Building a sustainable economy, culture, life, We Can Do It! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 50 Old 09-27-2008, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I thought I would start a thread so we can talk about solutions. I know that everything seems so crazy, and it is, but I think part of the problem is that we need to turn our panic and helplessness into solutions and answers.

First I wanted to touch on food and agriculture. I saw an amazing video of Michael Pollan giving a talk about a farm he was on, and it was filled with so much hope, you can check it out here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQPN1O03z8I
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#2 of 50 Old 09-27-2008, 06:40 PM
 
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#3 of 50 Old 09-27-2008, 08:26 PM
 
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Another person full of brilliant ideas is William McDonough. He's the "cradle to cradle" architect. He is brilliant and inspiring.

videos of him speaking

writings

From Remaking the Way We Make Things

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Cradle to Cradle Design offers a clear alternative, a framework in which the safe, regenerative productivity of nature provides models for wholly positive human designs. Working from this perspective, we do not aim to be less bad. Instead, our design assignment is to create a world of interdependent natural and human systems powered by the sun in which safe, healthful materials flow in regenerative cycles, elegantly and equitably deployed for the benefit of all.

Within this framework, every material is designed to provide a wide spectrum of renewable assets. After a useful life as a healthful product, cradle-to-cradle materials are designed to replenish the earth with safe, fecund matter or to supply high quality technical resources for the next generation of products. When materials and products are created specifically for use within these closed-loop cycles-the flow of biological materials through nature's nutrient cycles and the circulation of industrial materials from producer to customer to producer-businesses can realize both enormous short-term growth and enduring prosperity. As well, we can begin to re-design the very foundations of industry, creating systems that purify air, land and water; use current solar income and generate no toxic waste; use only safe, healthful, regenerative materials; and whose benefits enhance all life.
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#4 of 50 Old 09-27-2008, 08:46 PM
 
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Can someone help me here. I know this OT but its not OT.

What will happen if we don't bailout Wall Street?

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#5 of 50 Old 09-28-2008, 06:14 AM
 
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:::

Let's hope there are people in positions of power and influence that can push these ideas to the forefront. Or, failing that, the rest of us have the courage and fortitude to make them a reality.
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#6 of 50 Old 09-28-2008, 01:31 PM
 
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bravo! what a great idea for a thread...I think I might loose my mind if I start reading another depressing (although its the reality right now) thread about the state of our economy/financial system....

i need to focus on the positive these days....

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#7 of 50 Old 09-28-2008, 08:08 PM
 
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Can someone help me here. I know this OT but its not OT.

What will happen if we don't bailout Wall Street?
I have heard that things will crash hard, but that in the long term it will be better. Clear as mud hey?
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#8 of 50 Old 09-28-2008, 08:15 PM
 
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I like that video.

Something we're doing personally at the moment is looking into green building. We want our first house to be self-built, off the grid, and built with green materials. We have a big stack of library books, and it is really fascinating and exciting. I've been dreaming of communities of such houses...maybe we can turn our friends on to it, too.
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#9 of 50 Old 09-28-2008, 08:15 PM
 
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We need to get rid of a substational amount of the 9 trillion dollars we have in Gov debt. That will go a long way towards building a sustainable economy, culture and life.
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#10 of 50 Old 09-28-2008, 08:28 PM
 
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Thanks studentmama for starting this thread because this is exactly where I'm at right now. I don't want to give up hope on my government but I just about have. Right now I feel the best thing I can do for my family, the environment, and the planet as a whole is to live as sustainably and self sufficiently as possible.

I've dreamed and researched about it for years but sort of decided that until I actually had a piece of property that we would put a lot of things on the backburner. After all, I rent a house close to downtown and it doesn't feel very "sustainable". Then I came across the path to freedom website last week. I was in tears. I knew all about urban homesteading but couldn't quite visualize how it would work in our circumstances. I always just felt a little defeated about where we live, not owning a home, etc....but after watching the video on that site, I felt empowered.

So I've really changed some perspective in the past week. I'm selling a lot of my more frivolous belongings to make some better investments that will save us money on a regular basis and also contribute to being self sufficient (ie. growing our own food, homebrewing, investing in non electric appliances, etc.).

On one hand I hope it isn't too little too late with the economy. On the other hand, I'm ready to move forward and "opt out" as I like to put it. No more box stores, no more grocery than we have to....thrift stores or independent sellers all the way. I'm done playing the game and contributing to the wealthy to get wealthier and rape the people in the meantime.

Anyway, I would encourage everybody to check out the path to freedom website. It has really been inspiring for me and it strokes my inner little house in the prairie girl as well, hehe.
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#11 of 50 Old 09-28-2008, 11:03 PM
 
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The Path to Freedom website is great and really inspiring.... definitely worth looking at

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#12 of 50 Old 09-28-2008, 11:06 PM
 
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Another Path to Freedom fan here!
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#13 of 50 Old 09-29-2008, 12:29 AM
 
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subbing!
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#14 of 50 Old 09-29-2008, 12:31 AM
 
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I have heard that things will crash hard, but that in the long term it will be better. Clear as mud hey?

Hmm, clear as mud alright. I don't know. I support (resentfully) the Bailout.
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#15 of 50 Old 09-29-2008, 01:41 AM
 
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What a great video & perspective!

I think I am going to be sending that one out to friends.

I've been thinking a lot about our economy (who hasn't?) It just kills me that we don't really make anything here. If our system collapses, hardly anyone is going to know how to do anything to sustain themselves. Most of us have been trained to work in business - sales people, managers, accountants, clerical, etc. We won't be needing any of those kinda jobs if there is no money to buy more stuff.

It would be great if we could somehow get rid of the huge mega farms that have to use chemicals for fertilizer and antibiotics to keep the livestock from getting sick. So many more people could be work in farming if we moved toward small self sustaining farms. A girl can dream.....
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#16 of 50 Old 09-29-2008, 01:11 PM
 
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What a great video & perspective!

I think I am going to be sending that one out to friends.

I've been thinking a lot about our economy (who hasn't?) It just kills me that we don't really make anything here. If our system collapses, hardly anyone is going to know how to do anything to sustain themselves. Most of us have been trained to work in business - sales people, managers, accountants, clerical, etc. We won't be needing any of those kinda jobs if there is no money to buy more stuff.

It would be great if we could somehow get rid of the huge mega farms that have to use chemicals for fertilizer and antibiotics to keep the livestock from getting sick. So many more people could be work in farming if we moved toward small self sustaining farms. A girl can dream.....
Makes me happy for all that time spent growing up on the Great Plains. My mother grew up in a very small town (pop. 350). My grandfather had about an acre that the house was on. Growing up, if my grandparents didn't hunt for it or grow it, chances are they didn't eat it. My grandmother also made her own soap for a very long time, before she started working full time.

I learned a lot from my grandfather. I think I would do pretty well if I had to "live rough". Now my dog on the other hand is incredibly spoiled. I don't know if she could handle it.
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#17 of 50 Old 09-29-2008, 01:20 PM
 
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Here's a promising read...

DH had a revelatory weekend , which means that he rehashed his desire to sell everything and go on the road. We go over this plan at least once a month. This time we actually have the RV, and also a strong draw to getting away from commercialism and our particular society. hmmm, we'll see.
Meanwhile...
We just rototilled our entire backyard, drew up plans for a winter food garden, and researched solar. It appears that being off0grid here in town is becoming more affordable.

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#18 of 50 Old 09-29-2008, 02:26 PM
 
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I love that video! Bio fules=part of corn's bid for world domination! I love it.

That talk is from TED: Ideas worth spreading. Full of soooooooooo many good ideas and they just keep comming.

Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.)0(
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#19 of 50 Old 09-29-2008, 05:41 PM
 
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Here's a promising read...

DH had a revelatory weekend , which means that he rehashed his desire to sell everything and go on the road. We go over this plan at least once a month. This time we actually have the RV, and also a strong draw to getting away from commercialism and our particular society. hmmm, we'll see.
Meanwhile...
We just rototilled our entire backyard, drew up plans for a winter food garden, and researched solar. It appears that being off0grid here in town is becoming more affordable.

See, I'm hoping more people will start thinking this way. DH and I have toyed with the idea of converting a bus and going on the road for years...problem is we have no way to make money while we are on the road so that hasn't come to fruition yet.

But we have been researching off grid, solar, and sustainable living for years. We just haven't been able to afford land that would also be close enough to an income to do that either. That's why I'm not wasting any more time. I will take the information I've learned and forge ahead into an urban homesteading project, even if I don't even own a piece of land or can't go on the road, etc.
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#20 of 50 Old 09-29-2008, 05:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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See, I'm hoping more people will start thinking this way. DH and I have toyed with the idea of converting a bus and going on the road for years...problem is we have no way to make money while we are on the road so that hasn't come to fruition yet.

But we have been researching off grid, solar, and sustainable living for years. We just haven't been able to afford land that would also be close enough to an income to do that either. That's why I'm not wasting any more time. I will take the information I've learned and forge ahead into an urban homesteading project, even if I don't even own a piece of land or can't go on the road, etc.
We rent and there are still a lot of things you can do. We planted a garden by our house and I discovered the local community garden and got a plot, you can't believe how many tomatoes I have.

I'll post more in a bit, but right now I am going to enjoy my homemade tomato soup.:
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#21 of 50 Old 09-29-2008, 06:54 PM
 
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Here is a lovely idea I wish my town had picked up on--
We had a big storm on the heels of the last US hurricane. Lots of trees got knocked down, etc, etc. Well, the city agreed to do free pick up and disposal of limbs/branches/trees as long as the owners cut them up. So, everyone was sharing chainsaws

But... why didn't the city put the wood in a central location and offer it as free firewood? I know many, many people who heat with wood and would have loved to have it. Instead, the city burned it en mass : And it just makes me mad that the people with the man power, incentive, and vehicles could do such a thing.

---feeling like an emu on acid---
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#22 of 50 Old 09-29-2008, 08:17 PM
 
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This subject stirs the passion inside me. I am actually reading The Botany of Desire by Pollan right now. I've taken a few permaculture courses and one of the teachers from one the farms (in Carbondale, IL) that I worked on changed my life. The man that started the farm had graduated from college and went on to a position where he was trying to change the world- even speaking at the UN to convince world leaders to be more environmental and such. He realized that he wasn't convincing anybody anything. He eventually found that the only way to change the world is to focus on people who are more open to living differently. He has started several permaculture farms around the world and is making his impact in a more indirect way. I remind myself of this lesson anytime I start to feel overwhelmed by the crazy state of the world.

Here's another uplifting book by Paul Hawken:

Quote:
Paul Hawken has spent over a decade researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice.
From billion-dollar nonprofits to single-person dot.causes, these groups collectively comprise the largest movement on earth, a movement that has no name, leader, or location, and that has gone largely ignored by politicians and the media. Like nature itself, it is organizing from the bottom up, in every city, town, and culture. and is emerging to be an extraordinary and creative expression of people's needs worldwide.

Blessed Unrest explores the diversity of the movement, its brilliant ideas, innovative strategies, and hidden history, which date back many centuries. A culmination of Hawken's many years of leadership in the environmental and social justice fields, it will inspire and delight any and all who despair of the world's fate, and its conclusions will surprise even those within the movement itself. Fundamentally, it is a description of humanity's collective genius, and the unstoppable movement to reimagine our relationship to the environment and one another.
from: http://www.blessedunrest.com/

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#23 of 50 Old 09-30-2008, 02:42 AM
 
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Sorry I can't watch the video as we have dial up. But, someone made the comment about corn being used as a bio-fuel. This is something that is totally NOT sustainable. And, using food crops for bio-fuel (or any crops) is not sustainable. Corn is very nitrogen hungry and depletes the soil of it. Therefore, the nitrogen has to be put back. In the large scale agriculture necessary for fuel production this means chemical nitrogen which runs off into the water systems and does major damage. Plus, chemical nitrogen has to be manufactured. Another non-sustainable process. Plus, the agriculture itself is largely mechanized, another non-sustainable process. The list goes on.

Food is best used as food. Corn is best as a food grain grown in companionship with other food crops. The example of the "Three Sisters" is useful here. Corn, beans and squash are grown together in the same mound. Corn provides the tall structure for the beans to grow on, the beans fix nitrogen into the soil for the corn, squash spreads out and provides ground cover to limit weeds. Eating any two of these together will give you a complete protein and let you limit the amount of animal flesh you need to eat. The yield is not high enough for fuel production, but more than large enough to sustain populations.

Fuel is best thought of as something to eliminate or minimize from our society and not something to produce in alternate ways so the current levels of consumption can be maintained, because they can't. That is part of the problem today. Current consumption levels of everything need to go down, not stay the same or increase.

"To lose the sense of sacredness of the world is a mortal loss. To injure our world by excesses of greed and ingenuity is to endanger our own sacredness."    Ursula K. Le Guin
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#24 of 50 Old 09-30-2008, 03:26 AM
 
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Sorry I can't watch the video as we have dial up. But, someone made the comment about corn being used as a bio-fuel. This is something that is totally NOT sustainable. And, using food crops for bio-fuel (or any crops) is not sustainable. Corn is very nitrogen hungry and depletes the soil of it. Therefore, the nitrogen has to be put back. In the large scale agriculture necessary for fuel production this means chemical nitrogen which runs off into the water systems and does major damage. Plus, chemical nitrogen has to be manufactured. Another non-sustainable process. Plus, the agriculture itself is largely mechanized, another non-sustainable process. The list goes on.

Food is best used as food. Corn is best as a food grain grown in companionship with other food crops. The example of the "Three Sisters" is useful here. Corn, beans and squash are grown together in the same mound. Corn provides the tall structure for the beans to grow on, the beans fix nitrogen into the soil for the corn, squash spreads out and provides ground cover to limit weeds. Eating any two of these together will give you a complete protein and let you limit the amount of animal flesh you need to eat. The yield is not high enough for fuel production, but more than large enough to sustain populations.

Fuel is best thought of as something to eliminate or minimize from our society and not something to produce in alternate ways so the current levels of consumption can be maintained, because they can't. That is part of the problem today. Current consumption levels of everything need to go down, not stay the same or increase.
Excellent post.

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Nirvana is . . . the living happiness of a soul which is conscious of itself and conscious of having found its own abode in the heart of the Eternal. --Gandhi
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#25 of 50 Old 09-30-2008, 11:19 AM
 
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Food is best used as food. Corn is best as a food grain grown in companionship with other food crops. The example of the "Three Sisters" is useful here. Corn, beans and squash are grown together in the same mound. Corn provides the tall structure for the beans to grow on, the beans fix nitrogen into the soil for the corn, squash spreads out and provides ground cover to limit weeds. Eating any two of these together will give you a complete protein and let you limit the amount of animal flesh you need to eat. The yield is not high enough for fuel production, but more than large enough to sustain populations.
Interesting! I didn't know that. I knew about corn being bad as biofuel, especially after reading Omnivore's Dilemma.
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#26 of 50 Old 10-01-2008, 01:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Tata, the three sisters story is awesome! I love it!

I heard a talk on MPR a few months back about the book "American Pest" and it was the history of pest control from colonial times until present and it was fascinating. Can you imagine all this knowledge that farmers had that got lost?
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#27 of 50 Old 10-01-2008, 01:23 AM
 
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how about gardens like this
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_garden

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#28 of 50 Old 10-01-2008, 11:35 AM
 
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Which reminded me of guerrilla gardening (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guerilla_gardening), which I am also a fan of!
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#29 of 50 Old 10-01-2008, 01:37 PM
 
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#30 of 50 Old 10-01-2008, 02:07 PM
 
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This subject stirs the passion inside me. I am actually reading The Botany of Desire by Pollan right now. I've taken a few permaculture courses and one of the teachers from one the farms (in Carbondale, IL) that I worked on changed my life. The man that started the farm had graduated from college and went on to a position where he was trying to change the world- even speaking at the UN to convince world leaders to be more environmental and such. He realized that he wasn't convincing anybody anything. He eventually found that the only way to change the world is to focus on people who are more open to living differently. He has started several permaculture farms around the world and is making his impact in a more indirect way. I remind myself of this lesson anytime I start to feel overwhelmed by the crazy state of the world.

Here's another uplifting book by Paul Hawken:



from: http://www.blessedunrest.com/
Huh... funny, I picked up this book (blessed unrest) last year when Penguin Publishers had their big warehouse sale - I think it was like $2. I really had no good reason to get it, and I didn't even really read the back or anything, but now I'm glad I got it. I gotta get to reading it. Funny, though, I did the same thing w/Al Gore's Assault on Reason, with only minimal interest, but then reading the intro, it's hitting hard considering all the craziness going on right now...

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