Adventures in Permaculture: Day 10

Adventures in Permaculture: Day 10

What can I say about today?  Today felt like that day in medical school where they finally bring out the cadavers to see who’s really cut out for a career in medicine.  And by that I mean that we were taken to a very unappealing place where people practice permaculture.  Out of respect, I won’t name the place, but it reminded one of a slum in a third world country.   (And I don’t mean to offend anyone in third world countries.)

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I know my sweetheart has fears that my passion for the environment will somehow make his life less comfortable.  It is probably because he knows people who live like the folks I met today.  Why do naturally built houses have to be so dirty and unattractive on the inside?  Being green does not have to mean lack of cleanliness, does it?  Why can’t you brush down the cobwebs once in a while?  Maybe wipe the dirt off the walls.  Dress the place up with some nice artwork or flowers.  So far what I’ve seen is that natural building is dreary and uninviting.  To be fair, this may be related to the fact that the abodes I’ve seen are occupied by single men.  But perhaps that is an unfair conclusion to draw.

The property we visited today looked a bit like a junk yard.  I am all for reusing and reclaiming materials, but do they need to be littered all around the property?  Could there not be a single place to accumulate them that would not be an eyesore?  And why so many buildings?  It’s like you’ve not done away with excess – you’ve just diverted it from the landfill.  The property was cluttered with a dizzying array of structures – many haphazardly placed and with no clear function.

Reclaimed items for reuse

And the people – bless their soles (a typo I will leave in for irony’s sake).  We brought our lunch to the site and set it out on a table for our group to enjoy.  A resident of the property wandered up and started eying the food with what can only be described as wanton desire.  I watched him grab a piece of fruit without asking and proceed to peel it.  He left a pile of peels on the table and walked away.  Then a bit later, another person came up, and I told him he was welcome to eat as we had just about finished.  I told him that the plates were all dirty but that he was welcome to go get one of his own.  Instead, he sized up the pile of dirty plates and said, “I’ll just use one of these.”  My jaw dropped in utter amazement as he picked out a dirty plate someone had already eaten on and a dirty spoon someone had just had in their mouth and proceeded to use them.

Did I mention that a child ran by carrying a power drill that was turned on?

This, I told myself, is not the answer.  We are not animals.  Mammals, yes, but animals, no.  I believe in civility, modesty, decency and good hygiene.  I do not want to live like an animal in a dirty cave.  If there is no middle ground, then the planet is truly doomed because there is NOTHING you can do to make most of the folks in industrialized societies embrace this way of living.

I was completed turned off today, and I suggest they not use this or similar properties in marketing permaculture to a mainstream audience.

Mobile community services on bicycle

The saving grace of the day was a visit to the Center for Appropriate Transit, where bicycle building and repair are taught and used and custom bicycles are sold.  They had a very cool vendor bicycle, some folding bicycles, recumbent… you name it.  They even had a mobile canning station on a bicycle – what a fabulous community resource for folks who grow a garden but don’t have the facilities to do their own canning.  I would love to have a business where I can vend from a bicycle!  Must think about what that business model would look like.

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