INTERPERSONAL PERMACULTURE

9 04 2014

written by Martin

Twenty years ago, when I was living in Vermont, a friend of mine moved from there down to middle Tennessee to join a startup permaculture community that was going to be centered around one of the big names in permaculture–honestly, I forget just who.  She returned to Vermont a few months later, saying she had been unable to get along with the guy well enough to stay.  We’re not talking boyfriend/girlfriend here, just being members of the same team/community.  Apparently, she was not the only person who couldn’t make it work with this particular guy, whoever he was, because he is no longer here in middle Tennessee, nor is there a twenty-year old, permaculture-based community in this area, to the best of my knowledge.

While I would love to be proved wrong about this and have members of this community emerge from obscurity and say, “We are here, we have been here, and here are at all the amazing things we’ve done in 20 years,” this apparently failed community is only one of a number of examples I could cite.  It seems that the tricky part of manifesting the long-term vision that permaculture demands isn’t molding the landscape, but forming and keeping together a community of people who can forge a common vision and implement it.  The same holds true for the whole spectrum of groups committed to “paradigm shift,” including, to name the first few that come to mind, political/environmental activism, the Transition Town movement, and healing centers and intentional communities. I have seen such difficulties arise, and disrupt communities and movements, numerous times over the course of my life.  That’s what I’m going to be discussing in this blog post:  what I have learned from my 40+ year involvement with intentional communities.

In college, I joined Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and was one of those who burned his draft card in Central Park in the late 60’s.  I attended enough SDS meetings to become discouraged by its failure to address the egos and emotions of those with a neurotic urge towards leadership and/or martyrdom, and its failure to “be the change it wanted to see.”ghandi Later I moved to San Francisco and witnessed the unravelling of the Haight-Ashbury as a viable community.  (In retrospect, my own neediness and lack of social and material skills probably helped propel that downfall, although I’m sure it all would have come apart just fine without me!)  I joined a small group that aspired to the model Robert Heinlein created in the science fiction novel “Stranger in a Strange Land,” but that succumbed to the neuroses of its founders within a month.  I slept for one night and one night only at a Digger crash pad that had slid so far down the tubes that people were peeing in a sink full of dirty dishes, because the toilets had long ago stopped working.  (OK, that was actually on the Lower East Side of New York, but it was The Diggers.)  I attended what turned to be the last meeting of the San Francisco Diggers, where those who had been in the movement for a while bemoaned the fact that they didn’t own the buildings that they were trying to maintain as The Free Store and the Community Kitchen.  I met several times with a group of people who were getting together to buy land in southern Oregon. That disintegrated in the face of actually coming up with the cash necessary for the deal.  I hung out with the folks from the Harbinger Community, who had the use of a hot spring/resort hotel north of San Francisco.  They lasted a few months before dissolving in a cloud of bad drugs and irresponsible people. Read the rest of this entry »





O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL

10 03 2013

I have been writing this blog and doing this radio show now for nearly eight years.  I have devoted about a quarter of my time to it every month, and many things around our homestead have not happened because I have been keeping faith with this blog, my radio program, and the Green Party of Tennessee.

More on the Green Party in a little bit.  My blog has had, according to WordPress, nearly 47,000 visitors in these eight years, but, on the other hand, my spam protector tells me that it has protected me from 36,000 spam posts, meaning, as I understand it, that only about a quarter of my readers are actually on site to read, with the balance–that’s fifteen out of an average of twenty a day–only here to peddle fake Viagra, knockoff watches and handbags, and other detritus of our consumer-driven culture.  I don’t understand where the payoff for these people comes from.  Nobody I know takes them seriously.  It would certainly save a lot of human and electric energy, not to mention bandwidth, if such nonsense could be eliminated.   But I digress, as I so often do.  One thought leads to another, in an endless stream.

Here’s the point.  I have spent about as much time as I can trying to wake people and point out to them that the building is burning, and they/we need to either fight the fire or get out of the building, or both.  It’s time for me to quit talking about taking action, and actually take action myself.  Not to follow my instincts on this would be co-dependent, I think.  I have been there, and done that, and don’t care to dwell there any more.

So, I am looking for someone else in the Nashville area who would like to do this show–I’ve had a few nibbles, but no firm bites yet.  John and Beth can’t do it all themselves, and would like to cut back on their involvement as well.  If nobody wants to take it from our hands, “The Green Hour” will slip into the dustbin of radio history.  I am thinking that I may repurpose the “Deep Green Perspective” blog as an autobiography, since I think my whole life has been lived, in effect, from a “deep green perspective,” and I’d like to tell my story while I still remember most of it.  Anyway, if you’d like to play radio host, get in touch. Read the rest of this entry »





COAL KILLS

9 02 2013

CORRECTION:  The opening power point presentation was given by Dodd Galbreath, not “Dodd Lockwood.”  My bad!

On Thursday night, I went to the Sierra Club’s “peoples’ hearing” on TVA’s proposal to spend a billion dollars on scrubbers for the stacks of its Gallatin, Tennessee, coal plant.  The meeting, along with a couple of other recent news items, was a pleasant, uplifting surprise.  All too often, public meetings and the news alike leave me with a hollow feeling closely associated with how it feels to be heading down a roller coaster curve that I know, just know, is going to make me toss my lunch.  But not this time.

First, the facts of the matter, to the best of this admittedly biased reporter’s ability to state them.  TVA’s Gallatin coal plant, just upriver (and usually upwind) from Nashville, is over fifty years old.  It consumes 9 to 12,000 tons of coal a day to supply electricity to 300,000 homes  (that’s 80 pounds of coal per home per day), and emits about 750,000 tons of CO2 per year to do that–that’s two and a half tons of CO2 per household, anda total of about 23,500 tons of sulfur dioxide, as well as large quantities of mercury, lead and other heavy metals and radioactive elements.  The EPA has ruled that all coal plants must install scrubbers to remove the sulfur dioxide, etc., or close down.  The  “coal ash” that results from the scrubbing process will, apparently, be stored in large piles and containment ponds on the banks of the Cumberland River, just like the piles and ponds next to the Clinch River near Kingston Tennessee.   (Remember what happened there?) and at every other coal-fired power plant in the country, because nobody’s figured out any safe use for all this highly toxic material.  (oops, sorry, I’m editorializing! ….well, that  IS the fact of the matter.)   Because these ponds and piles are going to take up a lot of room, TVA will have to close down The Cumberland River Aquatic Center, which specializes in growing endangered mussel species (essential for restoring stream health) as well as gar and sturgeon.  TVA has been strongly resistant to any kind of public input into their decision to do all this. Read the rest of this entry »





FARMER’S MARKUP

26 01 2013

There has been a flurry of concern in Nashville lately, in some circles, because the Nashville Farmers’ Market is not meeting its expenses, let alone returning a profit to the city, and so there has been some talk of “privatizing” it, in hopes that somebody will figure out a way to make running the market “profitable.”

This prompts two lines of thought for me.  One relates to the Farmers’ Market in specific, and the other is the much broader subject of government provision of public services being criticized for not being “profitable.”  Let’s look at the second one first, and then examine the specific case of the Nashville Farmers’ Market.

One prime example of a government agency (albeit now a semi-private agency) that is in big trouble because it is not “profitable” is the United States Post Office.  It is ironic to me that many people who style themselves “strict constructionists” also advocate privatization of the post office and criticize it for losing money, because establishment of a postal service is directly authorized by the U.S. Constitution, which says nothing about whether that service needs to turn a profit or not.  Good communication is essential to creating a cohesive political entity, and so “post offices and post roads” were high on our founders’ agenda–we’re talking Article One  of the Constitution here.  The Post Office was not some afterthought. Read the rest of this entry »





TVA WANTS TO MAKE AN ASH OF ITSELF-AGAIN

26 01 2013

In December of 2008, TVA’s Kingston Coal Plant was the site of a disaster, as unusually heavy rains washed away retaining walls and inundated the area downstream from the plant with highly toxic coal ash from “ponds” on the plant site.

Now, TVA wants to set the stage for an even more spectacular disaster.  Instead of polluting the small rural community of Kingston, their new plan puts the city of Nashville at risk.

Their intentions are good–the Gallatin plant they want to “upgrade”  has been listed as one of the most polluting coal plants in the country.  But TVA’s solution–to spend a billion dollars installing “scrubbers” that will remove the pollution from the plant’s exhaust system–will result in tons and tons of toxic waste being stored on the banks of the Cumberland River, upstream from Nashville.  All it will take is a flood like the one we had in 2010, and that coal ash, with its toxic load of mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, and more–will be all over Nashville.  Thanks, TVA! Read the rest of this entry »





AS WE FILL OUR PETRI DISH/PLANET…..

28 10 2012

Pre-election frenzy is reaching its heights here in the U.S., as foaming-at-the-mouth insanity runs neck and neck in the polls with cool, calculated insanity, and the world holds its breath to see whether the current faction  of thugs will retain control, or whether a crew that is even more out of touch with reality will take the reins in America.  Mitt Romney, in contrast to many Republicans, says he recognizes that the climate is changing, but denies human causation.  Obama admits that humans are the cause of the problem, but won’t do anything that will actually stop it.  The subject has been off the political radar in this election.

Meanwhile, on the weather radar, we have a nearly unprecedented, very late-season hurricane bearing down on the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., and forecasters are saying it’s likely to merge with a nearly unprecedented,very early season winter storm system that’s been making its way across the country, possibly wreaking havoc when the two systems have a party over the next couple of days.  (Gee…the two-party-system meets the two-system party!).  This follows a year of record drought, which shrank crop yields in this country and elsewhere, and has sent global food reserves to their lowest level in 40 years.  This, too, is “off the radar.”  As far as the duopoly  candidates are concerned, reality is, in general, “off the radar.”  This failure to acknowledge reality could destroy the planet.  Our political system is not just insane, it is suicidally, and ecocidally, insane, a danger to itself and others.

In the midst of all this madness, what’s a David to do but battle Goliath?  What’s Lot to do but warn Sodom and try to awaken enough righteous people to save it, especially since, this time around,  there is no place to go to get away from impending destruction?

That’s why we in the Green Party keep making what effort we can to turn the tide. Read the rest of this entry »





JILL STEIN TO VISIT TENNESSEE!

14 10 2012

Late-breakng news here–Dr. Stein, the Green Party’s Presidential candidate, will make a swing through Tennessee on Thursday, Nov. 1, the only Presidential candidate to visit the state during this election campaign.  She will speak in Pleasant Hill, Cookeville, Murfreesboro, and Nashville.  Times and locations are not yet set, but will be posted here, as well as at the Green Party of Tennessee’s website (http://greenpartyoftennessee.org/) and the Green Party of Middle Tennessee’s Facebook page.

Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein’s’s revised, redated schedule for her Tennessee visit:
Thursday Nov 1:
Pleasant Hill 7:00AM Political Forum Breakfast w/ Dr. Jill Stein
Cookeville at TN Tech U 11:00AM
Murfreesboro at MTSU 4:00PM
Nashville area TBD 6:30PM








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