I have written a book on Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage. I am now seeking a publisher. Here is a section of the introduction on why we need to develop urban ecovillages.
THE NEED FOR A NEW STORY
A story in this context refers to the cultural story, what we have been told and come to believe about the way things are and have come to be. Aboriginal people have a completely different story about how things came to be and how one relates to the world around them. Our present cultural story evolved over centuries as we adjusted to industrialization, fossil fuels and the expansion of cities, to mention just a few.
This story is our present cultural story. We humans evolved, like every other species, adjusting to our environment. Each species develops in a way to best survive in its ecosystem. Humans are no exception. Our brains evolved to help us survive. It is remarkable that there are seven billion of us. However, as with all species, there is a point in which overpopulation and consumption can overtax the environment and cause population collapse, sometimes to the point of extinction.
To survive and thrive, we humans have destroyed many other species. There is a great probability that it will actually destroy our own species if we don’t radically change the way we are interacting with the planet. We have developed a system in which we truly believe that economics is primary, humans are producers and consumers, and the Earth is considered only a resource. This underlying story has worked, as our population expansion indicates.
Making the Earth solely an extractive resource has disconnected us, in our minds, from our planet. We have come to believe the Earth is here purely for our whims and we can do to it whatever we wish. This ignores the facts: we are an interdependent species of this planet, totally dependent on the survival of the planet for our own survival. The fact is, there are limits to what and how much we can extract.
The old story has led to critical depletion and destruction of almost every one of the Earth’s resources that humans are dependent upon. CO2 emissions are at the top of the list as polar ice melts, weather becomes more and more erratic, and seas are rising. But this is just a tip of the iceberg of destruction that is happening. Pollution of air and waterways, depletion of topsoil, eradication of fish populations, introduction of GMOs in our food source, chemical pollution, excessive use of plastics, and the list goes on.
We must fight the harmful destruction of the planet’s resources, but must realize this is only a finger in the dyke. We need to stop the degradation by dealing with the story that is underlying the problem, or in the end we will destroy the Earth’s ability to support our species.
We humans have a difficult time making cultural changes. We find comfort in maintain the status quo. For example, reducing the use of plastic. Why would we continue to make plastic bags that are used for a few minutes and then thrown away, out of material that is basically going to last forever. It is because it is ingrained in our society. Even with people being aware that things aren’t right, it is difficult to confront and change what is widely accepted by society. In the past there were significant cultural changes that were made for the survival of our species, but they took hundreds to thousands of years to be adopted. Our problem is, we are running out of time.
However there is hope. The hope lies in:
- Many people are feeling discontent with their lives. They believe there is something that isn’t right. Willie Nelson says, “The water and air on earth are being adversely affect by our bad habits. We are fucking up our home. Damn, are we dumb?” Our problem is being culturally dumb, but we can figure it out.
- We can make the shift toward the fact that the Earth is primary. The reality is we humans are just one of 10 million species on the planet. Along with culture, spirituality, education and politics, economics is just one of the things that humans do. It is not primary.
This is a critical time. The adage that we can only be healthy if the rest of the Earth is healthy is true. Only if we see the Earth as primary and the reality that we are totally dependent on the rest of the Earth, and do so quickly, will our species thrive. This has to be the root of our new story. Without the evolution of this new cultural story our species may not survive too much longer. It may take major disasters for our species to take the Earth’s destruction seriously, and then, there is the possibility it will be too late.
Yesterday Eileen and I listened to a podcast by the nature guys (www.natureguys.org) on the black rat snake. I haven’t seen a black rat snake for probably a year. In the afternoon I was working in my greenhouse and turned around, and there was a black rat snake in my greenhouse. It was a little spooky, but also a wonderful coincidence.
I have a little bit of an issue with snakes, but intellectually I know they are an incredible animal, and having one in the greenhouse is actually a blessing.
I want to remind you of the workshop coming up next weekend.
INTRODUCTION TO HOMESCALE PERMACULTURE DESIGN
Join us on Saturday June 3rd & Sunday the 4th at the Gruenhagens’ houses (744 & 748 McPherson Ave., Cincinnati, OH) as we help these two neighbors collaborate in designing their adjacent homesteads. We will integrate hands-on with classroom lecture. The hands-on will be design on paper along with design in the field. The results will be a spectrum of the Permaculture palette including annual gardens combined with edible landscaping, water management and energy efficiency.
Sponsor: Community Earth Alliance and the Ecovillage Green Group (EGG)
Times: 9-5:30 Saturday, June 3 & Sunday, June 4, 10-4:30. Cost: Early bird $100 for the weekend before May 26, $120 after.
For Questions: Contact Braden at Info@CincinnatiPermacultureInstitute.org.
Our plan is to have a second workshop in the fall to look at the whole of McPherson Ave. through a permaculture perspective.
In last post I wrote about Pat Dolan who died last week, and offered to share some ideas about her view of death.
Pat, while living in the ecovillage, became enamored with Buddhism. She grew up Catholic. For many years she was involved with the Grail, an organization of Catholic women. She connected with some Buddhist teachers who came and presented at Grailville and began her practice. At Grailville they set up a group that meditated together. This went for years. When things weren’t working any longer at Grailville they moved to Earth Connection located by Mount St. Joseph College.
Pat, over the years, practiced and also taught Buddhism. She carried her practice in preparation of her eminent death. Two concepts, among many, that she found important in Buddhism were the notions of impermanence and detachment, especially as she approached her death. Who we presently are is not who we are. This is an impermanent state and we will move on from it to be reborn, possibly in a higher state as we move toward Nirvana. Along with this is the notion of detachment, that being attached to things, even ones own body, leads to discontent. Things can’t bring us happiness and contentment. Only by detaching ourselves from things do we find contentment.
Pat loved having people visit her over the last months of her life. She was vibrant, communicative and attentive – and without much pain. It was only in the last week of life that she experienced pain and slowly drifted off over that week. She demonstrated in her own death, a wonderful way to approach death.
This coming Saturday we will celebrate her life and passing on. She insisted on having a celebration, because she has moved on to another stage of life. I have the honor of reading the following poem by e.e. cummings at her celebration:
i thank You God for most this amazing
i thank You God for most this amazing day:
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky;
and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday;
this is the birth day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any—lifted from the no of all nothing—human merely being doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
From e. e. cummings, 100 Selected Poems
Yesterday we learned that Pat Dolan, a co-founder of Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage, died. She was an important part of our lives for many years. The first meeting, when we founded Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage in June, 2004, was held in her home, as were many meetings following.
Eileen and I first got to know Pat well in 1969. She was in graduate school working on her Master’s degree in Social Work and had a field placement at Catholic Social Service Bureau in Covington, KY. Eileen was the head of the family services department there, and I was a staff person. It was shortly after she came that Eileen and I began dating. One of Pat’s papers for school related to supervisor/supervisee dating. Pat later was hired to start the Social Work Department at Northern Kentucky University, a place where Eileen taught for several years.
Pat moved to Enright Ave., destined to become Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage, in the 1980’s. Eileen and I started Imago, an ecological education organization in 1978 in our home on Enright. Pat became its first president. A number of people, through the years, moved to Enright through their association with Imago, as did Pat. In the 1980’s and 90’s we had a dinner group that ate together five or six evenings per week. One of the dinner group would host the meal at their house and cook the meal, once a week. We usually had eight people in the dinner group, so there was some pairing for meal preparation. We got to know each other quite well.
Pat hosted many gatherings in her home. We had a small food coop and buying club which was located in her basement for years.
Pat was a major part of our lives up until she moved from her home in Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage. She determined that she did not want to continue taking care of her house and half acre lot and decided to move to an apartment. The last few years of her life she spent in a condo in a Senior facility.
Even after she moved we would get together. She was part of a monthly book club that we started. We would go out to dinner at times. But, it was never the same as when she lived just four doors away from us.
Next time I’ll write about her spiritual life and her death.
This is a reminder that this evening is the Solarize Cincinnati presentation at the Imago Earth Center. Solar really is NOW! Come join us if you can. Solar won’t only save money but will both reduce our carbon footprint and also reduce the amount of damage done by the extraction of coal and oil from the Earth and reduce fracking. The Earth is this amazing, sacred place. It is so much more than just a resource. It is also our species and all the species that grace our everyday lives.
Walking in the woods around Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage yesterday, we came across this new resident of the ecovillage, one of our thousands of residents. We were sure that the mother was nearby standing in fear. We quickly took the picture and moved on. The doe had placed the fawn in a secluded place which happened to be right along side of the path. The fawn hardly moved as we stood there, which I am sure is a genetic feature. It was a wonderful experience.
I have completed a book on Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage. We are now searching for a publisher. It is a kind of “how to” book, how to form an urban ecovillage in an existing neighborhood.