Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Well, I never finished my last entry—maybe I’ll get back to it one of these days (maybe not).

I’m recovering from food poisoning after eating some bad sushi rolls on Thursday. It’s been interesting. During the nights I’ve been drenched in sweat and full of delirious dreaming, or at least very vivid dreaming now that I’m no longer feverish. In the course of all of this dreaming, all of these little bits of memory from childhood have come up—things I haven’t remembered in forever. There have been all sorts of past life things. There have been insights that have floated up (can’t remember them now, but they feel very close to the surface, so I’m sure I haven’t lost them). And I have received what seems to be guidance about various practical things (like my blogs and the car). My perceptions feel clearer and the world seems fresh and full of possibilities. It almost seems as if this illness went in and cleaned out some cobwebs.
It makes me think about where our consciousness comes from. Some people speculate that we’re not really us, since we’re mostly made up of bacteria and other foreign critters. Rather, we’re the sum total of all the critters comprising us. Maybe my shift in consciousness is not a result of the illness but actually the contribution of the bacteria (or virus) itself. Strange way to think about it, yet it makes sense. Any addition of critters to my bodily ecosystem creates change, so it’s sensible to think the change could filter up to consciousness. In that case, I thank the critters for their contribution.
I might be sensing that one of the insights had to do with paradigm shifting. I just think that in my delirium I was shifting between many different ways of perceiving reality, so the entrenchedness of our current paradigm seems absurd. Why is everyone so attached to this paradigm? We have an infinite number of ways we could express ourselves and human society—why cling so tenaciously to one that’s so dysfunctional and unpleasant?

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve—and not only that, but it’s also a blue moon. I guess it’s time for me to reflect back on the year (and the decade, if I get around to it) and plan for next year (and maybe the next decade)[and maybe even the next half of my life].

I feel like we’re on the brink of societal collapse. It seems important to focus on the positive things we can be doing so that the transformation will be less chaotic. That’s what I’m going to be working on.
This past year I began to feel a much more urgent need to learn skills that could help me become more self-sufficient. These are skills I’ve always wanted to learn, but it’s all begun to fell urgent nowadays. I expanded the garden and was able to can and store a lot more food this year for the winter. Not nearly enough, but at least it’s made a noticeable dent. Next year one of my goals is to start a serious food storage effort. I want to have at least a year’s worth of food always in reserve and more than that if I’m able. For the coming year I’d like to buy a good supply of beans and grains and other staples (salt, sugar, vinegar,…) and then can and dry and store as much garden produce as possible.
My burning need is to disengage from the system. The system is making life on earth unsustainable and as long as I continue to participate in the system I’m a guilty party.
How do I more fully disengage? By taking back a lot of the responsibilities I’ve delegated to others, particularly nameless, faceless corporations. I certainly can’t do it all in the coming year, but I feel confident I can in the next ten years.
I really like all of the new initiatives that have been springing up in the past few years. There is an increasing group of people awakening to the true reality of our time.
The Transition Town initiative is an interesting movement. It was started to help prepare towns for peak oil, but I think it’s much more broadly applicable to all of the crises we’re facing. I think the financial crisis is a much more ominous worry—like possibly in the next few months. We really need more time to re-build resilient communities.
I’ve been giving considerable thought to my town of Snyder. I actually think it has a lot going for it and if society collapsed we may actually be a very cohesive community. We’re small enough, old-fashioned enough, and skilled enough to potentially pull together quite well. Most people already garden and many have backyard livestock of some sort. We could grow most of our produce, plus eggs and small-scale livestock, and the surrounding farms can produce grains. I think we could all look out for each other quite well, and do alright.
In the next year I’d like to get hens and meat rabbits, and all of the accoutrements I’d need. I’m planning to expand the garden to 800 square feet at least and get the soil tested and amended. I’m planning to grow oats and get a grain roller, start nixtamalizing my own corn to make homemade masa, hopefully finally get a pressure canner AND finally clean out the storm cellar. I hope to order some bulk grains and beans in February through a Denver-based bulk grain sale and buy a bunch of buckets for food storage. I plan to get suitable crocks for making sauerkraut. Ideally I’d like to get a high quality grain mill, but I’m not sure that’ll happen this year. And I’d like to finally put up a clothesline.
I’m no longer buying any disposable products except toilet paper, and any clothes I buy (besides underwear) are secondhand. I’d like to learn how to knit socks so I can make several pairs of durable and warm wool socks for Collin and me. Store-bought socks nowadays are so cheap they’re almost worthless. I think manufacturers purposely design them to wear out as fast as possible.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Khatru died yesterday, aged 17 years, 4 months, and 12 days. It was a rather beautiful death. I got to wake up with her beside me (she’s been sleeping with me, snuggled against my chest, for about the past month because her body could no longer keep her warm). She was still alive but her body seemed to be completely paralyzed. Even so, her eyes through very subtle shifts of focus were responding to everything I said. I talked to her and stroked and kissed her for about half an hour, then told her I was getting up to fill her hot water bottle. When I got back a minute or so later her head was torqued back and she wasn’t breathing. She spasmed a few times and her heart stopped beating a few minutes later. It almost seems like she waited for me to wake up so I could say good-bye to her.

We had to borrow John’s mattock so we could dig a hole in the frozen ground. It wasn’t easy. Collin and I tag-teamed to get it done.
It seems very strange without her here. I spent more years with her than anyone else in my life except Mom and Dad—and with them it was only a few months longer. So the energy shifts yet again in the house.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I woke up exceedingly groggy this morning and my morning coffee hasn’t helped me feel any less dazed (yet). It’s been bitterly cold, but at least this morning the sun is shining and the weather system that brought snow the past few days has cleared out. It was supposed to get down to -9 last night, but when I woke up this morning (although not until 7:30) it was 10 above, so I don’t think it got quite that cold last night. Yesterday it didn’t get above 10 all day.

I’d like to write about Albrecht’s book but my thoughts are so cloudy this morning—we’ll see how it goes. I haven’t read all of his book, but what I’ve read has been almost earth-shattering for me.
Forgive me if I get some facts wrong here—I haven’t internalized the information yet so I could easily garble it.
He explained of course how mineralized soils led to plants with high mineral and protein content and likewise how low-mineral soils led to plants high in starches and sugars. He also explained how soils age and that when temperature and humidity increase, aging happens much faster. In areas with high rainfall, such as the northeast US, soils age rapidly.
In his first few chapters he included these really fascinating maps of the US. Obviously the most fertile (and mineralized) part of the country is what we call the nation’s breadbasket. The most infertile section is the humid southeast. One thing I had never realized is that forests spring up on old, depleted soils. That should have been obvious—trees are all cellulose. And the lushness of Pennsylvania is really all about plants being all about carbohydrates rather than proteins and minerals.
The subdued nature of life here on the plains is actually healthier. Mineralized plants grow much smaller, but concentrate much greater nutrition. The conservative way life expresses itself here is a sign of health.
Fodders grown in the east are only good at fattening cattle—not for raising healthy cattle.
On a hunch I looked online to see if I could find a map which shows the distribution of diabetes in the US.  I was shocked when I found one—it totally matches Albrecht’s maps! I wasn’t sure I would find such a close correspondence, since our diets aren’t very local anymore. Maybe it’s a total coincidence, but I don’t think so. Maybe it’s what’s in the water (or not I the water) rather than the food that makes a difference. Most water is local—even soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi are bottled regionally. Maybe there are enough regional foods—dairy and produce perhaps—to allow the soils to express themselves through the people. It’s shocking and fascinating and brings me right back to—what else—environmental determinism!
We are expressions of the land—and only as healthy as the land itself. That Hamaker fellow I quoted the other day believed that the glaciers were responsible for mineralizing much of the land (by crushing and distributing rocks over vast distances) and that because we are so far into an interglacial period we’ve largely depleted our supply of minerals.
There would then be a cycle of health and disease on earth, it would seem, that would correspond with glacial advances and retreats. We are currently in a dying or disease part of the cycle.
The implications of everything Albrecht wrote seem enormous. It will take me awhile to trace the paths of all of them.
One thing I’m wondering about is the Fertile Crescent and the advent of agriculture. When those first grains were cultivated, the land there must have been highly mineralized. Those would have been very high protein, mineral-rich crops. Healthy humans grew out of that soil and civilization grew from it too. But eventually the land was depleted (actually salinized is what I’ve heard). Then what happened—marauding, pillaging, conquering. Everyone fighting for resources. Haven’t we simply been fighting for protein and minerals? And haven’t people with the most protein and minerals been the most dominant cultures? It’s Jared Diamond all over again. The tropics are all carbonaceous—cellulose and starches. They have starchy root crops, woody nut crops, no grass crops (except sugar cane?).
For cultures to be strong enough to maraud and conquer they needed protein-rich food. Is this true? Or were they marauding and conquering because their own supply of protein was dwindling and they were trying to find more?
It’s clear to me that in order to have healthy humans we need to have healthy soils. If we all were eating healthy, mineralized foods I’m convinced the true potential of our species could unfold.
More and more I’ve been thinking lately that I might not want to move back to Pennsylvania after all. This new part of the equation—the health of the soil—adds another factor to my considerations.
Appalachia is artsy and creative—very expressive in other words—like the rampant growth of foliage there. All sky energy.
Colorado is understated in its expression. It’s aging very slowly because it’s so arid, so there’s not as much going on here. The soils are more mineralized—there’s more earth energy here.
Where would the ideal blending of earth and sky be found? It seems it might be somewhere a little wetter than here—where soils age faster and there’s more going on—but somewhere drier than Pennsylvania.  Probably it would be smack dab in the middle of one of Albrecht’s maps.
Of course if I’m growing all of my food and doing so in re-mineralized soils, I could do that anywhere. But simply because I would be getting a healthy balance of earth and sky isn’t enough. The whole culture surrounding me matters, so I would want that to be healthy too.
And I wonder, if I found a place that perfectly balanced earth and sky energy, would that also be a place where new paradigms wanted to be birthed?
(Ooh—the outside temperature right now is -3.3. When I though it said 10 above earlier, it must have actually said -10.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

In William Albrecht’s book, Soil Fertility and Animal Health, (which I was able to download for free) he says this about corn:”Corn, another of the grasses, can have considerable concentration of nitrogen. However, the introduction of its hybrids has reduced that while the starch and fodder yields have gone up. Hybridization has been the equivalent of pushing the physiological performance by the corn plant down to make it duplicate more nearly those of sugar cane. By this manipulation we have pushed the crop’s production of protein nearly down and out for growing young animals.”

But I found a quote in John Hamaker’s book the Survival of Civilization (also a free download) that seems to contradict what the woman said Charles Walters said in Eco-Farm regarding hybrid corn being unable to take up trace minerals. Hamaker said:
“In the summer of 1977 a corn crop was grown on soil which was mineralized with glacial gravel crusher screenings. The corn was tested along with corn from the same seed grown with conventional chemical fertilizers. The mineralized corn had 57 percent more phosphorus, 90 percent more potassium, 47 percent more calcium, and 60 percent more magnesium than the chemical-grown corn. The mineral-grown corn had close to 9 percent protein, which is very good for a hybrid corn.”
Hamaker also said:
“Virtually all of the subsoil and most of the topsoil of the world have been stripped of all but a small quantity of elements. So it is not surprising that the chemical-grown corn had substantially less mineral content than the 1963 corn described in the USDA Handbook of the Nutritional Contents of Food. The mineralized corn was substantially higher in mineral content than the 1963 corn. Hence, as the elements have been used up in the soil, a poor food supply in 1963 has turned into a 100 percent junk food supply in 1978. There has been a corresponding increase in disease and medical costs. Essentially, disease means that enzyme systems are malfunctioning for lack of the elements required to make the enzymes.”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The guy who writes the soil minerals blog I love (I think his name is Michael Astera) finally had some new posts this month.  He doesn’t post often, but when he does it’s always good stuff. (He also has a website which has a lot of good info too.)

Anyway, one thing he said caught my attention. In previous posts he’s pointed out that one of the (few) benefits of conventional agriculture is that if a consumer eats some broccoli that was grown on minerally-deficient soils from one location, he’ll also likely be eating, say, peppers that were grown on mineral-rich soils somewhere else.  Because conventional agriculture brings foods in from such far-flung places, as long as you’re eating a good variety of foods, you’re unlikely to become deficient in essential minerals. But if you’re growing all of your own food you stand a very good chance of developing deficiencies since the spot you choose to farm is unlikely to have optimal levels of everything you need. That’s why re-mineralization is so important. What he mentioned in his recent posts concerned grazing animals. He said that in the past we used to hunt grazing animals who regularly migrated vast distances, thus eating from a wide variety of soils. Now all of our animals are confined to relatively small acreages and so they can’t achieve a healthy mineral balance.
Think about it—all of the vast herds of animals that once covered the earth, now dwindling and dwindling and confined by human developments and fences, limiting their range. Unable to freely migrate, they can’t become the fullest and truest manifestations of who they’re meant to be, and earth and sky can’t fully meet within them. And then we eat them and we’re imbalanced too. Animals instinctively know what they need for optimal health, but when they’re penned in they can’t migrate to find it.
Then someone in the comment section said the following, “I read recently in Charles Walters’ Eco-Farm that test after test has shown that hybrid corn is not even able to take up trace minerals from the soil.” This sort of ties in with my question of whether sweet corn is sweet because it grows on minerally-depleted soil. Would it be less sweet on optimal soils? Apparently not. It seems that hybridization has so damaged it that it can’t even access the soil minerals now.
All very interesting stuff. I want to learn more.
Next year I want to test my soil and re-mineralize it and get a Brix refractometer so I can chart my results. It would be fun then to start a garden service to test people’s gardens, write soil prescriptions and help them maximize nutrition in the things they grow.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

I’ve been sick the past few days with the flu bug that’s been going around, so I’ve just been bundled up in bed with a stack of books.  Two of the books seem very important and I need to spend more time reflecting on what I read.  I caught myself dreaming about the one book last night, so my mind is definitely trying to work something out.

The book I finished last evening was Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators, by William Stolzenburg. It documented many examples of “trophic cascades”—chain reactions initiated by the loss of top predators, spreading throughout the food web and bringing down entire ecosystems. It’s very scary stuff.
For instance, when we eradicated the deer’s predators we created a cascade leading to the loss of countless other species in those habitats: songbirds, bears, orchids, trillium lilies, cedars, whole forests…. In many places which have been studied, up to 80% of species have been lost due to the overpopulation of deer. What remains is a severely altered and dying ecosystem—only the ‘deer-proof’ species, like “poisonous snakeroot and stinging nettles”, can survive at ground level. And the density of deer is also responsible for the epidemic of Lyme disease in the human population.
One of the most interesting parts of the book concerned the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone. The whole ecosystem had been disturbed once wolves were eradicated in the 1920s. The elk population skyrocketed, causing massive damage to the ecosystem.  No new groves of aspen, willow, or cottonwood had been able to spring up in seventy years—any new shoots would immediately be grazed.  Riverbanks were eroding with no vegetation to hold them in place. Bird habitat was destroyed, beavers were driven away.  But once the wolves were re-introduced all of that began to change.  The willows began to spring up in lush thickets along the river, surprisingly quickly. The number of wolves seemed too low to account for such a rapid rebound—they just weren’t killing enough elk yet to have that kind of impact on the vegetation.
What the researchers figured out is the most interesting part of the whole book.  The willows were coming back because of fear.  When the elk had no enemies they browsed indiscriminately, everywhere. Once they had an enemy again their old survival instincts reawakened.  They recognized certain types of terrain to be dangerous and thus began avoiding them.  Mostly these places were river bottoms, stream courses, or other incongruities in the land that would cause them to slow down during a chase. A wolf, who is so much lighter and more agile than an elk, doesn’t need to slow down nearly as much to accommodate changing terrain and can catch up with an elk more readily in such places.  So when the fear returned, the willows returned—in river bottoms and other places that posed a hazard to the elk.  Once the river bottoms repopulate with willows it’s expected to have a (positively) cascading effect—halting erosion, bringing back songbirds and beavers, fish and amphibians and aquatic insects, etc.
In another part of the book a French ecologist, Jean-Louis Marten, studying an archipelago in which some islands were free of deer and others overrun by them said, “For me it was sort of a major light bulb which came on.  Suddenly what I realized working there [is] that carnivores are mainly not animals which eat prey but which change the behavior of prey.”
Fear is the glue that holds the world together, or used to. No critter likes fear, and all creatures seek safety, but only we humans have developed the power to eradicate fear. By wiping out predators we feel safe, yet it is a false sense of safety because it is untenable. Without anything to fear the world falls apart.
We’ve wiped out the predators, thus changing the behavior of vast numbers of species, including ourselves. We need to occupy niches constrained by fear. How can there possibly be hope for us or the planet now that we have the technology to make guns and other extremely efficient weapons of death? Our instinct is to create safety for ourselves, and if easy technology is at our fingertips to do just that, we do it. Eliminate the wolves, the big cats, giant raptors, bears, etc. No need to live in fear. But no fear, no world.
What is fear? Beyond emotion, beyond a chemical response in the body, what is it? It seems to be a necessary part of the metabolism of Gaia, a key regulatory function.
It seems ridiculous to think we could bring back fear to the human population. Not without total societal collapse. That’s what the world desperately needs though. Without it we’re doomed.
When I imagine the world full of predators again, it’s a beautiful world. We would live like the !Kung again, a part of the ecosystem, participating, being both predator and prey, co-evolving.
We humans don’t co-evolve anymore and what does that do to the intelligence of the planet? It dumbs it down. Eventually it will kill the planet.
Imagine if we had fear again. If we had fear we would learn how to be present again. Our powers of direct perception would be honed. Our ecosystems would have natural constraints and limits which we would easily recognize. Our human endeavors would arise from the land, co-expressions of place.
A more bizarre thought wants to come through too. Something about the co-evolution of us and predators. We co-evolve by behaviorally influencing each other and by jointly influencing our environment. My bizarre thought is that maybe by us never being preyed upon anymore, the predators miss out on something vital they need.  I’m thinking about the food web and how human bodies are the only bodies largely exempted from passing through the gut of carnivores. It gets to my thoughts about the energy of foods—how I learned that herbs each possess unique energy which changes us when we ingest them and how easy it is to extrapolate that everything we consume, animals included, imparts a unique energy or unique qualities to us. So likewise for the predators—everything they ingest helps to form their identities.
Humans (largely) are no longer ingested by anything other than microbes. It seems intuitively important to me that human bodies inform the bodies of other animals by passing through their gut, and by transforming our flesh into their flesh. I realize no science yet exists to show that this matters—the closest “science” would be the field of nutrition—but I think there’s something here. Each living thing concentrates its own unique interactions with the environment into its flesh—that flesh is consumed and it impacts the consumer. Yes we can reduce it all to calories and fats and proteins and carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals and maybe in an elementary way that’s all it is—but maybe not.
What do we know about what happens in the gut? We know that most of our immune system resides there. Why is that? Our immune system has the job of recognizing and responding appropriately to our environment. I’m sure what it finds passing through the gut can trip epigenetic triggers that turn gene expression on and off. I believe we are profoundly shaped by what we ingest.
Back to the issue of fear again. Fear creates diversity—more niches and more species. An elk-free thicket of willows is a pocket-sized niche—a diminutive ecosystem which evolves its own flora and fauna. Humans on the savannahs of Africa knew to avoid thickets, which might be hiding lions, so those were human-free thickets. What evolved in the thickets was surely different than what evolved in the surrounding open lands where humans modified the environment with their hunting and gathering activities and their mere presence. Diversity is a direct effect of fear.
It seems like humans have never come to terms with physical manifestation and what that entails. By physically manifesting we enter a compact that requires us to participate in the intricate dance of eating and being eaten. Life is a process of energy being transformed by death. We try desperately to opt out of that compact—killing off all the predators so we can’t be eaten and even trying to stave off the microbes as long as possible after death by shooting our corpses full of preservatives. But if we’re here in physical form, that’s the compact. Without it, life isn’t possible.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I had a dream last night that we were moving to a new house—a large beautiful log house nestled among forested hills, with a huge yard with plenty of room for gardening and for some animals.

Moving to a new house is a recurring theme in my dreams. The dream is always set in Pennsylvania, and the house I’m moving from (my house) always ends up being Mom and Dad’s house.

In this dream at varying points I was my adult self, my seventeen year old self, and my twelve year old self.

The only odd thing in the dream was that in the old house we were leaving behind a lot of stuff I thought we should be taking. The attic was full of stuff, mostly toys. I thought if we were selling the house to a family it would be nice to leave the toys for them, but we were selling the house to a baseball association.  I found some of Grandma's afghans in the attic as well. I wanted to at least keep an all-white one, but had trouble getting to it because I spotted a huge black widow spider. Grandma was there in the attic with me.

The thing that vexed me the most was that we hadn’t taken any of the dressers. I complained to Mom that I wouldn’t have anywhere to put my clothes in the new house. She suggested a cardboard box, but I was complaining how ridiculous that seemed when we had all of these dressers. Jamie had a gorgeous, tall antique chest of drawers. She was talking about how perhaps she could get $150 for it if she sold it. I thought it would make a perfect dresser for me if only I could convince everyone else to move the dressers to the new house.

The dressers obviously symbolize something. Mom and Dad’s house (my childhood home) has always symbolized my Self, and these moving dreams always seem to be about moving into a newer Self, in this case also a more expansive self.  Dressers contain our clothes, which we use to don different forms of self-expression. But it wasn’t that I’d be without clothes, it was that I’d be without a container to hold them. And a cardboard box wasn’t good enough. I wanted something beautiful, with character and the patina of age, like Jamie’s dresser. Even my dresser (from childhood) is probably, technically, an antique now. Any dresser would’ve been better than a cardboard box.

I was arguing vehemently that we need to have beautiful containers to house our self-expression, our various forms of self expression--but what does that really mean? If I move into a more expansive Self, I still want a beautiful container to house my various forms of self-expression. Each form of self-expression I don, each persona, is not me in my totality. All of those various expressions, together, should be a thing of beauty. But even all of those are not all of me. The whole house represents the whole Self. The dresser only represents the various aspects of self which manifest discretely.

The toys in the attic--they represent playful spontaneity. I wanted them to go to children who would fully engage with them—not to a baseball association—where play has become rigid and overly formalized.

And Grandma’s afghans….as far as I know, she never did crochet an all-white one. The color white contains all other colors, but is an absence of color as well. What does the afghan represent? It represents my connection to Grandma of course—to memories of my personal past, what’s gone before. It’s an item of warmth and comfort; it represents love. The purity of love. And how love contains everything. The afghan is made up of both matter and empty space—yarn endlessly looping back upon itself and interconnecting with other parts of itself. The form of it is created by the intersection of matter and emptiness. (Earth and sky?)

Back to the symbolism of the dresser. The dresser I was most drawn to was tall, wide, but narrow from front to back. In proportion and styling it reminded me of a Shaker piece—simple, and elegantly understated.  But the finish on it was not Shaker—it was very rich, had beautiful depth, perhaps it was a wax finish which had been painstakingly built up over many years of attention. This seems to represent myself as I’m currently manifesting—in this context of voluntary simplicity.

Another interesting thing was Mom’s cardboard box comment. It was implied that the cardboard box would be one left over from the move. So I would’ve been basically living out of a box, as if the move were only temporary. But it wasn’t meant to be a temporary move. There seems to be symbolism there about living outside of the box too. A cardboard box is ugly—that was a big part of my objection to it. I wanted to live in a beautiful space.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My newest thought today about how we might save the world?  Do nothing.

This paradigm has been about too much “doing” anyway. All of the activists out there, doing this, doing that—they’re acting from within the current paradigm and that never works.

Our destructive society has arisen as a natural process of the earth, and earth will always evolve back towards balance sooner or later. We’ve swung so far out of balance now—reached total unsustainability —that the only way for things to go is to swing back towards sustainability.

How will that happen?  We simply can sit back and allow it to happen. In fact the end of Western society is already underway. The financial system is utterly unsustainable—it may only have a few months left. Total economic collapse is what will bring us back towards balance.

All of our problems—greenhouse gases, peak oil, overpopulation, etc.—will right themselves when modern society collapses. No, it likely won’t be pretty, but the earth will eventually return to balance.

At the same time that I’ve been getting this vibe lately that we’re on the brink of collapse, I’ve also been getting a vibe that a new paradigm is about to be birthed.

I keep finding more and more people scattered across the web who are awake as I am and have learned how to be authentic and present—these are the people who will first express the new paradigm. It’s already staring to eke out through them. Our job isn’t to dismantle civilization—there’s no need. Civilization will dismantle itself. What we need to do is to birth the new paradigm—show people what lies ahead for us, lay the groundwork, create the vision.

But it needs to be a practical vision. Post-collapse, we’ll need to be practical. Re- localization, taking back control of our food supply, building community—these very basic things will be of the utmost importance. It would be really good if we could somehow manage to maintain global inter-connectivity—although I don’t know how likely it is that the Internet will survive. Without it, we run the risk of forgetting things, becoming alienated from each other and regressing to a sort of tribalism—us and them all over again.

We need global connectivity—that’s the only blessing to have come out of globalism. It should be a priority that of all things, connectivity is the one thing we preserve on a global scale.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I get closer and closer to the end of this journal—must mean a new chapter of my life will soon begin. I wonder what lies in store?

The weird vibe I’ve been getting lately makes me wonder if the next chapter isn’t going to be about total societal collapse. Economically we’re teetering on the very edge of the abyss.

It’s unnerving.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I’m having a new thought tonight. I haven’t had time to work with it so it’s still very undeveloped, but I wanted to jot it down so I don’t lose it.

I’ve been so frustrated that we haven’t found a way to tackle all of the “converging catastrophes” we face. We haven’t found that crack that would let us enter into a new paradigm. The old paradigm is a sinking ship still trying to charge along at full speed, but all the while taking us all down with her. Stopping the madness seems impossible. How do you topple the system?  And not only topple it, but have something even better to replace it with?

Tonight the new thought has to do with not how to bring about change, but where to bring about change. I was thinking again about the land and the unique energy of each place. I was thinking about Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel, and how Diamond believes that unique features of the land brought about the domestication of animals, the rise of sedentary lifestyles, city-states, eventually colonialism, etc. When I read the book I remember being depressed—it made a pretty convincing case that the rise of Western society was an inevitable and very organic process of the earth.

Tonight I am wondering—if there were propensities held in the land which led to the rise of our Western culture, might there not also be propensities held in the land that might give rise to the next paradigm?

Are there places in this world which would be conducive to birthing the next paradigm?  Are there places which possess the right “personality” for that?  Are there places that are already small-scale success stories?  Are there places more conducive to evolving or expressing solutions?

I need to think about this more—not tonight, too sleepy. But if such places exist, we need to work with those places and help to expand the solutions so they can work globally.

What are the geological features that would birth of post-consumer, post-ego paradigm?

Or, another way to think about this would be to have every locale do an inventory of its “personality” traits and learn what part of the solution it might be able to give birth to. I’m sure each locale has its own particular strengths—each locale might have something to contribute to a global solution.

I’ve got to give this more thought.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

We’re having a cold October. It got down into the low twenties the past two nights.  The garden is done.  I’m not even sure the chard made it through. When all is said and done the tomato harvest was 241 pounds. I could’ve gotten more if I had picked all of the green tomatoes but I let them go into the compost.

It was a good year in the garden. I canned tomato juice, tomato sauce, marinara, ketchup, hot sauce, salsa, and three kinds of pickles, froze tomato paste, pesto, zucchini, chard, and green beans, sun dried (well, oven dried) a batch of tomatoes, dried oregano, coriander seeds and dill seeds.  I’ve got a string of garlic, the small pile of butternut squash, beets still in the ground, piles of cantaloupe and watermelon (although mostly they didn’t ripen). I still have tomatoes on the counter, the giant bag of hot peppers to deal with, more chard waiting to be frozen and basil to be made into pesto.  Is still have to dig the last of the potatoes. Collin has a mountain of gourds (plus I donated all but one pie pumpkin because they just didn’t get big enough to bother with).

The failures this year were lima beans (again), the potatoes (darn grasshoppers), cabbage, and peas (I got a good harvest of snow peas, but only one serving’s worth of shell peas before the frost hit). The onions did poorly too. The sets I planted had their leaves snapped off by wind and hail so they didn’t bulb out very well, and the onions I planted from seed didn’t grow fast enough to produce full-sized bulbs.

But all in all it was a great year.  I can’t believe the season is over already. Next year will be even bigger and better. And next year I’ve GOT to get hens and rabbits.  That’s a must.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I’ve been getting really bad vibes they lately about the stability of our society. That’s on top of my regular doom and gloom about climate, population, and the environment. Despite the official line of bullcrap we’re hearing about the recession being almost over, I don’t believe we’ve even begun to see the worst of things. I still think we’re heading for something absolutely catastrophic—far worse than the Great Depression. They keep pumping fake trillions into the economy, as if that could possibly create any real change. It’s mere slight-of-hand. What’s the point of any of that when the dollar is totally worthless?

For so many reasons the time is now or never for converting to a steady-state economy. But it won’t happen.  The machine is too big. The only way it will happen is through catastrophic collapse of civilization, with the survivors having to rebuild from nothing—and who’s to say those survivors will be smart enough to do it right?

Personally I would like to survive the coming collapse just for the adventure of it, but at the moment I feel very ill prepared.

My most immediate goal is to deal with the food issue. I’d like to have a year or two of staples stockpiled. I normally have at least a month of food on hand simply because I tend to only do one shopping trip per month. But one month’s worth of food isn’t going to cut it. I need a big stockpile of beans, rice, flour, sprouting seeds, salt, yeast, sugar, etc., etc. I need a grain mill and a pressure canner. I need rabbits and chickens.  The list goes on and on. I need to practice foraging.  I need to learn about hunting and trapping. There’s so much to learn and acquire. Fortunately this is stuff I’ve always wanted to learn and do. Even if everything were peachy in the world at large, I’d still be working towards self-sufficiency. This just adds a sense of urgency to the process.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I was reading back through here and came to the section where I was puzzling about the weather last year—trying to figure out how I could be the same phenomenon as the weather, as my vision suggested. I think I’ve figured it out—it’s the metabolism thing. “The metabolism of the grass and the metabolism of the horse are one and the same”. The metabolism of the human being and the metabolism of the weather are one and the same. We represent the metabolism of Gaia.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I was thinking about the John Livingston essay again and his idea that we “downshift” into the egoic self. I had a different way of conceptualizing it flash in my mind. It kind of reverses the whole concept. I pictured the energy of Gaia as a ground beneath us, the energy of our immediate environment as another layer above that, then maybe our collective humanity as another layer, and at the top (and farthest removed from Gaia) would be our individual consciousness and ego. Expanding our consciousness is just merging back down into earth consciousness. I like this conceptualization better, because “upshifting” seems to imply effort and a striving for a new state of being. But my concept feels more natural--a surrender back to the ground of being from which we emerged.

Each individual and each living thing is an apex coming out of the ground of being, or Gaia. At the peak of the apex is that little dot of self and ego. We look all around us and it sure looks like we’re all little isolated dots. We just forget to look beneath our feet. If we did that we’d see we’re still firmly connected to something larger.