[permaculture] more on overly-optimistic

Rain Tenaqiya raincascadia at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 3 15:12:39 EST 2009

Toby, everything you are saying sounds reasonable to me.  I have no doubt that Mollison would find everything I'm doing much easier than I have.  On the other hand, I'm no recent college graduate with no experience with a shovel.  I starting studying permaculture in 1992 and lived in farming communites for several years before running my own permaculture design business for a couple years.  Then I bought land and started working on my own place.  I still feel hugely ignorant about nearly everything, and I don't consider myself very strong or energetic compared to many, but I'm not a newbie.  I just want to be able to live a model life that I can recommend to others, and after my experience I don't feel so confident about that.
I also agree with Lawrence:
"I think another missing element is invisible systems.  Our culture is designed around the rugged individualist myth.  With the exception of some successful intentional planned community my sense is that too many people are tackling land solo or as couples.  I don't criticize that because that is the way it is at this time, particularly in America. But in truth some of these systems should be built by communities of people that are committed to staying on the land for a long time as a true community. How we go a bout building this kind of community is I suspect far harder than designing a food forest or building a straw bale house."
We are part of a loose, collectively-owned community, but not the kind of integrated community that would make starting sustainable systems much easier.  I gave up on being able to accomplish much within my lifetime while working within such a community.  I feel kind of caught between warning folks against doing it on your own on marginal land and accepting that many people don't really have any other option.
I consider most of California as degraded land that needs restoration after the ravages of native depopulation, invasive annual grasses, logging, and overgrazing.  I always thought I would find a deforested and/or overgrazed chunk of land and nurse it back to health with trees, but I am kind of pushing the limits at the site I've chosen.  Trees are coming back on their own, so it is obvious that my site can support trees, but it is going to take a long time, and there is always the possibility that a fire will erase it all.  Maybe I should hire Bill to come do a design for me.....


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