The “Long Emergency,” Permaculture, and Towns that Food Saved

The Permaculture Research Institute has published The Long Emergency and Towns That Food Saved 

Waking Times has re-posted “The Long Emergency, Permaculture, and Towns that Food Saved 

LIfe Wise Be the Change has reprinted The Long Emergency, Permaculture and Towns that Food Saved. 

We live in dangerous times, when economic collapse, climate chaos, and peak oil peak waterthreaten the foundations of society, abundance, and all we hold dear. “Business as usual” will no longer suffice, because that way leads to certain pain, peril and impoverishment.  

Unspeakable acts of violence like the slaughter at the Sandy Hook school or at the Boston Marathon bombing; natural disasters like Katrina and Sandy; economic uncertainty; technical failure; “peak everything;” and climate change can offer opportunities for either despair and disengagement or innovative collaboration.  In the aftermath of such disasters communities often experience a surge of purposefulness to deal with the crisis.  As a result, there is a need for better understanding of the specific and general resilience of communities, ecosystems, organizations, and institutions to cope with change.

This post examines the use of Permaculture principles to harness purposefulness for collaborative planning for resilience and regeneration by examining two communities that are surviving and in some cases thriving by building on the
images“sense of purpose” that occurs after a disaster or downturn.

This collaboration can take many forms including but not limited to defining “place” and by building consensus.  In order to work there needs to be agreed upon definitions of place, resilience, regeneration, and Permaculture.

“Spirit of place symbolizes the living ecological relationship between a particular location and the persons who have derived from it and added to it the various aspects of their humanness.  The reason we are now desecrating nature is not because we use it to our ends, but because we commonly manipulate it without respect for the spirit of place.” – Rene Dubos

“Where sustainability is abstract, Place  is intimate, personal, filled with meaning and potential.  Place arises from the rich connections among the earth, local nature and spirit.  Regenerative development captures the unique rhythm and spirit of a place, partnering people and their place to create enduring value for all life.  It helps people truly experience place, growing the caring required to make sustainability real.”  Resilience may be defined as: “The capability to anticipate risk, limit impact, and bounce back rapidly through survival, adaptability, evolution, and growth in the face of turbulent change.   Regeneration is the process of “building local capacity for sustainability that endures.” 

The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century is a book by James Howard Kuntsler  written in 2005 explores the consequences of a DSCF7029world oil production peak, coinciding with the forces of climate change, resurgent diseases, water scarcity, global economic instability and warfare that causes chaos for future generations.  Kunstler argues that the economic upheavals caused by peak oil will force Americans to live in more localized, self-sufficient communities.

Permaculture is method of building on the “sense of purpose” that can be born from crisis resulting in a “new localism,”.  Permaculture  is “Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fiber and energy for provision of local needs. People, their buildings and the ways in which they organize themselves are central to Permaculture. Thus the Permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture.” The core tenets of Permaculture are:

  • Take Care of the Earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. Without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish.
  • Take Care of the People: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
  • Share the Surplus: Healthy natural systems use outputs from each element to nourish others. We humans can do the same. By governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles.

Consciousness of place and helping to shift belief systems can be encouraged by applying the common sense Permaculture ethics of care for the earth, care for people, and fair share – and by application of P.A. Yeomans’ functional relationship analysis to map, examine, and analyze the community or bioregion’s climate, landform, water, access and circulation, micro-climates, vegetation and wildlife, buildings and infrastructure, zones of use, soil fertility and management, and aesthetics and culture to Brooklyn Grangegive us the basic information we need to plan for more resilient communities and bioregions. The following are the basic tenets for community and bioregional sustainability. Communities can take advantage of the sense of purpose that results from crisis by exploring, and if there is consensus, implementing some or all of the following:

  •  Operate as a self-contained economy with resources found locally.
  • Be carbon-neutral and become a center for renewable energy production.
  • Achieve a well-planned regional and local transportation system that prioritizes movement of goods and people as follows: walking first, then cycling, public transportation, and finally private and commercial vehicles.
  • Maximize water conservation and efficiency of energy resources through conservation.
  • Design and construct a zero-waste system.
  • Restore environmentally damaged urban areas by converting brownfields to greenfields.
  • Ensure decent and affordable housing for all.
  • Improve job opportunities for disadvantaged groups, and allow seniors and young people to play useful and meaningful civic roles.
  • Support local agriculture and produce distribution.
  • Support cooperatives and worker-owned commercial and manufacturing enterprises.
  • Promote voluntary simplicity in lifestyle choices, decreasing material consumption, and increasing awareness of the environment and sustainability

Detroit, MI, Hardwick, VT, and Facing The “Long Emergency”

Detroit was once one of the wealthiest cities in the world and now is the face of an almost dystopian failure while the small town of Hardwick, VT grappled with a changing economy and the loss of a once thriving regional industry.   Both of these communities are examples of “towns that food saved.”

Hardwick, VT population is 3000 and it is the commercial center for the region’s farming downtown Hardwickpopulation.  Granite quarrying was the predominant business after the civil war and railroads were built to get the granite to the cities in which it was used for city halls and post offices.  Hardwick is almost the antithesis of Detroit, it is almost exclusively white and rural, but two factors connect the two – agriculture and median family income. 

Hardwick came to national attention as a result of a 2008 New York Times article , Uniting Around Food to Save an Ailing Town, that said in part, “This town’s granite companies shut down years ago and even the rowdy bars and porno theater that once inspired the nickname “Little Chicago” have gone.” Continue reading

HARVEST

 

hARVEST LOGO

 Harbor and River Vessel Transport Company

The Sail Transport Network has printed an interview and my blog post about the Harbor and River Vessel Transport Company HARVEST

Since “Sail Transport for New York City Takes Shape” was posted on http://www.resilience.org/, and http://www.sailtransportnetwork.org/ , here are a few other websites that have picked it up using a “feed aggregator.” http://content.usatoday.com/topics/article/south+street+seaport/0cGO7ub82J1fc/1 
http://caledoniacapitalgroup.com/energy_news 
http://act-peakoil.org/
http://www.tpdx.net/aggregator/categories/3 
http://transitionus.org/aggregator/%3A%20http%3A/2009/2010/2009/09/2011/02/07/www.reconomyproject.org

There is also a new video about the Vermont Sail Freight Project

harvest produce

Why HARVEST? Why Now?

The New York City Bioregion is connected tenuously to the rest of the world by literally thousands of lifelines, including an aging and increasingly failure-prone power grid; an aging and leaky water system; and a vast network of roads, rails, shipping and air routes that rely exclusively on increasingly costly fossil fuels. Like a patient on intravenous life support, any major interruption in the flow of natural resources, energy, water or food to the metropolitan area could hamstring or permanently harm its economy and people. With global oil, gas and coal production predicted to irreversibly decline in the next 10 to 20 years, this collapse becomes not a question of if, but when.

 All three of these great calamities were born out of the world’s profligate use of cheap, non-renewable fossil fuels. Like so many past boons, this one has now become a bane. It’s important to understand that all three crises are intimately linked to each other, and magnify each other: For example, a severe drought that continues in the mid-west, could cut off our region’s supply of wheat, corn and soy, causing food shortages and a financial meltdown. Peak oil requires that we drill for fossil fuels in increasingly extreme landscapes, like the deep-water Gulf of Mexico, prone to more and more powerful hurricanes, or by using hydraulic fracturing that will likely contaminate groundwater in the heart of New York and Pennsylvania farming. Our sprawling global oil pipeline stretches halfway around the globe, making us vulnerable and dependent on volatile states. An economic crash or financially-sapping resource war abroad, could wreck our balance of trade, and shatter our tax base, making it fiscally impossible to harden our infrastructure against climate change impacts, which would lead to more economic disasters. The accumulation of shocks could be catastrophic, if we do not prepare.

 One of those tenuous lifelines is the global shipping industry and the NY/NJ Port.  Higher petroleum costs, and higher wages in countries in which much of our imported goods are made could tear that lifeline.  According to Low Tech Magazine, wind powered freighters may be just as fast as the largest most “modern” container ships. 

 Eugen Maersk“The Eugen Maersk (the world’s longest ocean freighter at 1,300 feet) left Rotterdam on the tail end of a journey from Shanghai. But the giant freighter is cruising at 10 knots, well shy of her 26-knot top speed. At about half speed, fuel consumption drops to 100-150 tons of fuel a day from 350 tons, saving as much as $5,000 an hour.

The German Preussen, the largest sailing ship ever built, was launched in 1902 andPreussen travelled mainly between Hamburg (Germany) and Iquique (Chile). It was rammed by a large steam vessel in 1910. A one way trip between Germany and Chile took the cargo vessel between 58 and 79 days. The best average speed over a one way trip was 13.7 knots. The lowest average speed was 10 knots.  Additionally, one giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50 million cars.  It is time for a new age of sail.”

 Who is doing it Now?:

 The use of sailing vessels as transportation is nothing new.  Many coastal schooners and sailing vessels are still working in the trade between main ports and remote islands and harbors in Africa, Caribbean, South America, 

The Indian, Ocean and the Pacific.   From Northern Ireland to Fiji, freight carrying sailingPretty Kwai smaller ships are being planned, built, and sailing.  These first forays into what will become a huge post carbon enterprise are examples of how coastal short sea shipping along the North American coasts, bays, and rivers will be changing in the near and mid-term.    Some
operating and soon to be operating examples are, the SV Kwai, Tres Hombres Packet Company, Greenheart, and B9 Shipping.   These Ocean Going Ships Inspired HARVEST.

 The idea for a the Harbor and River Vessel Transport Company came from a discussion I had a few years ago with Christina Sun an artist who blogs about things maritime at Bowsprite, and Will Van Dorp who photographs everything about New York Harbor.  Will blogs at Tugster.  During those conversations and talking with others who love sailing vessels and would like to put them to work hauling farm goods and general cargo on the Hudson River, the Bays of New York Harbor, and Long Island Sound — the genesis on an idea for just such a venture started to come together.

B9 Ship Continue reading