[permaculture] defining permaculture

Tommy Tolson healinghawk at earthlink.net
Sun Jun 24 20:17:55 EDT 2007

Hi, Roxann,
Thanks for responding.  You write beautifully.  I've read your post over 
and over just to enjoy your prose and the passion with which you've 
written.  I think if all humans did as good as you have at fitting into 
nature, we might have a good shot at surviving the 2030 convergence.  
Unfortunately, my sense is that's not the case.
It may be an overstatement, but I think humans are the only species 
which seeks to rule nature.   I suspect only western culture seriously 
engaged that project, but, again, that may be an overstatement.  No 
other species that I know of seeks to change nature to have it suit 
them.  Beaver, perhaps.  Other than that, only humans take more than 
nests and a subsistence living from nature.  No "civilization" has 
avoided ecological collapse, so far, and our civilization isn't going to 
get close without something like a major popular awakening.  
I believe humans have as much right to nature's bounty as any species.  
I do not believe we have the right to exercise dominion over any part of 
nature.  We are, as Aldo Leopold said, simple members of the land's 
community.  We are neither rulers of the land nor its favored 
inhabitants.  As I've said before, when pond scum is more ecologically 
useful than humans, it seems to me like a serious wake-up call.
That said, I seriously fear my current lifestyle.  I live in an 
apartment in Austin, TX beside a major commuter artery and buy all my 
food.  There is a food co-op, Wheatsville, but it's a long drive.  I 
make almost no difference politically, that I can detect, in Austin.  I 
practice shamanism and write fiction, both of which are therapeutic for 
me.  I have PTSD from the brutality I experienced in Vietnam (70% 
disabled) that consumed my life for twenty years before the VA got a 
PTSD diagnosis.  I have a great deal of difficulty with handling 
stress.  My sense is that I am among the most ecologically and socially 
vulnerable persons on the planet.   Recovery helped, therapy helps, and 
shamanism gave me back enough of my soul to live most of the time in my 
life.  Shamanism is a natural spiritual practice.
I am at work organizing a nature church in Austin called Life Circle.  
The aim of this church, to me, is to bring nature religion into the 
mainstream and form a true pluralism in US culture.  Everyone else 
worships God.  We worship nature.  I don't know the parameters of this 
church.  Its founders will create those in democratic process.  So 
democratic process is a parameter, I suppose.  This is a long-term shot 
at a solution to dominion, in my mind, at least.   A solution to 
dominion, it seems to me, opens a new door of possibilities.
Otherwise, if my ecological situation doesn't change before 2030, I'm toast.
I'm sorely tempted to buy a piece of land and return to working the 
land, which suits me.  I have the cash flow of my VA compensation (as 
long as the federal government remains solvent) to hold me while I 
observe the land, its flows, its inhabitants, its soul, and use that 
input for my Permaculture design.  Perhaps I'd do some damage control, 
but I would try to do nothing until I'm satisfied with my observations. 
But I have this piece of me, the mature magician archetype, who serves 
his tribe.  Mostly Cherokee and Scotch Irish, that I know of, I'm 
tribal.  My tribe is my Sacred Family: the land and its creatures.  So I 
observe for a solution larger than saving myself.  I know how to save 
myself.  I don't know how to save my Sacred Family.  I feel as if I were 
on a sinking ship, though, so the stress eats me alive.  Can I save 
anyone but myself? Must I save myself first, to enable me to save anyone 
else?  Can I, in fact, save anyone else?  In my early healing, 12-Step 
programs taught me that the unwilling can not be saved.  They first have 
to surrender, to admit they are powerless (though not helpless), and 
that their lives are out of control.
So I continue my observation.

Tommy Tolson
Austin, TX

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