Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Society, Village Development.

The video above is a nice, brief summation of our present predicament, and ends with the only really logical conclusion — permaculture, and resilient, interdependent communities living in the real economy. It’s well worth watching and sharing. Regular readers of this site won’t learn anything new, but should find it yet another useful tool for educating others.

For myself, I am constantly disappointed in mainstream media coverage of the historically unprecedented convergence of issues humanity now faces. Supposed ‘experts’ in economics and business stand in front of us, upbeat and flashing plastic smiles, whilst spouting utter nonsense. They continue to subscribe to, and promote, an impossible belief — that being to ‘grow the economy’, perpetually, on a finite planet. This is the most absurd faith-based religion I’ve ever encountered, and yet it has become the status quo almost everywhere on this tired old earth.

All a great power has to do to destroy itself is to persist in trying to do the impossible. — Stephen Vizinczey

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Biological Cleaning, Community Projects, Compost, Fencing, Irrigation, Land, Material, Nurseries & Propogation, Plant Systems, Potable Water, Seeds, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure, Swales, Trees, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Conservation.

Editor’s Note: Regular readers will have appreciated Alex McCausland’s regular and comprehensive reports from precariously positioned Ethiopia, and the great work he and his team have been doing on the ground. If you want to learn practical permaculture and gain real-world permaculture aid work experience in a location rich in agricultural history, then please consider taking Alex’s next PDC, to be held in southern Ethiopia between December 10 — 22, 2012. Your tuition fees directly support this important educational aid work.

The Hafto Solar Community Water Project site project is a solar powered water supply facility for the surrounding community of Hafto in the Hadiya Zone, South Ethiopia. The project was planned and implemented by a German NGO called DWC and is owned and run by a local NGO called SMART. The facility supplies water to about 1500 surrounding community members within an approximate 1km radius. There is a small charge for the water of about 0.01 Ethiopian Birr per liter (1$=18Birr) which covers the running costs of the project. The community members currently come to the site with donkeys to collect the water in jerry-cans which they take home for use.

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Posted by & filed under Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial.

This passionfruit was growing in a family vegetable garden setting in Coonamble (western NSW, Australia), in a hot and dry climate with low rainfall, but the garden beds were irrigated by creek water. The vine is growing over a farm fence which has three horizontal wires. Surrounding the vine in the understorey is sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) which has provided a good green mulch and soil cultivator for the surrounding area. The images are taken at the end of Autumn and the crop looks to be coming along nicely.

Plant family: Passifloraceae
Genus: Passiflora
Species: edulis
Common name: Passion Fruit, Passionfruit, Purple Granadilla.

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Posted by & filed under Energy Systems, Processing & Food Preservation.

by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne.

I was at the salvage yard the other day and saw some cheap mirrors, so I bought them. Not so that I could look at myself. From my typical appearance it is clear that I do not do that nearly as often as I should. Rather, I thought I could use them to make a good solar oven, and it turned out I could.

As you will see from the pictures, a solar oven works by concentrating the sun’s rays toward a central tub which heats up and thus functions as an oven. My solar oven consists of four mirrors, two cardboard sheets which I covered with tin foil, a black tub (a good colour for heat absorption), and the glass from a picture frame. Within the tub I placed a closed cooking pot with a glass lid. Total cost of these salvaged materials: $38.

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Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease.

Editor’s Note: Michael Antoniou, PhD, is reader in molecular genetics and head of the Gene Expression and Therapy Group, King’s College London School of Medicine, London, UK. His work and experience with genetic engineering is comprehensive, working in the field for almost three decades, making him well placed to highlight the dangers and shortcomings of genetically engineering our crops. Kudos to him for standing up and speaking out against Big Biotech at a time when many scientists are afraid to do so. The document you can download below is an excellent addition to the armoury of anti-GMO educators and activists. Please share this page widely.


Click the image above to download the full report (1.7mb PDF)

An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops.

by Michael Antoniou, Claire Robinson and John Fagan

Executive Summary:

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Deforestation, Global Warming/Climate Change, Peak Oil, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

I have an urgent message to share — it is extremely important that you all know this. Our brothers and sisters in the Ecuadorian rainforest are under significant pressure from the oil companies. The government of Ecuador is planning to auction off 10 million acres of pristine rainforest for oil extraction. This is the same place that I visited in Ecuador just two months ago, so it really hits home for me.

The 10 million acres is part of the largest contiguous rainforest left on Earth — and one of the most biodiverse and culturally diverse places on the planet. If this happens, the majority of people will be left with a much lower quality of life — health problems, polluted water, poverty — with only a few getting rich off the suffering of others. Please join us in signing this letter and sharing this message widely. This is a very important battle that could set a precedent for keeping oil below ground and respecting indigenous rights across the world. It means literal life or death for them. Thank you everyone — the people of the Amazon appreciate your help enormously.

Please sign the letter here!

Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Economics, Society, Trees.

How conservatism turned into an orgy of destruction.

by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.

There was a time when conservatism meant what the word suggests. It was an attempt to keep things as they are: to arrest economic and social change, to defend the position of the dominant class. Today conservatism has become a nihilistic festival of destruction: a gleeful Bullingdon dinner party of upper class anarchists, smashing other people’s crockery and hurling the chairs through the windows. Yet its purpose is still to secure the position of the dominant class.

It is no longer enough to own the land and most of the capital, to own the media and – through the corrupt system of party funding – the political process. To reinstate Edwardian levels of inequality, the feral elite must seek to reverse the political progress that has been made since then. This means dismantling the tax system, which redistributes wealth. It means ditching the rules which prevent the powerful from acting as they please.

Both are being consumed in what British Conservatives proudly describe as a bonfire(1,2). Nowhere is deregulation more destructive than in its treatment of the natural world.

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Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Community Projects, Consumerism, Eco-Villages, Food Shortages, Peak Oil, People Systems, Society, Urban Projects, Village Development.

Our local areas and community are likely to play a much bigger role in our future resilience, so it makes sense to begin to include active community participation in our children’s lives. Children often enjoy having a sense of being an important part of something that matters and even young children can develop a feeling of ‘ownership’ in their particular part of a project. When children feel vitally involved they will take much more of an interest and be open to taking on board new ideas and skills that will be invaluable to them in the future.

There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Community is a really great educational vehicle — after all, it’s the way young people learned their life skills in past times. We can once again make it a part of the way we prepare our children for times to come.

Below are some ideas for ways children can begin to get involved with developing greater community spirit in their neighbourhood.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops, Urban Projects.

Challenges and ideas for gardening in an urban environment….


Maximising space on a balcony

Most people in the world today live in an urban environment. Although this comes with advantages such as closeness to facilities, community, markets etc., it also comes with challenges for those who would like to live more sustainably and are keen to become more self reliant and grow some of their own food.

Practising permaculture, or even just gardening in an urban setting, is challenging for a number of reasons — like space limitations, rules and regulations, micro climates and contamination, to name just a few. And yet, permaculture can be practised very successfully in urban environments, as seen in Cuba for example. There are of course examples of urban houses that have all the latest technology to make it "sustainable", but this costs a lot of money (and let’s not even go into the discussion about what some of these technologies cost the environment…). Most people however, do not have the funds or the resources to refit their house. So, what to do if you are on a budget but still want to do something about growing some (healthy) food at home in your small apartment, unit, townhouse or other urban dwelling.

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Posted by & filed under Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, Trees.

If we lose the ash tree, we’ll lose culture as well as nature.

by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.

Reading the shocking news about ash die-back, the disease that has now killed most of Denmark’s ash trees and many of those across the rest of northern Europe, I was reminded that when we lose our wildlife we lose some of our stories.

The death of a species, especially a species as significant as the ash, punches a hole not only in nature, but also in our culture.

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Posted by & filed under General, People Systems, Society.

by Nicole Vosper, WildHeartPermaculture

I write this on the train from seeing a close friend of mine, imprisoned in HMP Holloway. A beautiful lifer who I gardened with for the entire 21 months of my own imprisonment in 2009/10. After 5.5 years into her sentence, she is at her lowest point. She has not eaten for 15 days. With the means of suicide taken from her, she says this is the only way she can die. Even with the knowing that she’ll get taken to hospital and administered a drip, she is determined to weaken her body to the point that she will no longer be part of this world. I do not try to talk her out of it, I simply sit in the hall and listen. The minute I tell her what to do, like every other screw in the place, she will close off and the only lifeline of compassion and support she has will be severed. Having listened to suicidal women most of my adult life, including those in prison during my time as a Listener with the Samaritans, I respect self-determination and honour the space to have these conversations about life and death, grief and hope.

Understanding that right doesn’t take away the fact that every piece of my heart feels like it’s breaking. Every cell in my body is filled with the rage at the injustice of her case. But most of what I feel is powerlessness in the face of the prison system. A system that has dominated and caused harm in my life since I was 16 years old. In most other ways I feel a woman of power; a community organiser, grower, permaculture practitioner. I know my sphere of influence and know how to stretch it strategically. There is not much I fear and not much I feel I can’t do if I put my mind to it. But the prison system dwarfs me and it’s time for that to change.

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