Journal entry, JD175, YR2374 Location: New Heartwood, Great Lakes water unit East 37.
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.
Notes from “Social Resilience and Urban Design: NYC and the COVID-19 Pandemic” webinar (hosted by architecture and urban design firm Cooper Robertson) with inspiring points made by Raymond Figueroa-Reyes and other speakers.
As we look to community gardening to provide food, as it has in the past (e.g. ~40% of food in U.S. during WWII; Cuban urban farming during its Special Period food shortages), we can look to Worker Protection Gardens and Community Gardens during the Industrial Revolution and Redlining period respectively.
Food hubs are on regional scale, but we need to bring them up in micro-scales, as distributed infrastructure for basic needs. Emergent food hubs can help aggregate and distribute food available from existing production systems as well as community gardens. (One example is in the Bronx worked on by this webinar’s speaker Raymond Figueroa-Reyes and others.)
Trickle up economy: focusing support to empower communities with micro-food systems, and the benefits will rise up through the system, growing diversity and resilience.
Awesome footage of Finger Lakes-based Edible Acres plant nursery and homestead:
@1:44 Cool contrast of the land cover texture at Edible Acres forest garden alongside neighboring sparsely-treed lawn. From sunshine to complex, interdependent and diverse self-regenerating life and succession.
A great episode of the Permaculture Podcast discussing the potential of wild plants to restore deep communal roots with humans and the ecosystems we live in and rely on. Plant intelligences, distributions of Mind.
In this video, hand-tool powered earth works is used to make ponds throughout a landscape. Rather than use an A-frame and topo maps to lay out the excavations, time and careful observation guides engagement in the process, as Sean describes shortly into the video embedded above. Water and topography go hand-in-hand to describe and guide each other.
Taking a slow and deeply observant approach to interacting with Nature harmoniously is reminiscent of the TEK practiced by indigenous peoples, such as in tropical Mayan agroforestry. The human-scale care full engagement with land lends itself to the momentum of the forest. There are not a lot of examples left of this close-to-Earth approach, but thankfully life begets life and every lifeboat, ladder and lamp helps.
This idea’s not new to this site but it’s worth repeating and articulating in different ways. The text below is from a response I gave to a public Facebook post about terms like “regenerative” and “sustainable” being insufficient descriptors of permaculture.
I like the term regenerative, and its polar opposite degenerative, as descriptors of different practices depending on their ecological impact.
Lots of terms, like “sustainable” as I think you’d agree, are somewhat ambiguous either in their meaning or their subjectivity of success. A horrific example of that is how susceptible the 3 ethics of permaculture are to corporate greenwashing. Paul Wheaton of Permies.com has emphasized that, noting that companies like Monsanto could hijack permaculture ethics, e.g. claim they’re practicing “people care and fare share” by “creating jobs” or using tech to mine food from soil. The techniques they use are bad in so much as they degrade the systems we rely on.
Regenerative and degenerative are not so ambiguous or vulnerable. Does this activity regenerate or degenerate the systems it relies on? I need food, I buy food, what systems and processes are needed for me to buy food? Does the way I buy food regenerate, or degrade, the systems needed for me to buy food?
Contrasted with degradation, “regenerative” becomes easier to understand. It’s a term that can serve as a sharp distinguishing factor. I also suspect regenerative vs. degenerative practices correlate with mutualism and diversity: Is there mutual benefit? Is there diversity? Maybe all the more likely it’s a regenerative activity.
Northeastern USA is incredibly fortunate. Much of the world is currently or soon to be in harsh conditions. Refugees are inevitable so we’re best to learn how to handle the situation best.
What paths can lead us to the least total suffering? For all humans, for ourselves, for all creatures, to what end? How about to the most ends? Who knows, but we have to move forward what will grow; better ways toward better days, regenerating the arrays of what we need.
One high-level aim could be mutually
beneficial solutions. Also, considering technological changes in our
workforce, returning to nature-based livelihoods could make the most of
human time, potential, opportunity. What activities, goods and services
are likely to continue being generated by humans when computers take
over? Crafts, art, farming, stewarding nature that sustains us –
foundations! And it’s a good way to go in times of peace as well as
In any case, mitigate yes necessary, but in any case woah we better learn to adapt.
We urgently need to act to reverse our direction of widespread, rapid & accelerating, deep degradation of Earth’s resources and processes we rely on for survival. Our response needs to be faster than that of governments, and we cannot rely on those invested in degrading ways as they will be an obstacle-or-worse until converted by being shown better ways that they can see from their greedy perspectives. We must act with the long-term care-taking mentality in which it is clear that helping that-which-helps-oneself is…helpful to oneself! We must do the simple and obvious – and fast – to mitigate and adapt as much as possible. We must do the most practical and broad scale – at the foundations of our wellbeing – to mitigate and adapt as much as possible. We must farm and support farms that are both producing what we need and conserving what we need: farms with diversity to increase resilience for farmers and societies; farms with trees to provide long-term value generation while reducing costs of crop nutrient- and risk- management; and a number of other scientifically-supportes, time-tested techniques currently in action but not on nearly a large enough scale. Farmers control the ecology of vast, vast tracts of land. We must act to reverse degredation, to regenerate livelihoods without insurmountable and unending debt, to regenerate landscapes with nutrients and healthy cycles rather than toxins and worsening margins. We must act while in this relatively peaceful period, for it is much easier to shift gears and start building (rather than losing) healthy topsoil on a farm than on the desert conventional farms leave in their wake.
‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.’