Learning to work with the evolutionary processes of planet earth through permaculture and bioregionalist models

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I've been paying attention to the development of permaculture design since I first encountered it in the early 1980s. It's a concept that continues to evolve, continues to find new forms of expression, and the vast majority of those expressions have been far more successful in creating sustainable environments than just about any form of technology-fix oriented civilized expressions.

I found one of the most eloquent expressions of the science that lies behind permaculture designs in this talk by Andrew Faust.

The Evolution of Ecological Consciousness

He envisions in his talk a different way of viewing ourselves. As he suggests, permaculture offers an opportunity to re-envision ourselves as biological organisms who are deeply rooted in the life matrix of planet earth. He asks: what does it mean to begin to live in ways that intentionally participate with evolution. What would a new cosmology look like? What new stories might we construct about ourselves?

He articulately brings his own background in evolutionary biology and a wide range of readings to his own story telling in a way that is both imaginative yet grounded in the best way we have of making sense of our complex world: the scientific method of investigation. And I find that this talk is also a form of imaginative story telling that rivals any of the best of story tellers through our long history as a species. His story invokes much of our modern science-based understanding rooted in the biological and ecological sciences combined with a Carl Sagan-like view of earth, the sun, and the universe.

I feel it can be inspiring even for those who haven't studied the sciences he draws from. And it's a positive alternative to the doom and gloom binary options we are predominantly presented with as our only two alternatives: continue with the process we now call industrial civilization, a system nearly everyone participates in today, or return to the stone age.

A site Andrew affiliates with:

Center fore BioRegional Living

.ren's picture
.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

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Permaculture and Bioregionalism: Ecological Models -- TEDx talk by Andrew Faust

Quote Center for Bioregional Living on Andrew's TEDx talk:

Permaculture and Bioregionalism: two elegant design models that show us how to heal ourselves while we heal the land. The solutions to our economic and environmental problems aren't complex or out of reach. Quite the contrary! Our food, fuel and fiber needs can be met in synergistic ways that strengthen community economies reconnecting people with their beauty and biology.

By cooperating regionally and designing ecologically we create and insure healthy and secure economies, landscapes and communities that benefit and enrich for generations to come!Andrew Faust is one of the premier permaculture teachers and designers in North America, with over two decades of experience in the field. Faust creates homes and communities rooted in a sense of the sacred in the eastern Appalachian bioregions. He is turning on hundreds of New Yorkers to the beauty of applying permaculture design to a wide range of landscapes and projects.Demonstrating in classes how to practice permaculture in the midst of America’s largest city, Faust integrates his lifelong wisdom of “reading” the northeast corridor through permaculture perspectives for clients and students.

Being immersed in this landscape, he can read it, sense it, and design/build in tune with the natural lay of the land. This is possible only because he has homesteaded off the grid for eight years, with an intentional pursuit of a deeper understanding of permaculture and all its facets.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at: TEDx Program.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

In an interview on human nature back in 1998, Noam Chomsky ventured this opinion:

Quote On Human Nature, Noam Chomsky Interview:

QUESTION: Right. Can I ask you about your position on the possibility of ecological constraints on the realisation of human needs? Do you think -- even if there were the political will to achieve it -- that it might be impossible, for ecological reasons, to provide the necessary conditions for continued human flourishing?

CHOMSKY: Humans may well be a nonviable organism.

QUESTION: Do you think they are?

CHOMSKY: It's very likely. From an evolutionary point of view, higher intelligence seems to be maladaptive rather than adaptive. Biologically successful organisms have a rigid character and are well adapted to a certain environmental niche. If higher intelligence helped adaptation you would expect it to have arisen over and over again. However, it didn't. It arose in a single, not particularly successful organism, Homo Sapiens. And while the human population exploded, human societies developed in a way that has caused enormous damage to the environment. The human race could destroy itself and much organic life as a result.

Essentially what Chomsky is saying there is that humans are so unconstrained by their biology, so successful at adapting to a wide variety of ecosystems on this planet that our very success could be the basis for our own demise.

I think that depends on one basic factor: our own self awareness. Simply this, our ability to understand our capacity as the top predator, or "humans the destroyers of ecosystems" and the effects of that; and then, not necessarily an "on the other hand" kind of thought, as well as the potential to use that self awareness to become the enhancer of biological life for the species of this planet, and with that, life for ourselves.

We need to add that self awareness potential for enhancing life to our hubris and self congratulatory awareness as top predator, where we go out and mount the heads of powerful competitive predator trophy's on our walls. That's a very simple-minded and short sighted level of awareness if we end up destroying ourselves in the bargain.

After a bit more discussion about what's taken place with the onset of capitalistic social practices and how society has been transformed, that is, how humans have adapted to this social form, this question gets raised:

Quote On Human Nature, Noam Chomsky Interview:

QUESTION: Granted the truth of what you say about our distinctively human capacities for freedom and co-operative action, how come we are so open to that kind of manipulation and deceit? How come we remain both globally and locally so caught up in oppression?

CHOMSKY: It's a serious question. Why are we born free and end up enslaved?

Many people are coming to the conclusion we are at an evolutionary dead end right now. The way it ends is yet to work itself out, but the circumstances created by our current social strategy -- some like to call it neoliberal globalization, I don't know if any word encompasses what's taking place -- are obviously extremely destructive to our environment. Without that environment as it is now, many species with very rigidly defined adaptive characteristics to certain niches that we are destroying will not adapt and survive.

That is the simplified version of the logic behind the projected Anthropocene Sixth Mass Extinction some science-based humans are now speculating about. And doing so warningly, as an event with extremely dire consequences for the human species as well.

If we were not capable of self consciousness as a species, we would, from an outside intelligence's perspective (that mythical higher order of intelligence space traveling scientist we are capable of imagining), be no more aware of our society's effects than a very complex species of a disease. And, in that scenario, the complex life creating biosphere of the planet would be the body that we are infecting. We would thus fill out the "maladaptive" version of Chomsky's "evolutionary point of view" about higher intelligence life forms.

Or, we could choose to be adaptive.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

.ren: "...our only two alternatives: continue with the process we now call industrial civilization, a system nearly everyone participates in today, or return to the stone age.."

No, in fact there are a vast number of alternatives to the common western version of industrial civilization, which also has considerable variation from social democratic states like Norway to independent nationalist states like Iceland to crony capitalist borderline fascist states like the USA. And communist states like Cuba and Belarus. And many more variations, Bolivia is doing things different. But all part of industrial civilization.

Industrial civilization is non-stoppable, we are riding a 200 car train fully loaded at full speed with no brakes. Where it takes this Earth and human civilization is a giant unknown, but I can see no mechanism to stop it, except total destruction, and that would not be easy, you would need a super-plague or a comet collision.

This is not like previous civilizations that have collapsed, like say the Roman empire. In the US we see the classic symptoms of the decay of a civilization. Overwhelming corruption, a total public disdain for government, incompetent bureaucratic institutions that are too expensive & unwieldly to maintain basic services, a decline into gross self-indulgence & grotesque greed of the wealthy, a general lack of community and moral substance.

Before the past century, 90% of people lived as subsistence farmers or hunter-gatherers, and could really care less about the centers of power like the Roman empire. Except they hated them because of taxes, brutality and oppression. So for 90% of humanity collapse of these empires was either irrelevant or welcome. Now 90% of the population is dependent on industrial civilization. It can decline but that will only mean transfer of the center of power from one global region to another. Industrial civilization will continue.

If it completely failed worldwide you would not have some eco-paradise as .ren imagines. You have more like Syria, Libya and Mad Max, until a new warlord rises up to create a new worldwide industrial civilization. That would be a cyclical build & collapse that would be like Larry Niven envisioned for the Moties in his books The Mote in God's Eye.

To be practical, give up on the collapse of industrial civilization, very bad idea, that would only lead to an ugly, violent world where nature would be raped and pillaged on a scale that is nothing short of brutal. instead build a more democratic, bottom-up community based one like the Zeitgiest Movement envisions or Richard Wolff's worker self-directed enterprises. And that will be very much industrial, but it need not be nearly as ecologically destructive as our globalist bankster crony capitalist system is.

Instant-RunOff-...
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Jun. 17, 2015 11:41 am
Quote Instant-RunOff-Voting:

If it completely failed worldwide you would not have some eco-paradise as .ren imagines.

I've imagined many things about a systemic, global-round collapse of industrial civilization, but I've never imagined eco paradise emerging from it.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

So then you must admit the only way to make this world better is to work with our industrial civilization to improve it incrementally as Iceland and Bolivia is doing. You can introduce permaculture to agriculture in regions that survive really because of the protection of the larger industrial civilization that surrounds it. Start a commune or a cooperative or worker owned enterprise - no problem. Maybe that will spread if successful. Success at the local level with innovative new socio-economic structures is the real path to a brighter future.

One thing for certain is the Globalist Banksters "New World Order" which is just a one size fits-all corporatocracy is the last thing the world needs. We need free & independent nations, each that may pursue there own unique path, a path that if successfull will encourage others to do the same. Much better that than attempt a collapse of civilization like Greepeace is pursuing or embrace Hillary and her globalist Bankster world government.

Instant-RunOff-...
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Jun. 17, 2015 11:41 am

I can see that it would require a science-based biological understanding combined with an ecological consciousness in order for a human being to decode this sentence:

"Biologically successful organisms have a rigid character and are well adapted to a certain environmental niche."

I believe decoding that sentence will make it possible to understand why the human species has come to develop an adaptive strategy that involves an unusual and very flexible interface that we in anthropology call culture.

Further, It helps to have a cultural anthropological understanding in order to decode that anthropological version of the term 'culture'.

Combining those understandings, a human could then decode this sentence:

"And while the human population exploded, human societies developed in a way that has caused enormous damage to the environment. The human race could destroy itself and much organic life as a result."

By fully decoding those two sentences with that necessary level of ecological and cultural consciousness, then that human can begin to make sense of the topic of this thread.

That topic, I feel, is eloquently expressed through a one hour, 49 minute and 34 second condensation of the scientific world view -- combined with appropriately highlighted metaphysical implications -- offered in this video:

The Evolution of Ecological Consciousness

Furthermore, it's my opinion at this juncture of my interaction with humans, and after many years observing their less than free and institutionally bound behaviors, that only a tiny fraction of them have the consciousness to decode those two sentences. Which may be what brought one human to make this observation:

Quote On Human Nature, Noam Chomsky Interview::

QUESTION: Granted the truth of what you say about our distinctively human capacities for freedom and co-operative action, how come we are so open to that kind of manipulation and deceit? How come we remain both globally and locally so caught up in oppression?

CHOMSKY: It's a serious question. Why are we born free and end up enslaved?

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

In the very early 70's when I was acclimating myself again to the 'real world' I had the good fortune to fall in with a group of people that since have become life long friends. I remember distinctly a conversation a few of us were having one long beer sipping evening. We talked about the morality of producing more than two children during each of our entire life times.

We were serious, all these years later most of us have no prodigy and one couple from those early days had three and that was because of a vasictomy er wasn't quite done completely.

If the human species and the ecosystem is to have any chance at all.....the first step is we've simply have to stop making more people.

rs allen
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Mar. 15, 2012 4:55 pm

From what you are saying, I would venture to say that you may be in that tiny percentage of humans who have the ecological consciousness to decode those two sentences in my post number 7 and can, at the very least -- and I imagine much more -- begin to make sense of the topic of this thread.

You've also introduced a metaphysical dimension by putting your 70s discussion about consciously producing progeny in terms of morality. I suggest that morality factor is a dimension of human intelligence that is also an integral part of our capacity to be flexible and free. Without that dimension we have tremendous destructive capacity, and perhaps without it we would fulfill that prophecy of intelligent species that Chomsky suggests:

Quote On Human Nature, Noam Chomsky Interview:

From an evolutionary point of view, higher intelligence seems to be maladaptive rather than adaptive.

With morality and other features of intentional consciousness, to which a species freed of those fore mentioned deterministic biological constraints has access, humans can become an exception to that evolutionary point of view: i.e., that higher intelligence may be maladaptive rather than adaptive. It comes down to choice: freedom of choice to be specific. Another sticky topic.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

Before talking about learning anything new, I find it helps to take stock of what I'm doing now. This goes for entire societies and their various cultural practices as well.

Perhaps a step in that direction might be to ask the dying what their regrets happen to be. That's what an Australian palliative nurse decided to do, since the opportunity to ask the dying was right there in front of her. So she wrote an article, Top 5 Regrets Of The Dying then a book: The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.

Here's a list of the top five regrets from Bonnie's article:

Quote Top 5 Regrets Of The Dying by Bonnie Ware:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

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Thom plus logo Colonel Vindman's testimony pretty much proves that Trump was trying to shake down Ukraine for information on Biden, and that the Republicans are doing everything they can to cover up this extortion attempt.
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