Category Archives: OM Valley Evolution Blogs

Preserving and Building our Collective Commons for current and future Generations

So its time to recognize where we are and what’s been going on over the last 40 years. First off, we need to stop seeing a growing economy as a “Healthy Eocnomy” and transition to Gross National Happiness rather than GDP…. I could write pages about this and will at some point, but currently you can check out organizations like CASSE (Center for the Advancement of Steady State Economies).

A landscape that has been exploited beyond its production capacity. It will either take permaculture, or time for nature to heal it or energy (Which currently comes from unsustainable souces) to get a yield out of it.

A landscape that has been exploited beyond its production capacity. It will either take permaculture, or time for nature to heal it or energy (Which currently comes from unsustainable souces) to get a yield out of it.

So since the US hit Peak Oil in 1973 we have been struggling to manage the harsh reality of the direct correlation of Fossil Fuel discovery and consumption and the reality of “Growing” economies. This has resulted in questionable and ultimately unstable growth over the last 40 years. This has been primarily achieved through deregulation and/or privatization of public entities, be it the public utilities, mail delivery systems, Military contracting or you name it. (Passive and aggressive Imperialistic wars of expansion be it the wars in the middle east or through organizations like the WTO, and agreements like NAFTA that achieve growth through exploitation of weaker or less ethical countries until their wages get too high to turn a profit) This has allowed the illusion of growth over these 40 years, which is really only liquidating Ecological, personal and community capital. The only way to manage this is through strong government and cooperatively owned businesses that are of and by all the people. This requires the media to acknowledge and understand this reality and stop its leaning towards market liberalization which results in unethical business men thinking of only their own wealth and thus pilfering our ecological, personal and community capital.

Let me explain this a bit further. Every time a corporation posts profits one must look at where is that “growth” coming from. Is it from the ecological exploitation through using unsustainable practices that future generations are paying for and will be left to heal and reclaim, i.e.: polluting or taking more than the ecosystem can sustain (nature can only produce so much based on available sunlight and climate limitations- i.e.: winter stops most biological production, or i.e.: soil erosion results in production losses as well). Or is it coming from exploiting our personal capital through driving down wages by breaking unions or non-unionized people, which results in perceived “growth” which is really just robbing the workers or the working poor to make it look like “growth”. The other way to make it look like they posted profits is by privatizing our publicly held wealth, i.e.: making the US Postal Service unproductive by forcing them to pre-fund the next 75 year of pensions. This has been making them cut corners to cover those costs and making them uncompetitive to the privately run and much more expensive Fed-Ex, UPS or DHL, thus giving those companies and “hand out” of growth, which is at the cost of one of the most successful government and collectively owned services, which used to provide a good living for its employees and pretty good service to its customers, especially given its size, and doesn’t have to worry about “growth” for its stock holders. Another example of this is privatization of publicly owned water and energy services, which will now need to turn a profit at the expense of the community. The privatization of these entities results in lower wages, wealth being filtered off to stock holders and the bankrupting of our communities.

Its these actions that have given us the perceived idea of “growth” over the last 40 years, yet seen the decline of real wages at the same time. You can read more about this in David Holmgren’s book “Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability”, of whom I thank for first shedding light on this phenomenon.

It is time to invest in our communities, both human and ecological to build the resources for our children, rather than sending that wealth to a few cunning and sly Business men who learned how to manipulate people and the media to fill their own pockets. Its also time to call out those exceptionally competitive individuals through the ethics of a sustainable planet, of which Churches and Religions should be doing, yet have forgotten that that is their roll (protecting all current and future generations ability to live a good harmonious life on earth through implementation of Ethics), due to centuries or millennia of political corruption clouding their judgment. Its time to own the place you live, develop businesses dedicated to the bioregions well being and the well being of the inhabitants and then teaching other communities around the globe how to do the same thing, all in alignment of creating a sustainable planet for the next millennia. This is critical for a peaceful future whether or not we have a low energy future due to depleting fossil fuel or a high energy future due to a magic sustainable energy source that can replace our current level of fossil fuel consumption.

Its time to stop selling our future and start investing in truly “sustainable systems” modeled after natures 2 billion years of success and the fundamentals of physics to give ourselves and our children an abundant future that comes from within the planets abilities to provide it.

Advertisements

One Family’s Trash: City Beat 2009

Here is another old article that I was interviewed for that I recently turned up. It ran in the Green Edition of City Beat in 2009 and explores eliminating waste. This is possible if we understand how to design things to last as long as possible and make them with repairable parts that can then be recycled and or composted and then replaced with recycled or naturally grown renewable parts to replace the broken part. The challenge of this, which directly challenges the consumer economy is that we must start investing in homes that we own debt free, and provide for all our needs of water, heating, cooling, and electricity with as little input as possible as well as homes with low maintenance edible landscaping, forest gardens, small livestock and annual gardens (i.e. permaculturally designed yards). This is critical because when we design things to last we will not have to make as many and thus results in lower employment. So if instead we invest in houses that become life giving rather than consuming we can manage to have partial employment of working 20 hours a week rather than struggling to make ends meet working 40+ hours a week. Anyways, connecting the dots of our economy and ecology are critical to solve the conundrum or modern societies ecologically unsustainable ways.

Enjoy!

http://citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-17627-one-familys-trash.html

Financial Endeavors to Create a Sustainable Planet

So I’m applying Permaculture principles to my emails to share some knowledge I was writing to a student but may also benefit all of you as to where we need to start shifting our investments towards.

A student asked where she should invest after hearing our 1 hour segment on Permaculture Economics in our latest Permaculture Design Certification that just finished last weekend. She is a bit later in life so she may not be able to invest in her own farm or homestead so this is a bit of what I shared with her:

   “I would say Credit Unions are better, Savings and Loans ran down the tubes in the 80’s with deregulation…. they started out as well intentioned back in the day but got corrupted by bankers. Now a days the best bet is Credit Unions over Banks, especially ones like the Permaculture Credit Union.

  As far as where to put you money for safe keeping at this point, I would say diversify ( a permaculture principle). Personally since I’m so young, I’m putting it into plants, a farm and things that will build a more Socially and Ecologically conscious Community. But for you, since you are later in life I would say a little in Silver and Gold, a little in Credit Unions and it might be worth looking into Slow Money and doing small loans to those seeking to build local food.

    Socially Conscious Investing for where you are in life might be a good choice as well. For me personally I’m shifting away from the Wall Street model for various reasons, including the fact that there are laws that require CEO’s to turn a profit at all cost, whether it erodes social or ecological capital. If they don’t turn a profit they can be fired by the Board of Directors (this is how they build faith for investors in Wall Street, so they know their money won’t go up in smoke, however, this, in my opinion is one of the foundations of our ecological crisis). Eventually there is no where else to turn a profit from but from lowering wages or taking more from nature than it can regrow. This is where Cooperatives are a good solution for the workers and the community they live in because then they can vote if they want to pollute their land or lower their wages. It also directs all profits to them and not share holders. It basically applies Democracy to Business, where the workers each get one vote and the profits or losses go directly to them.

   Another Response to this Growth model that only sees value in constant growth on a finite planet is BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) and CASSE (Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy)  which is seeking to create a Steady State Economy which breaks down the constant Growth Model on a Finite Planet. Another Answer to Constant Growth is shifting our idea of a “Healthy” Economy from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (which bad things like Cancer actually show up as a good indicator in the economy since Cancer treatment can cost $100K or more) to Gross National Happiness, which is what we are all really trying to Achieve through our economic activities. Hopefully this helps give you some guidance toward more social awareness of how and where to invest to create a better future for everyone.”

I could also add in about Usury, Interest and the infinite growth model we all seek to espouse but I ‘ll save that for a later date…

Anyways, I hope this helps you all out as to where to direct your finances and how we can all evolve into a climax future for humanity.

Want a Green Tech Future? Then move beyond Full Employment dogma

So over the past 4 years since the Great Recession began we saw a huge spike in media focus on green living and thus a large influx of public support. As the media has shifted its focus over the last 2 or 3 years back to recreating an unsustainable economy by focusing on creating more “Jobs” it really got me thinking about why they focus on “Jobs” and how do we use the current interest in green to prepare ourselves for the next economic shock, which is sure to hit at some point. This will require a shift from the debt system to individual ownership model.

So we are in a bit of a conundrum with growing populations, dwindling resources, both finite and renewable, ecosystems collapsing and much more, yet we drum the beat of creating more jobs that cause those very problems. I began to think about this addiction we have created for money and energy. For a minute I thought we might be able to simply transition our society to a green tech future over the last few years, which, I thought could be easier for transitioning suburban america than dismantling that model. However the more I contemplated why people say we need jobs it made me trace the pattern back to the way that most americans and most westerners live, which is by debt in all areas of their lives. This can result in homelessness when we loose our jobs, which is really unfortunate and thus must create more jobs to “save them from the streets” and the insecurity built into a debt system model. It has also made me realize that in order to shrink a consumer economy modeled on through put of material resources, (mostly designed for planned or perceived obsolescence in order to keep the factories humming and maintain full employment at 95% or else have homelessness,) we must translate our lifestyles back to true ownership and responsibility for our lives. This will also begin to solve the ecological destruction created by this unsustainable economy.

      This is where we need to develop a fundamental plan for true independence which I used to always preach (and is similar to the Transition town Model, but really highlights the need for off grid/net yield homeownership) until I moved to the city and saw the complexity of such an organism…. anyways the path to true independence and creating a steady state planet where humans are a climax species responsible for the planet and its creation goes something like this:

  1. Get Debt Free: This is critical in reducing our economic footprint, which keeps us dependent on the full employment tread mill. If we are able to get debt free and minimize our cost of living through full ownership of our home and goods we buy we can then begin to shrink the fear of eviction from a bank owned home. This is critical and it is very important to find a community where one can afford a house with little to no debt and at least a 1/4 ac. of land to start this process. Often times economically depressed communities near a decently thriving economy is a good place to start. This will allow a transition to getting free. You can then help others do the same. This is where setting up a credit union or (as the local Germans used to do, a savings and loan) may be critical to help others get out of debt. It may also be worth looking into Islamic banks, as they don’t charge interest (which 4 of the 5 major world religions say is illegal, this is a whole other article unto itself) .
  2. Get off the grid or become an energy producer: If we design or retrofit our homes to take care of us, similar to an earthship, a home that naturally heats and cools and harvests water with little to no inputs, then energy becomes a luxury. It is at this point that we can then begin to use renewable energy and even sell it back to the grid if we are on it. This eliminates the need to pay energy bills, another source of insecurity, especially in the cold north, for most Americans
  3. Water systems design: design your water system so that it: harvests all rain water, and can be gravity feed to eliminate the need for water pumping. This will save energy and money
  4. Grow as much food modeled after nature with as little work as possible: Food forests are a great example of this. If one could grow 60-80% of their food, then we really begin to liberate ourselves from the money system and the insecurity it brings
  5. Live in a community that has public transit or is walkable: This will eliminate the need for paying for transportation.
  6. Live Permaculture (which is the best way to implement steps 2-5)

This will take the basics of life out of the consumption economy, which continually seeks to create insecurity within us and thus find a savior through consumption, which is the very driver of ecological destruction.

      This will also minimize our economic footprint, which will give us more employment flexibility and the opportunity to choose to partake in more ethical jobs that reflect planetary sustainability, even if they pay only minimally or are part time. This will also allow us to shift our manufacturing jobs and economy from a consumer based economy that perpetuates insecurity to keep us in it, to one where we have more freedom of choice to partake in it. This is true liberation. Once this is achieved it will allow us to transition from a Consumer based economy to a steady state economy, one that respects and reflects the limits of planet earth.

It is also important to understand the limits of renewable resources and the limits of non-renewable resources and work with those limits in the design of any system. This is fundamental as we hit the limits to exponential population growth and seek a peaceful future at the same time. 

    In this transition towards a Green Tech future we will need to seek the development of products that are engineered and designed to maximize life cycle and are designed for repair through replacement parts, which can be returned to the manufacturer for refurbishment or recycling. This is where a declaration of rights to the basic sources of life is critical. 

If individual homestead ownership is achieved then it will alleviate the burden manufacturing economies to provide for us. The challenge they have always had in “providing” us a livelihood because we left the farm is if a product is manufactured to last for centuries, then once that product saturates the market the production levels drop thus resulting in unemployment. Their solution to this, post Great Depression, the result of the first major industrial boom & bust cycle, was to utilize planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence. One where it is engineered to break, the other where it goes out of style, thus destroying ones social acceptance, which can only be fixed through the purchase of the new, stylish version. This is what I studied in my Industrial Design education and is so entertainingly explained in the Youtube video, “The story of stuff”. The trouble with designing an economy along these lines is that it perpetuates ecological destruction in the end through unsustainable consumption. (This is also driven from laws that require publicly held companies to always turn a profit, which, that 6-9% growth we strive for is ultimately coming from the erosion of ecological and social capital – ie: union busting and lowering minimum wages. Its ultimate failure is from economies based on a debt system, which, again is why 4 of the 5 major religions all ban usury or the collection of interest – Jewish and Christian traditions handle this by creating the Jubilee year, which cancels all debt every 50 years. ) The problem thus is creating a stable place for people and families to live that won’t keep them in perpetual survival mode. This is why debt free home ownership and creating homesteads that take care as much of our basic needs with as little work as possible is so critical to pursue. The Ethics of the Market place should not pander in the basics of life, these basics should be taught to all as “Living on Earth 101”.

    The last piece that must be stressed over and over again is net neutral reproduction for humanity on planet earth for this steady state model to work (this again is another article in due time). This, in my opinion is the only path forward for a green tech future.  This path to taking back control of our lives is critical for the future of humanity if we are going to solve the destruction our  planet which is perpetuated through our economy.

   

Re-Generation Bi-Weekly Series

Spiritual and Ethical Discussions on Creating a Perma-culture from the Root to the Fruit

Individually empowered Collectively Harmonized

Earth Care, People Care & Fair Share

It’s time to evolve. This is a rare time in Human History, so how do we make the most of it? With Resources Dwindling and populations growing, resulting from a 100,000 year march out of Africa, which has helped us evolve into a Global Species, we must evolve in order to continue humanities upward journey. We must embody our personal, spiritual and religious ethics along with our amazing scientific awareness to initiate a New Operating System on Planet Earth. One that is founded in Ethics and Modeled on Nature’s 4 Billion Years of Success. One that embodies that we are one Human Family with infinite local adaptations to live regeneratively on this planet. Therefore it requires us to call into question every system humanity has known and ask, “Does it help us acheive an ethically Resilient and Regenerative Culture, just like nature in order to provide for all current and future generations?” All this while embodying that we are one global human family that must learn to cooperate to create an age of the likes that humanity has never known? Perhaps, more appropriately, we are creating a Prema-Culture? (Prema being the sanskrit word for love)

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”

1st & 3rd Tuesday of Every Month,  7pm

Re-Generation Each Week will feature a different Topic of Discussion to assist on the Journey

suggested donation: 5$

OM Valley Permaculture: 1869 Robley Ave., Cincinnati, Oh. 45223 (Northside)

For questions please email Braden at OMValleyPermaculture@gmail.com

To learn more please click on the link to Re-Generation on the left or visit Prema-Culture.org (prema being the Sanskrit word for Love)

Earth Care, People Care & Fair Share