Thursday, October 30, 2008

Redneck Root Cellar

This practical and ingenious solution was found at

Living Off The Grid

Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & VegetablesPutting Food By (Plume)
Root Cellaring:
Natural Cold Storage of Fru...

by Mike Bubel
Putting Food By (Plume)
by Janet Greene

Green Jobs for a Green Economy

A Resource Index for Bioregions

(from Chapter 14, Strategies for an Alternative Nation,
Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual
, by Bill Mollison)
A bioregional association is an association of the residents of a natural and identifiable region. This region is sometimes defined by a watershed, sometimes by remnant or existing tribal or language boundaries, at times by town boundaries, suburban streets, or districts, and at times by some combination of the above factors. Many people identify with their local region or neighborhood and know its boundaries.
There is an obvious conflict between the need to live in a region in a responsible way (bioregional centrality) and the need to integrate with other people in other places (global outreach). We need not only to "think globally and act locally", but to "act and think globally and locally".
The region is our home address, the place where we develop our culture, and take part in bioregional networks. Through global associations and "families of common interest" we cross not only the regional but also state and national borders to set up multicultural alliances.
Just as bioregions need a federal congress periodically, so do they occasionally need global congresses; societies or families also need global meetings to break down the idea of defended regional boundaries to humanity. Ethics and principles of self-governance, interdependence, and voluntary simplicity or restriction of human numbers on earth still apply at regional and outreach levels. Intermarriage, visits, mutual trade and aid, skills exchange, and educational exchange between regions of very different cultures enrich both. This is the antithesis of "integration" (bureaucratic genocide) that is promulgated by majority groups who disallow language use and cultural life to minorities. In particular, reciprocal education values both sets of knowledge and world concepts, and respects others' lifestyles.
Ideally, the region so defined can be limited to that occupied by from 7000 to 40,000 people. Of these, perhaps only a hundred will be initially interested in any regional association, and even less will be active in it. The work of the bioregional group is to assess the natural, technical, service, and financial resources of the region, and to identify areas where leakage of resources (water, soil, money, talent) leaves the region. This quickly points the way to local self-reliance strategies.
People can be called on to write accounts of their specialties, as they apply to the region, and regional news sheets publish results as they come in. Once areas of action have been defined, regional groups can be formed into associations dealing with specific areas, e.g.:
· Food: Consumer-producer associations and gardening or soil societies
· Shelter Owner-builder associations
· Energy: Appropriate technology association
· Finance: An "earthbank" association
And so on for crafts, music, markets, livestock, and nature study or any other interest. The job of the bioregional office is complex, and it needs 4-6 people to act as consultants and coordinators, with others on call when needed. All other associations can use the office for any necessary registration, address, phone, and newsletter services, and pay a fee for usage.
Critical services and links can be built by any regional office; it can serve as a land access center. It can also act as leasehold and title register, or to service agreements for clubs, organizations, and societies. More importantly, the regional office can offer and house community self-funding schemes, and collect monies for trusts and societies.
The regional office also serves as a contact center to other regions, and thus as a trade or coordination center. One regional office makes it very easy for any resident or visitor to contact all services and associations offering in the region, and also greatly reduces costs of communication for all groups. An accountant on call can handily contract to service many groups. The regional group can also invite craftspeople or lecturers to address interest groups locally, sharing income from this educational enterprise.
Some of the topics that can be included in a regional directory are as follows. These can be taken topic by topic, sold at first by the page, and finally put together as a loose-leaf notebook (volunteers enter local resource centers and addresses under each category; the system is best suited to computer retrieval). The following Resource index for Bioregions has been compiled by Maxine Cole and Bill Mollison for the Northern Rivers Bioregional Association of New South Wales, Australia.
The primary categories are as follows:
A. Food and food support systems
B. Shelter and buildings
C. Livelihoods and support services
D. Information, media, communication, and research
E. Community and security
F. Social life
G. Health services
H. Future trends
L. Transport services
M. Appendices (maps, publications of the bioregion)
All of the above sections can contain case histories of successful strategies in that area.
CRITERIA: Practical resources (people, skills, machinery, services, biological products) essential to the functioning of a small region, and assisting the conservation of resources, regional cash flow, the survival of settlement, employment and community security. (Security here means a cooperative neighborhoods and ample, sustainable resources for people.)
Criteria: Native and economic species, organic and biocide free, products of good nutritional value
Al. Plant resources
1.1 Nurseries and propagation centers, tissue culture, sources of inoculants, mycorrhiza
1.2 Plant collections and botanical gardens, economic plant assemblies, aquatic species
1.3 Research institutes, horticultural and pastoral agencies
1.4 Seed sources and seed exchanges
1.5 Native species reserves and nurseries
1.6 Demonstration farms and gardens, teaching centers, workshop conveners.
1.7 Government departments and their resources, regulations
1.8 Voluntary agencies involved in plant protection, planting, and propagation
1.9 Skilled people, botanists, horticulturists
1.10 Publications and information leaflets of use in the region, reference books, libraries, posters
1.11 Contractors and consultancy groups: implementation of plant systems, farm designs.
1.12 Produce: products and producers in region, growers
1.13 Checklist of vegetables, fruits and nuts which can be grown in the region and species useful for other than food provision
A2. Animal resources
2.1 Breeders and stud or propagation centers, artificial insemination, hatcheries
2.2 Species collections, including worms and like invertebrates
2.3 Fish breeders and aquatic species
2.4 Useful native species collections and reserves, potential for cultivation
2.5 Demonstration farms, e.g. free range, bee culture, workshop conveners, teaching centers
2.6 Government departments and their resources, regulations
2.7 Voluntary agencies and animal protection societies
2.8 Skilled people, farriers, vets, natural historian
2.9 Contractors (shearers, etc.) and consultancy groups, farm designers
2.10 Publications, posters, libraries for the region
2.11 Produce: species and suppliers in region

A3. Integrated pest management (IPM)
3.1 Insectaries and invertebrate predator breeders and suppliers of biological controls
3.2 Suppliers of safe control chemicals, trap
3.3 Information sources on IPM
3.4 Pest management of stored grains and foods
3 5 References and libraries
3.6 Checklist of common pests and predators, and safe pest control procedures

A4. Processing and food preservation
4.1 Suppliers of processing equipment
4.2 Food Processing Centers (FPCs)
4.3 Information sources on food processing and preservation
4.4 Sources of yeasts, bacterial and algal ferment materials
4.5 Processed-product producers in region


A5. Markets and outlets
5.1 Local markets, farmer’s markets
5.2 Delivery services
5.3 Export markets and wholesalers
5.4 Urban-rural co-op systems, direct marketing
5.5 Retail outlets
5.6 Market advisory skills and groups, contract and legal skills
5.7 Roadside and self-pick sales
5.8 Market packaging and package suppliers, ethical packaging systems and designs
5.9 Annual barter fair, health fairs, conferences, etc.

A6. Support services and products for food production
6.1 Residue testing services for biocides, also nutrient, mineral and vitamin content (food quality control)
6.2 Soil, water and leaf analysis services for micronutrients and soil additives, water analyses, pH levels
6.3 Hydrological and water supply services (dams, domestic water), design and implementation.
6.4 Fence and trellis suppliers and services, cattle grids and gates
6.5 Suppliers of natural fertilizers, mulch materials, trace elements, soil amendments
6.6 Farm machinery, garden and domestic tool suppliers (see also processing), appropriate and tested equipment, fabricators and designers, repair services, hire and contract services
6.7 Land planning services
6.8 Greenhouse, shadehouse, food dryers, suppliers, and appropriate materials.
6.9 Lime quarries and sources, stone dusts, local trace mineral sources, regional geological resources

Energy efficient house design and non-toxic materials only
B1. Construction materials
1.1 Timber growers and suppliers, community timber plantations
1.2 Stone and gravel, earth materials
1.3 Plumbing and piping, drainage, roofing
1.4 Bricks and concrete products (tanks, blocks, etc.)
1.5 Tiles and surfaces, paints (non-toxic)
1.6 Furniture and fittings
1.7 Tools and fasteners, tool sharpening services and repairs, glues and tapes
1.8 Library and research resources
1.9 Current state of housing in the region (numbers seeking housing, rentals available)
1.10 Sources of toxins and unsafe materials in buildings, appliances, furnishings, paints and glues; high voltage equipment
B2. Energy systems
2.1 Home appliances for energy conservation and efficiency, energy saving and insulation
2.2 Hot water systems, solar systems
2.3 Space heating and house design for the region
2.4 Power generation systems for region: current and proposed
2.5 Appropriate technology groups, research centers and demonstrations
2.6 Designers of low energy home systems and buildings
2.7 Sources of information, publications, trade literature, and library resources
2.8 Reliable contractors and builders

B3. Wastes, recycling
3.1 Sewage and greywater disposal (domestic)
3.2 Compost systems and organics
3.3 Solid wastes disposal and collection (boxes, bottles, plastics)
3.4 Occupations based on waste recycling

Criteria: Concept of right livelihood or socially useful work. Durable and well-made items
C1. Community finance and recycling
1.1 Barter and exchange
1.2 Small business loans
1.3 Community banking and investment systems
1.4 Land access systems, cooperatives, leases, trusts.
1.5 Legal and information services.
1.6 Local currencies

C2. Livelihood support services
2.1 Small business service centers, business incubators
2.2 Skills resource bank: business, legal and financial advisory services, volunteer and retired people
2.3 Self-employment (work from fulfilling regional needs: job vacancy lists)
2.4 Training courses in region

C 3. Essential trades, and manufacturing services and skills
3.1 Clothing and cloth (spinning, weaving)
3.2 Footwear and accessories, leatherwork
3.3 Basketry and weaving, mats and screens
3.4 Functional pottery
3.5 Steelwork, fitting and turning, smithing and casting, welding
3.6 Functional woodwork
3.7 Engines and engine repairs
3.8 Functional glasswork
3.9 Paper recycling and manufacture, book trades, printing and binding
3.10 Catering and cooking (food preparation)
3.11 Drafting and illustrating services
3.12 Soaps, cleaning materials

Criteria: Essential community information, aids, and research

D1. Communications networks
1.1 Regional radio and C.B., ham radio
1.2 Regional news and newspapers, newsletters.
1.3 Audio-visual services, photography, television, film
1.4 Business and research communications e.g. fax, telex, modem, card files, computer, journals, libraries, graphics, telephone answering services
1.5 Computer services and training
1.6 Libraries and collections of data in region
1.7 Maps
1.8 Bioregional groups and contacts—local and overseas
1.9 Standard documents and data sheets available via the bioregional center

E1. House and livestock security
1.1 House siting
1.2 Neighborhood watch
1.3 Cattle and livestock watch
E2. Fire volunteers and reports
E3. Flood (cleanup)
E4. Woodland, cliff, beach rescue services
E5. Communication systems
5.1 Report center.
5.2 Emergency communications

Criteria: Assistance for isolated people to meet people of like mind
F1. Introductory services
F2. Think tanks
F3. Expeditions
F4. Work groups
F4. Art, Music, Theater, Dance, Play

Criteria: Basic preventative and common ailment treatment, necessary hospitalization, accident treatment, local resources
G1. Medical and pharmaceutical services
G2. Surgical and hospitalization service
G3. Gynecological and midwifery services, home birth support
G4. Profile of morbidity in region, life expectancy, infant mortality, causes of death, ailments in order of importance, under:
4.1 Accidents & injuries; infectious diseases; addictions & drugs.
4.2 Genetic and birth defects; nutritional problems.
Note: until the above listing is made, no region can assess health priorities.

H1. Climate change
H2. Ozone depletion
H3. Water pollution and biocides: radioactives and chemical or waste pollution.
H4. Financial collapse: recession
H5. Implications for policy making
H6. Deforestation
H7. Soil erosion
H8. Fuel shortages
H9. Food shortages
H10. Etc.
I1. Barge and river systems
I2. Draft animal systems
I3. Joint or group delivery/ portage
I4. Innovations: local fuels and new sorts of vehicles
I5. Transport routes, bikeways
I6. Air and ultralight craft, blimps

Bioregional map
Plant system
Sources and reference to maps, suppliers
Regions, parishes,
Land titles
Access and roads
Conservation land and easements
Rivers and water supplies
Note that if essential services are listed, deficiencies noted, and leaks of capital detected, then there is immediately obvious a category of "jobs vacant" if, in addition, there is a modest investment or funding organization set up (itself a job), then capital to train and equip people to fill these gaps is also available. When basic needs are supplied locally, research and skills will reveal work in producing excess for traded this excess can be as information and education to other regions.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Old Fat Naked Women for Peace - You go girls!!!

Introduction to the
Sport of Dog Scootering

By Daphne Lewis
Author of My Dog Likes to Run. I Like to Ride...

Sue Meinzinger with Parker & Zeus
Sue Meinzinger with Parker and Zeus

Parker and Zeus, Sue Meinzinger's two German Shepherds,, know how to pull a Sacco cart very fast. They race fall and winter with the Northwest Sled Dog Association. When Sue hitched her shepherds to my Jones Dog Scooter one Sunday afternoon in April, these experienced dogs knew what to do. They took off at a lope down the trail pulling Sue on the scooter easily and fast.

If your dogs, like Sue's, know what to do with sleds and carts, it is easy to switch to a scooter. A scooter opens up new possibilities. In Sue's case she now can follow narrow paths through the woods where the Sacco cart could not go. She can exercise along with the dogs by scooting to keep up speed. She can put the scooter in the back of the car along with the dog and be more spur of the moment with her outings.

My Rottweiler, Rubromarginata, has different skills from the shepherds. He is not fast. He is easy going and predictable. Because of his calm attitude, I love to explore the city by dog scooter. One afternoon in early May, I decided to take a little city run to celebrate the end of Rubro's convalescence from his car accident in December. We parked on a street end near the Burke Gilman Bicycle trail. I hitched Rubro to the scooter. (Skill: dog picks up feet on command and helps put on harness.)

The bicycle trail is out of sight beyond the shrubs and trees. Rubro found the tiny path connecting the street end to the trail without my guidance so we scooted onto it with no voice commands. (Skill: dog looks for the likely route and uses judgment to find it.) At the end of the path we turned left (hawed) onto the paved trail. (Skill: Dog knows the command, "Haw".)

We went along about half a mile (Skill: dog trots steadily and stays to the right of the trail so faster trail users can pass to his left.) and then turned right (gee'd) and started downhill onto a sidewalk. I used the brakes going down the hill and Rubro trotted ahead of me. We waited at the traffic light. (Skill: dog waits at a stand stay when told to "Wait". Does not spook at traffic.) The light turned to "Walk" and Rubro trotted across the street to the entrance into Magnuson park. (Dog travels in straight line across intersections going from sidewalk to sidewalk.)

There was no sidewalk so we scooted along the road hugging the shoulder. Bicyclists passed us and so did cars pulling trailers to the boat launch. We scooted across the parking lots, squeezed through some log road barriers and hawed onto a paved trail that parallels Lake Washington. When we came to the Porta Potty, I laid the scooter on its side where Rubro would be in the shade. Ruby waited for me while I was inside. (Dog waits when scooter is laid on its side.)

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We passed children learning to ride two wheel bikes and older siblings practicing their roller blades and skateboards. (Dog knows the command "Pass Haw" which means veer to the left to pass on the left side of the people in front of us.) Rubro was panting but did not seem too hot. I told him we were going to the Dog Park and soon he could swim. We passed the hill where people fly kites and then the sculptures of orca fins rising from the turf. Finally we arrived at the gate to the dog park. I opened the gate and to the water we scooted. I took off Rubro's harness and took the dummy from my bag. I threw it far into the water. Many retrieves later Rubro is back in harness and we are ready to circle back to the car through the furthest gate of the Dog Park.

As we proceed on the cindered trail, Rubro passes many dogs walking and playing and catching Frisbees off leash. (Skill: Dog knows that when he is in harness he does not stop to play. He keeps on going in a straight line.) Most of the dogs ignore him. Several times a dog comes to investigate and gets between Rubro and the scooter. This causes no problem because Rubro ignores their advances and just keeps trotting and I steer the scooter around the dogs. No dog wants to pick a fight; they are just curious or want to play. Rubro always keeps on the right side of the trail.

After we leave the dog park, I tell Rubro "Go to the car". We take short cut across a 200 yard rough field. I like to scooter off pavement when I can. (Skill: Dog will strike a straight line across an open space even when there is no trail.) Once back on the entrance road to the Park, we retrace our steps to the traffic light, up the hill and back onto the bicycle trail. Half a mile down the Burke Gilman Trail, Rubro finds the little path that threads back to the street end where we had parked. (Skill: retracing steps/going back to the car/saving owner from being lost.) In the car Rubro is not panting at all. He is not overheated. The end of a long convalescence from a dislocated right elbow is in sight.

My Rottweiler, Rubromarginata, and Sue Meinzinger's German Shepherds, Parker and Zeus, have different skills. I had the opportunity to scooter with Sue's super athletic Zeus. When I rode a scooter with Zeus pulling, he ran to catch Sue. Zeus ran so fast my baseball cap blew off my head! Sue's dogs are fast, strong, and athletic. Rubro is reliable, easy going, and friendly with both dogs and people. The ideal scooter dog would have Zeus' speed and Rubro's biddability and relaxed attitude toward strange dogs and people.

How do you train a dog to pull a scooter? There are many ways.

Scooter with Friends
Steve & Jason Loper and friends
with author, Daphne Lewis, and Rubro

I heard of this method from Andrew Pinner in Australia. He harnessed his German Shepherd to his scooter and had his wife ride her bike in front of him. The shepherd chased after the wife. In two outings the shepherd knew how to pull a scooter.

I used to walk Rubro around an urban lake called Green Lake. It took an hour and it was how I got my exercise. Rubro was very familiar with this no-brainer trail. One day I put on roller blades and a harness on Rubro. He was scared to go in front of me because he was trained to walk quietly beside me. I kept waiving him on and whenever he went in front instead of beside me, I told him, "Good dog".

Soon Rubro ran in front of me. A few more outings around the Lake and Rubro knew how to run in front of me and pull. He learned that when the leash is on the harness he is to pull and when the leash is on the collar he is to walk by my side without pulling.

An unforeseen advantage of training at Green Lake was that due to heavy pedestrian use, wheeled traffic can only go counter clockwise around the lake and can only stay on the right side of the trail. Rubro learned to stay to the right on sidewalks and trails.

A friend hitched her two dogs to one of my scooters on a Saturday afternoon. They followed Rubro and me and our scooter down a path in a wooded park. When the two dogs stopped to smell the bushes, my friend said "No. On by!." By the end of the short trip they were getting the idea that you run in harness. You smell the bushes when on a casual walk with leash on collar.

Mushers train by allowing the pups to run along freely beside the adult dogs when they are pulling carts on training runs. When the pups are old enough, they are put in harness with a small team and taken on very short runs, say half a mile. The mushers make sure that the runs are fun for the pups. The runs are not too fast and not too long. The pup should be wanting more when the run is over.

My book, "My Dog Likes to Run. I Like to Ride", other training books and magazines such as "Mushing" describe how to train a dog in greater detail than I can here.

Practice mushing commands whenever you are walking on a leash. If you are about to turn right. Announce it. "Fido! Gee!" then pivot right. Are you coming to a traffic light? Say, "Wait" and stop. Put the harness on the dog. Attach a log or 2 x 4 or small tire. Go for walks with the dog pulling the "drag". Lots of "good dog!" For initial runs go to a safe familiar trail with no auto traffic.

Dogs naturally want to go! Having worked recently with novice dogs, I think the most important new command would be "Stand". "Stand" means "stay in place; don't turn in circles and tangle the lines and harness!" "Stay" will do the same job if the dog understands that "Stay" means don't move your feet. Rubro knows that when he is in harness and comes to a stop he stands. He never turns and tangles the harness. I do not need to use the command "Stand" except as a reminder at dangerous intersections when we are, say, waiting for a traffic light to change.

Have fun. As the weeks go on, consider the skills listed in the little story above. Each skill takes time to teach. The challenge of teaching the next skill is why this sport is rarely boring. For me and Rubro the next skill will be adding a third speed. Rubro knows "walk" and "trot". "Hurry" gets a slightly faster trot for about 50 feet. He has loped only three times in four years while pulling the scooter. The command for loping or running is "Hike!" I have two ideas of how to teach this... Ahh the challenge of training dogs...

P.S. Today Rubro and I went on a trail beside the Cedar River in Renton, Washington. Squirrels ran in front of us. Rubro speeded to a lope and remained on the path even though the squirrel did not. So he has loped four times not three. There is hope for speed on command.

/Daphne Lewis

For more information about dog scootering, visit

Monday, October 27, 2008

Warning: Don't go to the following site if bad news bothers you.

You will have to be able to tolerate stories like:

James Kunstler: "Things could be about to get dangerously out of hand"
Ken Deffeyes: Peak Oil is the Real Cause of the Current Financial Crisis
UK Telegraph: Europe on the Brink of Massive Currency Crisis Meltdown
NY Times: American Workers Losing Their Jobs by the Tens of Thousands
NY Times: "The dirty little secret of the banking industry is that it has no intention of using the [bailout] money to make new loans"
NY Times: "The closer you look at this crisis, the more harrowing it gets"
Washington Post: Financial Crisis Devastating U.S. Public Transit Systems
Washington Post: Financial Shockwaves Worsening Global Food Crisis
Market Watch: "The real tragedy of this is people are going to starve . . ."

Permaculture is a design system based on ethics and principles which can be used to establish, design, manage and improve all efforts made by individuals, households and communities towards a sustainable future.

This site explores the 'essence of permaculture' in a simple and clear way, expanding on the work of co-originator of the permaculture concept, David Holmgren.

Calendar & Diary Review - Kirsten Bradley

How good are these? You probably don't know, so I'll tell you - they're great! Oh and though this looks like a shameless plug saying, basically, *buy stuff*, I'm afraid I have to mention it because they really are splendid. And really, how many other 2009 diaries will you find that contain the gruff but pertinent quote:

"there are two sorts of people in this world - those who poo in drinking water, and those who don't..."

See the full review here.

Design Principles
The 12 permaculture design principles are thinking tools, that when used together, allow us to creatively re-design our environment and our behaviour in a world of less energy and resources.

These principles are seen as universal, although the methods used to express them will vary greatly according to the place and situation. They are applicable to our personal, economic, social and political reorganisation as illustrated in the permaculture flower.

The ethical foundation of permaculture guides the use of these design tools, ensuring that they are used in appropriate ways.

Each principle can be thought of as a door that opens into whole systems thinking, providing a different perspective that can be understood at varying levels of depth and application.

Permaculture Principles

Nature Deficit Disorder - No Child Left Inside

circleThe term “nature-deficit disorder” was coined by author Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods” to describe what happens to young people who become disconnected from their natural world. Louv links this lack of nature to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

Research is also showing that getting young people outdoors is helping ease attention disorders.

ADD flyer NCLI Click the image to access the original scientific article "Coping with ADD"

Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2001). “Coping with ADD: The surprising connection to green play settings.” Environment and Behavior, 33(1), 54-77.

Questions? Contact Frances E. Kuo ( at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Landscape and Human Health Laboratory, 1103 S. Dorner Drive, Urbana, Illinois 61801.

More information is available at

The No Child Left Inside Act would address this by igniting students’ interest in the outdoors and spurring them to take part in outside activities. And learning to explore the natural world and their personal connection to it, inevitably triggers an interest in spending more time in it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ten unfortunate assumptions of energy addicts

Written by Jan Lundberg

Culture Change Letter #186, May 24, 2008

This is a message on record crude and gasoline prices to oil addicts (Hello!). I include their close cousins the green energy addicts (Ciao!). This is prompted by the shallow, momentary news-analyses of the oil market, as well as by the slightly less-shallow boosterism of a green-energy Utopia. Lend me your ears before I say, “Have a global warming day” and we go our separate ways. I'd like to think I’m moving to the country or the high seas.

I want to say “Hey” to the endangered American gas guzzler and all manner of major oil burner, and, "Hail ye plastic-consuming, tax-funding supporters of never-ending war! You’ve been driving up a storm, whether Operation Desert Storm or the next Katrina.” The few who aren’t driving are marginalized like Cassandras -- usually considered losers. Our hearts go out to one and all, for the (c)rude awakening has barely begun.

Some have pondered what it means for pump prices to get past $4 a gallon and for oil prices to get to $135 a barrel. Continuing to ponder away has, significantly, resulted in no action other than be forced to cut back on some expenditures. Your habits and thinking haven’t changed, but they will shortly. This is a heads-up on what goes on with the oil industry; it might help, for there is more than meets the eye that affects everyone. What’s in store for us all, energy-wise and for our very survival?

“You know something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is/Do you Mr. Jones” – Bob Dylan, Ballad of a Thin Man, 1965
Our collective problem as we see the world sputter out of control for the worse (before it gets better) is largely that so many loud mouths claim to know what IS happening here. Honest and wise assessments of what all is really going on are hard to come by, partly because the corporate media suppress independent voices who may have the background and objectivity to offer clarity.

There are several major assumptions blinding most of those who try, within the confines of the dominant culture and “The System,” to grasp trends and glimpse the future:

1) Oil supplies will diminish gradually now that peak extraction has arrived.

2) Alternative fuels and renewable energy can replace our petroleum consumption.

3) The petroleum infrastructure can last or become renewable-energy based.

4) Technology is the equivalent of energy, and energy is energy (all the same).

5) Today’s population of consumers has something to fall back on if and when petroleum-grown/distributed food and petroleum-pumped water disappear.

6) Government and scientists can see us through this challenge and save us.

7) “The market” and “entrepreneurial innovation” offer salvation for our unraveling social fabric and our destruction of the ecosystem.

8) Climate change will be gradual and be reflected accurately by numerical averages.

9) The U.S. population can cope with anything and is at an advantage over other countries especially as scarcity and adversity mount.

10) The “wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan are winnable or can be put behind us with elections, and that the waste of lives and wealth on these wars can be absorbed.

Baby, here are the debunking facts on the above, in order:

1. The oil industry and the oil market are, like the global corporate economy, not set up for contraction. Enough of a shortage will sink the whole ship.

2. Petroleum has no substitute, neither for all its uses nor for the cheapness of the bygone days of rising supply. “Unlimited” petroleum created the growth and abundance we’ve known. The main alternatives are just for electricity and have far lower energy yield than the easily extracted, cheap petroleum of yore.

3. The petroleum infrastructure is hard-wired and decaying rapidly. A replacement-alternative needed to be created decades ago to avoid industrial and economic collapse.

4. Energy comes at a physical cost (entropy) and has been exploited according to convenience at hand. Continuing to wish for a free lunch to power our endless consumption may yield gee-wizz technologies, but there are too many weak links in the supply chain (metals, petroleum, uranium). “Externalities” such as environmental degradation come home to roost with, for example, the cancer epidemic.

5. People are basically eating petroleum as part of modern agriculture’s industrialization and scale dedicated only to profit. Ten units of fossil energy are needed today to create one unit of food-calorie energy, and that does not include transportation or food preparation. The average piece of food in the U.S. has to travel 1,500 miles from its point of origin.

6. Government is not really in control of the gigantic, complex systems it has unleashed for its Big Business constituency. Corruption, incompetence and ignorance prevail, and reflect the dominant culture of materialism and private wealth – at odds with any spirit of citizen-cooperation for the public good. Katrina and Rita were only ameliorated by individual and grassroots volunteerism.

7. Making more money and relying on ever-advancing technology is the basis of not only green consumerism but the promise of a “new economy” that is really just more of the same: a disconnect with ecology.

8. Global warming is already out of control, as positive feedback loops have kicked in. The tipping points, accompanied by mass extinction already underway, are inescapable and are characterized over geological time by sudden, total flips to new states not seen on Earth perhaps for the last 55 million years. It has always been true that Mother Nature knows no restraint.

9. The average U.S. citizen has become far softer than our tough forebears who worked the land and could create and repair anything their lives depended upon. Crucial skills have been lost along with community. Most other countries have been called impoverished, but even after being ravaged by corporate and government manipulation, they remain –- compared to Northern Americans -- close to the land, and their peoples retain family cohesion.

10. The cost of the Iraq War alone has approached half a trillion dollars and is projected to cost over three trillion in the long run. Far more significant is the death and destruction that, although tragic and incalculable already, will persist for generations. The use of depleted uranium amounts to a nuclear war that the average U.S. citizen knows nothing about, as if one is not affected on this side of the world.

One could add to the list and go far beyond ten. My May 22, 2008 essay on Ecocities (Culture Change Letter #185) contains explanation on the workings of the oil industry and the oil market, helping to inform the seeker.

We do not have an energy crisis or a financial crisis, but rather a culture crisis. The above regrettable assumptions cover most of the attitudinal confusion and error that prevent modern consumers from understanding their own lives. Automatic acceptance of technology, and chauvinism for the Red-White-and-Blue, with some religious faith thrown in, are leading all of us -- humanity and innocent species that we drive extinct -- to what may be oblivion. If this sounds too dire to be possible, look at the direction we are going in, and do the math.

“Hope” is a human trait that we cannot live without, but it can be dangerous to over-rely on. What are we hoping for? Continued affluence for those who slave away, or compete or exploit, so that our homes can be spacious and loaded with electronic convenience?

Why should the loss of our doodads and energy profligacy be considered “doom and gloom?” This column has tried to dispel that false claim since Culture Change’s beginning in 2001, by exploring values enhanced by fundamental change. Some of us have tasted the fruits of truly sustainable living and equitable relationships. We will not restate here the “solutions” or “the answer” that many demand upon realizing profound change is in the offing.

People who are locked into their conventionalism and the collapsing paradigm are afraid to question their own life-styles and their rulers, such that a further-trashed natural world is preferable to taking action that involves uncertainty. Their “System” is sacrosanct, but perhaps society is on the verge of seeing widespread questioning of The System and its demise at the hands of the many.

I used to provide the hungry news media with regular announcements and analyses on U.S. gasoline prices. Seeing the boring pointlessness and the ethical toxic–hole of supplying solace and profitable information to the motoring public and my major oil-company clients, I left. The “truth business” I went into, that of researching and developing alternatives to the dominant forms of transportation, land-use, has been lucrative only in the spiritual sense, one might say. I trot out this background to assure anyone that there is no refuge in playing the game of materialistic “$uccess,” because sooner or later one comes up empty. And, the rewards of opening one’s eyes and meeting people on equal terms of real respect are vast.

I close with my explanation of what we are experiencing and what’s about to hit. I offer a warning and some hope.

We are caught in a culture of denial and ruination: of our rights as humans and animals, and of the absolute interdependence of humans and the rest of nature. Too many of us want to believe the propaganda that brainwashed us as “THE Americans,” regarding our being the most special and justly proud of nations -- never mind the inextricable bases of slavery and the genocide of the native peoples. This is not to say there are not amazingly wonderful Americans today. Nor do we forget we have unique wonders of natural beauty such as the Grand Canyon.

But our phase of history whereby our “exuberance,” as William Catton called our “Overshoot,” is coming to an end more swiftly than some us thought even a few years ago. The world is turning upside down for better AND for worse. The days of pumping gas and flicking a switch are going to be all but forgotten when we lurch desperately toward more human, “convivial” interaction (as Ivan Illich described our next possible phase). That is, if we do not go extinct from our releasing the chemical and radioactive genies into the world. Gone will be the days of further such atrocities done without the permission of all affected.

If we pull through, we will live in such a way to reject false values, idiocies and greedy tendencies that have dragged us all down. This hegemony has at least accelerated its own demise and helped to close the chapter on a bloody period that began many centuries ago. Now it is time for us to open up the doors and go outside to our freedom. Don’t wait for the talking heads or bosses or politicians to give you permission. Just tell them “Have a global warming day.”

May 24, 2008 – Washington, D.C.

Peak Moment Television - Watch Jan's interview here

The Garden of Eatin': A Short History of America's Garden from roger doiron on Vimeo.

This Lawn is Your Lawn - Original Version from roger doiron on Vimeo.

Fairly obvious results but fun. Vote now.

Questioning plastic exposure, recycling, biodegradability, alternatives

Plastics: Your Formidable Enemy

by Jan Lundberg

Imagine the near future without petroleum, as we try to sustain ourselves and do things in a more natural or austere way. Such as, no plastic hoses replaceable for watering gardens – just when we'll have to do more local gardening for a post-petroleum food supply.

If this were not a serious enough challenge, it turns out that plastics are full of poisons that kill living things including people. Think of it as a permanent, toxic oil spill. The dangers of plastics have been ignored and suppressed for decades, but the recent news on the extent that plastics are killing sea animals and birds will finally raise the human health issue through the environmental focus.

Get Plastic Out Of Your Diet PAUL GOETTLICH 16nov03As the danger of the plastics plague may not sink in for years, many people pondering the future today will still mentally cling to their plastic-dependent lifestyles and the perpetuation of the modern industrial economy that relies on myriad forms of petroleum. As we will see in this report, alternative plant-based plastics are not going to do the trick for the world economy. Recycling plastics, as we also learn, is also not very feasible.

"About 250 billion pounds of raw plastic pellets are produced annually worldwide and turned into a tremendous variety of products, from cars and computers to packaging and pens." (Wired News, June 5, 2004). People think of oil mainly as the strategic fuel for their cars, and some Americans justify a foreign policy that kills for oil. If they knew how dependent they were on massive amounts of plastic from oil and natural gas for other basic modern products, the war cry could be louder. However, health-worries during the rising cancer epidemic could counter the demand for endless plastic.

Plastics, cheap energy, clean drinking water and almost all other key resources are about to become sharply limited. This limitation, brought about by the world's growing population rapidly depleting resources, is a defining aspect of our civilization running up against an immovable wall.

This report draws upon this writer's personal knowledge from his days working for the petroleum industry and then as a defender of the Earth. I've been fortunate to meet leaders such as Captain Charles Moore, who more than anyone worldwide has broken the story on the tragic pollution of the seas caused by plastics. A major news report on plastics as an environmental hazard (from Scripps Howard newspaper service, July 20), was a groundbreaker. By itself it did not put the "plague of plastics" into daily public discourse; we have a long way to go. However, that article said absolutely nothing about the serious effect on public health from plastics. There is plenty of evidence.

When the full impact of plastics dawns on vocal mainstream people, it could become bigger than the concern over Genetically Modified Organisms currently being slipped into our food and unleashed into nature. People don't realize the biotech industry works hand-in-glove with the petroleum industry. For example, Monsanto is a petrochemical company. They want to control seeds so that farmers will have to buy their herbicides; a pesticide-resistant GMO-crop can have its field get dowsed with profitable poisons that will kill all other organisms such as "weeds." (New York Times, my letter to the editor of Feb. 13, 2002, "Raising Pure Food"). Food, plastics, petroleum and biotech are intertwined and need to be examined in a new light.

Other links

War on Plastics by Jan Lundberg
Plastics Additives
by Jan Lundberg
Plastic Oceans
news article from Wired News, and more.
Algalita Marine Research Foundation, maker of the movie, "Our Synthetic Sea" available for purchase.
Earth Resource Foundation's "Sea Turtles Don't Shop" anti-plastic bag campaign.
Paul Goettlich's Get Plastic Out of Your Diet
and his
PVC: A Health Hazard From Production through Disposal
Scientific American article on "green plastics"
Sustainable business:
Scripps Howard plastics article in Seattle daily newspaper.
"Paper or plastic?" Why the kill-for-oil culture will collapse and die.
Trash society, trash fashion, trash worship.
"Plastic disaster is creeping on me..." - the Depavers song Green is the Shelter
Funding link below for CAPP:

Donate to the Campaign Against the Plastics Plague (tax deductible; sponsored by the Earth Resource Foundation) to help us help you and the countless creatures harmed by petroleum/plastics. Thank you.

To support Culture Change/Sustainable Energy Institute and its projects, make a tax-deductible donation.

Read the rest of the story.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Conference On Michigan's Future - Local Futures

Local Future
Local Future Sustainability Banner
Michigan's Future Conf.
Sustainability Conference
Video Presentations
Middleville (Pilot)
Grand Rapids

Local Future: Paths to Sustainability
Conference on Michigan's Future
Nov. 14-16, 2008
Crystal Mountain Resort, Thompsonville, MI

"The Conference of Michigan's Future: Energy, Economy & Environment"
looks at the challenges of the monetary crisis and the oil crisis and proposes realistic, job creating solutions for Michigan.

Over two-dozen speakers are confirmed
including Richard Heinberg, Albert Bates, Ellen Brown, Paul Murray, Tony Earley, and Jerry Norica.

If you care about Michigan's future, take a moment to visit the Michigan Conference web site and consider participating to help create a brand new vision for Future Michigan.

Conference on
Peak Oil & Climate Change - Online

Local Future hosts the
International Conference on Peak Oil and Climate Change: Paths to

The inaugural conference features 50 presenters including Richard Heinberg, Julian Darley, Dr. David Goodstein, Megan Quinn Bachman, Stephanie Mills, and Pat Murphy.

NEW! - Watch conference presentations & download podcasts for free.

Introduction to Local Future

Unemployment, inflation, war, peak oil, climate change, biodiversity loss, overpopulation -- global problems that need local solutions.

Local Future helps communities develop compassionate, sustainable, local, systems to provide jobs, food, energy, transportation, and essential services.

Local Future Network members develop these systems by helping their
community to transition from dependent units of the failed global economy; to independent cultures of compassionate, sustainable, local economy.

Global Problems

The global economic system creates problems which threaten humanity and the planet:

  • peak oil
  • climate change
  • over population
  • resource depletion
  • widespread pollution
  • misallocation of power
  • institutional cruelty
  • economic instability
  • environmental destruction
  • geopolitical conflict & war

This unsustainable global economic system fails to protect humans, the environment, and the natural systems on which all life depends. It does not meet the long term goals of civilization.

When a system fails to such a catastrophic degree, it is time for change.

Local Solutions

New local systems must be developed that are grounded in a value system of truth, compassion, understanding, sustainability, renewal and community. Developing new systems takes dedicated individuals who share the common value system,
walk a common path, and move towards a common vision of the future.
Local systems are needed to provide:

  • jobs - that are challenging, safe and community oriented
  • money - community currency that creates jobs, motivates
    progress and reinforces values
  • food - that is nutritious, compassionate, sustainable, organic
    and available year-round
  • energy - heat, electricity and fuels from renewable sun, wind, water and biomass sources
  • transportation - utilizing ride sharing, mass transit, community vehicles and human power
  • homes - safe, comfortable and welcoming, zero energy new homes and retrofits
  • water - fresh, clean, free water that is owned and managed locally
  • waste management - emphasizing reduce, reuse and recycling
  • health care - high quality, low cost, community based services and prevention
  • education - local teachers dedicated to providing continuing service
  • security - utilizing open communication, problem solving, education and dialogue
  • entertainment - opportunities for all to participate and enjoy
  • culture - celebrating diversity and history
  • spirituality - inviting all people to explore the deeper questions of life

Members of Local Future Network communicate and meet to learn, support, plan, and act. They take the initiative to increase independence for themselves and their communities. Their shared value system of truth, compassion, understanding, sustainability, renewal and community guides their actions toward a vision of a prosperous local future.

Join Local Future

You are invited to make the future a better place.

Join the Local Future Network.

The Conference on Michigan's Future
Energy, Economy & Environment

Crystal Mountain Resort,
Thompsonville, MI
Friday, Nov. 14 - Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008

Local Future Videos
Lights, Camera, Action for Sustainability

Local Future published the following
videos for educational use. These videos, when combined with recommended
resources, provide an excellent start on learning how and why we will be living
a local future.

Peak Oil: The Energy Crisis of Oil Supply Depletion
Aaron Wissner, 10 min

Supply, Demand and Price: The Economics 101 of Peak Oil
Aaron Wissner,
1 min

Conference Welcome and the Greening of Grand Rapids Michigan
George Heartwell, 10 min

Peak Oil and Energy Explained by Dr. Vernon Ehlers, U.S. Representative

Vernon Ehlers, 14 min

Peak Oil (and Gas Prices) in Five Slides
Aaron Wissner, 3 min

What Does it Take to be Sustainable? Some Examples

Aaron Wissner, 9 min

Beyond Sustainability: Surviving Peak Oil and Climate Change
Pat Murphy, 38 min

Surviving Peak Oil, Thriving in Community
Megan Quinn Bachman, 33 min

Peak Oil: How do we know? Is recession coming? What about

Aaron Wissner, 3 min

Crude Awakening: Peak Oil and the End of Cheap Energy: Part 1
Tim Hudson, 1 hour

Crude Awakening: Peak Oil and the End of Cheap Energy: Part 2
John Richter, 1 hour

Re-Energizing America: Rescuing America from its Costly Fossil Fuel Addiction
Dan Chiras, 1 hour

Curtailment & Community: Survival Strategies for Peak Oil & Climate Change
Megan Quinn Bachman, 20 min

Interview with Megan Quinn Bachman on Peak Oil and Community Solutions
Megan Quinn Bachman, 15 min

Friday, October 17, 2008

A 12-Step Program to Save US Democracy

In recent elections, electronic voting machines have:
- failed to count votes
- tallied votes incorrectly
- given voters the wrong ballot
- broken down during elections
- disenfranchised voters
- handed votes to the wrong candidate
- reversed election outcomes

Voters' selections changed in front of their eyes on the touch screens of paperless voting machines. Electronic poll books failed to work properly. Tabulation equipment began subtracting votes after accumulated totals reached 32,000. Voting machines lost votes, miscounted votes, and mysteriously added votes. Machines broke down, froze up, paged through ballots backwards, and skipped past important races.

The use of electronic voting machines increases:
- the time and cost for required for pre-election machine testing
- the complexity of election procedures
- the need for "ballot box" security
- the potential for human error
- the cost of storing election equipment between elections
- the capital cost of election systems

With electronic voting, the most important and vulnerable election processes – storing and
tallying the votes – are performed in secret, without public oversight. These processes were not
developed by government officials charged with ensuring election integrity, but by anonymous
software engineers, hired by machine vendors and not publicly accountable for the results of their work.
Copyright © 2005 VotersUnite! www.VotersUnite.

A 12-Step Program to Save US Democracy

  • By Mark Crispin Miller
    Author of Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008, January 31, 2008
    Straight to the Source

Certainly the outlook for democracy seems pretty bleak-and how could it be otherwise? The surest way to make a problem worse is to pretend it isn't there, which is exactly what our press and politicians have been doing; and the rest is, unfortunately, history.

But history can be changed, as We the People have continually learned, from our refusal of colonial subjection, to our (partial) establishment as a democratic republic, to the abolition of slavery, to the enfranchisement of women, to the end of formal segregation and the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

After that, our progress seemed to stop, and it must now resume: for history can be changed, and for the better, but only through our own unbreakable commitment to, and action for, enlightened policies for the renewal of our democracy. Based squarely on America's first principles, such policies would not be wholly new, however revolutionary they must sound in these bad, backward times. As it was certain policies that got us into this horrific situation, certain other policies can get us out.

The fact is that We the People are in lousy shape, and must get straight as soon as possible. For we are all addicted to the horse race-and we can't win, because it's fixed. And so, before we end up losing everything, we need to pull ourselves together, face the music, and then take all necessary steps to change the tune.

A 12-Step Program to Save US Democracy

1. Repeal the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

This step will inevitably follow an in-depth investigation of how HAVA came to be.

2. Replace all electronic voting with hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB).

Although politicians and the press dismiss this idea as utopian, the people would support it just as overwhelmingly as national health care, strong environmental measures, US withdrawal from Iraq, and other sane ideas.

3. Get rid of computerized voter rolls.

It isn't just the e-voting machines that are obstructing our self-government. According to USA Today, thousands of Americans have had their names mysteriously purged from the electronic databases now used nationwide as records of our registration.

4. Keep all private vendors out of our elections.

With their commercial interests, trade secrets and unaccountable proceedings, private companies should have no role in the essential process of republican self-government.

5. Make it illegal for the TV networks to declare who won before the vote-count is complete.

Certainly the corporate press will scream about its First Amendment Rights, but they don't have the right to interfere with our elections. When they declare a winner BEFORE WE even know if the election was legitimate, they PRE-DEFINE all audits, recounts and even first counts of the vote as the mere desperate measures of "sore losers."

6. Set up an exit polling system, publicly supported, to keep the vote-counts honest.

Only in America are exit poll results not meant to help us gauge the accuracy of the official count. Here they are meant only to allow the media to make its calls.

7. Get rid of voter registration rules, by allowing every citizen to register, at any post office, on his/her 18th birthday.

Either we believe in universal suffrage or we don't.

8. Ban all state requirements for state-issued ID's at the polls.

As the Supreme Court smiles on such Jim Crow devices, we need a law, or Constitutional amendment, to forbid them.

9. Put all polling places under video surveillance, to spot voter fraud, monitor election personnel, and track the turnout.

We're under surveillance everywhere else, so why not?

10. Have Election Day declared a federal holiday, requiring all employers to allow their workers time to vote.

No citizens of the United States should ever lose the right to vote because they have to go to work.

11. Make it illegal for Secretaries of State to co-chair political campaigns (or otherwise assist or favor them).

Katherine Harris wore both those hats in Florida in 2000, and, four years later, so did Ken Blackwell in Ohio and Jan Brewer in Arizona. Such Republicans should not have been allowed to do it, nor should any Democrats.

12. Make election fraud a major felony, with life imprisonment--and disenfranchisement--for all repeat offenders.

"Three strikes and you're out" would certainly befit so serious a crime against democracy.


This comes from Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008, a new collection of writings by the major Election Integrity people, which IG Publishing will be bringing out in early April.

"Heading into another presidential race, We the People have to face the fact that our election system is a shambles, run by private corporations with a partisan agenda, and largely based on a technology that anyone can rig. This great book will tell you all about it—and, even more important, help us overcome it.”—Thom Hartmann

"Before Americans get too excited about the next election, they'd do well to remember the stolen elections of 2000 and thereafter. For all the talk of “change,” the corrupt system by which we vote remains broken. Thank heavens for Mark Crispin Miller and his contributors who call not just for awareness, but action”Laura Flanders

“The essays in this great collection make it clear that our democracy is in trouble. We can begin to repair our nation by restoring electoral integrity. This book points to the challenges and the possibilities of regaining our full power as voters and citizens in a democratic society.”Dennis Kucinich

Loser Take All presents cutting edge essays that diagnose a problem still ignored by much of the political establishment and the news media. The book provides a roadmap to a truly open and fair voting system.”Robert W. McChesney

"If voting [actually;ed.] changed anything, they'd make it illegal." Emma Goldman

"It is possible to exclude men from the right of voting, but it is impossible to exclude them from the right of rebelling against that exclusion; and when all other rights are taken away the right of rebellion is made perfect. Thomas Paine, Dissertation on the First Principles of Government

Loser Taker All: Election Fraud and The Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008 is an indispensable anthology of writings covering the vast election fraud that has been perpetrated by the GOP—with the Democratic Party’s acquiescence—since 2000. Among the subjects treated here are: the myth of George Bush’s victory in Florida in 2000, and FOX News’s key role in propagating it; Senator Max Cleland’s dubious defeat in Georgia in 2002; Bush’s “re-election” in 2004, including evidence of systematic fraud outside of Ohio; startling evidence of fraud committed in the 2006 midterm elections, which the Democrats appear to have won by a far larger margin than officially reported; and, crucially, evidence that the Republicans will attempt to steal the presidential election in 2008.

Edited by Mark Crispin Miller, author of the seminal Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform, this explosive collection includes works by a broad range of well-respected election activists, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., David Moore, Bob Fitrakis, Larissa Alexandrova, Michael Collins, Lance deHaven-Smith, Brad Friedman, David Griscom, James Gundlach, Jean Kaczmarek, Paul Lehto, Bruce O'Dell, Michael Richardson, Steven Rosenfeld, Jonathan Simon and Nancy Tobi.

Some images from: