Saturday, April 19, 2008

food not lawns springfield

We are thrilled to announce the first meeting of Food Not Lawns, Springfield, Illinois. It's Wednesday, April 30, 2008, at 10 a.m., at the downtown branch of the Springfield Public Library, in the Bicentennial Room on the 3rd floor.

Food Not Lawns (FNL) is a decentralized network of grassroots gardeners who are turning lawns into gardens, and neighborhoods into communities, around the world. We are deeply interested in exploring sustainable cities, permaculture, low consumption, living locally, low-tech organic practices, vermiculture, composting, mycology, sharing, helping, living simply, reuse, water catchment, graywater, biodynamics, diy culture, and ultimately, rebuilding communities one lawn at a time.

The idea is that our first meeting will be networking--meeting each other, getting an idea of the collective skills, resources, and interests of our members. And we go from there, planting, sharing, reinvigorating our local permaculture.

We've also got a yahoo group going, for those of us who are in this screen land:

I hope anyone who is interested in gardening and sustainable issues will get involved.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008


We just copied some pages with pictures out of some permaculture books for our unschooling friends. They live way out in the flatlands with their chickens. Even without doing a full-fledged permaculture design, some of the ideas are pretty simple to grasp, and really might make things easier and/or more productive. Zone placement, keyhole beds, suntrap designs. I also copied tables of edible weeds and plants for poultry forage. She was talking about how much they spend a month on feed for the chickens.

Reading recently in the Designer's Manual about how forests make rain and make streams flow. No forests, no water ... or sometimes you'll get a flood cause there was no forest to moderate all that water.

And then the Friends of Sangamon Valley newsletter says they're going to spray poison on garlic mustard in their newly acquired forest property. And start cutting down sugar maples because they're shading out the oak-hickory forest that, they say, belongs there instead. The sugar maples belong someplace other than where they've grown. Sigh. Shall we let a system demonstrate its own evolution?

And never mind that garlic mustard is edible and highly nutritious. They could at least harvest it for poor residents of Springfield's food desert. No, we must keep slathering new layers of plaster on the ancient empire.

We're looking to read Food Not Lawns but it's not available from Rolling Prairie Library System.

Time for bed. I might find myself tending the F 602 CB droid in the wee hours.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

to the ends of the earth

It's on fire, says Kid Khalila. Indeed, fractals everywhere.

I've been reading some Phillip K. Dick novels. So far I've downed three: The Man in the High Castle, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? All three deal with conjured realities of the cyberpunk future (not unlike our own), and the idea that reality is not a fixed thing, but an agreed-upon idea that is taken as "real" because it is widely believed in. In my own world, money, time, justice, god, the president and his stock market--those things all come into mind as trappings of consensus reality, at least for many who have not yet stopped believing in them.

Phillip K. Dick once remarked that reality is what continues to exist when you stop believing in it. I got to utter that in a Chamber of Commerce meeting once, when I tired of listening to the yammer of why the market determines what is necessary (and therefore, real). The book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep deals a lot with empathy, the ability to feel what another human feels, the one characteristic differentiating humans and androids. Interesting ideas to explore in my mind. I've never felt so alone as stuck in a traffic light, listening to a song of despair by Radiohead surrounded by smothering concrete and crazy robots, except possibly when walking down a deserted downtown street, feeling confined and diseased trees yearning to be alive in the vast grip of pavement.

We (humanity) are not to blame. We were duped. It is time to spit out the bite from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that first tempted us. Have we gone through enough feedback cycles to learn anything yet? Perhaps it is that the Cave of Treasures is the Black Iron Prison, both realities existing at the same time, one atop another, two blurred images, and what you can see depends on where you are standing, your point of view. Even if time has passed, we are still standing in Rome, still slathering on new plaster, still believing in this reality that has ceased to exist in any meaningful way for us as humans.

As robots, on the other hand, this world and its ceaseless hum are still rather inviting. It's comfortable, as long as you are near the top of the pyramid. Down in the galleys, rowing our hearts out, feeling it all, it ain't so pleasant at times. But it is feeling. Humans need to feel joy as well as sorrow, but now we have anti-depressants to take care of that, along with the armed guards and television and instant gratification anywhere, and crack is pretty cheap if you are that desperate.

And then there's the netherwhere, the utopia of nowhere that exists everywhere, paradise, community, the ever-widening cracks where the alley rats and freegans dwell. I'm not sure how I ended up here--turned off the tv, the job, the distractions. Started thinking, feeling, taking care of myself and my community. Somehow I found the road to nowhere, only slightly there, blurry, but the more I follow it, the more I find somewhere, and myself firmly rooted within it.

Maybe it begins in the heart, the hearth, the way from garden to mouth to stomach to shit to garden. Maybe it begins the first time sharing and helping makes you feel better than buying something new. Maybe it begins feeling the pain of a worn-out wage slave, toiling for a bare existence simply to make your life more comfortable and with more options (distractions) to choose from, and deciding that your emotional comfort in not creating work for wage slaves is preferable to having a product (a "good") at your disposal, or a service rendered. Maybe it begins when one of you in this new reality becomes two, two becomes four, and four becomes too many to count.

Paradigms shift, realities change, ideas mutate, feedback increases, changes. If you do the same things, day after day, year after year, you should not expect anything to change. Feedback cycles--fractals--reverberate with each action. Stuck in this dysfunctional relationship with civilization, I hearken back to reality and what is real. I find myself in a place of up and down, cold and hot, wet and dry. I find myself thinking about my physical needs of food, shelter, and clothing. I find myself thinking about my emotional and mental needs of contentment.

Strangely enough, here in the cracks, I am finding that caring for my own physical needs brings the emotional need I have of contentment. I've somehow struck it rich, and it's a treasure no one can steal, beg, or borrow from me. And unlike riches from the Cave of Treasures (that is also the Black Iron Prison), I can share these riches with everyone in my community, and the treasures only increase as the community increases.

There is a way out, a way through, a way in. It is the garden, the kingdom, the treasure, the poem, the sense of what makes us human, and it is inside each of us, however brightly it shines. You can see it reflecting in the picture above. We were all once part of the same something, the same substance. We still are. Step away from the levers of Leviathan, my friend. There is a beautiful sunset to observe, enlivening food to eat, laughter, and a sense of belonging in community.