[permaculture] A Permanent Culture:-Rural or Urban or......

Scott Vlaun scott at moosepondarts.com
Sun Oct 16 10:28:26 EDT 2005

Hey Sean,

It looks like Just Food is doing some fantastic work down there.

All good points below. You are absolutely right that Rural Urban  
Partnerships are the way to go. We're just beginning to see how that  
can work in our little urban area of Norway/South Paris with a food  
co-op as the focus. It's a long road. Not only has growing food gone  
out of style up here, so has cooking! Fast food and obesity are  
pretty rampant. But things are changing and we all have to pull  
together, wherever we are to create the paradigm shift to more local  
production and consumption of fresh, whole foods. On a positive note,  
Maine is once again producing grain, urban restaurants are featuring  
Maine produce and meats, farmers markets are growing, and a green  
building movement is developing to counteract the plethora of prefab  
plastic houses that are popping up everywhere. Opportunities abound  
to affect change.

Please don't take my previous comments to imply that I think urban  
living is wrong or that I was comparing myself to other urban  
dwellers. I have lived in both worlds and appreciate both very much.  
I was just pointing out my own experience, which is certainly not  
typical. My choice to live in the Maine woods has more to do with the  
fact that I am lucky enough to be able to make a living mostly from  
home (via computer) and a love for building with wood, gardening,  
forestry, and ski touring in the winter, than any rejection or  
critique of the urban lifestyle. I'm still very fond of NYC and the  
urban culture in general.

There is so much opportunity for integration between the two,  
especially around food. We're seeing a lot more collaboration between  
chefs and farmers. Eating local is an increasingly louder buzz, and  
even school lunch programs are looking to local producers once again.

In a shrinking world, I think the urban/rural distinctions are  
becoming increasingly irrelevant and the creation of community on  
every level increasingly important. We're all in this together and  
there is much to do.


Scott Vlaun
Moose Pond Arts & Ecology
Otisfield, ME

Design Solutions for a Sustainable Future

On Oct 13, 2005, at 5:58 PM, Sean Maley wrote:

> --- Scott Vlaun <scott at moosepondarts.com> wrote:
>> Thank You Lawrence,
>> Having lived in both city and country, your
>> sentiments rang true for me. I'm sure I consume much
>> lest energy here in rural Maine than I did in NYC. I
>> heat with my own wood instead of oil, grow a
>> significant portion of my food, buy local for most
>> of the rest. I travel less for leisure and can ride
>> my bike to town. Most of our buildings are made with
>> materials from our carefully managed woodlot and
> sawn
>> with a small bandsaw mill. In the city, everything i
>> touched was imported from fairly far away (much of
>> NYC's food still comes from California or Central
>> America.)
> <snip>
> See justfood.org and cenyc.org for a recent food trend
> in NYC.
> It often feels like ruralites compare themselves to
> urbanites, as if the urbanites are doing something
> wrong.  It's like we are expected to walk out of the
> cities like happened to the Anasazi, Mayans, and more.
> Large scale acceptance of sustainable living will only
> happen by urban and rural partnerships.  Both
> lifestyle choices have the same ignorance to overcome.
>  People who prefer a rural lifestyle should find a
> food network to share surplus with the urban areas.
> The urban areas should form associations that
> reciprocate the hard work being done on the rural
> farms.  People should be moving in both directions.
> As for Maine, I know a little about the state and the
> plight that exists far north of Otisfield.  Few of my
> relatives in Maine grow their own food; this is the
> tradition, but stopped in recent decades.  When they
> aren't in their car, they are on their ATV or Ski Doo;
> thank television for having them feel bored.  The
> garbage and rusting cars in the woods suggest this has
> been going on since WWII.  Gas prices may get them
> thinking about food production again, given the long
> long drive to the nearest grocery store.  The better
> pay jobs are already gone.  Bangor is too far away.
> Lincoln doesn't have much to offer as a city and also
> too far for regular trips; Lincoln was better decades
> ago, albeit with the nasty stench from the paper mill.
> The same quality exists in their grocery stores as NYC
> (often worst), except I walk in NYC, which is only
> during the four months the Green Market isn't here in
> the neighborhood; this is year two for the Inwood
> Green Market.  Some people in the neighborhood eat
> exclusively from wild edibles available in the old
> growth forest here at the northern tip of Manhattan.
> See wildmanstevebrill.com for some of the species
> being eaten out of the parks.  There are far more wild
> berries in Maine to make pies.
> There are plenty of online photos of this area in NYC
> (Inwood Hill Park), if you don't believe me; even
> better, come visit.  The contrast is amazing between
> ultra urban, then one block of walking puts you in the
> middle of the woods with gigantic trees; the biggest
> are Tulip, Beech, Elm, Ginkgo, Oak, and Maple.  The
> next step is to stop the Parks from using poisons; the
> interest is there to apply permaculture starting with
> the nature center.  Bill at the nature center is part
> of the spontaneous tribe recently emerging here.  It
> would be a long walk for me to see trees this big in
> Maine.  They used to be there according to my grand
> father's stories; about cutting them down and
> dynamiting them in the rivers for the paper company.
> The west side bike path is faster to midtown and
> downtown than the subway; the Hudson River view is
> better too.  Forget about driving a car; dyslexics pay
> a $250 penalty for each offence and run a marathon
> freeing the car from the pound.  A car is not only
> required in Maine, but residents also need some sort
> of snow capable option that uses way too much gas for
> four wheel drive and big tires.
> There is reason to feel hopeful in NYC; getting the
> word out here is more meaningful by shear scale of
> economy.  The Mainiacs aren't very pleased about the
> New Yawka's and Massholes running up their land
> prices, so they can't pay their property taxes
> anymore; they also don't like being told how to live.
> Florida is the cheaper option during the winter
> months.  Heroin is a far bigger problem in remote
> Maine than in NYC; yes more addicts are in NYC, but
> for such a small population to be hit so hard is
> terrible; brain drain is running deep, while it
> continues to pool in the big city.
> -Sean.
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