Report to Threshold
pci at permaculture-inst.org
Wed Jun 7 14:53:21 EDT 2006
John Schinnerer wrote:
>>-do we still want to work on this project?
>Not in its current state, namely DIW (Dead In Water) except for Bear's
>recent efforts of interest.
>When I ask for a measly $500 @ $15/hr to improve/polish the issue
>tracker based on feedback from group use so far and the response is
>deafening silence my motivation vanishes like Descartes when he stops
I guess I missed your request for funds John, because noone yet has been
turned down once the group gave the go ahead for me to write a check. I
have only received such requests from Chad, Bear, and Stephanie. I have
been going under the assumption that people we mostly providing pro bono
participation. I knew that Chad had volunteered to do the heavy lifting
since we were following his recommendations for what system to create
and that he would ask for payment from time to time. I have kept to the
background, in lurking mode, as I am completely illiterate in
I would like to bring this conversation back to the beginning for a moment:
The idea for this data base came out of a conversation I had with
Stephanie a couple of years ago when I was lamenting the lack of good
"guild" information in permaculture circles. I can only recount a half
dozen examples for our arid climate in New Mexico. For those of you who
aren't permaculture literate a guild is an assembly of plants, animals,
fungi, and other biota that support a specific plant or animal. Take an
apple, for instance, its guild would be bulbs such as alliums to keep
the root zone open and air permeable, clovers and the fungal or
bacterial associates for nitrogen, umbelliferae for beneficial
insects, birds for insect control, bees and their pollen plants for
pollenization, phosphate accumulators, and so on. Even the glouchester
spot pig, once used as an orchard animal to keep the soil friable, could
be part of the "apple guild" in a farm setting. In the case of corn and
bananas humans are an indespensable part of their guild. Obviously
guilds vary according to climate, soil types, and etc. but the
principal remains true.
Stephanie then decided to devote time to raising money to put together a
guild data base and was successful. We were also sucessful in
recruiting several programmers who helped launch this whole process and
brought it to its current state. I think that we have accomplished a
lot and would be loath to give up when it seems we are in sight of the goal.
I have met botanists and biologists around the world who were captivated
by the guild concept and they have a lot of knowledge, from studying
plants in their native habitat, about guilds in the natural
environment. Russian biologists come from the Vavilov tradition of
looking for the origins of all comestibles - potatoes from Peru, corn
from southern Mexiico, and apples from Kazakstan. If one had the
opportunity to look at apples in the forest of Kazakstan the evolved
guild there would become apparant, and from that we could develop
analagous structures for the human environment. What I had hoped to do
was enroll my international contacts to add their accumulated wisdom to
the data base once it was formed, I still hold out that expectation.
>>-do we consider this project worthwile (even if we personally don't want to
>>work on it)?
> From a functionality standpoint I don't find much that's been done so
>far worthwhile, with the possible exception of where Bear has started
>exploring. I can get more plant information faster using Google than
>using current PIW. As I posted some time ago based on an ad hoc case
>study drawn from a question on a permaculture list, PIW is currently
>pretty useless for even basic plant searches.
I will have to defer to other programmers on the list to guide me as to
whether this project is worthwhile or not, I certainly hope so!
>>-is it justifiable to retain Threshold funding???
>I don't know what the terms of the funding are.
>If we have formal agreements and we've not met them then I think the
>money should be returned. If we don't have formal agreements and/or
>what we have have not been broken then it's an open question.
>If others turn up to move the project forward then by all means apply
>the money to it.
>FWIW nobody who's somewhat of a key player can go completely AWOL on a
>software development project and assume/expect that it will keep on
>chugging without them. Since we've all done our share of AWOL I'm not
>surprised PIW is DIW.
The terms of the Threshold funding are that we will develop a guild
database, there is no time line or other restrictions that I know of
except that the money should be used for this purpose and not to build a
solar car or some such. We are still within the grant parameters as far
as I'm comcerned and I will send the report to Threshold for 2005 and
see what their take is. To my mind this is a project that is still
fundable and worthwhile at this point there seems a little lack of will
is the primary shortcoming.
I would appreciate more feedback from those of you who know how data
bases work and what still needs to be done. If we had a short list of
what has been accomplished and what needs to be done I think it would
help us all.
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