From Missy
Ethan Roland's Lecture - 11/13/08

Ethan's positive energy is truly contagious. Thank you so much for sharing your time and knowledge!
What I have learned from Ethan about permaculture is:
- It is a lifestyle that’s in tune with and is a part of the natural world
- It is about being as close to nature as possible and conserving our natural resources.
- It is not simply about earning money to buy the material things and services I need. It's about working to produce my own
food, do my own cooking, make my own clothing and respecting the earth. It's is about bringing things full circle.

Permaculture is about Caring About the Earth, Caring About People, Setting Limits to Population and Consumption and Reinvesting the Surplus Back into the System.
I also was very interested in learning about Ken Wilber's 4-quadrants. Taking part in the exercise was very informative and really got me thinking.
Left Hand Paths
Right Hand Paths
cultural fit
mutual understanding
functional fit
systems theory web
social systems mesh

So what is the point of looking at the world through 4-quadrant lens? All four quadrants are real, are important, and are essential for understanding my world. I plan to use this technique to get a clearer picture of my present situation, to understand more about myself, and to possibly find ways to make improvements in my life with the least amount of work possible.


Big thanks to Ethan who lead a dynamic session on 11/13.

He embodies the youthful optimism and enthusiasm that I thought we could all use! Permaculture principles have really helped me organize my thoughts and activities, and I hope they can do the same to all of you. However, I want you to keep in mind that permaculture, like Ethan was saying, is one of the many many working systems available today that can be utilized to enhance our lives inside and out. It is very exciting that so many people have left the couch behind and are getting involved. We CAN make the difference.

Here are the links that are related to the session:

Appleseed Permaculture (Ethan's business website)

Pemaculture Across Borders

Gaia University

Northeast Permaculture

Joanna Macy

Ken Wilber (AQAL—All Quadrants All Levels)

Financial Permaculture

Thank you Ethan, for your presentation last week. I was sorry I was so tired. I loved that in the spirit of creativity you entered this presentation in a new way. I hope it was as rewarding for you as it was alive for me. I loved your morning mantra: "How can I do the greatest good for the largest number of beings with the least amount of work in the shortest amount of time." (Did I get that right?) I also appreciate the personal journey you shared with us. I, too, have experienced change on the outside and therefore identified the need to explore my interior landscape through therapy (individual and co-counseling) and spiritual practice. And though it was a trick question as to whether we must take care of the planet or ourselves first, I still maintain that we can't know truth and right action untill we know, accept and love ourselves. Then again...what are 'we' if not 'that'? :)
There were some key thoughts presented:
  • Occam's Razor: the principle that states that though there may be multiple solutions to a problem the simplest is best.
  • Change is inevitable, we need only shape it
  • A leverage point is a point primed for the opportunity for change with the greatest affect, we need only employ creativity to hoist it into action
  • problem solving using the 4 quadrants, a method to ensure we are examining all areas of a system - be it a belief, a community or global issue to find permanence and pertinence within a solution
  • Permaculture: "Meeting human needs while increasing ecosystem health" - YEAH! [I think it interesting that this site is wanting us to correct the spelling of permaculture. I guess it doesn't "know" it yet!]
  • Joanna Macy's work: I had just heard of her workshop in CT from Mannajo Greene after our climate change show a few weeks ago. She referenced the support work Macy provides for activists suffering burn-out. Since then Macy has popped up in a couple of unrelated conversations. I look forward to getting some her books. I have learnt that it was when she translated "Rilke's Book of Hours, Love Poems to God" (available used on Amazon for @ $3) that her journey into what we might now call a "systems" way of thinking began.
I still have my upstairs floor to complete and though I am feeling the constraint of finances and time I have a renewed commitiment to look at alternatives, one of which is investigating for recycled building materials!

From Diana:
The session we had with Ethan was very interesting. He said he had found as his knowledge evolved that permaculture is not the only answer to our troubles today. I think, conversely, that what I am learning about permaculture is that it can be a part of the solution no matter what the problem. It seems to me that if you apply the principles of permaculture it can be an aid in dealing with most problems, and not just agricultural problems. Rather than permanent agriculture, it becomes permanent culture.

I liked the concept that Ethan put forth when explaining permaculture that he looks for the smallest tweak that will give him the most effect. This can and I think should be applied to all the challenges that we face today. Ethan’s lesson about putting these problems or barriers on the 4 quadrant grid can aid us to find the solutions that are the easiest and most effective. If we can find the leverage points, we can tackle our problems whether they are personal, or communal, with less effort and cost. On a national level, this can help us to find the support that we need to make great changes. If we can find the least expensive solutions that will help us with many of the challenges we face, we will have a chance of getting the support that is needed.

Ethan also talked about Joanna Macy’s proposal that we should be hospicing and midwifing and that resonates with me. I feel the same way about my life. I am trying to shed the old way of life and trying to relearn a new way. I just find it so interesting that others are engaged in the same process. It’s nice to know I am not alone.

Rugged individualism as a desirable quality needs to change so that the needs of the community are recognized. What’s good for the individual is not always what’s good for the whole community. What’s good for the US is not always good for the rest of the world. That’s where the concept of leveraging will help. We need to find solutions and make decisions based on what is good for the individual and good for the whole community at the same time. My hope is this will help us to make choices that will be more ethical and productive.

One lesson leads to another and all things are connected. This is what I have learned so far during this course. Each step can stand alone, but better than that, is part of a larger pattern that we can use and we can all benefit from as we go forth in our lives.
Peace, Diana

From Donna:
Thank You so much Keiko! ...I've decided that the first thing I am going to do is create an inside compost bin with earth worms. There is something about them that I love; and how energixing it will be to have them at work all of the time under my sink! Then Godz willing next Spring I could grow some squashes in my compost; even if I have to buy or barter some to have enough. ...

From Linda:
I wish I could have been in class last Thursday to hear Ethan speak about permaculture. As I told Keiko, my father was one of the first permaculture freaks of the twentieth century. Under my father's tutelage, our family lived the permaculture life. For as long as I can remember, we had a huge compost heap in the forest behind our house. Each spring and fall we used soil from that compost heap to fertilize our vegetable, herb, and flower gardens. My father always insisted that the more active the compost heap, the greater the number of earthworms in it. In the years that we faithfully tended our compost heap, it was rife with earthworms. If we put shovel to it, the shovel would come away squirming with life, and the hole in the heap would reveal a world of worms. Although my father has now been dead for fifteen years and had abandoned tending the compost heap two years prior to his death, it is still a mound of rich black soil, home to countless earthworms, and fertilizer for my mother's herb and flower gardens.

I was so moved by this story about your father and the compost heap. And it's nice to know it is still living. ...I do love earth worms!!! ...Our compost heap gets flooded when it rains. We live in low lands so we can't even get to it most of the time, so I have been composting in the house or throwing the "natural waste" over the wall into the woods.

...Your story brought back semtiments of my own childhood and the mindset my parents had (I think it was the times, don't you?). . ...My dad didn't have a huge compost heap, but we used to have a garden and had frozen vegetables all Winter. I remember peeling corn and snapping green beens to prepare for freezing. We had a wood and coal stove and my father hunted. I also remember him being so mindful of not wasting water; whether brushing our teeth or doing dishes, he always taught us ways of cleaning up that used water conservately. I used to take long showers and he was always lecturing me (rightfully so of course). By the time they had me (late in life), my dad was working in IBM, but before that my parents farmed for a living all of their lives; and since farmimg is not all that lucrative, it was also a means of survival. There may be coming a time when we are going to need to farm again for ourselves. ...I got the idea (from a few wonderful classmates) to join a community garden since I can't plant here. ... Hopefully next Spring will be bursting with new things all around. Someday I would also love to have a beehive. ...
Blessings and Joy,