Trips and a rant about the climate

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I had planned on posting the next blog entry about 2 months ago, but i made a last minute decision to drop by California instead. It was an awesome choice, leading me to six weeks of fruitful opportunities, meeting and spending time with some beautiful people. It gave me a nice little sabbatical before Keisha and Casey left for their own, longer, California tour. I miss them, and all of the great Spirits of Sacred Sueňos. My heart goes out to Thomash, Marietta, Leftheri, Andrea, Chad, Travis, and Amanda. I hope you all come home, soon…

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Darcy, who had been a member over a year ago, has returned indefinitely, and Lutz, Lexi, and their baby, Eli, are now at Sacred Sueňos more often than town.. So it’s not like i’m back to the days of taking care of everything. ¡Viva Comunidad!

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What follows is a little taste of Sacred Sueňos, and a big dose of ramble, that i wrote during my first days in California:

With the exception of one outstanding crew (and a bouncing, mead sloshing, dance party!), Sacred Sueňos has been mellowing out, quieting down as fewer people surround the kitchen table. We’re still taking steps forward, with gardens producing (despite some devastating chicken attacks), fruit trees planted, and RADi’s now fully fenced, and cheap drip irrigation system installed. And the Seed Camp Den now has a low cob bench/table/shelf/backrest/wall surrounding most of the sides. It’s starting to feel pretty cozy.

For just a few days, the wind came and blew the clouds away, but the rains came back with the solstice. The mountain’s soaking it up, and shining green, and my farmer bias can’t help but smile. Water is life. Every year, i anticipate with dread the dessication, the gust blown dust, the drought that ‘verano’ (the Ecuadorian dry season) can bring. We should be almost a month into verano, but this year i find myself dacing in the drizzle, watching the plants flourish. I’m almost tempted to be grateful for climate change for the gift…until i remember a few years ago, when some neighbours invested a lot of time, hard work, and seed into planting their fields as the rains began, only to have them falter. The subsequent dry months turned the investment into topsoil blowing in the wind. I also remember last year, when we planted hundreds of trees in the beginning of March, expecting them to have until May to establish. April, usually one of the top two months in terms of rainfall, was the dryest month that year. Not a drop fell on from the sky, and most of our trees died.

I also remember a few years ago, when several campesinos in the bioregion cut, burned, and tilled their hillsides, planting the corn and beans saved from last harvest when the first rains arrived.. but the rains didn’t persist as usual, and all that work and seed turned to dust blowing into the unseasonal winds.

(ok, now i really begin to ramble. I’ll leave it in for those of you who get a kick out of me going off, but if you just want to stick to what’s up at Sacred Sueňos, click here to skip.)

It’s no coincidence that agriculture developed all over the world, from distant societies using different plants, around the same time, around ten thousand years ago.  It coincides with the beginning of an era of climatic stability unprecedented in the experience of the human species. Once we could see the yearly patterns, we adapted, using seasonal rhythms to plant our favorite foods. Thus began our journey into settlements and towards civilization as we know it.

With the reality of climate change already affecting those of us most directly connected with the land, I wonder how we can adapt?

Will we return to the ways of the nomads, following the rainclouds? What population of humans could that support, and what kind of trauma will we have to endure in order reduce our population?

Will we disconnect further from nature’s way, produce food via chemical processes manipulating genetically engineered bioforms within artificial environments? Is that the future we want for all of our children? It sounds pretty dystopic to me. If i had children, would hope for them  to live on a biodiverse planet, to be connected to earth through their relationship to growing food, and knowing where their water comes from, and goes. I don’t know if anything i do in my lifetime will enable me to provide future generations with the world i would want them to thrive in. Does anyone have any power to decide our children’s future, or has the juggernaut of global capitalism made our individual choices irrelevant?

These questions seem to repeat themselves at the California farms that i visited. People here worry about what our future will look like when the economy fails, when resources become scarce, when the weather becomes completely unpredictable. Ad they continue to endure a drought of historical proportions, these farmers are pretty grim about the future. They share my worries, many feeling even more pessimistic than me. They also express dismay regarding the immensity of change we need to see in order to offer a better world for future generations. I hear a lot about everything that’s wrong with the political and economic systems of the world, and the consumer culture born of these systems. I hear a common critique of the blind materialism that’s dominating the over-developed world.

And, in the case of my Californian farmer friends, I see an attempt to be more conscious about their actions, especially when it comes to food. They are willing to put money where their mouths are, and financially support producers of such wonderful catch words, such as: local; organic; sustainably raised; free range;  and grass fed. They use cloth bags when shopping, they love used clothing and furniture, and of course they recycle and compost.

Comparing themselves with the larger American culture, they see themselves as living an alternative way of life. And it’s true; they aren’t the same as middle America. But if everyone had the same ecological footprint as even these conscious friends of mine, we would need a bunch of Earths to sustain us. It’s still not really a sustainable, much less a regenerative way of living. Even these organic farms depend on plastic greenhouses, tractors, and processing machinery. Generators are constantly running, to feed the high energy demands of the farm and farmers. Quads rumble through the farm, and big pick-up trucks are considered a necessity for moving about northern California. Everything would have to change pretty drastically if petroleum stopped burning. And yet, I don’t see anyone here seriously contemplating drastic change.

I remember watching news clips of the Earth Summit in Rio, sometime in the late 90’s. This was the first time world leaders got together and talked about climate change and biodiversity. I remember daddy George Bush addressing all these leaders, addressing the world, and saying that the summit may be discussing some important issues, but one subject that would not ever be up for discussion was “the American Way of Life”.  And for the most part, the world obeyed. The powers of the world continued to pursue a paradigm of global development where the American Way of Life was the ultimate goal, and everyone agreed that this goal could not be discussed. Development would be measured by the extent which people can exploit resources and consume them.

A couple decades later, hundreds of millions of people have integrated into the American Way of Life. They may not feel a significant rise in happiness, nor have more human rights. They may not even have access to clean air and water, but they have access to extraordinary amounts of disposable materials, and they will continue to be told that more materials will eventually lead to happiness. …

Well, that’s when my tablet or at least the app i was trying to use, gave me a hard time, and i took it as a sign to focus on how peaceful it is to live amongst those majestic redwoods, on how beautiful fellow human beings can be. I made some good friends, whom i miss very much. I also got to spend a little time with Amanda, whom i miss more than anyone.

The first couple weeks back after a long trip.. well, it’s a form of culture shock, and takes some adjusting. The Seed Camp appears to have been well Loved, with the gardens looking better than ever, and a new earthbag/fill built sun deck beside the Den. RADi’s a bit sad, but i’ve battled the molds; the leaky roof; the  goo dripping blackberry stem sucking, monster bugs. And once i’ve finished setting up pasture fences, and giving the few gardens and contour bunds a good chop and drop, i’ll be ready to start one of my projects… but where to begin? One of my favorite questions. 🙂

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