Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pre D acres Josh Bio

pre- D Acres History, What happened to me before DAcres of NH?

My family and I arrived in Winterville, North Carolina in 1979 when I was seven years old. The North Carolina economy was shifting from its agricultural roots. The warm mild climate of the state provided shelter to a winter weary influx from the mid Atlantic States North. The inexpensive university system in the state attracted many to the region while retirees also found havens along the coast.

During the ten years in Winterville until my high school graduation, North Carolina grew approximately 7 % per year. Seven percent growth has a ten year doubling time. After ten years there were twice as many people, twice as many cars, twice as many gas stations and box stores. With this growth there was the subsequent increase in traffic, noise and other pollutions of people’s consumptive culture. The agricultural heritage erodes while the commuting service class builds a culture of take out food, video games and virtual reality.

In Winterville we were pioneers of an expanding suburban sprawl powered by a medical center and a state university. We moved into a newly built contemporary house at the base of a horse shoe shaped subdivision off Fire Tower Rd. #11 Baywood Dr. There were six other houses in the subdivision and ours backed into a dense forest. In all directions intensive farmland existed, the drainages ditches and windrows of pine forest were the only breaks in a landscape cultivated for annual crops of corn, soy and predominately tobacco. My father, a physician, became the fifth member of Eastern Radiologists and my mother, a nurse, took the job as a VP administrator at the regional hospital.

I spent a lot of time outdoors. Forts, obstacle courses, and explorations were part of the daily routine. The fields of the area were a part of our observations, the annual cycles of planting and harvest. The ubiquitous tobacco barns were our playhouses on rainy days. In public school, I attended the county school which were denigrated as “country”. In the county system, there were higher proportions of farm raised students in comparison to the latch key kids of suburbia. During the 1980s the landscape of this region would shift from farming to an asphalt intensive lattice of houses, condominium complexes, strip-malls and convenient stores. The partnership of doctors operating as Eastern Radiologists numbered thirty-three when my father retied from the group in 2005.

In a recent trip to Winterville I assessed the current situation. Now in Baywood there are over 30 houses. The forest behind our house at #419 Baywood has been cleared and the fields beyond filled with houses. The irrigation ditches of my youth have become a flooding menace of unanticipated storm waters intensified by the concrete and asphalt laid heedless. On the Old Fire Tower Road cars race on four lanes between stop lights as they maneuver to be the first in line at the drive thru. The windrows of pine have been mostly cut so the sounds and sights of uncoordinated growth in terms of lights, noise, and traffic is intensified. The feeble landscape trees planted in the adjacent subdivision are dwarfed by the typical houses of this era. I had a sense that these houses have identical counterparts all over North America. Because the houses were so similar it was easy to become confused in navigating the subdivided maize.

I was a willing participant in this process of deruralization. I am not sure I understood the subsequence of these actions nor was I aware of other options. The status quo and comfortable consumerism were the doctrines of this period of unrestrained growth. As I approached college, I withered without direction, complacent without a passion, and lacking motivation to participate in the rat race. I was going through the motions by enrolling at the local university through these actions were uninspired and my performance corresponded.

In 1991 I left North Carolina to enter the undergraduate liberal arts program at the University of Colorado in Boulder. This was a significant fresh start in a progressive western town that spawned significant examination of my personal values and lifestyle. I entered the environmental conservation major and proceeded with the class requirements for this degree. The classwork focused on the global crisis of today, pollution, resource depletion, overpopulation, and climate change. In general when offering these depressing revelations the professors provided few tangible solutions. The more fruitful examinations of the situation were taking place during the late night beer and bullshit sessions in the dormitories. Issues, ideas and perspectives were brought to the table as we examined our personal philosophies through dialogue. The late nite examinations of our individual role in the global crisis was a catalyst that inspired me to be more responsible for my role on the planet.

My second semester spring at CU I took an activism class with Elizabeth Moens. The class was my first exposure to Lester Brown’s Gaia hypothesis of the earth as a living organism. One of the requirements of the class was a service project. I worked in opposition to a constitutional amendment that would have allowed discrimination towards people based on their sexual preference. The amendment was publically supported by the Christian fundamentalist football coach at the university. In opposition to the amendment I marched, canvassed, wrote letters tot he editor and was a spokesperson in my classes. One year later I learned that Elizabeth had died of dysentery while working doing relief work with rural populations in India

In 1992 I traveled to Spain for a semester abroad to help me fulfill my pathetic attempts in the study of a non native tongue. At the Universidad de Alicante I received instruction in the history of Spain, including the conquest by the Moors and the years of Franco. We also studied the impending formation of the European Union and the effects of globalization. After the semester I choose to stay in Spain moving to Granada where I enrolled in more language classes while living in the gypsy caves above the historic castle. During this period I traveled to Morocco. This is where I first witnessed and absorbed intellectually the vast disparity and inequities on the planet. The results of these experiences broadened my perspective on the issues facing humanity. For the first time I understood the rational basis for anti-american sentiment within the global community

When I returned home I was intent to finish my degree and pursue the practicalities of social change in the USA. I was exposed to the work of CU professor Ward Churchill and MIT professor Noam Chomsky. The National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration is located in Boulder and through a program at the university I served as a go-fer intern on a project researching methyl bromide concentrations in the upper atmosphere. Methyl bromide is a significant greenhouse gas that is used as a fumigant for industrial strawberry agriculture. The exposure to the funding pressures on researchers at the university level left me questioning the validity of science sponsored by private sector funds

That summer I traveled to Costa Rica to preserve biodiversity in the tropics. While an intern with the national parks I painted outbuildings and railing between incessant rains. The potable water ran directly from the pristine rainforest stream and the waste from our laundry and septic directly down the stream. In preparation for the arrival of a pharmaceutical company sponsored biodiversity inventory, I practiced cutting the lawn with a machete. On occasion when school age children toured the parks we policed their prolific tendency to litter without discrimination. I viewed trash being disposed from the windows as the buses entered the gates of the park. We did have the opportunity to chase some local poachers who were seeking pets for the North American market. I spent a couple afternoons in the small community by the park playing soccer and drinking beer.

When I returned that summer I spent two weeks with my father at the Yestermorrow Design Build School in Warren, Vermont. The two week course offered morning sessions of drafting, a construction project in the afternoon and additional site visits to buildings in the area. This was my first exposure to the concept of good boots and hat to metaphorical explain the foundation as solid impermeable support and the roof as protection from the precipitation above. In the afternoon session we learned fundamental construction basics while the morning was spent designing a specific project. My father was occupied with a retirement home design while my goal was to design a community structure for the people of the village in Costa Rica. This community building would house a kitchen for meal preparation, food preservation and processing of value added food products. The building would include a meeting space, bathroom and laundry facilities and would showcase solar hot water heating and sustainable alternative water treatment systems.

The following fall in Boulder I volunteered at a Community Health Clinic taking vital statistics and offering my limited translation capabilities. In my classwork I focused on sustainable design including passive solar and energy efficiency. For independent coursework, I investigated how energy is consumed in the industrial world considering strategies for conservation. In the spring I volunteered at the campus recycling center. My school breaks were spent in the mountains of the region, camping, hiking, boating and biking. Upon graduation, my appreciation for nature along with my increasing awareness of the disparities of the global north and south combined to motivate me into motion. I endeavored to build my skills for the purpose of finding a sustainable future that would attempt to resolve the inequities that exist.

The summer of 1995 was spent in Carbondale in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado where I had been accepted as a summer intern at Solar Energy International (SEI). This summer program consisted of nearly 3 months of programming including one month studying photovoltaics and two week blocks on microhydro, wind and sustainable construction. In preparation for the week on methane digestion, I constructed a small batch digestor from a 55 galloon drum. Also offered during this time was a week intensive on solar dehydration and cooking. While there was class-work, the majority of our time was spent with on site tours and doing installations of renewable energy systems. I became promptly aware of my inadequacies as a carpenter during this summer and resolved to improve my skills as a builder.
At SEI I was exposed to my first permaculture style farm at Jerome Ostenkowski’s Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute. While living at SEI, I enjoyed the freedom of living via bicycle. With a trailer and one person tent I was a gypsy in the valley camping amongst the cattle on the BLM land or off the railroad tracks by the river. At the end of the summer it was time to head east and I made it to my Aunt Francis’s condo in Tennesee before I succumbed to carpal tunnel and hopped the bus to Winterville.
In Winterville I borrowed my dad’s truck and headed on a roadtrip of US highlights camping & visiting friends in Utah, California, Oregon and Washington. Visits to Anasazi ruins, the Redwood forests and the Olympic Pennisula highlighted the natural wonders of the West while Las Vegas, San Francisco and Seattle presented some of the urban diversity of the USA. After this whirlwind trip I returned to NC where I was gifted a pickup and then proceeded to Arizona in early 1996.
In Tucson I was hoping to get involved with alternative construction projects in the area that featured strawbale, rammed earth and adobe techniques. While I did have the opportunity to be a part of several projects the majority of my time was spent receiving an introduction to basic conventional construction techniques. I was employed by a property developer with varied projects including condominium renovations, tile roofing, drywall and painting an ice cream factory. As the heat in Tucson turned up I migrated north to Boulder for a stint of stick framing learning the ropes of North American conventional house construction.

Our boss in Boulder had found some work in Montana at the northern entrance to Yellowstone Park. So I was the junior member of a three man framing crew hired to build a sizable second home for some folks from Utah. We incorporated some salvaged timbers from a recent forest fire into the construction and communed with the moose family who were steady grazers in the bog. From Cooke City I traveled to Washington State where I discovered within the San Juan Islands a farm on Orcas called Tap Root.

Tap Root and the neighboring farm were small scale vegetable market farms and homesteads experimenting with the WWOOF model. Typically with Willing Workers on Organic Farms arrangements short term residents exchange labor for a farmer’s room and board. When I arrived at Tap Root they were in the process of building a post and beam structure that was to incorporate straw bales as insulation. I joined the construction team under the supervision of a natural builder named, Pamela Pauly. I joined an island community rich in ideas of sufficiency and sustainability. It was my first introduction to the large scale operation of an exchange at the town dump that amounted to an outdoor swap of all types of consumer products. The adjacent island of Lopez had an independent monetary system and a land trust dedicated to affordable, sustainable housing. The experience of living in collaboration with other volunteers, with minimalists accommodations, in an extraordinary landscape, doing rewarding work, eating farm fresh food, in an incomparable climate was exhilarating. When the rainy season began in October my sister Dara and I headed to the Virgin Islands.

We headed to Maho Bay on St. John, USVI. Maho is a resort with an ecotourism theme. The accommodations at Maho are minimalists screened cabins with meals and music offered at a central dining hall. From Maho we brokered work and lodging with the owner of the Island Hardware Store. The house that was being renovated had a downstairs where we lived that walked out to the waters of Chocolate Hole, the ground level roof had been removed by the previous Class Five hurricane. When the house was nearly finished and they were filling the swimming pool it was time to move again North.
I journeyed again across the country making the familiar stops in North Carolina, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Colorado and Washington. After putting up some sheet rock at Tap Root, myself and Jim Stevenson, an acquaintance from St. John, headed to Alaska. The Al-Can trip was an amazing glimpse of the Mother Earth often in juxtaposition to the ugliness of humanity. We finished a house in a Juneau subdivision tucked so closely to the Mendenhall Glacier that the coolness of her touch was constantly a reminder of her presence. We were graced by interactions with bears, eagles, otters, caribou, salmon and seals. Then in early August of 1997 camping in the back of a truck across the bay from Juneau I received a cell phone call that would change my life.

Day to Day

For Thanksgiving, I went away from D Acres to visit my family in Colorado for two whole weeks. I have a new 5 month old neice, Kaia, who is quite a darling, and whom I was excited to meet for the first time. While I was there, she mastered grabbing objects and pulling them into her mouth--in only two weeks! By the end, I was sure she had already gotten bigger. Our thousands of miles of distance only ensures that I will miss so much of her early stages of Kaia development. I can't wait for our next visit.

I've been at D Acres now for a little over a year. In the scheme of the organizations development and history, that's a small span of time. We are entering the 13th year with a focus on Reflection and Service to the Community--looking both inward and outward for further growth and sustainability. As usual, we're taking the Winter months to make plans for events, workshops, and on-site projects. We keep ourselves busy with daily work: animal chores, cooking, construction projects, cleaning, and craftwork. But we're already looking ahead. Having placed our Tree Order with FEDCO, and recieved the 2010 seed catalogs, we've got garden plans to make and a new batch of apprentices and intern to get ready for.

In all of this I continue my own personal reflection. I feel like I've still only just begun this D Acres endeavor. With a whole plateful of lists of things to be done, and still more to look forward to, it is clear how one year can feel so insiginificant.

We have one intern working with us right now--he's been here since the beginning of November. He arrived as an apprentice, with limited experience in rural and farm living. In his seven weeks at D Acres, he has progressed in a way that impresses us. His D acres experience has in many ways, been a model experience for what we hope to see when folks participate in this project. It is a day to day, week to week learning. Familiarizing one's self with the tools of work, so that the next day's work becomes more fluid--so that it becomes the way of doing and the way of being at the same time.

I can get severely impatient with my self these days, and wish it all just came a lot easier. It is challenging to step back and realize my need for more knowledge, my lack of practice with a tool, my slowness, my inexperience. Though fully conscious of my stage of development and learning, I am still like a child, living the challenge of fumbling through my lesson, determined to get it right and get it done. There will always be work, and my relationship to it can only progress--move forward.

Time does not stop to sit and reflect with me, and so everything continues. We will celebrate the ringing in of the New Year in a D Acres's Family style, with a Full Moon Potluck, Snowshoe Walk by Moolight, and Open Mic by the woodstove. We hope you will join us on Thursday when festivities kick-off at 6pm, or come by anytime.

If you can't make it out to bring in the new year, please come out January 8th, when we host some of our favorite puppeteers. The Modern Times Theater, along with several other friends and folks, will be performing "The Brand New Same Old Bologna Show"! It will be an evening of "ridiculous music and cardboard variety entertainment." The evening begins at 6:30pm with a potluck, and the show starts at 8pm. Bring a dish and bring a friend!

All the best in this new year--moving forward toward good work.

With warmth,

Friday, December 11, 2009

There's always something..

Two nights ago I climbed the ladders of my personal ascension, ready to curl up in my nest of a bed in the top of our D Acres silo. My thoughts were on the cold, the whirling snow, the months of whiteness that stretch before us...and the haven of my bed I was ready to bundle into.

When I reached the top floor, however, I received an unexpected shock. Snow! Everywhere! Not much, but a dusting that made my box of letters seem ghostly and my sleeping bag anything but inviting. Still, my stubbornness becomes increasingly pronounced the harsher the situation, so turning around for a warm(ish) night's rest inside our community building was not on the docket. I proceeded to brush and blow, shake and scrape those beautiful - and entirely unwanted - piles of snowflakes off and away from the least-impacted "corner" of my round abode. Two hats on my head, booties on my feet, I zipped myself in and hoped for the best.

I can say it turned out fairly well. There were a few patches of snow that I'd missed at night and found by morning once my body heat had melted them into dampness. Other than that, I was warm inside my layers, and when I corralled the gumption to wiggle myself out and greet the morning light, I have to admit it was a remarkably picturesque little scene.

But not one that was to last. I spent the morning "winterizing": Bags, blankets, clothes, boots, books swept off and shaken out; plastic hung over the biggest gaps (measured in square footage, not inches); and remay stuck in the holes between walls and roof. With some imagination, it looks like dainty (dirty) gauze hung lightly from a regal poster bed.

I've been told I can display above-average optimism.

Regardless, it is a similar process all around the farm. Now that the snow and cold seem here for real, we're finding details that need fixing, or cracks that need plugging, or projects that simply need to be completed. Engaged in such is how you'll find us these days here at D Acres.

Come at strategic dates, however, and you can enjoy some good food as well. Sat. 12/19 - SOUP NIGHT!! or Sun 12/20 - SOLSTICE POTLUCK!! or Mon 12/21 - OPEN MIC/POETRY SLAM/POTLUCK. It may be winter, but you don't have to stay home every night.

So head on out, join us! It'll give us an excuse to start a fire.



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Five "Fun"damentals of the Simply Good Life

hey i decided to include a bit of an article i have been working on...
let me know what you think
enjoy, jt
Five “Fun”damentals to the Simply Good Life

During the 1990s I was a student of environmental conservation at the University of Colorado. I studied the problems of the world including over population, resource depletion, habitat destruction, pollution, climate change and species extinction. This catastrophic situation challenged and inspired me to become part of a quest for a sustainable future. Sustainable solutions provide for human health, wellbeing and ecological coexistence within the resource limitations of the natural world. Towards this goal, D Acres Organic Farm & Educational Homestead was founded in 1997 to seek practical solutions to the Sustain-Ability opportunities of today.
Development Aimed at Creating a Rural Ecological Society is a land based organization that builds skills and raises awareness as a non-profit education entity. Two fundamental principles of the organization are Localization and Food. These themes are interrelated as we pioneer a system that provides for the essentials without polluting the planet. Localization revolves around developing a socio-economic system that relies on the local natural resources. Food is everything including nutrition, exercise, connection to nature, resource conservation, social bonds, community security and sheer enjoyment. Localization of food and economic efficiencies build personal, community and ecological health.
The goal of this article is to identify the five principle and essential needs of humanity that form our “Fun”damental priorities to focus our efforts of Sustain-Ability. This is not an attempt reduce the complexity and interrelation of the global crisis, rather to recognize a practical needs assessment of humanity is in order. By compartmentalization of the five fundamentals, we are inspiring a systematic approach to identifying human needs with more sustainable actions. By pairing our essentials with solutions we hope to inspire direct action on the individual and community level to meet the challenge of the crisis today. The sustainability solutions overlap and complement promoting strength through diversity and multi-functionality of our sustainable system.
The five essentials can be summed in no particular order as 1) Food & Water 2) Shelter 3) Clothing 4) Medicine and Preventive Medicine 5) Community & Experience. The goal is to produce these necessities through sustainable production that enriches the environment of the future. The strategies to provide these essentials are based on natural resources and climate. The goal is to find an evolving equilibrium where humanity can perpetuate on the planet. This task of providing these essentials sustainable will require ingenuity, sacrifice, cooperation and motivation. The reward of pursuing solutions to the global crisis is the perpetuation of life on this planet

Food & Water
This essential ingredient of life must be maintained free of pollution through mindful production, usage, and recovery. The cycles that purify, replenish and provide nutrients and energy can be observed and mimicked to meet human sustainability goals.
Food production in the industrial model is very inefficient. Conventional industrial agriculture with its reliance on mechanization, oil, processing and transportation uses approximately 20 times the calories it produces. Humans working on the land without “modern” polluting, inefficiencies can reap 10 times the calories they invest in manual labor. Sustainable food production must be localized in terms of soil building, seed saving, cultivation, distribution, preservation and preparation. Water must be purified and utilized through designed natural processes that do not diminish the resource for the future.
Building soil through no-till techniques mimics natural soil systems while also being functionally appropriate for human powered agriculture. Rich mulch serves as nourishment for the soil, weed suppression and moisture retention. Biomass varying from leaves to seaweed to finished compost can be locally sourced dependent on your bioregion and ingenuity. We utilize a kitchen soup approach to building soil at DAcres blending straw, woodchips, manure, leaves, cover cropping and compost. By incorporating poultry, pig, cow and horse manure into the compost we are able supply a balanced nitrogen source to blend with the abundance of woodchips and leaves provided by the forest.
Through the vitalization and perpetuation of soil on our farm we are investing in the future. There are also plants that can be utilized as an investment in the future. Designed perrenialization of food production by introducing herbs, fruits and nuts into the food system has the advantage of low maintenance, strength through diversity, and cumulatively richer harvests yearly. Combining polycultures of herbs, shrubs, vines, and trees mimics nature and provides dividends in terms of food, pollinator habitat, medicine, and fuel.
Our diets can be correlated to seasonally induced availability. This approach dictates that distinct climates would eat differently. At D Acres our diet is rich in greens, fruits, eggs and fresh vegetables in the summer whereas the fall and winter are richer in root crops, winter squash, chicken and pork. Food preservation is a key component in our sustainable dietary choices. Canning, smoking and dehydration requires initial energy investments in time and infrastructure though provide long term low energy storability. The freezer sucks energy while producing an inferior taste and texture to food. Root cellars are ideal for storage of fresh foods of root crops like potatoes and carrots while the upstairs closets and attic can serve to season nuts and preserve winter squash and alliums. Fermentation is a practice that preserves and also provides nutritional benefits.
Integrating availability of resources is important for our diet decisions. DAcres has relations with local restaurants, grocers and cafeterias to divert food from our landfills and incinerators. This service recycles food that would otherwise be wasted to feed our pig population. Food is integrated into our decisions on land utilization by incorporating pig and chicken tractors and grass loving herbivores to maintain, improve and expand the fields. Food preparation techniques are also based on natural resources and climate factors. On sunny days solar cooking is the preferred way to prepare food though wood combusted in designs such as traditional woodstoves, cob ovens and rocket stoves can provide the heat.
Water availability is a climatic factor. Purification, storage and conservation techniques can assist with providing useable water. By using compost toilets we eliminate the wasteful usage of drinking water and enrich the local soil. Greywater and wetland systems can purify water through designed mimicry of nature. Rainwater catchment from roof structures and landscape features provides for collection and storage. Water heating for domestic usage is primarily accomplished with solar with fuel wood as a backup. Utilization of biodegradable products in the water supply eliminates the problems poised by contaminated water. Water polluted by persistent contaminates like toxic household cleaners, pharmaceuticals, pesticides or fertilizers is a situation we should choose to avoid.
Food and Water are what we can call the necessary and enjoyable ingestibles. They provide the nutritional, caloric, natural connection and social glue that sustains a healthy and secure humanity. Producing rich food and clean water is a cultural heritage based on local climate and resources that are the responsibility of the local populace to conserve, perpetuate and promote. The hard work and pleasures of manual farm labor has been denigrated by the industrial model while the real-actualization of food production can inspire and invigorate everyone to take part in growing good food. As our culture evolves with a fundamental emphasis on healthy food and clean water, we will benefit from knowledge, investment in the environment, consciousness and natural connections not provided by the industrial model.
Conventional industrial agriculture is heavily subsidized and inefficiently using fossil fuels to produce nutrient poor food. As we evolve back into human and animal powered agriculture, we will need more farmers on the land. The era of oil driven cheap food production where one farm can produce for a hundred mouths is drawing to an end. We must transition to a society that provides for a portion of the food they eat through small scale garden plots and direct relations with farmers. The population must be directly responsible via physical and mental tasks involved with food production. The land base must be made available to farmers who are valued economically and socially. Buying directly from food producers through farm-stands and CSAs is a responsible step towards economically supporting this revival. Innovative approaches such as land sharing and nonprofit farm management must provide an opportunity for equitable work and residence. The people must be allowed a mechanism to re-colonize the landbase and provide the human capital to produce the five essentials.

Design and materials are crucial elements in providing sustainable shelters. Sustainable design incorporates strategies such as passive solar, which utilizes the seasonal variations of the sun to provide for heating and cooling of the structure. Solar power is the fundamental source of heating and cooling which can be supplemented with fuelwood. Passive solar design also incorporates the concept of providing substantial insulation when necessary. Insulation is crucial to conserve the energy of heating and cooling shelters.
A general theory that actualizes “good boots and hat” by providing a strong, durable and impermeable foundation and roof with proper overhangs and water resistance is crucial in design and implementation. If the foundation is stable and rot resistant, and the roof provides proper protection, the structure can sustain in its struggle against the destructive forces of weather and time. Climate based particulars such as snow loads and high wind contingency are factors that should not be overlooked.
Reuse of building materials is a practical way to provide sustainable structures. Windows, wire, chimney pipe, metal roofing and hinges can be reutilized from renovations and diverted from the incinerators and landfills. Tires, bottles and tin cans have been recycled into wall and foundation projects.
Natural materials such as adobe and strawbale can be combined with wood and stone to provide the structure and insulation of our sustainable shelters. Natural materials are locally available and do not produce the toxins of industrially created building materials. At D Acres wood is a primary building material that is supplied through our forestry program. Although our neighbor has a bandsaw mill to produce dimensional lumber we prefer the lower impact of round wood stripped of its bark whenever possible.

The functionality of clothing is tied directly to our localized climatic factors and natural resources. The warmth of clothing for people in Florida can be compared to what is comfortable in New Hampshire. Currently North America has clothing sufficient for many years to come. While we can always reinstitute natural fibers such as hemp, wool and flax the current focus can be to utilize our existing clothing resource. Shipping clothes to distant continents and flooding the economy with free clothing thereby destroying the fabric of existing cultures is not a sustainable solution. We need to wear our clothes out. As a culture we need to transcend our admiration of new, stylish, unblemished attire and instead focus adulation to the frugal with practical patches and skills in the fine art of mending socks. Clothes stylish in by gone eras are still functional and the style goes in cycles to be repeated. Fabrics should be cherished, handed down through generations and worn until the rags can be reutilized for household cleaning.

Medicine & Prevention of Illness
Sustainable living can prevent illness through the lifestyle. Healthy food and exercise are the answer to problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. We have approached health by focusing at intervention at critical stages when the condition is grave rather than systematic illness prevention. Medicinal plants are a key component of the agricultural system and a daily tea tonic of available herbs brings the healthy, natural connection to palpable levels.
Avoidance of the toxicity of our industrial pollution also will reduce the level of illness.

Community & Experience
The community consists of people of various ages, skills, and commitment to one another. Direct communication is important to maintain the trust and knowledge for optimal community relations. Families, non blood related households, workplaces, political and government entities can all be considered communities or an element of a community life. These organizations share resources in skills, people power, and infrastructure. In life long learning community provides, teachers, students, and mentors the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences. Community provides support to those who require additional assistance, mentally or physically. Community provides for the education of the youth and there is caring and respect of the elders.
A community must be the archives of experience in regard to infrastructure and techniques that have been historically effective in zones that share similar climate and natural resources. Information and trade of goods and services between the global community will still exist though limited by the reduction of cheap oil.
Community is always evolving as relationships develop and generations age. There is ebb and flow in activity though the commitment to mutual aid and dialogue needs to be apparent. Within groups with an agenda, facilitation and transparency is necessary to make shared decisions transform into actions. By opening the door to process and the possibilities of collaboration we are engaging a societal revolution towards the next stage of human development. When we can transcend our individualistic and egotistical needs we will be empowered to act in the interest of the present and future community. To grasp the extent of the global crisis and not engage in the rational and spiritually enlightened pursuit of a community sustainability is at the least denial and could be construed as suicidal and genocidal.
Community provides a commonality to this sustainable quest. This shared challenge is to provide our subsistence in an enjoyable manner. This immense and complex challenge is an opportunity to re-combine human energy and ingenuity with the resources of the natural world to provide a sustainable future. By directing addressing the problems through identifying the essentials needs, we can work towards solutions while building links between these essential processes. This is not a simplification of a complex situation; this is a direct attempt to identify what are the components for a sustainable life that is simply good.

There are several facets of modern life such as energy consumption and transportation that can be considered essential. I have chosen to focus on what I consider the absolute necessities of successful human existence and primarily avoided what is a luxury beyond that level. In this urgent time of energy descent and global crisis the principle necessities provided in a sustainable fashion is the model that should be demonstrated to North Americans. To address this situation I offer my thoughts on what some would consider essential though I see little that could be construed as essential in regards to something with as large an impact as airline travel.
How do we replace our current energy consumption levels? We need to revert to human and animal powered equipment to provide the kinetic energy for necessary tasks. Animal and human waste should be converted to methane for combustion and subsequent fertility. Conservation and improved efficiencies are the priority in the short-term though we need a radical transformation away from the fossil fuel powered world. Energy amenities for electronics can be provided by photovoltaics while water and wind power can be efficiently used for tasks requiring prolonged kinetic energy such as water pumps and mills. Alcohol and vegetable oil are options for continued usage of combustion engines. As to our infatuation with travel and transporting goods, water (canal, river, & sail) and rail can be utilized to transport heavy cargo. For people, walking, hitchhiking and biking should be considered as the common code of sustainable conduct. There will always be caravans, gypsies, nomads and seasonal workers who shift across the landscape in search of work and adventure. The culture of travel shifts from direct focus on the destination to a blend of the journey along the way.

So is this transformation to a focus on essential factors of sustainability possible or even desirable? We must be proactive at this juncture. We need to address these issues on a local community level. By identifying the critical necessities of humanity and providing for those essentials in a sustainable manner we are addressing the contemporary global crisis. If we are not responsive in developing systems to provide the essential necessities of humanity sustainable we will destroy our ecosystem and the life that we cherish. The natural laws of evolution favor life forms that are responsive to change. If our species is to continue to thrive on the planet we must depend on our timely realization of a crisis situation and an appropriate response.
We need people to be committed and responsible for the long term welfare of the land base. There is a need for individuals, collectives and organizations to invest time in the sustainable long term viability of specific land parcels. I am uncertain if transferable ownership and equity can serve to motivate the long-term investment in the land or is it the awakening to the realization that the proliferation of a healthy productive land base provides for the collective welfare of all humanity. Personally a journey of mutualistic collaboration with the land invokes the humility and inspiration that energizes the natural connections and manifests into fruitful realization of spiritual sustainability.
People are apathetic to be personally responsible for our negative contributions to the problems of our contemporary crisis. We are accustomed to the luxuries of modern times and would prefer there was a quick easy solution that would maintain the status quo. This is a self service and a quick fix. The changes are that are necessary to promote long term sustainability diverge from the model of global consumerism and perpetual growth. Necessary changes, such as reverting the population so that 50% instead of 1% lived on farms, are dramatic, radical and rational. While promoting this strategy of focusing on essentials as principal to our existence is a worthwhile commitment for humanity, we are dependent on collective actions and conscious collaborative efforts for success.
A true commitment to the essential goals of sustainability provides the sustenance of life lacking in our consumer society. Our “real” limits to growth are grounded physically by our daily dose of solar radiation while our spiritual growth in the pursuit of sustainability is without limit. Perpetual growth and consumption glory is an illusion; what we are seeking is a comfortable homeostasis. To continue the metaphor, any profits generated in a homeostatic system are naturally reinvested for the health of the organism. These five fundamentals can be achieved on individual and community scale and we need to seek this equilibrium for our future. Variations of enduring sustainable culture have been practiced throughout the history of the world. Only in the last 100 years have we become dependent on fossil fuels for our lifestyle. We must perpetuate a path of human development to coexist with the mother earth.

What to do first?
1) Change your perspective. Look for satisfaction through conservation rather than consumption. Take pride in turning off lights, spending time with community instead of the tv or skipping that airline travel in favor of the bus or simply staying at home to relish life. Look for the low energy alternatives that provide happiness and wellbeing.
2) Change your perspective. Look at the challenges of sustainability as an opportunity. Spiritually and physically sustainability has many benefits. Instead of fearing pain of sacrifice find the rewards of sustainable thought and actions.
3) SustainAbility is not something that will happen overnite though do not put it off until tomorrow. Get started with small incremental steps NOW, make priorities and goals that can be fulfilled.
4) Share food and work.