We Grow From Here's Blog

A Community Garden Project


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On the Radio: WMNF Sustainable Living and Alternative Health Show

Listen to my ‘plug’ for justice here:   Making Our Living Spaces Greener

Please come to the courthouse on August 8th at 8:30 AM to show your support for “Food Not Lawns”, and whether you can make it in person or not, please sign the petition:  Support Statewide Recognition of Permaculture Design Certificates 

Bee HappytatRead the history here:  Casa Seranita

 


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The Home of Serenity

It’s 4:24 AM, and I’ve been awake since before 3AM, pondering life, the nearly full moon, and the phenomenon of the mouthguard which refuses to stay in my mouth while I sleep.  Mostly, only on nights such as this one, when, try as I might, I cannot meditate away the monkeys chattering in my brain, sleep eludes me and knashing of teeth disturbs what little rest I find.  My teachers tell me that this is all an illusion, the ‘problems’, the conflicts which seem to manifest as physical realities are, in fact, a reflection of my own mind, and I believe them—I do.  I pray for peace, knowing that when my mind is still, the world is not such a bad place.  And yet, I fret.

Yesterday, (which is now last week, since I failed to finish this post until now), I found myself thrown into chaos by the receipt of three pieces of paper.  These innocuous forms, printed in triplicate, state that I am, according to the County in which I reside, the county that I am the fourth generation of my family to own property, work and pay taxes in, a criminal.  My great-grandparents would be proud, would they not?

Alfred and Maggie moved to the County of Pinellas in 1962, a year after I was born, right around the same time that we were returning from Germany, where my father was stationed and where I was born on an Army base.  Alfred and Maggie were modest people, shopkeepers from upstate New York who moved South, as many did and still do, to enjoy their golden years in sunshine.  They had grapefruit trees, which Maggie would climb a ladder to tend into her nineties.

Maggie had one son, and he and his wife, retired schoolteachers, built their home in the then-new neighborhood in which I have lived longer than any other place in over fifty years—in 1972, theirs was one of 29 homes built, to add to the 135 built since 1958.  In 1977, they helped my mother purchase a house one block over, when her marriage and the transient life of the military, ended.  This house is the one which is now known as ‘Casa Seranita’:  the home of elusive serenity–for my mother Anita, until her early demise in 2001.  This is the property which the County has deemed inappropriate for use as a teaching facility or a demonstration garden.  This is the home of two citations for misconduct earning me an appearance in court next month.  The criminal courthouse, where I have been only once in over thirty years to serve for jury duty, is seven miles from where the prior three generations of my family are all buried.  I am as close to a Florida ‘Native’ as most white folks can be—my daughter was even born in Tampa.

Why so much detail on local family history?  Because, for nearly as long as I have lived, at least one family member has been paying property and sales taxes in Pinellas County.  That’s over fifty years and thousands of dollars per year.  I personally have owned and paid taxes on not just one, but five properties in the past ten years alone.  That is quite a sum, all told.  Certainly more than I have paid for anything else, other than mortgages–and it has bought me, not appreciation, but criminal justice.

I could spend a lot of time pondering the ‘why’s of this situation, and I have—questions like “Why is it necessary to make citizens feel like criminals, or to treat them as if they are, when the infraction is pretty much a difference in opinion about what a yard should look like?” Here, we live in a state where the water tables are in such peril that a dry spell causes sinkholes to swallow homes, and where the contingency plan for salt water intrusion is, well, that it will—intrude, that is.  And yet, those of us who choose to educate not only ourselves, but others as well, on such “Florida Friendly” practices as rain water catchment, conservative water usage, and Xeriscaping are often labeled as some kind of pariah?

Justice, indeed.  We shall see whether there is any such thing, on August 8th, 2014.  Please, do come along, and let your voice be heard—I certainly intend to share my feelings, along with graphs, charts, petitions, photos…perhaps an example or an attorney or two!

jailbird

 


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“There is nothing we can do” – Meadows

“There is nothing we can do” – Meadows.

What do YOU think?


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The Secrets of Food Marketing

wegrowfromhere:

Are you feeling manipulated, much? Check this out…

Originally posted on Under the Pecan Leaves:

Stamp 02As  I watched this little video I actually felt chills. Is Kate Cooper an actress or an actual marketer? Does she really feel such ambivalent contempt for us? No idea. I do know that this video is a nuanced and clever performance. A must see.

Including this clip breaks one of my unwritten rules for this blog but I decided to make an exception.

View original

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Inner Peace and Passion of the Vine

Hope is passion for what is possible.
Søren Kierkegaard

sur·ren·der

[suh-ren-der]  Show IPA

verb (used with object)

  1. to yield (something) to the possession or power of another; deliver up possession of on demand or under duress: to surrender the fort to the enemy; to surrender the stolen goods to the police.
  2. to give (oneself) up, as to the police.
  3. to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc.: He surrendered himself to a life ofhardship.
  4. to give up, abandon, or relinquish (comfort, hope, etc.).
  5. to yield or resign (an office, privilege, etc.) in favor of another.

verb (used without object)

  1. to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield.

noun

  1. the act or an instance of surrendering.
  2. Insurance. the voluntary abandonment of a life-insurance policy by the owner for any of its nonforfeiture values.
  3. the deed by which a legal surrendering is made.

Origin: 
1425–75;  (v.) late Middle English surrendren  < Anglo-French surrender, Old French surrendre  to give up,equivalent to sur- sur-1  + rendre  to render; (noun) < Anglo-French; Old French surrendre,  noun use of theinfinitive

 

What maypopdo hope, passion and surrender have in common?  Why, the lowly yet lovely Passion Flower and fruit, of course!  This blog began with a “Maypop” flower, and over the course of the past two years I’ve watched my own vine grow, flower, and finally fruit this year.  My ‘homestead’ yard has begun to function and have the look of a true food forest, and the only items I now purchase from the store on a regular basis are coffee, milk (non-dairy), gluten-free flour, and cat food.  Oh, and wine—thus, my trips to the store are often punctuated by wry commentary on my ‘food’ choices…which, of course, I have to engage the cashier in conversation about my garden, because who wants to make the ‘crazy cat lady’ thing that obvious, really?

What about ‘surrender’, you ask?  That’s a wee bit more complex, and may I draw your attention to the first words of the definition above:  “to yield” and “to give”.  In permaculture we often speak in terms of yield—only it’s usually the outcome kind—here is an opportunity to explore the other kind of yield—the kind which could feel like ‘submit’ if not taken in proper context.  A couple of scenarios to illustrate:

  • Bully at school accosts you to forfeit your lunch money—
    your choices:

o   You surrender the money, and either go hungry or rely upon the kind
ness of strangers to feed you; or

o   You refuse, he beats you up, and takes the money anyway; or

o   You run, fast, to the principle’s office, in hopes of discouraging further graft.

Potential yields:

o   Hunger, perhaps a new friend or two, certainly a little wisdom.

o   A black eye.

o   School reputation as a ‘tattle-tale’, perhaps a spot on the track team.

 

So, what’s the point I’m trying to make here?  Maybe there is none, maybe this is just a rambling rant designed to clear my own head and it has absolutely no bearing on anyone else.  Or, perhaps I am still poking a stick at the concept of ‘surrender’, because, see—here’s the rub:  all of my spiritual friends will tell you that surrender is the way to peace, and they could be right—I mean, it’s certainly not very peaceful to allow a 2 ton machine to run over your body as it lies prone in the way of something deemed ‘progress’ by the dominant culture.  And yet, it’s no more peaceful to comply with rules which simply no longer make sense—ones that do more harm than good.

Here’s where I’m going to break in and interrupt my own musings, in order to shed some light on what brought me to here:  my dentist.  More specifically—the situation which took me to my dentist, which by the time I got there had me convinced I had a brain tumor, or something else equally as unpleasant.  I love my dentist, even if I can’t pronounce her first name—she said: “Good news!” and gave me high dose Ibuprofen, muscle relaxers, and a mouth guard.  Apparently, the stress of avoiding a ‘battle’ and attempting to comply had led me to grinding my teeth with a vengeance while I slept.

See, sometimes when we ‘try’ not to fight, we’re still fighting—we just hide it under the veil of our dream life.

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So, I let go—it took about a week, but I slowly relinquished the grip I had on what ‘must be’, and took down the bloody Warka that had the county code enforcement officer, zoning director, engineering department, and god-only-knows who else in apparent chaos.  It just.wasn’t.worth.the.stress.  It needs a new home, my lily warka—I’m not giving up on the concept, because it is a good one—but, perhaps this slightly above-per-capita-average-income county is not quite ready for such innovations.  Yet.

For now, I am taking the advice of some very evolved people:

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Peaceful Egg-in-a-Basket Breakfast

“Don’t give your energy, time, & attention to anyone with a clear investment in drama, victimhood & negativity. Be an atmosphere that evokes transformation & healing. Stop trying to “change” people who have taken out a mortgage in misery. The best way to impact change is by the example of our living. Meet people where they are, not where you are…and know that where they are is perfect on their unique path, and know that this does not make you better, special or greater than them or where they are with themselves…different not better. No one escapes the work that their soul came to do, so no need to police & judge. See them as Whole, separate the behavior from the Being and be clear we live in a Universe of Love, Perfect Order, & Harmony…surrender will restore harmony to chaos. Trust the Process and do not be fooled by appearances. See beyond circumstance and condition…let people BE. Stop trying to “rescue” people. Saving people is a conversation of your E.G.O…Save your self. Empower those that are open to your support and keep strong boundaries from toxic energy.
Be compassionate and exercise discernment with people…trust and yet still be wise. Serve people, don’t fix them, they are not broken…simply they have fallen asleep…you can’t want for another more than they want for themselves. Be the best you, that is the greatest gift you can offer the world.”  ~Judah Isvaran

Namaste

 

Read the Permaculture Principles Series:

Introduction:  ”Unplugging”

  1. Observe and Interact
  2. Catch and Store Energy
  3. Obtain a Yield
  4. Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services
  6. Produce no waste
  7. Design from patterns to details
  8. Integrate rather than segregate
  9. Use small and slow solutions
  10. Use and value diversity
  11. Use edges and value the marginal
  12. Creatively use and respond to change

 

© Loretta Buckner, 2014, We Grow From Here

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Loretta Buckner and WeGrowFromHere.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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Cultivating Community:  The 2nd Annual Florida Permaculture Convergence

Category            Social Permaculture

 

The very first thing which comes to my mind post-convergence is this now-famous quote:  “The map is not the territory”, after months and months of meeting and planning and discussing and deliberating, we pulled it off—a ‘more mature’ event than the first—a progression down the path to mapping and connecting our community.   And what a community!  Holy cow, as I go through, card by card, the results of the Regional Roundup (yes, actually—I did in fact volunteer for this honor, as oftentimes this sorting and compiling is somewhat soothing.  Must be those 20 years in accounting, I dunno.)   I am amazed, yet again, at the extraordinary glimpse of the underbelly of this State such a gathering allows.  We are more diverse…stronger, hardier, and far more connected than we know.  Aho.  (Yes, I meant that to rhyme, yet another oddity.)

As in virtually every permaculture gathering, it rained.  It didn’t just rain, in fact—the deluge on opening day Friday was such that it, no doubt, kept many arrivals from happening that day.  The 2 – 2½  hour trip it should have been for me turned out to be five hours, most of it at a jerking, clunking, sputtering 35 miles an hour—the truck does not like rain.  The soaked, shivering, dripping bunch in the registration tent when I arrived were so reminiscent of Cuba that I immediately felt at home.  There is something about the state of discomfort, that once it has been reached—that’s it–there you are.

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Sandhill Farm

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We easily managed to cobble together 20 or so people for a tour of a local tiny eco-home, with its amazing array of fruit trees and organic and biodynamic methodology.  The area surrounding Crooked Lake on the Lake Wales Ridge is an awe-inspiring pocket of diversity, and both Hunter and Linda, our hosts for the tour, really know their history, so the tour was quite the treat!

The rest of the weekend went pretty much the same way—nothing quite as planned, perhaps, yet still rich with the compost of the community already formed.  To say the event was ‘enriching’ would be an understatement—it truly was cultural cultivation.  We could not have chosen a more fortunate spot for this gathering–H.E.A.R.T. is not only one of the best examples of permaculture principles and applied ethics in Florida, it is also located in one of the most diverse regions.

officerfriendlyAnd, now I must digress into the realm of Pinellas County authorities, and “Officer Unfriendly”—the harsh glare of reality outside of those happy permie, weed-infested weekends.  Because, no matter that I have taken great care to remain under the radar, regardless of my hours upon hours (upon hours and hours) of back-breaking labor and uncharacteristically pleasant and neighborly demeanor… ‘the man’ is after me.   Because I chose to share my journey with the public, and divulged such things as the (extra four) loads of mulch I had to scramble to deal with, once Pasco County deemed my yard their new favorite dumping ground.  Because I like to experiment with designs, such as combining my freestanding water colleBee Happytatction and hopefully graceful, artistic structure with a Warka, now used in Ethiopia for village water collection, miles from other potable water sources.  Because I like to share my findings with other like-minded people in the community.  Because my yard(s) do not look like cookie-cutter manicured, chemical-laden, water-sucking, bee-hating landscapes—I get to take my time to pay a visit to the County courthouse, to apply in retrospect for permits for dirt which has been used, and for structures and cultivation which no one has complained about.  Yes, this is a rant, because I chose to invite the public in, thinking that if only they knew what I was about, that the whole idea is about helping people (People Care), and saving the planet (Earth Care), that ‘they’ could not possibly choose to stop me, and even if they did try, they would not succeed.  So much for thinking.

As was said at the convergence—in my intro to the keynote speaker panel, I compared this group of permies–not as ditch-diggers, ‘in the trenches’–but as a swale, the event on the whole was very swale-like, an appropriate application of a design technology for the purpose of slowing down, absorbing, and creating an absorbent layer of material, which all of us have access to.  The panel participants have been at it here, in this state, for anywhere from one to ten years, and there are those not present who have been at it twice as long.  One might think we’d have re-charged the aquifers by now, but there are forces, still, running contrary to our ‘Mother Nature’.  The greatest of these forces is not, as one might think, “The Man”, but is ignorance.  It is the sheer weight of mis-information fed to the masses every day, the tick-tock sleepytime lull of our society’s metronome and mantras:  “get a job”, “pay the bills”, “sit still”, “mind your manners, ”be good, Johnny”…”clean your plate”.  Nobody warned us (ok, a few did), that our plates were heaped with poison.

It should come as no great surprise to those who know me that I have taken on the task of undermining such acceptance of “ignorance is bliss, ‘Tis folly to be wise”, when said folly leads us to…well, pretty much where we are, on this planet.  I’ve pretty much had it, in fact—for one who does not believe in terminology or strategies of war, this uphill battle has become, for me, much as I remember the battlefield of Gettysburg—over a century later, the stink and despair hang over the place like a dark cloud of carrion birds.  So, my mentor Dave Jacke says:  “…instead of focusing only on the size of our footprint, we need to increase our handprint”  [paraphrased].  I will not share my evil visualizations of how one might just go about increasing ones’ handprint, flapping and jazz hands notwithstanding.  It is encouraging to know, to be in the company of others who know, that the future lies, not in the hands of those who have already done so much damage, but in our own hands.  The simple act of being in the presence of, granted, a very small percentage of the population, but one which is growing daily—less than half of our 200 or so attendees this year were also part of the 200 last year—is an indication of the hidden masses underlying this great, green iceberg.  Or, perhaps a tree is an even better metaphor, as our glaciers are melting, because over half of the body of trees and many other plants, is below the ground.  Like mycelium, the invisible structures we are forming through these convergences are creating a tightly woven web of inter-connectionThe basic idea, and evidence from our experience…is that as people feel more connected and aligned, the thought of collective action becomes that much more inviting and its potential impact that much greater and longer lasting.”  The more people I meet and converse with from these connections, the more I hear how good it is to have someone to talk to who “gets it”.   These connections are now forming on a very basic, root level—deep, shallow, or broadscale.  As we continue to grow, as a community, and as each of us individually takes a look at our own inner landscapes, and whether that design serves us—the entire ecosystem will mature, revealing the natural, inherent design.  Eventually, the hope and design is that this polyculture will eventually sort itself into guilds—true, needs-and-yields based design, where the overall stress to each component – what Dave calls ‘resource partitioning’, in which cooperation is essential, and competition minimized.

In people systems, this requires a high level of self-actualization from the individual components—again, the requirement here is that each person does, has done, and continues on a regular basis to do the work on his or her own inner landscape.  Unless we understand what our own needs really are, we can’t hope to become enmeshed in a highly developed system based on needs and yields.  This process cannot happen, outside of a community, which is what is at the core of the current PDC certificate debate—many feel that “permaculture is a design science”, therefore can be taught virtually.  I believe that the environment of the digital age is very efficient for delivering the bulk of the informational goods, and it completely ignores the majority of what makes this study a ‘culture’, and not a ‘science’ alone.  Culture does not occur in a vacuum, and we cannot effectively teach or learn the components of social permaculture unless we spend time in a group with other people (uncomfortable though that may be, at times!).  So…when would now be a good time to get out there and learn some, hands on, with some other like-minded people?

 

© Loretta Buckner, 2014, We Grow From Here

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Loretta Buckner and WeGrowFromHere.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Resources:

Thomas Gray “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College”

scold’s bridle

Why Networks for Social Change?   “Thinking in terms of networks can enable us see with new eyes.”

- Harold Jarche

2nd Annual Florida Permaculture Convergence

P.I.N.A.

H.E.A.R.T.

 

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