Tag Archive for 'permaculture'

SuperForest Revampalicious!

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Gooooooood Morning SuperForest!

Spam comments, writerly inactivity, and a general feeling of blah seem to have crept in and set up shop at this url.

What is this site, you may ask? What purpose could these words and images serve?

I myself have wondered that very thing multiple times a day since the site was created.

At first, the site was a place for me to store inspiring tidbits. In its “Team SuperForest” incarnation, SF was a rallying point for a motivated group of netters who wanted to connect and share and were excited about the “I am the environment meme.” What it is now is anybody’s guess.

So, let’s take it apart, examine the pieces, and put it all back together again!

The problem with SuperForest in its current incarnation is simple: It has no leader and thus no coherent point of reference. At one point in time, I was the leader and spent many, many hours online, sitting in front of a glowing box, uploading and downloading words and pictures. I no longer spend much time online. Online means indoors, looking at a box. I much prefer outside, in the garden, in the sun, putting plants in the ground and dealing with my new and improved SuperForest Social Network (aka, the people and things I see and encounter every single day.)

Gone are the days when I organized virtually. Now, I organize actually. Melissa and I spend the majority of our waking hours organizing the physical manifestation of the SuperForest, now called Stellar Gardens.

Meant as both a tribute and a life raft for our daughter Stellar, Stellar Gardens is what you would get if you took the Humanifesto really, really, seriously, and actively made the environment an extension of yourself. That means we’ve bought a five acre piece of land and are using it to create, refine, and share the techniques used to do it yourself. That means sharing this land with a number of families. That means creating a big old chunk of crazy and watching as it self-assembles into a working prototype. The work is still very much in progress.

Since I am no longer a digital ringleader and have transitioned to physical ringleader, the site has languished.

Great word: LANGUISHED.

Here’s what I’ma gonna do: Re-define things!

SuperForest is now going to be a site were we aggregate and share the behaviors we develop at Stellar Gardens. In addition, a new Humanifesto will update the document I wrote in 2000-ish to include all that I’ve learned in the past several years. When I wrote the Humanifesto, the SuperForest was a mere concept. I’ve since seen that SuperForesting is real and has real results. The site will show people the results of the behaviors that accompany SuperForesting. The site will lead the curious and interested to Stellar Gardens, where, if one so desires, one can come to learn firsthand our techniques for bridging the gap between consumerism and regenerative living. The chasm is wide, but not insurmountable, and we can help.

Team SuperForest will now mean anyone who has read the site and is in any way sympathetic to the cause. Participation will not be required. One can be a SuperForester and not even know it. To become an elite within the known echelon of SuperForesters will require taking part in the creation of an actual piece of the SuperForest. Whether that “taking part” happens at Stellar Gardens or at an as yet undetermined piece of land is up to each SuperForester.

So: SuperForest becomes the note on the bulletin board telling you that school has been dismissed early. Stellar Gardens becomes the forest that we laugh and play in as we re-learn how to be human beings in the absence of meta-cultural/familial conditioned responses.

There is a way out. Shoots, there are MANY ways out. If you want to exit, we can help. The other side is brighter and more fun than anything you can imagine. If it seems lonely at first, it’s probably because most SuperForesters are outside in their gardens, not clacking away online.

Soon the edges of the gardens will begin to meet. Already we’re seeing certain trends and patterns emerge: aquaculture, hugelkultur, permaculture, air lifts, passive water heaters, rocket stoves, community creation, emotional responsibility, Universalism. All these patterns are there for those with the eyes to see them.

This site should lead you physically to Stellar Gardens, and Stellar Gardens should lead you emotionally back to the SuperForest.

Question: How do you cool down a rapidly heating planet, steaming in a aerial broth of CO2?

Answer: Plant a shit ton of trees and plants.

Question: How do you encourage people to stop consuming and start producing (aka planting trees and plants?)
Answer: Point out how numbing, boring, destructive, and stupid-making consumerism is, while simultaneously highlighting the joys of SuperForesting.

Game on.

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Jackson’s Journal – The Delicate Diaphanous Dance

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Oh, this hilarious thing called life! This short rocket ship ride from end to end of the existence spectrum. Great, great fun.

To build community is my heart’s desire. To see my child surrounded by other children and to watch this pack of dancing, happy, laughing children careen from adult to adult learning and growing and being children together.

And why should this not succeed? It is not such a grand wish. A simple wish. To have a piece of land to call my home and to live there and be there and put my love and my energy into the soil. This is not such a very big wish. I should like this wish to come true. It would mean a great deal to me.

I have been so incredibly lucky in this life! To be born into this nice, straight, upright body, capable and quick, and to have the upbringing I did and the advantages I have enjoyed has been wonderful. I have enjoyed it. It would bring me greater enjoyment to share it.

I have been around the world, guest to many people in many countries. I’ve been so lucky. To see people in their homes, around their friends, laughing and being people, all over the world. We are all so very alike.

I want to build a piece of art on the land. An explosion of color and sound. I want this art to be a performance art piece involving everything and everyone on the land. I want this piece to have no clear objective, no set ending, no real rules other than this one: Be very happy and choose love.

What sort of world would happy, laughing, loving people create for themselves? What would they ask of their surroundings? How would they dance with the raw land?

That is the question that excites me.

What sort of world would happy loving people create for themselves?

YAYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-Jackson

The Sticky Human Conundrum – How Hot Water Worshippers Will Save the World

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Good Morning SuperForest,

In the three years that I’ve been playing the community creation/permaculture game, I’ve noticed one very important through line: water. Specifically, the shared access to clean, hot water. Hot water and how it is distributed is the number one factor in the success or failure of a community, and on a larger level a society as a whole.

Here’s why…

We humans are very good at leaking. We pee, we poo, we shed hair, we shed skin flakes. A great deal of the dust in our homes is made up of our dead skin particles. Our bodies are, let’s face it, smelly, sticky, often leaking things, and we must deal with that fact from the day we attain self-awareness to the day we die.

But our cities and the machinery that surrounds us are not based on this basic fact. They are based on the needs and desires of a consumer driven society. A society where you travel from home to work to grocery store to place of recreation and entertainment. But imagine for a second that all four of those places were the same place. Your home was your work, your work was your grocery store, your very home was a place of vast unending entertainment. You could, if you liked, remain comfortably and happily within the borders of your home all the live long day and still get time outside and in the garden.

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Obviously in this new paradigm we are using creative definitions of words like “home”, “work”, “grocery store”, etc. But let’s follow it through and see where it leads, and what it has to do with hot water.

Imagine a society based around two ideas:

1. That fresh, clean, drinkable water was our most precious resource.
2. That every human had, by simple fact of birth, equal right to consume and access this water.

OK, now let’s add to this freaky new society the data that we’ve gleaned on humans and their needs, namely that they need to drink clean water, irrigate with reasonably clean water, wash clothing and bedding, and use water for myriad industrial/manufacturing uses.

We see that this new water worshipping society would have some interesting design challenges on their hands. How do you factor in the need of humans to essentially pollute the water they come into contact with with the idea that water is precious, holy, necessary and must be kept clean to be useful?

The answer of course is creative design!

The answer in this case is in the integration with the human system of the garden system. Combine the human needs with the garden’s needs and everybody wins!

It could work like this:

You wake up, you get out of bed and go into the shower. The shower runs a mixture of recycled filtered water and filtered rainwater. Both of these were collected, stored, and filtered by the building you live in. The shower rinses your body clean and the water mixed with your sweat, skin, hair, fluids, and biodegradable soap flows through a grey water system which uses passive gravity and plant based systems to simply and effectively clean this water. You see, plants absolutely love things like pee, sweat, and soap bubbles. All the things that humans produce are what plants crave, and happily all the things plants produce are what humans crave, namely: food! Our mutual need for water unites us in a loop of self-reinforcing mutualism.

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The recycled water from your shower filtered through a grey water system that uses plants, microbes, and passive materials like sand and gravel to clean it. The water is then used in the laundry system, and then recycled once more into the garden. In permaculture we call this function stacking; in this case the function we are stacking is share and clever use and re-use of water. The simplicity of the system is delightful. From human to garden to human to garden, as long as the water passes from one to the next in the proper sequence, the theoretical yield of this wonderfully precious water is limitless. We could conceivably design our buildings (i.e. homes) to collect, store, filter, heat and distribute hot water. Our buildings could also house our gardens, baths, kitchens, and laundry systems. All systems that we humans share that require the use of water must be consolidated and streamlined with an eye towards creative re-use and shared access.

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Indeed, in order to succeed as a society, we must now set about changing our consumer based living system to a clean water based living system.

In order to do it, we need a critical mass of people to remove themselves from the consumer machine and create a viable life outside of it, a life based on the two ideas of the preciousness of water, and the inalienable right of every human being to access it.

Will you be one of the ones that breaks away? Will you opt out? There are ways to live outside of the system that are amazing and thrilling. The old ways are ending and new ways are needed. The old ways got us here, thank them, praise them, now let’s move forward. We have wonderful bodies that have needs. Our needs as a species are not being met by our current system, and so we need a system that works. That system will be based on these two ideas.

In a nutshell, that’s what three years of first hand study have taught me. You can reduce this incredibly complex issue down to that simple equation.

Clean hot water; do you have it, and where did you get it?

It is an entirely new world.

I love you. Have fun.

-Jackson

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Jackson’s Journal – Grandmother Wanted

 

 

Grandmother Wanted.

Somewhere out there is a grandmother sitting alone. Alone in a big house, empty of people, full of things and memories.

I would like to ask that grandmother to consider a trade.

Sell the big house, sell the items inside. Cash it all in and move out to Kauai. Rent a house near our land and get to know us. Let us build you a little Grandma’s cottage. Let us make you the center of our village life.

We are asking to trade support for support. You support us in buying this land and building this life, and we support you in reclaiming what is rightfully yours: Power, honor, respect, and a beloved place at the center of our lives.

Thank you.

 

Stellar Gardens Media Center Fundraiser ending in 33 Hours!

Gooood Morning SuperForest!

Melissa and I have had a very interesting couple of weeks since we launched the Stellar Gardens indiegogo campaign. We’ve learned a ton about what makes a project like this either work or not work. Wait, that’s inaccurate. Because often things appear to not have worked when they did indeed work, when I just waited a bit longer.

That said!

Our campaign ends in 33 hours, we’ve raised $9,505 of our goal of $150,000. All donations are tax deductible. This is a charitable venture and something that Melissa and I care very deeply about. If we raise our goal, we’ll be able to build a media center on our land and offer classes to the children of Kauai in media production and web design. Everything we know how to do we will teach the children of Kauai. And by now, we know how to do a lot of cool stuff! :)

If you like our story please help us share it.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

-Jackson, Melissa, and Stellar

SuperForest Kauai – Stellar Gardens

Good Morning SuperForest!

When I want something to happen, I’ve found that if I post about it here and on facebook, it tends to happen fairly quickly.

Well, here’s something that I’d really like to happen and I’d like to invite y’all to take part in it, in whatever way suits you.

Melissa and I have found a five acre piece of land here on Kauai to shelter our fledgling family. With your help we’d like to turn it into a retreat/healing/teaching center where we can grow our own food, live lives of incredible beauty, and teach others how to live as we do.

To share the process and the transformation, we want to produce a reality web series called Stellar Gardens. The show will follow the eight families who live and work on the land, and the dynamic that evolves between them.

So, we are looking for five of the eight families.

We’re looking for SuperForesters who preferably have kids, are open minded and curious and intelligent, and want to help co-create this experience. The vision is to create an eco-village in a shape and style appropriate to Kauai’s climate, with private bedroom suites, shared central kitchens and baths, surrounded by gardens.

You get: A part on the show. A bedroom suite in Kauai for you and your family to come and go in perpetuity. Access to the land and its bounty.

If this strikes your fancy, check in with me via the comments, or via facebook.

Much love to All!

- Jackson and Melissa and Stellar

 

Jackson’s Journal – Team Freshwater

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Gooooood Morning SuperForest!

As I think I made clear in my last post, I spend a lot of time thinking about and dealing with water. In my world, water truly is life. Access to it dictates the growth of my gardens, the cleanliness of my body and clothes, the ease and comfort with which I travel through my days.

Without it, I’d be in dire circumstances.

When I lived in New York I barely thought about water. I mean, I thought about it all the time, but in an abstract and removed way. I thought things like: clean water is important. I thought things like: access to clean water should be considered a human right.

Good thoughts these, but removed from the nitty gritty of the issue. My problem was a remote, consumer-centric, “they” should have better access to water and doesn’t it get me steamed that we in the West treat water with such disdain sort of head trip.

A good example of my silliness was the idea for Team Freshwater. Team Freshwater was something that I schemed up with the help of SuperForester Carla. The idea was to create a group of people who promoted sustainable water usage and directed attention to the work of Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, an Indian humanitarian and water rights activist who has built many low-water use toilets throughout India. The communal toilets that Dr. Pathak and his team build help free the caste of Indians called “Untouchables” whose job it is to crawl under the homes of more affluent Indians and empty their privies.

This unfortunate job is done mainly by women who are often made very sick by the exposure to raw human waste. The sickness of the mother often means that the eldest daughter has to step in and take over the job of scraping up poo with their hands into a bucket, carrying the bucket on their heads to wherever they can find to dump it.

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When Dr. Pathak and Co. come in an build a communal village toilet, it means that legions of women and girls no longer have to work as poo-scraper-uppers. Pathak’s work is truly marvelous. He has built thousands of toilets throughout the Indian continent, freed thousand of women and children from disgusting servile slavery, and the proceeds from the small fee for using the toilets go to re-education for former Untouchable women.

The man is a saint. His work is amazing. But do we really need another group of bleeding heart Westerners moaning and chest thumping about the plight of Indians and sustainable water usage while they simultaneously poop and pee in the very clean water that they are bemoaning other humans lack of?

Did I really want to ramp up my hypocrisy that high? It’s right to admire Pathak. It’s right to want sustainable water usage on a large-scale level. But to do all of this and still use a Western-style flush toilet is absurd.

Kicking the flush toilet habit was one of my goals for living sustainably here on Kauai. If I can stop pooping and peeing in water, then and only then would I be able to talk about sustainable water usage and the work of Dr. Pathak without hypocrisy. Only then could I begin Team Freshwater.

So here we are.

Ladies and Gents, SuperForesters, I present to you: Team Freshwater.

To join things on the internet is very easy. Click a button. “Like” some new brand thing. In creating Team Freshwater I wanted to create a team that would be VERY HARD to join.

To join Team Freshwater you must stop pooping and peeing in clean water.

Bammy! That’s it. Stop pooping and peeing in your water and you can claim to your friends, neighbors, and fellow net denizens that you are a member of Team Freshwater. Creative, willing, and brave you must be to join this team.

Will you do it? The odds are certainly stacked against you. If you live in an apartment, or a house and have no access to open land, and you cannot poop into a toilet, where then will you poop? In a bucket, most likely. But when that bucket is full where will you empty it? How will you empty it? How will you turn your “waste” into “not waste”?

Here’s how I do it:

Melissa and I both do our business into five gallon buckets. The bucket is dug down so as to be flush with the ground. When I have to go, I squat over the bucket holding an old plastic cup under my schnitzel to catch the pee. I do my business, sprinkle a mixture of peat moss and cedar shavings over the poo, and pop the lid back on. The cup of pee is poured under a tree.

It takes a week or two for us to fill the bucket, and when it is near full I pull the bucket out of the hole and set it in the sun for a few weeks. A clean bucket goes in the hole, a layer of peat moss/cedar goes on the bottom, and the process continues. After the full bucket has sat in the sun for a while I make a little nest of leaves in the compost bin that I have made specifically for our poo. Into this nest in the heap I dump the bucket and quickly cover the now dehydrated and broken down poo with leaves and a layer of dirt. I then spray the now-empty bucket with a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution and set it in the sun.

We have three five gallon buckets dedicated to this task. One is in use while one sits in the sun while one sits empty and waiting. It is a very effective and non-gross system and it uses ZERO water. The wash water for the buckets gets poured at the base of fruit trees and covered in dirt. No flies. No cholera. No typhus. No worries.

I know this sounds totally disgusting. I know it through and through. I’ve written before about how pooping in water is a huge part of our conditioning. We’re not “good” boys or girls unless we poop and pee in a toilet and thus pollute 1.6 gallons a drinking water every time we flush. Get that? We’re “dirty and gross” unless we pollute.

Getting over this conditioned poo-phobia has been a huge part of setting myself free and starting Team Freshwater.

What is very funny is that once I was over the conditioned response to responsibly handling my own humanure, I found that it is not only infinitely more sustainable and environmentally responsible, my method is actually much cleaner than the old way. Cleaning a cat box is far more gross than composting Melissa’s and my humanure.

I’ve found that much of my conditioned poo-phobia was based on three very faulty ideas:

1.) The idea that flush toilets are cleaner than composting toilets.

This is totally false, as anyone who has ever plunged or cleaned a toilet can attest. Flush toilets clog often and overflow. That overflow runs onto your bathroom floor, into the cracks in the tiles, onto the carpet, into the floorboards, down into your neighbor’s ceiling. When it rains sewer systems (which were not built to withstand rain apparently) purge millions of gallons of untreated human waste into our oceans. Every year this happens.

Next to every toilet sits a little scrubby brush in a little holder and perhaps a plunger. How clean are those brushes and those plungers? Not very. Compost your poo and you will not have to deal with this. Flush toilets themselves, while being white and made of porcelain are often poorly maintained, thus giving the illusion of cleanliness while being a breeding ground for funky bacteria. My buckets get a good scrub when they are empty, and thus are much cleaner than flush toilets. When is the last time you scrubbed your toilet in its entirety?

Ironically, composting your humanure means that you will have less exposure to poo than in the old system. The flush toilet system means that you have to take zero responsibility for your waste. There it is in the bowl, flush the handle and there it goes, off to whatever fairyland poo goes to visit when you are done with it. All is fine and good until something in the system breaks and you must call a plumber to come out and wade through the stream of nastiness that you created.

Furthermore, a composting toilet system means that you will never, ever, again have to feel polluted water plash against your butt as you sit on the can.

2.) The idea that flush toilets are more environmentally sound than composting your own humanure.

Ever use the toilet and not have everything go down on the first flush? What about the second flush? Or even the third? I’ve rarely had to flush a toilet more than three times to clear it, but the fact remains that with each flush 1.6 gallons of fresh water are polluted. Flush a toilet three times and you’ve polluted nearly five gallons of fresh water.

Now multiply this three flushes by each person in America using the toilet roughly three times a day and you end up with a volume of water too staggeringly huge to comprehend. Water that we’ve polluted and must be handled and treated every single day. It’s insane.

The flush toilet came about in an era when people thought it was fine to fling the contents of ones chamber pot into the street from a high window. Admittedly, a flush toilet and municipal sewer system is far better than having poo flung into the street. But there is a world of difference between simply flinging your poo into the street and responsibly composting it yourself. What is funny is the striking similarity between flinging your poo into the street and flush toilet systems; both represent a “let someone else deal with it” mentality.

3.) The idea that flush toilets use less energy than a composting system.

The water in your toilet comes from somewhere. When you flush it goes somewhere too. The arrival and departure of that water represents a huge amount of energy and infrastructure. Think of all the people employed as plumbers and sewer workers and toilet scrubbers and poo-carriers. Think of all of the products designed to help de-stink and sanitize your toilet. Think of all of the people engaged in the creation, marketing, sales, and distrubition of those products.

The energy required by the flush toilet system is an order of magnitude greater than the energy that I expend in responsibly and personally handling my waste stream. When I choose to deal with my own waste, it negates the needs for all that infrastructure, all those products, all those jobs. I am no longer reliant on those fragile and needless systems. If the water goes off, I am unaffected. If the power goes out, my system stands strong. If gas prices skyrocket and the sanitizing and cleaning product flow ceases, my system is unaffected. If I cannot get peat moss and cedar chips for my bucket I can use leaves, grass, dirt, hair, whatever.

Turn off the water and power in New York city and see how long people will want to stay on the island of Manhattan. Think of the stench wafting Eastward over Brooklyn.

What we need is large scale, waterless, municipal composting of humanure. A system that uses nature instead of industry to deal with our outputs. Because we do not have that system, the onus is on us as anti-consumers to blaze a new path. We must create the new way for ourselves, as it seems that change will not come from outside of us.

Questions arise:

Q: What about the danger of handling infectious waste?

A: Infectious waste comes from infected people. Infected people are often very sick and thus are in treatment at a hospital. Their waste must be handled with greater care than a non-infectious persons. But healthy people make healthy poo. Healthy poo breaks down quickly and the component chemicals within (nitrogen, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, iron) are very good for plants, not to mention very expensive to buy and ship. Keep a separate compost pile for composting humanure and spread the resulting compost on already established trees and not on leafy greens and risk of exposure is minimal.

Q: Isn’t handling poo really gross?

A: Yes. But I’m not handling poo. I’m moving buckets around, spreading leaves, digging dirt. Composting my poo and gardening are very similar activities. In fact, they are so similar I cannot see the remove between them. I don’t poop or pee in water and so have more water to use on my garden, and the composted remnants of my poo are exactly what my plants need to thrive. Win/win/win.

Also, isn’t it funny how squeamish people can be about their poo when you consider that it comes from inside of us? One moment it’s in your body and all is fine. The next moment it’s in a bucket, separate from you and now it’s disgusting. This separation anxiety is a classic fixture of the consumer mentality. It’s a part of me and so it’s good vs. it’s not a part of me and so it’s bad.

Q: How does it feel when you are not on your land and you must use the toilet?

A: Weird. To poop in water feels really weird. I walk outside to pee. My mother makes fun of me for this. There is a cold hearted thrill I get from pooping in water now. A dark, black part of me laughs and laughs. It feels like the most anti-social thing I can think of, and when I do it, I appreciate not only that I no longer have to do it, but the madness of how long I mindlessly did it in the first place.

Q: Earlier you wrote that the Indian women who have to deal with poo are often made very sick by their exposure to human waste, yet here you say that it is safe to handle. What is the difference?

A: The Untouchable caste in India is made to crawl under houses and scrape humanure into buckets and bowls. Often they use shovels and whisks to do this, but sometimes they must use their hands. Once their buckets are full, they walk with them on their heads to wherever they dump them. When it is raining it means that the buckets overflow, and waste-tinged poo water will run down onto the head and face of the noble women carrying them.

To get poo on ones hands or have it run into ones eyes would be very dangerous. I am not advocating that in any way, shape, or form. I am advocating a system of self-reliance, where each of us individually arrives at the choice to compost our own poo, and not simply fob the job off onto the plumber, the sewer worker, the Untouchable. My poo is my issue. To make it your issue against your will is to do violence against you.

When it rains in California, and the sewers overflow into the Pacific Ocean and the beaches must be closed, and sea life is threatened, and the environment contaminated, this is a tremendous act of violence against ourselves. Yet this violence remains the status quo, and thus far nothing is being done to change it. How many times must sewage overflow into our oceans before we move to change something?

When I lived in New York, I rented a basement apartment in a brownstone in Brooklyn. The sewer line between the house and the main on the street got clogged, or cracked, or was somehow rendered inoperable. A human being (plumber) had to come out, drill a hole in the wall of the basement, and crawl through that hole, through a stream of waste, in order to ascertain and remedy the problem. To force another human being to do this by technological and economic necessity is a violence against them, and by extension, a violence against us all.

To join Team Freshwater means to give up this violence.

There is a new age upon us, SuperForesters. An age of reason, logic, beauty, and love. One of the hallmarks of this new age will be the voluntary giving up of violence. To compost ones own poo is a huge step toward creating this new violence-free world. It’s funny to think it, but it is true.

I deal with my poo, now you deal with yours. Can you do it? Do you dare?

Q: I live in an apartment in the city, how can I possibly compost my own poo?

A: It will be very difficult, but it can be done. Imagine the changes in your life if you took on this level of self-responsibility. Conceivably you could use the same bucket system that we use, but you’d need a place to empty the buckets. That means teaming up with someone who is sympathetic to your wish to responsibly compost your own poo, someone with a bit of land for your compost heap. This land could be as big as a farm or as small as a back yard. What if every other weekend you ferried your buckets out of the city to a bit of countryside where you kept and maintained your compost heap? To take on this task would mean to change your lifestyle considerably, but all for the better. You would be spending more time outdoors. You would be raking leaves, and shoveling dirt. You would be making friends with farmers and people who have land and most likely use it to produce food. All good things. You would be doing what so very few others are doing and thus you could feel good about being quite elite in a time when being elite at anything is very difficult.

Ultimately you’d be better served to leave the city and find yourself a piece of land. With humanure composting comes gardening, with gardening comes food, with food comes feeding people the excess abundance. This cycle produces community and neighborliness. Sharing and caring levels rise, separation and environmental destruction levels drop.

Team Freshwater, y’all. It’s where it’s at. Pooping in your water is so yesterday.

Love,

Jackson

For further reading:

Jackson’s Journal – I Poop in a Hole
SuperForest Heroes – Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak & Sulabh International

p.s. Remember:

 

 

Jackson’s Journal – Fluid Dynamics

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Gooood Morning SuperForest!

So, to recap, since last we spoke Melissa and I have recamped our entire scene of people from one property to another. This new property is a five acre piece here on Kauai, and we moved all of the families we had been living with at CoconutLand, along with everyones stuff.

The new land is raw. Head-high grass everywhere. A few roads. Junked cars. Hunting dogs in kennels. Raw as in no plumbing, no power, no sewage system, no infrastructure. A few old mango trees but no food.

The past five months of my life have been about turning that raw piece of land into a place suitable to raise a family. We’ve cleared much of the grass with the help of our flock of goats and sheep and chickens and ducks. The animals are penned in one area, they eat all the grass, and then we move them, dig up the roots and plant gardens.

Gardens have bloomed everywhere. The limiting factor is water.

My life has become a dance with water and the land.

It all works together! It truly is a dance. Let me give you an example…

The water on our land is currently derived from a stream that runs around the property. We pump water from that stream into tanks placed atop home-made pallet water towers. From up in those tanks the now pressurized water flows around the land, tracing a circle around the perimeter. That is the system for the main circle.

Melissa and I do not live in the main circle. We live in a gutted school bus near the entrance to the land. It is dry and non-mildewy, and the windows are great to slide up and down to suit our needs, but it is out of reach of the main circle’s water supply. To get water to us I bought a small Honda water pump and use it to pump water the three hundred feet from the stream up into a 275 gallon tank near our solar panel rig. When that tank is full I move the pump over to it and pump from that tank to another tank on a hill above our bus. It’s like a daisy chain. Then I will go and fill the bottom tank again. This gives us water to garden with and wash with.

This process takes roughly an hour and a half, but it all goes down right near the bus and our garden and I can work on the bus or be in the garden and keep one eye on the tank and listen to the whine of the pump’s motor to ensure that it’s functioning properly.

The water tank on the hill above the bus has two garden hoses running from it, and one of them runs into the yard by our bus. I use the hose to fill up a 45 gallon Hefty trash can and a 55 gallon blue water drum. The Hefty can stands in the garden and I use it to fill my watering can. The blue drum has a hose spigot and is mostly used to wash hands and feet. Both tanks have fish living in them to eat the mosquito larvae.

Before we had the pump and the tanks, all our water came from 5 gallon bottles that we’d fill either at the main circle, or out in town. Before we had the pump and tanks and hose, we had no gardens. We had a few plants and I had a bunch of seedlings going in pots and trays, but there were no gardens.

That makes sense, right? No water = no gardens.

Well, that’s not entirely or exactly true. You can use permaculture techniques  like swales and contour lines to coax plants out of a dry arid landscape, but those processes unaided by supplemental water will take years to bear fruit. And you certainly wont be eating many salads if you can’t keep the delicate leaves hydrated and protected from the sun.

The dance between plant and water and sun begins. The sun wants to evaporate the water in the plants. The plants need the sun but if they don’t have enough water, or too much sun, they wilt. Too much wilting and they die. Much of my daily focus is on the plants around me and the ways that they interact with each other and the sun. My job is to get water to the plants.

If you plant in rows, with proper spacing, and you do not have enough water to really soak the soil and ensure proper moisture content, your plants will die. So conventional row cropping for the garden with limited water supplies is not an option. What does work is to start little patches of plants really close together, and let them overlap and tangle together. The closeness of the planting means that the plants shade one another, support one another, and together they keep the ground cool and keep the moisture in the soil.

It is an amazing thing to watch. I sprinkled some chia seeds on a raised bed garden near the bus, but none sprouted. A few weeks later I planted sweet potato cuttings in the bed and was happy to see a short while later that in the shade of the sweet potatoes leaves, a little forest of chia had sprouted. Plants need plants. Plants LIKE other plants. Planting living things in rows may suit market gardening and industrial farming, but it is very hard on the plants and takes significantly more water. Little wild tangles suit plants exceedingly well. Gardens planted this way look more natural while remaining just as delicious.

Gardening to me has become like sculpture. My medium is plants and soil predominantly, but I am free to improvise endlessly. I can plant nasturtiums in a pair of old boots, or plonk a baby papaya and some mustard greens in an old washing machine drum. What is really fun and mind blowing is that I must take into account the way that my sculpture will grow and change and age and die. What other sculptures do that?

I was planting in the garden the other day and in one tiny little circle I put a baby kapok tree, a few papaya seedlings, some kale, some arugula, and a nice little basil plant. I did all this thinking that first the arugula would be ready and would be eaten in a salad in a matter of weeks. Poof! Then it disappears from the sculpture. Salad greens are the pawns of the garden world. The kale would mature and give crunchy, hearty leaves for who knows how long? A year? Why not. The basil will help protect the new plants from insects.

Next the papayas will mature, around month eight, nine, or ten, and they will provide delicious orangey orbs of enzymatic refreshing-ness. Papayas will live for a while, several years at least before they get too tall and rangy.

Finally the kapok tree would bloom, around year three, and from its seed pods we will get pounds of white fluffy, cottoney kapok. This wonderful plant grows fast here in the tropics and its seed pod fibers are easily spun and woven into cloth.

So: Gardening = sculpture + evolution + surprise + delicious

I’m walking back and forth from the hole that I’ve dug to the seedling nursery where all my sprouts and baby plants are and I’m thinking about how each plant will grow and help each other plant, which plants like which conditions, how tall each plant will get as it matures, the effect of that growth on the visual landscape, and the all-important power of the sun. How the arugula will grow short and bushy and shade the roots of the kapok tree and so should be planted just in front of the kapok in relation to the sun is one of a hundred million minute details.

It’s all rather absorbing. Get the water running, gets some bags of potting soil, gets some seedlings sprouted. Before you know it you can eat your way around your yard and each plant will be a friend to you. Food, fuel, and medicine will be at your fingertips. I spend a lot of my day happily and silently working in the garden now that the water is running. There is so much to plant and I want to have a lot of food in the ground by the time the baby arrives. I pick little spots, and fill them with plants. At the edge of each little smudge of green I plat more plants. The closeness will support them, and take up less water.

My body is mostly air. Plants make very fresh air. I am also made up of much water, and the water contained in the plants is very good for me. I direct the water as best I can, and the plants purify it and turn it into food, fuel, and medicine. The more I plant the more plants I have, the less water I need. Funny thing. More plants = more shade = less water needed.

Where do I pee? Here and there. But I’m always aware of where I pee and the needed and beneficial nitrogen in my pee that some plants love (established fruit trees) and some plants hate and respond to by instantly dying (kava.) Every time I have to pee is a chance for me to support the growth of a plant.

I suppose that I’ve become a bit of a recluse. I love the land and the people and the gardens so much, I am very happy being there. Facebook and the internet hold less and less place in my life, though I love the instagram app for the phone that Melissa and I share. The gardens are always calling. The soil is always whispering to me to nurture it, to rebuild it.

You can take a patch of concrete and build a garden on top of it. I am lucky, we have deep, rich topsoil, less stripped of organic material than much of the island is. The soil we have will make us food very shortly, and the stream will help us establish those gardens. But the stream can dry up for months during the Summer and we cannot rely on it. In order to have constant access to water, (for to bring it in is far too costly and fuel intensive) we must have a well. In addition to the well, we would be very smart to have a lot of ponds and constructed wetlands to hold water, AND a lot more water tanks and barrels.

There is so much to do. It is delightfully endless.

So I garden. I rebuild soil, adding organic materials and dancing with evaporation. I move water around from place to place. I am happier and in better shape than ever before in my life, and I have food and friends surrounding me. I have given up much in order to live like this, but in retrospect everything that I gave up was something that was making me unhappy.

Stay loose. Stay fluid. Keep your hips and spine bendy and easy. These are the things I try to remember. Choose love. Be kind over right. Drink plenty of water. These things are very important to me too.

Much love,

Jackson

 

Orlando Permaculture – Ralphie

“I’m increasing biodiversity by practicing this

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Living Swimming Pools!

Permaculture at its finest. A living swimming pool stacks the

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functions of rainwater catchment, water filtration, food production, wetlands reclamation, wild animal habitat formation, energy capture in the form of heat from the sun, and the most important function of all: fun.

“David Pagan Butler introduces natural swimming pools: beautiful swimming ponds that require no chemicals, just plants and a simple solar powered filter pump to clean the water.”

(via)

Seattle Food Forest!

Full seven acre proposal to be built over the next few years.

Full seven acre proposal to be built over the next few years.

My awesome friend Evan sent me this lovely link!

A seven-acre plot of land in the city’s Beacon Hill neighborhood will be planted with hundreds of different kinds of edibles: walnut and chestnut trees; blueberry and raspberry bushes; fruit trees, including apples and pears; exotics like pineapple, yuzu citrus, guava, persimmons, honeyberries, and lingonberries; herbs; and more. All will be available for public plucking to anyone who wanders into the city’s first food forest.

Via Take Part

What a great use of permaculture! The article goes on to say:

What

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started as a group project for a permaculture design course ended up as a textbook example of community outreach gone right.

Via Take Part

For more information you can also read this article and of course, visit the Beacon Food Forest Website!

Also, I found this movie through their website! Yay plants! Plant power!

Jackson’s Journal – Where is the Fun?

Gooooooood morning SuperForest!

Here is another one of my little diatribes about philosophy, systems thinking, and spirituality. If you aren’t into that sort of thing, please read on ahead. I won’t mind at all ;)

I would like to let you in on who I am and why I write these words today. And I would like to somehow relate to you how all of this is about unlocking the secrets of inner peace, and having mucho fun all the time. I write these words for myself, to read later and smile at my early naiveté.

I have always been a fan of fun. Since my Universe light entered my little baby body, I have searched out positions and systems that gave me comfort and entertained me. I was supported and have been supported in this endeavor since always, because my parents are incredibly generous and have supported my exploration. Because my father is a famous musician, I have been lucky enough not only to travel the world and hang out with incredible people, but also to have a maximum of fun while doing it. My dad would be going from gig to gig, working his butt off at making each performance a genuine expression of his love, and I would be in this happy wake, joyously free to play backstage. I enjoyed all of the perks of being a very famous rock star, even singing on stage in front of thousands of people many many times, while having to do very little of the work.

My father, singing to the Occupy Wall Street protestors. (via)

This is the basic formula that I based the first 31 years of my life on: See who was having the most fun, and FOLLOW.

I have had many fun times since then, and one time that was not so fun when I was living it, but now, as I approach my thirty fourth trip around the sun, I can see that there was fun in it after all. It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.

The hard time was this: when I was thirteen, all the fun I had been allowed to have, where I had been able to do and say and think as I pleased, had caught up with me. I found myself a high school drop out at thirteen, having gone to my first boarding school a year earlier, which had been a humiliating and totally self-destructive experience (at the time.) Returning to Los Angeles, I found myself in a depressing public school, packed into classrooms far too small to accommodate the number of students, and in numbers far too large to ever hope for quality instruction. I was pretty heavily into the idea of taking drugs and being a drug user at this point, idolizing people like Sid Vicious and John Lennon. I would use the savings account that my mom had started for me to buy large amounts of weed, and I would smoke this weed, alone, on my rooftop, at night, and I would drool while I did it. Something about the smoke made my mouth water. Classy, right?

I really and truly did not like being in school. Not only did I feel like I was smarter than the place and the system, but I thought that everyone else was too, and I could not see for the life of me why anyone, teacher or student, would want to perpetuate or even participate in such an obviously failed model for the transmission of knowledge. I also did not like my family at this point in time. I can’t remember where my dad was, probably on tour, but I remember fighting with my mother. Oh boy, I remember a lot of that. It was a wild time for my family. My brother, then eleven, was leaving one school and going to another, and my sister, then nine, was rapidly becoming a young woman. I was wanting only the freedom to be free, which meant conscious self-destruction at that point in time, and my mother was basically alone trying to hold a family together.

So where is the fun? And where the hard time?

It was Halloween day when I arrived at CEDU, the place that was to be my home for the next two years and eight months. CEDU was an emotional growth boarding school in the mountains of Eastern California, up by Big Bear lake. It was a sprawling grounds, with many buildings, all surrounding a large, wood timbered house. The former home of actor/director Walter Huston, the CEDU house was filled with a fluctuating number of boarding students, from 90 to upwards of a hundred thirty.

We students arrived at CEDU, said goodbye to our parents or whoever had dropped us off, and then we were strip searched. That’s right, strip searched. Made to walk, accompanied by two staff members and one student up to the bathroom in the New Wing, and there made to strip naked, have ones clothes checked, and made to do a twirl. The twirl, a quick three hundred and sixty degree rotation, was ostensibly to make sure that we had nothing taped to our skin in the mid back, or nothing between the cheeks. Mostly I think it was for an added dollop of humiliation. With my inner command to have fun, and the school’s policy of strip searching students every time they ran away, meant that I would be strip searched four more times during my stay. By that last strip searching, I had reclaimed the fun.

CEDU is gone now. Shuttered amidst a flurry of lawsuits earlier in the decade. Allegations of child abuse, murder, and other pleasantries brought down the beast, but that was after I was many years graduated. Yes, I made it out of there. But many did not, and by that I mean, plain and simple, that they died. They did not all die at CEDU, though quite a few did. Most of my friends who died I think died because they chose to, but CEDU was a place that stressed the destruction of the ego, and paid little attention to rebuilding the heart. WIthout a heart, what point is a life? With CEDU gone, and its staff scattered, I feel like I can tell this story. For all of my friends who did not make it out.

CEDU was a system of rules, with its own arcane language, its own words for things, its own code of behaviors. Our job as students was to memorize that impossibly convoluted code and live by it. We were expected to help enforce the twisted rule sets, first by telling on ourselves in the form of writing weekly “dirt lists”, (a literal listing of the rules we had broken that week,) and secondly by enforcing the code in others, adding whatever we’d seen others do to our dirt lists and being punished for allowing other students to commit infractions. This system ensured that we the prisoners guarded not only ourselves, but the other prisoners too. It was pretty amazing, now that I stand back and admire it. An incredible system of thought control accomplished through isolation, reinforcement, and the brain washer’s best friend: sleep deprivation!

It worked like this: Students would arrive at the school and be grouped into peer groups. When enough students had accumulated to allow the formation of a new peer group (between twenty and thirty) the new group would begin their journey through what was called the Propheet system. These propheets, as they were called, were all night long ordeals. They always began the same: we would go up to a room, take off our shoes and belts (so we wouldn’t run away or hang ourselves) and leave them outside. We would enter the room and sit in a horseshoe shaped ring of chairs. Night would fall and the propheet would begin with some sort of ice breaker, something to get us all loose and laughing. Like dancing, or being made to sit on a chair when you’d been told that there was a tack on it, only to find a piece of gum.

Then would basically follow ten hours or so of screaming, being screamed at, screaming at each other, confessing our sins to each other, and doing various exercises, like running in place to music. Your mind would be reeling from fatigue, hunger, and trying to keep warm in a chilly room with no shoes on, all while the staff would sit in warm sweaters and sip coffee, and you’d have someone you barely knew screaming in your face. Some poor kid like you, with snot running down their faces, screaming at you that they weren’t going to be a loser any more. This madness would be accompanied by readings from Kahlil Gibran’s amazing book The Prophet. The sun would be rising, the sky getting grayer, and you’d been harassed and humiliated all night long, to the point where you would happily, cheerfully, gratefully do and say anything the instructors told you to do, if it meant that they would leave you alone for a little while. Around eight AM, we would break for breakfast, scarf a quick meal, and be allowed to sleep for a precious hour. Then up and back at it for another six hours of screaming and yelling and being yelled at.

(via)

The idea was that we as little humans (we were all in our early teens) had accumulated a lot of crud on our psychic selves, and that a concentrated blast of anger and screaming could somehow, uh, power wash it all off? It’s not the system I would have made, I can happily relate. Between the terror and violence of the propheets, which came every few months, and the terror and violence of the thrice weekly “rap sessions,” and the suspicion and paranoia of everyday life, CEDU was a place that forced the surviving intellect to retreat inwards, crafting an inner pleasure garden that no prying or violence could ever gain access to. That was how I survived. For two years and eight months I screamed and was screamed at an average of once a day. Can you imagine that much screaming? That much crying? That much constricted human desire and sexuality? Ninety plus teenage boys and girls in a log cabin in the woods, and no sex (or sexual behavior in any form) allowed whatsoever? Plus all the brainwashing, control, and medication for most? It must have been so wild for the adults in charge, presiding over rooms full of hysterical or angrily screaming teenagers and thinking: job well done. Wild and wooly times, mateys. Arrrrrrrr.

(via)

When you broke the rules or ran away, as I did four times, the punishment was to sit at a table in the dining room alone. That was it. I had to sit alone at a table. I could not have people join me, except the people my instructors chose to sit with me. I could not speak unless spoken to by an instructor. I could not smile, whistle, or sing. I could not make eye contact with the majority of the students, and I was not allowed to be touched. To be in this forced bubble of isolation WITHIN the whole of the student body, three meals a day, was an incredible punishment. There everyone was, happily finding ways to either survive or exit the system, and I was unable to interact with them in any way. This punishment was called a Full Time.

I would wake up in the morning in my dorm at seven thirty. Silently, and avoiding eye contact with the other students in my dorm, I would get dressed and do my dorm chores. Then my dorm head would walk me down to the dining room, where I would have breakfast and do writing assignments. Then outside for four hours of work. The work was invariably dull and made to tire you out, first by numbing your mind, then by sapping your strength. Dig a hole, wheelbarrow the dirt across the campus to a ravine, dump the dirt. Do this for a week. Then, fill back in the hole, using the dirt form the ravine. That sort of thing. Lunch would be silent and solitary unless an older student would condescendingly sit with me to give me advice, or once in a while to cheer me up, or a staff member would touch base with me. Then back out for more work assignments until either raps or dinner. After dinner it was time to wash dishes with the other students who were being punished for a variety of reasons. All of this work was done in silence and without making eye contact. After dishes, up to the dorm, sleep, repeat.

Ironically, it was within the dishes system that my fun spark found the necessary tinder to be re-lit, and rekindled. Washing dishes became my secret source of fun. Here’s why: Imagine a sink full of dishes after you’ve had a dinner party. Lots of caked on, baked on, greasy crud, stuck everywhere, on every dish you have. Now imagine the sink full of dishes that has accumulated after a full day of cooking for a hundred plus students and staff. That’s at least a hundred plates, a hundred bowls, a hundred cups, a hundred place settings, and all of the industrial sized pots, pans, knives, cutting boards, needed to cook such a feast. Now, imagine that you and three other people have to clean this mess, scrub all the food off the everything, stack it all in trays, run it through a sterilizer, dry it off, stack it, and then totally clean the room that you’d done the washing in, ALL IN SILENCE. And no eye contact, soldier!

What would happen if you’d had four boys all doing the back kitchen cleaning job together for a week, and they had gotten good at it. They all assumed their positions when dishes began and worked quickly and quietly, each exquisitely aware of the other, able to accomplish the seeming impossible in lightning speed. Now, remove one of the boys and replace that boy with a new student, one who had never set foot in the back kitchen before. How do the three pro dish washing boys indicate to the new boy exactly what is expected of him, and where everything goes, and what the sequence that things get done in?

This is where the fun comes in. Somewhere between the rules of the crazy system and the rules of reality, there had to be an overlap. Somehow the crucial information had to be communicated to the new person in a situation that expressly disallowed any communication at all. The new boy would be emptying the sterilizer, wiping the pots and pans down and stacking them, and then! Horrors! The new boy, unaware, has set the newly washed pan upon the filthy, grease covered floor! The boy manning the sterilizer, who knew instantly that something was wrong, would stop stacking dishes into sterilizer trays, quickly walk over and pick the pan up off of the ground, placing it back in the sink of the head boy, who was washing the dishes. The head boy, seeing the pan he had just washed suddenly return to him would risk a quick look back over his shoulder to see the new boy, red faced, standing looking chastised, and the other boys quickly resuming their work. I would know instantly what had happened and we’d all continue, but the herks and jerks inherent in this non-communication communication style were trying and frustrating at times. You’d notice out of the corner of your eye that movement had stopped where movement should be, and you’d see the new guy standing in front of the shelf where pans were stored, not knowing where to place something and having things stack up behind him. You’d stop what you were doing, walk over to the shelf and casually run your hand over the place the pan should go, not to communicate to the new guy that the pan should go on the bottom shelf, but simply to take stock of the pots and pans and see whether the shelf was clean. Get it? You weren’t telling them where to put things. You just happened to be there and magically your shared interests collided. No rules broken. Game on.

In this way, we were able to develop a sixth sense for what was happening in the environment around us, where the other people were, what they were doing, and most importantly how you could either help them or hinder their movement. Which I sometimes did just for fun. You cannot imagine the frustration that builds in someone who is already being punished by missing the weekly movie night and having to do dishes, and there is someone in his kitchen who is holding things up. If there was someone I did not like, or who I felt compelled to get revenge on, grinding dishes to a halt was a passive aggressive dream come true. You’d see the hope in their eyes to get things done quickly and get back into the house in time to catch at least part of the movie go out, and you’d know that you were the one who’d squashed that little dream. Oh the things I have been trained to do, SuperForesters.

Washing dishes, digging ditches, not being touched, not smiling, not singing, this punishment life would continue for as long as it took to break the student down and make him or her willing again to resume the horror of the process. The longest Full Time I was ever one was forty plus days long. In the end, I believe that they let me off not because I had shown contrition and was willing to be bullied again, but because I had emotionally retreated to a place where I could no longer be affected by their abuses. I would do my work assignments with all the fury and gusto I could muster, and that was a pretty considerable fury. I would dig the hole so fast that they would be forced to give me another assignment, and this one I would do with an equal intensity, finishing tasks with such speed that I think they simply got annoyed at having to think up new ones for me. They would put a shovel, or a pick, or a wheelbarrow in my hands and I would fly into motion. Each shovel into each pile of snow and dirt was a sword stroke right to the heart of my tormentors. Each wheelbarrow full of firewood was dumped upon the heads of my attackers. I was a very productive bunny. Dirt got moved and firewood got stacked with great quickness. And I learned to transmit anger into productive work.

Seeing my invulnerability to physical labor, for I would have been quite happy to have worked myself into the hospital, where freedom lay, my instructors moved me into the kitchen to work with the ladies who made the three meals a day. I would look out the window of the kitchen as my fellow punishees would trudge their shovels, picks, and wheelbarrows through the driving snow, and me and the kitchen ladies would bake birthday cakes. It was cheerfully depressing; mind-scrambling and enlightening all at once.

When I wasn’t working, I was writing. CEDU was a system that loved assignments, and work and writing were held in equal esteem. Our writing was in journals that the staff would collect and read, and we were given tailored sentences to use as starting points for full page writing explorations. These sentences included charmers like: “I hate myself because…” and “What I really think about my parents…” Anger and vitriol was encouraged and viewed as a measure of success, after all the “barnacles” were coming off of the whale, so to speak. The crud was melting and revealing the perfect un-muddied child soul that I was. That was the line they were toeing.

Whatever the motivation, I soon became very used to journal writing. To taking bits of information and expounding upon them as if they were true. That experience transformed after I left CEDU into carrying journals around with me, and then that transmuted into these journal entries on SuperForest. I no longer write in a physical journal. This is my journal, and I try to write here exactly the same way I would write if I knew no one would ever experience these thoughts. My aim is both to serve as my own yardstick, and hopefully, if anyone cares at all, to help others avoid the same absurd mistakes that I have made, or to at least make them with full awareness and joy.

This transmission of knowledge without communication is something that I have thought much about since I left CEDU. I have seen firsthand what it means to simply yell at someone to do something, or to belittle them into subservience to your will. That does not interest me. Violence is something I have explored so thoroughly, it no longer has any luster to me. For me, to communicate true joy and love has become the challenge. Without words. I am great at words! I can word, word, word, along with the best of them. But to simply live in joy, and transmit the life of joy, has been my goal.

As I said before, I am a fan of fun. What is fun? According to my culture, to accumulate material goods is fun, and to be a successful Capitalist. I can say from experience that I have not found this to be true, either personally, or for the people I know who are very rich and have lots of things. To be very rich and have lots of things is not inherently fun, as I discovered. True, you can definitely buy entertainment. But what I’ve always studied was how people behaved AFTER the show stopped, after the music was done playing. How did they end the party so to speak? Did they yell at the staff? Did they behave with grace and compassion? Did they simply leave and hope to leave no trace? Did they say thank you? From what I’ve seen, to be super-rich is a recipe for isolation and paranoia, fearing that someone may take your wealth from you, or otherwise find a way to make your wealth work against you, like kidnapping your children. To be surrounded by shiny things can be just as depressing. Shiny things generally take a lot of shining, and if you aren’t the one doing the shining, hiring others to maintain your fleet, then your possessions leave you feeling hollow and empty. No fun in that.

The most fun I’d ever seen on a large scale before I stumbled into permaculture was when I visited Cuba in 2003. The Cuba that I experienced there was poor, funky, polluted, corrupt, and the people were so happy it was confusing. I was walking down the street in Havana one night and a drunk man came and threw his arm around me. “Have a drink, Americano!” he said, his breath spicy with rum. I happily complied, taking a polite swig of the firewater and handing it back to him. My brother Will, who had been walking behind me and unseen by my new friend, decided to play a joke. Will ran up behind us and jumped over us, yelling: “Give me your money!”

My friend, who I’ll call Rumtums, handed me his bottle and whipped his arms into a fighting stance, ready to protect me. He appeared to be milliseconds away from punching Will in his Americano mouth, when I hugged him and said: “No, es me hermano!” (My Spanish is crap, forgive me.) We all calmed down, shared a laugh and a drink, and went our merry ways. In Cuba I found place where a man could quite happily walk drunk down the street, find a new friend and share a drink, and quite happily be willing to fight for this new friend, not out of bravado, but simply because it seemed a sensible and definitely fun choice in the moment. The entire country felt that way to me. Loose, well meaning, happy. We rented a car and drove out of Havana into the country side and every single person I waved to waved back at me. There may have been one or two who did not, but my memory is one of constant returned waves, unhesitating returned smiles, and bright, cheery dispositions. Even in the midst of economic repression and a very controlling government, the Cubans I met were all uniformly happy. It was and is a colorful, fun, wonderful place, and I highly recommend going.

I am beginning to see the through line! Now I know why we ended up in Cuba!

Dig it, The United States is like CEDU here. Violent, ignorant, savage, and well intentioned, going about it a completely pig-headed way, and needlessly killing thousands out of misdirection of energy. With a few minor tweaks, and some therapy, it could very easily become the engine of its own salvation, a place that deserved the moniker “Land of the free, home of the brave.” Cuba is like the garden of good vibes that I am trying to create. The United States hates Cuba, and Cuba happily thumbs its nose at the fuming of the United States.

What is the difference? The system. In the US we are isolated and violated with the slow-motion violence of economic slavery, and in Cuba there is social welfare that makes it so that no one goes hungry and no one is homeless. Medical care is high quality and free in Cuba, as is learning and higher education. Say what you will about Cuba’s historical intolerance of gays, artists, subversives, intellectuals, anti-Castro-ites, et al. Has the US treated any of those groups any better? Hardly.

Well, maybe the anti-Castro-ites.

My point is this: At CEDU the students were kept isolated and alone, not physically, but emotionally and mentally, exactly like life in the US. If we students had gotten together around a message that said basically: “all this violence is not working at making us better people, if anything it is simply making us better at tolerating and perpetuating violence. There has to be a better way.” then we could have affected real change. As one, we could have enacted a system of non-participation that would have forced the system around us to change.

So it is with life in the US. If we do not change the system by refusing to participate in it, then we are perpetuating it. US culture has us all competing to see who can be the best at Capitalism, which means the same thing as competing to see who is the best at slavery and environmental degradation. For in Capitalism, slavery and environmental degradation are the engines that drive growth, and growth is profit. You disagree? In Capitalism, someone has to eat the shit burger. Someone has to have his or her sacred mountain strip mined, someone had to turn his or her back yard into a lead-smelting facility. Our toilets are designed to get clogged and need someone to unclog them. We have built a system that is made to break down and need content repairing. As long as we have flush toilets, we will need some poor schlub to clean and fix them. That poor schlub has been me many many times. We’ve been taught that this happens to inferior people who don’t mind the destruction. People who were poorer, or less educated, or had different skin color than us. They deserve lead poisoning. They deserve to work endless jobs breaking American ships apart on their beaches for the steel, polluting the beaches and killing the workers. If you feel that people must be free to live healthy productive lives, then you must opt out of Capitalism, for yourself as well as them.

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The US could be great, but it isn’t great right now. It is up to us to make it great again, by not participating in parts of it and by instead working to free ourselves from Capitalism and then free our friends and family. The US economic model could be based on anything we choose, like agritourism, entertainment, longevity treatments, space exploration, but right now it is based on economic slavery, fossil fuels, and the creation and sales of weapons of mass destruction, plus fomenting the wars necessary for making those sales profitable. To blindly go about your day, your job, your schooling, knowingly complicit in this destruction is immoral and bizarre. You are helping to destroy the very thing that you love. Your job, schooling, and day are rooted in illogical untruths. Untruths like: money is the answer! I can do this on my own! I am a self-made man! I don’t need love, I have stuff! If I sit in this box long enough to get that diploma, then I will be a happy and fulfilled individual!

The truth of your and my existence is so pure and simple that if you knew it, (which you do but cannot recognize it,) it would forever change the way you interacted with the world around you. In our culture we would hesitate before pulling out a gun and shooting someone with it, but we don’t hesitate at all to scream at someone who cuts us off in traffic, or flip them the bird, or stop short with our car and try to get the tail-gater to rear end us. What is the difference between a bullet and a scream? A bullet can miss. In our culture, casual violence is totally acceptable. Major violence is less acceptable, but tolerated. This violence is evident in everything that we do and say and think, because all of it is based in Capitalism which itself is based on violence against the low man on the totem pole, and violence against the Earth and its natural systems.

There are solutions to all of this. The solutions do not matter. The only thing that matters is our willingness to utilize those solutions. A man could starve to death in a room full of food, because he was too distracted to eat. So the answers do not matter. Our willingness to see that there is something wrong and search for new answers is all that matters.

To exit the structure of Western thought has been the hardest thing I have ever endeavored to do. In the end, as in the beginning, the support of my parents and friends has made the difference. For though we didn’t always see eye to eye, and there have certainly been a great many worried conversations, my parents have stood by me and allowed me to explore this thought system, with all its twists and turns. There is no logic in Capitalism. It very existence destroys the very thing it sells as valuable: freedom. To force us all to compete has made slaves of us, employee and employer alike. To deny us food, lodging, medical care, adequate schooling has made shadows of all of us, shadows of the beings that we actually are. Stress and guilt are our bread and butter in America. Stress and guilt breed depression and sickness, and so depression and sickness are our bread and butter as well.

The choice is ours: recognize that there is huge problem inherent in maintaining the status quo, and work to find new systems of life support (I highly recommend permaculture) or simply plod on ahead, hoping that one day we will strike it rich, win the lottery, make it big, and finally be able to buy our own little piece of unspoiled paradise and escapes from the rat race. Except there is no place to escape to. Rich or poor, we are all Earthlings. United in our carbon based brotherhood and our Earth-dwelling status.

Quit your job. Drop out of school. Quit buying disposable things. Quit trying. Quit striving for a place in Capitalist society. Give it all up. Give up status. Give up on ambition. Give up on hope for tomorrow. Give up your past. Give up your guilt. Give up the idea that you are somehow wrong, or that you’ve sinned. Our culture is based on the illusion that any of it will make you happy, when it is precisely the reason that you are miserable. What would you want if you were free to want freely? What would you do if you were free to do anything you wanted that wouldn’t hurt anyone else?

Who are you outside of the cultural and Capitalist set of values and ideals that you’ve been brainwashed into believing that you want?

This has been my quest. There is never going to be a destination. I will never arrive at the end. This quest never began and so it will never end.

Join me on this quest for perfect willingness. It will be the most fun you’ve ever had.

When we were done cleaning the back kitchen, two students would have to run the trash cans out to the dumpsters at the edge of the school property. To emerge from the hot, steamy kitchen, into the cool of the mountain air, and run with a friend who you could not speak to or look at, through the night, sliding the can over the ice, in silence, with the stars shining down on you, united in purpose, was a glee and a fun above and beyond imagining. To lift the heavy can and pour the contents into the dumpster took two people, working in perfect unison, (or else the can could tip and slosh one or both of us in liquid trash,) required an unspoken communication, underscored by glee, each working as the other. The perfection of these moments is beyond words.

We must operate with the same shared intention. No longer can we allow each other to suffer needlessly in our self-made prison. Not when a concerted effort at non-participation by a significant number of us could change things in such an awesome and peaceful way. Change everything for everyone, for the better, forever. Such is the power of the little willingness.

If we are willing to change things, then there is an entire world to build. So much fun to be had by all. I forget all the time. I had to get it tattooed on my wrist to remember.

Thank you for putting up with me.

I love you,

Jackson

Jackson’s Journal – Relocation of the Flying Circus

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Gooood Morning SuperForest!

So much fun new news to relate!

We’ve moved the whole circus, all the people, the animals, the buildings, the tools, the odds and ends, to a new land. An unspoiled, undeveloped, sparkling little gem of a five acre parcel just down the road from our old haunts. The logistics of moving twenty plus people, plus all their stuff was daunting to say the least, but it happened with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of fun.

The land we’ve moved to is for sale, and I’m asking the Universe for help buying it. To have a piece of land, where me and my ohana could put down real roots, roots that couldn’t be uprooted for a while, is a thought that brings me much joy. If we had the land we could build a healing center, and help other folks heal their separated minds, healing ourselves in the process.

It’s funny, but I feel like I write these words out of obligation. To keep y’all in the loop. But less and less I feel like sharing electronically, and more and more I see the wisdom in silence and action. I’ve written so many words. To what end? I will wait and see. They say that the shaman awaits the ripples back from the shores of the pond. Throw the rock, watch the waves ripple outward. But it’s the ripples back that are the most telling.

I would much rather be silent and work the land and spin my plates, then try any longer to convince you, oh SuperForesters around the world, that the system is crashing and that drastic countermeasures must be hastily enacted. I’ve spent so much time and energy trying to focus awareness on our power and scope of our capabilities as human beings, and now I feel like I have arrived at a new shore; the shore of an unexplored land where words no longer work. A place where touch is the only true language, perhaps. But let’s indulge in a little text based communication. Who knows where it might lead?

They say that the first language we ever learn is touch. Meaningful, person to person touch. Touch soon devolves into verbal abstraction. The One is shattered into the many. I have learned a lot about language and about the language of language, etymology. Language as the source code for the mainframe of the mind. All codes have bugs. Some codes have deliberate bugs. English has deliberate coding that creates separation and supremacy. I have sought to examine this coding in me, see if it was to my liking, and remove and replace anything that didn’t serve my needs.

You see, I want peace. World peace at the end, but Jackson peace right now. I’m convinced that Jackson Peace, once attained, will result in world Peace. The shift from zero to one is the most important shift of all, and everything afterwards is merely trivia. There was nothing, then there was something. There was a world at war with itself, and suddenly, the fighting stopped, and sweet song filled the air. I have been encoded and conditioned to be at war with myself, and I am no longer willing to be a marionette at the ends of the strings of an unconscious puppeteer.

All of the givens of our society are wrong. Backwards. Unhealthy. Everything we take for granted as Capitalist Westerners is inherently and deeply flawed. You know this as well as I do, and to prove it you must look no further than out the nearest window. Go ahead, look outside. Tell me that you see something other than humans moving in boxes from box to box. That our entire life is not about the obtainment of shiny boxes and the filling of those boxes with more boxes, and finally, once all of this boxery has been assembled, the willful exclusion of a chosen group of others from our boxes. Look no further than the nearest homeless person and see the end result of an economy based on the idea of false scarcity.

First we are taught that sharing is right, and then we are taught that sharing is wrong. First we are taught that we must love thy neighbor and look out for each other, and then we are taught that it’s every man for himself. We are taught that to ask for help is weak, and that violence is strength. In short, we are taught that right is wrong, and wrong is right.

Why say this? You all know this.

Because there is a way OUT. You can indeed exit the matrix.

Here’s how:

The matrix is a system of control. A prison for your mind. It is self-imposed and self-regulated prison, and you can leave it at any time. To leave the matrix means to run the risk of ostracization from your friends and your family. It matters not. They are sick, and you are getting well. Once you are well, you can help heal them too.

The matrix, as I’m referring to it is that potent mixture of Capitalism, Western Thought, Violence, Status, Religion. All of these come together in one place, wherever it is that you spend your days. A job? In school? At home?

If you are sitting in a box all day, and using a rolling box to get from home box to work box, or school box to apartment box, then the matrix has you, and you must escape.

The answer is land. You must have land with soil that can be turned into gardens. I’ve heard it said that “the revolution is the garden,” but I think that more accurately the evolution is in the garden. Evolutions require no bloodshed, and there is a lot more laughing. (Wiki Yugoslavia’s Velvet Revolution for an interesting look at peaceful handover.)

You must be willing. The answer is in the willingness to look foolish. To try new things. To break taboos. The Eskimos have a saying: “In every taboo resides the holy.” We must be willing to crack open our societal taboos an extract the nut meat of holiness out from them.

INTERESTING TABOOS I’VE NOTICED IN MYSELF:

1. Classism. A big one. I had some severe classism in my OS. That money and skin color provide the metrics of judging another’s worth as a human being. You’ve got this too, homies. It’s just in there deep. Don’t think so? Answer this question: Is homelessness a necessary thing in our present society? If not, why? If so, why?

2. Cleanliness. Next to godliness, right? I remember adopting two kittens when I was in college, and the stench of the litter box making me gag the first few times I went to clean it. There I stood, plastic scoop in hand, feeling foolishly nauseous. Press on through. After all, if you want to be a parent, a lover, or have any sort of meaningful and intimate interaction with another human being, you must overcome squeamishness in all its forms. Everybody poops. Everybody has boogers. The concept of dignity is religious propaganda, and is strenuously anti-human. Humans are constantly leaking fluids and shedding layers of skin and hair. Constantly. “Cleanliness is next to anxiousness” is a more accurate trope.

3. Pacifism. It’s funny to think of pacifism as taboo, but in our society it very much is. The willingness to turn the other cheek is derided and scorned in favor of violent retribution every single time. How many movies end with the “Good Guy” letting the “Bad Guy” live, showing him true mercy. Or better yet, how many action movies end with the good guy actively working to rehabilitate the bad guy so that both could grow and evolve as people? None. Peace = weakness is taken as a given. Violence = strength is unquestioned.

Our society is based on punishment and cruelty, little catros. Had you noticed? In school, did you notice that teachers were quick to point out all that you had done wrong, but seldom commented on what you’d done right? Our prison system is based on punishment and not rehabilitation. Our foreign policy is based on threat of violence and not on diplomacy. Our entire lives are based in violence.

It’s none of our faults. The violence, degradation, and destruction are not side effects of the system; they are the system. Our culture and economy are based on scarcity and hierarchy and everything about our lives revolves around those twin poles. To be born into the matrix is to be unaware of the matrix. Does the fish know he floats in water? The violence around us is so loud and so pervasive that we’ve all become deaf and blind to it.

Count the number of guns you see on billboards and advertisements and television today. Is the number more than one hundred?

That you as an educated and privileged person are better than and thus less likely to have violence enacted against you than the average homeless person in Downtown Los Angeles’ skid row is unquestioned. They are homeless, uneducated, poor, and thus they deserve to be harassed, searched and groped by police, put in jail, starved, and even murdered. Is this not the message underlying our culture?

And so the matrix is revealed as a giant prison for your mind, where to question the behaviors it demands is to risk being ejected by the system and thus subject to the violence that afflicts those who have been othered.

If you don’t rock the boat, you can rest assured that you can look forward to a nice rest home, pills, fat, disease, and death. Huzzah! If you do rock the boat, then you are scum. And I don’t mean rock the boat like protest in a demonstration, or grow dreadlocks, or ingest psychedelic plant medicines and free your mind up a bit. I mean really rock the boat.

Get some land. Share your land with your friends. Grow your own food and produce as many of your own goods as you are able. Trade for what you cannot make yourself. Above all, try your best to exit the job system. The monetary system. Capitalism. Exit it now. Beyond Amish, or Mennonite, or Kalahari Bushman, or Aboriginal, we must explore self and group reliance on a large scale. To end Capitalism’s death grip on our lives and our ecosystem, we must withdraw our support from the system.

So go on craigslist and start looking at land. You will have to leave the major cities. Major cities are not currently set up to support the number of humans dwelling within them. They could be, but they currently are not. Leave the cities, go back to the country. Google permaculture and take some lessons. Buy some used books, or better yet, trade for them. Steal them.

Where did you spend the first eight years of your life? Are your services needed there? Think about going home to see the old haunts. Help grandma and grandpa take care of the ranch. If the thought of venturing to where you spent the first eight years of your life inspires fear, nausea, or revulsion in you, take it as a sure sign that growth and evolution lie on that track. If you are repelled by an idea of something, but cannot logically explain why, that is a surefire sign of conditioning at work. Explore your conditioning, within it are the answers to your questions.

Ask for help. We are trained not to do this. At this very moment there are a number of people that I could be calling to ask them to help me with the purchase of the land, but I’m not calling them. I’m writing this instead. When I get done with this post, I will make some calls. I promise. Ask for help and ask for it like a child. Ask it of everyone and everything and eventually you shall have the help you’ve requested.

I need your help, SuperForesters. You see, Melissa and I are cooking up a little SuperForester, and I want to fluff the nest and get things ready on this end for when the little critter pops out this coming September. What I’d like is a world at peace for my child to be born into. I can achieve that peace for myself, and Melissa can too, and we can help the people around us find that peace inside them. If you decide right here and now to do the same, to put your oxygen mask on and then help the ones around you, we can set off a chain reaction of peace.

How to do this?

1.) Your peace is inside you now, are you willing to accept that?
2.) If your peace is inside you now, then you can stop searching for it.
3.) When you stop searching for peace because you already have it, then you have achieved inner peace.

To be willing to grow past all judgment and all preconceived ideas of right and wrong is all I’m asking. If we do this we will have the peace that we have for so long denied ourselves.

Remove all the distractions. For god’s sake, stop watching television and reading newspapers and magazines. The very world view that they communicate is violent and destructive, but it’s nearly impossible to see this with your nose pressed against it. Step back a moment and take a deep breath, and the truth of the messages that bombard us daily will stand out clearly. These messages speak directly to the ego, telling it lies and encouraging separation and further violence. Remember that six media companies control nearly every piece of media you will see today. Six companies are controlling what is “normal” for the three hundred plus million Americans and untold others. That’s bonkers. Hence: media is bonkers. Solution: avoid any media that you did not choose to ingest.

All my love from Paradise,

-Jackson