Wednesday, October 28, 2009


For 35 years, Dr. Patch Adams and the Gesundheit Institute have worked on a model of health care that puts care at the center of health. Gesundheit has launched a grassroots campaign to raise $1 million to create a Teaching Center and Clinic where health care practitioners will gather to further ideas and strategies for changing the health care system. A major donor campaign is expected to raise an additional $9 million. With your help, we will establish a physical center to demonstrate an ongoing, working model of joy in service.
Subscribe here and Funny Times will donate 100% of the subscription price to Gesundheit!There's a winning design from the fun-raising t-shirt design contest!
Read more & order

Looking for TIPS?

The International Permaculture Solutions Journal

After a long hiatus, Dan Hemenway of Barking Frogs Permaculture is reviving the International Permaculture Solutions Journal; Publication date for what will be Volume 2 is December 2009.

Volume 2 is 100 pages of solid information, no advertisements.
TIPS will be published on a CD, rather than a paper publication. The theme of this volume is Patterns in Permaculture. Authors include Dan Hemenway, Robert Waldrop, Bill Mollison, Joe Jenkins, Lonna Notchigal, Thelma Snell, Michelle Maggiore, and Noboru Motahashi.More details, including the full Table of Contents and the cover and masthead, can be found at ,

Pre-publication copies may be purchased at a discount for $20 plus $5 shipping and handling (US, $10 elsewhere). These will be identical to the later full-price copies except they will be in a plain CD box.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Perennial Perpetual Food - Yeah!

Eric Toensmeier Tours His Backyard Perennial Food Garden
Eric is the author of Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener's Guide to Over 100 Delicious, Easy-to-Grow Edibles. He transformed his yard in Holyoke, Massachusetts into a garden that produces food for him nearly year-round. In this video, he provides a tour of his food-producing garden while providing how-to tips on pest-control, nitrogen management, water gardening, and composting.

Resilience, Redundancy, Forgiveness

Building Forgiveness into the System
Joel Salatin is the author of Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal, Holy Cows and Hog Heaven, and others. Joel has created a resilient organic farm that is nearly self-sustaining, with minimal inputs and "stage direction" from the farmers themselves. The system is forgiving of spiking energy prices, drought, flood, disease, and the vagaries of industrial capitalism.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Albatross Around Our Necks.....

Message from the Gyre

These photographs of albatross chicks were made just a few weeks ago on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world's most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.

~Chris Jordan, October 2009
(click to enlarge)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Published Oct 15 2009 by, reprinted at Energy Bulletin.

"No One With Land Should Be Without A Job"

by Gene Logsdon

The sentence nearly leaped off the page and knocked me down: “No one with land should be without a job.” Jennifer McMullen, writing in Farming magazine in the current Fall, 2009 issue (“Good Food Depends On Local Roots”) was quoting Jessica Barkheimer, who, like Jennifer, is deeply involved in developing farmer’s markets in Ohio. I was at the time wrestling with a closely related concept but had not thought to put it in those words. I might have said it a bit differently— “no one with land is without a job” but the meaning would be the same. If you have some land, even an acre, you have the means for making at least part of your income and in the process gain a more secure life. Surely that is what it means to “have a job.” Our society hasn’t endorsed that notion yet, but I think that we are evolving toward that kind of economy.

We are only beginning to recognize how many income possibilities that a little piece of land can provide. We know about market gardening but most of us do not yet appreciate its reach. It’s not just sweet corn and tomatoes. It’s about all the fruits and vegetables on earth. Tasted any pancakes made with cattail pollen lately? Neither have I but it is treasured in some gourmet circles, I understand.

Market gardening goes beyond the plants themselves. A whole new world of marketing can open up from inspired ways to package the products. At a market in Bellefontaine, Ohio, a couple of weeks ago, shelled lima beans were going fast at five bucks for a half pint!

There are far more products you can grow than just fruit and vegetables. Meat is beginning to show up at farmers’ markets, as well as dairy products and grains. Flowers, fresh and dried, too. Uncommon seeds are a possibility, especially of heirloom varieties or uncommon wildflowers and trees. Medicinal herbs. Mushrooms. Nuts. Baked goods. Plants for holiday decorations. We are all familiar with the success of pumpkins, but have you ever seen corn husks that in the autumn develop streaks of red and green and purple in them, fashioned into wreathes and bouquets? Magnificent. If you get into cattail pollen pancakes, you can use the dried cattail leaves to weave handsome, durable baskets. There’s a market for uncommon native tree species coveted by people who want to use only native plants in their ornamental landscapes. Local nurseries sometimes sell wahoo trees with their bright reddish pink berries. This small tree grows wild all over the eastern U.S.

Forest products are not just the purview of the commercial timber industry. Some small woodlot owners saw out blanks and boards from logs not profitable for the larger timber market. They sell the wood to woodworkers or turn it into products they sell themselves. Have you ever seen a bowl fashioned from a blank of boxelder which has the highly-desirable reddish grain in the heartwood? Awesome. Some farmers make good sideline money selling cedar, black locust, and other long-lasting woods for fence posts. There’s always a market for firewood and as energy prices soar, its value will continue to increase.

Think also of insect and animal products that the small acreage homeowner might explore for sideline cash. Think out of the box. Earthworms. Honey bees. Pigeons for squab. Aquaculture products in ponds or backyard tanks.

In more traditional livestock ventures, the Nigerian Dwarf goat is being touted as the best dairy animal for small acreages. (There’s an article on these goats in the same issue of Farming as the article cited above.) A mother Nigerian weighs only about 50 lbs. but can supply enough milk for a family at least part of the year. The cream, like that of cows, makes great ice cream. Ice cream always sells.

I could go on for pages, but you get the picture. We all accept the fact that most of us must invest in a car to keep our jobs. I think the day will come when most of us will also invest in a few acres of land to keep our jobs.

Gene and Carol Logsdon have a small-scale experimental farm in Wyandot County, Ohio.

Full of Sheets (is My Clothesline)

NIYOBY: Not In Your Own Back Yard
(found at 12 Degrees of Freedom)

Do you have access to a "wind energy drying device"? Just when you thought it was safe to environmentally responsible it comes to light that more than 60 million Americans are forbidden to hang their clothes outside to dry. You read that right. Seems like many community residents consider clotheslines (aka wind energy drying devices) as eyesores and moreover (get this) a sign of poverty.

Even though the stated reason for opposing clotheslines is aesthetic (as with wind turbines, people don't want their "viewscapes" polluted by rustling sheets), another underlying message is pretty clear: if you have to hang your clothes you must not be able to afford a clothes dryer and therefore we don't want to hang with you. (GW)

Debate Follows Bills to Remove Clotheslines Bans

By Ian Urbina
New York Times
October 11, 2009

CANTON, Ohio — After taking a class that covered global warming last year, Jill Saylor decided to save energy by drying her laundry on a clothesline at her mobile home.

“I figured trailer parks were the one place left where hanging your laundry was actually still allowed,” she said, standing in front of her tidy yellow mobile home on an impeccably manicured lawn.

But she was wrong. Like the majority of the 60 million people who now live in the country’s roughly 300,000 private communities, Ms. Saylor was forbidden to dry her laundry outside because many people viewed it as an eyesore, not unlike storing junk cars in driveways, and a marker of poverty that lowers property values.

In the last year, however, state lawmakers in Colorado, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont have overridden these local rules with legislation protecting the right to hang laundry outdoors, citing environmental concerns since clothes dryers use at least 6 percent of all household electricity consumption.

Florida and Utah already had such laws, and similar bills are being considered in Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia, clothesline advocates say.

The new laws have provoked a debate. Proponents argue they should not be prohibited by their neighbors or local community agreements from saving on energy bills or acting in an environmentally minded way. Opponents say the laws lifting bans erode local property rights and undermine the autonomy of private communities.

“It’s already hard enough to sell a house in this economy,” said Frank Rathbun, a spokesman for the national Community Associations Institute, an advocacy and education organization in Alexandria, Va., for community associations. “And when it comes to clotheslines, it should be up to each community association, not state lawmakers, to set rules, much like it is with rules involving parking, architectural guidelines or pets.”

As much a cultural clash as a political and economic one, the issue is causing tensions as homeowners, landlords and property managers have traded nasty letters and threats of legal action.

“I think sheets dangling in the wind are beautiful if they’re helping the environment,” said Mary Lou Sayer, 88, who was told firmly by fellow residents at her condominium in Concord, N.H., that she could not hang her laundry outdoors after her daughter recently suggested she do so to save energy.

Richard Jacques, 63, president of the condominium’s board, said he moved to the community specifically for its strict regulations. “Those rules are why when I look out my window I now see birds, trees and flowers, not laundry,” he said.

Driven in part by the same nostalgia that has restored the popularity of canning and private vegetable gardens, the right-to-dry movement has spawned an eclectic coalition.

“The issue has brought together younger folks who are more pro-environment and very older folks who remember a time before clotheslines became synonymous with being too poor to afford a dryer,” said a Democratic lawmaker from Virginia, State Senator Linda T. Puller, who introduced a bill last session that would prohibit community associations in the state from restricting the use of “wind energy drying devices” — i.e., clotheslines.

At least eight states already limit the ability of homeowners associations to restrict the installation of solar-energy systems, and legal experts are debating whether clotheslines might qualify.

“It seems like such a mundane thing, hanging laundry, and yet it draws in all these questions about individual rights, private property, class, aesthetics, the environment,” said Steven Lake, a British filmmaker who is releasing a documentary next May called “Drying for Freedom,” about the clothesline debate in the United States.

The film follows the actual case of feuding neighbors in Verona, Miss., where the police say one man shot and killed another last year because he was tired of telling the man to stop hanging his laundry outside.

Jeanne Bridgforth, a real estate agent in Richmond, Va., said that while she had no personal opinion on clotheslines, most of her clients were not thrilled with the idea of seeing their neighbors’ underwear blowing in the breeze.

She recalled how she was unable to sell a beautifully restored Victorian home in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond because it looked out onto a neighbor’s laundry hanging from a second-story back porch. In June, the house went into foreclosure.

“Where does it end?” Ms. Bridgforth said of the legislative push to prevent housing associations from forbidding clotheslines.

Dwight Merriam, a lawyer from Hartford and an expert in zoning law, dismissed this concern.

“This is not some slippery slope toward government micromanaging of private agreements,” Mr. Merriam said, adding, however, that for these state laws to succeed they need to exempt existing agreements.

One of the biggest barriers to change, he said, is that most housing compacts that were written more than 30 or so years ago allow rules to be altered only if 80 percent to 100 percent of the association members attend a meeting and vote, which rarely happens.

Ms. Saylor, from the mobile home park, said, “Pressure makes a difference.” After a petition calling on the owner of the property where she lived to reverse the prohibition against line drying laundry, she said, the owner recently acquiesced.

But Alexander Lee, a lawyer in Concord, N.H., who runs a Web site, Project Laundry List to promote hanging clothes to dry, said the actual electricity consumption by dryers was probably three times as much as federal estimates because those estimates did not take into account actual use at laundromats and in multifamily homes.

Change promises to be slow, said Mr. Lee, 35. “There are a lot of kids these days who don’t even know what a clothespin is,” he said. “They think it’s a potato chip clip.”

Turn your old toilet into a dual flush
(found at Crunchy Chicken)

First, let me state for the record, that I have absolutely no association or contact with this product or company. I haven't seen it in action or know how well it works, but wanted to let you guys know about it.

I was listening to a story about dual-flush toilets on NPR and looked into this option because of the cost and "recycling" of your current toilet. That said, let me tell you what the heck I'm talking about.

It's called the Perfect Flush and it's from Brondell. Basically, it works on your current toilet and, after installing a few doodads onto the tank, turns it into a dual-flush toilet. Half-Flush for urine and TP and the like and Full-Flush for when you need more gusto.

One of the benefits of converting your current toilet is that it will not only save you time and money, but your toilet won't end up in the landfill. Now, I'm not going to claim that this thing will allow you to flush tennis balls, potatoes and t-shirts, like the ones features in the NPR story, but if you don't want to replace your entire toilet and like the idea of a dual-flush toilet, then this thing might be worth checking out.

Do you have a dual flush toilet? If not, how do you go about saving water when it comes to flushing?

Declining Mexican Crude..

Where do we get our oil?

(Found at Peak Oil Hausfrau)

The U.S. produces 4.9 million barrels of oil per day and imports 9.7 million barrels of crude oil per day, with an additional 3.1 million barrels of other petroleum products per day for a net total import of 11.1 million barrels of petroleum per day (Source: EIA) - about 57% -69% of our petroleum use (percentages vary depending on source).

Where is it all coming from (2008 totals)?

Canada ranks first at 2.5 MMBO/D
Saudi Arabia is second at 1.5 MMBO/D
Mexico is third with 1.3 MMBO/D
Venezuela is fourth with 1.2 MMBO/D
Nigeria ranks fifth at 988 thousand BO/D

Next are Iraq, Algeria, Angola, and Russia.

It's nice we have such good friends! Unfortunately, one of our friends has a little problem - their oil supply appears to have peaked and is falling faster than a nasty curveball. Alas, this country gets nearly 40% of their government's national budget from their oil revenues, which are falling at such a quick rate they have to revise estimates downward almost monthly.

What is this country? Why, it's Mexico, our neighbor to the South. Their exports for the first half of 2009 fell 14.8% compared to the first half of 2008 (according to the Oil and Gas Journal), caused mainly by the collapse of the Cantarell oil field, which also happens to be the third largest oil field in the world. Hmm... output from our third highest source of oil imports is declining at a rate of almost 15% per year?

Yes, indeed, and according to the Mexican Secretary of Energy Mexico (via report from Clifford J. Wirth) is projected to stop exporting petroleum entirely by 2015. Being as resilient and non-oil dependent as we are, I imagine that losing 10% of our oil imports will cause us no issues. Surely 1.3 million barrels of oil a day can be found just lying around somewhere!

I also suppose that eliminating 40% of Mexico's budget will cause no civil unrest, searches for alternate sources of income (cocaine? marijuana? opium?), gang activity, or waves of economic refugees. After all, Mexico has never had such problems before...

Our Students Make Headlines....

Urban agriculture comes to Bloomington

Photo by Carrol Krause. The PVC hoop house shelters carrots and peppers and will serve well into the winter as a season-extender for other crops.

Story and Photos by Carrol Krause
Bloomington Herald-Times
September 5, 2009

The phrases “urban agriculture” and “urban farming” have become more common as people gain awareness of organic growing techniques, permaculture design, and food security. The city of Bloomington recently noted this national trend when it amended its UDO to approve urban agriculture, which it defined as “the growing of food crops through plant cultivation.”

That came about thanks to John Galuska and his wife Alice Dobie-Galuska, who joined others in lobbying the city for the change. Before the amendment was unanimously approved by City Council, it had been unclear whether the city might conceivably restrict a homeowner’s vegetable gardening activities. Now, urban gardeners can breathe a sigh of relief.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Return of the Edible City....

Carolyn Steel: How food shapes our cities
“The question of how to feed cities may be one of the biggest contemporary questions, yet it’s never asked: we take for granted that if we walk into a store or a restaurant, food will be there, magically coming from somewhere. Yet, think of it this way: just in London, every single day, 30 million meals must be provided. Without a reliable food supply, even the most modern city would collapse quickly. And most people today eat food of whose provenance they are unaware.

The Elephant In The Room...

Found this at Dmitri Orlov's blog....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bag It

Plastic bags, and other plastics, are clogging the oceans, killing sea organisms, and generally mucking up the landscape. Be part of the solution and bring your own bags when you shop. These tough canvas bags will do the job and spread the word about Permaculture while also helping support this blog (for which I am very grateful). Thanks. Keith

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oceanic Acid Reflux

Scientists have known for decades that when carbon dioxide mixes with ocean water it creates an acid, but only recently did they begin to realize what this growing quantity of acid would mean for ocean life. As you can see in the film, this new understanding has some of the world's leading ocean scientists quite freaked out.

What they can say with assurance is that if we continue burning fossil fuels as we are now, we will double the ocean's natural acidity by the end of the century. What's less clear is how damaging that will be for ocean life.

Scientists believe many organisms may not survive so radical a shift in chemistry. And some of those organisms -- plankton and corals, for instance -- form the foundation of the ocean food web.

If they perish, what happens to the hundreds of thousands of species further up the chain?

Scientists just don't know. But their fear is summed up in the film by Dr. Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution: "We're moving from a world of rich biological diversity, essentially into a world of weeds."

Post Petroleum Stress Disorder

The Waking-Up Syndrome

pm150_150.jpgEcopsychologist Sarah Edwards, PhD, explains stages people often go through when facing the implications of climate change and resource depletion. She outlines various aspects of Denial, Anxiety, Awakening, Despair, Powerlessness and eventual Acceptance. Differentiating these from the normal grief process, Sarah emphasizes how we can face inevitable feelings of grief and free our energy for positive, practical action in our personal and community lives. (

Friday, October 9, 2009


People have the right to know where things come from and what they are made of. Sourcemap is a platform for researching, optimizing and sharing the supply chains behind a number of everyday products.

Sourcemap is an open-source tool for producers, business owners and consumers to understand the impact of supply chains. Our site is a social network where anyone can contribute to a shared understanding of the story behind products. You can simulate the impact of manufacturing, transporting, using and throwing away products using our Life-Cycle Assessment calculator. This web-based tool uses linked data from geological and geographic resources. Each 'Sourcemap' can be used to help market socially- and environmentally- conscious products and to buy carbon offsets. Supply chains published on the site can be embedded in external websites, printed onto product packaging or linked through QR codes readable by camera phones. As the site grows, suppliers will be able to contribute their products to the Sourcemap database, providing a geographic catalogue of materials and products around the world.