alternative materials can be found. Even if it is electrified, a ground transport system consisting of trucks and private automobiles is inherently energy intensive compared to public transit alternatives like bus and rail, and non-motorized alternatives like bicycling and walking. The building and widening of highways must therefore come to a halt, and the bulk of federal transportation funding must be transferred to support electrified and non-motorized infrastructure and services. This overall shift of transport investments and priorities will require comprehensive planning and coordination at all levels of government. There are few if any good options for maintaining the airline and air freight industries without cheap fossil fuels. While some amount of air travel is likely to persist throughout the transition, its cost will inevitably and persistently rise, and the airline industry will contract accordingly. Increasingly, high-speed electric rail connections between major cities will become the lower-cost option, but the national high speed rail network is still in its infancy. Meanwhile, the existing fleet of private automobiles must be put to use more efficiently through carpooling, car-sharing, and ride-sharing networks coordinated primarily at the local level, but supported by federal policy and funding. 3. Rebuild the electricity grid Nearly all experts on the U.S. electricity grid agree that the system is approaching crisis and desperately needs a substantial overhaul.3 Electricity demand has been growing at over one percent per year due to rising population and an explosion in the numbers and types of electronic devices now considered essential, yet power generation capacity has not kept up. Meanwhile our transmission networks rely on 100-year-old technology and high-voltage trunk lines that were installed in the 1950s and ’60s. It is a fragile and extremely inefficient infrastructure, and managers of the system anticipate widespread blackouts in the near future. What is needed is not merely an enhancement of the existing system with more of the same technology. New generating capacity must come from renewable sources, many of which are intermittent and are likely to be sited far from existing power lines. The transmission system must support distributed generation, as well as robust two-way communications, advanced sensors, and distributed computers to improve the efficiency, reliability, and safety of power delivery and use. Regional utility companies are already beginning to invest in renewables and “smart grid” upgrades, but the work is going much too slowly to avert looming power supply problems. Moreover, the credit crunch will likely slow the work that is currently under way. Therefore the federal government must step in to set goals and standards and to provide public investment capital. This effort must not favor commercial utilities over municipal power districts; indeed, the devolution of control over power systems to the community level should be encouraged, as decentralized power systems are likely to be more resilient in the face of now-inevitable power disruptions. 4. De-carbonize and relocalize the food system Our national industrial food system performs spectacularly well at producing cheap, abundant food using minimal human labor. However, it is overwhelmingly dependent upon oil and natural gas for tractor fuel, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and the transport of farm inputs and outputs. Additionally, the current food system is responsible for over 20 percent of all greenhouse gases introduced into the atmosphere from human activities in the U.S.4 This situation is patently unsustainable, as author Michael Pollan eloquently detailed in a recent open letter to President-elect Obama.5 As fuel prices rise, farmers will go bankrupt and food prices will skyrocket. As the global climate becomes destabilized, crops will wither. Unless America undertakes a planned redesign of its food system to eliminate dependence on fossil fuels, the future looks bleak. Famine, which formerly was an unwelcome but unavoidable fact of life in agrarian societies, could make a comeback even here in the wealthy U.S. New farming methods, new farmers, and a re-localization of production and distribution are all needed. These in turn will require land reform, educational and financial support for new farmers, and the creation of local food processing and storage centers. Post Carbon Institute, in collaboration with the Soil Association of Great Britain, is producing a report (forthcoming in early 2009) on “The Food and Agriculture Transition,” highlighting the context, issues, and possible strategies in detail. 5. Retrofit the building stock for energy efficiency and energy production. Most Americans live in homes that require heat during the winter months, and most of those homes are inadequately insulated by modern standards. Natural gas heats most of the nation’s homes, with a majority in the Northeast heated by oil. Buildings in the South and Southwest require air conditioning during summer months. Fuel shortages, power outages, and energy price hikes could bring not just discomfort, but a massive increase in mortality from cold and heat. The technology already exists to increase energy efficiency in both new and existing buildings. Germany has successfully pioneered the “Passive House” standard that dramatically reduces the energy required for heating and cooling; the European Union is considering adopting it as a building standard by 2012. In this country, organizations like Affordable Comfort Incorporated (ACI) have been doing important work along similar lines for decades, and both the US Conference of Mayors and the American Institute of Architects have adopted the 2030 Challenge6 to set a nationwide carbon-neutral standard for all new buildings by 2030. Throughout America, millions of buildings can and must be super-insulated and, in as many instances as possible, provided with alternative heat sources (passive solar, geothermal, or district heating). The widespread deployment of existing knowledge and experience to retrofit millions of American homes and public buildings will require investment as well as trained workers. Once again, the potential exists for the creation of millions of jobs – as Van Jones has discussed in his proposals for a Clean Energy Corps7. But funding, new regulations, and education are needed.
PART 1: OVERVIEW
PART 3: WHAT GOVERNMENTS ARE SAYING http://postcarbon.org/rnd-what-governments-are-saying
PART 5: REQUIREMENTS FOR TRANSITION http://postcarbon.org/rnd-requirements

Change of government

SUBHEAD: The price and the promise of citizenship. 
 
By John Schettler on 20 January 20 2009 in The Writing Shop
There was something truly uplifting about waking up this morning and realizing Barak Obama, and not George Bush, was now the president of the United States. I think many had this feeling, all across the nation, along with a quiet pride in the system that produced this orderly and dignified transition of power. But even moreso, that we now had a man ascending to the office who would indeed hold fast to the truths and ideals this nation was founded on. And from the very first, President Obama’s inaugural address sounded this theme—that we are gathered here, this time, because we have rejected fear and embraced hope. It was this promise of hope that Obama ran on, and it was largely hope that carried him through the long difficult campaign to victory. We are in desperate need of such virtue, and the understanding that we can be more than we are just now as a nation and as a people, and yet prevail in the difficult times that are now before us.
image above: "Dick" by Mark Bryan from www.artofmarkbryan.com/Dick.html
In rejecting the fear that drove the Bush-Cheney administration, President Obama clearly embraced the higher virtues of the nation, “our better angels” as he put it. And the condemnation of the mania for “security” that characterized the Bush and Cheney years was apparent when he said: “We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.”
With these words we have the hope that the blight of places like Abu Ghuraib and Guantanamo will finally be erased. That the assumption our citizens are somehow to be guarded against and surveilled through sweeping clandestine intelligence programs is now as bankrupt as Wall Street, that the idea of “pre-emptive war” against an ever lengthening list of “our enemies” is no longer the guiding principle of American foreign policy. We will no longer be a nation that expresses its might with bunker busters and Abrams tanks. Obama reached out to the world, equally hopeful that he now brings a much needed change in our policies, with this statement: “And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.”
And as for the childish false sense of bravado that Bush and Cheney held to—that we do not speak with, or negotiate with, our enemies, Obama had this to say: “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
With this we finally return to sanity and the prospect of progress in our relations with the world, and the hope that war will no longer be the means our influence is exerted. This alone is a vast spring of hope, and promise for better days ahead. It is fitting that Israel carried out its most recent spasm of violence against the Palestinians in the last days of the Bush administration, and deftly withdrew from Gaza on the eve of this inauguration.
Here at home, as millions gathered to watch the historic event on the national mall, and countless millions more watched across the nation and the world, President Obama made clear the challenge now before us: “That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”
This is the grave state of affairs he now inherits from the profound failure of the Bush-Cheney regime. But rather than wallowing in the despair that they have engendered in this nation, Obama reminded us that we are still the same people that made this nation the wonder and envy of the world: “We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”
We may be surprised at just what this work will actually entail. In the next eight years we will face again the inevitable reality of energy depletion, in spite of the fact that de-leveraging and deep recession have driven the price of oil to new lows. This belies the fact that, given normal demand, we are now producing about all the oil we ever will in any given year, being at the very peak of production. Yet at the same time, the major oil fields we have relied on to fuel our economies the last 50 years are steadily depleting. So the years ahead will again bring us face to face with this reality—that we must find another way to fuel our economy, or otherwise scale our lives to live within the means we have at hand.
This means the way we travel about our towns and cities, and across the nation, will likely require a drastic change. While cars and trucks will be with us for many years still, the over-reliance on the personal automobile will diminish, and we will be forced to plan and build out new public transit systems and intercontinental rail systems powered by electricity from cheap, clean coal, which we still have in abundance. And this also means that the models we have relied on for decades, with large centralized distribution of products imported from China, and all our food, will have to give way to a newly regenerated manufacturing base, and a localized food production system in this country. These things alone will present massive challenges, first in the way we think about our lives, and then in the way we live them.
In the short run we will see much suffering, and dislocation as the recession, or depression, deepens. Government will again roll out massive spending programs in an effort to revitalize our sagging economy. But our prospect for success lies more in how we treat one another during what will most likely be a long and difficult transition to recovery. I can’t solve the banking crisis, or create a million jobs each month. None of us can. But somewhere in the years ahead each of us will be asked to make hard choices, and changes in the way we live. We will see others falter and fail around us, and also fear for our own well-being. To this President Obama reminded us that our greatness as a nation depends upon countless small acts of kindness, generosity, service, compassion and love—virtues that collectively make up our greatness as a people.
“For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.”
Obama therefore called upon us all to raise ourselves one small step at a time, and so start the journey that will take us forward. He defined the ideals of duty and service as essential to our citizenship. For our privileged status as American citizens is not simply about the rights, freedoms, and pleasures we enjoy here, while so many others suffer throughout the world. It will take much more from us if we are to change from a nation of “consumers” to a nation of “citizens.” President Obama framed the challenge this way: “Those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. This is the price and the promise of citizenship.”
In the years ahead each of us will be asked, one way or another, to pay this price of citizenship in the greatest nation on earth. It is a cost that asks us to abandon the pursuit of selfish profit in order to benefit the common good. Hear that call Mr. Banker, Mr. Broker. The days of getting, spending, and idly doing what we want are over now. The days of “flip that house” are gone. Now let us see what we can join together and build from the ashes of the Bush-Cheney years. And may God speed us, and guide us, on the road ahead.

Has HSF struck things?

SUBHEAD: It looks like the Alakai's bow has been hitting foreign objects? SOURCE: Brad Parsons mauibrad@hotmail.com
  By Brad Parsons on 19 January 2009
You may have to zoom in on it a little. It looks like there is a lot of paint removed from around the front edge of it. It even appears to have some irregular non-smooth surface to it. There is also a dark spot near the tip. Has this wave-piercing tip been touching something other than water? Would water alone do that?
image above: Graphic image found at www.neilpryde.com
image above: zoom in on bow of Superferry provided by Juan Wilson
[Juan Wilsons's Note: It appears that The "www.NeilPryde.com" could be a composite image, and therefore might be suspect, but there is little reason to suspect that this commercial site has a reason to "age" the Superferry to sell windsurfing equipment.]

Hope and Fear

SUBHEAD: Mr. Obama deserves credit for a lot of things, but perhaps most amazingly his ability to see "hope".
By James Kunstler on 19 January 2009 in Clusterfuck Nation http://jameshowardkunstler.typepad.com/clusterfuck_nation/2009/01/hope-and-fear.html Tomorrow at noon, Barack Obama steps into the shoes of Lincoln, FDR, Millard Fillmore and forty other predecessors -- this time as the wished-for Mr. Fix-it of a nation run into a ditch. Surely over the months of transition, someone with a clear head and a fact-laden portfolio has clued-in the new President about the reality-based state-of-the-Union -- as opposed, say, to the Las Vegas version, where Santa Clause presides over a whoredom of something-for-nothing economics, and all behaviors are equally okay, and consequence has been sliced-and-diced out of the game. . . where, in the immortal words of Milan Kundera, anything goes and nothing matters.
image above: Barrack Obama pats back of Joe Biden in recent photo in Maryland
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Inauguration/story?id=6673996&page=1 Mr. Obama deserves credit for a lot of things, but perhaps most amazingly his ability to see "hope" in a public so demoralized by their own bad choices that the USA scene has devolved to a non-stop Special Olympics of everyday life, where absolutely everybody is debilitated, deluded, challenged, or needs a leg up, or an extra buck, or a pallet on the floor, or a gastric bypass, or a week in detox, or a head-start, or a fourth strike, or a $150-billion bailout. There's a lot of raw material from sea to shining sea, admittedly, but how do you re-shape it into a population guided by a sense of earnest purpose, with reality-based expectations, with habits of delayed gratification and impulse control, and a sense of their own history? That will be quite a trick. Many of us -- myself included -- will be pulling for Barack. Maybe the power of his rhetoric and his sheer buff physical presence can whip this republic of overfed clowns into shape. He inherits a government of superficially gleaming marble edifices -- all gloriously on view tomorrow -- but full of broken machinery within, infested with weevils, termites, and rats. The USA is functionally bankrupt. We have no money. The pixel "money" being emailed over to the insolvent banks has no basis in reality beyond the quiver in Ben Bernanke's voice as he announces each new injection. Yet all reports so far indicate that President Obama is bent on continuing the process one way or another. Mr. Obama's first task taking stage in the lonely Oval Office should be to get right with his own credo of "change," meaning he'll have to persuade the broad American public that the "change" required to salvage this society runs much deeper, colder, and thicker than they'd imagine in their initial transports over hallelujah-Bush-is-Gone. Many of the familiar touchstones of the recent American experience have got to go. Say goodbye to the "consumer society." We're done with that. No more fast money and no more credit. The next stop is "yard-sale nation," in which all the plastic crapola accumulated over the past fifty years is sorted out for residual value and, if still working, sold for a fraction of its original sticker price. This includes everything from Humvees to Hello Kitty charm bracelets. It will be a very salutary thing if we stop even referring to ourselves as "consumers." This degrading moniker, used for decades unthinkingly by everyone from The New York Times Nobel Prize pundits to the Econ 101 section men of the land-grant diploma mills has been such a drag on our collective development that it has extinguished the last latent flickers of duty, obligation, and responsibility for the greater good in a republic of broken communities shattered by WalMarts. The government will not have to do a thing to bring down the chain-stores. History and inertia is already on that case, with the easy credit racket terminated and new frictions arising over global trade, and even Peak Oil waiting to work its hoodoo behind the scrim of deceptively temporarily low pump prices. The larger question for President Obama is: how can we collectively promote the reconstruction of Main Street, including all the fine-grained layers of retail and wholesale trade. High tech "solutions" are not likely to avail in this. In fact, techno-grandiosity and techno-triumphalism must be be sedulously monitored and guarded-against. They jointly amount to the great mass psychosis of our time and culture. This array of traps -- from proposed flying cars to "renewable" motor fuels -- is the ultimate Faustian "bargain." It will be at the heart of any campaign to sustain the unsustainable, sucking us ever more deeply into the diminishing returns of over-investments in complexity. Hence, the last thing this nation needs now is a stimulus plan aimed at the development of non-gasoline-powered automobiles -- married with extensive rehabilitation of the highway system. What I incessantly refer to as the Happy Motoring fiesta is drawing to a close as we have known it, whether we like it or not. Cars will be around for a while, of course, but as an increasingly elite activity. The owners of cars will be increasingly beset by grievance and resentment on the part of those foreclosed from the Happy Motoring life -- and it could easily degenerate to vandalism and violence, since the "right" to endless motoring was surreptitiously made an entitlement somewhere around 1957. The "change" we face in agriculture dwarfs even the death throes of Happy Motoring (and is not unrelated to it either). A lot of people are likely to starve in America if we don't get our act together pronto in terms of how we produce the food we eat. Petro-agribusiness faces a set of disturbances that are certain to induce food shortages. Again, the Peak Oil specter looms in the background, for soil "inputs" and diesel power to run that system. But all of a sudden even that problem appears a lesser danger than the gross failure of capital finance now underway -- and petro-agriculture's chief external input is credit. Credit may be in extremely short supply this year, and hence crops may be in short supply as we turn the corner into spring and summer. Just as in the case of WalMart versus Main Street, the reform of farming in America is one of those "changes" much larger than most of us imagine. I'd go so far to say that a large proportion of young people now in college will find themselves not working in office cubicles, but in some way or other in farming or the "value-added" activities connected to it. I don't see how America can confront the "change" represented by the stark fact that suburbia-is-toast. It is the sorest spot of all in the corpus of a culture beset by disease and debility. The salient manifestation of suburbia's demise is the remorseless drop of housing values in the places most representative of that development pattern. The worst thing the Obama team could do about this would be to attempt to prevent the fall of inflated house prices. Their real value needs to be clearly established before a picture emerges of which places have a plausible future, and which places are destined to be mere ruins or salvage yards. Americans will have to live somewhere, of course, but the terrain of North America faces a very comprehensive reformation. The biggest cities will contract; the small cities and small towns will be reactivated, the agricultural landscape will be inhabited differently, and the suburbs will undergo an agonizing decades-long work-out of bad debt and true asset re-valuation. Since the loss of so much vested "wealth" is implied by the crash of suburbia, this may be a source of revolutionary political violence moving deeper into the Obama administration. There's been plenty of buzz in the blogosphere about the imminent failure of the US "social safety net," including especially the social security program. Retirees are the biggest block of voters. They're not liable to foment riots -- that is best left to the youthful high-testosterone cohort -- but the older folks -- with Baby Boomers now coming aboard -- could be so distressed by the loss of their presumed entitlements that they will elect any maniac promising to bring back something that looked like the 1980s. We haven't begun to hear their war cries, and I hope they do not beat a path straight into some sort of crypto corporate fascism -- as, finally, every last failing scrap of American life is nationalized. Some natural processes hide in the thickets ahead. A hyper-inflation could take this country in any weird and unappetizing direction, from scapegoating and persecution to a new kind of corporate fascism. But I'm inclined to see our tribulations governed more by weakness in high places than by real power. In a world of declining capital and depleting energy resources, the key to any successful venture will be smaller scale. I'm not convinced that any emergency could make the US government more effective at getting anything done. Our hopes really ought to be vested locally, since that is where the most effective action is likely to be in the years just ahead. It will be stirring to watch Barack Obama's inauguration, and all the hoopla and balls, and the radiant children, and the exemplary First Lady dancing with the First Partner. Euphoria is a legitimate part of the human condition, though we know it soon passes into the heavy lifting of real life. There are many Americans of good will who would like to see the meaning of real "change" clearly articulated in a way that comports with reality, not just "dreams" and wishes. We'll hear a lot about dreams this week, anyway, of course, but then reality will set in and the heavy lifting will commence. Many Americans of good will also stand ready to face reality, to roll up our sleeves, ditch the video games and the Nascar and the microwaved cheese treats, and the internet porn and all the other noxious, narcolepsy-inducing distractions of our time, and put our shoulders to the wheel to haul this nation into a plausible future. For the moment: a rousing cry of "Good Luck!" To President Obama from this little outpost of Clusterfuck Nation.

Kauai organic farm tour

SUBHEAD: KCC Garden class tour Kauai organic farms.

By Linda Pascatore on 18 January 2009 for Island Breath - 
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2009/01/kauai-organic-farm-tour.html)


Image above: Scott explains weeding process "Every inch, Every week, Everywhere". All photos by Juan Wilson

I recently enrolled in the Growing Food Seminar, a Gardening Class at Kauai Community College. The lead instructor is Glenn Hontz, but the class will actually be taught by many local gardening specialists. The purpose of this class, and the other gardening classes offered, is to promote sustainable food production on Kauai. This is a committed group of people who are working hard to achieve eventual food sovereignty; locally growing all we need to survive.

The current class is a continuation of the Seminar offered last semester, and many of those students have returned to participate in the class as a continuing series. A group of them organized a class field trip this past Saturday to visit some local organic gardens.

NECTAR GARDENS
Our first stop was Nectar Gardens, run by Scott Pomeroy in Moloaa. He was farming 15 acres of a beautiful, well organized gardens and orchards. Scott has been commercially gardening here on Kauai for many years. He currently sells most of his produce at local farmer's markets, but in the past has done CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture), sales to local restaurants, and even exporting to Oahu.

Scott uses frequent plantings of cover crops to enrich his soil. They fix nitrogen and add organic material. Some of his favorite cover crops are cowpeas, sudan grass, and buckwheat. He also rotates crops and even moves gardening areas to let the soil recover from depletion of nutrients caused by intensively growing food crops.

Scott's main vegetable gardening area is an array of beautiful curved rows. He weeds weekly, before the weeds have time to get established. A sprinkler system is used for watering. Scott recently bought a tiller which pushes soil from the paths into raised beds for planting.


 Image above: Rows of perfect produce for next week.

The vegetable garden area is protected by a windbreak of a variety of trees. Scott has planted some hardwoods for later harvest, and nitrogen fixing trees. He also has many fruit bearing trees planted close enough together so that little mowing or maintenance is required once the trees mature. He has just fenced in an area which will produce sweet potatoes, taro, and cassava; all crops that have to be protected from wild pigs.

Scott is currently teaching another KCC course, Learning the Skills of Organic Gardening, at his farm. Scott has also taught at UC Santa Cruz, and recently at Waipa Garden Project. You can buy Nectar Garden produce at the farmer's markets at Hanalei and Kilauea.

SPIRIT OF THE EARTH FARM
Our next stop on the garden tour was Spirit of the Earth Farm, owned by Marie Mauger. Marie gardens according to the principals of Biodynamic Farming. According to Wikipedia, Biodynamics is a method of organic farming that has its basis in a spiritual world-view first propounded by Rudolf Steiner. He saw farms as unified and individual organisms. There is an emphasis on balancing the holistic development and interrelationship of the soil, plants, and animals as a closed, self-nourishing system. Manures, composts, fermented herbal and mineral preparations are used to energize the soil. An astronomically based planting calendar is also employed.



Image above: Marie introducing biodynamics tour.

Marie led us on a tour of her site, which was in a very natural state, more like permaculture than farming. There was one large field, the Peace Garden, where most of the vegetables were grown. I can personally vouch for the quality of Marie's produce. For several years, I participated in a CSA and received a weekly share of her produce. She always provided superb greens and herbs.
Marie gives classes in Biodynamic farming and gardening. She also is available to come to your site and make raised beds with her new tilling machine, which is the same one Scott used. Marie can be contacted at mariemauger@yahoo.com



Image above: small pond near Peace Garden.

MOONFRUIT ORCHARD

The last garden we visited was on a farm called Moonfruit Orchard, a 4+ acre orchard and nursery of dwarf coconut trees. Their intensive garden zone is a soil restoration project untilizing sustainable, no-till natural processes such as vermiculture (growing worms), sheet mulching, cover cropping, reforestation, and compost tea application. This endeavor is designed and implemented by WormsWork, a vermiculture/soil remediation cooperative.

Cristal guided us through this permaculture enterprise, where they are making great soil by growing worms. They are taking a variety of waste materials such as wood chips, paper scraps, cardboard and garbage to make what she called "forest-compost" piles. These piles mimic processes that occur naturally on the forest floor (rather than the more commonly-used "hot-compost"piles). These are worm incubators. The worm castings are the stuff of "Black Gold", the basis of nutrient-rich soil.

Cristal pointed out that what our soil on Kauai needs more than anything is carbon (i.e. browns: mulch, cardboard, tree chips, dead leaves, sticks, logs, branches, etc). The only way to have healthy soil is to have enough carbon to continuously feed it. To do that, we need forests everywhere possible. A healthy tropical forest stores nutrients primarily in the canopy layers because everything on the ground is continuously composting. Sustainability in the tropics equals forests.

We saw different stages of the process of making a productive garden, using the permaculture principle--"Most effect for least effort". Cardboard was laid over cut fields of guinea grass (nitrogen) which had originally covered the property twelve feet high. Then wood chips were mixed with mulch (nitrogen), to cover the cardboard (which together make a 6-12" carbon layer). The next step was to plant pumpkins, whose roots provide a perfect habitat for composting microorganisms to flourish.

Image above: Cristal demonstrates "worm tea". Photo by Juan Wilson

There were also compost beds which serve as worm factories. Compost was layered and managed to provide just the right environment for worms to thrive. Cristal was growing both blue and red worms. She invited our gardening class to dig around and find some worms, and we did!

When the worms are done breaking down the garbage in an area, the result is worm castings. This is beautifully rich and dark soil, which is added to the areas already prepared by the mulching and pumpkins, to build garden soil. The final stage was a vegetable garden, a lovely array of raised beds with a variety of produce. Crystal also makes a compost "tea" from the castings, used as liquid fertilizer.


Image above: Tour visits worm refuge in banana grove. Photo by Juan Wilson

Cristal and team offer classes to teach vermiculture, compost and reforestation methods. WormsWork Cooperative sells worms (actually compost start-up colonies), and also offer on-site design and consultation for homes, schools, businesses and farms. They can help install basic perennial food/forest/gardens including staple foods with supportive closed-loop systems such as companion plants, vermicompost and water design. You can learn more at vermiculturekauai.pbwiki.com, or contact Cristal at wormsworkkauai@gmail.com

The garden tour was set to continue on to one more site in Kapaa. However, I confess that a I cut out of the last tour and headed home. I did really enjoy being outdoors, meeting these master gardeners, and seeing the principles of organic gardening in action.

KCC is offering several different gardening classes. They include my Growing Food class, the on-site organic gardening at Scott's, an ongoing hands on class at the KCC garden, and a class on the business end of the process. You can learn more about gardening classes at KCC by contacting Glenn Hontz at 246-4859 or emailing him at hontz@hawaii.edu. A group of gardeners from the Growing Food class also maintains a google group with helpful gardening info at: http://groups.google.com/group/koloadistrictgardeners?lnk=srg


Knudsen to spoil Poipu


 SUBHEAD: Kauai Planning Commission continues to "OK" the rape the island. 

By Jeri DiPietro on 18 January 2009 for Island Breath - (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2009/01/knudsen-to-spoil-more-of-poipu.html)

 
Image above: Aeria view of undeveloped land between Waikomo Reservoir and Poipu Road. Photo by the Kauai Historic Society.

It is inappropriate to allow cars to drive over Historic Hapa Trail, a walking/bike path. (see below “Developers to build road across Hapa Trail,” The Garden Island, Jan. 15th)

This path is county property, and the county will be liable for any potential harm incurred.

Other options exist, like making the driveway go straight onto Poipu Road. The county is willing to give them a variance for this route, but the developer claims it will cost more money.

The majority of the fuss at the Dec. 9 Planning Commission hearing was the owner’s attorney claiming to have a sign off letter from State Historic Preservation. They did have a letter but it wasn’t a sign-off. The letter asked for more conditions to ensure protection for archaeological sites of the amazing 203-acre agricultural system of taro, loi and auwai, known as the Koloa Field System. This system allowed the abundant growing of wetland taro in a dryland area long before the sugar plantations came to Koloa. Did the Planning Commission not take it upon themselves to do research? This is a chronic habit: do as little as possible. The discretionary portion of the planning process is absent. 

Regarding the Hapa Trail conditions associated with a residential subdivision application, the Knudsen trustee and its attorney say they are only obligated to restore 500 feet of trail, but they will agree to restore 2,000 feet. This is a smoke screen. Estimated completion date agreed on is the year 2029. The truth of the Poipulani ordinance implies they restore 6,000 feet and restore the rock walls. The rock walls have been victims of rock theft over the last 25 years. They and other landowners who benefited from the 1972 Kiahuna-Moana upzoning are compelled by law to restore the entire trail.

The ordinance states when they develop that land, and maintain Historic Hapa Trail in perpetuity.

The Kaua‘i County Council has appropriated money for an Environmental Assessment for Hapa, a requirement for altering county property. Some of the County Council does not agree with the Planning Commission decision, and the council will be obligated to sort out another bad decision. When will we truly begin to put our island first, for the benefit of future generations?

At the rate we are going, soon there will be nothing left to remind us of the way it used to be.

[IB Editor's Note: Stacey Wong's efforts to destroy Kauai continue as the Kauai Planning Commission knuckles under to Developer. The sad outcome on this proposal to suburbanize more of Poipu. This will likely have to end up in the courts.]




Knudsen to build across Hapa Trail

By Leo Azambuja on 15 January 2009 in The Garden Island News -
(http://www.kauaiworld.com/articles/2009/01/15/news/kauai_news/doc496efc430bbee718751042.txt)

Despite public outcry, developers got their way on Tuesday when the Kaua‘i Planning Commission approved a permit to build a road over the historic Hapa Trail on the South Shore. The Eric Knudsen Trust is planning a housing development in an area just east of Hapa Trail.

In order to obtain easier access to Po‘ipu Road, the developer opted to build an access road across the trail, a pedestrian path which runs alongside a 1.2-mile stone wall registered as a historic site. The trail used to be known as Hapa Road, but lawmakers had it changed to avoid it being mistaken as a road where cars could drive. The move was intended to help preserve it.

The site of the proposed development encompasses an area that includes several ancient taro patches and intricate irrigation systems. Community members who spoke against the development, mostly Koloa and Po‘ipu residents, had already accepted the possible loss of historic sites, but were not eager to give Hapa Trail away.

Resident Jerry Di Pietro said it is illegal to disturb the stone structure because there is a legal clause ruling that whoever develops the lands where the lo‘i and irrigation systems are located must maintain and restore the trail, including the stone structure. Hapa Trail belongs to the county. The developers already have prepared an Environmental Impact Statement, a more complex version of an Environmental Assessment.

Residents claimed that the EIS addresses only the development, not the trail or the stone structure, but Deputy Planning Director Imai Aiu said the EIS does address Hapa Trail. The stone structure is another controversy in itself. Residents say it is an ancient native Hawaiian structure.

The developers say it was built by the Knudsen family in the late 1800s. Commissioner Camilla Matsumoto said regardless, it is a historic site and as such it must be preserved. Former Mayor and Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, who was pivotal in the name change of the former Hapa Road, questioned why developers would not be willing to relocate access to the project from its eastern side.

The developers pledged to restore Hapa Trail, but they will have 20 years to finish the project. Newly elected Commission Vice Chair Caven Raco, saying that developers met all lawful requirements and should be granted the permit, made a motion to approve it. Commissioner Steven Weinstein said it was “time to move on,” which Commissioner Stuart Hollinger agreed with.

All three, alongside newly elected Commission Chair Jimmy Nishida, voted to approve the permit. Commissioners Herman Texeira and Matsumoto voted against it. After the permit approval, frustrated community members, who endured the 14-hour meeting, left the Mo‘ikeha Building saying there will be a lawsuit.

See also:
Island Breath: Knudsen Trust Setback 12/10/08 .

Navy to kill Pacific whales

SUBHEAD: During training Navy cleared to use sonar that is lethal to whales.

By staff on 12 January 2009 in Environmental News Service -
 
(http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2009/2009-01-12-092.asp)

  
Image above: A humpback whale breaches from http://alohagems.info/2009/01/kohola-ko-ho-la-humbback-whale.html

The federal government today issued authorization to the U.S. Navy to impact whales and dolphins while conducting sonar training exercises around the main Hawaiian Islands for the next five years. The letter of authorization and accompanying rules allow for injury or death of up to 10 animals of each of 11 species over the five years covered by the regulations.

The Navy requested authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act because the mid-frequency sound generated by tactical active sonar, and the sound and pressure generated by detonating explosives, may affect the behavior of some marine mammals or cause what the Navy calls "a temporary loss of their hearing."

Mid-frequency sonar can emit continuous sound well above 235 decibels, an intensity roughly comparable to a rocket at blastoff across hundreds of miles of ocean to reveal objects, such as submarines, underwater.

NOAA's Fisheries Service, which issued the authorization says serious injury or death to marine mammals is not expected as a result of the exercises. But the agency acknowledges that exposure to sonar has been associated with the stranding of some marine mammals, and some injury or death could occur. The Fisheries Service has determined that these effects would have "a negligible effect on the species or stocks involved."

Protective measures outlined by NOAA require the Navy to establish marine mammal safety zones around each vessel using sonar and shut down sonar operations if marine mammals are seen within designated safety zones. The Navy must use exclusion zones to ensure that explosives are not detonated when animals are detected within a certain distance. The Navy must implement a stranding response plan that includes a training shutdown provision in certain circumstances and a memorandum of agreement to allow the Navy to contribute in-kind services to NOAA's Fisheries Service if the agency has to conduct a stranding response and investigation.

Humpback mother and calf in Hawaiian waters (Photo by Fotolen) The regulations establish an area of extra caution in the Maui Basin because of its high density of humpback whales. The Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary covers the four island area of Maui; Penguin Bank; and extends off the north shore of Kauai, the north and south shores of Oahu, and the north Kona and Kohala coasts of the Big Island.

Hawaii is the only place in the United States where humpbacks breed, calve, and nurse their young. Approximately 4,000-5,000 whales migrate to the Hawaiian Islands each winter. Although the population of humpbacks is increasing, these whales remain endangered. NOAA Fisheries Service said in a statement today that these measures "should minimize the potential for injury or death and significantly reduce the number of marine mammals exposed to levels of sound likely to cause temporary loss of hearing."

But environmentalists disagree. "The role of the National Marine Fisheries Service is to protect the health and welfare of marine mammals and they are abdicating their duty with this authorization," said Taryn Kiekow, marine mammal staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. The nonprofit organization has fought a series of legal battles against the Navy's use of sonar due to its adverse effects on whales and dolphins. "They are recycling protections for sensitive marine mammal species and habitat near Hawaii that courts have repeatedly found inadequate," Keikow said.

The Navy has been conducting training exercises, including the use of mid-frequency sonar, in the Hawaiian Islands for more than 40 years. Exercises range from large multi-national, month-long training exercises using multiple submarines, ships, and aircraft conducted every other year, known as Pacific Rim Training Exercises, to two- to three-day exercises to test the readiness of battle groups, known as Undersea Warfare Exercises, and shorter exercises that last less than a day.

NOAA's Fisheries Service and the Navy have developed a monitoring plan to use independent, experienced aerial and vessel-based marine mammal observers as well as Navy watch standers, passive acoustic monitoring, and tagging to better understand how marine mammals respond to various levels of sound and to assess the effectiveness of mitigation measures. The implementation of this monitoring plan is included as a requirement of the regulations and the letter of authorization.

The letter of authorization, which is required for the Navy to legally conduct sonar activities, is issued annually, provided the Navy abides by the terms and conditions of the letter, submits the required annual reports, and shows their activities do not result in more numerous effects or more severe harm to marine mammals than were originally analyzed or authorized.

See also:

Westside Gardening 101

SUBHEAD: Malama Kauai "Do-it-yourself" Workshop Series by Andrea Brower on 15 January 2009 in Island Breath WHEN: Saturday, Ferbuary 7th, 10:00am-3:30pm WHERE: 4640 Aukuu Road, Kekaha, 96752
This workshop is for the beginner to somewhat experienced gardener. Topics covered will include site selection, design criteria, irrigation, composting and fertilizing, soil propagation, crop selection, pest control, and whatever questions come up! If you would like to know more about what will be covered, contact instructor Matt Field at 651-1084. PLEASE BRING YOUR OWN LUNCH. A donation for Matt is very appreciated (suggested sliding scale $20-50). No need to RSVP.
Questions? CONTACT: Andrea Brower email: andrea@malamakauai.org phone: 808- 828-0685

Support Kanaka Maoli

SOURCE: Katy Rose klrose@earthlink.net SUBHEAD: sign holding in support of Kanaka Maoli Honolulu action marking Jan. 16, 1893

by Ray Catania on 15 January 2009
Image above: graphic found at www.uksociety.org There will be sign holding on Saturday, January 17th, fom 11am to 1pm at the intersection in front of the Airport. This demonstration will be to support the Kanaka Maoli marking the overthrow of their government and their fight for self-determination and the struggles they are waging, like the fight to stop the stealing and selling of of seized or falsely labeled "ceded lands". Bring signs that show our unity/solidarity with the Kanaka. Sorry for the last minute announcement. Please spread the word. See also:

Albert Bates interview

SUBHEAD: A new paradigm of living locally and having multiple resilient systems.  

By Sharon Astyk and Aaron Newton on 14 January 2009 in Hen & Harvest - (http://henandharvest.com/?p=186)


Image above: still from video of another Albert Bates interview at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u81nvgxRDO8&feature=related

The following is an interview with Albert Bates conducted as part of the process of writing A Nation of Farmers, by Sharon Astyk and Aaron Newton which is available for pre-order now and will be published in March of 2009 by New Society Publishers. An edited version of this interview appears in the book. Albert Bates’s latest book is The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times.

Bates is described as: "... an influential figure in the intentional community and ecovillage movements. A lawyer, author and teacher, he has been director of the Institute for Appropriate Technology since 1984 and of the Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee since 1994." Bates has been a resident of The Farm since 1972.

A former attorney, he argued environmental and civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and drafted a number of legislative Acts during a 26-year legal career. The holder of a number of design patents, Bates invented the concentrating photovoltaic arrays and solar-powered automobile displayed at the 1982 World’s Fair.

He served on the steering committee of Plenty International for 18 years, focussing on relief and development work with indigenous peoples, human rights and the environment. An emergency medical technician (EMT), he was a founding member of The Farm Ambulance Service. He was also a licensed Amateur Radio operator. More on Albert Bates.

A Nation of Farmers (ANOF): 
I wanted to start by asking about something I’ve heard you say in other interviews.A lot of other people, even some of the cheery folks, tend to talk about peak oil specifically in really gloomy, sad terms.You tend to talk about it as a potentially positive development for humankind, and I wondered if you could talk about why.

Albert Bates (AB): 
There are a few reasons behind that I think everybody at some point has to go through the process of having the realization.That may come as kind of a rude awakening, or it may come as “Aha, I told you so!”, but at some point everybody goes through it. It tends to deepen as time goes on, and people have their own periods of weeping and gnashing the teeth, but then you have to cope, you have to get up and do something about it. I think the more important thing is to have an attitude that something can still be done.

You can’t exclude the possibility that the future is still malleable, that there is still an opportunity for positive change if we exert our capacity or our abilities to do that. I think it’s important to paint a positive vision for the future to galvanize the kinds of changes that people are capable of, rather than to focus on the various dystopias, which is all too common in peak oil literature.

We’re going to have to talk about energy and energy descent, and that’s ultimately about energy ascent — which is to say re-energizing. Re-energizing communities and culture, re-energizing the way we go through our lives so that we’re much more of our human selves, so that the separation that we’ve lost with nature is repaired.

And that’s the key to realistically embracing the possibilities of our situation rather than being overwhelmed by the kinds of challenges that our situation presents us with. That’s part of it. And then the other piece of it, this whole idea of neurological evolution and the way that the human brain works and hormones and things like that.

One of the kinds of things that we’re investigating in recent years has been the feedback mechanisms, the chemical stimulators within the brain. What we’re learning, slowly, over a long period of time now, is that people who have a pessimistic outlook tend to close off parts of their brain that would normally function to provide alternatives, lots of ideas.

And people who have optimistic attitudes tend to produce the kinds of body chemicals that stimulate the creative centers in the brain and produce the kinds of ideas that might actually provide solutions for some of the problems that are confronting us. So what we tend to do by being pessimistic is create a self-fulfilling prophecy that we cannot get out because we’re stuck. If we actually have an optimistic outlook, even though it’s unrealistic, it has a better chance in the long term of succeeding than even a very cautious attitude.

ANOF: 
It’s reinforced even by biology and chemistry! That’s very interesting. Well, you certainly have a positive vision for the future and you’re working towards it. Your most recent book,

The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times, talks about preparing for a transition to a new way of being, to a new way of living. Could you talk in broad terms about what that transition itself might look like? I think some people have the expectation that we’re going to flip a switch and things are going to be post-carbon.

AB: 
Yeah, it’s not actually going to go that easily. I think that’s kind of wishful thinking, and I think the key theme that I’m harping on these days when I go out and talk or lecture or give permaculture courses or speak to groups of students is that what we need more of is resilience.

That’s essentially the quality of defense in depth that allows a community to provide for most of its essential needs: food, energy, water, raw materials, from multiple sources, most of them local. So that in the event of large-scale system failures, collapse is averted because there’s smaller-scale, local community resilience, and that has the wherewithal to fend for itself.

Getting to that, that idea of resilience, actually means traveling back on a development path that we had previously gone the opposite direction on. In a sense it’s kind of a reversal, but at the same time, it’s something that we are familiar with, that we know how to do, because we’ve been there before. We actually have a lot of things that we’ve developed in the last century of high-tech, fossil-fueled, civilized progress, and we can apply many of those same kinds of things to this new paradigm of living locally and having multiple resilient systems.

To give you an example, the bicycle. The bicycle has advanced hugely in the last 20 years and even more in the last 50 years. If you look at that kind of progress and you say, ok, apply that now to getting to the post office to pick up the mail, or the postman delivering the mail, or the cop on the beat instead of going around in a cruiser being on a bicycle.

That kind of thing is actually more doable now than it would have been back when everyone had a single gear clunker that weighed a quarter of their own body weight. At the same time, I don’t want to completely throw out those heavy-duty steel frame models.

Arguably they won the Vietnamese their independence. They were the workhorses that carried artillery shells up the mountains to Dien Bien Phu and ran supplies down the Ho Chi Minh trail through all the B-52 craters.

ANOF: 
Are you at all concerned about the loss of knowledge concerning low-tech technologies that could come into play? I’m thinking here everything from pottery making to just even basic food production and farming skills, because we haven’t been doing that.

AB: 
No, I’m not in the least, and I’ll tell you why. I’ve had the benefit of having had a forty-year experience with that which many other people don’t have. And so I have a certain level of confidence and ease that many people who have not had that forty-year experience may not.Let me break that down for you with some history.

The Farm started here in Tennessee in 1971. It came out of an exodus, a hippy exodus from the cities — San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, New York’s East Village, and so forth, and arrived here at this cattle farm in the middle of the forest where land was 70 dollars an acre. And for hippys, that was less than the cost of a kilo at that time, to get an acre of land, you know?

We didn’t understand at that point, myself included, why it was so cheap, and I’m including myself even though I didn’t actually get here until 1972 when I shelved my law career in favor of retiring young and came out to the country. The reason that the land was 70 dollars an acre was that it had no soil.

It was essentially a clear-cut in an oak forest, made a century earlier, and it had actually been clear-cut several times by the 1950s and turned into a cattle ranch which pounded the ground in an area with 50 inches of rain in winter and dry dusty summers, to the point where there wasn’t any soil left, just chalky clay and gravel.

Our first objective, our necessity for the first couple of years here, was simply to make soil. We got horses from the Amish. I was somebody who grew up in Connecticut and my high school sport was equestrian arts like dressage and stadium jumping and that sort of thing. And so I was enlisted by the horse crew to work behind draft horses in the field, and to teach others how to work with horses and care for them properly.

There was a certain amount of carryover there, I mean a horse has certain kinds of needs that I knew how to fill, but I had to learn other skills that you don’t get when you work a yearling on a lunge line. I had to learn that gee and haw turn them right and left. I had to learn how to work with old-fashioned harness and double-tree hitches. I had to learn how to make canvas collars because we were vegetarians and actually pretty serious hard-core vegans, and we didn’t believe in using leather at all. So we replaced everything we had that was leather with something that was not leather, mostly riveted canvas and nylon.We had to re-make all of the harness and tack.

So I learned how to do that. My friend Eli Gifford went off to Maryland to learn to be a ferrier so he could come back and make horseshoes. And we learned how to make crops with draft horses, and in three years time we took a bunch of art majors and English majors and by 1974 we were nearly food self-sufficient.

We grew pretty much everything we needed to feed 800 to 1000 people, the exceptions being things like rice and fruit, which we also would have gotten around to eventually. Fruit takes a while, but we had probably 20 acres planted in fruit trees and bushes. We had to go out and buy toilet paper , matches, light bulbs, salt and things like that.

But by 1976 we had a hundred-man farming crew here at the farm. We had a cash crop of sorghum that we made into molasses for our sweetener. We had a canning factory that could turn out a thousand gallons of ketchup in a night.

We had a walk-in solar dryer for herbs and sliced vegetables. I gradually moved off the horse crew and onto the flour mill crew, and worked with a five-man team re-learning the skills of making wheat flour and buckwheat flour and cornmeal and grits and groats and horse feed and peanut butter and coffee from soybeans and things like that. We went out and salvaged old milling equipment, old flour mill equipment from places that had been abandoned for years, and took all that small-scale, intermediate scale kind of stuff and brought them back to The Farm and built elevated buildings that functioned like giant machines. It was village-scale stuff that nobody used anymore.

And we put it back to work. Like I say, we had about 300 acres under till in Tennessee. We had some people come to join The Farm who had lived in Florida. They had some land in southern Florida, and so we used their place to stay and we rented land near there to grow food in the winter. We had some folks who joined The Farm from Michigan and they had a nice apple orchard, so we sent a few hundred people up there and farmed that, too, and had the apples to bring down to Tennessee.

We dried some of that fruit and made fruit leather at another satellite farm near Denver. By the early 1980s, a network of more than 20 such places had formed and were coordinated from our base in Tennessee, using ham radio. Gradually, over the course of a decade or so, we re-learned all those skills. They’re not so far away. People in other parts of the world still have them. Our Amish neighbors never lost them. And so it’s not so difficult to do as you might think.

ANOF:
 It seems to me that when we’re talking about food production, today we’re facing two simultaneous problems. The first being that fossil fuel energy used to produce food is becoming less available and so it’s more economically expensive. But also using that fossil fuel energy to grow food is more ecologically expensive. Is food the intersection of these issues?

Could it be the catalyst for a greater social change?

By that I mean, peak oil and climate change the flip sides of the same coin.

And so I’m wondering, because so much petroleum is necessary to continue industrial agriculture, and because burning that petroleum and the other fossil fuels used in agriculture are warming the planet causing our climate to change, because both of those are coming to bear on the same issue, that is, how we eat, could food be the issue that really puts peak oil and climate change on the map?

AB: 
I think that’s entirely possible. It’s hard to say exactly what’s going to put it over the top. There are 37 countries right now that are in serious food shortfall, and that’s why you’re getting riots in Haiti, Egypt and Mexico, in some places banging pots in the street and in others people actually dying in riots. They’re protesting in a lot of different places — they’re protesting in France, they’re protesting in many parts of the world, Africa and so forth. It’s true, that’s definitely coming to the fore. I’m not certain everyone makes the connection yet, however, between the shortage of food and the energy and climate crises.

We’ve got essentially four converging factors on the food supply. The first is the high cost of petroleum products, and that includes the fertilizers and chemicals, the fuel for the tractors and the combines, and the storage costs, the transportation, the drying of the grain and so on and forth. All of that is bearing on the costs of the food and making it much more expensive.

We’re watching in the US the average market basket increase in price about 30 percent a year, just the same as the rise in the price of crude oil. Now we’re seeing the second shoe fall, which is the competition over land created by alternatives to fossil fuels, specifically biofuels.You see a lot of places that are starting to switch over their corn production or their soybean production or some other things to biofuels, and that’s putting more price pressure on food.

A lot of that corn and soy production was not for food anyway, but that is another story. The third thing is you have the whole world moving towards the American or European food standard. I have to say the US food standard, because even the Germans eat only a third of the meat in an average day that US citizens do. And so we are losing the caloric efficiency of eating lower on the food chain. Every time you move up the food chain a notch and eat something that ate something else, you’re losing about ten times the caloric efficiency.

The typical chicken might cost you 30 calories for every 10 calories that you’re actually able to achieve from the protein value of the food that the chicken ate. I’m making this more complicated than it needs to be, but you get the picture. Essentially what’s happening is we’re moving into a meat-eating culture worldwide, and because that requires a huge amount of grain, a huge amount of land and so forth, it’s putting pressure on food prices.

Also, we’re running out of food. We’ve got oceans that are running out of fish now. They’re starting to catch tuna in the Gulf of Mexico that are really just fry because they cannot meet world demand by what is left in the Atlantic. If you catch one of those Blue Fin Tuna that are as big as the ones that we had 10 years ago, you’d get 275,000 dollars for one fish! So what they’re doing, to satisfy the new Chinese craving for sushi is they’re going and catching the fry, and that means of course that there won’t be any of those big tuna anymore.

That’s a world population issue, and a dietary fashion issue, that’s coming to bear on the food supply. And then the final issue is the climate change issue, which is essentially saying that you’re not going to be able to grow food in places that you’re accustomed to growing food, because of the change in climate. We’ve had two revisions of the USDA planting chart here Tennessee while I’ve lived here, because they keep having to move the isotherms northward to reflect the change of seasons because of global warming.

ANOF:
Not to mention then chaos caused by the late freezes and the early frosts, and the heavy rains in some places.

AB: 
 Yeah, not to mention all the pests that can survive that didn’t used to be able to survive and are now invasive. That is also another function of the fossil fuel era, which is moving those sorts of things all over the world and finding them new niches in which they have no predators or in which their favored food supply lacks resistance.

ANOF: 
You talked about The Farm and the evolution of food production at your community. Could you talk about cooking as an important building block of the community? I’m thinking here of the technologies and the skills that it takes, but also the sharing and the communal aspect of eating and cooking together.

AB:
When I first came here, I arrived on a cold November day. I had just walked the Appalachian Trail from north to south, and I had been on the Trail for 103 days and had been making my own meals, cooking for myself every day.

I came in here and they had turned an old line shack that had been a cattle feed storage building into the community kitchen. There wasn’t enough room inside to seat anybody, but they had enough room in there for a few stoves, a bread oven, prep tables, dish washing sinks and so on. People who lived on The Farm in those days lived mostly in busses and tents and things. We hadn’t had time or money to build buildings yet.

So we would take turns; each tent would take a rotation in staffing the kitchen. We would create these huge meals for 300, 400, 500 people in long lines — tables outside and people sitting on the ground — and we would cook. In those early days we didn’t have the advantage of giant pressure cookers, so there would be a bean watch that would go overnight for the next day’s soybeans. It takes eight or ten hours cooking soybeans to denature the trypsin inhibitor in soybeans to make them edible, unless you are a ruminant with multiple stomachs and can chew cud. In a pressure cooker you can do that in 45 minutes to an hour and a half.

Without that you have to watch the pot for eight, ten hours. So we were taking turns, on rotation, doing that sort of thing. We had a chore wheel. Pancake breakfasts would go on for hours, if we tried to feed 500 people a pancake breakfast. So we learned how to do these kinds of things, but here’s the interesting thing about all that.

If you look back in American history, you can see that there’s been a lot of communal experiments over the years, a lot of weird strange cults and stuff that came over from various different countries and settled in North America, and a lot of those didn’t survive. Most of them didn’t survive, and several of them had fairly serious death tolls the first few years. We survived, we made it.

And part of the reason we made it was we were able to feed everybody from soybeans. Soy was our miracle plant. It was the wonder bean of China, and for 2,000 years people in Asia had been developing a marvelous cuisine. The Indonesians had developed tempeh, the Javanese had developed ontjom, the Malasians yuba, the Japanese natto and sufu, and the Chinese had tofu, soy milk, and yogurt and things like that.

We just kept pushing that envelope and taking that into the hippy realms of California cuisine — soy burgers and soy burritos and soy cheesecake and soysage and soy pizzas and soy coffee and things like that. We were the Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck of soy. And because soybeans in those days cost about three dollars a bushel, which is 60 pounds — today it’s probably up to about seven dollars a bushel — what that means is that you can feed one person their protein needs for a year on three to seven dollars if you can make it tasty enough to repeat almost daily.

So we could actually make some very elegant world fusion dishes, and to do that we built ourselves a soy dairy, eventually, where we could make milk and tofu and ice cream; frogurt, whipped cream, mayonnaise and things like that. And then we also eventually developed canning and freezing and processing plants to help produce things that would last for longer periods of time. Pickled eggplant was one of my personal favorites. We got into texturized vegetable protein and soy isomers and various forms of frozen deserts, eventually buying an ice cream factory at salvage prices and selling Ice Bean to an 8-state region.

ANOF: 
It sounds like the eating was really an important part socially, a cohesion, a wonderful thing to look forward to.

AB: 
There’s actually been a study done by a guy at the University of British Columbia. A professor there did this lovely study where he looked at what is it that communities that have lasted the longest, intentional communities that lasted the longest, what are the factors that they have in common. And one of those that he signaled as being pretty important, that you can pretty much rank the longevity of any community based on this, is common shared meals. The more often people come together, the better their odds. So if they come together daily, three times a day, their odds are excellent. If they come together a couple times a week, their odds are still good. If they come together once a month, they’re still better than not coming together at all. There’s a direct correlation there between people eating together and getting along in a community.

ANOF:
Certain sociologists say the same about individual families don’t they?

AB: 
Probably so. You know, the other thing about it is that there is a joy in cooking, there’s a joy in providing for others by the fruits of your labor. And you see that personal satisfaction of watching other people eat what you’ve just cooked and complimenting the chef and so on and so forth.

All of that is a self-maintaining, self-gratifying kind of effort, but it’s also very important from the standpoint of kids growing up in that and propagating that meme of the happy family out to larger and larger groups of extended family and community and so forth. We had lots of kids living in close confinement here — in the early days we didn’t have much in the way of housing, so people were living thirty, forty people to a standard house, what you’d call a house in the US today.

And so a lot of kids being raised there in those communal settings, going to meals three times a day with everybody else, all the other kids, all the other grownups, and seeing this kind of interaction over the food. It has an effect of making the community more stable from the kids up. As the kids grow into that, they grow up more stable in their social relationships.

ANOF:
It’s funny — it’s much maligned by a lot of modern Americans, the idea of growing their own food and, God forbid, cooking it, anything other than a prepackaged microwaved meal — but there really is a joy that many people are missing out on.

AB: 
That’s right. You can go back — I don’t know how old you are, but for me, I’m in my sixties now and I go back to the early days of television and I remember Mrs. Goldberg, you know, and the old 12-inch black and white TV and the Honeymooners and stuff like that? There were always people standing around the stove, right?

There were always people who were making a pot of spaghetti sauce or something. That’s what they did. You go to an Amish community and you see the same thing; you go to a Hutterite community and you see the same thing, which is that there are people who are the cooks. They’re the ones who really take pleasure in making sure that everybody’s well-fed all the time.

ANOF: 
You mentioned successes and some failures in the intentional community movement. I see them as having been wonderful incubators for ideas during the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties. What do you think of as their role in the 21st century?

AB: 
Well, I think you hit the nail on the head; they’re incubators. There was never any sense, I think, in any of the intentional communities that somehow that was the mainstream. People went to intentional communities or joined experimental spiritual communities or bohemian tribes specifically to live outside the mainstream.

What they’re were doing was living on the edge, experimenting, trying to be true to their personal values and to live in a way that didn’t offend their personal values and life goals or make it impossible to raise sane children. If they were lucky, they’d find a bunch of people who had similar values and could live together, practicing what they believed, and that’s the nature of the intentional community.

Now once you’ve gotten to that stage, you’ve freed up a certain amount of creative energy, and you can begin to explore interpersonal dynamics, gestalt therapy, the opportunities to work together in various forms.

And as you do that, you begin to actually advance new ideas and new memes which quite often then spread out into the larger mainstream. So the mainstream may not notice, or may not credit the intentional communities with starting some of these things, but actually those kinds of things come into general use after a time because they’ve been proven out in small experiments out of the limelight. It’s kind of a Jeffersonian way of looking at the larger society — every separate entity is its own sovereign and creates its own ways of doing things.

And as long as they’re peaceful towards each other, they can experiment to their hearts’ content. That’s how the more liberal thinkers among the US founders– Jefferson, Franklin — saw the States, as opposed to the federal government, in the early days. I’m showing my Southern roots here, because I have a view of states here that’s different than people in the North. [laughs]

ANOF:
Well, I’m in North Carolina here, so I’m familiar with that. [laughs]

AB: That’s how the Framers thought, if you go back to the Constitutional Convention, or read the Federalist Papers, particularly the southerners. They felt very strongly about having the States as crucibles of experimentation on their own terms, and not be welded into mere divisions of a single homogenous central government, and all look exactly the same.

ANOF: 
Right. And for our book, A Nation of Farmers, we’re talking specifically about Jeffersonian vision of democracy because I feel like he had this idea of fairly self-sufficient individual farms, of a people who were marginally sovereign as families or groups of families. They still interacted with others of course, and traded amongst their communities, but that certain level of self-sufficiency insulated them, gave them a certain amount of freedom because they weren’t beholden to others for their basic needs.

AB: 
That’s right. Here’s another piece of that, which is that one of the tensions that you always find in intentional communities, indeed anywhere that people are living together, is this continuum between privacy and public space, or personal space and public space.

People want to be able to be left alone, but they also crave the company of people and the opportunity for conviviality. So you have to have a balance in your life, and you have to have a balance in your space, and you have to have the development of forms, patterns that allow for people to be in whatever place they want to be in that given moment and be able to move freely.

If you’re successful in creating those kinds of forms where people have the option of being public or being private, where people have shared purse or common enterprise but they also have the ability to provide for their immediate needs or their families’ immediate needs, then you get to a certain point where you can actually obtain enough happiness, enough contentment, that actually new creative energy comes forth that might be more synergistic, more multiplicative than what you had when everybody was just sort of contending for what they individually needed.

ANOF: 
[Aaron] I’m trained as a landscape architect, so it really bothers me to see what post WWII land development has done to the previous design strategy of a series of private to semi-private to more public spaces as you move farther from the home. What we have now mostly is a really private space, the home with a deck in the back, and then these transportation quarters that move you at high speeds to really public nasty spaces, and those are really your only two options.

AB: 
Here at the training center, one of the courses we teach is Ecovillage Design and what you’re discussing is exactly the kind of thing we’re talking about — pattern language, Leopold Kohr’s sense of management scale, and the Jane Jacobs idea of having shared spaces but a continuum of privacy and public space, and transportation corridors and viewscapes that are pedestrian-scale, government that is personally connected and locally accountable, and that sort of thing.

ANOF:
You mentioned the Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm, and you helped found that almost fifteen years ago?

AB:
1994, so actually that’s about right, almost 15 years now. I’ll take you back a little there, because I had a number of years after being the horse farmer that I described earlier, and a flour miller, where I would have to describe myself as more of a ronin. You know, that’s the samurai who gets kicked out because the lord can’t afford him anymore and so he kind of becomes a freelance samurai?

I retired from farming and flour milling, and also a short career as a brickmason, and was working with The Farm’s alternative energy crew, and in the process made a number of inventions, some of them patented, for solar powered hybrid electric cars, bamboo windmills, tofu presses, flour sifters, mobile concentrating photovoltaic collectors, that sort of thing. We displayed a lot of that at our Appropriate Community Technology Pavilion at the 1982 World’s Fair, which was an old Victorian house we helped keep from being leveled to make room for the fairgrounds.

In 1977 I started an organization called the Natural Rights Center, which was based on this concept that there are transgenerational torts — wrongs by some persons against others — and that we actually have a transgenerational threat matrix; our nuclear energy, transgenic, climate-tampering technology, all those kinds of things, are creating conditions for future peoples which they will be powerless to do anything about.

It’s being imposed upon them by the present generation, and that’s actually criminal conduct, organized criminal activity, and that there ought to be something that can be done about that if you take it to a court of law. So my push over the next twenty years — eighteen years, actually — was to take that stuff and make it into civil rights battles, human rights battles, internationally, and also to write legislation on various things to improve the situation.

I got into the Who’s Who for law, Who’s Who for science,Who’s Who for engineering, and Who’s Who for emerging leaders. And I decided at some point that I was much too much of a Type A individual to be doing that kind of stuff; I was getting high blood pressure, I needed to get out of it. So I retired from that.

Once I really understood climate change, I got out of that whole thing of fighting the bad guy, and I purchased a small business called Mushroompeople which was a way of improving the health of the forests and the health of people by using mushrooms — forest mushrooms, rather than the kind that are manufactured in large factories.

We brought that to The Farm and started a little mail-order business selling kits to farmers for making a living from growing forest mushrooms. I stayed with that for a few years and then some other things intervened. The Farm was awarded the first Right Livelihood Award — we shared it with an Egyptian architect, you may know, Hassan Fathi — and that brought me to a conference in Italy where we were talking about the things having to do with the future, and Helena Norberg-Hodge, another recipient of the Award, said an interesting thing.

She said, “Ecovillages are so important to the world that people ought to be paid to live in them.”And I thought, I don’t think we can actually sell that idea very easily, but I think that you have the right idea, the right sentiment. We’re actually getting more information about the way we need to live in the future by that way than we are from all of the grants that are being paid to scientific or academic organizations to study climate change or to deal with some of these other major issues or resource limits. Just by people changing their lifestyles it would change the world tremendously, but nobody knows how to do it. And yet, ecovillagers are doing it.

So about that same time, because of that same conference, I got invited to a meeting in Denmark to kind of coalesce the ecovillage movement.We set up the first conference on ecovillages and sustainable communities in 1995 in Scotland, and at that conference I was elected to the board of the Global Ecovillage Network, although a year earlier I had already founded the Ecovillage Network of the Americas.

That launched me off onto a new career out of the mushroom business and into twelve years of traveling ecovillage to ecovillage all over the world, talking to different government authorities, talking to the UN, doing things like that, and kind of being “Johnny Ecovillage Seed” for this concept.And now I’ve retired again.

ANOF:
[laughs] How many times have you retired? AB: If you ever get me to a college where they do a commencement ceremony and I’m the speaker, my advice: “Retire early, retire often!”. [laughs] So I retired again, because I had taken that about as far as I could take it.

After a dozen years I was president of the Global Ecovillage Network, president of the Ecovillage Network of the Americas, and I got tired. So I’m now a simple permaculture teacher, teaching here at The Farm in this training center. Our effort is to try to empower people to create change through personal lifestyle choices and through creating communities, whether these are transition communities like the Transition Towns movement or new villages like ecovillages or modified intentional communities or whatever it is.

We give people skills and tools to help them do that. ANOF: It looks like we’re going to have a shortage of arable land going forward, as our human population grows and as we salinate, and desertification and deforestation…

AB: 
We’ve got a shortage now, and it appears that that shortage is growing. The thing about that is that there’s this whole bugaboo about people saying that since the last ice age we’ve been depleting our soil and that we’re in this irreversible decline now; we’ve past peak soil and we’re now on this downslope, and so we’re going to face this huge famine from that.

My personal experience is, I know how to make soil. I teach people how to make soil. We’ve been making soil here at The Farm for years and years and years; we know how to make soil. It’s not difficult to make soil, and I say the same thing for arable land. We can make arable land. One of the things I do when I go out and talk is I go up there on the stage and I put up the projector and I have this short Shockwave Flash movie of Geoff Lawton making forest in the middle of the desert in Jordan. He is growing mushrooms in the soil and the mycelium is locking up the salt in the desert so that the soils have tilth and come alive.

And we can do that: we can take all of our deserts and turn them into farmland. Lately I have been researching the paleoclimatology of the Sahara and I am beginning to think it is even possible there. We can at least reverse the desertification trend in the Sahel, and it is possible we can reforest in Chad and elsewhere where there are aquifers.

ANOF:
How about our suburbs? AB: Well, suburbs are poorly designed. Being an architect, you probably understand. They need some redesign — David Holmgren has some interesting ideas about that. You can take out every third house or every fourth house and begin to cluster up a bit and have connections between houses, and have land that has farming uses or other kinds of common activity. But the suburbs need redesign if for no other reason than they don’t have essential infrastructure within walking distance. They need to have food production, they need to have water, but they need to have shops, schools, churches, theaters and clinics, a cemetery and things like that in every suburb.

ANOF:
How much does food production and cooking factor into the systems you teach at the center?

AB: 
We do two long-term apprenticeships here at the center. One is in natural building and the other is in food, principally growing, although there’s a certain amount of work in the kitchen as well. There’s a bit of overlap there — the people who come to do natural building also get to learn about cooking and gardening. We do concentrate on those because we feel that it’s pretty important that people change their lifestyles, and a chunk of that is how they make food, how they prepare soil, how they preserve water, how they go through droughts.

Climate change is real. I mentioned the USDA changing it’s charts; we’ve got an isotherm migration here of about 35 miles per decade since about 1971 when The Farm was started here. It’s been speeding up that whole time, so now it’s estimated to be closer to 70 miles per decade.

That’s moving from southwest to northeast; that means that we’re warming here at a rate of somewhere between 30 and 70 miles per decade, and the climate that was here when we got here in middle south-central Tennessee in 1970 is now up in Lexington, Kentucky. And the climate that we have now in middle south-central Tennessee in 2008 was in Nashoba County, Mississippi back in 1971. That’s real.

Now, can you actually provide for food when you have a sustained drought like they had in Georgia or Tennessee last year? You can, if you know what you’re doing, if you know a few basic skills like mulch, like rainwater storage and replenishing your aquifers and things like that. So we teach all of that.

We did not lose any of our crops in the drought of 2007. The deep mulch retained moisture at the roots. I think of that when I travel and see all of these gardens and fields laid bare for the sun to bleach out all the life-giving bacteria and soil microbes. How 15th Century!

ANOF: 
Derek Jenson, the author, has this great quote — I’ll have to paraphrase because I can’t remember exactly — but he says something like, “The great thing about everything being so fucked up is that there’s so much to do!”

AB:
And the other Derek Jenson line that I often quote is, “We’re fucked, and life is very, very good.”

ANOF:
 [laughs] Well, you seem to have a handle on so many of the changes that are going on and you’ve been doing this for so long, I just appreciate getting a chance to talk to you and interview you for this project.

AB: 
Well, let me just close by saying something about the future for us. We may soon find that the model that we’ve created for a business here for the Ecovillage Training Center will not sustain past the period of no airplanes flying or people having the ability to travel long distances to come take a course here.

And national currencies could become worthless also. So we’re actually looking at a transition now, and some of our effort is directed toward the surrounding communities — going out to several counties around us and teaching these skills at the very simple level of where people are at in the surrounding areas rather than telling them that they have to learn permaculture or something. I have learned much from my friend, Rob Hopkins, and the Transition Towns movement, and I think that offers a strategy that is the next step after the experimental vessel of ecovillages. It is really a synthesis of ecovillage and re-localization, intentional community and sustainable development.

Then also the example of The Farm has transitioned out of its early days of more self-reliance into much more bourgeois living in people’s middle age or later years. And so we actually have to go back and say, “You know, we learned a whole lot back in those early days of the 70’s; we sure could be doing a lot more of that now again. “We’re having to re-learn or think about reclaiming some of that earlier skill set. So we’re in a transition here.We’re stable but not static. It’s much tougher now, because our population has aged and our youth are still somewhat disinterested, but we’re moving. We’re in the process of changing ourselves. Events will force us to speed that up soon enough. Best of all, we have tools we did not have in 1971.

We have permaculture, biochar, E.M. (effective microorganisms), compost tea, biodynamic preps, aquatic garden systems, and activated water. We can terrace slopes with our bulldozers and road graders that can run on pond algae and used cooking oil. We have Japanese forest mushrooms, tempeh, and home-brewed beer. I’m happy, because the children have, to a larger extent then they may appreciate, already got it and they’re turning around and heading in the right direction pretty quickly. My son,

Will, is living in a passive solar house and farming; he’s got several acres in CSA vegetable gardens now, and he’s coming by all the time and asking for different bits of advice and tools and things. One of my next-door neighbor’s kids, Biko, has spent several years living in ecovillages in South Africa and India and has returned with a whole new set of skills.

That’s the kind of thing that gives me real hope — that the next generation is hip, they’re on board, they’ve got the vision, and they can see what’s possible. And having done it all myself when I was young and full of crazy ideas, I don’t worry that they can do it just as easily as I did. And everyone else can too.

ANOF:
Thank you for your wonderful vision of the future.

See also:
Island Breath: Soylent Black 1/14/09
Island Breath: 2007 Interview with Albert Bates 4/218/07 .