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An opportunity for your dark green friend

Perhaps there is this type of person in your life, they are unusually principled, comfortable with hard work and they likely think most people are not going far enough to personally work on saving the environment.  They might have principal objections to flying, a vegan diet or live off the grid.  People and groups which adopt these reasonable, but oft seen as extreme positions i sometimes refer to as “dark green“.  I worked in a Czech dark green groups office.  It was many floors of steps to walk up, i did not know for 3 years that there was an elevator in the building.   You know the type.

Living Energy Farm is an ambitious and challenging project.  Essentially preparing for a post petroleum world, while it can still be done relatively comfortably.  However they are using a prefigurative approach, in which we model the practices which will be used in the resource-scarce future.  This means lots of things by hands, living closer to the seasons and nightfall, and thinking about how to reduce one’s impact seriously.

Below is Living Energy Farms latest Newsletter.

21st century camp fire

21st century camp fire

Living Energy Farm
July, August, September 2014 Newsletter

Living Energy Farm Needs You!

Have you ever thought about helping Living Energy Farm? Well, now we have a warm, dry place for you to stay. After the relentless cold and wet of last winter, facing the prospect that our project could come to a halt this winter, we worked with our supporters to gain the use of a house in the town of Louisa, one mile from LEF. (We call the house Magnolia, in honor of the massive Magnolia tree in the yard.) This will allow us to keep the project moving through the coming cold months. If you have any carpentry or mechanical skills, that’s great. If not, we can still use your help. Now we can offer you a warm bed. Much better than a tent in winter!

We are, in all honesty, stretched pretty thin right now. With Debbie and Alexis expecting their new baby any time now [Nikita has been born and both mom and kid are healthy - Paxus] we are trying to bring in the harvest, keep construction moving, and take care of the daily necessities of life. In our last newsletter, we put out a call for support. The response was tremendous. We have had numerous people come by and pitch in. That has been a huge help! Now with Magnolia in place, we can support more people through the winter. We have a lot to learn from each other. Consider giving us a visit! If we are slow to communicate, be patient. We have our hands pretty full.

Barn Raising, post petroleum style

Barn Raising, post petroleum style

Earthheart

Our main house at LEF, Earthheart, is coming along. We have it “dried in,” meaning the roof, windows, doors, and sheathing are done, so the building can go through the winter without damage. Thanks to some glorious volunteer crews from our local Louisa Baptist Church and the APO Service Fraternity of UVA, the first coat of exterior stucco is largely done. The interior framing is complete. Most of the wiring for our DC electrical system is done. We still need to do some plumbing, and get the ductwork in place for the solar heating system. Once those utilities are in place, we can put in the ceiling, and the strawbales, then push to completion! We will have a strawbale workshop sometime in the next few months. We will post a note to our lists when that time comes.

Seeds

Our seed harvest is almost finished for the year. This year our crops included corn, okra, watermelons, peppers, squash, and eggplant. We have “contracts” for each of these crops. These contracts are a non-binding agreements we make with the seed companies to produce a certain amount of seed. We will make almost all of our contracts this year, and we will have a significant surplus of some crops/ seeds.

Right livelihood, close to the earth

Right livelihood, close to the earth

This year we also contracted with seed companies to do variety trials of sweet corn and tomatoes. A variety trial consists of growing many different varieties (usually a few dozen) under identical conditions to compare yield, flavor, disease/insect resistance, and other factors. Our trials included many heirloom favorites, a few hybrids, and some new varieties coming from open-pollinated plant breeders across the country. Variety trials are a new and exciting line of work for us. They are the first step in the research and development of the best quality open pollinated varieties for organic conditions in our area. We are excited about pursuing this work in more depth next year, and maybe doing some breeding work as well, in cooperation with our friends at Common Wealth Seed Growers (www.commonwealthseeds.com).

Persimmons
We started picking our first cultivated fruits from trees we grafted on the land just 3 years ago. The photo is of Rosa, our youngest member, holding Yates persimmons. The Ruby persimmons also made a good handful of fruit this year, though they are not ripe yet. Yummy!

People’s Climate March — New York City

Several of us from LEF went to New York City to attend to the People’s Climate March on Sept 21. (Lovely train ride.) We tried to get near the front of the march to hand out flyers and talk to people as they marched by, but we never found the front of the march. After many hours of handing our flyers and talking to people, we never saw the end of the march. Any guesses about number of people attending can only be guesses. Manhattan was swarmed by protesters. One of our supporters in the city made us a beautiful banner and sandwich boards. (I wore one that said “I am Building a Community that Runs Without Fossil Fuel.) A LOT of people were interested in our project. We conducted more than a half dozen interviews with independent film makers, handed our flyers, and spoke to hundreds of people.

PeoplesClimateMarch-balloon.jpg.650x0_q85_crop-smart

The march was huge, diverse, impassioned — a beautiful display of the desire for a better world. As throngs of students, religious groups, and countless organizations chanting slogans about ending fossil fuel dependency passed by, I was deeply struck by how little understanding exists among the public of exactly what that means. After the march, numerous commentators have made the point that while it is was clear what the march was opposed to, it was not clear what it was in favor of. We feel like LEF is a answer to many of the problems caused by fossil fuel, and that is not a small matter. But we cannot expect important truths to magically transmit themselves. Corporations sell their products by communicating in multiple medias at the same time. We have to do something similar — keep talking about our important truths, over and over again. The most important thing you can do is to start taking your own life in the direction of fossil fuel sobriety, and talking to your friends about it. If we can help you do that, let’s see what we can teach each other. Life without fossil fuel is not hard, but we have to show people. We have to convince them. We will have to keep working on that for a long time to come.

Living Energy Farm is a project to build a demonstration farm, community, and education center in Louisa County that uses no fossil fuels. For more information see our website www.livingenergyfarm.org, or contact us at livingenergyfarm@gmail.com. Donations are tax deductible.

Community Matchmaking – Oct 18th Brooklyn

If we are honest with ourselves, we are just guessing.  Guessing what it will take to start new communities and especially what it will take to start new income sharing communities in NYC.  What we do know is that we are making lots of friends and allies and there are a bunch of people who are willing to help, or listen and consider these wild schemes.

We know that there are not many other groups who are doing the community promotional work we are doing, and the handful of events we have organized since the beginning of the year seem to have had a disproportionate effective – jump starting forming communities which were stalled in their launch, recruiting new people to existing NYC communities, deep advising and support for communities which are going through restructuring.

community-services

It is not the work we thought we were going to be doing, but it is quite satisfying and important work.  [The current Point A collective has decided not to chase the much hyped "sharing economy" as our Plan B if we can't start new communities soon]

What we are guessing this month is Community Matchmaking is the trick.  We have not yet figured out if we are going to do a speed dating-like thing – or just stick to the more conventional “meet the communities” open market place of projects (after each gives a one minute self reflective presentation or some other format).

Speed-dating-night

We are returning to the BUZ on Saturday Oct 18th to network, educate, discuss and debate intentional communities in the New York City metro area.  We are hoping to hit at several different aspects of community life including: children/families. supporting activism, enabling sustainable living, sharing work and living space.

And we are looking for presenters (though we already have some in-city ringers lined up) for workshops.  And of course, we are especially seeking seekers.  People who do not yet have  community but are seeking it are encouraged to attend.

If you think you are going to come then please RSVP on Facebook (if you have not already dropped out of FB).

SONY DSC

The BUZ is a very big space, come share it with us.

Further Event Information:

This is a networking and educational event for people who are looking for intentional community or are forming new ones as well as residential communities seeking new members. People interested in supporting collectives in the city, but not necessarily living at one, are also welcome.

A collection of workshops and interactive events will assist participants in finding allies and guides to living more collectively. We understand how difficult it is to live cooperatively in and around the city. Yet there are important examples and opportunities for people interested in activism, sustainability, collective child care and education and shared living and working spaces.

Current Format

10 to noon Pot Luck Brunch – informal discussion and networking
12:30 to 6PM Workshops, community presentations, structured networking.

This event is hosted by the Point A project (see http://www.FromPointA.org)

Cost: Sliding Scale $5 to $10 – no one refused for lack of funds.

October is Umbrella Revolution

The pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong have been labeled by an excited mainstream media “The Umbrella Revolution”, despite the organizers distaste for the name.  They say they do not want a full revolution and they are a civil disobedience movement.  But as this month may well show, they have every capacity to become a major transformative effect on totalitarian mainland China.

If you have never been to Hong Kong it is a bit hard to describe.  I was there for a week in 1991.  It was the first place i saw someone talking on two cell phones at the same time.  Even over 20 years ago, this model of laissez-faire capitalism was running at 120% of the speed of Manhattan, with neon lights which more than rivaled it.  It is the only developed place that i have been which has virtually no zoning controls.  Sky rises host hair salons beside meat packing facilities beside student hostels.  But for over a century it has been an occupied land, first by the British who installed their provincial governors, then by the Chinese who want to continue to control the slate of candidates for governor in the 2017 elections, the first elections since independence in 1997.

One of many logos for the Umbrella Revolutions

It is called the Umbrella Revolution for a couple of reasons.  The first is that it is a collection of groups working together, starting with the Occupy Central with Peace and Love group, which was originally mostly academics and students.  The second is that protesters have been using umbrellas to hold back both the seasonal rains and the pepper spray of the police.

Size matters - transformative protests, their fraction of youth and number

Size matters – transformative protests, their fraction of youth and number

One of the questions that rolls through the minds of some activists is “How powerful is the Occupy name?”  My personal impression is that it is quite valuable, especially if you consider anyone dedicated to non-violence can use it.  Besides the current important protests in Hong Kong (partly organized by Occupy Central) there are numerous other Occupy affiliated groups doing all manner things.  One of my personal favorites is “Strike the Debt” which has purchased at cut rates student loans, which just paid slight me over $100K to cancel over $2 million in US student debt.  I’ve written about the San Francisco’s Occupy Housing which reclaims foreclosed properties for the original tenants.

The mainstream media often dismisses the Occupy movement as failed and chaotic.  What is actually true is that Occupy has inspired actions around the world, some of which are collapsing repressive regimes.  Let’s hope the Umbrella Revolution can wrestle control from the plutocrats in Beijing.

For poor weather and bad police

For poor weather and bad police

Crowds swelled to over 100K people despite the often challenging weather and challenging reprisals.

Extended FAQs – Twin Oaks and Personal Possessions

i want to extend the Twin Oaks website FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).  i am choosing existing entries i am interested in and re-posting them in my blog and then extending them.  Here is the FAQ on personal possessions.

The community provides for all our basic needs–food, clothing, housing, health care, etc. Each member has their own private bedroom. The community will provide furniture (bed, lamp, dresser, etc.) or members can bring their own. Members bring their own clothing when they move here, and we also have Community Clothes aka “Commie Clothes” which provides additional clothing as members need it over time. Members can bring personal possessions with them (e.g. books, musical instrument, camera, stereo, CD’s, computer, etc.) and whatever they keep in their room remains theirs. Other personal possessions can either be stored elsewhere (usually at family/friend’s house), donated to the community, or lent to the community for the duration of the person’s membership. Please also see our Property Code for more information.

What do you really need?

What do you really need?

What is missing from this description is that you are also allowed to bring a personal bike that you can store outside your room.  Though for egalitarian reasons, technically you can’t ride your personal bike around campus as if it were a community bike., tho some members ignore this perhaps archaic rule.  Additionally, by becoming a member you can supplement your personal wardrobe with the collective clothes library, called commie clothes.

My bike before i lived at Twin Oaks, ridden by my ex-girlfriend Natasha

My bike before i lived at Twin Oaks, ridden by my ex-girlfriend Natasha

But what is more important generally, is that we are striving to avoid members feeling envious of materials things that other members have.  And in my evaluation this mostly works.  The culture of the community discourages people from showing off expensive presents they have received.  And this cultural norm has not (for example) eliminated the envy experienced by some members when others go on long trips away from the community.  This is not possible for many communards, because travel and lodging is expensive.

And even more importantly, from my perspective, the sharing techniques used by Twin Oaks and Acorn are models the rest of the world should embrace.  Americans hate sharing, but i am banking on them hating climate disruption more than they hate sharing.  It might turn out that entire planet depends on this assumption being right.

Sadly not Ello

i want a Facebook alternative.  i have been talking and writing about this for years.  Some folks pointed me towards Ello and asked if i thought it might fit the bill.  At first glance the propaganda seemed right, but the functionality was a bit thin.

Ello smile logo

Ello smile logo

Then it turns our that they have taken $425K in venture capital funding.  This is the kiss of death.  VCs need at least 20 to 1 return on investment for their successful projects and they usually get this by having tremendous control over the running of the start up.  The chances that the VCs will let this be an ad free/user driven social network are vanishingly small.

There is clearly a demand for an alternative to Facebook.  This is just not the answer.

Facebook’s Fumble

Social media is tremendously important and Facebook is an awful primary platform.  Friendster gave way to MySpace, MySpace lost dominance to Facebook and then …

Facebook Fail

i am quick to confess i want Facebook to fail.  Not just because of their terrible privacy policies, not just because they are mining personal data to sell to all manner of annoying corporations and government agencies, not just because Facebook uses it’s users are lab rats in social experiments, not just because it bans images of mothers breastfeeding but permits images of misogynist violence, not just because Facebook enables identity theft, though these things certainly encourage my upset and frustration with the giant of social media.

The reason i want Facebook to fail is that i want popular, powerful, alternative social networking solutions which will be institutionally supportive of efforts to use social media as a positive transformative technology, rather than just another capitalist cog.

You dont want to piss these gals off, trust me.

You dont want to piss these gals off, trust me.

So i was extra pleased when i saw that Facebook undid all the positive media it had earned by including 56 gender identifications after having had just two since it’s founding. It did this by deciding everyone on Facebook had to have profiles with their legal names on them.  And then taking complaints from people who saw FB users using fictitious names, FB has taken down hundreds of drag performers’ pages and has given them the option to change their profile name or lose their profile completely.

This policy has hit drag performers especially hard.  In part because many user names are obviously not birth names, in part because someone has apparently been reporting lots of drag performers,
Read More…

What does NYC have for Kids?

I’ve lived in a bunch of cities: San Francisco, Washington DC, Sydney, Honolulu, Arnhem, Amsterdam, Brno, Vienna, Ljubljana.  In some ways it is strange that I have been living in a rural environment for so long, because I self identify as an urban rat.

Ljubljana is the Capital of tiny Slovenia, the richest part of former Yugoslavia.  This canal city boasts the highest education level in the world.  I fought the Krsko reactor here in 1995.

Ljubljana is the Capital of tiny Slovenia, the richest part of former Yugoslavia. This canal city boasts the highest education level in the world. I fought the Krsko reactor here with locals for much of 1995.

The Point A project is about starting communities inside large urban centers, and the way the project has worked out I have a significant responsibility for NYC.  Which is nice for me, big complex city, which in other blog posts I have likened to crack.  But despite having been there 6 times in the last 6 months, I am just really starting to know the city.

 

Google sez this is NYC i don't recognize it.

I am coming back up in a few days on my way to a craft fair (TarryTown link) and I am bringing Willow and his young friend and fellow communard Evan, ages 12 and 14.  We have a day together in NYC and I want to show them around.  The trouble is I dont really know the city very well from an exciting to a young person perspective.  So I am asking for help from my lovely comrades who are familiar with New York City.

 

If you had a single day in the city with a couple of high energy boys, what would you show off?  Anywhere in or near the 5 boroughs with an emphasis on Staten Island.  Links are fantastic.  You can comment inside this blog, or on Facebook where I have linked this post or to me via email if you prefer.

 

Shouldn’t this already be a fingerbook?

 

I am especially looking forward to the suggestions from Prof James, Lex, Elena, Diana, Teagan/Arrow and Aurora.

 

Thanks in advance.

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