Monday, April 30, 2007

The forest People

This is my first piece of creative writing probably since english class in high school, was fun to write.

Once in a time not to distant and not too different from our own their lived a group of people in a large forest. They lived a simple life eating the plants and some of the animals around them, consciously spreading some plants and restricting some animals. These people felt they were part of the forest, knowing the names of all the other creatures in it and going so far as to believe than each of the tree’s was a relative of theirs and that each of the animals shared the same parents as their own. They ate animals which were plentiful one year and when they were sparse ate different ones. These people were part of the forest and knew it was part of them.

One day into the forest came a young man brash and ignorant he looked around him saying “why should the birds eat the berries I like so much?” so he went out and killed the birds and indeed the berries grew well for a while and the young man was happy stuffing himself with the fruit he loved. One day he realized that there were no new berry plants and asking one of the elders why there were no more he was told that “the birds helped the berries, spreading the seed causing new plants to grow”. The young man said to himself “I do not want or need birds I will just plant the seeds myself” and set out throughout the forest planting the berries wherever gaps let the light fall onto the forest floor.

After a while the young man grew tired of walking round planting seeds and asked himself “why should the tree’s block the light I need to grow berries?” and he decided to clear the forest to build himself a home and to create light for his berries to grow. This worked for a while and the berry bushes grew tall and strong with the rich soil left behind by the tree’s and the bright light coming from the sky.

Unknown to the young man it was the breath of the trees which created much of the rain in the forest. Without the trees to cause rain the ground dried up and the bush’s withered and died.. So the young man energetic in the prime of his youth dammed the stream to give water to his berry bushes. The fish of course were not happy with not being able to get back up the stream to give birth and with no new fish the streams gradually became emptier and emptier. The bears also were not happy as they ate the fish and they were now going hungry and having to eat the people living in the forest to survive. The tree’s were also unhappy with the dam because they relied on the fish to bring nutrients into the forest, nutrients which had been washed into the sea long before.

The soil long built by worm’s insects and bugs living in the leaves and branches dropped by trees began to disappear without the blanket of life left by the trees. The soil withered became dust and began to blow away in the strong winds which were no longer slowed by the forest. So the young man hurried this way and that trying to get plants to form the same blanket that the tree’s had always provided. But no matter how hard he worked the soil was never as good as the tree’s had created and every year more and more got washed or blown away.

Because all the other plants were gone and now there were only berry plants the insects also grew hungry and asked each other “why should we go hungry whilst the young man stuffs himself with berries?” and so the insects without any other sources of food began to attack and tried to kill off the berry plants. Because the young man had killed off all the birds there was nothing to keep the insects from growing in numbers and they grew so quickly that most of the berry plants died. The young man had killed everything else so he had to have the berries to eat and he quickly found poisons to put on his berries to kill the insects.

The young man by now was tired having to plant the berries, to chop down the forests and all the plants which wanted to steal lights and nutrients from his plants, to dam the rivers to provide water to his plants as well as rich soil for them to grow on and now having to spend his nights killing insects which ravaged his plants. So the young man decided to make his friends and family help him saying “you are lazy and the gods hate laziness you must stop eating the plants around you and must help me build dams and chop down the forests”. When the people around him would not help him the young man gathered some friends and said “if you help me I will make it so you never have to work and that others will grow and give you all of your food”

The young man and his friends forced those around them to help. Because they spent so long growing berrys and because they killed everything else on the land with poisons, fires and axes the young man and his friends grew a lot of food. This made sense because all they did was take from the land, all the other plants and animals in the forest gave back, but the man only took. The man and his friends quickly grew in number and forced those around them to grow food like they did, killing the forests streams and everything else that had lived on the land. It was painful to kill their brothers and sisters so the young man made up a new story saying “the plants and animals are not our relatives instead they were made to serve us” as well it was hard to enslave his friends and family for long without growing sad so the young man made up more storys saying that “man needs to control all those around him for all others are wicked and do not live like us” He also said “I am only in charge because I work so hard, If you are just like me then one day you will be in charge”.

The young mans tribe grew larger and larger and the dams grew bigger and bigger, the young man saw that he and his friends could no longer control all people and he told the people that another form of control was needed. And explained to the people that they needed governments to tell them what to do saying “people are nasty and wicked and the dams are very complex, somebody needs to make the decisions as you do not know enough to decide for yourselves” he then said “As I cleared the land this land is mine, you can grow berries for me and I will give a few back to you to live on because I am such a noble person” without land to gather food from and afraid of the mans friends the people agreed and lived off the few berries the young man gave them every year.

This continued for many years with the young mans descendants cutting down more and more forest to grow the berries that the young man had grown so much. The people worked very hard to grow the food and lived far shorter lives than when they lived in the forests but they told themselves “we are far more advanced than those forest people, we have a king who tells us what to do and we have engineers who build larger and larger dams, we have scientists who make better and better soil for our plants and we have better and better poisons to kill the bugs that still want our berries”. And of course they had their religion which told them that they were living the right way and that all those that lived in the forest and believed the forest talked to them were evil.

And because they thought the forest and those that lived in it were evil they sent out their young people to tell the forest people how they should be living. But the forest people said “why should we change? The forest gives us what we need, it is part of our family why would we harm it”. And the young people tried to explain how the forest was not family and how they should not talk to it. Because the forest people would not listen to them and the old land they had planted berries on had dried up and become desert the young mans descendants killed all the remaining forest people and chopped down the remaining forests constantly searching for new places to plant the precious berries.

After a very long time the young mans descendants had forgotten they had come from the forest and thought they had always grown berries on clear land. But some came to realize they were growing sick, that those in charge were growing wealthy and that most were still living very harsh lives and that the great forests were almost gone along with all those that lived in them.

So most of those that realized there was a problem talked about how they needed to change those in power that if only the berries were distributed equally then everything would be ok. Some talked of how that if the insects were killed with natural poisons or if the plants were grown on natural soil then everything would be ok. Some talked of how if only we could make better dams, if we built better cities then everything would be ok. But no matter how much they tried to change each little thing nothing worked for they all still believed that the way they were living was the only way people had ever lived.

Even those who were saddened by the loss of the fish and forests could not think of a world in which humans were not in control and even those that did not like the way the young mans descendants lived were still afraid of those that talked to tree’s saying to each other “we must not alienate the public, the best way to bring about change is to tell people how best to spend their berries”.

Some of the people in this society came to realize that the stories told to them about how “the plants and animals were made to serve us” seemed false and ventured back into the forests to talk to the few people that remained in them. To their suprise the forst people were happy and did not suffer from the great sadness felt by those in citys. They studied these and many other people and found that there were other ways of growing berries, that if forests were allowed to regrow that birds and insects would work with people not against them. That dams were only necessary once you had chopped down the trees and that all the young mans descendants could be fed and the forests could regrow at the same time. They even found that the deserts created by the young man could once again be covered in forest.

Some listened and began to replant the once great forests starting in there backyards and around their neighborhoods, others went to the deserts and showed the people their how to catch and hold onto water in ditches. Gradually the great forests began to regrow and a thick green forest came to cover first suburbs then citys and then entire countries. And living in these forests people came to once again hear the voices of the plants and animals around them and came to once again know that everything is related they were once again happy living as forest people.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Guerrilla Orchard



I just planted a bank full of fruit tree's a couple of minutes from my place. The north facing bank was covered with wandering dew and nastirtums which I cleared 1.5m square holes in to plant a range of tree's which I've grown. The soil is of a moderate quality with plenty of insect life and humus at the surface but has a high clay content as well as a lot of general rubble mixed through it. The bank is north facing and fairly well sheltered so I'm hopeful that the tree's will grow and fruit well.

As the tree's were grown in my hot house the only real cost to me is the few hours it took to raise and plant them out, if only a few of them fruit it will still be a significant return on investment.

I planted two avacado tree's three tamirillo's and two mountain paw paws. There is still room for at least ten more fruit tree's in this space and plenty of other locations around the nieghbourhood to plant.


Mountain Pawpaw

Avacado Tree

Self-sufficiency on a balcony

Article availabe in full here (click through the pages)

It's not just the planet you'll be saving when you grow your own fruit and vegetables, it's your soul, writes Jackie French.

The salad you ate for lunch yesterday may have used more fossil fuel than you used all week. Your snow peas were probably flown from Zimbabwe; your vacuum-packed greens were probably brought from China, which was where the garlic came from, too. Your salad's "energy miles" also included the fuel needed to grow it, as well as to make and transport the fertilisers, fungicides, herbicides and pesticides. That salad probably used more water than you did, as well. (Only about 3 per cent of water use is domestic.) What's the use of turning off lights and cutting back on travel kilometres if your cherries come from California?

So how do you minimise your "tucker footprint"? By buying local, and organic. But the greenest solution - in every sense - is growing your own.

Aha, I hear you chorus, impossible! I've only got a balcony and 10 spare minutes a week …
Impossible? Of course not.

Step 1. Buy six large pots (small ones heat up and dry out too quickly).

Step 2. Plant:

■One Eureka lemon (three to four lemons a week all year round).

■One grapevine (one month of fruit; the tiny leaves are good in salads, the large ones for stuffed vine leaves).

■One passionfruit vine (four months of fruit).

■One choko (four months of fruit).

■One tamarillo (five months of fruit).

For the sixth pot, choose from: the dwarf Stella cherry, dwarf apples, a dwarf mulberry, dwarf peaches or nectarines, a dwarf pomegranate, an "All-in-One" dwarf almond, Tahitian limes, a cumquat or a calamondin, blueberries, gooseberries or raspberries (try the giant native Atherton raspberry on hot patios or the new jostaberry, a gooseberry-currant cross).

Step 3. Around each tree plant parsley or silver beet, or let thornless blackberries, strawberries or Cape gooseberries trail down the pot.

Step 4. Buy 10 giant hanging baskets. Hang them from the eaves, but stagger them - some high, some low - but all within reach for watering.

Step 5. Now plant:

■One basket of Wandin Winter year-round rhubarb.

■One basket of "cut-and-come-again" lettuce, such as red cos or Webb's Wonderful.

■One basket of rainbow chard. One basket of Warrigal spinach.

■One basket of perennial basil, thyme and oregano.

■One basket of Chinese celery, garlic chives, mizuna and mitsuba.

■One basket of cherry tomatoes and spring onions (eat the tops).

Continued here
Two great Articles


Two interesting articles The Idols of Environmentalism

Even when we are trying to aid the environment, we are not willing as individuals to leave the system that we know in our heart of hearts is the cause of our problems. We are even further from knowing how to take the collective risk of leaving this system entirely and ordering our societies differently. We are not ready. Not yet, at least.

And The ecology of work

ENVIRONMENTALISTS SEE THE ASPHALTING of the country as a sin against the world of nature, but we should also see in it a kind of damage that has been done to humans, for what precedes environmental degradation is the debasement of the human world. I would go so far as to say that there is no solution for environmental destruction that isn’t first a healing of the damage that has been done to the human community. As I argued in the first part of this essay, the damage to the human world has been done through work, through our jobs, and through the world of money.

Hat tip The Anthropik Network

Friday, April 27, 2007

Weeds are our friends :)

One of the most powerful moments in my life was being force to remove a balanced weed ecology for an employer who wanted to pave paint and sterilise the area. Even before I had done any study into weeds and their reparitive role I knew innately that weeds were a special and were vital in fixing areas poisoned and degraded by civilisation.

Here is an awesome article "the functioning of weeds in wholesome gardening"

A brief extract

Weeds are plants.

When that had dawned on me, instead of throwing the weeds across the fence for the chooks to eat them after I had pulled them up, I started to look on these ‘weeds’ as FRIENDS who were there to help me restore the soil. I realised I could use the sheafs of pulled up (grass)fibre, when I layed them next to each other, to form one continuous mass of straw, making a matting and so a cover for the soil against the harsh sunshine, or the soil-smashing impact of the rain, now well-known as mulching. To prevent the weeds from sprouting again, all I had to do was to shake off the soil from the roots and expose them to the sun to make sure that they would dry out.
It slowly started to become clear to me that, the more weeds I had, the more matting I would be able to make and so, that the better and the bigger these weeds would grow (and the healthier), the better the land would be off in the long run…………. .

My mental effort to restrain my resentment had paid off. From that time, as I said before, my understanding of plants and soil-biology became one continuous Eureka experience. I had also realized that weeds were also known as ‘colonisers’; plants, like their human counterparts, that prepare the way for others to follow later.

In the case of weeds, the first colonisers are usually grasses, ‘just’ holding the soil together and when left to grow, forming (big) sheafs of fibre. The essential point was not to eradicate them, but to, if possible, as much as possible, encourage their copious and prolific fibre-growing capacity and, at the appropriate time, apply this fibre as protective matting. Once the matting is placed and regular (early-morning) watering is done, microbial soil-activity can really take off and deeper rooting and broader leaved flowering plants (and ‘weeds’) usually follow.
On observation, the matting indeed allowed for a greater diversity of microbial life.

...... Firstly, the matting of weeds made water retention possible at the soil-surface, the surface previously and torturously exposed to the sun; the benefit of mulching. Most readily observable were the developping grey-white fungi in the grass-matting; subsequently small bugs that started to chew up the matting and leave their droppings. What I particularly remember observing, after a few months and seasons of weeding and applying the pulled-up weeds as ground cover, was the sequence of events at the next generations of grasses.
One might initially ‘think’ (panic), that, when the grasses are allowed to grow (and seed), they will take over the whole garden. Not so; not necessarily so.

When the sheafs of grasses, before or after prolific seeding, are continuously pulled up and NOT carted away but immediately used as matting, the matting will eventually so enrich the soil and enhance the diversity of organisms at soil-level to such an extent, that the grass seeds in time become eaten up by the many soil-bugs, -grubs, -insects and whatever else by now is thriving in the shade of the sheafs.

Continued here

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Opposition to War on ANZAC day.


In Auckland

A silent but visible vigil marked ANZAC day in Auckland with protesters highlighting the ongoing involvement of New Zealand troops in unjust wars around the world. Protesters held a six meter long banner saying “Honor the dead; no more wars” and placards such as “NZ troops out now”, “Lest we forget Afghanistan” and “World War one was supposed to end all wars”. The protesters stood out markedly amongst the thousands who attended ANZAC day.

continued here


And a unimog smashed into a minivan breaking the drivers leg.

In Wellington

Horns were also used, and two New Zealand flags were burnt. Police arrested one of the burn-ees and another was arrested for not a lot, really.It was pretty embarrassing for the police, and they were whispering to us to be quiet as they arrested the two, one of whom did not go very quietly.. woo! :) A few 30-40yo men came and helped tackle some of us and held one the people arrested to a fence while the police dragged at his feet

Report on indymedia

The response to the protest has been quite rambling and incoherent. I can only laugh when people claim that we don’t appreciate the “hard won freedoms” that these soldiers killed for in WWI. Do they even know why WWI started? Do they know that it was little more than empire building? Do they know that NZ entered the war with the main aim of simply securing the NZ State’s primary export market at the time, Britain?

Personal perspective by Anarchafairy

In South Taranaki

Vandals attacked the site set up for the Anzac Day Dawn Service in Patea in South Taranaki overnight, smashing and knocking down crosses arranged around the town's cenotaph.

from here

In christchurch



This morning, womyn dressed in black gathered in a silent vigil at the ANZAC Day dawn ceremony at Cathedral Square in remembrance of womyn and children raped and killed in wars

The womyn in black felt their presence had made an impact on the thousands of people attending the service. Many people stopped to read and consider the message on the banner they held, which read "In Remembrance of Women and Children Raped and Killed in Wars". The silent protestors had their message respected by people, who gave them the necessary physical space in a crowded situation

Continued on Indymedia

In the News

On the other side of the trenches parsons and chaplains of various Christian denominations held prayer services for troops and prayed to God with them before battles.


Which side was God really on? Neither. Which side could justify going to war?Neither.


John minto has an opinion piece

The Defence Minister has slammed protesters who disrupted ANZAC day services in the capital this morning.

Speaking from Afghanistan, Phil Goff said the protests are misguided and the depth of ignorance is astounding

Phil Goff speaks from afghanistan


In Australia

Anti-war graffiti labelling diggers "murderers" was daubed in paint on a war memorial in the NSW central west community of Bathurst overnight, ahead of this morning's dawn services.
Shortly after receiving many calls about the graffiti, police arrested five teenage girls nearby, allegedly still covered in paint.

More than 30 people, including members of the military, Fire Brigades and local council, worked through the night to remove the graffiti before the dawn service.

From here

"When a lot of our men came back from the war, they came back under the white Australia policy and they did not get the benefits of land grants or war pensions. It's those kinds of issues that are stored in our hearts."

But they received little recognition when they returned home under policies favouring white Australians, and were not even counted as citizens until 1968. Pastor Bill Simon, who was to lead a church service following the march, said for too long there was a military tradition to "send the little black fella out to do all the hard work"

Aboriginals demand Anzac Day equality From here

Anti War Protest in Auckland









Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Shamans of the Amazon

Just came across this really cool video called shamans of the Amazon.

Its described as "Excellent documentary about the Amazonian Shamans and their use of the sacred Ayahuasca vine to communicate with the Spirits of the Forest. Includes footage of peaceful drug-prohibition protests, an interview with Terence Mckenna, criticism of the so called "war on drugs" (essentially a form of cultural genocide), the corruption within large oil companies and governments, many civil rights issues, etc. "

More informationon ayahuasca can be found here

Monday, April 23, 2007

Joseph provides a link to a really cool article permaculture in the city (update link fixed)

Heres an extract

There was an empty lot where they knocked down the house in front of mine, and we just kept chucking seeds in there. Loads of pumpkins and herbs sprung up amongst the weeds. It was all left to go wild, and I was surprised that the insects and diseases left the goodies alone, unlike trying to grow and tend the same vegetables in my garden. This lasted one season, then got turned into a carpark. But it did become a real community for a while, everyone borrowing herbs and chatting and playing and admiring the garden. It was really a nice thing in the area for a while. Should’ve got permission!

Another [guerilla farm] was the continuation of gardens started by old people in a site destined for redevelopment in the Kamiyacho district in Tokyo. In the unused empty lots behind an office, we planted veggies and flowers, pruned the trees, and visiting Swedish artist and rebel Lagombra built a small treehouse. They will be redeveloping the site within 10 years, and it’s all been locked up now, so we can’t get in there anymore.

We also planted a bunch of broccoli in the holes in the concrete outside the Yokohama Bank Art Gallery. It was really funny, they were just popping out [everywhere].

We’ve planted daikon radishes next to individual roadside trees. You know, those little plots of dirt on the side of the road...why should they house just one tree? We just carried seeds with us all the time last year and were popping them all over the place. What led you to projects like this?

Logic, good food, and good friends. Smoking pot helps, too. Only in Amsterdam of course.

The model for my farms is Masanobu Fukuoka’s seed ball project and Bill Mollison’s Permaculture system of sustainable agriculture. (Fukuoka is the pioneer of natural farming and sustainable agriculture in Japan who now gives lectures abroad. Mollison is an Australian researcher.) Basically, the idea is to spread the seed and let nature go. It’s about living in an edible jungle. You don’t need to pay 100 yen to buy a few pieces of lettuce or herbs. You just plant some seeds, the rain falls and they grow, and you get hundreds of leaves and thousands of seeds the next year

Sunday, April 22, 2007

School

Stanselsen has an interesting post about schooling

I hated how it was so impersonalised, boring and repetitive, how the stuff we were learning had been repeated for years and years before, the rules had no reasons for being there other than they were the rules, the technology was always behind, the text books were dated and unimaginative and the punishments handed out for pathetic offences insulting and often unfair. Even then I knew this. And I’m guessing that not very much would have changed in the last 10-15 years since I have been out of school. Except it seems the rules have tightened on alot of things.I stayed at school through till the 7th form, but my passion for learning, and I was quick at this, in fact too quick for the school to cope with, was completely depleted by then and I had no other desire than to spend the next year (after leaving) smoking pot and drinking myself silly. Common with many young people. Can we only guess at the need for measurable escapism from the every day reality of teachers, homework and boring long hours spent behind desks in ugly classrooms.

I was home schooled till I was 14 and went to high school for 2 and a half years. I found high school mind numbingly boring and the social cliques were soul crushing for anyone let alone someone that thought the entire system was fucked. At about 15 I read Ivan Illich's deschooling society and spent a lot of time reading about alternative schooling and the problems with our current school system. Its quite obvious that school is not about learning, instead its key role is indoctrination and teaching young people to accept and gradually come to work within hierarchical systems. It also divorces young people from the natural world and people of different age groups.

Like most home schooler's I found high school students empty and rather silly, I think the immaturity that school creates in young people is part of keeping us reliant on authorities. The work we spent all our time on was unstimulating enough to turn off anyone and not coincidentally it crushed critical thinking and analysis. I missed school 20% of days overall spending days at home reading or just doing what I wanted to do. For more about schooling I would highly recommend John Taylor Gatto's six lesson school teacher.

I could rant about why I hate the school system forever but I think its enough to say that it needs to be abolished if we are to ever create a non hierarchical society which honours the natural world. I will write about home schooling and my experience at some point soon....

Friday, April 20, 2007

Co-Founder of Permaculture Speaking in Auckland

Im thinking of starting up an Auckland peak oil/sustainability group at this meeting, anyone in Auckland interested? The group would probably be focused on practical solutions to the imminent changes brough on by peak oil climate change and other threats to our lifestyle.

Friday evening 4th of May David Holmgren will be speaking on how our NZ towns and cities can be adapted quickly to the converging threats of climate change and peak oil decline. I listened to him speak in Matakana and it’s a brilliant talk. He starts with explaining the impacts of what it means if energy reserves decline slowly and climate change happens slowly to what happens if the energy reserves decline quickly and climate change happens quickly. There are basic four scenarios, one of which is most likely for NZ. Each scenario has different implications for governance, economics, social stress, and energy planning. From listening to his Matakana talk Australia and NZ will be going different ways and planning for changes very differently. Indeed, some scenarios seem to bring the most effect changes at a regional and community planning with national government possibly becoming very weak.

Regardless which of the four scenarios NZ falls into, there are adaptations that can be made very quickly and for very little money if we think about it now. Retrofitting Suburbia is about those practical and positive changes that could metamorphosize the problematic ‘Burbs into abundance of food, work and community health opportunities. Hope you can come. Your family’s future might be redirected by what you learn on this night.

6:30 pm Friday evening, 4th of May
Clocktower Lecture Theatere
University of Auckland
$15 per person or $10 for student with ID
Pay at the door

PS for Maps of how to get there or coloured posters to put up please email dbkettle@slingshot.co.nz and I will email you one back to print out.

Sponsored by Organic Farm NZ Auckland Region

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dirt Boosts Happiness (Seems kinda obvious)

Besides being interesting articles such as this one are a great form of procrastination.

Exposure to dirt may be a way to lift mood as well as boost the immune system, UK scientists say.

Lung cancer patients treated with "friendly" bacteria normally found in the soil have anecdotally reported improvements in their quality of life.

Mice exposed to the same bacteria made more of the brain's "happy" chemical serotonin, the Bristol University authors told the journal Neuroscience.

A team at Georgetown University Medical Center recently discovered serotonin is passed between key cells in the immune system, and that the chemical can activate an immune response.


Further down

This suggests that serotonin may restore a healthy immune function in people who are depressed and prone to infections.

On the flip side, it is also possible that serotonin, and serotonin-boosting antidepressants, end up bolstering immunity to the point that they trigger autoimmune disease where the body attacks itself.
A few photos of the garden
Brassicas growing.
Compost bin with recycled green party signs.
The smaller of the two new tanks.

Bicycle frames with passionfruit growing up
Basil, broadbeans and peas growing.
Radishes growing
Outside of the new hot house

Inside of new hot house. Everything was recycled apart fromthe nails, the plastic came out of a rubbish bin. Newly planted bed and scare-crow
Celery and beetroot growing.
Newly planted lettuce



Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Our Ecosystems

To the person who found my blog by searching "do we need to stop destroying our ecosystems" the answer is....... yes. We have already substantially lowered the carrying capacity of this planet for almost all animals and this trend is only speeding up. The sooner we halt the destruction the better for all organisms and the higher the quality of life possible for humans.

On another note I'm getting quite interested by some of the oppurtunities for my place, I'm thinking of getting bee's (Dissapearing Bee's is freaking me out). I want to get a few chickens, both to recycle our food waste and provide compost but also to heat my hothouse. And i'm beggining to collect aquatic plants for a large pond I plan to turn our pool into. And I hope to start growing mushroom and brewing my own alcohol over the next few months.

These are all real steps to lowering my impact on the planet and gaining the skills and knowledge nessacary for a transition to a sustainable way of life. I'm confident that even on a quarter of an acre I can provide a substantial amount of food and other products sustainably.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Some vids

Short term gain, Long term loss.

In our current system long term thinking is all but impossible. Our economic and social systems are probably intentionally geared to discourage long term thinking. The media never discuss the effects of our current behavior on people living in one or two hundred years discussed. And one or two hundred years is a relatively short term mindset. If we were to give equal weight to the lives of people born in say 2107 then we would have to seriously reconsider what actions we take right now.

Why I think this is important is I think the same sort of thinking dominates left wing politics and mainstream environmentalism in New Zealand. I think all our campaigns are focused on short term gains with no thought to the long term. If we took into account the workers in say 2060 then I think we might see some serious opposition to climate change by unions.

The tension between workers and the environment is very much a short term tension. Viewed over a slightly longer timeframe it is pretty obvious that destruction of the environment is bad for all workers. It is only when we limit the discussion to the present that we can argue about whether or not we can have power plants, cheap food or cars with a straight face.

In the long term what is best for us is what is best for our land base. But the transition to a sustainable way of living would hurt. So our culture as a whole and most left wing protest is still aimed at maximizing our lifestyle at the present with little or no regard for the future.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Busy

Things have been busy around the property recently, I have rebuilt the hot house entirely, built a proper compost bin, bought two water tanks and got a lot of our winter vegies planted. I will post some pictures and other stuff I have been up to in the next few days but until then here is something I wrote the other day. Its grossly simplified so hopefully it is more understandable. I have made a lot of generalisations in it for the sake of space.

Civilization

Civilization can be defined by the rise and growth of cities. Cities initially arose around the Fertile Crescent a once lush area in the Middle East. The rise of city was a direct result of agriculture and the domestications of grains and several other crops. Because these crops produced large amounts of food in a small area they allowed people to form permanent settlements. As these settlements increased in size laws and governments became necessary to manage the large numbers of people in one place.

A convenient and accurate definition for a city is a group of people living in large enough numbers to require the importation of resources. As cities grow their immediate surroundings are denuded of resources such as timber or land on which one can grow food. As a result cities are forced to get these resources from a greater and greater area. Because the cities and in turn countries require these resources to continue if those in the surrounding area such as indigenous will not give them the resources voluntarily then they must take them by force. This pattern of destruction of land around cities leading to the destruction of indigenous for resources has been the hallmark of civilization.

Our civilization is built on agriculture and a narrow range of domesticated crops. Agriculture as it is currently practiced allows for a huge amount of food to be produced and exported to cities but this comes at a great cost. Modern agriculture strips away topsoil and nutrients and slowly but surely turns fertile land into desert. It is impossible to have our current cities without systematically destroying our land waterways and other nonrenewable resources. Traditional, sustainable forms of agriculture generally require people growing their own food where they live; this is simply not possible with out cities.

Since the industrial revolution we have become more and more dependant on a narrow range of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are now used to make all our fertilizers (natural gas) pesticides and herbicides (oil) to transport our food (oil) and to power our homes (coal). As well as relying on fossil fuels for our food supply all plastics and synthetic substances are made out of oil. If we were forced to give up our addiction to fossil fuels then civilization as we know it would be completely unable to exist.

As cities and civilizations became larger hierarchies arose to manage and control irrigation projects, cities and taxation. Religion and patriarchy also became a more prominent way of controlling people. In a city almost everyone we interact with is a stranger this makes law and social control mechanisms necessary to regulate our behavior. Interacting with hundreds of strangers daily we must suppress our inborn distrust of the unknown we must deaden our senses to the rush of new faces and sounds around us.

Our planet cannot sustain civilization as indefinitely, our land and oceans simply cannot go on providing food forever. Our current lifestyle and food supply is built on cheap oil, this must end if global warming it to be halted. And if we are serious about building non – hierarchical societies then we must limit our communities to a size where everyone is able to play a part in local decision making.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Outclassed.

I just found out how completely outclassed I have been by my brother which is great. It turns out he has a dumpstering route which he does every week with six of his friends and occasionally his youth group, they get an entire bootload of food which they spread out between themselves. My brother gives most of his food away.The kids at the school which he is doing social work at have taken to calling him dunkin donuts because he brings all the day old dunkin to school and gives them out. So last night he got 20 bags of jaffas dozens of cans, boxes of vegies and heaps of bread.

This is something I would never have expected from my brother who has always tended to mock or ignore my beliefs, now he is adopting them and is getting better at some of them than I am. It started a month or two ago when he turned up and asked me about whether dumpstering was illegal or not and what to do if security turns up. Now he's better and more experience than me at dumpstering, who would have thought?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Random Images


Their have been two points I have kept coming back to lately with a strangely disparate range of conversations and topics.


The first one is that even though I hate this culture I will not hate myself for living in it, I and everyone I know has been forced to make choices we dont want to make such as the jobs we have been forced into working. We have been raised and indoctrinated and have struggled for years to overcome what we have been taught to believe. But I won't take responsibility for the system I have been born into and I think it is counterproductive to feel guilty about the choices we have been forced to make. Instead we should pour our time and thought into bringing this system down and creating a new fair and equitable society.

The second thing I keep coming back to is that indigenous knowledge i far more advanced than our own. That the "highest" achievements of our culture come nowhere near the beauty or knowledge nessacary for person living a sustainable life.

I will probably write a lot more about both of these but its interesting how often they seem to come up.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Wicked Video

Just came across this, its actually really really inspiring.

Signs of collapse

Across the interenet several sites I read have been discussing the poor state of the U.S housing market. It seems abundant loans given with little collateral combined with slow growth in the housing market have caused several major lenders to go bankrupt. It looks like a government bailout may be nessacary and if the current trend continues then the entire housing and finance market may be in for a sudden and rapid decline. A much more lucid and interesting acount can be found here or here.

On another note I'm thinking my predictions made several years ago of a 2012 peak in oil production may be realistic. Change seems to be speeding up and while the economy is still flourishing the indications a collapse are becoming more and more evident. If one wants international travel or some of the other desirable things provided by ociety I would advise you to get in soon.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Cynicism

I quite like cynicism, heres an excert of a post I came across here by the legionnaire - a religous studies post grad I met on a Youth Union camp.

Our music is disposable; we have no legendary stars. Our counter culture is over-the-counter culture, sold to us. Our activism makes little or no difference. Our environment continues to sicken, poverty is still getting worse. Here in New Zealand, being at University isn't usually about learning for the sake of learning, it's about starting a career, getting a job, making an investment for our future. I have half-baked theories that I can barely summon up the motivation to share with like-minded people at sit-around-and-bitch activist meetings. Even typing this up is an effort.
Biofuels


really interesting post about the likelihod that we will pour our remaining fossil fuels into dead end energy sinks here on The Archdruid Report. Something not touched upon but which I'm interested in is the use of algae as a source of fuel particularly as it appears to be something which can be done on a small scale with little advanced technology using waste products.

A short part of it the essay

"Of the dozens of good examples in the daily news, the one that seems most worth noting right now is the economic blowback set in motion by the US government’s attempt to bolster its faltering petroleum-driven economy with ethanol. As corn and other grains get diverted from grocery stores to gas tanks, commodity prices spike, inflation ripples outward through the economic food chain, and the possibility of actual grain shortages looms on the middle-term horizon. More than twenty years ago, William Catton pointed out in his seminal classic Overshoot that the downslope of industrial society would force human beings to compete against their own machines for dwindling resource stocks. His prediction has become today’s reality."
Random thoughts


There are currently a few rich and many poor on this planet. For the rich to maintain their current standard of living the poor must be systematically oppressed and their ability to live sustainably must be destroyed. Similarly for the rich to maintain their current standard of living the environment must be systematically destroyed.

The planet has limits, we cannot continue destroying it forever, we cannot extract non – renewable forever. The rich will not be able to maintain their current standard of life forever. Indeed I think they will not be able to maintain their current standard of living for long.

To build a world based on equality and a fair share of resources we cannot consume as we currently do in the west. Furthermore for a fair distribution of resources which does not preclude any future generations survival we must consume sustainably.

To continue our current standard of lifestyle it to preclude any future generation from a chance to live a healthy, rich life. Continuing to strip mine our oceans and land bases, toxify our environment and destroy our climate is fundamentally immoral, both due to the effects these have on humans currently living hose yet to live and the other inhabitants that share this planet.

There is no distinction in the long term struggle for human rights and the rights of the planet. We cannot have one without the other. To focus solely on increasing material standards of living with no regard to the environmental effects of those actions on the planet is a narrow minded self defeating path. Humans can only have a free and humane existence while living sustainably.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Anti smacking legislation


Just read Capitalism Bad: Tree Pretty's report on the anti anti anti smacking march I'm glad only 480 people turned out in favour of smaking and that most of those were christian fundy's. Growing up with christian fundamentalist parents and with most of my friends parents christian fundy's I know that christian discipline is used as an excuse for angry parents to beat their kids. I and most of my friends had at various times had beatings excused as smacking with at least one of my friends sustaining injurys from the so called loving christian discipline. As a child I attended services where international evangelists espoused the need to "dare to discipline" and was taught that violence against children was completely justified. The christians that are marching in support of smacking are marcning in favour of archaic beliefs which cannot be justified. The schools that shut down to send their kids to it if anything like the schools in Auckland have a primary purpose of religous indoctrination and if like those in Auckland have archaic views about sexuality, gender and violence. As long as our society is ok with violence directed at children then christians and abusive parents will get away with beating their kids.

Thinking about how much I hate christian fundamentalists here's a track by Bill Hicks.

Thought about the Meat Conference


I spent the weekend chasing a bunch of rich mostly men in suits around Wellington as they went from workshop to workshop about how to destroy the planet more efficiently and for more profit. About how to sell more toxified flesh to passive consumers, about how to greenwash and brainwash consumers. The conference they were at was a celebration. It was a celebration of one hundred and twenty five years of poisoning our land so people on the other side of the world can eat the flesh of animals they will never have to know.

The conference was guarded by two dozen police; these were well drilled, heavily equipped highly trained state forces at the conference specifically to defend against two dozen unpaid unarmed demonstrators. Two dozen people that have dedicated a major portion of their lives in defense of threatened ecos`ystems and tortured animals. The only weapons we had were our voices and our placards. Including security at the conference venue and the Gibson security – (a company which specializes in defending against demonstrators) then we were numbered. Including delegates we were easily outnumbered 4 to 1.

Throughout the weekend these people in suits were followed round Wellington, and other businesses profiting from the murder of animals and the destruction of the planet were also visited. When we stood their with our placards they laughed and sneered at us. They laughed at some of the most graphic illustrations of animal cruelty I have ever seen. If we had been allowed to talk to them and we had done so quietly I’m sure they would have laughed when we talked about climate change, deforestation, fertilizer levels, animal cruelty and the exploitation of a low paid workforce. I think this because every time we have talked to someone directly profiting from animal abuse they have either politely ignored us or laughed.

Those addressing the conference are aware of the effects of their industry. Jim Anderton a politician who addressed the conference is directly aware of the effects of the industry. But because they value profit above all else they don’t care. As long as the destruction is happening elsewhere as long as they can push it to the back of their minds they as long as they continue to profit they will continue their actions.

So rather than being laughed at, rather than passively expecting them to listen to us we forced them to. We screamed at them, we woke them up, we followed them around. And by the end of the conference a lot of the participants had been shaken by our presence be cause we had not passively allowed them to enjoy themselves, we had forced them to take notice. The people in the conference won’t listen to rational dialogue, they won’t listen to our peer reviewed studies, they won’t listen to the streams and rivers poisoned by their industries or the waves lapping ever higher on our beaches. The only time they will listen is when they are forced to, and in our society that means that we will be hunted down by those in power. That we will be monitored, ringed by cops and ignored by the media.

I cant shake the feeling though that no matter how much we scream at these people in suits, no matter how much we talk to them that we are still screaming at a brick wall. I think this was reaffirmed the day after the conference when a socialist literally said “I would happily destroy this planet if it would give humans a higher standard of life on mars” Another activists who works on a wide range of issues such as women’s rights was saying similar things and was comparing our protests to those of ant abortion protesters. These opinions might be slight exaggerations but not much. For whatever reason we live in a society which implicitly accepts the destruction of the planet for profit and which is never ok with fighting back.

People need to come to identify with their land bases and with each other, we need to value the land we live on and the people we live with. I don’t know how to make this happen. I don’t know how we defeat an industry which is supported by everyone in power and half the activists in our community’s. How long do we have to talk, how long do we have to scream and at what point will people listen? Do we have to take every person in our society and walk them through streams poisoned by agriculture, do we have to take every person and walk them through slaughterhouses?

On the drive home I was ranting like this when another person in the car reminded me, there are billions of people who are not benefiting from the current system, that even in our own country there are a large number of people that are not profiting from the destruction of our ecosystems and that those who are profiting are only able to continue with the aid of institutions designed to silence thought and to enforce control over those that would bring about change.

It is in defense of the majority of inhabitants of this earth that we must act. We must work to destroy the institutions and power structures that make the ongoing destruction of the planet inevitable. And we must be smarter and fight harder than those that are being paid to stop us.