Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

Farming with nature

February 13, 2014

From “fir tree desert” to model permaculture farm.

Preserving the commons

September 26, 2013

On The Commons is a “commons movement strategy center.” It provides a great deal of useful information via its website, newsletter and magazine. A recent post describes Legal Structures for Protecting the Commons. You can read it here.

Our sick society and how to cure it.

January 12, 2011

In light of the tragic shootings of last weekend, my friend and fellow Tucsonan Dave Ewoldt has some words of wisdom to offer. This statement was taken from Dave’s blog.

Press Conference Statement by Dave Ewoldt

I was invited to speak today at a press conference organized by the peace, justice, and sustainability community to examine the tragic events of this past Saturday in Tucson that left six people dead and 14 more wounded. Representatives from 14 groups delivered prepared statements. Following is mine.

My name is Dave Ewoldt, and I’m the executive director of Natural Systems Solutions. Our work emerges from the field of ecopsychology, and one focus is the use of natural systems principles to facilitate the transition into a sustainable future. It is in that context that I prepared my remarks.

We are exhibiting many symptoms of a very sick society. Foremost today, of course, is that we’re destroying our one and only life support system to continue an entirely irrational system of infinite economic growth on a finite planet. But, there’s another symptom of our cultural pathology that I want to address today.

The rhetoric of hate and fear is propagated and enticed by the only interests that it truly serves–elite power and control hierarchies. These special interests maintain their control by keeping us divided against ourselves. Whether you are a member of the Tea Party or the Progressive Movement, the problem is not big government, but bad government–a government that has been bought by corporate and financial interests that put profit and power before and above people and planet.

Today’s so-called conservative movement, which it should be apparent has nothing whatsoever to do with traditional values that seek a better future for all–that has both Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt turning in their graves–has adopted the language of war and retribution; a language that seeks to settle differences by “targeting” and “taking out” your opponents; a language that normalizes violence, aggression, and exploitation for personal benefit; a language that divides and pits us against each other in order to keep us too distracted from where the problem really lies.

We are a culture that sanctions death. We illegally invade and occupy sovereign nations that don’t play along with our business interests, and use unmanned drones to drop bombs on civilian populations. We are the arms dealer to the world. Our death… I mean defense… industry and prisons are the only growth sectors left that we don’t outsource and off-shore in our economy.

But what is most important to realize in a culture that has lost its way is that there is an alternative to all this that we could consciously choose. While it may sound strange to ears long accustomed to the story of scientific reductionism, materialism, and separation that has emerged from Enlightenment thinking, the alternative follows known patterns of mutually supportive ecological relationships that have been working quite well for billions of years to keep the project of life itself progressing. This alternative starts by no longer allowing those who act against our best interests–against the best interests of life itself–to dictate the terms of the debate.

We could decide to focus on those aspects of being truly and fully human that work with the creative life force such as nurturance, compassion, cooperation and use our intelligence to focus our innovative spirit on creating a sustainable future. A future based on the principles of ecological wisdom, social justice, economic equity, and participatory democracy. We can no longer afford to continue denying that true justice cannot exist without sustainability, and without justice there will be no peace.

Otherwise, our days will continue to be filled with too many that resemble this past weekend. The choice is up to us, and change begins by making new choices.

How to defuse the population bomb

September 20, 2010

Here is another TED video in which Hans Rosling “explains why ending poverty – over the coming decades – is crucial to stop population growth. Only by raising the living standards of the poorest, in an environmentally-friendly way, will population growth stop at 9 billion people in 2050.”

Summer Newsletter (2010)

August 15, 2010

12 August 2010

Ubiquitous Northwest blackberries

O.L.D.

No, you haven’t missed anything; this IS the first newsletter I’ve sent out since April. Old Lazy Dog would happily spend all his time reading novels, watching movies, playing computer games, drinking beer with friends, wandering around, visiting family, and lazing around on beaches. I do a bit of that, but that’s not what life is all about or what the times require. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.

The Great Unraveling

No one likes to talk about, much less hear about, things that they consider “bad” or unpleasant. Gloom-and- doomer is a term that is often applied to someone who tries to give warning about some impending challenge. I say challenge instead of disaster because disaster is a judgmental term and the quality of our experience depends a lot on how we view it and our willingness to let go and accept what life brings us. Granted, some things are hard to bear and there are many things that I hope I never have to experience, but… Well, you get the picture.

What I’m leading up to with all that is the financial and economic “weather report.” I think I’ve gained some understanding of these things over the years, and I consider myself fairly well informed about the changing circumstances which leads me to conclude that we are now in the early stages of what I’m calling The Great Unraveling. When I wrote my first book, Money and Debt: a Solution to the Global Crisis, twenty years ago, I reported that our modern monetary system creates money on the basis of debt to which an interest/usury burden is attached, and that the compound growth of debt would eventually exceed the capacity of the real economy to bear it.

If you want to get a more detailed picture of this you can watch one of the many presentations I’ve given about it during the past few years. You’ll find several on my blog, Beyondmoney.net. The most recent presentations which I gave last month are not yet available, but there are several from last year. You might start with the one I did in Seattle last November (The direct link is http://vimeo.com/7490027).

I would also suggest that you pay attention to other sources whose knowledge and insights I respect. Among these are Ilargi and Stoneleigh of The Automatic Earth, http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/. Stoneleigh (a.k.a. Nicole M. Foss) gave a presentation in the UK in June which Aaron Wissner has made available at http://localfuture.org/stoneleigh.htm. I strongly recommend that everyone take the time to listen to it. I think the picture Stoneleigh paints is quite accurate and her short-range predictions are almost certainly correct. If there is one thing I might take issue with, it is what might be expected to happen over the longer term. There are numerous factors that are converging to reshape our world. What has so far been lacking is a process by which the various perspectives can be adequately combined to discover likely scenarios and formulate effective responses.

One thing seems certain to me; civilization is at a point of historical singularity. While there are similarities with past situations (like the Great Depression), it would be a mistake to think that things will play out as they did before. I’ve been talking lately about the emergence of The Butterfly Economy, and if the metaphor is anywhere near the mark, it seems worthwhile to study the way the metamorphic process works in nature. In my view, the old Caterpillar Economy is finished, done, kaput. It is disintegrating beneath our feet. The basic question now is “how do we channel the resources of the disintegrating caterpillar economy in ways that will support the emergence of the new Butterfly Economy.” I gave a talk on this subject just two weeks ago in Portland. No, I don’t have all the answers, and my talk just barely scratched the surface, but I am pretty confident about the direction we need to take.

The bottom line for me at this point is the urgent necessity for action to restore resilience to our communities by learning to share, cooperate, and organize as never before. We need to spend locally, save locally, and invest locally. We need to apply our dollar resources to projects that:

  • Make the local community more self-reliant.
  • Provide greater local security in food, energy, housing, water and other necessities of life.
  • Improve the overall quality of life.
  • Protect our savings against inflation of the dollar.

Along these lines, alternative financial consultant, Susan Boskey asked me a few weeks ago to write something about investing for her newsletter. The short article I wrote titled, Investing in Uncertain Times, expresses my ideas about our current situation, and my advice about how to better use our resources in this time of transition. I’ve posted it on my blog at http://beyondmoney.net/2010/08/03/investing-in-uncertain-times/.

And, of course, we need to reduce our dependence upon banks and conventional money by organizing private exchange systems that can be networked together to provide an interest-free and inflation-free means of payment, while making credit reliably available to local productive enterprises.

Northwest Tour, July 23 – August 4

The Portland presentation I alluded to above was part of a tour of the Northwest. When I was invited a few months ago to go to southern Oregon to meet with local exchange advocates, we agreed that late July would be a possible timeframe. I put the word out to my network and it developed into a two week tour with the following itinerary:

1. A public lecture in Medford on The End of Money and the Future of Civilization,

2. A workshop in Ashland to assist the southern Oregon group in advancing to the next stages of their project,

3. A public lecture in Eugene similar to the one I gave in Medford,

4. A public lecture in Portland titled, The Butterfly Economy: How communities are building a new world from the bottom up. In Portland I also consulted with the Xchange Stewards group, which I have been advising since last year. The Butterfly Economy lecture covered a broader scope than the others and included advice on how people might allocate their spare cash to promote local energy and food security in ways that can also provide a hedge against inflation.

5. A Cashless Exchange Colloquium in Seattle that brought together individuals and groups that are either operating or planning exchange systems in Oregon, Washington, or BC.

BALLE conference and Eastern Tour

Toward the end of May I travelled east for about three weeks to visit family and to participate in the annual BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) conference which was this year held in Charleston, SC. I was on a panel with Derek Huntington of Sonoma GoLocal and Jenny Kassan of the Katevich Law Group in Berkeley. Jenny has created a dialog group called Cutting Edge Capital Raising. It is billed as the place to talk about capital raising for small community businesses. It is open to all who wish to participate and you can sign up at http://cuttingedgecap.ning.com/.

Localized small-scale Production of Ethanol Fuel

An unexpected outcome of the BALLE experience was a meeting with Christapher Cogswell who is an associate of David Blume in a startup company, Blume Distillation, LLC, that will manufacture small-scale ethanol production units. I had, up until then, not regarded ethanol to be a viable alternative to gasoline as a motor fuel but after Christapher explained the many advantages of small-scale localized production, I came to realize that communities might gain a great deal from producing their own ethanol for fuel.

Subsequent correspondence led to David Blume’s visiting Tucson and his presentation at the downtown library on July 19. David is the author of the book, Alcohol Can Be a Gas!, a massive book that provides a wealth of information on all aspects of ethanol fuel production and use. The localized approach has the potential to solve virtually all the problems associated with our addiction to petroleum. That’s a bold statement, but David is able to back it up with hard facts and an amazing knowledge of permaculture, history and the politics of technology.

Dave’s talk was inspiring and informative. (Be sure to view his videos at http://www.permaculture.com/).

At that event a number of people expressed interest in pursuing the possibilities of ethanol fuel for enhancing local energy security, so now there is on ongoing discussion about it. I’m enthusiastic about a local ethanol production project because it fits in with my ideas about community economic development and resilience. We need to invest our local resources in local value creation, not in competing with other communities to attract outside interests that are more interested in exploiting rather than improving our community.

Viewed in a broader context, a local ethanol production facility might be created by a local investment cooperative or LLC that would aggregate small amounts of savings and investment capital to establish enterprises that produce food, electricity, affordable housing, and other necessities. Besides his encyclopedic knowledge of the technical aspects of alcohol fuel, Blume has lots of knowledge on how to properly organize an LLC to produce it.

What’s next?

I’m honored to have been invited to participate in the International Commons Conference, which is being jointly organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation (http://www.boell.de/foundation/about-us.html) and the Commons Strategies Group, to be held in Berlin on November 1 and 2. According to the Foundation website

The Heinrich Böll Foundation is part of the Green political movement that has developed worldwide as a response to the traditional politics of socialism, liberalism, and conservatism. Our main tenets are ecology and sustainability, democracy and human rights, self-determination and justice. We Are a Green Think Tank and an International Policy Network.

This will be my first visit to the Continent since 2005 and I am pleased to be returning in connection with such a worthy effort.

Let us be thankful to be living in these exciting times.

Thomas

Thomas H. Greco, Jr.
PO Box 42663, Tucson, AZ 85733, USA
Website: http://reinventingmoney.com
Blog-Beyond Money: http://beyondmoney.net
Blog-Tom’s News and Views: http://tomazgreco.wordpress.com
Photo Gallery: http://picasaweb.google.com/tomazhg
Skype/Twitter: tomazgreco

Security and Survival

August 10, 2010

I don’t like to think about it either, but in conditions of instability and disintegration, it is only prudent to give some thought to possible scenarios and acquire some basic knowledge that you may need.

I am very impressed with the quality of the advice provided on the Survival Podcast. This latest episode addresses the topic of  Security During a Breakdown.

Here’s a description from the website:

We are going to look at a bit of a darker subject today.  We are going to discuss security and not security on a day to day basis against say robbers, thugs and general low life.  We are going to discuss secruity and security planning for large scale and long term break downs.  Today’s show was prompted by Episodes 1 and 2 of season two of Discovery Channel’s show “The Colony”.  I have watch thus far in disbelief at how little attention the people on that show have paid to security and how little they understand the threat and honestly survival as a whole.

Today’s show won’t be totally based on The Colony, it will simply use it as a jumping off point so even if you haven’t or don’t plan on watching it today’s show should be a good one for you.  Security is one of the five primary components of survival and the one that is most overlooked, often not an issue but the one that when needed can get you killed in a milisecond.

Join me today as we discuss…

  • The five primary components of survival
    • Food
    • Water
    • Shelter
    • Fire
    • Security
  • Understanding the threat to your safety
  • Consideration about where you “make your stand”
  • Six methods of attack mitigation
    • Appease
    • Impede
    • Repel
    • Evade
    • Misdirect
    • Terminate
  • Identifying the weak spots
  • The lesson of 300 – Funnel an enemy to counter large numbers
  • How and why guns change the entire equation on both sides
  • The importance and difference between security “protocols” and “procedures”
  • Splitting up resources – no central storage points
  • Developing and deploying decoy resources
  • Developing timberlines and evac plans

I highly recommend it. A little bit of forethought can make a big difference in the quality of your life, in any situation. — t.h.g.

Resilience and Local Self-reliance: Can Cuba Teach Us Something?

August 2, 2010

The embargo has had profound effects upon Cuba, not all of them bad. Watch this for a hint.

You can get a more complete picture by watching the documentary, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

Toxic chemicals used to disperse oil in the Gulf amidst secrecy

July 14, 2010

In his newsletter of July 13, Ian Crane reports on the effects of the toxic chemicals being used to disperse the Gulf of Mexico oil leak. He says:

The dispersants causing greatest concern are COREXIT 9500 and the even more toxic COREXIT 9527A. Corexit 9527 is stated by its manufacturer to be potentially harmful to red blood cells, the kidneys and the liver. The chemical 2-butoxyethanol, found in Corexit 9527, was identified as having caused lasting health problems in workers involved in the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. According to the Alaska Community Action on Toxics, the use of Corexit during the Exxon Valdez oil spill caused people “respiratory, nervous system, liver, kidney and blood disorders”. Like 9527, 9500 can cause hemolysis (rupture of blood cells) and may also cause internal bleeding.

He also reports on the attempted cover-up, saying:

Despite researchers, reporters and news crews being threatened with felony charges if they should persist in taking photographs or filming the oil-soaked wildlife and shoreline, and being threatened with immediate arrest and jail if they report on clean-up workers being hospitalised with respiratory difficulties; word is filtering out. The vast majority of US-based vacationers are already cancelling any plans to head towards the affected states of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida in the coming months. BP has already paid out almost $40 million  in compensation to small businesses in these states and is expecting to receive further claims in the coming months.

So, what can we do about it?

About the spill itself, the options of individuals and communities are very limited, but we CAN do something about our need and demand for gasoline and petroleum-based products like plastics, pesticides, herbicides, etc. Last night we hosted in Tucson a presentation by David Blume, author of the book, Alcohol Can Be a Gas!, who described the many benefits of small-scale local alcohol fuel production. This approach has the potential to solve virtually all the problems associated with our petroleum addiction. That’s a bold statement, but David is able to back it up with hard facts and an amazing knowledge of permaculture, history and the politics of technology. -t.h.g.

Is this the future of urban transportation?

May 30, 2010

The Yike Bike is one of the most ingenious inventions I’ve ever seen. Watch this short demonstration.

http://www.yikebike.com/site/gallery/video/yikebike-discovery-channel

Assuring Food Security

March 10, 2010

Michael Brownlee’s presentation on The Local Food and Farming Revolution is a “must read.” In it, he clearly outlines  the things we must do to assure our future food security and sustainability (along with the reasons why). Here below I have excerpted his conclusions.–t.h.g.

Clearly, the food and agricultural revolution is already getting underway. Fundamentally, it’s not about simply about lifestyle choices or mere differences in values. It’s arising in response to a growing predicament that is at the heart of our industrial agriculture system and the heart of our globalized economy.

This transition is coming whether we like it or not, whether we’re ready or not.

I know there’s a lot of controversy around all this, and a lot of emotions. I suspect a lot of dust is going to get kicked up along the way.

Much of the debate seems to hinge around the goals of sustainability seemingly interfering with farmers’ and industry’s goals of profitability. But sustainable agriculture must of course include economic viability. And that doesn’t necessarily mean “big.”

We sometimes hear “small farming” used as a pejorative term. Small organic farmers often get pigeonholed and tossed aside as a probable relic of the past.

But at the 19th annual Farming for the Future conference in Pennsylvania earlier this month, Bryan Snyder, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture said something very significant, and I want to close with his words. He said:

“People like to hear about lots of acres or large numbers of animals and bushels of corn per acre measured in the hundreds. But models of farming that can gross $50,000 to $100,000 on a single acre—or CSA programs that, in some cases and on relatively small acreage, are able to count their customers in the thousands and bank $1 million or more in the spring before even planting a seed—are anything but small!”

Snyder’s conclusion is exactly what we have come to at Transition Colorado:

“We must encourage everyone, wherever they are and as a priority, to eat food produced as near to their own homes as possible. Secondly, feed thy neighbor as thyself. From this perspective, local food not only can feed the world, it may be the only way to ever feed the world in a healthy and just manner.”


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 718 other followers