View Full Version : another new one.
Aiigh. How do people start with these things? I was never good at introducing myself.
Hi. I'm very interested in permaculture, both from the immediately practical: "How can I learn to live sustainably and in a natural-world-preserving/regenerating manner?", and from the more abstract: "How can we as a human race work together to survive and repair the resource depletion and environmental damage our lifestyles have caused?" Which one I'm more obsessed with varies from day to day. It's a time for lots of research.
I and my wife live in the USA - northern California, to be exact, though I'm not sure exactly how long that is going to last, as property values, resultant mortgages, and implicit cost-of-living issues make me very uncomfortable with the long-term prospects of living sustainably in this area. We want to get out of our white-collar wage-slavery before we pass on into white-hair geritol dependence.
Hoping to be able to travel a bit sometime soon and see other people solving their own challenges of housing and income, and think about possible relocation destinations.
Currently reading "Permaculture: A Design Manual" (courtesy of the local library).
I could yak on, but this'll do for an intro. I'm sure everyone here has their own crazy story about how they became interested in permaculture.
01-12-2006, 11:50 AM
G'day SZ, and welcome to the forum. Enjoy your stay!
01-12-2006, 03:23 PM
Welcome sz :D. And I find it interesting to read how people found their way to permaculture so if you want to fill us in go for it!
02-12-2006, 03:47 AM
easy hey just put pen to paper so to speak hey chuckle?
you will get heaps of inspiration from these annuls, so the more you write and ask the more you learn.
02-12-2006, 05:46 PM
G'day sz :D
It *seems* easy to introduce oneself, but I have to admit I always find the middle of conversations easier than the beginning.
I've sort of come full circle. I actually grew up on a family farm - not one run according to permaculture principles, but in addition to the cash crops, we had a large garden and fruit trees and chickens and at times other domestic (meat) animals. Parents born in Depression-era United States definitely had a subsistence-minded attitude towards life. I never realized how much of that attitude I had soaked up until I had lived away from them for several years.
Having said all that - I never wanted to farm as a kid. I was not at all interested in farm machinery - which if you've lived on a typical modern western farm, you know takes up an inordinate amount of time simply for maintenance - found myself bored spitless driving tractor all day, and was always kind of depressed by just how overwhelmingly subjugated the land around us was. If it wasn't under cultivation, it was grazed to within an inch of its life. I had no notion of the 'forest farm' at that point, and the closest thing I read to permaculture literature - ancient Organic Garden and Mother Earth News magazines - really didn't carry articles which dealt with the notion of a sustainable farm as a whole set of interrelating systems designed and informed by observation of natural patterns and ecological relationships in the uncultivated world. To be sure, they were interesting, and full of lots of practical advice about gardening and living in less environmentally damaging ways. But seeing these ideas put into a greater context and given some sort of theoretical background by Mollison is really quite a revelation. I keep having moments of "Ah - so THAT'S why that works!" as I read. I might not always totally have agreed with everything I read, but here was someone thinking about the problem in a holistic, fairly rational way, discussing both theory and practice. at the same time.
I liked gardening - I loved the outdoors. But I was also just the right age to become a big computer nerd. And so - post many years of college trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and never finding anything sufficiently magnetic to motivate me to pursue it wholeheartedly - I find myself working a white-collar tech job, in a position many of my peers would probably envy. But having had an office job for several years has firmly convinced me that I don't want to do that for the rest of my life. I literally crave being outdoors the whole time I'm at work. I feel uncomfortable and ill-at-ease in offices all day long, surounded by miles and miles of sterile concrete buildings and streets. The most satisfaction I get these days is working in the yard, taking care of my fruit trees, and just being outside and able to hear and see and smell the natural world.
Over time I've become more and more depressed about our virulent consumerist culture. It seems like the whole world is being infected with a mercenary craving for more! More! MORE! And so little of it does anything to make our lives more enjoyable/comfortable/safer/interesting. It's mostly just junk that we have to be taught to want via a steady stream of obnoxious advertising. And the fact that all this useless cruft is spewed out at an insane rate, contributing to the rapid depletion of our natural resources, with no actual innate demand for its creation, drives me nuts.
Why not design something you like? Why not make something you need or you know someone else needs? Why not make something solidly that will last? Why not make it out of something renewable? Why not make a destined-to-be-disposable object out of something that will biodegrade? Why not think twice about the consequences to the rest of the world before you make something at all?
I think reading about peak oil this last year pushed me over the edge. It certainly threw into clear relief the fact that our current lifestyles and economy are unsustainable both from a destroying-the-earth AND from a running-out-of-resources perspective. It also lent a much greater sense of urgency to my desire to get out of the rat race. At the same time, we were in the middle of remodelling our kitchen, and working with drywall and MDF and fiberglass insulation and plywood and noxious chemical adhesives all made me reconsider the way our houses are built. I picked up a few books (ex: "The Hand-Sculpted House: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage (The Real Goods Solar Living Book)", Ianto Evans et. al) and started researching other methods besides cob online. It didn't take long before I started to wonder why we were still building houses out of expensive, declining stocks of wood here in the US.
This, plus thinking about problems such as water shortages (why don't we collect rainwater off our roofs here in the US?), as well as realizing I had no interest in a 'career' nor particularly expensive material needs or desires that would tie me to a path involving high-paying jobs, really made me take a hard look at my current situation and find it rather wanting.
Right now is the time to accumulate a bit of a nest egg and research the future. So I'm intensely curious about how other people have solved the same sorts of problems we will face. The biggest one, quite honestly, is how to swing the bare subsistence income necessary to cover things like land taxes and health insurance. I suspect a move to a cheaper location is in the cards for us, but where remains an open question.
(and it's time to cut this veeeeery long ramble short, even though my head is still full of thoughts and questions.)
In any case, I've been really enjoying reading the forums for a few weeks now, so I thought I'd stick my head in the door and say "hello!' from out here on the west coast of America.
04-12-2006, 01:02 PM
How did I find this site....Google....permaculture...australian site
BINGO up it comes usually first hit.
On the practicality of self sustainability....the wages versus lifestyle is ongoing and the constant catch 22 of needing money to set up a self sustaining property and needing wages to pay for it and if you have the time to do stuff you are usually not working so no wages and on it goes.
Not to get too depressing ..just do what you can and all will be achieved eventually...i hope
This summer I have not planted much as too little water etc...drought here in our area into it's 4th year. Working away means new trees are hard to establish and lost all I planted last year so I'm waiting for more favourable times
Welcome to our site and hope you find lots of good stuff.
Yep - I googled 'permaculture' and that's pretty much how I ended up here. I saw the forums were pretty lively and started reading.
I know that wages vs. lifestyle is always going to be tough. Right now we are all wages and no lifestyle! And when I say "lifestyle" I'm not thinking of fancy cars or expensive clothes - I mean freedom to spend our time working at something rewarding and to satisfy our own needs instead of putting in cubicle prison time to pay someone else to do these things for us.
I know it's going to be a gradual process; all big life changes take time.
Where are you fighting drought?
Drought is tough; I grew up in western Oklahoma, and I remember the year we lost most of our fruit trees because we simply did not have enough rainfall nor water in the well to keep them going. My favorite apple tree - probably 40 feet tall and always full of fruit that I can still taste now, nearly 30 years later - gave up the ghost that summer. I've not eaten an apple since that compared.
And when trees are small, they have so much smaller reserves to tough out adverse conditions. I'm still nursing along several citrus trees that got butchered by gophers, hoping that once enough roots grow back they will start growing.
Out here in northern California it's so dry by the end of the summer that trees drop their leaves due to the stress, and so wet by the end of the winter that plant roots rot out in poorly-drained areas.
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