The Weekly Watch
Preservation, Restoration, and Reclamation
Once the garden starts production, you've got to begin processing and storing your produce. I put together a food preservation resource last year. This year as I was freezing and storing the blueberries (which I do on a flat metal pan in the freezer before bagging) I started thinking we need to preserve more than just food. How about trying to preserve our health and wealth in these times when it is in jeopardy? What about our soils and resources? Or the ecosystem at large? So that train led me to thinking we need to do more than preserve, we need to restore...soils, the environment, our health and wealth. Which led me to the last theme, reclamation. We need to reclaim our rights...our right to health care, quality education, productive employment, decent energy efficient housing, clean water, peaceful coexistence... in other words a world designed across many levels and dimensions to foster people and a stable planet. There are examples. Let's look at some this week.
We can't wait. It is past time. May even be too late, but still worth an effort, IMO. We need to simply walk away from the current system and start something new. There are examples...consider CHAZ or CHOP.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said the city would attempt to phase down nighttime activity in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest area, known as CHOP — or earlier, as CHAZ — but would not be using police to clear the zone. Rather, Durkan said, they’d ask people to leave the area voluntarily at night, offering resources for homeless people and working with community groups to try to cajole people to leave the area, where dozens of tents have sprouted up in recent weeks, along with couches, guerrilla gardens and graffiti.
Though CHAZ shut down this week, Seattle has another interesting autonomous zone...
The Beacon Hill Food Forest in Seattle is a legendary public park, providing fresh food in a food desert to community members who come to tend the landscape. Learn how this group of people is growing food, building soil, enhancing habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects, building community, sharing knowledge, and creating dynamic partnerships on this piece of public land in an urban environment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH2ShQ-7hEI (27 min)
Community design seems key to preservation and sustainability to me. In order to work with all community members these must be small, but could be a small community in a big city (like the project above). I have very little big city experience, but when I go to one like Atlanta, it seems comprised of towns within the city. My friends in Atlanta mostly live in the Five Points community for example. My nearby town of Menlo, GA is 600 people or so. Like the line in Cheers, it is a place where everyone knows your name.
So we have to think about what we want...maybe something like this -
Water management is key in all communities
Here's an innovative approach in Portland www.kailashecovillage.org
Kailash Ecovillage in Portland Oregon has designed their land around absorbing all of the rain that falls on their 2 acres. By shaping the land and directing all of the runoff into water harvesting swales, as well as using all of the kitchen and humanure compost to create massively fertile and spongy soil, the hundreds of thousands of gallons of rain that falls on this ecovillage is soaked into the ground to recharge groundwater supplies.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWop5hlMLAE (16 min)
Awhile back I featured a desert water harvester which I want to repost for those who missed it and might have an interest...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcAMXm9zITg (52 min)
When Brad Lancaster and his brother bought their home in downtown Tucson, the streetscape was a dusty place, devoid of trees or any vegetation.
In 1996 Lancaster and his neighbors started an annual tree planting project, which up until now has resulted in over 1,400 native food-bearing trees being planted (usually with water-harvesting earthworks) in the neighborhood. In 2004, Lancaster augmented the street tree planting by using a 14-inch, gas powered circular saw to cut away part of his curb to divert street runoff into his street-side tree basins. When the walkway in front of his home sprouted with life- like mesquite and palo verde trees- many of his neighbors wanted to cut their curbs as well. Lancaster approached the city to convince them to make his water-harvesting technique legal. It took three years for the city to change the rules. Today, three quarters of the neighbors on his block are harvesting rainwater.
Tucson receives just 11 inches of rainwater per year, but Brad argues this is enough. “Tucson has over a 4,000 year history of continuous farming despite this being a drylands desert community. People thrived creating crops, domesticating crops that are uniquely adapted to this climate, but in less than 100 years we almost wiped it out by becoming reliant on very extractive pumps, extracting the groundwater, diverting the river to the extent that we actually killed our river, we dropped our groundwater table over 300 feet so we didn’t want to plug into that paradigm.”
Today, Lancaster’s downtown Tucson neighborhood (Dunbar/Spring) is alive with drought-tolerant, food-bearing trees and residents harvest from the barrel cactus (chutneys, hair conditioner from fruit), the prickly pear cactus (juice, syrup & natural sweeteners from fruit), the ironwood tree (peanut-flavored nuts, processed like edamame), jojoba (oil, coffee substitute), mesquite (“native carob”, flour) and sweets from the “iconic saguaro cactus”.
As a retired teacher, I can't help but think education is the primary path to restoration and sustainability. How about this approach? (7 min)
Manzo Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona was named the "Greenest Elementary School on the Planet". It is located in a lower income neighborhood and shines for its rainwater collection, gardening, native restoration, and experiential learning that has made it a thriving example of permaculture education.
Speaking of education, here's an insightful discussion of the future of school in the age of COVID https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaKnDDn_flg (26 min)
How will the Covid-19 pandemic reshape this generation and define the next?
Having models for people to see and experience helps promote the movement toward peace and prosperity...
Brad Landcaster is back showing us a ecovillage in the desert
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I49MTAiozk4 (7 min)
Here's another ecovillage in Wales. Lammas is a collection of 9 eco-smallholdings with a shared community area and hydro-generator. The Ecovillage is completely off-grid with the exception of phonelines/internet and generates it's own power, collects and processes it's own water and grows much of the food consumed at the site with excess to sell.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0m84YOX9T4 (18 min)
Local Food Production
Water is essential for food production (and survival). Managing water is the key design feature in permaculture. I've got a couple of pieces focused on this aspect of land management here and here.
This NY gardener uses mulch. Here he is explaining their techniques this week...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crxppjyGCAM (18 min)
and a nice summary of his 0.1 acre garden
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02_1Oxw743M (13 min)
This young family is improving their animal watering system. I bet these kids will grow into interesting adults.
Everyday I’m carrying heavy water buckets to the animals in pasture. Finally, I’ve put together a clever system that gets water out to pasture where it’s convenient. If I had known this water line system was so easy, I would have done this sooner
While we're looking at young farming families, here's another I like...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UpS-kxRE90 (22 min)
Both these families grow their own food and provide their community with local produce too.
Permaculture in Australia. Take a walk with Geoff Lawton around their farm. Early Morning Permaculture Tour of Zaytuna Farm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFgUqw1Wn-k (16 min)
Although we grow much of our own food, we support our local small farmers buying meats and produce we don't grow. Even if you don't garden this is the time of year to buy produce in quantity when it is local and fresh.. and then preserve it for next winter. Check out the first embedded link in the introduction for some tips and tricks.
Buildings and homes are a big use of our energy. I often feature earthships, but today I want to look at some free form inexpensive creative structures you might enjoy...
The first structure I think looks like it is in India...at least somewhere tropical. This is all natural materials built by one person. Pretty cool.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R82kNJjJd5M (19 min)
Along similar lines is this round house in Wales...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5u-j1wvHX0 (8 min)
And for something completely different...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzyTgWomQIo (32 min)
When Carl Cassell started his restaurant in Toronto’s Queen West, land was affordable; now it’s not, so when he and his wife Ana Silva wanted to move into the neighborhood, they decided to build on top of their eatery, using shipping containers as a way to prefab it offsite and avoid shutting down the business for more than a few days.
Preserving and restoring the environment isn't easy.
We really don't understand climate and ecology...kinda like the coronavirus. As you probably know the Arctic reached record highs this week (104 F). There is some reporting, like this interview with Michael Mann https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30icL1tAKZA (9 min)
However what Dr. Mann fails to mention is that cleaning up the atmosphere from aerosols since the 70's has led to much of that warming. Oh, the irony of our intentions. You have to go to sources like Paul Beckwith to get into the weeds.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mf-rt08Cxn8 (15 min)
There is a large aerosol reduction influence on rising Arctic temperatures, and thus on rapid Arctic sea ice melt losses. Global aerosol reductions have occurred this year due to worldwide Coronavirus pandemic caused industrial shutdowns. I examine two recent scientific papers that look at aerosol/sea ice connections; namely “Impact of Aerosol Emission Controls on Future Sea Ice Cover” and “Elucidating the Role of Anthropogenic Aerosols in Arctic Sea Ice Variations”.
Years ago James Lovelock suggested redesigning jet engines to use diesel fuel in order to place the sulfur aerosols in the upper atmosphere to help cool the planet. Then air travel would contribute to climate preservation. Interesting concept anyway.
Preserving our Health
And speaking of a lack of scientific understanding, what about the US dietary guidelines? Here is something we can walk away from, yet still has impacts on us all. Here's two of my favorites Ken Berry and Nina Teicholz. They discuss what’s wrong with current nutrition guidelines, why it matters, and why they are so hard to change. You won’t believe some of the funny-business that has been going on at this year’s U.S.D.A. meetings.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui5qjmrmttY (53 min)
Here's an interesting look at the evolution of human diets -
Dr. Michael Eades - 'Paleopathology and the Origins of the Low-carb Diet'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY2v6AnEyuU (47 min)
I had a friend a few years younger than me drop dead of a heart attack this week. COVID is serious as we'll see momentarily, but heart disease remains the number one killer. Much of today's heart disease is driven by the dietary guidelines.
https://www.dietdoctor.com/ivor-cummins-heart-disease-ldl-insulin-resist... (25 min)
COVID news for the week...
Continuing its Keystone Cops manner of dealing with covid-19, the US appears to be caught flat-footed by the resurgence of infections happening across many southern and western states right now. Yes, people are tired of being cooped indoors and wearing masks. Summer is here and they want to get outside, spend time with loved ones, and get back some normalcy of life. But the Honey Badger virus 'don't care'. Covid-19 sees our loosening restrictions as a welcome invitation and is burrowing in with enthusiasm.
Making matters worse for us human hosts, So, for those who do not want to catch covid-19, now is not the time to start letting down your guard. We are not through the woods by a long shot yet.
Chris Martenson explains https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8B-rk5VUcLo (50 min)
Data is increasingly suggesting that the first wave of covid-19 in a country (or state) is the worst. The most people get infected during that initial period, as expected with a virus with an R0 this high. Many US states are still in their first waves, especially those in the South and West seeing re-surging infections. The battle there remains focused on preventing things from getting out of control and overwhelming the medical system. But it's possible that previously hard hit areas like New York, Italy and Spain may now have sufficient immunity to avoid a second wave. It's too soon to know for certain, but if true, this will be very welcome news.
Similarly encouraging is that we now have a better handle medically on how to treat covid patients successfully with early intervention (Tocilizumab, Anakina and, yes, HCQ+). So further outbreaks can hopefully quelled earlier and with fewer mortalities.
Reason to hope? Yes. Can we let our guard down now? Absoultuely not.
John Campbell reports on vaccine development
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy-sFzcC-ic&t=14m (10 min)
Here's John's update from today on the global and US situation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jdYYGQXXn8 (23 min)
The UK has ordered 10 million antibody tests, but many consider them unreliable.
“What people really want to know from these tests is, ‘am I safe from infection?’,” said Dr Al Edwards from Reading University. “These tests, at the moment, can’t answer that.”
We still lack basic studies. However there remain some simple solutions. Wear masks in public and distance from others.
Preserving and Restoring Wealth
Max and Stacy explain Keiser Report | Paper Uprising, Fiat Spring
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2r0ly8Wbwo0 (15 min)
Many are suggesting the dollar supremacy is coming to an end.
The Federal Reserve has set up varies schemes to relieve the pressures of US dollar denominated debt outside the United States. The problem is they don't work well in most cases. Like the US, commercial banks in other countries are usually required as a transfer mechanism. If the banks aren't willing to lend to a failing business as an examples the newly printed dollars just sit at the Federal Reserve. So if the US dollar appreciates it'll cause several countries, and maybe countries to go bust. If this happens on a global level it could be the final push or motivation required for everyone to abandon the US dollar fiat currency system.
As the cultural war rages unabated, the billionaire class is only getting wealthier. Their wealth has skyrocketed 20% or $584 billion since the start of the pandemic/lockdown. How will this fact shape the coming economic recovery? And, is a permanent underclass the new normal? CrossTalking with Richard Wolff & Todd Horwitz.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPEBDvnaeYY (26 min)
Richard Wolff joined Thom to discuss how the business sector has borrowed so much money at low rates of interest, among them crooks and speculators who borrowed for dubious investments. Now, businesses are being found-out and there are going to be tens of thousands of business bankruptcies – and say by-bye to your job.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o6WEg58_V4 (9 min)
There are many pathways. Will we choose a path to restore our communities, health, and economy? We cannot totally escape the system, but we can just walk away from many aspects. Like many of you, I lived during the time when we decided "it's your thing, do what you want to do". Fortunately I was a middle class kid capable of creating my own path. In the link on the future of education, he asks which kid are you talking about, the one who has internet access and devices, or the poor child without? It is possible to exit the mainstream and build better lives.
Speaking of escaping, Joe Rogan had an interesting conversation with John Stewart this week. He explained he needed to escape "The Daily Show" in the first few minutes.
I hope you're all preserving your health and are able to be happy amid the pandemic!