“On Monday May 20th, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell is planning to introduce a hemp amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill. Because both of our Kentucky Senators have already pledged to support this issue, I’m reaching out and asking for your help around the nation!”
Sourcing: Once you have broken down a dish or product, especially with food, to its basic ingredients, you can then find either commercial versions that are natural, organic and local, or start making your own by growing the plant associated with that ingredient. This give you, the consumer and cook, much more control over what you eat and drink.
I arrived back in Sonoma on April 10, 2012. I began immediately looking for gardening and landscaping work, putting off a Ron Paul voter registration drive in Santa Rosa, and put aside any articles I had planned on doing. As I spent a week looking for work, with mild success, I decided that, as I had on my trip, instead of worrying about money (that which I was working to transition beyond), I needed to focus on my work and that money would come from that (as I’m not stopping looking for work, just not stressing over it).
I was at a friends house for dinner when she mentioned Transition Sonoma Valley was having a movie night the next day. Perfect!
I hopped on a Sonoma County Transit bus for my very first time (I grew up here even), and headed down to the Grange to watch a Permaculture movie with like-minded folks. I got to the Grange a bit early so I helped the group set up and took the opportunity to talk to a few of the members. As you would assume, there were quite a few farmers and landscapers present, so I was able to get in that I was looking for work and got some connections going. Over the next couple days I started hearing back from other farming and gardening for barter inquiries I had sent out.
What is Transition?
During my stay in South Carolina I had the chance to rest at a couch surfing host’s house, which he called a “Transition Homestead.” On site he had a two building (built by him and his brother), a greenhouse, a tree house, a rabbit cage and gardens, a black smith forge and a garage that was regularly used to fabricate metal and machines. On neighbors property he had extended with a duck and chicken coop and more gardens. Another neighbor was offering to let him grow an orchard on their land.
The over all goal was to produce all the food him and his tenants needed to eat (or enough to trade with neighbors for what else they may want), have the utilities to fabricate tools and machines, and have enough custom work to make enough money to pay his mortgage and bills.
As I continued my trip I ran into a “Transition Town” project in Washington DC. With them I helped work on a community garden. In Philadelphia, the group I worked with called “The Simple Way” could very much be considered a Transition group, as they were working to building up a run down neighborhood, building a community garden and fixing up buildings, while being staple members of the community.
That is the basic, immediate step, that Transition is trying to accomplish. Transition is a movement geared toward creating an alternative society where we simply create an abundance of resources and share them freely. Where we learn to alternative practices and industries that will free society from markets, economies, industries and corporations. Maybe even governments.
In my article series “2012 Enlightenment Theory” I cover the alternative practices that will help us Transition into a more prosperous and peaceful society. Instead of Agriculture; Permaculture. Instead of proprietary software; Linux open-source software. Instead of manufacturing industry; utilizing technologies such as 3D-Printing and Open Source Ecology. These are the practical steps the transition movement is trying to accomplish.
What I learned on my trip, working with different people pushing to this goal, that the most important chance we must make in the transition movement, is not a practical step (as important as they are) but a spiritual, or social, change. We must genuinely value the goal of the transition movement and make the cognitive changes to adapt. We must let go of possessiveness, let go of ego, and learn to give and share freely. We must value progress over profits. We must take full responsibility for our state of being and our choices, and not blame others; including corporations, government, or society.
Once an individual is able to free themselves of the old cognitive system that has prevented progress from occurring, then all the practical solutions will open up. Everywhere I went people were talking about some aspect of the “Transition” whether or not they understand the entire picture. Every group I went to, or individual activist I met, I found myself sharing one, or a few, of the different aspects of the “Transition.” I’d share Permaculture with political activists and open source technology with organic farmers. The goal of my journey was to share the holistic approach to transition with as many people as possible. Toward the end I found, as I mentioned before, that it is a cognitive change that is holding us back. Once we can learn to communicate with each other, all of the other practical concepts present themselves. I learned how to build a rocket stove from a fundamental Christian activist I met doing political work. If we were unable to communicate due to our difference, we wouldn’t have been able to share the practical information that we both needed.
How Do We Transition Sonoma Valley?
First thing anyone can do is to attend one of the group meetings and meet the people that are already working on the transition. If you can help with one of their projects that’d be a great start. Most groups right now are focused on creating as much Permaculture systems in their communities, creating local currencies (Sonoma Jacks), and getting people connected.
If you want to get started before a meeting, simply start talking to people about these ideas. Look into some of the concepts and figure out a project for you to do at home (converting to Linux, building a can rocket stove, starting a small garden, building a rain water collection system, going to a local political meeting, etc.).
Aside from that there are a number of specific projects that could be worked on;
Any Community Garden (Larson Park for example)
Transition style classes at the Community Center
Local political campaigns
Neighborhood and creek clean-ups
Replacing weeds with succulents and fruit trees on public lands
Sonoma Jacks are a concept for a local currency. Local currencies are great for stimulating a communities economy and getting people one step closer to “Transition” where central systems no longer manage our lives, nor have monopolies over trade.
It doesn’t appear however that Sonoma Jacks got released. The site hasn’t been updated with any release information since its planned release of July 4, 2011. From reading comments on the site (their contact form was non-functioning), it appears as if funding for initial print has been keeping the project from launching.
Transition Activists interest in this project should see what they can do to help move the printed currency out. Likewise, in the mean time, other Activists, perhaps those interested in Sound Money, could start minting Copper Jacks through the AOCS Mint. That way we could have two Jacks circulating; one paper, one Copper (potentially we could mint Silver and Gold Jacks). Both groups can work together to provide two forms of local currency that will help ensure economic independence for the Valley.
I love this adventure of mine! I set off from California nearly half-a-year ago in order to get involved in the political revolution taking hold of this country and to spread the concepts of the social and ecological revolution I had been observing. My main goal was to share concepts with people that were already fairly involved in some aspect of what I refer to as the “holistic social revolution.”
With libertarians I share Linux, with farmers I share 3D-Printing, with Yoga practitioners I share the Green Party, with everyone I share Permaculture. That was my plan; what I have found is that equally others have a lot to share with me. A Ron Paul activist in northern-Florida shared with me the Rocket Stove, and just now, a Couch Surfing Host shared with me the Window Farm. As I keep moving forward in this movement everything starts to complement each other. The Window Farm is only a slight variation of the Aquaponic Systems I worked with at the Farm in Florida. But like so many new technologies and approaches, it doesn’t seem simple until someone shows you it.
Started by a lone food activist is New York City, the Window Farm Project has grown and spread around the world. How can we grow food in a City setting using low-cost, low-carbon emitting, processes? While the use of any backyards or patios you can gain access to is encouraged, the fact that we are clinging to such small work spaces is proof that we can use as much additional space as possible; enter the window!
One of the comments on the video above mentions the use of water from the fish tank to “fertilize” the Window Farm. That is exactly what I was thinking as I watched the video. In Florida we had helped complete a closed loop system for their Aquaponic System. Fish tanks “created” the water used in the system, a worm bed outside of the Greenhouse fed the fish, and compost from the farm fed the worms; of course, the plants growing in the system fed the farmers.
Transitioning into a healthier diet habit doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your kitchen. You can easily start eating healthier by starting with the staples you eat on a regular basis. The “nutrititarian” diet suggests that we should prioritize foods that have the most nutritional content per calorie. In that case, Kale, a leafy green, is perhaps the first food we should start with. It is easy to grow, harvest, prepare and eat. If one would simply start by introducing Kale as a regular staple in their diet, they could radically improve their health.
In addition to being the first thing to add to your healthy diet, Kale is also a great plant to grow as your first part of your home garden. You can grow a small amount in a planter on your porch, and plant some in soil or in a garden bed in your backyard. Because of it’s value as a dietary staple, having it in your backyard where you can harvest and eat it fresh is a great way to make sure you add it to your salads.
To understand what plants to grow and where to grow them you must understand two things about your property. Your hardiness zone, and your Permaculture Zones. Hardiness Zones are zones based on 10 degree differences in winter lows. Your hardiness zone helps prevent you from growing plants that will not survive the cold of winter in your area. Hardiness zones do not correlate directly with latitude but do loosely correlate with Climate Zones.
Climate Zones may seem very basic, but I think it is important to understand them as part of the whole, so excluding them is not desirable. If you are unfamiliar with Climate Zones, the equator, tropics and the orbit of the Earth, then check out this video briefly.
Hardiness Zones are meant to help guide plant growers in understanding which plants will survive in their region. This is based on a number of factors, but primarily on the plants ability to withstand the coldest winter temperatures.
While Climate Zones and Hardiness Zones are based on temperature, Permaculture Zones are based on proximity to the Home and frequency of use. Plants you must tend everyday are placed closest to the Home, and those that need less maintenance are place further away from the Home. Permaculture Zoning is traditionally broken down into five zones.
There is so much each of us can do if we put our minds and hearts to it. By simply occupying a piece of land you can begin to grow food, house friends, open space for yoga and Tai-Chi, put together a workshop to build tools and machines…the potential is endless. If land is not available to you there are dozens of projects you can work on in your community to make it a better place for everyone.
I’m not suggesting that by doing these things alone all of the world’s problem will go away. However, if you fill your day with positive work, the problem’s of the world will seem less overpowering. You will meet others that are productive and the potential to solve the world’s problem will begin to appear possible. By spreading these concepts to other communities and across the world, individuals, families and communities can lift themselves out of poverty and begin to build the society we all want.
Occupy The Land
Here are two examples of how a group of people gaining access to even a small plot of land can have a massively positive effect on the community around them. In Kansas City, the most blighted Zip Code in the U.S. a group of farmers have been able to reduce crime while they grow food for families in the area. In Jordan, the Permaculture Research Institute of Austrailia has been able to change the entire direction of Middle Eastern Agriculture, even as their original project fell apart other’s inspired by their work spread it throughout the region. These are true stories, and anyone can do this any where in the world. It is up to you whether or not you take on this work or whether or not you spend your day protesting and pointing fingers.
If you do not own land, you can work with others to purchase property together. You can find a friend that owns land and offer to help him use it to produce food, water and energy. You can work with your City to start a Community Garden. You can find willing farms through WWOOF to work on and help out. If you have the desire to take back the land you will be able to find a way to do so.
By being a part of your community; talking to your neighbors, helping out projects, starting community gardens, gathering resources for school children, and by simply being available and not distracted by the numerous superficial and apathetic options, you can do great things and change the entire outlook on life for you, your neighbors, and those that see what you are doing for them. In Philadelphia a small group of activists bring it back to the basics, back to community, to helping out your neighbor, and focusing on what is truly important: life.
These are just a few examples of people making a difference. Too often we let pessimism get in our way of progress, we let the temptation of large scale, top-down, reform distract us from the small scale, bottom-up, solutions. To often we turn on the television as default until the night is over. All it takes is taking a step back, turning off distractions, and having a conversation with a neighbor. It is about letting go of judgments, letting go of sarcasm and angst, letting go of pessimism, moving beyond hero worship and not waiting for the perfect solution to do all the work for you.
The Revolution will not be televised because the Revolution will happen within yourself. It is when you take responsibility for your place in the world, when you accept that it is the small everyday actions that will result in sustainable change, not massive social reform through big government; which requires more and more power to maintain. The Revolution is when you realize that it is not other people’s responsibility to solve the problems you see in the world. When you realize that the power to change has always been yours to take, or yours to give away. The Revolution is when you stop pointing fingers, stop wasting time with those that disagree with you, and start building the society you want with your friends and family, with your neighbors and community. The Revolution will not be televised because the Revolution is a choice you make about how you see the world around you, and how you place yourself in it.
Let us put aside religious prejudice, put aside rhetorical arguments, and put aside our fear in exchange for love. Let us love the land and love our community. Let us love our lives and love ourselves. Together we can make the world a better place if we just remain confident in our resolve.
Chickens are an invaluable partner in farming, both rural and urban. As stated in the Wikipedia Permaculture entry: “Chickens can be used as a method of weed control and also as a producer of eggs, meat and fertilizer.”
In this article I want to share a few videos on how to incorporate chickens into your farm-garden in order to help produce more food for you and your community.
It is important to build your Chicken Coop so that it allows for your chickens to walk freely around any alloted area, that it is easy to clean, and that the eggs that are laid are easily accessible to you.
Chicken Tractors allow a farmer to easily relocate their friendly fowl onto areas of their garden, or farm, that they wish to have prepped for gardening. The chickens will eat pests, scratch up the ground, and even lay fertilizer onto the soil, in the process getting their own food while producing some for you as well.
Killing, Plucking and Butchering for Meat
Even if you do not wish to eat your chickens they still provide a great deal of food for you through their eggs. However, if you do wish to get meat from your chickens when their egg laying days are over there are ethical and respectful ways in which to kill them.
Tilling destroys top soil and kills the habitat in which micro-organisms thrive. No-dig gardening allows living soil to build and retain its productiveness. Permaculture’s main tenet is to create more production by doing less work and instead using natural systems and relationships to do the work for us. Nature already “tills” the soil through insects, micro-organisms, and root growth. In addition, sheet mulching passively kills weeds and makes use out of typical yard and house waste. Grow a bountiful garden and produce local food without digging or tilling.
Sheet Mulching and No-Dig Gardening
These concepts are very simple, the following are a couple videos that go over the reasons and practice of no-dig gardening and sheets mulching:
Here and some additional articles by other writers/gardeners. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you can’t really mess anything up by experimenting with sheet mulching. Take time to go over one of these articles or the videos above and give it a try. Doing is the best way of learning.
Mushrooms not only provide a great source of protein and minerals, they have a number of environmental benefits for our world and our civilization. Tho following are some videos on the practicality of Mushroom growth and how Mycelium can help save the world. Please take it upon yourself to do more research and find local experts.
Here is a great video on how to start Mycelium from store bought Mushrooms:
Growing Mushrooms in Compost
Use your compost pile to grow mushrooms and watch mushrooms spread through your garden:
Growing Mushrooms in Logs
Grow Shitake Mushrooms in Dead Wood:
How Mycelium Can Help Save The World
Paul Stamets explains how Fungi and Mycelium can help clean the Environment, stop viruses, promote ecosystems and even create fuel: