Tag Archives: essay

Solarpunk Snapshot: O Sunny Days, Reflections on Heat Waves

Journal entry, JD175, YR2374
Location: New Heartwood, Great Lakes water unit East 37.

Heat waves

The mainstream still grows a harder gap to cross. It meanders more turbulent and wider. Its degraded soils worsen the waters. Bridge building continues, bank stabilization continues (thank stars for the willows), and inland waters are being healed. On days like today, I can’t help but think of all the heat and friction in the mainstream. Those high temperatures can hardly hold any dissolved oxygen, and life is slowly choked out. May the ocean of histories heal and renew.

I knew today would be like this. Most are. Hot. Dry. Dry. Even the winters are feeling drier. And even the good days are reminiscent of conditions in the mainstream now that I think of it: when we get water, it is heaved violently, it thrashes and impacts, it erodes. The waters crash down and wash up, and as they pass the ground is lost to downstream. The waters are like reflections from history, and those remaining islands and land bridges around the mainstream are generational systems, built on . . .

I won’t go on. Much progress to be made here and on the shorelines of the mainstream. Ladders, lamps, lifeboats . . . It is better inland, and I hope more life will find its way out of the mainstream and onto land, onto the earth element.

Despite being of a different world than that of the mainstream, we are still in the same world. Same goes for all the different niches in the mainstream, which fight so fiercely against each other and themselves to squeeze out what life is left.

Life is better here. Where we are a regenerative part of the landscape and not degrading or even dominating it. Where as many of our knobs are turned, as are the dials of ecosystem conditions which we try to control. Where the ways and wisdoms of the local first peoples are followed, and where we all connect with our own first personhood. Where there is ecological mutualism. Where generations behind us and ahead of us grow with us, actively in mind as we steward life and vice versa, in succession.

Life is mind, and may peace be upon yours.

Visions of Love, Gardening with Theurgy: An Imaginative Practice to Empower Plants

Plants are people that participate in our world in wondrous, mutualistic ways. Plants serve as the foundation of our human lives, in so many ways, grown by Solar rays of a very high Source. Plants bridge us and the Sun. How can we serve plants? A mystical practice, known as a type of theurgy, is one way to empower plants to give greater gifts as they go forth in life, using the power of human mind to imagine and visualize colors and light.

Definitions of theurgy tend to be vaguely described, as hints of it seep out from the mysticism of various traditions. Definitions often include compelling or querying supernatural beings and deities. I offer this definition based on my learnings and experiences on alchemy:

Theurgy is the mental animating of matter, so to bring out more of matter’s inherent qualities and potential capacities, without imposing a state or process on the matter that is not in harmony with its nature and natural laws of cause and effect [1].

There could be a lot to unpack here, but I will leave that to your own inner and outer inquiries. I raise this work to share an ecological application of it. Based in imagination, it is the use of visualization and color to enliven objects with their vital three-part nature.

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The Problem is the Solution: Carbon, and the case of Life and Death


The problem is the solution.

Permaculture Principle

Hearing about carbon and the environment, many people think of atmospheric carbon as a green house gas. Right alongside that are all the long-term massive changes in the carbon cycle from fossil fuel extraction, processing, and use as fuels and plastics. Carbon is problematic, but it’s so much more. In fact it’s a lot of things, and it’s ubiquitous in life.

On Earth, all known living things have a carbon-based structure and system.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothetical_types_of_biochemistry

Even fossil fuels contain this fact, that carbon is the building block of life. Fossil fuels are not inherently bad, they are just part of life systems, dead for millions of years only to be brought to life briefly for a fast flash then a slow decay. A decay of life systems themselves, a stumbling toward high entropy and climate chaos. How do we reign in the chaos, how do we lower entropy on Earth as Life overall seems inclined to do?

The complexities around fossil fuels, from geology to economics and ecology to justice, exist in full form only at scales (i.e. a hyperobject) that are hard for us to grapple with. It is how we interact with the the systems fossil fuels are a part of, to either degrade or regenerate those very living systems and life itself. Carbon can be the quickly-lost exhaust of burned billion-year-old oil, or it can be rich black organic matter that gets better with time, revitalizing soil that sustains us and all life on Earth.

We live at a time where there is widespread disturbance all around us. The ground is open and waiting for seeds. We can bemoan the tragedies that nature has endured or we can cast seeds and plant a future.
We can and do influence the ecosystems around us more than any other species. That influence can come through reckless destruction, blind abandonment, or conscious intent.

Trees of Power by Akiva Silver of Twisted Tree Nursery near Ithaca, NY

Carbon’s role in life systems can give momentum to feedback loops of degradation or of restoration and regeneration. Carbon can serve a core role in feedback loops that produce goods in the present and get better over time: trees, soil, animals enjoying carbon while sequestering and storing it, all in mutual benefit enhancing the systems one and all exists in.

Enjoying carbon? Enjoying it as in making fulfilling, mutually beneficial use of it. And enjoying it while we still can, that is, considering how dire some environmental situations are becoming in large part due to imbalances in the carbon and other cycles. We need the tools to shift the carbon cycle into a more wholly beneficial setting. We know the tools: trees; carbon farming; regenerative, ecological lifestyles and landscapes. And we have the main building block of those tools, waiting to take f(x) one way or another: Carbon. For life systems, ecosystems; or for the degradation, destruction, and death of those systems?

For life systems, or for the death of those systems?

Where’s the carbon?

Is it regenerative or degenerative?

Is it diverse or a monoculture/monopoly?

?

Tree Based Livelihoods

It’s a great situation to be in to always have a need for more trees in an area. Imagine a farmer or forester, happy to enhance and be enhanced by more trees in their life system. Life in mutual benefit with life itself: net primary productivity, biodiversity, etc. (e.g. Biodiversity promotes primary productivity and growing season lengthening at the landscape scale Oehri et al. 2017).

Akiva Silver of Twisted Tree Farm – a regenerative tree nursery near Ithaca, NY – once said how despite growing thousands of trees, he feels bad to find himself turning down customers when sold out of trees. It’s a wonderful problem to have, wanting to grow more trees! So long as they’re able to grow – sadly worth noting considering environmental and economic degradation and deforestation.

Thankfully, trees beget trees in many ways! Supporting the propagation of future generations of trees; providing material for the propagation & other operations; regulating the environment to facilitate life; and facilitating regenerative culture in all our lives.

How can you integrate the right tree in the right place for the right reason in your life? Think beyond the tree itself. What end-goals can (and do) sustainable, regenerative tree systems satisfy? Some ideas from the 6 F’s forests offer: Food, Fiber, Fodder, Fuel, Farmaceuticals, and Fun.

  • Food (fats, carbs, dietary fiber, protein, mushrooms and micronutrients from tree crops and products; soil enhancement for other staple crops)
  • Fiber (paper, lumber)
  • Fodder (animal foods and wildlife)
  • Fuel (firewood, pellets, biomass and biochar)
  • Farmaceuticals (tree-based chemicals and medicines, wild grown medicines), fun (culture, recreation and wildlife).

The Importance of Diversity in Life

Among the regenerative and degenerative landscapes I’ve seen, diversity is a key factor in what kind of landscape one is. Agricultural landscapes annual (e.g. corn, soy) and perennial (e.g. almonds, hazelnuts) can restore or degrade ecosystem services depending on the diversity and complexity of the agro-life sytem. Eclectic interests keep one interested, diverse plant communities keep one resilient and rich (e.g. Biodiversity promotes primary productivity and growing season lengthening at the landscape scale Oehri et al. 2017). Life itself is a diversity, an emanating Tree of Life with unique branches to each one’s own.

It’s true that great practice in one specific area brings great fruits. Whether an excellent organic farm operation or a kick practiced 1,000 times, a la:

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.

Bruce Lee

Monopolies in business are a bitter-sweet example of this: bitter in how vulnerable and skewed the system can become; sweet in the fruits of specialization and the economies of scale if you’re on the good side of the skew.

However all the better that many kicks and maneuvers are practiced many times. On one level this applies to one’s own life in terms of adaptability and engagement with many aspects of life. On a spiritual level it is balance and vitality in the diverse branches of the Tree of Life. On another level this applies to the collection of many lives lived covering a diversity of ways: products in markets; species in ecosystems; geographies to live in; all the colors, shapes, sizes, and ways of life; forests.

Forests. What a vital instance of diversity in all our lives. Supporting, regulating, providing, and cultural. We humans are, after All, descended from arboreal creatures. Here’s to growing home!


Trees: Fuel, Fiber, Food, Fodder, Farmacueticals, Fun + some

Inspired by https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/03/farmers-plant-trees-alongside-crops/

Fuel: firewood; biomass (wood pellet stoves); pitch, resin, charcoal

Fiber: structural wood for houses and furniture; living fences; pulp for paper; fiber for rope and potentially even clothing and fabrics; biochar and mulch as soil amendments to sustain soil fertility and resilience to drought and flood

Food: forest farming, forest gardening, supporting crops in alley-cropping and other techniques; sustaining drinking water; protein, oils/healthy fats, fiber

Fodder: silvopasture and all the benefits that comes with wildlife and livestock including food, mowing, fertilization, and many other benefits of biodiversity

Farmaceuticals: medicine, physiological and psychological; chemicals for a vast variety of purposes

Fun: may you enjoy it and it enjoy you

+ some: ecosystem services: regulating, provisioning, supporting, cultural

For
Resilience
Relinquishment
Restoration
Regeneration
Reconciliation

One Love

Face of Crisis

Below are excerpts and some of my thoughts on the article The Rapid Decline Of The Natural World Is A Crisis Even Bigger Than Climate Change by John Vidal. My reflections are based on much input beyond just this article, but this article makes a good platform to discuss these points. Also consider Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy by Jem Bendell. Or more importantly, consider gardening. And brace for impact.

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Honoring the Harvest: Subliming Shame

Consider the source of any bounty. A delicious dish of roasted brussel sprouts. A beautiful diamond. The materials to build a satisfying shelter, either piled up on site or arranged as they are when the build is complete. In each case, what is the source like, what is the harvest like? What is the supply chain like? Is there appropriate reciprocity, mutual benefit, and honor?

It can be either way, a virtuous regenerative cycle or a dishonorable, self-destructive cycle.

Consider this in your own life, and what do you find? Being among the people who can read and write on the internet, it is likely that we’re engaged in much forced-taking and dishonorable harvest. For example, the Earth provides some food freely or with mutually beneficial work, but much of the food in the United States comes to us through forceful production, harvest, transport, etc. in a cycle which depletes the very resources (e.g. soil, clean water) which it relies on.

Should we be ashamed of the dishonorable harvests we’re engaged in? Many are not our conscious choice or something we can easily affect; this is simply the world we’ve been born into, and it’s quite convenient at that! Yet I’d argue we should be ashamed, for who else will be? It is like a first step to improvement: acceptance. Accepting the dishonor of these processes is a first step. But do not let shame get you stuck in place. Let it inspire you to improve, to make the small steps you can each day on the long journey toward regenerative landscapes and lifestyles, rather than forceful, dishonorable and depleting harvests.

Don’t waste your hate, rather gather and create
Be of service, be a sensible person
Use your words and don’t be nervous
You can do this you’ve got purpose
Find your medicine and use it.

Manifesto by Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People

This applies to the internal landscape as well as the external one. Cultivating contentedness of mind, speech, and body.