We Grow From Here's Blog

A Community Garden Project

"...there is nothing in the world more hopeless and reprehensible than man in the depths of a fuel binge..."


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Scared Economics: The Emergence of the Entreprenurtureist [Alternatively titled: "Fear and Loathing in Finance"]

You may say it is just good luck that things work out so well: the trees don’t care about watering the plants around them—they are in it for themselves, maximizing their chances to survive and reproduce. That they nourish other beings is an unintended side-effect. The same for the algae, for the nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and for the bacteria inside ruminants that allow them to digest cellulose. This world, you might think, is everyone for himself. Nature is a cutthroat competition, and an economy that is the same is natural too. (Chris Eisenstein, “Sacred Economics”)

In permaculture we talk a lot about ‘guilds’, which are often confused with polycultures, or the term is stained with historical mis-use or mis-interpretation.  Traditional human guilds evolved into closed networks, where admittance was less community oriented and more likened to ‘The Godfather’ than any natural system.   The infamous Freemasons are a great example of this—now a worldwide organization which began as a trade guild—the masons, who built the great cathedrals of Europe evolved into an exclusive, rather than inclusive culture.  This is the important distinction between what we people have created historically as ‘guilds’, and what nature nurtures:  hierarchy vs. a naturally balanced system which evolves based on mutual respect, appreciation, and facilitation, to the betterment of all.

ElephantBathingThe elephant in the room seems to be how to create this environment, which is accessible to all, inclusive of all, and which promotes the ‘fair share’ or ‘return of surplus’ at the core of permaculture ethics.  This rather ponderous creature also mucks about in the current economy of the U.S. in what I have come to think of as ‘Scared Economics’—born in a culture which worships ‘success’ in terms of the acquisition of stuff at the expense of time and creative or artistic pursuits–the waters teem with risk and fear.  Fed a steady diet from birth of ‘more’ means ‘better’, the typical American these days has become lulled into a sense of entitlement and complacency.  As population increases, so does isolation and absence of community.  Our society has become as fractured as the shale under our feet.  Rather than seeking ways of being independent of energy-sucking contraptions such as SUV’s and mounting heaps of petroleum products manufactured for no better reason than ‘convenience’, we have now turned to wreaking further havoc in the bowels of the earth—as if it weren’t enough to raze the top layers.  One of the big lessons in permaculture is connectivity, you see—we know that there is a reason that shale is there, deep in the ground—carbon is generally a filter, and Mother Nature put it there, not to be exploited by greedy and ignorant oil companies, but to create a healthy environment for plants, animals, and people to flourish on the surface.  So let’s just go ahead and crush that filter to extract something which we already know has caused irreversible damage on our air, the atmosphere, our climate —sure, why not throw in the destruction of water and earth as well?  And for what?  “To reduce our dependence on foreign oil’?  There’s an oxymoron for ya—the country which invented the “War on Drugs” uses the same terminology of addictive behavior to justify our junkie-like energy habits.

What she does when cleaning needs to be done...

All thanks and credit to Ralph Steadman for the original artwork

But, I digress—the intention here was not to rant about fracking, it was to address the mindset which allows it—the skewed logic which has farmers buying in to these ill-conceived schemes on the basis that they can continue their farming ‘habit’—that’s the way we regard people in this country who supply, or should be supplying our sustenance, it is something which is not profitable, not sustainable, therefore not worth our collective energy to support.  Why should we grow fruit here, when it’s so cheap in Mexico?  So, what we are saying is:  it is more important to us to support huge corporate entities, ones which are continuing to do irreversible damage to our home, than it is to find a way of supporting an industry which is the backbone of the country—one which feeds us, clothes us, and shelters us…or did, until we chose to look elsewhere for these essentials.  Insanity, indeed, is rampant in this country.

Where does fear come into this scenario?  Is this not the epitome of “Fear and Loathing in Food Production”?  Conspiracy theories aside, how does it make sense to dis-credit those who provide our nutrients, while at the same time feeding the fire-breathing dragon which is razing the countryside and terrorizing its citizens, whether or not they recognize the beast for what it really is?   What are we really so afraid of?

In conversations I’ve had with many people who are in or approaching ‘subsistence’ lifestyle—those who have come to question the mores of our society–the fears tend to cluster around two themes:  food and healthcare—both inextricably intertwined.  The solution here is simple:  we must learn to nurture the nurturers—rather than feeding virgins to the dragon, why not cultivate the very entrepreneurial mindset which makes us Americans seek this “Dream” of freedom, by seeing it for what it is—not some pipe-dream of consumerism, but the ability to make our choices about what we eat, how we grow our food, where our dollar is spent.  In this climate the entreprenurturist is born, and can thrive—here we find the person with not only the will and capacity to create something from nothing, but that key ingredient this country was founded on:  self-reliance.  Ask yourself: ‘what would I do, if I had just a little more time?’  Then, give it—give it to one of those bright lights who have come to question their future.  Watch them flower.

What do we feed this rare creature, how do we care for it?  The same way we would parent a child or coax a seed into maturation:  protect it from the boot poised to trample it–give it light, space…and most of all:  kindness…compassion…love.  Room to grow.

fear&loathing

We can all make a difference—make yours a good one:  Be the Change.

 

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Update on the Court Case for Casa Seranita and Growing Food in Pinellas County

Already things have changed since the arraignment on August 8th (who knew? I had to actually enter a plea–this is, like…Real Court). The actual court date is September 5th, same place, 9:30AM. I am asking for your continued support, and whether you choose to attend court or not, please do sign the petition.
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In the past few days, since the arraignment, several things have come to fruition–first, that my family has now moved in to Casa Seranita, and that the new location for our community garden project has begun ‘breaking ground': T’s Market on the border of Palm Harbor and Dunedin. With these two simple steps, I and my properties are 100% compliant, regardless of any ambiguities in any code.

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I have also learned some things about these codes–such as I may have been completely within my rights to begin with (see:  ambiguity), since the residents of the house at the time the initial violations were reported were involved in the project.  Not only that, but the whole project completely falls within the reasonable boundaries of what is defined as ‘special exceptions’.

I also learned that I may lose my tooth, due to the knashing caused by undue stress, and that I am too exhausted to do much of anything outside of plan my curriculum and dig in the dirt…which…is fine.  Sometimes we need to take the time to focus on our own healing–maybe so we don’t end up like Robin Williams, whose death this week added one more sadness to an already overburdened soul-plate.  Monday was also my late mother’s birthday–she w225437_10150233817406554_4152649_nould have been 78, had she not succumbed to what I still believe was a slow form of suicide–death by pesticides.   This is one of those things I do not share often, but perhaps it is appropriate
 at this time–this woman inspired so much of what I do, including the name of “Casa SerAnita“, because of who she was–her strong moral values and convictions (not the same kind I may have!), and her appreciation of people–she was a people watcher, observer extraordinaire.  Unlike Gladys Kravitz, however, she would never have ‘tattled’ on her neighbors, she knew only compassion.  May I learn to have her compassion without being crushed by the world for it!

 

am·bi·gu·i·ty
ˌambiˈgyo͞o-itē/
noun
noun: ambiguity; plural noun: ambiguities
  1. uncertainty or inexactness of meaning in language.
    “we can detect no ambiguity in this section of the Act”
    synonyms: vagueness, obscurity, abstruseness, doubtfulness, uncertainty; More
     
    1. a lack of decisiveness or commitment resulting from a failure to make a choice between alternatives.
      “the film is fraught with moral ambiguity”
       
       


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Please Help Fund Our “CSD” Scholarship Fund!

What’s a “CSD”?  Community Supported Design – at We Grow From Here, we don’t just start gardens–we also educate people on how to

  • Create their own edible landscapes;
    • Learn how to grow small green businesses;
      • Practice natural building skills; and
        • Earn their PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate).

In order to make our classes accessible to as many as possible and still cover costs, we are building a scholarship fund–one which will be available for partial scholarships to any of our classes.

While we encourage anyone wishing to attend one of our workshops to create their own “CSD” campaign, there are those who have limited computer access and/or skills, therefore we wish to be able to offer the option of doing a partial scholarship/worktrade, which is what this fund will be used for.

The amount is based on the number of students inquiring about scholarships and worktrade openings for our two current offerings:  The Cob Building Series, and  ‘Design Your Own Foodscape‘ PDC course.  We hope to build this fund into an ongoing pool of funds to make our courses available to anyone in the community!

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A New Home for Creative Educational Ecosystems–Sol Terra!

I am so grateful for the perfect timing of the grand opening of Sol Terra–conveniently located right downtown Old Palm Harbor, a bicycle ride away, I could not have asked for a more perfect place!

Dem Bones

King James

We begin this weekend with our ‘on demand’ Permaculture Workshop series: “Design Your Home Foodscape”, which is a PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) qualified course, with a twist! Normally, this course is 72 hours–often onsite for a 12 day intensive, which is simply out of reach for many who work or have family obligations. So, we designed this course with you in mind–it happens two weekends per month, 8 hours per weekend, and if you can’t make it one of the weekend days, we are also adding one weekday evening to cover the material missed in that session. Accessibility is the key, so you can pay for this course by the day, the weekend, or save a bunch of dough by pre-paying the entire course upfront.

Bee Happytat

So, what are you waiting for? This is the lowest cost and most flexible certifiable course out there! Oh, and did I mention–no long boring lectures, either–we cater to all learning types, and each weekend will have onsite analyses, hands-on activities, and fun, creative learning games!  Pre-Register on Meetup, or come a little early on Saturday (Class starts at 10AM each Saturday) to register before class.  I look forward to sharing your journey through sustainability into resilience and regeneration!

Let’s Get Durty!


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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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