Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Building, Community Projects, Land, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling.

Two hundred kilometers south of Addis we turn left at a little town called Achamo, and dive off the tarmac into a dusty, bumpy adventure somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the green rolling steppes of the south Ethiopian countryside. This is my first foray into Hadiyya country. We’ve just passed Siltie, my own tribe (by marriage). We’re en route into the deep south, but this little foray off the usual 14 hour slog down to Konso is going to be something different. The countryside is all populated. Open farmland, mostly beans and maize, dotted with little settlements. Donkeys, gangs of skinny cattle and groups of bearded men out on a Sunday morning stroll punctuate the forty minutes of grinding along the rough climes of the roadway, till we pull into the dusty market town of Bonosha. I call our contact, Tegene, and tell him we’ve arrived. He sends a couple of local lads to show us the way. They jump into the back of the car and direct us out of town. As it turns out, I’m off to do my very first commercial consultancy as a permaculturalist. It’s quite exciting really.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

The new Jordan Valley Permaculture Project (left foreground)
aka ‘Greening the Desert – the Sequel’, September 2011
Photo © Craig Mackintosh

Do you think it’s time to look at the world from a different perspective? Do you know what the problems facing humanity are but have no idea how and where and what to start with? Do you want to change your life to a more sustainable, self-sufficient and enjoyable experience?

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Consumerism.

The people cutting open bluefin tuna nets are heroes

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

One of the purposes of government is to protect public goods threatened by the self-interest of unscrupulous people or corporations. But what happens when governments fail? When they are either unwilling or unable to protect something valued by the many from the depredations of the few? What do you do, for example, to defend the bluefin tuna?

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Posted by & filed under Building, Community Projects, Land, Society, Urban Projects.

Why we need parks, streetlife, squares, markets, trails, community gardens and other hang-outs more than ever.

by Jay Walljasper, On the Commons

All photographs © Craig Mackintosh

It’s a dark and wintry night in Copenhagen, and the streets are bustling. The temperature stands above freezing, but winds blow hard enough to knock down a good share of the bicycles parked all around. Scandinavians are notorious for their stolid reserve, but it’s all smiles and animated conversation here as people of many ages and affiliations stroll through the city center on a Thursday evening.

A knot of teenage boys, each outfitted with a slice of pizza, swagger down the main pedestrian street. Older women discreetly inspect shop windows for the coming spring fashions. An accomplished balalaika player draws a small crowd in a square as he jams with a very amateur guitarist. Earnest young people collect money for UNICEF relief efforts. Two African men pass by, pushing a piano. Candlelit restaurants and cafes beckon everyone inside.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, General, Society.

To me, the simple idea of changing from an energy guzzling, water polluting, fertilizer junkie to a full ecological ‘Permie’ was just bogus. So far, it has proven impossible to make the full change in the last three years.

I want to share with you some of my thoughts, ideas and frustrations; maybe you’ll find them familiar. What I have found is that my most important asset is my will. I am sure you have it to. Without it you will be disappointed after the first setback or caustic comment from someone you care about.

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Posted by & filed under Compost, Fungi, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure.

by Rob Avis

Permaculturists everywhere are crazy about their compost teas and extracts. They have turned building compost tea brewers into a science and concocting the perfect tea recipe into an art. We love our compost brews too, and since we’re always getting questions about the compost tea process, we thought it was time to sit down and write a post about it. In this article we’ll explain the difference between a tea and an extract, discuss the best ingredients and recipes, and give you the step-by-step how-to for making your own compost tea brewer.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Podcasts.

Chris Evans, who co-created the invaluable Farmers’ Handbook, has lived and worked in Nepal since 1985, co-founding the Jajarkot Permaculture Project, which successfully spread new ideas in line with existing cultural traditions. Chris started his career as a VSO volunteer in a community forestry programme in Nepal after graduating in Forestry in the UK.

Based in the remote western district of Jajarkot, he quickly realised the shortfalls of international development and so in 1988, when he came across the concept of permaculture, he embarked on an ambitious alternative. Starting with a local friend, £500 and an acre of degraded farmland in the district centre of Jajarkot he founded a demonstration and training centre which grew organically into the Jajarkot Permaculture Programme (JPP) — a diverse array of projects spanning 4 districts, 65 villages, 8 resource centres (working farms), 120 staff and volunteers, and a membership of 12,000 farmers.

Click play to hear the interview!

Interview with Chris Evans

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Courses/Workshops, Health & Disease, Soil Biology.

Kay Baxter
All photographs © Craig Mackintosh

The more I learn about living simply, about permaculture design, about seeds and gardening, about food, nutrition, animals and about health and the regeneration of our soils and our own DNA, and about epigenetics, the more I realise our challenge is all about "stepping back into that circle of coevolution".

We are beginning to understand how the life in the soil communicates with, and helps to grow, strong and healthy plants and animals. We are beginning to understand how nutritionally dense food (plants and animals) communicates with human DNA to create healthy people. We are starting to get a glimpse of how healthy people can have the ability to complete the circle and communicate with their own environment in a way that benefits and strengthens the whole.

We are an expression of the sum total of all the energy transactions we are, and have been connected to. We are an expression of our very own environment!

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Posted by & filed under Nuclear.

UK Parliament’s decision to authorise the construction of 10 new nuclear power plants was taken on the basis of misleading evidence

by Prof. Peter Saunders

UK’s commitment to nuclear

In early May 2012, Japan shut down its last nuclear power station for routine maintenance in a safety drive since the Fukushima meltdown, leaving the country nuclear free for the first time in more than 40 years [1]. Before the Fukushima disaster, Japan got 30% of its power from nuclear energy. Hundreds marched through Tokyo to celebrate what they hope will be the end of nuclear power in Japan.

Most other countries are having second thoughts about nuclear power; some like Germany and Italy have already decided to do without it and others like Japan may follow [2] (Fukushima Fallout  (SiS 51), but the UK government is still determined to go ahead with the construction of at least 10 new reactors. This is the only way we can fulfil our future energy needs and still meet our commitment to reduce carbon emissions, so we are told; besides, nuclear is the cheapest alternative to fossil fuels and is safer than coal. Every one of those claims is contradicted by evidence, as we have shown in numerous reports.

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Enclosure and dispossession have driven us, like John Clare, all a little mad.

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

The land around Helpston, just to the north of Peterborough in Northamptonshire, now ranks among the most dismal and regularised tracts of countryside in Europe. But when the poet John Clare was born this coming Friday in 1793, it swarmed with life. Clare describes species whose presence there is almost unimaginable today. Corncrakes hid among the crops(1), ravens nested in a giant oak(2), nightjars circled the heath(3), the meadows sparkled with glow worms(4). Wrynecks still bred in old woodpecker holes(5). In the woods and brakes the last wildcats clung on(6).

The land was densely peopled. While life was hard and spare, it was also, he records, joyful and thrilling. The meadows resounded with children pranking and frolicking and gathering cowslips for their May Day games(7); the woods were alive with catcalls and laughter(8); around the shepherds’ fires, people sang ballads and told tales(9). We rightly remark the poverty and injustice of rural labour at that time; we also forget its wealth of fellowship.

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Eco-Villages, Seeds, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Current evidence indicates that New Zealand may well be "the youngest country on earth". Possible fellow competitors for this claim are Greenland, Iceland and Madagascar. All of these landscapes were so isolated they managed to avoid human settlement until relatively recent times. But these entrants in the competition look to be a couple of centuries behind — all being settled prior to 1000AD, unlike New Zealand, which is believed to have had no human presence prior to 1200AD.

With campaigns and videos like the one at top, New Zealand has managed to generate a kind of green aura around itself. Stunning Lord of the Rings landscapes, pristine snow-capped mountain ranges, dripping forests, clean rivers and an outdoor lifestyle to kill for, all spring to mind amongst millions of people worldwide who have never been there, but dream of going. It is a gorgeous country, to be sure, but that’s not the whole story….

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Posted by & filed under Conferences, Presentations/Demonstrations.

On March 31, in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, Geoff Lawton gave a TEDx presentation. This has just been uploaded to YouTube:

For more background on some of the before/after images used, please see: