OMG! That is internet speak for Oh My Goodness! The first day at the internship was something no one could prepare me for: the open air, the cattle, the horses, chickens, food forests, pasture, correctly built structures that harmonize with the sun, swales, ponds, dams, and embarking on a journey and communal living with people from all over the world. “A far cry from my native North East Texas – and I am so grateful!” was what I thought while setting up my tent in the middle of this small shire in The Channon, NSW, Australia. I was to call this truly awesome place my home for the next 10 weeks.
It’s spring time for the Jordan Valley Permaculture Project (aka "Greening the Desert – the Sequel"), the lowest place on earth (400 metres below sea level) and one of the hottest and driest, and our trees and gardens are full of produce. During the internship that was held at the project in November 2012 the students worked on installing a new irrigation system that has obviously made a big difference!
Politicians, lobbyists, and tourists alike can ride bicycles along a specially marked lane between the White House and the U.S. Capitol, part of the 115 miles of bicycle lanes and paths that now crisscross Washington, DC. In Copenhagen, commuters can ride to work following a “green wave” of signal lights timed for bikers. Residents in China’s “happiest city,” Hangzhou, can move easily from public transit onto physically separated bike tracks that have been carved out of the vast majority of roadways. And on any given Sunday in Mexico City, some 15,000 cyclists join together on a circuit of major thoroughfares closed to motorized traffic. What is even more exciting is that in each of these locations, people can jump right into cycling without even owning a bicycle. Welcome to the era of the Bike Share.
How many people believe this makes the world a better place? A company called TenNine has hung advertising hoardings in the corridors and common rooms of 750 British schools(1). Among its clients are Nike, Adidas, Orange, Tesco and Unilever(2). It boasts that its “high impact platform delivers right to the heart of the 11-18 year old market.”(3)
Other firms are closing in. Boomerang Media, which represents Sega, Atari, Virgin, Umbro and others, has persuaded schools to distribute Revlon perfume samples to their pupils(4). This campaign, it says, “was effectively linked into their PSHE and PE classes”. PSHE means personal, social, health and economic education, or “learning to live life well”(5). How the disbursement of perfume by teachers helps children to keep fit and live well is a mystery I will leave you to ponder.
"Urban Permaculture: The Micro Space" trailer Register your email here and we’ll let you know when
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Many of you have been asking what Permaculture can do for you in the small Urban space.
Well, one of my students, Angelo, has transformed his tiny Melbourne backyard into an amazing productive garden and documented every detail over the last 4 years. You’ll find out how much food you could grow in the micro space when you apply Permaculture design creatively.
The main buildings at the PRI’s Zaytuna Farm remind me a little of those cute homes I saw in tales in children’s books as a kid. You know — the edible type, made of sugar, etc. The natural colour, texture and shape all lend themselves to this nostalgia. But, despite appearances, most of these structures are actually made of straw bale (with a daub and lime render over top), so even though they look great, I wouldn’t encourage you to try to eat them.
Billionaires forgo iron-rich crops in push for GM bananas in India
Nature has given us a cornucopia of biodiversity rich in nutrients. Malnutrition and nutrient deficiency result from destroying biodiversity. The Green Revolution has spread monocultures of chemical rice and wheat, driving out biodiversity from our farms and diets. And what survived as spontaneous crops — like amaranth greens (chaulai) and chenopodium (bathua) that are rich in iron — were sprayed with poisons and herbicides. Instead of cherishing them as iron- and vitamin-rich gifts, these vegetables were treated as “weeds”.
The “monoculture of the mind” treats diversity as disease and creates coercive structures to remodel this biologically and culturally diverse world of ours on the concepts of one privileged class, one race and one gender of a single species. As “the monoculture of the mind” took over, biodiversity disappeared from our farms and food. It’s the destruction of biodiverse rich cultivation and diets that has led us to the malnutrition crisis.
The Rak Tamachat farm was a great introduction to motivated, intelligent permaculturists, and the beginnings of a robust permaculture farm in the works.
Jake (Australia) and Mark (Texas) gave me a grand tour of the farm. The first thing we saw was the grey water system, here the tap water used for cooking and washing dishes is funneled through a bucket filter that is piped to irrigate an herb garden nearby.
In other ages, states sought to seize as much power as they could. Today, the self-hating state renounces its powers. Governments anathematise governance. They declare their role redundant and illegitimate. They launch furious assaults upon their own branches, seeking wherever possible to lop them off.
This self-mutilation is a response to the fact that power has shifted. States now operate at the behest of others. Deregulation, privatisation, the shrinking of the scope, scale and spending of the state: these are now seen as the only legitimate policies. The corporations and billionaires to whom governments defer will have it no other way.
John D. Liu of the EEMP, who has partnered with us in spreading the permaculture message, has created yet another excellent documentary — this time focussing on drylands, their past function and their present dysfunction through a broadscale loss of forest cover, and its impact on soil loss and on the hydrological cycle.
In this video we travel vicariously with John as he takes us from Jordan to Africa to Asia and the Americas, showing us both degradation and restoration — and sharing the inspirational message we all need to hear: that we can undo the damage we’ve inflicted on planet earth, our home.