There is immense possibility in the present. Ultimately we are guided by a mixture of drives and inner voices, and what we are capable of is greatly expanded by the consciousness of limitless and wholeness. May oneself be guided by love of oneself and one another, and by the light and life that calls up.
Adapt in place, live in the here and now, and truly make the world a better place whether times are good or . . .
This post summarizes the defining features of ‘The Adapters Movement’. I hope this post fills a gap, offering a healthy framework to respond to the critical time we are living in. As it becomes clearer that many systems we rely on will not suffice or survive in the future, I hope this and similar movements will serve as popular and robust alternatives to inaction or to isolationist (and sometimes extremist) forms of preparedness and survivalism. Let us lessen, not worsen, inevitable harm.
This movement was first introduced to me in the form of a long, winding post by a widely appreciated blogger Ross Raven aka Category5 on Permies.com: C5 Defines The Adapters Movement – Acceptance and Triage. Permies is the world’s largest permaculture forum (or so I’ve heard from them), and this Permies post was being discussed in an online community of the Deep Adaptation movement (which I introduce below).
I read the long thread introducing The Adapters Movement over a few days, and I found a lot of gems in it, representing the best of the ‘prepper’ and ‘survivalist’ movements, while explicitly revising many of those movements’ most off-putting and self-destructive problems. To help make the Adapters movement more accessible, I am sharing this relatively-short write-up introducing it and outlining its key themes. A heads up about what’s ahead: This post prints as four pages, which is much shorter than the many essay-length posts in the original Permies.com thread that this intends to summarize.
A little more context. This ‘Adapters Movement’ fits the wisdom of Deep Adaptation well. Here is Deep Adaptation in a nut shell: Many systems we rely on (e.g. food, housing, medicine, water, wood, ‘waste’, wildlife, social systems) are in the process of collapsing and some will fail. Human extinction is possible but not probable, and so we need to adapt to minimize harm. The way to adapt, according to the Deep Adaptation movement, can be summarized with the “Four R’s framework for inquiry“:
Relinquish what we need to stop to avoid more harm
Resilience is a priority for what we have that we need to preserve
Restore what we need from the past to live in ways that remedy and reduce harm
Reconcile relationships to remedy and reduce harm
With that introduction, here is a summary of key points I took from that long Adapters movement post linked to above. I hope this helps inspire and clarify paths forward that are well adapted to grow bright, solarpunk futures out of collapse and change.
“Throughout the industrial age and now in the information age, the Amish have adhered to the long-standing tradition of making as a primary form of work.”
“Thus, in contrast to an economy in which purely rational logic drives buying decisions, in this case spiritual, political, and ideological motivations guide buying decisions and determine the economic success of a proprietor.”
Crafts have so many co-benefits. Creation: offer and receive the gifts of inspiration.
These relatives of birch, ancient and awesomely rugged, adding golden bark and kindling salvation to tree lines around the world These shrubs with long flexible bows These fruits from charming hot pink flowers that greet the spring and stay
These nuts that come in energy-dense compostable packaging, shelf-stable for years, made by arboreal solar panels These nuts that are easy to eat raw and one of the healthiest snacks I have These nuts that are even tastier roasted; simply apply fire and enjoy a sweet, earthy, ancient gastronomic ally
These branches, that have been warmth in peaceful and desperate times These branches, that have been homes in peaceful and desperate times These branches, that have been the crux of countless wooden items
These gifts, that have come from ancient hedges, woven into the fabric of lives over time These gifts, that host the humans and other kin, who enjoy them and who need them These gifts, that can make the giver better as they enrich the recipient, when given and received in good relations Ancient hazels, though we face harshly changing times, Your past and present company comforts me, knowing you have helped my ancestors through ice ages and then some And so, knowing we work together even where we are not in touch, I wish peace upon you, and I love that in that, peace may be upon me too.
The following is a response to a person who was reaching out for help in reconciling different concepts of divinity. They were facing the dissonance between different spiritual traditions being both helpful and at times harmful (on individual and societal levels). They also raised the fact that some spiritual traditions reject other traditions, and yet this person had found value in both.
Sounds like a search
I recall that a sure foundation for spirituality is shamanism, that is personal connection with the wise and sacred in all by nature and ancestry. The value of alchemy with our dark spots and neglected edges also comes to mind. Carl Jung’s guidance about one’s shadow self is a more modern/mainstream thread to follow on this. I think of it simply as shining the light of one’s humble, honest, critical awareness on that which one hates or fears. Calcinate by querying like a child, asking ‘why?’ then ‘why?’ and ‘why?’ again, with the patience of lifetimes. Any time is the right time to start. I find that the better I understand what/why I fear or hate, the less my mind is consumed by it.
I like the last pair because they feel difficult to green wash. Take any feature that is necessary for the systems that support us, and see if it is being restored/enhanced, or if it is being degraded. Water quality. Soil fertility. Biodiversity. Alas, if there is a will there is a way, and all of these terms will be “greenwashed” to some extent, making environmentally degrading acts seem restorative.
And by what means is the greenwashing motivated and manifest? Who done it? Some words commonly attributed to the complex system in question, which degrades essential qualities while feigning friend of fundamentals:
The man The system Capitalism Neoliberalism Globalism ...
These terms too are not perfect. Each has assumptions and complexities, they lack precision and can be tricky. Then I read something which shared a term so precise, so empirical, it could not be misconstrued or exploited:
The cosmophagous world: that world which devours all other worlds to feed itself.
cosmo- From Ancient Greek κόσμος (kósmos, “universe”). -phagous From Latin -phagus, from Ancient Greek φάγος (phágos, “glutton”), from φαγεῖν (phageîn, “to eat”).
And what is the alternative to devouring other worlds? To multiply, to propagate, to support many worlds. Consider, as you go about the polarized and dissonant world, whether this dichotomy fits: some ways grow themselves by devouring other worlds, while other ways grow all by propagating many worlds.
I think of this as I visit small farms and see the countless worlds that are hosted there: the worlds of the orchard and of the pasture, the worlds of the meadow flowers and of the insect colonies which enjoy them, the worlds of the varieties of people who are part of the community affected by the small farm, and the worlds of the countless communities which have other small farms of their own.
That world catalyzation is a stark contrast to the vast monocrops, moonscapes, and mines producing homogenized ways of life, wherein one world grows larger while the others are whittled away.
May this be a high-level guideline, leading us toward Earthbound mutualism rather than parasitism.
I end with an excerpt from the text that introduced me to this concept of cosmophagy, and with a wish that you will celebrate and support the many worlds we coexist in as One.
Power is inseparable from the capacity to be affected. We find potentialities in our shared sensitivity: that sense of urgency that pushes us to seek new ways of living — to want to change this world; that feeling of belonging that pushes us to act, and likewise to risk everything. How can we unleash these potentials? The paths suggested by the existing order — call it what you will, Empire, capitalism, colonial modernity, white supremacy, the cosmophagous world — aim to capture the affects that make life worth living.
Neither sinners, nor victims: we inhabit climate change. We see that this period of disillusionment with centuries of misdirection is also one of infinite potential. Each of us have within us the remote possibility of stemming the tide of the catastrophe. By organizing pessimism, the fundamental affect of the times, and giving it a creative consistency, we can hope to bring about other worlds. But first, it is essential to make a break with this one. We did not choose to be thrown into a world that seems doomed to its own destruction, but we can decide to continue it or break free from it.
Studying Jewish folklore brings one around many old testament stories, and with that, the source of many cultural idioms and expressions: “the writing on the wall”, the value of atonement, among much else.
Something new to me is a source of wisdom on burying one’s dead. I did not realize advice about it for Jews goes back to beresheit:
After Hevel [aka Abel] was slain, he was lying in a field, his blood spattered over sticks and stones. The dog who had been guarding Hevel’s flock now also guarded Hevel’s corpse from the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky.
Adam and his mate came and sat by the corpse, weeping and mourning for him, but they did not know what to do with Hevel’s body.
A raven whose companion had just died said: I will teach Adam what to do. The raven took his dead companion, dug up the earth before the eyes of Adam and his mate, and buried him in it.
Adam said: We will do as the raven. At once he took Hevel’s corpse and buried it in the ground.
Pursuing study and projects oriented toward alchemy and ecology, I have had the privileged opportunity to start a land project at Willows Edge Agroforest. This project is intended to make space for ecological mutualism and for a mother tree nursery that can be used to start a variety of tree nurseries. There’s lots of updates I’d like to share about that, but even with the work done and the photos taken, it takes time to report out about it.
Here’s a gallery to share a big weekend at Willows Edge. This was the an eventful occasion: the weekend of my ‘golden’ birthday, my first time camping out in the workshop-cabin now referred to as the casita (Spanish for ‘little house’), the completion of finding permanent homes for the hundreds of trees I began from seed in Fall 2019, and first sight of the organic farm starting on a lease of 2/3rds of this area. A great five days with friends and allies, human and otherwise, shared with much thanks.
Asked how tree crop enthusiasts are keeping track of plantings and related info, I shared this info:
Metal tree tags on locust stakes are low-tech and work reliably. Next best is grease-pen or indentations on metal or vynil tags, attached to trees themselves. Overall, it’s great to be pro at plant ID, but that doesn’t always work to differentiate between cultivars.
For a more advanced, digital approach, I use QGIS. It offers the benefits described in a comment above about ArcMap, but it is free and open-source software. It has a little bit of a learning curve, but it is a very powerful tool and it can interface with other geospatial technology including GPS, Google Earth, and iNaturalist. Google Earth has an easier learning curve and has more than enough features for most users. If you want to go the QGIS route, I recommend trying the following steps to begin with, and feel free to ask questions in the comments or on gis.stackexchange.com.
Find and download raster files (.jpg, .tif) for overhead views of your Area of Interest (AOI). These files are referred to as aerial imagery or orthoimagery, and in the U.S. you can get them from county GIS websites or from https://nationalmap.gov.
Follow a basic tutorial about raster vs. vector file types, and creating shapefiles.
Create a polygon shapefile for your AOI boundary- Create a point shapefile for your individual plants.
Add new attribute fields to your ‘plant points’ shapefile to describe characteristics you want to keep track of. Here’s some fields I use (+ examples/explanation):
species (corylus spp.),
planted_date (fall 2019),
permanent (y/n in case it is to be transplanted),
measured (y/n to indicate if its location is precise or estimated),
source (to keep track of cultivars, purchases, etc),
updated (date for when this entry was last updated, since inevitably the records can get out of date; update this every time you update any other field for this data row)
notes (misc info that doesn’t fit cleanly in other fields, try to use this sparingly as it is better to have distinct fields in case later on you want to select or analyze plants based on some attribute)
At this stage, you will have a powerful, interactive map of your AOI, with individual points or polygons to depict features of interest on your property, and those features can have a miniature (or massive) database of characteristics associated with them. You can have as many or as few fields as you’d like, and you can even associate fields (e.g. feature_ID) with other datasets, such as yield records or amendment history for an orchard block.
In practice, as I plant or inspect plantings, I jot notes in text messages to myself or on a muddy piece of paper, and then I digitize those notes by updating my QGIS project for the plantings. A text might be as cryptic as “purp os willow x4 3′ e of ne hazels” and I use those notes to enter four purple osier willows planted at 3-foot spacing starting east of the northeast hazelnut hedge. As long as I don’t wait too long between field notes and digitizing, it works well enough, and this could be much more precise if I wanted to take the time to GPS-locate each planting.
Lastly, if you are just getting started with GIS tools, I suggest exploring a basic tutorial about Coordinate Reference Systems (CRS) and about Georeferencing. That will help you get ahead of GIS software’s more confusing aspects, which many people don’t learn about until they are tangled in problems with coordinate systems. Using a CRS appropriate for your region and consistent for all layers in your project will help you avoid problems and make accurate spatial measurements and maps. Again feel free to drop questions in comments or visit the very helpful gis.stackexchange.com.