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    Permaculture ethics

    I have been interested in Permaculture since 1980 when I stumbled upon a copy of Permaculture 2 in our local bookshop (the same shop also introduced me to The One Straw Revolution and Ecotopia around the same time).

    Over the years I have experimented with various permaculture methods and been fortunate enough to meet Bill Mollison on a number of occasions. One of these was at the Tanelorn Music Festival held at Stroud in the Hunter Valley in 1981, not long after I had discovered the book. I clearly remember Bill wearing a skin of some sort as he ambled about the festival. I also remember the inspiring spirit of his Permaculture workshop which had a strong focus on Ethics.

    Maddy Harland, the editor of the Permaculture Journal has written a succinct introduction to the subject of Permaculture ethics which you can read here. You can download a free copy of the magazine from the same page.

    The Permaculture Research Institute has a dynamic web site with a large range of resources online.

    One Straw Revolution Link Ecotopoia Link


    Chilly chook

    While browsing the website of designer Zach Debord (found via a Make RSS post) I came across this great picture of a chook in the snow with a jumper on, she looks very cosy. Head over to their site to see more of these pictures in a slideshow.
    Their blog has quite a few posts about their chickens and burgeoning interest in Permaculture.
    Worth a look.

    For the those with a technical bent Zach's beam robots are stunning works that merge art and electronics.

    They remind me this work by Robert Klippel which featured 87 small painted objects.


    Made by hand in brooklyn

    Made by Hand is a project creating beautiful videos that celebrate the resurgent maker scene in Brooklyn

    "...Made by Hand was created out of the belief that the things we collect, consume, use, and share are part of who we are as individuals. For example, the food that we eat says something about each of us, as do the tools we use and the chairs we rest on. Objects that surround the space we dwell in tell stories, and not just about us. Where did they come from? Who made them? How were they made? "

    The video below features knife maker Joel Bukiewicz reflecting on how he got started and the challenging process of learning the skills. The black and white style complements the material.

    "...You go into the shop and you cut yourself burn yourself, f..k something up...and you never make that mistake again..".


    Organic vs local

    These days we have a reasonable range of organic food available to us locally whether through the supermarket, our local shops and/or box deliveries. However, in common with nearly all modern food, much of it travels substantial distances before it gets to us. In addition it is often out of season for our local environs. This has created a modern conundrum where shoppers seeking to buy organic must often choose a product with many air and road miles included in its true cost of availability. From a purity of food perspective the decision is easy, always choose the organic or biodynamic product. But if you are concerned about your carbon debt or eating in season, its sometimes seems that buying locally grown non organic is a better choice. This dilemma is nicely captured in a cartoon by Mike Adams.

    The article accompanying the cartoon at is worth reading and goes into some detail to explain the options shown in the cartoon. Here in Australia we are relatively less affected by this problem than Europe in particular, where a great deal of the fruit and vegetables available seem to have been air freighted from the Mediterranean or the US. The ideal arrangement is to grow some foods yourself (homesteaders may grow nearly all their needs) and also to live near a variety of small farmers who produce the other products that you need. It is then possible to enter into schemes like Community Supported Agriculture where farmers and consumers establish direct trading relationships. The next best thing is a local farmers market, which fortunately are starting to become more common and feature a expanding range of products. I recently found the web site of the 1466group, two couples who have joined forces to farm biodynamically and to setup a Community Supported Agriculture system on the mid North Coast of NSW. As someone who tried to move away from the city and eventually came back for various reasons, I admire their efforts and wish them every success. Check them out here.


    Healing power of chooks

    This post has been in my mind since I saw a wonderful program ABC TV. The program “Rare Chicken Rescue” has two themes, one is depression and the other is about rescuing rare chicken breeds. Both subjects are interesting however it was the role that keeping chickens played in rescuing Mark Tully from depression that really struck a chord.

    When we lived on the North Coast of NSW we kept about 20 odd chickens and 3 ducks. Watching this mob of birds going about their daily activities was a source of endless fascination for us. If you slow down and observe with curiosity their individual characters become more apparent. Chickens have an astonishing range of movements and noises when they allowed to follow their natural patterns. I can easily understand how watching the birds can bring someone out of a downward spiral and gradually lead to some relief from symptoms of depression.

    As anyone who has allowed chooks to free range around their garden will know, they have an uncanny sense of which beds to head for to disperse carefully mulched delicate plants. Roosters also seem to be able to get over just about any fence and into a vege garden.

    One of the experiments we trialled was the use of “Chook Tractors”. This is an idea popularised by Bill Mollison in the Permaculture books. The version we used was a chook dome made of poly pipe and chicken wire, that was rotated over half a dozen circular vege beds (as described by Linda Woodrow in The Permaculture Home Garden). One additional benefit of the dome was that it was easy to sit next to and watch the chickens go about their business.


    Finding Optimism - an award winning blog aimed at helping depression suffers and their helpers, also links to their excellent software package for the Mac that provides an easy way to maintain a daily record of your mental health symptoms and the various triggers that are associated with with them.


    Crisis of faith in the financial system

    Thought provoking post by Adam Richardson at Harvard Business Review on the levels of abstraction implicit in the financial system and the trust that is required from all participants for it to continue to operate.

    Crisis of Faith in the Financial System

    From Bernie Madoff to derivatives to the housing bubble to dubious AAA credit ratings, we continue to find new ways to encourage people to make financial leaps of faith. Have we reached a breaking point where the abstraction has gone too far, and is too complicated for 99% of people to understand what they're signing up for, that we must backtrack to more conventional methods? And has the level of trust in private and state financial institutions sunk so low that most people now feel there is no accountability or responsibility for the promises made, or that sound decisions will be made to guarantee "circulation forever"? (Via


    Drowning in books to read

    I love books, i enjoy being given them at this time of the year and I enjoy buying them at any time. Unfortunately I sometimes fall behind with reading them.

    The to read pile has grown to the point where I decided I needed to create a list to keep track of them - Omnifocus to the rescue. Listing them like this should discourage me from acquiring any more until I have reduced this backlog.

    The Tufte and Alexander books were acquired as sets and are works I have been keen to have in my library for years. Christopher Alexanders' A Pattern Language is one of my favourite books. I'll take my time with these and expect to revisit them often.

    Dark Mountain and eaarth share themes of coming to terms with a changed world and looking to the future.

    The Adventures of Jack De Crow will appeal to anyone who has sailed dinghy's especially Mirror's. We built on of these in our garage during the 70's.

    And a smattering of IT books the most interesting of which is hopefully the Design of Design by Fred Brooks of Mythical Man Month fame. Still a relevant book although not everyone thinks so.

    Now all I need to do is polish up my speed reading skills…and then there are the numerous magazines...

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