Regenerative Culture

Recent Podcast interview by of Montana for the Organic Gardener podcast:

Click link below:


The Parallel Path

Towards creating a true Permanent Culture and Ecotopia.

Coexistant realities seem to underscore our perception of comparing the situation within we may find ourselves living within as opposed to that which we may read about in the news.  How is it that I can look around and see nature functioning harmoniously in perfect balance – ecosystems weaving and creating abundance, species in mutually beneficial collaboration and a palpable presence of unseen spiritual forces that guide and blend these processes in a way that inspire us and help define our understanding of beauty?

Could it be that the quantum physics theory of parallel realities is a real and definable concept that has direct impact upon our daily lives?  Are we a generation so privilaged as to be witnessing a bifurcation of cultures into those that are consumptive, depleating and destructive and those that are generative, life affirming and productive?  I feel blessed to feel that this increasingly seems to be the case.

The further down the path of being a devotee of permaculture I go the more the above split seems to be guiding my actions and interactions with natural systems.  Permaculture is not merely an approach to gardening and food production, but in a more broad sense it is a deeply revolutionary path towards creating a new paradigm of humans woven into ecological realtionships with plants, animals, fungi, geology and spiritual forces – a guild – no separation – deep belonging.  It is as if we are at a planetary scale watering hole, being shared by many species, all of us reliant upon the gift of water, mutually acknowledging each beings birthright to a drink of life sustaining fluid.  Within the old, fading paradigm humanity functioned as a top level predator, like a lion, holding it’s spot at the shore through dominance, competition and intimidation. Permaculture design implores us to behave differently, as the omnivore that we are, wholly cognizant of the inescapable reality that we are merely one of many millions of species whom share this planet all inextricably dependent upon one another and the ensuing interactions that have made the level of productivity and biodiversity that sustain our lives possible.  May we be more like a rhino, or the small birds that may perch upon their backs, or the night visiting norturnal beings whose use of the water hole holds no conflict with daytime users.  Permaculture design is an invitation to stand within the circle of creation as an equal representative of the beauty of physical form.  All beings have a place in this circle and ultimately depend upon one another for our very exisitance.

The industrial consumer society within which many of us currently reside is akin to being in a car speeding along a freeway at 70 miles an hour and everything seems to be going mostly well. We are comfortable, we have a home, food, clothing, shelter, friends and leisure. However when we can adopt a more broad or meta scale perspective, we can clearly see that we are rapidly approaching a cliff.  This cliff goes by many names – peak oil, economic collapse, cultural genocide, climate change and so on.  The way I see it we are in the midst of a poignant bifurcation where many of us have taken a freeway exit, slowed to about 45 miles an hour and are cruising along a frontage road, happily smug in the perceived safety of separation from the dangers inherent within the dominant paradigm still going 70 miles an hour.  On the frontage we eat organic food, we recycle, we compost our wastes, use energy efficient appliances, we attend potlucks of like minded individuals, practice healthy living habits like yoga and exercise in nature.  Maybe we drive an electric hybrid car or donate money to environmental groups.  The unfortunate reality is that we are still moving in the same direction as the 70 mile an hour crew, towards the same destination of the peak oil cliff.  Somehow, we got off track and forgot that when we got off that freeway exit, our subconscious / soul was longing to move towards a slower, more grounded reality wherein we might actually stop, get out of the fast moving technological paradigm and take a really big deep breath and sigh peacefully.

How are humans supposed to live here on Earth?  We might look back to indigenous cultures that were able to sustain their lifestyles over centuries or possibly millennia.  I think that this is actually a really good idea to asses what are the critical elements that help us to thrive as well balanced spiritual beings in a physical body.  I think that an inherent process of creating resiliant permacultures is a process I like to refer to as “re-indigenazation”, or being in a person of place and belonging to a place.  We have all been born into a time where it is very difficult to identify our roots, particularily so in America.  I know that I was born in North America, so in one sense I am indigenous to this land mass.  I think that is very important to note that I do not in any way intend to usurp Native American peoples’ rightful claim to call this same landmass their homeland as the original indigenous peoples of this land.  In Canada the term “First Nations Peoples” is used to describe the native peoples of those lands.  I like this term in many ways because it honors the people who were here before colonial settlement, yet it still holds the door open for modern people to regard this land as sacred and develop culture and traditions that honor other people, plants, animals and spirits as sacred.

We are in the midst of an emergent Ecotopian culture and are slowly defining what this looks like while we, in our infancy under the protection of the incubator of industrial civilization, develop the tools and techniques that we will need to sustain a thriving culture in the coming centuries. It is likely that we will use many transitional technologies and approaches (such as solar power, computers and the like) on our path towards a truly generative culture.  But as co-founder of permaculture, Bill Mollison said, “use the bulldozers while we have them.” In many ways I whole heartedly agree.  I can easily envision retrofitting military technology to repair the Earth and the climate – remineralizing the Earth and developing water storage to drought proof the landscape.  As one of my Permaculture mentors, Tom Ward once said when asked about overpopulation, “We don’t have too many people, we just don’t have enough doing the right things!”

What will a truly generative culture look like?  It will likely be an organically evolving process wherein our lives will increasingly generate the elements which we rely upon for our survival and thrival.  We will shift from extracting the ancient capital of the earth of fossil fuels to more biological (and mycological) solutions, growing homes, instead of building them, turning liabilities into assets, stacking functions, emulating natural patterns.  Ultimately it is a process of surrender to the inherent reality that we are, have always been and will continue to be participants in ecological guilds, one of many species, exchanging gases, organic matter, consuming organic compounds and recycling wastes.  This is the blue print on Gaia and clearly now is the time to get with the program!

Many blessings on your path towards wholism, connection and belonging.

What is Tribal Culture?

I hesistated putting this here on this blog, but the more I practice Permaculture and sustainable agriculture, the more I realize that if we don’t do the work of social Permaculture, we don’t stand a chance of maintaining any semblance of sustainable, regenerative culture.  To me the term, “social permaculture” implies living in right relationship within our human communities between genders, races, ages, cultures, classes.  We have all the tools to live in right relationship with the Earth and her species – be it sustainable agriculture, natural medicine, appropriate technology, voluntary simplicity, midwifery, etc…Yet, for a variety of factors we, as a society chose not to enact these practices and chose their moral/ecological opposite:tyranical political and banking structures, GMO/monocrop agriculture, pharmacetical medicine and genocide causing corporate colonialism.  In the words of bassist, Victor Wooten, “we got the right notes, but we play the wrong songs.”

It is my firm belief that the core of the issue is that we have fallen out of alignment with Source energy – we no longer live within a Tribal culture that upholds the critical role that LOVE plays in fostering healthy and rewarding human relationships.  When love is a seed that sprouts at the core of our being, it fractals out into our thoughts, then into our beliefs and into our actions and then our relationships and so on.  The human organism evolved within a matrix of an extended family  of relatives and tribal members.  Our place in society was clear, and from this point we could actively share our gifts with the rest of the group. The fabric of this culture has been severely broken nearly everywhere.  Extended families are scattered across continents and scattered by differing ideologies so much so that it is challenging to look to these elders and relatives for support and guidance.  Many of us exist as an island, isolated and alone, unsure of what our gifts are and what our role within society is.  Depression and dysfunctional tendencies ensue, further separating us from source and the community that we inwardly crave.  Ultimately, our only chance of survival as a species rests entirely upon a process I see as re-indigenizing ourselves, or to become indigenous people of place once more.

New Tribal Culture is an emergent reaction to a disconnected, fear-based society.  Ironically, festival culture and its hordes of nomadic, gypsy participants have been at the vanguard of picking up where the back to the land/commune  movement of the 60’s and 70’s left off.  Festival organizer and music producer, Jeet Kei Leung of Vancouver provides us with a compelling and exceedingly salient synopsis of this movement in a regional TEDx talk.  Please watch the link below to get up to speed if this is new information to you:

One element that Jeet Kei understandably omits from his presentation is the important role of entheogenic plant and fungal substances in accelerating heightened states of consciousness.  They can help to raise our awareness of our role in evolving as a species into more harmonious relationship with all life.  The current status surrounding the legality of consuming these substances curtails their benefit to society.  Numerous studies have been performed about the miraculous role that LSD, psilocibin mushrooms, cannabis sativa, San Pedro, Ayahuasca, Peyote and other simlar substances have had to help those with addictions, depression, incurable disease and a whole host of other challenges.  Declassification and partial legalization of many plants on this list is occurring around the world with an increasing rate, often with support of medical and psychiatric professionals.

Here is a link to the SpiritWiki site expanding these concepts:

Mythologist and writer Joseph Cambell, wrote extensively about the role the entheogens played in what many cultures value in the benefits of ecstatic states of awareness.  Here is a wiki link explaining more:

I would like to emphasize the point that new tribal culture not be equated merely with getting high; or with tattoos, tribal costumery and piercings for that matter.  These are merely elements that help to facilitate distinguishing this emerging ecotopian culture from the perception of mainstream.  Without clearly identifiable connections to tribe, clan, band or familial lines that were the foundation of integration of self into group for millenia, we crave symbolism that differeniate us as seekers of awareness consciousness.  One pitfall this movement is prone to is that in it’s youthful naivite, fails to consider the paths forged by prior generations of seekers.  New Tribal culture tends to be fairly homogenous in age with anyone in their 40’s or old being considered an “elder”.  The same phenomenon exists with regard to race, and class.  Generally this subculture tends to be accepting of a variety of sexual orientations.  Gatherings such as Burning Man (and it’s peripheral associated offshoots) are helping to bridge the age and culture gap with participation coming from many aspects of Western society.  Photographer, Kyer Wiltshire graces us with an excellent pictorial journey through West Coast Tribal Culture with his book titled, Tribal Revival. The link below will take you there:

It is not possible to adequately conclude this discussion, because I believe that it represents the crux of our work in this time.  What are the steps that we must perform in order to collectively birth a new world (and I’m not talking about a new world order here)  which affirms life as sacred, acknowledges the value of unseen forces, and that functions from a place of wholism, in right relationship to all life?  This is Permaculture.

Recent Permaculture Pattern Unerstanding Slideshow at the Tribal Convergence Gathering – about 30 minutes long.

The Tribal Convergence Network

We recently hosted a Tribal Converence event on the farm here – 60 folks for a week – circles, ceremony, visioning, councils, sharing meals, dancing, making music, men’s circles, women’s circles, integrating, visioning the new world and how to birth it. Much emphasis was upon right relationship between genders, internally & externally and also between youth and elders. Very potent times. It was like a family reunion more than an event. It really crystalized a new, broader vision for the land here serving to support the emerging ecotopian culture through workshops/retreats focused on heart healing and re-skilling that is already being actualized. This comes as a surprise to me after 15 years of doing biodynamic farming, permaculture workshops and community gatherings here in Williams.  You can teach an old dog new tricks!

The basic idea is to link up leaders from within the west coast (including the mountain west – CO, ID, AZ, NM) Neo-Tribal/Festival culture to share inspiration, resources and literally activate land based sites within the BC to San Diego greater bioregion. So the next event is 333 people gathering at a newly formed ecovillage near Vista, CA (San Diego area) called Emerald Village. I’ll be going down early to do Permaculture land assesment/design and an introductory course. A number of others will convene early to help build infrastructure (like composting toilets instead of porta potties), bamboo stages, temples, showers, etc… The event itself is January 26-29, 2012. The web site is being updated currently,

here is Cheri’s Smith’s blog post about the June  event @ Tidewater Falls, OR:

Here is the link to the Facebook page for the group:

So many of us are singing the same song and the harmonies are really sweet. Now is the time to truly do the dance too and live it. I have been living on the land, managing my own farm for the past 16 years as my primary source of income. I have been living in community for the past 20 years. Life circumstances (separating with the mother of my 2 boys and soul mate of 13 years) over the past few years has encouraged me to broaden my social circle a bit which put me in contact with folks seeking the Earth wisdom I have been fortunate to live, while I have been blessed by the inner/social permacultre work that many within the conscious festival tribe have done. Synergy! Things are moving quickly now, tribal bands forming, alliances, dreaming the new world awake, constructive collaboration and a whole lotta love.

Within the core of this movement we are visioning a Tribal Emergence Network, sort of a dream team of visionary leaders including fields such as permaculture, relationship alchemy, movement, yoga, whole systems organizing, ceremonial dreamweaving, healing arts, natural building, music and so on. 6-12 people who would be able to facillitate and activate a community to the next level.