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 2100 OR BUST
A Prospectus for an Intentional Community
            [Working title only]











































                                    By Peter Light

                                  [Work in progress]


  I dedicate this book to my mother, Nina Lois Alcock, who loved and nourished me so
  well; to my grandmother, Edith Alma Zinkan, who enfolded me in arms of peace and
 love; to my father, Gunter Walter Light, who also instilled in me a social conscience; to
 my uncle, Norman Z. Alcock, who showed me the scientific mind; and to my god- uncle,
  Ebe Koeppen, compassionate philosopher-farmer, who thought deeply all the time and
asked me questions. All of them are deceased, but still live within these writings and me.


  I would like to thank Nico Mueller for helping me with the list of topics; Bill Fedoriuk
for telling me to ―just start‖ and being there to make a promise to; and Nico, John Paulin,
   Bob Tenney aka Mr. Phenney aka Bob Loblaw, Joe Dougherty, Michael Gabriel and,
    particularly, Bill and Wichampi, for going over the manuscript and making valuable
 suggestions. Thanks to my daughter, River Light, for helping me with Microsoft Word.

    I would also like to express my deep appreciation to Brad, whose Autocad expertise
        made possible the new version of the drawing of the Permaculture Mandala.

                                        TABLE OF CONTENTS

PROLOGUE ....................................................................................................................... 3

FOREWORD ...................................................................................................................... 7

PREFACE ........................................................................................................................... 8
INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................ 13

WHY COMMUNITY? ..................................................................................................... 30
THE COMMUNITY DESIGN ......................................................................................... 32
CREATING A COMMON VISION ................................................................................ 50
PRIVACY AND COMMUNALISM: STRIKING THE BALANCE ............................. 52
BUILDING MATERIALS ............................................................................................... 54
PERMACULTURE .......................................................................................................... 56
COMMUNITY AND SELF-SUFFICIENCY .................................................................. 61
ENERGY .......................................................................................................................... 63
TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY........................................................................................ 68
WORK .............................................................................................................................. 72
TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION ......................................................... 79

SCRIBES .......................................................................................................................... 90
THE ARTS........................................................................................................................ 90
SEXUAL MORES ............................................................................................................ 92
BIRTHING CENTER ....................................................................................................... 94
CHILDREARING AND EDUCATION........................................................................... 94
NEW AGE OLD AGE HOME ....................................................................................... 105
DEATH AND DYING.................................................................................................... 106

HEALTH – Diet.............................................................................................................. 109
HEALTH – Exercise ....................................................................................................... 117
HEALTH - Stress............................................................................................................ 118
HEALTH: The Environment ......................................................................................... 119
HEALTH – Western ....................................................................................................... 120
HEALTH – Alternative................................................................................................... 121
HEALTH - Emergencies................................................................................................. 123

PSYCHOTROPIC PLANTS .......................................................................................... 124

ANIMALS – Pets............................................................................................................ 127
ANIMALS – Domestic ................................................................................................... 129
ANIMALS – Hunting ..................................................................................................... 138
ANIMALS – Pests .......................................................................................................... 139

ECONOMICS - Voluntary Simplicity ............................................................................ 140
ECONOMICS – Startup Financing ................................................................................ 142
ECONOMICS – Ongoing Income Generation ............................................................... 144
ECONOMICS – Income Sharing.................................................................................... 146

PROCESS – Shortcuts to Consensus .............................................................................. 153
PROCESS – Conflict - Introduction ............................................................................... 161
PROCESS – Conflict Resolution - Intervention Hierarchy ............................................ 162
PROCESS - Decision-making ........................................................................................ 164
PROCESS - Leadership and Facilitation ........................................................................ 168
PROCESS – The four-part I message ............................................................................. 172
PROCESS – The Talking Stick ...................................................................................... 172
PROCESS - The "Withhold Game" ................................................................................ 174
PROCESS – Self-Improvement and Therapeutic Intervention ...................................... 175
PROCESS –Achieving Consensus On A Prioritized Ten-Year Things-To-Do List ...... 177
PROCESS – Towards an Alternative Justice System ..................................................... 178

SPIRITUALITY - Introduction ...................................................................................... 180
SPIRITUALITY – Evolving Group Practices ................................................................ 184
SPIRITUALITY – Morals and Ethics ............................................................................ 186
SPIRITUALITY – Meditation Retreat Hut .................................................................... 189

MESSAGES FROM THE MENNONITES.................................................................... 190

THE OUTSIDE WORLD – Good Community Relations .............................................. 196
THE OUTSIDE WORLD – Hiding and Protecting Ourselves....................................... 197
THE OUTSIDE WORLD – Nonviolent Defense ........................................................... 199
THE OUTSIDE WORLD – Political Activism .............................................................. 201

GOVERNMENT AND LAW – GENERAL COMMENTS .......................................... 203
GOVERNMENT AND LAW – Group Legal Definitions – The Choices ..................... 205
GOVERNMENT AND LAW – Laws and Bylaw .......................................................... 216

FLIES AND SNAKES: DEFLECTING DYSTOPIA ................................................... 228

BLOCKS INTO CIRCLES: AN URBAN FANTASY ................................................. 239

EPILOGUE ..................................................................................................................... 239

LISTS: ............................................................................................................................. 257

SKILLS NEEDED .......................................................................................................... 257
SUPPLIES NEEDED...................................................................................................... 260
FIRST STEPS - GETTING FROM HERE TO THERE ................................................ 261

AFOREWARD ............................................................................................................... 265

IN MEMORIAM ............................................................................................................ 265

INDEX ............................................................................................................................ 265



  I have added this fictional prologue and the epilogue at the end - both written by
 close friends - for variety and entertainment and because they paint a vivid picture
    of survival in a scenario where civilization – and all its support systems - have
   collapsed. The triggering mechanis m is not important: here, it is a virulent flu
 epide mic; in the epilogue, it is biological warfare. I believe it will more likely occur
due to an economic disintegration as a consequence of over-population and the over-
    extension of capitalis m’s “monster gobble”: wealth accumulation, the income
       divide, unlimited growth, resource depletion, infrastructure breakdown,
    environme ntal degradation, and flood, fire, heat, drought, disease and famine
                             brought on by global warming.

    I should emphasize, however, that my motivation for sustainable intentional
community is not just to prepare for a dire future likelihood, but to create a simple
 and sane lifestyle now outside of the present paradigm that has destroyed the face-
to-face, vernacular, viable and convivial village, and made all of us accomplices in a
                  society and culture mostly not of our own choice!

Salt Spring Island
April 27th, 2017

Peter, I am again writing to you concerning my progress in finding knowledgeable and
healthy recruits to repopulate our numbers for the continued project at hand.
I have been waiting for your reply to my last letter regarding my sentiments in redefining
the route taken from this appropriated southern agricultural island.

FEMA‘s discovery and capture of the latest long-boat load full of ―On Grid‖ citizens
heading your way - reformed and recruited to our cause after months of careful scrutiny -
despite all of them having the right government Vacation Mo vement passes, has only
increased the authorities‘ resolve to hunt down every last ―Grid Evader‖, who are leaving
in droves to find land communes - the old school collectives that seem to be holding their
own the further away they are from the tempest.

I thank the creator that we were able to get that batch of the now rare and obscure open
pollinated Echinacea seeds and goldenseal cultivars to the collective before the
Acquisitioned Agricultural Land Round-up and were able to aid our members in healing
and strengthening their immune systems before the pestilence fully set in.
The last I heard from you, our losses consisted of mostly members who were previously
infected with the earlier epidemic of 2014, from which they had never really recovered.
You mentioned that our subsequent raw food /wheat grass and herbal medicine campaign
has restored most of the infected members close to pre- flu health standards and that all
but a few are returning to the fields and orchards to work again for the collective.

Here, an entire third of the population succumbed to the pestilence and a large percentage
of the survivors have lasting respiratory damage rendering them unable to perform even
the most rudimentary tasks, let alone work in a survivalist collective.

Our community‘s health is only as good as each individual immune system

The wheat is surely being separated from the chaff and with the attention of the armed
forces being wrapped up in the Global War for Dominion, and what‘s left of the Northern
Home Guard busy defending the Main Centers, there are not many left to keep an eye on
all the fleeing Grid Evaders that continue to grow in larger and larger numbers.

We must be diligent in our determination to keep to our constitution based on a thorough
understanding of what is meant by ―The Essays‖, Which have been monumental in
helping me determine good prospects for future endeavors, to screen and ultimately send
you good men and woman who are of sound mind and healthy body and politically
awake to the possibilities and potential of the Protocols of Government Consensus.

My hope as always is that our ―Project‖ continues and that its remoteness, backed up by
the blackberry/hawthorn border barricade, continues to disauade and deflect any
contingents of armed vigilantes.

I also pray that the trees are bearing fruit and that the whole commune continues as it
began in 2008 as a place of peace, good will, healthy living and close community.

I can‘t help remembering how we incorporated our self-pollination techniques on the
shrub orchards by celebrating and creating the Dance of the Flower Children to begin the
long arduous task of individually pollinating the flowers of the salmon berry and
huckleberries due to the near extinction of the early spring bee population.

Remind the children when they begin to look weary from their work that the mud bees
are coming in June and will continue the task till the January acid rainfall and that we
commemorate these hard working bees‘ assistance to our cause by the celebration of the
Salmonberry Nymph Festival in early July.
Is Mauryah still making her salmonberry/huckleberry mousse sweetened with beet sugar
syrup on a fresh ground millet and hemp seed flour crust?

I wonder so many things, Peter, like how the dike is working. Is the water at Peter‘s Ford
clear enough to introduce carp and fresh water suckerfish farming this year?
How did the last batch of recruits fit in?

The moat around the outer rim was an exceptional design idea, and not only for its
irrigation aspects. Global warming has aided us in unexpected ways, hasn‘t it, not the
least of which is being able to farm alligators for meat, and it goes without saying that
they add an extra measure of security to our collective in regards to desperado‘s and
raiders. Who would have ever thought, eh? Multifunctional indeed! Yeah

As the cities get hungrier, more people are being caught running away from the Main
Centers‘ hellholes all the time, and what little real news that we get thru the GPS world
government radio signal still betrays the fact that resistance and rebellion to complete
human grid entrenchment is still extremely strong.

After the loss of so many with the flu epidemic and the many living casualties the work
force has been so depleted that taxes have risen to an unprecedented 85% for any human
cog that holds a ―job‖.

National security and ―the safety of the people‖ is now just propagandistic rhetoric in
light of the last decade of economic crash, health epidemics and terrorist attacks that
continue to be reported on the GPS radio signal.

For every ―Grid Evader‖ caught we can assume that at least half of those individuals had
an inkling as to where an off- grid settlement continues and we can rest assured there are
many more collectives such as ours flourishing on the coast.

The remainder of Southern Gulf Island ―Off Grid‖ sustainable communities have all been
appropriated and seized by FEMA for the NEGMFGAP (National Emergency Genetic
Modification Food Growth Acceleration Program)

On a brighter note, they‘ve stopped building the prisons and ―Refugee Camps‖ and now
all ―Grid Evaders‖ caught leaving are being redirected to the Government Farm Camps
where they live out their sentences from the trumped up charges of Grid Evasion
basically as slaves working to try and produce enough food for the beleaguered ―On

I am currently building a contingent of able, healthy, young to mid age recruits.
I urgently need a reply to my contention that we alter routes by sending the crew,
complete with Vacation Travel Pass papers, through the Cowichan Lake area‘s logging
and mining trails. Hill 60 is still undetected as a send off point for Evaders and though the
trek is longer that way it is much more diligent to detour around the Nanaimo basin

The Grid Line heads northwest following the contour of Vancouver island about 15 miles
inland. We would basically be on our own (Off Grid in the wilderness, that is) for the
full three-day trek to French creek. The night-tracking sonar and infrared systems have
been repaired after the last attack at Departure Bay and it is just too risky doing the
switch from The Certified Vessel of Tourism to the Community‘s long boat squadron
anywhere south of Nanoose.

We can breech the Mt Sicker Grid Line Holographic Fence easily at Hill 60 outside of
Duncan using that still undiscovered (I am told ) mine shaft there and once beyond that
grid line we have only the bears, cougars and mosquitoes to fear.

Obviously we won‘t be able to bring any more kerosene to you but I am sure that by now
you have gotten used to the smell of the chicken grease lamps even if it means using
other than the old and sick birds for that purpose. This is even more reason to ―Conserve
and Reduce‖ our use of night lights. People should go to b ed at dark and not stay up
drinking blackberry sherry, anyway, as I have always said.

The creation of separate morning and night shifts though facilitating schedules for night
and morning people only encourages late night ranting under the guise of ―Community
Think-tanks‖ (Community Drink-tanks!) I think putting full daytime focus into fishing,
farming and foraging is more to the point now that mere survival is of the utmost concern
for the collective. Night is for sleeping and making love (and one needs light for neither)
Daytime is meant for work.

The chicken grease lamp use should be limited to councils and celebrations at night.
No need to light lamps at all except in emergencies and I have always felt strongly on this

I hope that before too long we can once again debate this issue in person, as I intend to be
back there for the end of summer harvest in late November.

I am still working in allegiance with the West Coast Trail Off-Grid Settlement recruiters
and have good, sound reports of government surveillance in the area involved and
strongly prefer taking this route over using our previous Ocean Tourist Grid Evasion

The route is watched, scrutinized and used by associated and sympathetic Evader co-ops
as far as the western edge of the Nanaimo basin. We then need only one night walk to our
chosen secondary meeting place by the water just north of French Creek where you will

have enough time to safely bring the long boats by night and then get the whole floating
assembly beyond the last Hornby/ Denman Gridwatch Outpost.

Let the whole gang know how much we that labour ―On Grid‖ maintaining and collecting
what supplies we still deem to be needed by the collective as well as ensuring that viable
new members and new (uninfected) blood for the group is available to increase and
strengthen our numbers; we so much believe in what you are doing up there.

I have always said that this is the way Peter and have believed in this project from the
very beginning.

You are not alone. When I mention what we are doing to other associated Grid Evasion
Co-ops they are amazed to hear my stories and they wish to send delegations to our lands
to see if the myth of the ―hidden-in-the-woods permaculture mandala Shangri-La‖ is real
or just exaggerated stories. I keep getting asked how our politics works and I keep saying
to them: ―Talking Stick and consensus… Takes longer but everyone ultimately wins‖.

Peter, I eagerly await a response and am sending this by the usual route. I am not sure if
my last letter or your reply to it was intercepted but as I have not heard back. I write this
again with stoic assurance that our new infiltrator in the FEMA- hired Grid Evasion
Watch, Western Sub-Contractor, will drop the requested parcel at the usual place at Surge
Narrows and will include most of your February list of requests as well as other mail
from members‘ families still on the grid.

The contingency of recruits should be at the French Creek meeting spot in the week of
the new moon in early June. I have sound reports that the blackberry and salal are still
flourishing there in the lower valley right to the oceans edge and you should be able to
conceal the long boats as old yet to be salvaged logs in the underbrush until the arrival of
the new prospects for membership. They are a good bunch and I have gotten to know
most of them well now and look forward to the time when I can join you and these new
eager recruits once again in the Permaculture Ecovillage Mandala for Sustained Living
that was mostly your vision, my good old friend Peter.

I remain, respectful and committed,
your On-Grid Evasion Recruitment Agent.



                                             (Not yet done)

A forward to a literary work consists of:

―Introductory remarks preceding the text of a book that are written by a person other
than the author … and will tell of some interaction between the writer of the foreword
and the story or the writer of the story.‖

I invite any of you who know me well enough - and have the inclination - to contribute to
a forward. I may try to amalgamate them into one seamless whole, and credit all of you
who participate in its joint creation.


There can come a point in our thinking – a collusion of the realization that all local and
global problems are systemic, with a critical mass of evidence of malfunction – when the
only conclusion possible is that every single manifesting aspect of the global dominant
culture is ultimately dysfunctional, corrupt and out on a limb. As we look and listen with
critical and discerning mind, we can become increasingly aware of – at times to the point
of excruciation - the ugly face of power, control, greed, capitalism and hidden agendas
reflected in everything we see and hear. Once that juncture is reached, it is easy to feel
trapped and hard not to scream, ―Stop this damn Global Village, I want off‖ – hard not to
wonder if there is some way out of the trap.

During this time, too, we might start to develop a sense of how it could be so much

These essays are, primarily, for both those of you who have reached this point but have
not yet found a solution to the conundrum of participation and for those of you who are
already living an alternate lifestyle but are tired of living, essentially, as an isolated
individual or nuclear family. They are also for those of you who have seen through the
manufactured illusion but have convinced yourselves that the last thing you want to try to
do is ―live with a bunch of people‖, yet sense, from time to time and on various levels, a
nameless lack and longing.

This collection of essays is intended to be a body of work presenting, outlining, and
in some cases detailing, a specific plan for a “self”-sufficient, “self”-reliant,
intentional permaculture community off of the grid on the southwest coast of British
Columbia. It is a prospectus around which a group of people can coalesce in
agreement – beginning now.

This will be a community for people who care deeply about other people and the
planet and, at the same time, believe just as deeply that there is little realistic
likelihood of preventing humanity’s precipitous descent into local and global

It will also be a community for people who no longer want to participate in that
descent - either as hopeless bystande rs or active accomplices – and who believe in
the possibility of creating both a “shelter from the storm” - a possibility of survival
and continuation - and a way of life exemplifying, in every detail, one alternative
modal - in microcos m - of what a viable, sustainable and humane world could look

I do not describe this modal as utopian because that implies perfection. We are human.
However, I walked on a peace march once with a sign that read, ―The only solutions are
utopian solutions‖. In this instance, I did not mean solutions of perfection. I meant that
the only solutions - of necessity - would have to be so radical and so profoundly altering
that they simply would not happen.

The other side of the sign read, ―Hopeless but not Helpless.‖

I have given up hope, but I am still trying to help. It may be possible for a determined,
clear-eyed band of refugees to do what is impossible for the Goliath that some humans
have created - and most support - to do.

It has always been the case, historically; it is now the case, worldwide. This community
will be one of a network of thousands of alternative communities, many already existing.
It will be unique and it will be similar.

At the local, vernacular level, what is considered ―utopian‖ becomes possible. I call it
practical idealism.

I intend these essays to provide you with a clear idea of my thinking but not a full
blueprint; to be broad and comprehensive without being narrowly rigid - a collection of
my ideas and concrete plans presented as one set of answers to those questions and
yearnings that so many of us are grappling with in these times - terrifying and urgent.

Each essay covers a subject that I think any group of people intending to start an
alternative community and new way of life - virtually from scratch - would have to
consider and find agreement on; indeed, I imagine that they are considerations of the
same components on which all societies must have agreement in order to function well
and harmoniously.

I am long past the point where I want to sit down with a group of people to try to hammer
out a vision from scratch. That is one valid way to approach things, but having mulled
over these questions for forty-five years, I am choosing to present these thoughts about
intentional community in order to reach others who are already thinking along similar
lines and are prepared to start walking a path towards viable group self-sufficiency now.
They will not be for everyone. They may not even be for most. I want them to attract
folks who already agree with the core of what I have written. Taking a cue from the
wisdom and success of Stephan Gaskin and The Farm in Tennessee, I have long been
convinced that strong agreements are a necessary prerequisite to successful community

building. I believe that they must be articulated and then agreed upon before we band
together, not after we gather. I have attempted here to articulate a set of them in the faith
that I am transmitting a vision worthy of serious consideration and with a wide enough
appeal to attract enough souls to the undertaking to make it a reality. Within the
framework of the core of this presentation, there will still be lots to work out, many
details to fill in and innumerable refinements to make, both theoretically and practically.
As the project unfolds, we will determine all progress by consensus. There will be no

The number of forms human cultures and sub-cultures have assumed or can assume are
as infinite as the brain's capacity to create, and "wanting to get out of the rat race and live
a self-sufficient lifestyle" does not constitute enough commonality for the successful
establishment of one! This body of work is the presentation of just one proposal for
intentional community, one modal, one vision. Humanity needs many. They will all be
different. At the same time, I hope that mostly I am speaking common sense and

This work has been a long time coming. Time feels short.. So many of humanity‘s
problems have turned into crises and seem to be converging on this moment in history.
Financial meltdown is widely predicted and could be imminent. The current housing
bubble will eventually burst. The oily rug is being pulled out from under us. Global
warming, environmental degradation and resource depletion progress inexorably. The
rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. Everywhere, there is a growing
dissatisfaction on the part of billions of people with the quality of life that social
engineering and the global economy impose on us all. Everything is becoming more and
more desperate for more and more people in more and more ways.

I feel a great sense of urgency. It would be silly for those of us who recognize the
warning signs and take them seriously to be caught with our pants down. I believe that
collectivity and an alternative support system are essential for our survival.

We will be trying to do nothing less than design a whole culture from the ground up -
from scrap. And by scraps: If feels to me as though we are all flotsam and jetsam,
wreckage on the industrial ocean, trying to save ourselves, trying to come back together
again after a scientific, colonial, industrial, electronic, and digital explosion has ―turned
the world upside down.‖ To some degree, we are all social misfits, tidbits trying to
escape the gaping maw that is swallowing us.


I have devoted considerable attention in these essays to questions of process. If a group
of people can find agreement on how to talk with each other, how to disagree, how to
handle conflict, how to find accord, and how to deal with personal problems, the chances
of reaching harmony on content issues will vastly improve. It may not guarantee
success, but the opposite – agreement on content without agreement on process – will, I
believe, guarantee failure.

I have also written a number of essays under the heading "Spirituality". These essays,
too, focus on broad meta-issues, which can increase the chances of creating a viable basis
for sustainable community. I hope that they avoid the doctrinaire, remind us of the basics
and point to a way to evolve some group spiritual agreements and practices.

Please note as you read that I am often suggesting directions and ideals we would be
agreeing to move towards - and help each other move towards - over time, rather than
stating absolutes or perfections expected of individuals or the community from the start.

Keep in mind, too, that sometimes I am writing about the "transition phase" of a
community still with a considerable dependence on the outside world - a period that
could last for years - and sometimes I am talking about the fully developed, "self"-
sufficient permaculture community ideal we hope to have in the future. I hope that the
distinction is clear from the context.

Also, bear in mind that distinctions can at times be made between what the community as
a whole will stand for and thus will support and finance, versus what individuals will be
free to do on their own, in their own home or with hiser own personal ―allowance‖. As
examples, the community may decide to celebrate the solstice together, rather than
Hanukah, Christmas or New Years, but that would not preclude individual families from
observing those holidays. And although the group as a whole is unlikely to agree to
spend community money on chocolate bars, white flour and cigarettes, if an individual
wished to use part of their own personal allowance for such items, it might be entirely
their own choice.

We need to find our balance between “community norms” and “individual
expressions”. As with everything human, these are biological, philosophical and
social issues.

Text in bold throughout indicates aspects of the Prospectus that are fairly fixed and
immutable, more or less beyond discussion, although I cannot go so far as to say that they
are written in stone! They definitely indicate the kind of community in which I want to
live. If you find yourself at significant odds with the material comprising those sections,
you might consider the possibility of looking elsewhere for a living situation. Much else,
however, will certainly need further discussion and agreement - as indicated or implied –
especially close to the beginning of the enterprise. There are times when I am trying to
persuade, times when I am just saying what I think I know, times when I am presenting
alternatives that will need to be decided upon; and other times when I‘m presenting my
background and experience to root what I am saying in my own life. I hope that much of
what I have written is no more or less than common sense, or a reminder of what most of
us already believe in and at least pay lip service to, or perhaps even hold as an ideal and a
worthy life goal. In that sense, much of it is perhaps a call for a re-commitment to those
values and a willingness to join with other like- minded folks for re-enforcement and
mutual aid in practicing, living and manifesting them more fully.

All of this, regardless, is to be the reference point from which any further discussion,
now and in the future, must begin.

Throughout these essays, I particularly weave the wisdom of two books. They form a
consilience that will continue to be a foundation for any design consideratio ns,
agricultural or human, involved in the unfolding of this community. One is
Permaculture: A Designers‘ Manuel by Bill Mollison; and the other is A Pattern
Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. Both provide a basis for how to think about
design; and both provide fundamental principles and key understandings enabling one to
actualize designs that enhance personal, social and agricultural environments. The first
was in my mind from the beginning of my conceptualization of the overall physical
layout of this proposed village. The second did not come into my life until well after I
had completed the first version of the design. At that point, I was excited to discover
how many of the patterns of A Pattern Language are realized in the design. Since then, I
have added a few features and tweaked others, and imagined different ways of applying
the wisdom of the patterns to the design of various components - mainly, the family

Although these texts – as well as these essays – are, admittedly, not the final word,
we will firstly filte r all community development though the m.

I also need to note here my use of some gender- neutral pronouns that I have coined:
―himer‖ for ―him or her‖; ―hiser‖ for ―his or her‖, intended to add to the not uncommon
―s/he‖, for ―she or he‖. The standard phrases in each case are cumbersome; ―he‖, ―him‖
and ―his‖ are sexist; and the invented word ―cos‖ as a substitution for either sex, used by
Communities Magazine and their affiliates and associates, never felt right to me. My
formulations seem logical and natural. I am surprised that nobody has used them before.

Finally, a word on my use of the term ―hippy‖: Despite being, to paraphrase Ina May
Gaskin, head midwife of The Farm in Tennessee, ―sixty- five, still a hippy and so proud‖,
at one point I actually started to delete the word from these writings. I thought - knowing
it to be a ―trigger‖ word – that it was perhaps not worth the negative connotations it has
acquired. Then I noticed how often I had used it, re-considered and then decided to write
this note instead:

As part of a conscious disinformation campaign launched by the Power Structure after a
few years of spinning its wheels in the face of the alternate cultural explosion of the
sixties, the definition of hippy became simplified to and characterized by a single word:
―…Duh…?‖ Contrast that designation and reduction with Stewart Brand‘s introduction
to the Whole Earth Catalogue, quoted in full at the beginning of the introduction that
immediately follows this preface.

 It is said that ―history is written by the victor‖, and although on the surface that seems to
apply in this case, society in fact has little idea of what a debt of deep gratitude and
respect it owes for all it has gained from those fertile times. Those who ―turned on, tuned
in and dropped‖ were propelled beyond the reach of the ―propaganda, all is phony‖ of the

state and the ―advertising signs that con you, into thinking you're the one, that can do
what's never been done, that can win what's never been won…‖ (Dylan). It was perhaps,
above all, the anti-consumerism of the hippy movement that most threatened the rich and
powerful. Since the Industrial Revolution, they have made consumers and wage-slaves
of the population, above all else – our purchases and labour both propping up two-thirds
of the economy and bankrupting the earth. Hippies articulated the systemic dysfunctions
of the culture they were seeing through, felt the deleterious effects on their own lives,
foresaw the likely consequences, and began the assumption of direct personal and small-
group responsibility for their own lives – by living the revolution, in the here and now;
doing instead of demanding; and beginning the process of building a new world - without

We were the original creators of the ―light footprint‖. So please tip your hat!

Sometimes I wonder, though, if I have sketched out an extreme, idiosyncratic Peter Light
hippy vision – perhaps disjointed, full of holes, too idealistic, too extreme - that few will
be prepared to embrace. At other times, I wonder if I am conjuring up a place of practical
magic, a Garden of Eden, a designed space that any human from any culture would yearn
to call home. Personally, I can hardly conceive of someone visiting the permaculture
village I am imagining us creating and ever wanting to leave!

I invite you to read on. This particular community may not be for you. Perhaps you will
set one up elsewhere. I sincerely hope, either way, that you gain knowledge and
inspiration from this book. However, as I have said, I mainly intend this writing to be a
document that will motivate folks who are already close to being ready to begin to drop
what it is they are doing, now, and join the venture. I want it to inspire and re- inspire,
and to impart to people a genuine sense that we can do it!

If, after reading and reflecting on these papers, you can identity with the vision presented,
think you might want to participate, or wish to make any comments on what I have
written, you can email me at , phone me at 604-886-8527, or
write me at 2692 Sunshine Coast Highway, Roberts Creek, B.C., Canada, V0N 2W3.

―We are as gods and might as well get used to it. So far, remotely done power and glory-
 -as via government, big business, formal education, church--has succeeded to the point
where gross defects obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains
a realm of intimate, personal power is developing--power of the individual to conduct his
   own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his
                          adventure with whoever is interested.‖

  – Stewart Brand, in the preface to the first edition of the Whole Earth Catalogue, 1968

―Re-examine all you have been told - dismiss what insults your soul.‖ - Walt Whitman

           "God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
       courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference."

                                 - Dr. Rheinhold Niebuhr

―Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple
                               tree.‖ – Martin Luther

 ―More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to
 despair and utter hopelessness; the other to total extinction. Let us pray we have the
                     wisdom to choose correctly.‖ - Woody Allen

―If we do not act now we will surely end up where we are heading.‖ – Chinese Proverb


   I left Vancouver, where I was born and raised, in November 1967 at the age of
   twenty-four and moved to an isolated - though not remote - bay up Sechelt Inlet on
   the Southwest coast of British Columbia. Fifteen miles beyond roads and electricity,
   I arrived there with my wife and our four week old daughter; basic hand tools; three
   months worth of food; absolutely no money - last dime flipped into the wake of the
   boat as we left Porpoise Bay; six dollars a month Family Allowance - later, twelve;
   skills, knowledge, intelligence and commitment; and total confidence. I do not recall
   being preoccupied at the time in any way with thoughts of future income sources, yet
   somehow had no doubt that we were going to live successfully "in the woods".

   We did - for ten years. From 1967 to 1978, we lived in Storm Bay on an average
   annual income of $4000 - for a family of four - half of it "disposable". The first few
   years were lean and even almost mean at times until we weren‘t so green and an
   income evolved out of our lifestyle, as it did for others scattered sparsely around the
   inlet. I built a 16' x 24' simple log cabin for $150 with a double-bit axe and a single-
   person crosscut saw - borrowed a chain saw for the shake rounds - and had a
   productive garden in a clearing in the woods, building up the topsoil from nothing.
   We lived like kings - home with our children, living with nature - our forest and the
   inlet waters - our garden at the doorstep and the creek rushing by. We lived without
   want for anything (not even the frozen orange juice I thought I would miss) - without
   electricity, alternate or not, without television, refrigeration, light bulbs, a blender, a
   juicer, a toaster, a skill-saw, a power drill, indoor hot running water, a telephone, a
   daily paper, a school, a bank account, a pension fund or ID. We had a radio and/or a
   car cassette player half the time.

We even lived without a flashlight. A homemade ―candle lamp‖ of tin can and wire
served us well.

Far from experiencing any pain or deprivation, we lived lives surrounded by wealth -
the wealth of family and warm shelter; healthy food and nothing but; simple living;
work we enjoyed; leisure time and the hushed forest surround; the table-set shore, the
inlet waters; the wealth of freedom and the freedom from wealth.

Our children were educated entirely at home, the lifestyle itself and every interaction
an opportunity for teaching and learning. I was with my wife and family throughout
the day and year. We hugged our kids twenty times a day. We learned, developed,
and extended the principles and practices of organic gardening and mulching. In
addition, we began inventing and developing an example of a style of agriculture that
I later learned to call permaculture, concurrently with its founder, Bill Mollison, who
was developing it in Tasmania and Australia.

More than that, we learned, as a family, the power of agreement, love, respect and
communication, and furthermore, that the social contract based on those values
created an almost utopian harmony. I began to view what we were learning as a
family as a model that could then be taken out of that setting and applied to other
relationships, just as Stephan Gaskin discovered and taught that the way that it was
cool to behave when you were tripping on acid was the same way it was cool to
behave with everyone all the time: don‘t bum people‘s trips; check out the vibe;
choose your words carefully; act like we are all One.

We were living a very simple but far from rude lifestyle in a very small space leaving
a very small footprint. All waste was recycled, including human urine and manure.
Intensive vegetable gardening started at the doorstep of our dwelling. Squash vines
sprawled up and over the roof. The main path through the garden led to chickens a
short distance away in zone II. They ran in one permanent ―straw yard‖ and were
rotated through three other netted runs. Grape vines grew o n the chicken fence. Bees
were on the chicken house roof. We planted comfrey and other plant species for
chicken food in the runs, as well as dwarf fruits and nuts for us. There was clover and
other beneficial herbs growing under the trees. Bees came to the clover flowers for
honey and pollinated the fruit trees. The chickens did not eat the bees. The chickens
ate the leaves of the clover. The clover was fixing nitrogen in the soil. The leaves
from the trees provided mulch and more richness. The chickens were fertilizing both
the orchard and garden. All garden scraps went to the chickens. We used the
chickens for earthmoving, leaf shredding, pest control, and eggs.

Everything was within a few meters of everything else. It was small and it was
beautiful! Moreover, it cost hardly anything!

Before the move, I had had a romantic vision of what our family lifestyle would look
like. It always felt to me as though we were living in the middle of that romantic

There was a simple community sweat- lodge – cedar boughs, plastic, blankets and
sleeping bags – down at the mouth of the creek, just in behind the trees. We made a
little dam of river rocks to back some water into a little pool. We put an after-sauna
bathtub out in the open a few feet onto the estuary above the high tide mark and built
a little fire underneath it. I remember a time in the tub, warm and languid, dusk
deepening, the line of dark blue hills and higher ridges drawn through a Venus sky,
dead calm water showing double, the photo- moment-utter-breath-held peace made
movie by sudden silent glide and pterodactyl croak of cousin heron, and… anchored
in our bay, across the way, a rich man‘s yacht - peaceful too - with wealthy people,
feeling privileged, on vacation.

However, here we were, washed hippies, thank you very much, poor as crash-pad
mice, existing on next to nothing in this idyllic place all year ‗round. The enormity of
it suddenly hit me. It was almost scary, as if I might wake up or be at risk of
apprehension for possession of some forbidden magic secret. The moment was a
heady realization and a powerful confirmation that we really must have embraced
some significant formulas for how to live simply in paradise. We were actually doing
it, actually living the dream.

My adult daughter describes those years of her life as ―utopian.‖

I made it work then; I know how to help do it again.

Although I have been unable to maintain, since leaving Storm Bay - on my own as a
single on the grid with more money - the same degree of dropout achieved during my
sojourn in the woods - I currently live next to a highway and close to a store - I have
continued to live the simple, some might say primitive, lifestyle I evolved there,
bringing its essentials and flavours into city back- yards, semi-rural Roberts Creek,
and soon, I hope, once again back up the coast, onto the land and into the woods

It is perhaps only for the incontestable truth of having done this for so long that I
might claim any voice of authority. It is perhaps principally due to this rare success
and duration that I have often been assailed by the feeling that I might have a
powerful responsibility to respond to the plight of my brothers and sisters squeezed
today by the system and facing the fate that is now rushing towards us all.

In short, my experience in Storm Bay in the sixties and seventies - part of the ―back to
the land‖ narrative of the time – and the vision of community that has been
developing ever since feels relevant now as never before : for the dozens of people I
talk with in my daily life; for first-world millions who feel hopeless, despairing and
angry; and for all those who yearn for wholistic alternatives outside of the traps and
the isolations of the dominate paradigm.


Looking back now and trying to understand the path I have taken in life, I have wondered
about and examined the factors that led me to the commitment that I still sustain and
maintain. After all, I was just a middle-class kid from Kitsilano, not some strange exotic
from a foreign land, an alien from another planet. What was it that had to be in place in
my psyche before I could take such an extreme step a way from any pre-programmed path
and never return?

―Dropping out‖ means ―unplugging‖, a withdrawing of one‘s participation in and support
for and from the mass society – job, school, bank and store - as much as possible, as a
way of maintaining personal integrity, living a saner life and maximizing the chances of
survival - physical, psychological, social and spiritual. One can do this incrementally or
all at once. This project mostly assumes some version of the latter approach, although
various degrees or forms of personal gradualism could likely be accommodated, and, as a
group, will be necessary, as self- sufficiency will not come all at once.

The prerequisites for dropping out are ―turning on‖ and ―tuning in‖.

There are many ways of ―turning on‖ – creating the epiphanies that shift and alter
habitual thinking and ordinary consciousness: chance meetings with extraordinary
people; a singular event; a revelatory book; yoga, meditation, or fasting; a close
encounter with death; or psychedelic herbs and drugs.

―Tuning in‖ means then paying attention with these cleansed lenses of perception to what
is going on around us and within us.

Storm Bay was actually my third dropout, not my first, occurring at the beginning of the
―back-to-the- land‖ exodus of early 1967. Two years previously, in 1965, I had dropped
out of full- time work as a peace movement activist and organizer and into the city-hippy
scene. Before that, in 1962, I had left the University of British Columbia and the formal
education path I had been on for thirteen years, and jumped into the ban-the-bomb

That first dropout marked the most significant turning point in my life. It was the most
breath-taking leap. My moral, philosophical, social and political development came
together, and then gradually expanded, summated and finally propelled me further down
a road less traveled and up that inlet and into the woods. Certain mental constructs had to
be in place for me to be inexorably and enduringly drawn away from the dominate
paradigm and pushed towards positive visions of other lifestyles - for as I found it
progressively harder and harder to tolerate the politics and culture we all grew up in, so
too, more and more, did I consider, and then yearn for, better alternatives.

The basis of these formulations were the values with which I was raised, some of them
deriving from the Biblical teachings on pacifism, others from the humanitarian teachings
of socialism and humanism, and still others from the rationalism and logic of science and
philosophy: try to be kind; care about others; forgive seventy-seven times seven; turn the
other cheek; fair is fair; assume personal, social and political responsibility for the world;
think; question authority; stand up for what you believe and speak out fearlessly; one
person can make a difference; ―you can do it‖; principles matter.

In my early teens, the writings of the likes of Charles Darwin, George Orwell and
Bertrand Russell reinforced these precepts, which began to develop more consciously
after the epiphany that marked my political awakening in 1958: learning of the
destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs, and of the existence of
hydrogen bombs a thousand times more powerful. They then grew exponentially as I
absorbed the thoughts of authors such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Thoreau, Paul
Goodman, Linus Pauling, A.S. Neill, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Alan Watts, Aldous
Huxley, Abbie Hoffman and Bob Dylan, to name some; and by innumerable articles,
publications, conversations, contemplations, experiences and mentors.

It is only in retrospect, however, that I have articulated and itemized the ―prerequisites for
disengagement‖ that pulled and pushed me onto and along the path I am still treading and
to the positions that I hold today and continue to motivate my life and harden my resolve.
I present them below for reality check and reflection. How helpful they may be for
others in their development, I cannot tell. I do think, however, that it is necessary to
develop a high level of consciousness concerning them all to bring oneself to the point of
being able to embrace fully the thrust of these essays and the totality of the project they

A critical political/economic/social analysis

First comes noticing that there are dots, and many more to discover. Along with that
comes trying to see each of them carefully and accurately. The next step is harder:
linking them up correctly. There are no numbers to guide us. There are many ways to
connect them. Even a whole hint of an emerging picture can be wrong. However,
gradually a picture begins to develop that stands up to time, scrutiny and further facts.
Connecting the dots becomes easier and easier, the picture gets clearer and clearer, and
the once-hidden details and real significance of the modern components of the world
around us start to smack us in the face wherever we turn our gaze. Awareness grows that
something indeed is rotten in the State of Denmark.

Political analysis leads to a critical examination of power, government, international
relations, war, economics and social institutions; an economic analysis leads to
scrutinizing the nature of capitalism, corruption, banks, money, profits, shareholders, the
rich and poor, economic growth, built- in obsolescence and resource extraction; and a
social analysis turns the gaze towards the family, factory, church, school, office, prison,

daycare, hospital, old age home, car, television, government agency and social welfare

As one‘s knowledge broadens and deepens, an almost inevitable radicalization develops.
One moves down towards the deeper roots as one makes connections, determines
associations, and notices hidden agendas revealed and lies exposed.

I have come to believe that there are deluded mass murderers at the helms of our ships of
State who, with the labouring of galley slaves groaning at their civic oars, have delivered
us into foul waters and are rowing us to catastrophe.

I could put it another way:

The writing is on the wall. It has been for sometime. Industrial Capitalism has not only
destroyed the fabric of vernacular culture, fractured social relationships and, hence,
damaged human psyches all over the planet, but it has, built into it, the seeds of not only
its own destruction, but also the collapse of the entire flawed edifice – current global
civilization – that it has created out on the limb that is being cut off because there is a
good price for sawdust.

Undoing mainstream social conditioning

My father was an anti- nationalist, and rejected Kings and Queens and their presumed
authority over us. Therefore, he refused to stand when ―O Canada‖ and ―God Save the
Queen‖ were played at public events (he was an atheist, too!). I joined him in my seat in
high school gym and auditorium and later often sat alone.

I remember my first self-described anarchists, in 1961 or 62, a couple living for a few
months in the basement of the house of an older peace movement mentor and colleague.
They had walled off a corner with blankets. There was some kind of bed, a couple of odd
chairs, a wooden box for a coffee table, concrete floor, rough walls. This is different,
thought I.

   ―What‘s anarchism?‖

   ―It the freedom to do what you want…‖

   ―So can I just flick my cigarette ashes on the floor‖?

   ―Why not? We sweep it anyway.‖

   So I flicked them, and felt a little freer.

   The hippy motto added ―…unless it harms others‖

   Once, while walking on West 2nd in Vancouver in 1964 with my friend and important
   early mentor Extro Eaman, we ran across some litter on the sidewalk, a brown paper
   bag. Extro gave it a little nudge with his toe, bent down and picked it up, had a look
   inside, and then reached in, pulled out, unwrapped and began to eat half a cheese and
   lettuce sandwich.

   I was shocked and appalled. ―You shouldn‘t do that!‖

   ―Why not?‖ says he.

I was immediately undone! My mind raced through the improbable possibilities. They
all seemed far-fetched and silly: it might be poisoned, maybe someone gobbed on it –
what else? - Rotten? Moldy? Dirty? What are the senses for?

I felt the rush of a doorway opening.

―The unexamined life is not worth living‖, and as the big picture emerges - a picture that
begins to clearly include the wizards with hidden agendas behind the screens - then every
last bit of it needs to be re-examined. It is a process that goes on and on and always leads
- if pursued with unwavering commitment - to choosing paths less chosen that inevitably
lead outside the walls and into the wilderness, whether actual or metaphoric. It leads to
an appearance of eccentricity, a patina of individuality that pervades all of one‘s actions
and thoughts. It can also perhaps lead us back to unity, for the eccentricity is only in
relationship to the lifestyle of those playing the game. Behind each individual rebellion
is often found a commonality of both values rejected and new ones adopted.

Environmental commitment

The prime mandate of Permaculture is, ―The only ethical decision is to take responsibility
for our own existence and that of our children. Make it now.‖ The more completely we
are able to do this, the more fully we can reflect with our lives the environmental beliefs
that we hold.

The growing concern for the environment, generally, and climate change, specifically,
has made it the leading issue of our day. Everyone is at least expected to try to walk the
talk and drive with a lighter footprint.

However, with the middle class still insisting on living as if we were on three planets,
being cajoled into reducing our impact by a few percent points seems like a sick joke. To
be able to demonstrate an elegant existence many times simpler – would not that be
delightful? Even for those still committed to trying to ―save the world‖ it would be a
worthwhile goal.

Despite progress on community gardens and bike paths, chickens in the back-yard and
electric cars in the double garage, it is probably impossible to do what I am proposing
here with a group of people in the city, although it might be worth a try, if someone is

prepared to accept years or decades of red tape, lobbying, fighting city hall, trying to
convince health inspectors, losing court battles, breathing pollution and compromising
the vision. [But see essay, ―Blocks into Circles: An Urban Fantasy‖ – yet to be written]
In the meantime, the ethically motivated are d riven to the edges.

It is easier to do this together and off the grid than alone in the belly of the beast. Maybe
if that beast is ever ready for transformation, we will be ready with a way.

.A moral re pugnance and unease at complicity

The collision and confluence of my ethical upbringing and my growing awareness of the
terrible things that were being done in my name by the brands that I bought and a
government that says we have god on our side, provoked a moral tension that protesting
and demonstrating alone could not resolve. Protest eventually did not trump
participation. The blood on my hands made hypocrisy of the outrage I expressed to the
powerful perpetuators. It was less and less an evil bomb or an immoral war that
disturbed me, but rather my citizen collusion in the whole thrust of colonialism
imperialism, militarism, capitalism, and consumerism that revolted me I wanted to have
less and less to do with any of it. It made me sick!

It was a relatively simple matter, as a pacifist and anti-war activist, to walk the talk. I
was not in the army and did not work in a munitions factory; my public actions were
nonviolent and we were polite to our opponents. However, as my systemic analysis
deepened and broadened, as it increasingly included criticism of more and more of the
institutions, behaviors and interconnections of the county and world I lived in, it became
harder and harder to reconcile my beliefs with my complicity. More and more often,
people would challenge me with ―What about you? You do this, and you buy that and
you depend on this. How can you talk?‖ It was undeniable and needed a response.
Unhooking became an inevitable personal and political imperative for me and,
furthermore and most strikingly, doing so and living differently could actually embody
the solutions for which I had been lobbying! . Not buying South African wine,
California grapes or Kraft cheese became so partial and paltry as I came to believe that
there were good grounds for a permanent worldwide general strike and boycott of
practically everything!

We called it ―living the revolution.‖

A pe rsonal dissatisfaction and a sense of alternatives

If money is never a problem, you enjoy your work and love your lifestyle, there will not
be much incentive to change anything, let alone leap off the merry-go-round into
unknown territory!

However, if it is a treadmill that you are going around in - if you resent your boss and
hate your job, or like your job but would rather be doing other things instead; if the rush
hour drive to work and back for no pay drives you nuts; if you are run ragged

chauffeuring your kids to school, practices, lessons and clubs and then pick ing them up
again two hours later; if you would rather be looking after your own young children
instead of having to send them off to day-care and professional strangers; if your
mortgage and taxes are high, your credit card maxed, you have just taken a pay-cut and
you are freaking out; if you are sick of needing to work three crummy jobs at crummy
wages just to make ends meet; if you are tired of couch-surfing, looking for scarce
accommodation or paying exorbitant rent for a tiny pad; if your relationship with your
mate is breaking down but you never have time to talk; if you resent that everything you
buy is made in China; if advertising signs everywhere and the commercialization of
everything causes you despair; if you are so tired in the morning that you know that once
again you didn‘t get enough sleep and are so exhausted at the end of the day that you
have no energy to play with your kids or make love to your partner; if you are enraged
that the wonderful toy you bought broke in six months and it costs more to repair it than
to buy a new one; if nobody – even your partner - ever seems to really hear you, let alone
grok your loneliness and pain; and if nothing that is supposed to make you happy does -
then perhaps you might feel enough dissatisfaction to seriously motivate you to consider
a leap.

Taking this leap necessitates asking ourselves what we need for basic survival.

An awareness of personal vulnerability and fear for the future

What we need for survival are air, water and warmth. Warmth comes from the sun and
from fire, food, shelter and clothing. How many of these do we obtain directly? For the
most part, only the sun and the air. Some people grow some of their food; a very few
people heat with wood; even fewer cook with it. Almost nobody is building hiser own
shelter from harvested material or making hiser own clothing from raw fiber. Moreover,
how many of these few folks obtain the raw materials locally, sustainably and for no or
little cost?

All basic needs deriving from the system depend on electricity, oil and a huge and
complex infrastructure that is only as strong as its millions of weakening links. Once I
started to personalize my political and social understandings it became clear that the
greater my economic participation in the global economy – buying, selling or working -
the greater would be the impact on me as the support system crumbled. Only when this
reality increasingly exploded within my consciousness - internalized to the point of real
fear - did it, too, become a powerful motivator for my move towards total self-

The flow of goods from farm and factory to the store and to the consumer takes three
days. It is not economical to store products. Therefore, if anything disrupts this flow,
shelves empty suddenly. There are no reserves to be depleted!

This can happen with any instance of infrastructure break-down, such as power outages
from ice storms, fire, wind, earthquake, drought; pathogens discovered in food recalled;
honey bee die off (honey is not very important - every third bite of food we eat was

pollinated by a bee!); and, mainly, economic mayhem as capitalism collapses: oil prices
rising, other resources depleted; unemployment rampant, labour unrest exploding,
inflation soaring, and the social safety net dissolving. Most of the world‘s countries a nd
population are on the bottom, at the base of the pyramid, and are the billions that will
suffer first. But the higher we are, the harder we fall, and when the bell starts to toll for
us, we poor rich whites in the first world, we will perhaps find it e ven harder in some
ways to survive than those already closer to the water and the soil and long familiar

My advice is to choose to climb down between the cracks now so you will not fall
through them later.

A sense of hopelessness

My second dropout - out of the peace movement - was certainly motivated by my
overwhelming conclusion that the goal I had embraced was unattainable in anything less
than 10,000 years. We made limited gains, but the vast machinery of global militarism
seemed to roar over the planet like a continuous tsunami powered by history, genetics
and the third chakra. The few pacifist and sit-down demonstrators trying to block the
nuclear road to war did not seem to stand a chance. Our fingers were not thick enough to
plug even a leak or two.

Consequently, I stopped demonstrating to do my own thing and flee from the maddening

The strongest voice of hopelessness in 2009 is one of the most eminent scientists of our
time, James Lovelock, coiner of the word ―Gaia‖. However, as we will see, hopelessness
about one thing can lead to hope for something else. I quote from an article in Rolling
Stone, November 1, 2007:

James Lovelock has come to an unsettling conclusion: The human race is doomed. ―I
wish I could be more hopeful...It will be a dark time. But for those who survive, I suspect
it will be rather exciting.‖

In Lovelock‘s view, the scale of the catastrophe that awaits us will soon become obvious.
By 2020, droughts and other extreme weathers will be commonplace. By 2040, the
Sahara will be moving into Europe and Berlin will be as hot as Baghdad. Atlanta will
end up a kudzu jungle. Phoenix will become uninhabitable. As will parts of Beijing
(desert), Miami (rising seas), and London (floods). Food shortages will drive millions of
people north, raising political tensions. ―The Chinese have nowhere to go but up into
Siberia,‖ Lovelock says, ―How will the Russians feel about that? I fear that a war
between Russia and China is probably inevitable.‖ With hardship and mass migrations
will come epidemics, which are likely to kill millions. By 2100, Lovelock believes, the
Earth‘s population will be culled from today‘s 6.6 billion to as few as 500 million, with
most of the survivors living in the far latitudes – Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia, the
Arctic Basin.

To Lovelock, the whole idea of sustainable development is wrongheaded: ―We should be
thinking about sustainable retreat.‖

―I wish I could say that wind turbines and solar panels will save us, but I can‘t. There
isn‘t any kind of solution possible. There are nearly 7 billion people on the planet now,
not to mention [our] livestock and pets. If you just take the CO2 of everything breathing
[and farting?], it‘s twenty-five percent of the total – four times as much CO2 as all the
airlines in the world. So if you want to improve your carbon footprint, just hold your
breath. It‘s terrifying. We have just exceeded all reasonable grounds in numbers. And
from a purely biological view, any species that does that has a crash.‖

However, then it continues:

―We need bold action. We have a tremendous amount to do.‖ In his view, we have two
choices: We can sequester ourselves in a very sophisticated, high-tech civilization, or we
can return to a more primitive lifestyle and live in equilibrium with the planet as hunter-
gatherers [neo-permaculturists]. ―There‘s no question which path I‘d prefer,‖ he says.

The article ends like this:

Lovelock looks at me with unflinching blue eyes. ―Some people will sit in their seats and
do nothing, frozen in panic. Others will move. They‘ll see what‘s about to happen, and
they‘ll take action, and they‘ll survive. They‘re the carriers of the civilization ahead.‖

Ironically, the great and justifiable concern about global warming that now focus‘ the
world‘s attention tends to mask myriad other crises, any one of which will bankrupt the
global economy, shake civilization to its roots and threaten the lives of most of us on the

I think that the root problems are militarism, capitalism, industrialism and
overpopulation. They between them have spawned the world-wide threats of nuclear
waste, accident, proliferation and war; ozone thinning; oil and mineral depletion; an
energy crisis; deforestation; ocean acidification; fisheries collapse; infrastructure
disintegration; environmental pollution of air, water and soil; topsoil erosion and
salinization; ecological disruption; honeybee dieback; a water crisis; a widening gap
between the rich and the poor; overcrowded cities; an unsustainable food system;
healthcare systems in crisis; an epidemic of cancer and other diseases of civilization;
pandemics; famine; the rise of totalitarian government; economic meltdown and societal

These are all in addition, of course, to a CO2 level rising wildly out of control, resulting
in ocean acidification and global warming, which alone is just beginning to cause floods,
fires, draughts, hurricanes, sea level rise; species extinctions, starvation, refugees, the
pine beetle infestation and probably dozens, if not hundreds, of other changes and
disruptions, some known and others not even guessed at.

Warming caused by gases already released will continue to increase for decades because
of a lag effect of ten to thirty years. Successful efforts to stop particulate pollution will
cause temperatures to soar, because scientists have discovered that smog has been
causing global cooling, and masking a real temperature rise of three to five degrees, not
the 1.8 degrees currently confirmed.

To my mind, and in the minds of many others, the most frightening consequence of
global warming is more and faster global warming! Rising temperatures are bringing at
least a dozen changes, each of which then themselves are causing an exponential
acceleration of warming over which we have no control.

Add to all this the fact that so far, the planet‘s oceans have absorbed about 50% of all the
carbon humans have produced and are close to saturation.

Even if we stopped all harmful behavior immediately, it is estimated that it would take
1000 years for the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere to come down to pre-
industrial levels!

All of these problems but one are already upon us. They are not things that we have to
waste time wondering if they will happen in the future. Moreover, if you measure their
scale and acceleration compared to the will and effort to halt and reverse them, and add to
that the ―lag effect‖ of some of our past actions, the inescapable conclusion is that we are
rocketing towards unstoppable multiple disasters.

Even if the will was there, consider the expense alone to stop and repair these problems.
There has been an estimate that just to convert the planet from oil to any other alternative
energy or combination thereof would cost 13 trillion dollars (think of all those
supertankers and oil refineries)! All of them would cost trillions, if they were doable at
all! Then, what comes along just at this moment? Why, a global recession that is
resulting in not enough money even to do what we have been doing.

Finally, contemplate this: All the problems go to the very roots of how the affairs of men
have been conducted – at the least - for recent centuries. ―The American Way of Life‖,
striving to become the ―global way of life‖, is itself the problem. Vested interests blind
and entrench. Most hoodwinked populations are either desperate to hold on to what they
have – their ill- gotten gains - or just as desperate to have it, too. Most people want
alternative ways of doing things so that the present forward thrust of economic
civilization can continue unabated. Even the progressive and concerned mostly think that
we can have change without anything really changing.
Above all else, consider how seldom pundits and politicians even raise these crucial
perspectives for serious public discussion, let along tackle them head-on!

If every country in the world was to declare a ―State of Emergency‖ tomorrow, I still
doubt very much that we could prevent ourselves from going over the cliff.

Instead of causing despair and paralysis, I have found that arriving at this conclusion has
freed me to get on with the rest of my life. I no longer throw eggs against boulders. I
have dropped futile goals. I have learned not to try to change what cannot be changed.

If there is to be a mass dieback of the human race, we need to do two things: First, we
can understand that this poses no unique psychological/emotional dilemma for each of us,
individually. We will be facing nothing new: our own inevitable death. Whether it
happens tomorrow to any one of us, or some time in the future to all of us at once, makes
very little difference to each of us personally. Moreover, knowing of the certainty of our
own death is not, usually, what stops any of us from going on with life. We still do what
we have to do, continue with our projects, plant another tree, ―eat, drink and be merry. ‖
Where better to do this than in a community we have created that reflects in microcosm
our beliefs in how humanity could perhaps live if we did collectively decide to throw off
the dinosaur-dimension folly that has gotten us to this point of civilizational dysfunction?

Second, we can accept the challenge of remaining as a remnant!

However, as long as anyone thinks that there is still any hope at all of ―saving the world‖,
one should stay with hiser activism and spurn this project as a cop- out…maybe.
Decades after I had turned my back on demonstrating and embraced what I thought of as
the opposite, I found myself defining the value of my life as ―demonstrating
permaculture.‖. Suddenly, it hit me - it was the same word! Permaculture or protest, it is
the same thing with the same goals.

While I believe that the situation is quite hopeless, either approach seems to have just
about as much chance of making a real difference as the other. In both cases, it is an act
of ―personal witness‘, as the Quakers put it. The advantage of this way is that we get to
live how we want to live now, at the same time that we are demonstrating, instead of
begging or demanding that others make the changes we want, all the while living
unhappily in their world and by their rules.

I hate the sense of feeling like a victim. That is another motivator.

A will to survive

When I consider that our Sun is likely a second or even third generation star in this
location in the universe; if I contemplate the naturalness of death, extinction and the cruel
and heartless uncaring of nature; and if I admit the absolute certainty of my own demise
in ten, fifteen or twenty years anyway, then I sometimes ask myself, ―Why bother? Who
cares if we live or die, and the whole human race with us?‖

I am not sure that I have an adequate answer to this question. I can only fall back on our
animal survival instinct. We would all take evasive and protective action if we saw a
threat rushing directly at us. I happen to think we do have a threat rushing directly at us!
Maybe I just have a vivid imagination – it feels very real to me - but I certainly believe

that our very lives are increasingly at risk, and this belief has increasingly become a
strong motivator for me. I do not want to die because I failed to respond to a clear and
present danger, no matter what the odds. In addition, the challenge of finding a way that
might increase the possibility of a pocket of human survival for some reason continues,
despite all the obstacles, to seem like a worthwhile goal to attempt – a grand and crazy
project in the face of what might really be the end days of civilization.

I hope I am not being melodramatic.

A clear alternative vision

As the preceding pre-requisites to stepping outside of the mainstream paradigm develop,
it becomes essential to find or create a juicy and alluring alternate vision of something
worthwhile to step towards and into.

As I dreamed of living simply ―in the woods‖, I did not have any goal in mind other than
to live simply in the woods - ―chopping wood and carrying water‖, being with my wife
and children, and not being bombarded constantly with reminders of mainstream society.
I did not want to live that way in order to then be able to do something. Other activities
would develop naturally out of that lifestyle.

I think that the goal of rooting ourselves in communal simplicity can be aided and
enhanced if we root ourselves, our lives and our basic goals in such simple and
fundamental satisfactions, from which, then, our own cultural synthesis - our pastimes
and passions - will flow and develop.

If the reader has not yet formed a full and clear vision of hiser own yet, but has at least
some sense of a direction and goal, then I hope the clear alternative vision these essays
present will resonate with some folks, fill out and crystallize their thinking, and then
move them to actually join the venture.

The skills, tools and confidence to take the leap

It was extremely fortunate that I was raised around hand tools - from hammers and saws
to scythes and shovels - and that I had a father and a god- uncle who took the time to
teach and encourage me in their use. They also taught me how to sharpen hand tools;
without which skill one can do virtually nothing. I can imagine dull tools dooming the
dreams of many a neo- homesteader!

I was also fortunate to have lived in a family too poor to hire trades people to do our
work for us, so that fixing‖ and making were the norm in our household. In school, I
augmented my skills by taking woodworking, metalworking and drafting. At the age of
twelve, on my god-uncle‘s farm in Langley, B.C., a neighbour friend and I built a 12‘ x
12‘ log cabin out of alders, falling the trees and notching them with axe and eight- foot

I had a calm confidence, in this regard, when I left civilization behind that I know has
become increasingly rare. I can hardly imagine how anyone could start any hands-on
project lacking tool familiarity. I can only hope and suggest that people start to buy tools
now – second hand stores are filled with them – and put them in their hands and start to
move their bodies into the flows and rhythms to which the tools themselves will lead

A growing glee at beating the system

I find that I derive great satisfaction at beating the system, a satisfaction that rides with
me like a smile, motivating me in every little thing that I think and do to maintain and
improve my lifestyle. It all adds up to being able to live comfortably with a very light

It is a little heavier now, however, than I would like it to be. That heaviness directly
relates to my level of enmeshment in, and therefore vulnerability to, the system at which I
thumb my nose. I look forward in the near future to another round of chuckling.


I first began dreaming of ―alternative community‖ in the early sixties. When I first
dropped out of the peace movement in 1965, one possibility for my life at that transition
point was the formation of a rural collective of political activists. My knowledge of the
communal farm in Voluntown, Connecticut, formed and lived on by members of the New
England Committee for Nonviolent Action, inspired me. However, as I began to replace
the idea of traditional political activism with the concept of ―building the new society
within the shell of the old,‖ my conviction grew that banding together with a group of
people and doing that was the direction I wanted to go.

My ten-year sojourn in Storm Bay fulfilled all of my idealistic dreams except for one: to
be living in an intentional community. When, in 1967, knowing that I was looking for
land on which to do this, longtime friend Colin Thomson invited me into the Storm Bay
collective, I hardly hesitated. After a dozen cursory questions, I jumped right in with the
naïve assumption that all of the other people involved were the same ―children of the
sixties‖ as I, all equally disillusioned with mainstream society and all dreaming the same
back-to-the- land, communal dream as I. It took two or three years for the truth to sink in:
most of the others did not intend to make Storm Bay their permanent home. Rather, they
saw it as a retreat from their city lives as artists, filmmakers, teachers and parents. They,
in fact, saw Storm Bay as their chance to escape from people! Only two or three lived
there for more than a month or two at a time. Instead of one self-sufficient intentional
community, our family found itself part of four pseudo-communities: There was the
Storm Bay legal collective; the scene that grew as the others and their friends arrived for
parts of the summer; the summer scene that developed and sometimes blossomed around
our own homesite; and the ―Upper Inlet‖ year-round community of a dozen or so

individuals and families dotted here and there at half a dozen sites within a kilometer or
two of each other.

As the reality of our situation became clear, I began thinking of how to shift to the one
that we truly desired. I began to make diary notes entitled ―Community Vision
Unfolding‖; we considered how and where we might actually move; and we
contemplated inviting another family or two to join us at our homesite.

Events suddenly made all this moot in 1978 when, with no warning, my second wife, my
―life mate,‖ left me and I moved back to the city for the meager but necessary support
systems available to me during this difficult time. Gradually, over the years, the wound
scabbed over and the pain sank beneath the surface of every- minute consciousness. After
two years, I made it back out of the city. Sometime in the very early eighties, I
encountered the book, "Forest Farming" by Douglas and Hart, describing a shift away
from mono-cropping and annuals to a productive three-dimensional agriculture consisting
of trees, fields and livestock. Soon after that, I burst into the brilliance of Bill's
brainchild, Permaculture, and I was "home.‖ I had a new way to define my life, my
protest, my dropout and my developing lifestyle. I became, and am, a ―permaculturist.‖

In 1982 I rented a five-acre farm in Roberts Creek - a rural area with a population of 3000
- where I lived for five years, put in a huge, fully- mulched, 2400 square-foot vegetable
garden, learned winter gardening, constructed a forty-foot diameter covered firecircle and
began studying permaculture.

In 1987, I purchased and began living in a seven by twelve- foot travel-trailer, which is
still my home and office today, twenty-two years later. Once again, ―small is beautiful!‖

The dream of conceiving, instigating, developing and living in a true intentional
community of like- minded folks never died; indeed, it continued to grow in urgency and
relevancy as my confidence returned, the world‘s systems continued to unravel and new
generations of seekers expressed their yearnings and learnings.

In 1988, a specific vision for a community design became so compelling that I spent three
months drafting a large drawing of a visual plan that I referred to as a ―Permaculture
Mandala‖. It subsequently excited many people over the years who usually expressed a
keen interest, often in participating, but it was a limited prototype representing only the
six-acre inner core of what I then imagined would end up as a twenty-acre settlement.

Then, two years ago, with the assistance of a friend skilled in working with Autocad, I re-
did the whole design on one hundred acres and added many components and features that
I had conceptualized over the years.

All along, however, I have known that agreement on a visual representation of a beautiful
possibility was not nearly enough on which to base a community. Strong, clear
agreements on a myriad of issues are what hold together all human cultures; indeed, they
are what form all the attributes and characteristics that make up the total of any given

society. All through the years, I knew that I had to write ―fifty to a hundred mini-essays‖
on every aspect of intentional community that I could think of, and on which a group of
people would need to find accord.

These are, finally, those essays.

                              WHY COMMUNITY?

The introduction has suggested many reasons to reject the dominate paradigm, band
together and try to ―make it on the land.‖ However, once we are there, what then? What
are some of the positive benefits of living together in a wholistic intentional community,
aside from the relief of escape? What might we regain that we have lost?

One of my frustrations and regrets these days is that so many indiviuals with whom I
would like to be in closer contact - including my own children - are so constantly busy
with their lives that because I am not a part of their innermost circle, it sometimes it takes
weeks just to be able to schedule a visit, let alone have one! It is a great loss for me.

I recently organized a little discussion group made up of a circle of ten very diverse
friends, acquaintances and almost strangers. After ten to fifteen minute introductions all
around, we spent the rest of the afternoon evolving consensus on a topic of conversation
for the next Sunday.

The topic this eclectic group decided on, to my great surprise, was ―community‖. For
some – mainly me - that meant an intentional commune ―beyond the roads‖; for others, it
meant the existing local community; for some, it meant the global village; for one person
it meant the people he met throughout any given day. However, for all, it was

The following week, after four or five hours of passing the talking stick, we came to a
further consensus: the most important thing we wanted from community was quality

.If this is our principle thirst and paramount goal, after material survival, then first we
need to design a physical infrastructure to maximize and support quality relationships
[see essay "The Community Design"; the text-book "Permaculture: A Designers'
Manual" by Bill Mollison; and especially "A Pattern Language" by Christopher
Alexander et al]; second, we need to start with good agreements and evolve social
processes so that we can work things out well between us within the infrastructure we
build [see essays on "Process"]; and third, we need effective psychological, therapeutic
and spiritual tools to enable us to function resourcefully and integrally as individuals
within those social processes [See essays on "Spirituality", and essay, " Self-
Improvement and Therapeutic Intervention."]

Relationships, of course, are also what blow communities apart in the most painful
explosions of hopes, hearts and heads, often resulting in nightmares of communication
gaps and addictive snarls. Therefore, we had better pay attention to the above - because
"love is not enough - even though it may be way ahead of whatever comes in second

The word relationship, however, is a nominalization, and does not actually describe
anything. If the structures are in place, what will we actually be doing together that will
indicate that we are experiencing ―good relationships. ‖

One thought I had was that we yearn for community like, and for the same reasons, a dog
whines to come in from the lonely porch to join the human pack inside. Later, thinking
what would make me ―feel good‖ in community, I thought of ―work parties.‖ I
wondered, ―Why work parties‖, and then thought of ―hunting parties‖ and then even
further back in our genetic bones, to some primitive primate pack.

What answers would we receive from hunter-gatherers if we asked them what their goals
were - live another day, to find food, to be warm and dry, to laugh and sing together, to
make love, to get along with others? To just live in the Garden, walk its trails, sit by its
stream banks, hear the birds, smell the flowers? To learn to quiet the mind?

Above all else, I see intentional community providing an integrated lifestyle that will
make possible and enhance relationships, a place where both individual needs and
interpersonal associations will be intrinsic to the form and nature of the village. People
are run ragged in the dominate culture racing between home and store, church, recreation
center, school, daycare, baseball game, ballet lessons, friends, meetings, baby-sitter …
and back, day after day, year after year. Imagine for one minute all of that in one place.
Dream of how your life would be different! By being relatively self-contained, nobody
will have to go anywhere to have most of their needs met. Those distinctions and
fragmentations that have developed in our mother culture will not exist. Work will
overlap with play, with education and with exercise. The friends we want time to
hangout with will be at our sides throughout the day. Cooking meals around the central
fire will overlap with elder care and daycare. The orchards and gardens all around and
nearby will provide our needs as we walk the paths from home to firecircle center.
Neighbours, friends, and co-workers will be the same. Rushing across the city through
traffic from one place to another will be replaced by leisurely strolls that combine
attending to various small tasks along the way with the journey to our destination, or a
healthy jog along broad arcades under trellised vines. We will live in our graveyard and
be buried in our gardens. We will be our own government, our own church and our own
social club. The dichotomy between job and vacation will dissolve.

Living in community will also give us the strength of numbers and the buying power of
the collective. It will replace the need for each individual to possess expensive
equipment by sharing the cost of one It will break the stranglehold of the nuclear family
and provide help and ―fair witness‖ at times of strife. . It will provide support for our

strivings and help for our undertakings. It will enable us to take back control of and
determine the direction of our lives. It will be the ―Sangha‖ part of the refuge of the three
jewels of Buddhism – the ―community of fellow seekers.‖ It will provide the opportunity
to live in touch with nature in a Garden of Eden, and why not?

Bill Mollison, the conceptualizer of Permaculture and founder of the movement, says that
the aims of a sensible village group are to:
reduce the need to earn; earn within the village if possible; produce a surplus; provide
many of the non- material needs of people; and cooperate.

Beyond all this, we can consider a myriad of attitudes and behaviours that will further
develop quality contact and compassionate interaction. We can remember "I am He as
You are He as You are Me And We are all together." We can strive to speak the truth
kindly when it is necessary. We can notice what sabotages relationships and work at
changing our behaviour. We can stop hiding thoughts that we need to express.. We can
hug our children twenty times a day. We can participate in barn-raising and sewing bees.
We can produce theater and put on dances. And we can drum and chant and sing and
hang out with each other around the sacred firecircle.

It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. What could be a better reason to go
―forward to the past‖? Moreover, maybe, just maybe, that first new generation will be
the one that stays to knit the village to the future.

                          THE COMMUNITY DESIGN
 There is one timeless way of building…It is so powerful and fundamental that with its
help you can make any building in the world as beautiful as any place that you have ever
seen. It is so powerful, that with its help hundreds of people together can create a town,
   which is alive and vibrant, peaceful and relaxed, a town as beautiful as any town in
           history. – The Timeless Way of Building, by Christopher Alexander



In some ways, this community design is the heart and soul of this proposal. It came
before any of the essays. It, more than anything, is what inspires me. It has inspired
others, too. I hope it inspires you...

My first experience with intentional community was from 1949 to 1951, between the
ages of six and eight, in a brief socialist experiment in Cloverdale, B.C. spearheaded by
Watson Thompson, close friend of my father and god-uncle.

I have been drawn to the idea since 1961 when I learned of the ―Committee for
Nonviolent Action" (CNVA) and the North East Chapter's political action, rural,
communal farm in New Haven, Connecticut.

However, the real genesis of this design for a "Permaculture Mandala" started about 1986
or '7. I was sitting in my covered, 40‘ diameter Crow Road firecircle looking out across
the lawns and driveway loop over to my large and productive vegetable garden. I was
just starting to think ―permaculture.‖ I had a sudden thought, "Wouldn't it be awesome to
build a firecircle in the middle of a garden!"

Circles suggested more circles, and suddenly I was beginning, quite naturally and
literally, to model an imagined design after the diagrammatic zone and sector figures of

Soon after, I wrapped an Indian longhouse around in my mind and ca me up with the idea
of the "human habitation ring.‖ I imagined it framed-up in the same way as were the
traditional West Coast First Nations‘ structures - oversized "post and beam".

I looked at Mollison's drawing of suntraps, lined up in a row across a field, and wondered
how they would work in a circle. I loved how that made sense in the context of my
evolving concept and how pretty it looked on the page.

I imagined seeing it from space.

I took three months to draft a large drawing of a six-acre proto-version of the developing
vision. Over the years, it turned on many people - awed them by the beauty of the
design; fed their fire for community more meaningful than what they lived in now;
played into their desire for communion with nature and other humans; and tugged at their
yearnings to drop out of a corrupt system.

Now, I have re-done the ―Eco-village‖ design using AutoCAD‘s graphic design software
programme, and expanded it to a hundred acres. It is beautiful!

What follows is a verbal description of this current on- ground vision.

The essentials of the overall design and layout are mostly not negotiable. Details are -
there will be thousands of them, as the three dimensional spaces are filled in as the
village is actually built and planted. The group flow of creation can proceed no more
intelligently than to be guided by the wisdom contained in the publications of Christopher
Alexander and his associates at the Center for Environmental Structure in Berkeley,
California. I was not aware of their brilliant, groundbreaking work until after I had
completed the first version of the Permaculture Mandala, but as I explored A Pattern
Language, I became amazed as I discovered how well the design accorded, over and over
again, with the patterns and principles elucidated by the authors.. This new version is not
essentially different from the first, except that I considered and reconsidered every aspect
and element of the proposed village within the light of my new knowledge, tweaking and
adjusting here and there, and imagining with growing excitement what the details of the
flowering might actually look like and how it will function everywhere to bring people
together. However, the true expression of ―the timeless way of building‖ will only
become knowable as the community creates it together.

The closer to the center, the more likely that the on-ground execution of the design will
match the conceptualization; and, conversely, the further from the center, the more
possible it will be that the design may deviate organically from the paper ideal, as we
encounter slope, bluff or marsh; decide to enlarge an area; or decide to alter aspects of the
layout and it‘s components for other reasons.

My only reservation in relationship to the flexibility of the radius, and thus of both the
distance from the center and the area of any zone, is to what extent any expansion of
those dimensions will increase the size (length) of the individual units of the human
habitation ring. We are going for “s mall is beautiful”, and there would come a point, if
we decided that we needed to expand the design to increase the size of the vegetable
gardens or the small- fruit orchard in the ―courtyard‖ that the core building structure

would attain a size whereby it might become possible and/or ethically necessary, to
consider sixty- four family compounds rather than thirty-two.

The up-to-date design as of March 2009, is comprised of the following "components",
starting from the center and working outwards.


―The search we make for this quality [which has no name], in our own lives, is the
central search of any person, and the crux of any individual person‘s story. It is the
search for those moments and situations when we are most alive…The specific patterns
of a building…may be alive or dead. To the extent they are alive, they let our inner
forces loose, and set us free.‖ – The Timeless Way of Building, by Christopher

The Sacred Firecircle at the Heart

At the center of this proposed community is The Firecircle.


Early on, my simple but beautiful log cabin in the woods at Storm Bay, up Sechelt Inlet,
being the only relatively large and comfortable indoor space for miles around, became an
―Upper Inlet‖ social center, but burned down in 1973. That spring, in order to host a
gathering, I threw together a rough seating arrangement around a campfire and covered it
with a piece of clear poly. It stayed that way for a year.

The next summer, in 1974, a mad- man/holy man from India, Kannon (-Ball Rolling, as
Sue Metz called him), came for a visit, and urged me to "make the circle sacred". I
looked at the funky assemblage I had made and knew exactly what he meant. That
winter I re-designed it, leveled the ground, tiered the sitting circle, added a kitchen
counter, made3 bookshelves from some cedar logs, designed a functional cooking- fire,
and spread scythed grass around as a carpet.

It became an outdoor kitchen and living room during the summer, and it became a free
space, a place to try things out and meet more meaningfully, all year 'round. We ―hung‖,
discussed, chanted, made music and sauna-ed. It was a great time, indeed!

The next one was in the city, a small, uncovered one in 1979 in a backyard vegetable
garden at 8th and Oak in Vancouver, in the shade of the BCAA building, and surrounded
on three sides by low-rise apartments.

Then in 1985 or so, in Roberts Creek, I put together the first circle that was carefully
designed from the ground up: octagonal; thirty-five feet in diameter; very functional
cooking pit; tiered; level and spacious for sitting and reclining on hay and pillows; straw
bales for extra seating all around the perimeter; lots of headroom under the poly tarp; a

smoke hole in the center protected from rain by an umbrella; and a good kitchen counter.
Thirty people could hang out socially with ease, to cook a meal, talk, play with children,
and make music. One hundred people could gather under cover for a jam.

I started to organize and host three-day parties. It was during one of these, after folks got
into the instrument basket and a cacophony of acoustic discord was percussioning out of
the center, that I first had the courage to take it upon myself to bring a large group of
friends and strangers to focus; suggest that we could really make high music together;
introduce the formula of paying attention, starting small, and listening to everybody all at
once; and then begin with a basic bass beat. Within minutes, we were really playing
together, making music that most folks there had never made before or imagined that
they could.

The next circle was in Vancouver again, 1988, in a tiny back yard at 13th and Guelph.
The smoke from the fire ascended up and over Docksteader Toyota and back down into
the middle of the intersection at 12th and Kingsway - fitting, I thought, since the diagonal
slash that is Kingsway is the oldest route through the city - first as an Indian trail from the
Frazer River to Burrard Inlet, later as a wagon trail, finally as the six lane commercial
corridor that it has become.

In 1993, I erected a fifty- foot circle at Clayquot at the peace camp set up as a base for the
historic protests against old-growth logging. One week later, three hundred
demonstrators kept dry in the rain.

It was around the next firecircle, back in Roberts Creek - just twenty-five feet across,
intimate and low-slung, a little in the woods, nine-sided because the trees were there -
that the whole idea really blossomed. It was here that the principle that really made the
circle sacred was clearly laid down: We are here to do something all altogether – with
100% focus, not 99% focus. It was also here, after my experiences in Clayquot, that I
introduced the talking-stick to the circle [see essay, "Process - The Talking Stick"]. For
the first time, I hosted a regular gathering - twice a week for two years. Thursday nights
were "open madness", 35-45 people, involving both acoustic jams with voice and more
than drums, everybody shakin‘, sets we couldn't stop, ecstatic communion, holy focus,
wild improvisational freedom, sounds as good as any world music ever heard; and the
talking stick, always in it's honoured, central spot, a safe vehicle to use to share whatever
thoughts on anybody‘s mind. On Monday nights, we scheduled themes and topics, often
passing the stick for four or five hours, discussing one subject. We got just as high doing
that as making music!

The key was paying attention. Attention=Energy=Awareness=Consciousness=Holy
Spirit. It's all the same thing.


The whole community design is centered around an octagonal, covered, fifty-foot
diameter firecircle built of cedar posts and poles and cove red initially with a clear

“poly” tarp, to be replaced later by a shake roof with eight huge skylights. The
walls will be eithe r hinged or re movable, able to s wung up or taken off in the
summe r, and battened down in the winter. It will be where meals are prepared and
eaten together ; where toddlers play and old folk are cared for; whe re meetings are
held and music is made; where workshops take place and conversations flow; whe re
children sleep while drums beat; where we come together in conflict and in

This space and eight doorstep areas - making up a hundred foot diameter
community center complex – will be the multifunctional hub and heart of the

The Firepit

The firepit itself, carefully designed and very functional, will serve for cooking,
heating, hot water generation and cere monial purposes. The opening is four feet in
diameter surrounded by a one foot thick rock wall, perhaps with openings around
the circumference for heat radiation, and topped with a one inch thick and eighteen
inch broad slate surface level with the cooking grille and extending as a working
surface six inches beyond the rock enclosure. Copper piping coiled around the
bottom and sides of the pit, and then extending inward as a six inch overhang, will
provide one source of hot wate r - hopefully enough, with underground storage
tanks, to contribute significantly to heating the entire human habitation ring. A
three-foot diameter removable central cooking grille, iron s wing -arms for
suspending pots, comfortable and functional cooking “cockpit”, and water taps
close at hand will be some other features of this firepit.

First Sitting Level

Immediately surrounding the firepit is an inner sitting circle, four feet wide, enough
distance to sit with one’s back against the eighteen-inch rise to the second level and
stretch one’s legs out fully, feet to the fire.

Second Sitting Level

The next level is six feet wide, taking us out to a diameter of twenty-four feet and a
circumfe rence of approximately seventy-five feet. This ring would be a major
sitting area and would include log-end “tables”, about a foot in diameter and
eighteen inches high, very simple, very compact, very functional, for cups and
glasses, kerosene lamps, ash-trays, etc. Good lighting is essential, the soft glow of
lamps perfect and appropriate.

Third Level

The third level - again eighteen inches higher - is nine or ten feet wide. It is both a
sitting and circulation area. Around the oute r perimeter are couches, benches,
straw bales, end-tables, etc. and access-ways to the eight doorstep areas.

All levels are luxuriously carpeted with hay, hopefully cut from o ur own fields and
filled with blankets and pillows.
Above the third ring is a loft running around the entire circle, accessible by ladde rs .
This space could be used for storage, food drying, bedding down children, a play
space, etc.

A false ceiling of hanging tapestries could serve to ameliorate the cavernous aspect of a
fifty- foot circle with a high center and thereby increase the sense of intimacy we have
experienced in smaller circles and found to be so intense and bonding.

The Eight Doorsteps

Permaculture teaches us to start at the doorstep, and the shape of this structure
naturally suggests eight doorsteps leading to eight high-intensity sectors or activity
areas, each, here, eighteen feet on the inner side and thirty-nine feet on the outer
edge, by twenty-five feet, including:

   -   A foyer or entrance room [see "A Pattern Language" by Alexande r et al,
       Patte rn 130, 'Entrance Room', pp 622-626], oriented to the main gateway,
       [Pattern 110, 'Main Entrance', pp 540-544] connecting to the outside world
       and leading into the inner community s pace and firecircle. The reception
       room and room for things and people arriving and departing. Roofed and
       perhaps walled; north side.

   -   woods hed for fire wood brought in from four outlying woodsheds located in
       the four directions in the "outbuilding ring". I hope that eventually the
       central fire will be the only place where we burn wood, after we are able to
       provide for heating to family compounds using other means, such as hot
       water from the firecircle heating system, and methane from a digester fueling
       two-burner stoves for coffee and s uch. Roofed, no walls, north side.

   -   toddlers play area, surrounded and fenced by a dense hedge of edible berries
       and espaliered fruit trees, with all the usual - s wings, teeter-totters,
       sandboxes, dirt, buckets, shovels - a groovy adventure playground. There
       are two othe r playgrounds designed into this village, one for olde r kids and
       one for big folk. Components roofed, no walls; south side;

   -   lawn for sitting, playing, sunning, picnicking - no roof, no walls; south side;

   -   greenhouse/potting shed/compost piles/central outhouses, integrated with
       circle and connecting to surrounding gardens - individual components roofed
       and walled; south side;

   -   waterworks - dishes and laundry, bathtubs, showe rs, sinks, hot tub, sauna,
       sauna sitting-circle, clothes lines. Hot wate r from the firecircle and from
       passive solar on roof of hot tub; all hot water reused and recycled through
       the system. The platform for access to the clotheslines doubles as chatting
       circle and lifeguard tower. Individual components roofed, no walls; south

   -   workshop/tool-shed/lumbe r storage for tasks close to the center - roofed, no
       walls; north side;

   -   a kitchen pantry for food storage and preparation. Roofed and walled; north

The four roofed segments would be contiguous and oriented to the north side of the
complex; the unroofed sections would cluster around the southern half.

Plants are interlaced throughout the central community complex wherever possible,
serving multiple functions, including shade during summe r mid-days.

There are path/firecircle interfaces such that in many places around the edge, the
paths are tangential to the circle [see Pattern 129, "Common Areas at the Heart",
pp 618 - 621] so that "people will be constantly passing the space; but because the
path is to one side, they are not forced to stop. If they want to, they can keep going;
if they want to, they can stop for a moment, and see what is happening ; if they want
to, they can come right in and settle down.:

The Inner Promenade

Surrounding this one hundred foot diameter central complex is a ten-foot wide
promenade [see "A Pattern Language" by Alexande r et al, Pattern 119, 'Arcades',
pp 580-584]. All or sections of it will probably be trellised for vines and, as with all
paths, thickened in places to create alcoves or enclosures for benches, mini-
workspaces, tools, small out-buildings, trees, etc. [see "A Pattern Language" by
Alexander et al, Pattern 121, 'Path Shape', pp 589-592]

The more living patterns there are in a place – a room, a building or a town – the more it
 comes to life as an entirety, the more it glows, the more it has that self-containing force
   which is the quality without a name. - The Timeless Way of Building, Christopher

The preceding design for a community ―building complex‖ with a fire at the center
satisfies the following patterns from A Pattern Language, Alexander et al:

Pattern 99, 'Main Building', pp 485-487; Pattern 100, ―Pedestrian Street,‖ pp 488-491;
Pattern 101, ―Building Thoroughfare,‖ pp 492-498; Patter 105, ―South Facing Outdoors,‖
pp 513-516; Pattern 129, 'Common Area at the Heart', pp 618-621; Pattern 147,
'Communal eating', pp 696-700; Pattern 181, 'The Fire', pp 838-843; Pattern 182, 'Eating
atmosphere; Pattern 185, 'Sitting Circle', pp 857-860; etc; etc].

The "Courtyard"

Between the central complex and "the human habitation ring" is a "courtyard" of
approximately five acres of intensive zone one and two permaculture production,
providing most of the daily, in season needs for thirty-two families, guests and
visitors. This area contains annual vegetables, most growing in eight-foot diameter
key-hole beds separated by four-foot broad comfrey beds for fertilizer and mulch;
multifunctional perennials; useful shrubs, dwarf trees, berry crops, and vines; a
creek and ponds –part of a riparian system meandering across and through the
entire permaculture system - developed for recreation and a diverse aquaculture;
some small animals such as chickens, ducks, geese, and bees; garden work areas;
outhouses; small garden tool storage roofs; and activity nodes for stages or band-
shells, kids playhouses, work areas, etc. All paths, radiating and concentric, are
lined with two-foot-wide path-side picking beds and, behind them, raspberries and
espaliered fruit trees, allowing the m to be tended and harvested when coming or
going between the center and the family compounds or moving and working
anywhe re throughout this inner five acres.

The Eight Principle Avenues

Widening as they radiate outwards, these should all be trellised for vine crops, thus
not only utilizing vertical and overhead space, but also increasing areas that are
covered, for protection from increased radiation due to global warming and ozone
thinning - very real concerns.

Pedestrian Traffic Circles

Twenty-four activity nodes of various diameters, providing s pace for many of the
non-food components mentioned in the above paragraph, can be featured wherever
the broad radial avenues intersect with the principal concentric paths, at the same
time allowing foot and hoof traffic to flow around the m. [see "A Pattern Language"
by Alexander et al, Pattern 30, 'Activity Nodes', pp 163-167; Pattern 45, 'Necklace of
Community Projects', pp 243-245; Pattern 121, 'Path Shape', pp 589-592; Pattern 124,

'Activity Pockets', pp 599-602; Pattern 126, 'Something Roughly in the Middle', pp 606-

The Oute r Prome nade

Circling the five acres is another promenade ten feet broad, following the same
considerations as the Inne r Prome nade, and bordered on its outer perimeter by a
productive, multifunctional hedge-row, privacy screen, and fence with front gates -
marking the edge of the front yards of the "human habitation ring".

The Human Habitation Ring

The essence of the design of this component was initially inspired by the traditional
longhouses of various North American Indian tribes, including the West Coast tribes of
British Columbia, which could be up to 640 feet long, with nuclear or extended families
living in large compartments, each with a separate cooking fire, but each also open to
each other. I contemplated modeling community housing after this, then thought, "Why
not curve a longhouse around into a circle?", and then considered that the degree of
separation between families could vary from being open, with no walls, through to
having screens or hanging mats, to dividers with large sliding doors, to solid, sound-
proofed triple walls.

These options still exist, depending on the preferences of adjoining neighbours, but I now
imagine mainly the latter - three insulated walls at either end of each unit containing
back-to-back closets for maximum sound privacy, impervious to the cries of a loud
orgasm, but still with connecting doors to each adjacent.unit. Further, I can conceive of a
unique type of room, half in one family‘s home and half in another‘s, providing, when
connecting doors are opened, a space for visiting with neighbours living next-door. [See
essay, ―Privacy and Communalism: Striking the Balance‖


The human habitation ring consists of thirty-two family compounds, each
comprised of a front yard; a broad covered veranda;; optional add-ons and stories
reflecting individual choices in style and materials; and a large back yard. A six
foot privacy “corridor” is called for between each compound both within the living
spaces and without, but with each element also connected to adjacent compounds
with gates or doorways. Because there will be no other residences on the property,
looking out from either the front or back of each individual unit will give no vie w of
neighbours. Actually, in reality, looking to either side will also not afford much of a
view of a neighbour’s dwelling either, due to screening by fences, and/or trees and

We should consider these family compounds

The Core Building

There is to be an immutable core of each living compound conjoined to the next
neighbour’s on both ends. There are good reasons to make this core a long
rectangular space. [see "A Pattern Language" by Alexander et al, Pattern 37, 'House
Cluster', pp 197-203; pattern 38, "Row Houses", pp 204-208]; pattern 108, "Connected
Buildings", pp. 531-534; and pattern 109, "Long Thin House", pp 535-538] Through
this core can pass plumbing for heating and drinking water, gas (methane) pipes,
electricity, etc. Because they are connected, we will need far less building material
and be able to conserve heat. The long, thin houses joined at the ends rathe r than
the sides, unlike traditional row housing, creates a greater sense of privacy both
within each unit, and between adjoining residences.

In addition, everybody is equidistant from the all-important community center.

These two aspects of the human habitation ring – attached, and equidistant from the
center – and the “three story limit” - are perhaps its only non-negotiable features.

Each core unit measures approximately twenty by sixty feet.

Once this basic core is constructed, individuals would be free to build up to a three
storey limit – or down – or both - or add on to it within the back yard, depending on
personal needs and wants, creative imagination, neighbour's sensibilities, and
permaculture and "pattern language" design considerations. We will also need to
take whole community aesthetics or finances into account.

The Covered Front Veranda

On the inner side of this core is, first, a covered veranda perhaps ten feet broad [see
Pattern 166, "Gallery Surround", pp 777-780 and Pattern 167, "Six-Foot Balcony", pp
781-784] with, again, a six-foot privacy "leave space”, but with connecting
passageways. This spacious porch can embody many of the patterns discussed in A
Pattern Language. Emphasis can be placed on connecting it to the dwelling and, more
specifically, the rooms of the dwelling; to the adjoining units; to the front yard, and to the
―Outer Promenade‖ outside of the gate. ―Windows that open wide‖; the ―entrance
room‖; an ―outside room‖; half-open walls; and ―interior windows‖ can aid us in
integrating it with the indoor living spaces. The veranda could be considered part of ―the
flow through rooms,‖ with private rooms opening directly on to it.

The veranda can help provide a balance and integration of public and private life by
acting as a ―private terrace on the street‖, as part of the ―intimacy gradient‖ and
―entrance transition‖, and by contributing to a ―courtyard which lives.‖

The Front Yards

…a front yard twe nty feet broad, also "long and thin", and thus continuing the
sense of privacy and separation from close neighbours, as the centers of adjacent
yards will be farther apart than they would be for normal city row-housing,
oriented as they are with the long axis parallel rather than the short.

The Backyards

The backyards, approximately sixty-five feet by forty feet, will have space for all the
usual back yard stuff not provided by community spaces. As well as a the possibility of
cabin for a single person [see "A Pattern Language" by Alexander et al, Pattern 78,
"House for One Person", pp 389-391]: for a teenager [Pattern 154, 'Teenager's cottage',
pp 723-728] and/or an elder [see Pattern 155, 'Old Age Cottage', pp 729-732]. They
could be placed in the back corners, be as large as 20‘ x 20‘, and up to three stories high
As usual, design for privacy - psychological, visual and auditory - is paramount.[see
essay, "Privacy and Communalism: Striking the Balance"]

The human-habitation ring will contain all residential housing. The re will be no
exceptions to this. It will not be possible to build separately in any other location.
The human habitation ring fits intrinsically into the overall design of the
community, flowing from the fire at its heart. Living equidistant from the center
and surrounding a common courtyard will help unite us.

The authors of A Pattern Language go further than this. In Pattern 108,
“Connected Buildings,” they declare:

“Isolated buildings are symptoms of a disconnected sick society….Indeed, in our time,
isolated, free-standing buildings are so common that we have learned to take them for
granted, without realizing that all the psycho-social disintegration of society is
embodied in the fact of their existence.”

As well, the structural and energy efficacy of conjoined living units will save us
materials, time and fuel, reducing our ecological footprint.

There will be bunkhouses for visitors and workshop participants and a retreat hut;
perhaps secluded bowers for love- making or hiding; maybe a "honeymoon suite"
somewhere off at some special place; kid's play forts; workshop participant camp-sites,
etc., but all need for living privately with a sense of seclusion will be designed into
the layout of the family compounds, as well as into the interior of each private
dwelling. [See essay, "Privacy and Communalism: Striking the Balance"]

I have not made any attempt in these essays to suggest designs for individual family
units. Beyond their contiguity and the three-story limit, as well as a community
agreement on the width of the core – 15‘ - 20‘ – in keeping with the principle of Pattern
109, ―Long Thin House,‖ each unit, particularly the layout and design of the inte rior
and any additions, can be an expression of the builder’s own style and unique

application of the “language” s/he has constructed from the two hundre d and fifty-
three patterns discussed in the book A Pattern Language,

I think that perhaps ultimately, single people should not occupy an entire family
compound - a large space – but should instead live either with a family or in s maller
units within a family compound; or in a collective of singles occupying a family
compound. This may not be an issue in the beginning, but only become one after all
living units have become occupied.

Furthermore, all family units should be designed and developed over time so that
they evolve into extended family units, housing perhaps three generations and up to ten
members, within each compound. That would give us a maximum community size of
three hundred and twenty people. [see essay. ―Flies and Snakes‖ – ―Overpopulation‖]

The four large bunkhouses located in the outbuilding ring can serve for short-term
housing for prospective members, visitors, work party participants and conference
attendees. We could probably accommodate at least one hundred people in these,
probably many more.

“Main Street”

Circling the human habitation ring on the outside is a "ring road" that I have come
to view as the Main Street of the community – fifteen to twenty feet broad - on the
other side of which is the "Outbuilding Ring". No motorized vehicles would be
permitted on this inner side of the outbuildings, As with the entire area within, it
would be reserved for foot traffic, wheel-barrows, bicycles and carts or wagons
pulled by animals,

This circular ―pedestrian street‖ will develop into as vibrant a place as the firecircle itself,
being fronted on one side by family compounds and on the other by outbuilding units.
Workshops and offices can open to the street; staircases from second and third stories can
be brought down directly to the street to connect life in the buildings to public activities,
and provide broad steps at the bottom for public places to sit and hang out; bulges and
thickenings can contain benches and tree places inviting lingering; and overlooking
windows, balconies, porches, terraces and half- hidden gardens will allow residents and
workers to stay in touch with the bustle and excitement of community life.

The Outbuilding Ring [see Pattern 42, "Industrial Ribbon", pp 227 230]

The outbuilding ring would be another single roof under which would shelter all thirty-
two community work and play spaces. Each would measure approximately fifteen by
eighty feet. Some of these spaces can consist of multiple rooms; others would be left
full-sized. Some of there functions we could combine, separate, add to or eliminate.

Early on in the development of this community, these spaces will be surveyed, marked
out and designated. Actual construction and development may take place over a long
period of time, but activities from the start could nevertheless begin to take place at the
appropriate location. Erection of the main framework and at least temporary roofs, as
with the core of the human habitation ring, would be a first priority in the development of
the outbuilding ring.

I've listed all of the functions and activities that would take place in these units that I can
think of, and have made a preliminary attempt to arrange them in the ring with some kind
of logical and sensible order, putting some adjacent to or clustered with each other, some
opposite each other.

Here they are:

- four woodsheds, one in each quadrant - roofed only
- four bunk-houses, one in each quadrant - roofed and walled
- four greenhouse/garden sheds, one in each quadrant
- two meeting rooms, further partitioned - roofed and walled
- lumber storage shed - roofed only
- bamboo processing shed - roofed only
- woodworking shop - roofed and walled
- metal- working shop - roofed and walled
- "junk" shed - roofed and walled?
- craft shop/art studio/fiber arts/sewing/weaving, etc - roofed and walled
- food-processing center/brewery - roofed and walled
- automotive/machinery repair shop - roofed and walled
- offices - roofed and walled
- electronics - video/computers/stereo/cb/sound studio/jam room/radio
communication/etc - roofed and walled
- free store - incoming and outgoing - roofed and walled
- theater/performance hall - roofed and walled
- gym/yoga/dance/body work space - roofed and walled
- school rooms - roofed and walled
- library - roofed and walled
- barn - roofed and walled
- medical center - roofed and walled
- teen center - roofed and walled

The Oute r Ring Road

Circling the outbuildings on the outside would be a service road, twe nty feet broad,
the closest to the community center that we would allow a motor vehicle, enabling
incoming and outgoing supplies and products to be delivered and picked up to and
from the various outbuildings.

The Four Entranceways

I imagine four broad avenues, lined up with the four directions, leading in and out
of the community complex so far described, connecting the village proper to the
larger agricultural areas of the farm. One of them would continue out to the land
and world beyond the perimeter of the one hundred acres. Each avenue would pass
under and through the human habitation ring and, whe re they intersect with the
outbuilding ring, would be marked by a distinctive arched gate way and towe r. [see
A Pattern Language, pattern 53, "Main Gateways", pp 276-279]

The main gate through which all newcome rs to the community would pass will
include the tallest and most imposing structure in the ecovillage, a five story tower.
[see A Pattern Language, pattern 21, ―Four Story Limit‖, pp 114-119; and pattern 62,
―High Places‖, pp 315-318]. It will serve as a lookout and ―high place from which to
look down and survey one‘s world.‖ This main entranceway would be further developed
into a gatehouse and entrance room, to screen, educate and orient those arriving for the
first time.

I see the other three towers being four stories high, (leaving three stories as the maximum
height for any other structure in the community) and perhaps serving such functions as an
astronomical observatory, a meditation space, a bird-watching vantage point, a pigeon
aviary or a children's adventure playhouse/castle/pirate ship.

No automotive vehicles would enter the village prope r, but the ways through all but
the front entrance, which contains the gatehouse, must be wide and high enough to
allow passage for, say, a large wagon with a load of hay being pulled by a horse.

We could also play with the symbols and attributes of the four directions as expounded
by various cultures and integrate them into the design and motifs of the four entrances.

The Four Neighbourhoods

The four passageways through the human habitation ring could be seen to define four
neighbourhoods of eight families each. [See "A Pattern Language" by Alexander et al,
Pattern 14, 'Identifiable Neighbourhoods', pp 80-86]. Pattern 37, "House Cluster"
indicates that the desired aim of the pattern - people feeling comfortable in their homes -
will not work as well if the cluster is strung out in a line. But here, these would comprise
45 degrees of arc, and if there was a semi-open neighbourhood path that connected all the
compounds, running through the edge of the backyards, for example, as well as
connecting gates, doors or passageways between front yards, verandas, and the core
building, these would enhance contact between neighbours. .

Actually, the entire community design more closely resembles a neighbourhood, although
it has thirty-two homes, not eight to twelve, as indicated in A Pattern Language.
Nevertheless, I can see some location-specific coordination between folks living closer to
each other in the ring. For example, the design calls for four woodsheds, four
bunkhouses and four greenhouses in each of the four quadrants. It would make sense for

inhabitants of a quadrant to be responsible for harvesting firewood together from the
sector they reside in, for tending the plants in the appropriate greenhouse, and for
assuming responsibility for hosting visitors, guests or workshop participants staying in
the closest bunkhouse.

Having four clearly defined sections of the whole living-circle, each perhaps with a name
or designation, would also make it easier to speak of certain areas when discussing
location or design, and help with directions and orientation.

Beyond the Habitation Ring: The Suntraps: Permaculture Zones Two and Three.

[See Permaculture: A Designer's Manuel, p. 414; Introduction to Permaculture, pp 45-46;
Martin Crawford in Agroforestry Review, ―Forest gardening: clearings‖, Vol 2, No 1,
page 18 and Forest gardening: clearings ... Vol 12, No 1, page 33 ]

Suntraps are horseshoe-shaped windbreak plantings consisting of multifunction semi-
dwarf and standard trees, shrubs, bushes and canes producing fruit, nuts, berries, fodder,
medicine, etc., and sheltering between their ―arms‖ row crops and other broadscale
plantings, such as corn, grains, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, strawberries, etc., etc.;
small pastures, meadows and ―herbal leys‖; and ponds, chickens, bees and playgrounds.
Higher at the "back" and tapering gradually down along the "arm's", the space partially
enclosed can be up to ten degrees warmer than if left open and unprotected. Planting
with shiny leafed plants accentuates the effect. So does the reflective quality of water.
They are most effective for this purpose when facing the sun, but they function, too, as
windbreaks, and are also a neat way to create a lot of edge, where variety and
productivity are always at their greatest, so that as they swing around in this design and
begin facing more northerly, these increasingly become their main functions, although
the trees and shrubs that define them would be lower in height to allow more direct sun to
enter the clearing. Alternatively, perhaps we could even leave them out altogether along
the north- facing arc of the circle.

This design calls for two concentric rings each consisting of thirty-two of these plant
structures, the inner ones enclosing a space of about 40'x 70', the outer ones larger,
perhaps 60'x 80'.

Zone 4

This is a band of perhaps seventy-five acres comprising open pasture and fields;
hundreds and hundreds of the biggest trees in the system, such as walnuts,
chestnuts, oaks, beechs, ginkgos, and locusts; larger ponds - a continuation and
expansion of the aquaculture system; large domestic animals, if we have them, such
as cattle and horses; and, around the oute r edge, a forty to fifty foot wide protective
barrier hedge composed of all manner of stinging, barbe d, thorny, densely growing
plants. The outside edge of this barrier is irregularly scalloped to deflect potential
invaders out and away from the community, thusly ), the arrow indicating the
direction of approach, instead of being smooth and clearly circular.

For a way into and out of this defense, and for more details on protecting the community
from a potentially hostile outside world, see essay, "The Outside World: Hiding and
Protecting Ourselves.

The Teen Town

This is the newest component that I have thought to add to this design for this
permaculture village.

I propose a site for the evolution of a ―Teen Town‖ or ―Youth Village‖ by and for
adolescences aged twelve to eighteen. I imagine a circle tangential to the outbuilding
ring at the point of the south tower that includes the south tower and the bunkhouse and
teen center on either side of it. I imagine the entire area being about two acres,
surrounded by a hedge, with only its center and perimeter established and marked out,
and all else being left to the young people - in consultation with adults - who will ―settle‖
the area.

The South Avenue, after it passes under the South Tower, would diverge to both sides to
avoid running through the center of this satellite village.

 [see essay, ―Childrearing and Education – Teenagers‖; and A Pattern Language, Pattern
84, ―Teenage Society‖, pp 416-419]

  Finally, within the framework of a common language, millions of individual acts of
  building will together generate a town which is alive, and whole, and unpredictable,
  without control. This is the slow emergence of the quality without a name, as if from
           nothing.‖ The Timeless Way of Building, Christopher Alexander

                     CREATING A COMMON VISION

The purpose of these essays is to unite folks around a common vision.

By that I do not mean to imply that a vision suddenly came to me, divinely inspired and
here it is.. The vision is multiple images I hold in my head in the present, formed from
hundreds of thousands of thoughts that I have had throughout my life on the subjects
about which I am writing. The physical design developed over a period of forty years. I
see it in my mind‘s eye, and it is beautiful. It draws me. It motivates me.

I have come to realize that when I have any goal or project or idea that motivates me, I
generate, unconsciously, an internal, visual representation of it finished. That mental
vision enables me to feel motivated by and enjoy - feel infused with and inspired by -

every little step, every task, no matter how mundane, which builds towards the creation
of the whole.

I have learned from my study and practice of Neurolinguistics that it is not, in fact, the
mental image itself that as an actual effect upon us, but rather, the various ways that we
construct the display of the representation.

Although I am speaking generally, let me come back to the obvious example at hand. It
is often the case that a person might thoroughly and wholeheartedly decide s/he wants to
do something consciously but nevertheless cannot act effectively to manifest the thought.
Let us suppose for a moment that you, the reader, having read this far, find that you are
not only agreeing with the emerging vision, but also beginning to see how much it lines
up with your own inclinations and aspirations. Suppose you take a moment now to notice
how you are viewing it at this point. You might‖ think of it‖, and then notice what you
see. Do you make a picture? It does not matter if you have a clear image yet. Just notice
what you do see when you think of this project so far. Now, pay no attention to the
content of the picture. Rather, start to notice just how your mind is forming the image, its
―submodalities‖: Are you in the picture (an associated image) or can you see yourself in
the picture (―the back of your head‖?). If you see yourself, is the picture far away or
close? How far? A still shot or a movie? Black and white or color? Garish or pastel?
Bright or dim? Straight ahead or off to the side? On the level or up or down?

These are all submodalities, and it is they that drive the feelings. When you look at this
picture that you made unconsciously but have now noticed consciously, notice how you
feel when you look at it. Move it closer and then far away. Change its size. Brighten it
and add color. Change its location. As you do this, notice any changes in how you feel
about the project that you have started to have a sense of. You might notice that some of
the changes affect how strongly you feel about it.

One can do this step much more precisely and less haphazardly. If the picture does not
turn you on very much, but you wish it did, put it aside for a moment and think of
something that you do or want to do that really does motivate you, and notice the picture
you make when you think of it. Go through the same process with this one as you did
with the other. Notice how this one manifests. Then bring up the first image and one by
one, without changing the content of the picture, change the submodalities until the first
picture is manifesting as the second one did. Now do you feel motivated?

This is one NLP intervention. It is easier to do with some assistance.

I noticed once when eliciting someone's "timeline" - finding out how she coded time so
that she knew when she was thinking of something in the past, present or future - that
when we came to her representation of ―five years in the future‖, she could not see ANY
picture. When I asked her where the picture would be if there was one, she gestured out
of the house, across the yard, and to the other side of the road - "just a dot". When I
suggested to her that she let that dot come slowly closer, and slowly get bigger until it
reached a comfortable size and distance, we created a future for her! This person could

not make a five year plan, let alone motivate herself to go for it, because she had no way
to think about it!

It can be that simple.

Based on some drawings and diagrams I have made of this proposed village, I intend to
have a friend make a big, bright painting of it. Then I would like to check if each person
who agrees with this proposal can actually think of the vision of it, as if completed, in
five years or ten years or even twenty- five years, and if not, to help each person be able to
do that. And then to make their vision of it - and mine - juicier and more enticing, based
on how we motivate ourselves in other areas of our lives, or based on how highly
motivated people do it.

Then we will truly "share the Vision", one that can entice us daily towards its

A friend who was horrified when his long-term girlfriend suggested she move in with
him could not imagine wanting to live with a hundred people. He is a painter, an
individualist, wants his privacy, and has lived alone for years. ―But Maurice,‖ I said,
―you already need and depend on a support system with which you have to constantly
interact, but it's a system that you have little in common with, little agreement with, one
that is tainted and vulnerable and, in fact, one you despise. You still have to leave the
privacy of your home, travel to stores, buy capitalistic goods, breathe car exhaust, deal
with bureaucracies and offices, mind your tongue and watch your ass, and endure a
barrage of stimuli from a sick system in order to nourish and house yourself.‖

He readily agreed. Well then, I said, would it not be preferable to have your private
space within a support group with which you shared more values and with whose lifestyle
you would feel an infinitely greater comfort and compatibility?

He symbolized the challenge for me: to convince private people that they could fit into a
communal situation.

The Conjoined Living Units

My conjoined living units raise some fears. Let me start there.

First, I think the important place to start is not by providing privacy within the
community, but within the home. Each individual adult, particularly, needs a
private space of hiser own. [see "A Pattern Language", by Alexander et al, pattern 141,
"A Room of One's Own", pp 141; pattern 154, "Teenager's Cottage", pp 723-728; and

pattern 155, "Old Age Cottage", pp 729-732]. Each couple, likewise, needs a private
realm. [see pattern 136, "Couple's Realm", pp 648-650].

Further, the family as a whole needs to feel that its privacy within the home is not
threatened when strangers or casual acquaintances visit. Consequently, within each
family compound, from the bell and the “Please do not disturb” sign at the front
gate, through the entrance room, the parlour and the living room, to the recessed
and veiled marriage bed, it is important to pay attention to relative privacy. [See A
Pattern Language, 127, "Intimacy Gradient", pp 610-613]

From within the home, no one looks out at any other dwelling. Each faces an inner, five
acre courtyard of gardens and orchards on one side, and the fields and orchards beyond
the outbuildings ring on the other.

Surrounding each family compound is space for a six-foot wide privacy corridor,
which could be two high fences or walls with a dense multifunction hedge planted
between and on either side of them. At the other extreme, neighbours could choose
to merge yards for one larger open s pace.

Where the corridor passes through the building-core, back-to-back closets would
provide the soundproofing of three insulated walls, plus whatever is stored in the
spaces. Plants in pots and planters can screen above-story windows, if they face next

Regardless of the degree of separation, I propose that each yard, veranda and unit be
connected to the neighbour‘s on either side with gates, doors and passageways.


Meals will generally be prepared around the central fire and eaten togethe r,
particularly supper. [see Pattern 147, "Communal Eating", pp 696-700, wherein it is
stated, "Without communal eating, no human group can hold together"] I can see
breakfast prepared for two shifts – for the early risers and the late risers! Lunches may be
more informal, with some taking one to a worksite, others coming back to the center for a
bowl of the hot, perpetual soup.


Some work-parties and some meetings will need full participation, but one to three
people, an ideal work-crew size, can perform most community tasks. Some may choose
to work mostly alone, although still for the common good. Moreover, of course, there
will be private projects and hobbies.

Community Priority

Yes, it is true: one will have to ans wer to more than just oneself. There does need to
be a fundamental commitment to community - to the whole - and a willingness to
find one's communal role. In most respects, we will need to develop the habit of
thinking of the needs of the group first. This does not mean giving no value to our
own, pe rsonal needs. Rather, it implies recognizing and reigning in selfish drives
that fail to consider the require ments of the community. It implies a willingness to
strive always to be conscious of the whole and prepared to discuss and negotiate
when conflicts of inte rest arise.

Nevertheless, no one will have to be constantly living, working and breathing in each
other's face. Many group activities would be voluntary, elective and/or involve far
less than the whole group. Solitary work will be common, too.

We would strive to respect personalities and moods, although nobody will be able
for long to get away with e motional withdrawal, held grudges, and other truly anti-
social behaviour.

                             BUILDING MATERIALS

I believe in building houses that are free - or almost free. My log cabin in Storm Bay
cost $150. I could have done it for nothing if I had used pegs instead of nails and
discarded, instead of second hand, windows.

Using no- or low-cost materials is one criterion; othe rs are Is it close by? Is it
earthquake friendly? Is it easy to work with? Is it ecologically sound?

I think that we should look principally to the ways of the Coast Salish for our
starting points and guidelines. The western red cedar tree (Thuja plicata) is the local
resource - the wood, the bark, the roots and the withes [See "Cedar" by Hilary
Stewart; ―Plants in British Columbia Indian Technology‖ by Nancy J. Turner] - and just
so obvious, abundant and free. It can easily provide all of our timbe r, “in the
round”, for framing a post and beam construction - for foundations, floors, walls,
ceilings and roofs. The diameter of poles and logs can range from an inch to two or
three feet, and can be handled by one or many. I've carried many twenty-foot long,
four-inch diameter poles out of the woods on my shoulder; First Nation folks sometimes
had 200-300 men and woman hauling large logs up off the beach, eighty to raise large
house posts.

It has become increasingly difficult, however, for citizens of this coast simply to go
into their own forest and put a roof over their own heads! What is out there now in
the woods for this purpose is hard to find, often inaccessible and us ually not of
“comme rcial grade”, although still of usable quality. This potential shortage could
prove to be a serious challenge to “freeness.”

There are many of other woods, all of the m usable for one task or another, including
Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Red Alder, Broad-leaved Maple, Western Ye w, etc.,
and other pote ntial mate rials, particularly stone, but also mud, clay, grass, reeds,
moss, beach wood and found lumber. Bamboo will grow in importance as we gain
facility in its use and as the species I have collected attain full size. I have a gardening
dream of growing our own bamboo roofs, to replace the cedar that now lies on houses in
California. I can see a beautiful cross-cultural marriage developing between these two
plants in the near future, but there will be a lag effect, and so, for a few years, it will be
mostly cedar, if we can procure it from the forest.. We could also consider, for roofs, if
we needed to, thatch, lightweight concretes, and living sod.

We can harvest trees with chainsaw, crosscut, or axe. Small diameter trees three to six
inches are often found ―dead standing‖ but not rotten - over- grown and shaded-out by
larger ones around them.

We can flatten cedar logs on one, two or four sides with a broadax, if need be, or even, as
I did, with a regular axe; and we can split them in halves or quarters with wedges and a
sledgehammer, and then further true them and smooth them.

Granite is abundant and has definite possibilities. I use to think that if we kept rock walls
waist high, then quakes wouldn't bring them down on our heads, but then I wondered, if
the wooden house is built on them, would the whole building still collapse, from the
bottom? We will have to check on that or our pe rmaculture might not be too
permanent! Nevertheless, certainly using rock for low walls and foundations for small
buildings makes a lot of sense. Actually, all rocks from sand to boulders have
multiple uses around a homestead, and I always sort them for size as I uncover them
during any digging project.

Semi-subterranean structures have some appeal. They offer built- in insulation from
winter cold and - particularly significant, considering our likely climate future - for
summer cooling; and they offer stability during an earthquake. Drawbacks include the
possibility of occasional high water table levels; need and difficulty of long-term
protection of wood from rotting; and the amount of energy required to move a large
amount of earth.

We could consider rammed-earth, in conjunction with old tires, for walls [See DVD
―Garbage Warrior‖]. Three drawbacks are the possibility of out-gassing from the tires,
having to bring them in, and the work involved in ramming the earth! Benefits are zero
cost for materials and enough biomass to heat the building in the winter after one year of
it absorbing thermal energy!

Strawbale construction, teepees and yurts are good – for the cold, dry prairies and

It might be possible to assemble a small sawmill powered by home-generated electricity -
or even with direct mechanical energy - from water or wind, to cut dimensional lumber to
use in conjunction with other building materials [see books by Eric Sloane: "Museum of
Early American Tools", "The Diary of an Early American Boy", "A Reverence for
Wood", "Age of Barns", etc]. This would be particularly valuable for flooring!

Free newspaper and cardboard, fireproofed with a 10% borax solution, could be
employed to great advantage for safe and effective insulation.

Other manufactured materials, if obtained free or deemed at least temporarily necessary,
could be incorporated into structures, and might include tarps, plastic sheeting, glass (of
course), bottles, metal sheeting, etc.

Alexander, et al in, A Pattern Language, pattern 207, ‗Good Materials‘, pp 955-961, after
talking about earth, concrete, wood, brick, stone, snow, and steel as ‗bulk materials‘,
says, ―We believe that ultra-lightweight concrete is one of the most fundamental bulk
materials of the future.‖ However, he rejects wood because ―forests have been terribly
managed…many devastated…and the price of heavy lumber has skyrocketed. We shall
therefore look upon wood as precious material, which should not be used as a bulk
material or for structural purposes‖. This definitely does not apply to us: we are in a
wood-rich part of the world, there is much waste, we would be harvesting ecologically
and would be buying little or no lumber.

Nevertheless, we might explore and discuss ultra- lightweight concrete.

Some good ―secondary‖ materials they list are wood, plywood, particle board, gypsum
board, bamboo, thatch, plaster, paper, corrugated metals, chicken wire, canvas, cloth,
vinyl, rope, slate, fiberglass, and non-chlorinated plastics.

Materials ―exclude[d] entirely - either as bulk or secondary materials – [include] steel
panels and rolled steel sections; aluminum; hard and pre-stressed concrete; chlorinated
foams; structural lumber [as opposed to raw logs and poles?]; cement plaster; and
immense sections of plate glass…‖

Mollison, in Permaculture: A Designers‘ Manuel, chapter 14, pp 509, in the section titled
―The Right Not To Be In debt‖, talks of stone, mud, bamboo, round timbers, rope, thatch
and even baked brick and tiles.

Permaculture will be one of the primary roots of our community.

I had not intended to include an essay on permaculture in this collection because I
am assuming throughout that it will be one of our principle templates. Foundation
texts exist, as does a rapidly growing literature spawned by the m and the

accumulating experience of practitione rs around the world. All of us, whether or
not we are designers or growe rs, will need to be familiar, in some detail, with at least
the permaculture basics: the Prime Mandate, the philosophy, the principles, and
the design strategies. Gardene rs, landscapers, builde rs and animal attendants
would do well to acquire a more thorough knowledge and unde rstanding of the
theories and practices of permaculture, particularly if they want to add design to
their skills; and all permaculture designers should be steeping themselves in
Permaculture for years.

Without having completed at least one accredited permaculture design course ;
without a thorough knowledge, understanding and adherence to the fundame ntals;
and without a numbe r of years of hands-on practice, I believe that no one has the
right to actually call himerself a pe rmaculturist.

I do believe that as soon as one starts to actually practice permaculture, guided by the
extant knowledge already established by our extremely competent and experienced
predecessors, one can start to make new discoveries and have original thoughts. Indeed,
Mollison says at some point in one of the videos featuring him: ―We are not teaching
how to do it, we are teaching you how to think about doing it.‖

This notwithstanding, I find it extremely disturbing that people with a smattering of
knowledge in, a limited grasp of, and very, very little experience with permaculture are
using the word freely and presenting themselves as accomplished practitioners and even
teachers and designers. Worse still, I know people who seem to have latched on to
permaculture to serve there own, non-permaculture ends and are cheerfully and
unashamedly prepared to ignore and pervert any of the prime assumptions and teachings
to serve those ends. Perhaps they are not being as Machiavellian as I am implying.
Perhaps it is a conceit that they really do know or know better; perhaps it‘s a lack of
awareness of the whys and implications of permaculture and how the mandate, the
ethics, and the principles actually translate out on the ground; or perhaps it‘s a refusal to
re-examine old habits and assumptions and to change. Whatever the reasons, without
scholarship and experience, awe and humbleness, no one can begin to work
intelligently at creating complex permaculture designs.

Permaculture Definitions

Permaculture is a designed agriculture, an integration of horticulture and human
habitation, intended to provide directly for all human essentials – food, fuel, fodder,
medicine, clothing, energy and most material and non-material needs – and for all of
the essentials needed by every component in the system - in as small an area as
possible, starting at the doorstep, with full use of vertical s pace and multifunctional
plants, applying simple design methods to put components together in synergistic
relationships - self-supporting “guilds” – that maximize efficiency and effectiveness.
The designer strives to create assemblages that are more productive than any other
known agricultural or natural system, drawing from scientific knowledge, third-

world farming techniques and lessons from nature. Ideally, the system itself
provides for all the energy needs of the system.

It is the creation of the Garden of Eden – and why not?

It is essential for our survival.

Go to this link and read some more permaculture definitions. They are a real education
in themselves, and may inspire you to learn more:

A poster for a permaculture course that I ended up not giving - organized by others -
announced me as teaching about "earth, air, fire, and water." I had never considered
organizing a presentation around these four elements, but when I started playing with it, I
found it useful.



The earth is our planet, the physical ball. It is also the soil. The bottom layers are dead
rocks, ground to sand and clay – the mineral soil; the top layers are dead life filled with
life, rotting – humus. Humus is one of the four principle ways that we can store energy in
our permaculture landscape – the others being water, trees and other long- lived perennial
plants, and seeds.

Our food comes from the earth. As gardeners, we do not feed the plants. We feed the
soil. We are concerned about texture, composition, fertility, balance, moisture, drainage
and temperature. One of it‘s greatest services is its ability to hold and store water. [See
Permaculture: A Designers‘ Manuel, Chapter 8: ―Soils‖].

But we do much more with earth than grow in it.

One of my permaculture teachers‘ opening remarks for a session on ―Earth-moving‖ was
―If you put a fence post in a hole today, it will definitely still be identifiable as such
10,000 years from now.

Besides post- holes, other earth shaping is done for swales, berms, dams, ponds,
moats,and wells; for fire, wind, sound and sight barriers; for levelling playing fields; and
for cellars, sub- or semi-subterranean housing; and emergency shelters.

We are trying to do all this in as small a space as possible, but we are talking here about
broadscale permaculture, quite different from my little clearing in the woods in Storm

But then again, many hands make light work. There is something about a lot of people
working together shoulder-to-shoulder by hand to accomplish a large task that is
absolutely satisfying and even exhilarating!


Air is still or blows hot and cold. It is important in sector analysis. A windbreak greatly
improves agricultural production. Funneling it with plantings to a windmill gives us
extra power. It is important in ventilation and insulation. It carries scents. It can be
clean or polluted. ―You don‘t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows‖.
―The answer is blowing in the wind‖.

It is best to try to stay up-wind of pulp mills and nuclear explosions.

We need to design with stronger winds in mind than are common in this place now,
brought on by weather extremes caused by global warming.


The Sun:

as friend:

The sun warms us, protecting us from the absolute zero of space. This is good;

The heat of the sun evaporates the water and gives us moisture throught the air. This is

The light of the sun is converted by plants into matter. We eat the plants or the animals
that eat the plants. This is good.

The light of the sun also gives us vitamin D! This is good.

As enemy:

One of my favorite poems in high school was ―The Wind, Our Enemy‖, which
documents the 1930s' drought in the Canadian prairies and the blowing away of the soil.

Today, the sun is our enemy. Skin cancer is the fastest growing cancer, worldwide. This
is not good. One solution is to plant trees, for shade, for refuge. Other strategies are to

trellis all pathways;.work in our vegetable gardens in the morning and the evening; and
work in the shade gardens during the day..

The Fire:

as friend:

We keep ourselves warm with it, we heat our water with it, we cook on it, we use it for
drying, we provide light with it, we gather around it in holy communion.

as enemy:

It can destroy our homes, our crops, out forests and our lives. Permaculture, having been
developed by an Australian, devotes considerable attention to designing for fire
protection. With hotter, drier summers in store for us, this is not an inconsequential

I do not imagine* a wood fire in every household - heat being provided by hot water from
the central fire - so we can reduce the chances of burning ourselves down. If we use
candles, kerosene, methane or propane, we will want to make extra sure that we have laid
down some hard and fast rules for ourselves to reduce the chance of home fire close to
zero. Having a sprinkler system installed inside and on top of the human habitation ring
can protect the whole complex from an interior emergency or a forest fire. Protection
from the latter can be provided for with fire-resistant plants, e.g. willow and comfrey;
strategically placed ponds; earth banks; underground shelters, driveways and so on

Wate r

―Take care of the hydrology, and all else follows‖ – Mollison

A permaculture principle reads, ―Every important function (water collection, fire
protection) is served in two or more ways.‖ This gives resilience, dependability and thus
great security.

Wate r in Air

Clouds, fog, water vapour, rain, snow, tanks;
Catch it, direct it, funnel it, store it, precipitate it, condense it, and increase it;

Wate r in Ground

Huge amounts of water can be held in the soil itself if it is high in organic matter.
Mulching is a key component in any permaculture design. It is possible to plant a system
that provides all of its own mulch material, right at hand, and therefore, its own nutrient
and moisture needs.

Wate r on Ground

In creeks, rivers, run-off, ponds, swales, lakes, waterfalls, reservoirs, tanks, oceans – for
drinking, cooking, irrigation, aquaculture, energy, water storage, recreation and fire

Wate r Underground

Groundwater, underground rivers, aquifers, underground ―lakes‖, storage tanks,


―Self-sufficiency‖ is actually a misnomer, especially when coupled with the word
―community‖. The term, in fact, reflects a perpetuation of some of those myths and
shortcomings of individualism perpetrated by the language and sometimes keeping us
divided, even in our attempts at freedom.

My Mennonite g.g.g. grandfather, John B. Baumann, 1808- 1881, was the first settler in
the place that would soon be known as St. Jacobs, in Waterloo County, Ontario. In 1851,
he was living there with his wife and seven children who ranged in age from seven to
twenty. Here is what the agricultural census for that year recorded:

―They lived in a 1-storey log house on 130 acres of land on Lot 36. He was 44 years old,
born in Pennsylvania, and was an Evangelist [Protestant]. He was a farmer; he had 95
acres under cultivation of which 50 were in crops: 22 acres in wheat producing 350
bushels of wheat that year; 3 acres in peas producing 50 bushels; 15 acres in oats
producing 500 bushels; 2 acres in Indian corn producing 50 bushels; 2 acres in potatoes
producing 150 bushels. He had 43 acres of pasture for his animals. He also had 2 acres
in gardens or orchards. A total of 35 acres were woods or were left wild. He and his
family produced 8 tons of hay; 250 lbs butter; 900 barrels of beef; 1800 barrels of pork,
80 lbs of wool, 200 lbs of maple sugar, 25 "fulled cloth yards, 20 yds flannel. Several
farm animals completed the picture; he had 5 bulls oxen or steers; 5 milch cows, 5 calves
or heifers, 3 horses, 34 sheep, and 10 pigs.‖

It could certainly seem that this was a good example of living ―self-sufficiently‖!
However, aside from the fact that there were nine people living on the farm, it is almost
certain that he also had hired help for part of the year, as the Mennonites were known to
employ non-Mennonite German immigrants, such as my Zinkann ancestors, until they
could set up the businesses for which they had a proclivity.

It is, in fact, virtually impossible for one pe rson to achieve total self-sufficiency. The
best we could possibly hope for is “total small community self-sufficiency” and even
that is still unlikely, except in extremis. However, as extremity is a likely future
scenario, we should prepare ourselves for that eventuality, at least psychologically,
always holding in our minds an awareness of the degree to which we continue to be
dependant on “the outside world” and repeatedly asking ourselves, “What would we
do if we could no longer obtain that from a store…or that…or that?” In other
words, we may not be completely ready when the time comes, but we need to be
ready to be ready!

I wonder how many human societies, if any, had no need for a trading partner or
even actually had none.

There are keys to sufficiency that can help us move a great distance along that path.
Applying permaculture principles and design strategies will be, of course, of
paramount importance. Permaculture is all about ac hieving the highest degree of
sufficiency possible, efficiently and effectively, in as small an area as possible,
without having to live a life of peasant drudgery.

A basic key is to learn to live small and simply. It may be obvious, but the fewer our
needs, the less we will need. Learning how simple it can be has been a continuous
lifetime process for me. In the last few years, for example, I have moved from growing
every imaginable annual vegetable I could get my hands on - and dozens and dozens of
varieties - to considering what a minimalist diet might look like. I have easily grown
enough lamb‘s-quarter (a weed), watercress (also a weed) and Russian Kale, all
extremely delicious, nutritious and productive, to provide me with cooked greens all year
‗round. It is not necessary to grow a full panoply in order to satisfy taste and nutritional

Not that I am suggesting that we should necessarily limit ourselves so severely; what I
am suggesting is that we become aware of how simple it could be and make sure that
we always emphasize those few crops that do well and could see us through a winter
if we had nothing else.

I think we can easily achieve sufficiency in vegetables and fruit. Growing our own
protein is also doable if we can grow enough beans, corn or quinoa, and nuts.
Aquaculture, and wild trout an]d deer, would put us over the top, as would eggs and other
products from domestic animals.

Carbohydrates may come largely from potatoes, at least in the early days, until, say, nut
crops come into serious production, and other less common sources begin producing.
Another possibility is seed grains such as buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth.

Cooking oil is not so easy. Imagine how much hemp or sunflower seed we would have to
grow and process to provide for a community of, say, one hundred people.. I estimate
that I use about twenty-five liters a year! We need to acquire an oil press early on and

begin working towards such a goal. As a community, we have a better chance of doing
such a thing than if we were just struggling individuals or isolated families.

Animal fat could become a necessity, such as bear grease or, more likely, fish oils. We
may be able to grow olives in the coming years as our summers heat up and if we
consider microclimates.

That is food mostly covered.

We should also be able to achieve sufficiency in regards to our shelter needs without too
much difficulty. Certainly framing structures will be no problem, using whole poles and
logs. Roofs and walls may prove harder if we cannot obtain enough cedar for shakes. If
we owned a sawmill, then another alternative might be sawn logs. There is certainly
enough scrap wood left over from any logging operation for this. In addition, bamboo
might be producing material of adequate diameter within ten years. Finally, scrounged
lumber from demolitions could contribute significantly if that became necessary.

Sufficiency in clothing seems most likely by using animal fiber, whether from sheep,
angora rabbits, angora goats, cashmere goats, alpacas and/or llamas. The Coast Salish
People incorporated dog hair into their blankets, and I know someone who used her own
hair to make a warm hat – which she then wore herself!

Learning to process fiber from a wide range of plants, including the more common ones
such as hemp and flax, while theoretically possible, is a tedious and time-consuming
matter, and would involve learning and developing skills that few of us have. My son
once extracted fiber from stinging nettle stems and made a short le ngth of fine, very
strong braided cord, but our minds boggled at the thought of what it would take to make a

Perhaps the most obvious eventual solution to absolute necessity would be to do it like
the First Nations folks did, using the inner bark from the red cedar tree. Complete
information is readily available and the material is still plentiful, and already growing.


This will be an “off the grid” community, so any energy we use will be alternate
except what we bring in, at least in the early stages – most likely kerosene and

Energy is very important. We should learn to use very little of it. So should the
world. The thought of the global economic system finding any environmental

energy solution to give it carte blanc permission to continue on its destructive path
makes me shudder. It makes Peter Russell shudde r, too:

Free   Energy?    - No thanks!

  ―There's much talk these days about tapping the unlimited sources of free energy that
                           exist in the quantum vacuum field.

―Initially it would seem like a dream come true. It could relieve of us our dependence on
   fossil fuels, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and save us from some of the more dire
    consequences of global warming. No bad thing at all. Not to mention the fact that it
   would be cheap too. It would also be most welcome in developing countries where it
  could transform agriculture, housing, sanitation and provide many other much-needed
 services. But we in the developed world would not stop there. There are so many other
      things we could do with an infinite supply of energy. And that's when I shudder.

   ―Look at what we have done with the energy we have already. We've ploughed up
   prairies, razed forests, drained aquifers, polluted the oceans, atmosphere and soil,
  extinguished untold other species, and consumed more and more of the planet's finite
                                 resources in the process.

    ―What would we do with unlimited free energy? Suddenly recover from this self-
  centered, destructive behaviour? Most likely we would concrete over yet more of the
planet (to make more roads for all those additional free-energy cars), manufacture more
material goodies (and more factories to produce them), and consume even more of Gaia's
                                  dwindling resources.

―Look at what happened two hundred years ago with the energy breakthroughs that led
 to the Industrial Revolution. Until then, the primary source of energy had been muscle
  (mainly human muscle, but augmented by horses, oxen, donkeys, and other beasts of
   burden). New technologies meant people no longer needed to work their muscles so
    hard. A new comparatively "free" energy was being harnessed by steam engines,
  electricity and, later, internal combustion engines. This seemingly limitless supply of
 energy has benefited humanity in untold ways. Yet, at the same time, our unbridled use
of that energy has resulted in the environmental crisis that now threatens our survival, if
                                     not the planet herself.

 ―Can we be sure that we would not make the same errors today? We seem as greedy, as
self-centered, as hungry for things as ever. Until we change our thinking, until our minds
 are free from the attitudes and beliefs that lie at the root of our global crisis, these traits
  will continue to wreak their havoc. Free energy, rather than being our saving grace,
                              could take us closer to disaster.

  ―Simply put, I do not believe we are ready for free energy. It has probably been good
that energy has always had a cost. We needed some constraint to curb us. So, should we

  indeed discover an unlimited source of energy in the near future, my hope is that it's
availability will be restricted, rationed, and not given away freely. Alternative sources of
           energy; Yes. Renewable energy; Yes. But free energy? No Thanks!‖

Of course, he is talking about Corporate Planet with its principles and practices, not
a group of people trying intentionally to eschew the values that drive it and replace
the m with people and planet-friendly ones. If we are not repeating in microcosm
what the macrocosm is doing, then do give us free energy for the little that we need!


Of course, the fundamental energy is from the sun. It's the sun that heats my home
with wood - and trees are a renewable resource and carbon neutral if you plant
more trees; it's the sun that drives the wind; it's the sun that heats the pond that
grows the plants that feed the ducks and fish; it's the sun that evaporates the water
that fills the creek that drives the waterwheel; and it's the sun that grows Jerusalem
artichokes that produces ethanol that powe rs the tractor.

The basic unit of work should not be "horsepower" but "human power". Humans built
the pyramids and dug the Panama and Suez. West Coast natives employed 200-300
persons to move and raise logs. My Mennonite ancestors, working together with upwards
of a hundred men, raised one hundred- foot barns in two or three hours. Good food is the

Horsepower is feasible.. Once again, the land must provide for the eating. Richard
Heinberg, writing in ―The Party‘s Over – Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies‖
says this about animal energy:

―A significant implication of the use of large ruminant animals for traction was the
necessity of growing food for them. O xen, which can live on grass stubble and straw,
were cheaper to maintain that horses, which also need grain. A horse typically requires
between four and five acres for its food production; thus, the use of traction animals
reduced the carrying capacity of the land while at the same time adding to it by enabling
the plowing of larger fields. The net result varied,,,,Previously, one-quarter to one-third
of all agricultural land in North America and Europe had been devoted to producing feed
for the animals that pulled plows and wagons…‖


Our power bill per year at Storm Bay was $30 - for kerosene - for light. We did not even
use a flashlight: "Bugs", or candle lamps, work very well. It will be even better when we
can get bees to bring us the light. We used wood for heating, cooking, drying and hot

water. We did not have alternate energy systems, could have used them, but didn‘t miss
them. We never even considered using a gas generator. It was a light footprint but it
would have been good to replace the petrochemical. Now, that is rapidly becoming
essential. World “Peak Oil” is upon us. Most of the easily obtainable oil on the
planet has been used up. Production will not at all keep up with projected so-called
“future demands”. Oil prices today will go up steadily and drastically. The end of
cheap oil will be as big an economic catastrophe as global warming or financial

 If we do decide to generate electric power here on the wet coast, water flow is definitely
one way to go. But that should not axiomatically imply electricity. I‘m as much
interested in staying with mechanical energy. I've imagined a huge old- fashioned and
inexpensive waterwheel that we have built ourselves out of cedar poles, bamboo and
shakes, but with a very hi-tech hub - merging the old and the new for something more
than either - inexpensive and efficient - not to produce electricity but rather, as during the
Roman Empire and Medieval Age, used to directly turn a large central axle passing
through various workshops, powering simple machines such as washers and grinders. We
need to research mechanical systems before Edison.

I have now obtained a 1500-kilowatt turgo water turbine for next to nothing. If we
have the water to turn it, it alone could provide most of our electrical needs – it
could powe r 15,000 one hundred watt light bulbs!

We could add solar powe r – both passive and panel - for the summer, when water
levels drop., I have, in fact, acquire d six solar panels and all accessories, except for a
good bank of batteries.

With the recent development of a new, revolutionary, easy-to- make and inexpensive
windmill design, the plans for which I have, wind power here on the south coast may
have become more feasible at a wider variety of sites and locations.. I would love to see
us build one of these, either electricity, or, again, for direct mechanical energy - to drive,
for example, a water-pump.

Since writing the above, I have acquired – for $300! – a fourteen-foot diameter, eighteen
bladed windmill. The property on Maurelle Island is situated at the end of a valley that
funnels winds blowing out of Bute Inlet to the north, so I have little doubt that with
proper placement and erection, this too, alone, could provide much of our power needs.

Another rene wable energy source is biomass. The Maurelle Island property is
covered with hundreds of acres of young red alder. There are multiple uses possible
for this huge amount of stored energy, the most obvious being for fire wood for
direct heating and cooking. It could also serve to power steam engines or for ethanol
production. Mollison notes that one tenth of a farm set aside for ethanol can power the

Burning wood, especially wood acquired locally, results in no net CO2 increase:
The trees first re move carbon dioxide from the atmosphe re and then release the
same amount, unlike coal and oil, which has stored carbon for eons from plants long
gone. As well, we would be continually planting and replanting thousands of trees
and other plants.

Using such a local ene rgy resource also greatly reduces the energy and pollution
associated with extracting, refining and transporting a n imported fuel such as oil.
Nevertheless, the less we burn wood the better. That is one of the reasons I see only
one cooking fire. We can also reduce our footprint by building small, ins ulating our
dwellings well, eliminating all drafts, wearing extra clothing, burning seasoned
wood we ll and using other cleane r sources.

I have it in mind to attempt to provide hot water and heating for thirty-two family
units with water heated by the community fire in the center. I think it is possible,
with enough coiled copper pipe in the pit, proper ins ulation for all the other pipes
leading to the human habitation ring and a large enough, insulated storage tank. As
well, from the tank, delivery pipes could lie on the roof and pass through a insulated
box with a glass front, to further heat the wate r with passive solar energy.

Pipes could be a large expense. We could grow bamboo for the purpose. Would
bamboo work for hot wate r? Could we make glazed ceramic pipes from local clay?

I can imagine the possibility of future community production of methane piped into the
human habitation ring to provide gas for Coleman-type stoves for coffee making and
such, further obviating the need for thirty-two separate woodstoves.

Passive solar for hot water heating – such as black PVC pipe under glass on all roofs
- could easily complement hot water production from the central firepit. Rob Wood,
in Storm Bay, made a shower attached to a forty- five gallon barrel painted black. The
water got so hot that he had to add cold water before washing! Likewise, I burnt my
fingers trying to lift the cast iron lid of a pot in a solar oven I‘d found sitting innocently in
some grass at the edge of a yard on Cortez Island.

I have become intrigued with the possibility of using gravity as an energy source. The
water from a creek is directed to a few forty- five gallon barrels welded to a cable looped
cable. When full, the barrels would start downhill, bringing up a platform loaded with,
say, manure or rocks or supplies. It could work both ways, up and down, up and down, by
a combination of adding and releasing water and adding or removing material. It is all a
question of balance. Would this work?

Many of these potential energy sources will take some time and expertise to develop and
install. In the beginning, we will be relying mostly on wood and some small amount
of imported petrochemicals, but some locations could bless us with an abundance of
free, renewable and environme ntally friendly energy! .

However, the energy for and of a whole system is much more co mplex than the
preceding indicates, and is an essential consideration of Permaculture.

In Mollison's words, "The characteristic that typifies all permanent agriculture is that the
needs of the system for energy are provided by that system"; and, "Energies enter a
system and either remain [e.g. trees, ponds] or escape [e.g. water down a stream. humans
burning brush]. Our work as Permaculture designers is to prevent energy leaving before
the basic needs of the whole system are satisfied, so that growth, reproduction, and
maintenance continue in our living components."

Consult Mollison for more details on energy: See, for example, chapter two of A
Designers' Manuel. Check, too, the recent writings of the co-developer of Permaculture,
David Holgrem.                                                 [

                         TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY

[See essay, "Voluntary Simplicity"]

Before I dropped out into the bush, I asked myself how far back technologically I was
prepared to go. I rejected pre- fire and pre-smelting. Learning to extract metals from
rocks environmentally would be awesome, as would developing blacksmithing shop and
skill. In our case, two adults could not nearly do everything; Mollison says you need at
least thirty, carefully chosen, for that.

However, except for a chainsaw later, I stayed with hand-tools – totally - for ten years.
One needs to know or learn how to sharpen them; one needs to know how to go into the
woods - or the bamboo grove! - and get a handle and put it on. One needs to learn to do
a thousand things with a few dozen tools. It is easy stuff, awkward at first, but bottom-
line essential for survival in the bush - or else we live like the other animals, which we
cannot. We gave that up too long ago.

I learned the importance of sharp tools when I was elbow- high to my dad and my god-
uncle, both transformed in the crucible of northern Alberta from Berlin city-slickers to
savvy homesteaders. My dad used to boast that his axe was so sharp that one time it
slipped off a stump and cut his foot to the bone through his boot and two pairs of socks!
Now I know that this was a face-saving way of saying that he missed his aim, but still!

We owned no skill saw, power drill, mix- master, blender, electric flour grinder, fridge,
furnace, electric hot-water tank, stereo system, weed wacker, lawnmower, or vacuum
cleaner. In fact, we had no electricity - not even a flashlight for ten years!

It was no hardship. I want to emphasis that: No hardship! None!

Moreover, it is not all that much different for me now in Roberts Creek twenty-seven
years later: a little Hydro use for this computer, a radio and a couple of light-bulbs; and a
private instead of a communal vehicle.

I propose that as a community, we at least start pretty close to this. In the
beginning, being off the grid, we might have little choice. Until we start producing
our own electricity, we will be starting with mostly hand-tools and ke rosene lamps.
Then, as a community, with great care, we discuss any introduction of more
complex technologies.

I would think that a chainsaw might be first - I already have one! - but we cut firewood
the first winter in Storm Bay with an eight- foot two-person cross-cut. I still have a
couple of those and want to collect more. We may come to depend on them. I know how
to sharpen and set them, and lower the rakers. Who knows how long fuel from Big Oil
will last or parts be available? Looking at this down the road, we may develop
independent fuel sources ie biofuels - methane, and ethanol - but when complex tools and
machines start to break down, we will not be able to make the parts.

One can make a good case for cutting building-poles and firewood by hand:

One gets the exercise - all three kinds: cardiovascular, stretching, and body-building.
One is in fresh air and the peace of nature all around - no fumes or oil pollution, no roar
drowning out that silence. It is far easier to keep to the maxim "small is beautiful"
because our reach is less likely to exceed our grasp. One is maintaining and developing
uncomplicated skills necessary for self- reliance and survival. Moreover, one can take
children more easily along as part of their apprenticeship.

And, in the words of Henry David Thoreau, ―He who cuts his own wood gets warm

However, I must admit that atthis point, for larger trees and firewood, and for shake logs,
I want to use a chainsaw. Unless others are gung- ho - then I will join them! Smaller
diameter stuff can be cut easily with a Swede saw or bucksaw.

I imagine we will evolve slowly and judiciously from this basic position towards
embracing some more technologies and tools, at the same time fully realizing that as they
extend our reach, each one also puts us a little further out on a limb. Developing and
maintaining safety nets and back-ups is of paramount importance.

We may be forced back in the opposite direction sooner than we think. Are we not
thinking about moving to the bush and doing this partly because we believe that a
collapse is coming, if it is not already upon us?

Therefore, this is another good reason to adopt a policy of mostly hand-tools, at least
as a community starting point. If we know how to do it simply, have learned to do it
and have done it, and we still have all the simpler tools with which to do any job we
need to do, the n when the gas runs out or we cannot replace the parts, it will not be
such a traumatic event for us. Moreover, our children will learn it, will they not? In
addition, we could perhaps make a handsaw or a scythe with skills and a blacksmithing
shop, but manufacturing a chainsaw or a weed-wacker would be impossible.

Mollison says that for any broad-scale permaculture design, bring in the machines at the
beginning to make earth changes that will ever after affect the productivity and livability
of the land [See Permaculture: A Designers‘ Manuel, Chapter 9, ―Earthworking and
Earth Resources‖]

Likewise, David Holmgren, co-originator of the permaculture concept, in his book
Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability, talks about appropriate use
of non-renewable resources:

“The transition to declining energy availability provides a unique strategic opportunity
to make the best use of existing wealth and non-rene wable resources to rebuild natural
and human capital.” [emphasis mine]

“In general, the best use for non-renewable resources and technology should be to
establish a system, rather than to maintain or harvest it, even if the “establishment”
process is a gradual one that takes place as a transition over a lifetime (or even

―Bulldozers and other earth-moving equipment are perhaps the most dramatic example
of appropriate use of fossil fuels and technology promoted in permaculture. They are
used to make well-designed systems to harvest, store and distribute water, as well as
creating vehicle access and house sites that increase the productivity of urban and rural

To emphasize the point, this is suggested only for large undertakings at the beginning of a
project if the resources and needed wealth are already available.

I can dig this, but I see the dangers. If establishment takes a long time, who is to say that
we would overcome the temptation to use such machines for other uses? What might we
lose by doing so? What cliff might we be approaching?


We used kerosene in Storm Bay and I wondered what we would do without it - shoot
seals? grow sunflower or hemp seeds? Then I remembered that we could send out bees
for light.

But then again, if we were not inside reading at night, we would be outside around the
fire singing together; or we would be going to bed early and getting up early. Recent
research based on clinical studies and historical research and covered on a CBC Ideas
program suggests that artificial light has profoundly altered natural human sleeping
patterns and hence our very consciousness, not to mention health.


The on-ground design for this community calls for a ring of thirty-two large outbuildings
just beyond the human habitation ring, and I do imagine one of those rooms being the
―Communication Center‖ possibly with computers, CB and VHF radios, telephones,
maybe an internal telephone system, a video player, a video production and recording
studio, a stereo system and such, all those things that I imagine people really not wanting
to do without for long while they are still possible. However, I cannot imagine all these
devices in each home, and I have reservations and concerns about all of them, although I
am more favourably inclined towards communication, at least emergency
communication, than other devices I can think of. Will that room house the carrier
pigeons, too?

There are many modern day activities that I consider to be, for the most part, a complete
and shocking waste of time. Activities such as computer games and trivial pursuit come
to mind. Technology and our mass consumer culture have undermined us. North
America is living proof: obese children raised on television and DVD's, creative
imaginations destroyed; hours spent alone, plugged in. Let us instead engage in activities
again as we once did, coming home with pink cheeks and a healthy appetite.


This will be an anti-television community! However, I fantasize – a single set. It is
kept locked in a cage, covered with a shroud, and hidden away in a re mote crypt. It is
brought out once a year; or it is brought out as part of puberty rites: solemnly unveiled,
the new Initiate, properly prepared and fortified for hiser ordeal, gathers with the entire
adult community for a twenty- four hour marathon. The channel changer sits in a central
place, alongside the talking stick. The machine is turned on, a channel selected. The
changer is passed around the circle. Everyone gets at least five minutes. When the next
person is ready for something new, we get a different window. We watch a world we
have left behind. At the end of the day, We put away the Idiot Box until the next
initiation ceremony. Then the talking stick goes around, questions are asked,
explanations are given. The Initiate is debriefed.


We should explore alternate ways of powering all engines. Mollison says that ten
percent of a farm’s agriculture devoted to ethanol production can power a farm.
Jerusalem artichokes are a prime candidate for this.

I am thinking of purchasing an old tractor that runs on diesel. The owner once ran it for
six months on old deep-fryer cooking oil. The tank only holds two gallons, on which one
can work the tractor for twenty-four hours. If we could grow ten gallons of oil a year, we
could get a lot done with that! One tractor for a whole community, as with some other
technologies we decide to introduce, produces a very light footprint.

However, I have also thought of the idea of rigging up a high-tech twenty-speed bicycle
to a huge, well-balanced fly-wheel for powering equipment with human muscle and


Perhaps the main point that I am trying to indicate in this essay is that everybody in
the community must consider - deeply and intelligently - every introduction of
industrial technology from a spiritual, psychological, philosophical, ethical,
financial, environmental, practical and future point of view. We must challenge,
and be prepared to re-think, all habits , upbringings, ways of thinking, and ways of
living. We should start by assuming nothing necessary or essential. We should
"Simplify, simplify, simplify"

“Think globally, act locally” - folk saying

“Always ask yourself, „If everyone in the world acted just like me, what kind of a world
would this world be?‟” – auther‘s grandmother, Edith Alma Alcock

There is so much that we assume we need for comfort and convenience. Most of it is
part and parcel of scam and con - lures into the trap. To do without much of it is
freedom, not suffering. I know. I have been there - and I am just a middle class kid
from Kitsilano.


  "The legitimization and pursuit of tasks, projects and economic activities in general
 outside the bounds of the institutions of employment provide the way out of our current
                            economic insanities." - Denis Pym

"Our present joyless labour, and our lives [as] scared and anxious as the life of a hunted
   beast, are forced upon us by the present system of producing for the profit of the
        privileged classes." - William Morris, Useful Work Versus Useless Toil

"Hire for talent and values and character, not just for skill sets. Always keep in mind that
 it‘s much easier to teach people the skills they need, than to teach abstracts like work
               ethic, integrity, or respect." - Canadian Management Centre

There should be a new word. Not "work". Not "play". We made up one in Storm Bay -
Kazzi. - but I never liked it much.

Work. It is just muscles moving. Mind or body.

It‘s is a bizarre concept. As though it were something separate and distinct from
everything else we do in our lives. There is no work. There's just our lives lived,
what we do, our entire chosen lifestyle, the customs of our culture, providing and
maintaining the basic necessities of life.

.Sometimes when people ask me what I do, I say, "I homestead". That is all of it.

Maybe a way to define work in its negative sense is that it is anything that we have to do
but do not want to do. Therefore, in this sense, "work" is a state of mind. Change your
mind, and it becomes "play", or "exercise", or "karma yoga", ―looking after ourselves‖ or
"creating our vision‖.

Of course, there is hard work. That is still O.K. - a challenge; pitting oneself; building
muscles; providing a real sense of accomplishment.

Then there is brutal work: mind-numbing and body-breaking; exhausting and health
destroying; day after year. Serfdom! Slavery! Forget it!

It took, on average, half a day for a hunter-gatherer to build his house.

It took, on average, six hours a day for hunter-gatherers to provide for their essentials.
Less than that spent doing what my whole being seems to recognize is for my actual
survival, and I feel a deep dis-ease - down to what seems to be a cellular or genetic level.

Therefore, that might be a nice goal to aim for. However, hunter-gatherers were
not building a ne w culture, a whole society, from the ground up. They were not
mostly novices. They we re not facing an on-going and imminent collapse of their
current support system. They we re not middle-class tokers with bad work habits!

On the other hand, they did not have access to certain useful, carefully chosen labour-
saving technologies (see essay, "Tools and Technology"), initial start-up wealth, the
useful waste of a dying next-door culture, and, usually, permaculture.

Established permaculture systems are always designed to mostly run by the mselves.
An aim is efficiency, which means saving time. A principle is "protracted and
thoughtful observation, rathe r than protracted and thoughtless labour."

However, the establishment of any permaculture design is labour-intensive! We will
need to do a thousand things at once, all of the m important! I have often worked ten,
twelve, fourteen hours a day. I have worked day after day after day for weeks with no
thought of taking a day off. This was for the love of it, not for money. I had the vision
and I had the passion. It seemed a worthwhile goal. Few could keep up with me. Now,
old age and bad habits are beginning to catch up to me, and I run out of energy sooner.
However, if you are under sixty, excuse!

Maybe I am exaggerating the absolute necessity of long hours in the beginning. I often
find myself assuming bare-bones poverty in the beginning. However, we could have,
instead, a rather large cushion. With enough money at the start for land, food,
transportation, other living expenses, perhaps comfortable temporary shelters, and some
income generation right from the start from skills and businesses with which people come
to the community, there could be fewer tasks of an urgent nature needing immediate
attention. We could spend more relaxed time getting to know how to hang out and talk
with each other. On the other hand, I know that once I start on this project, I am going to
be propelled towards it with a combination of delight, excitement, inspiration and
urgency. I am quite sure that there will constantly be an almost overwhelming number of
tasks to accomplish, especially at the beginning!

Work Habits.

We almost all have bad work habits, such as laziness, sloppiness, ignorance,
incompetence, defensiveness, and self-deception. Some of us may be on a steep
learning curve to develop basic skills and habits that mommy and daddy or school
never bothe red to teach us. Most opportunities for early childhood education are
missed, and later, as adults, it sometimes takes more than conscious effort to
overcome these handicaps, or even to learn how to learn [see essay, PROCESS: Self-
Improvement and Therapeutic Intervention].

Here are some of the good work- habits that we might need to learn:

- paying attention
- listening to instructions
- following instructions
- pacing
- efficiency
- balancing priorities

- competency
- knowing ones limitation
- learning and respecting the lessons of the past
- respecting the knowledge from the experience of elders
- not reinventing the wheel
- believing in ones capacity to learn
- being resourceful in the face of constructive criticism
- overcoming sloth, apathy and indifference
- accepting work as a positive activity
- engaging in "protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and
   thoughtless action."
- letting go of ego and pretensions (―all talk, little action‖)
- loving what we do with people we like

In the beginning, we will be too poor and too busy to act as a "welfare state". We
will not be able to accommodate slackers and major neurotics. Perhaps later on, as
we mature as a community, develop our therapeutic and conflict resolution skills
and have a large enough base of caring and competent adults, we will be able to take
on those less able to help themselves or fit at once into our developing lifestyle.

Anyone planning to join this endeavour must be able and willing to put in many,
many hours of daily effort – varied, satisfying, and meaningful - for the first fe w
years to maximize our chances of success in establishing a viable, sustainable
subsistence community – and consequently maximize the chances of our ve ry

However, anothe r key ingredient in this evolving recipe for a simple life with leisure
time is making a commitment not to go for the Canadian Dream. My god- uncle Ebe
Koeppen homesteaded in the northern Alberta Peace River country from 1928 to 1937,
and then on farms in Chilliwack, Cloverdale and Langley in the Frazer Valley. His as-
told-to story is narrated in Stump Ranch Chronicles, 1977, by Rolf Knight,. On page 69,
he says, "... [T]here was a big difference between all of us and those young people going
out from the cities today looking to live on the land. We never had any intention or
desire to do without material things. We were always hoping and dreaming to have
things. We wanted a nice home and all that goes with it. Later on, we wanted a car. We
worked for those things and slaved for them and sacrificed to build up. And we were
certain that we'd have them in the end."

And they did. They held on to the Dream, and ended up - at the end of their lives - living
that comfortable life with all of the amenities. Nevertheless, they did have to slave much
of their lives, and then sell-out in the end to Corporate Agriculture, to do it. Then, soon
after, they died of course.

Moreover, since then, the Canadian dream has increasingly become a Canadian
nightmare, though some are so opiated by Religion, Professional Sports, Consumerism,
Advertising and White Man Drugs that they hardly feel the pain and fear. Increasingly,

"the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" (Thoreau) and know it, with a deep
down ill ease. Today, the greatest "sacrifice" to the god of ―slavery‖ is, in my opinion,
the loss of quality, intimate, meaningful time with our children, spouses, friends and
community, the fragmentation and trivialization of human relationships and lifestyle.

On the other hand, we will never actualize the utopian dream of a viable community
by pretending that we have achieved it from the start just by gathe ring together on
a piece of land in the paradise of coastal British Columbia. Increasing the amount
of time that we can spend smelling flowers and lazing with friends in the long
summe r sun is a worthwhile goal, but it is a goal we will have to work hard at first
to accomplish by creating abundance for ourselves through permaculture design
and harmonious relations. It certainly will not s pring fully forme d out of a lotus
flowe r! A ve rsion of some kind of utopia is not to where pioneer me mbers will be
settling. S/he will be moving to create it. Traditional truis ms, such as "pulling your
own we ight", "not being a drain on society", and "shouldering your responsibility"
perhaps attain greater significance when applied to a s mall group of people
attempting to establis h a viable ne w culture than it does to mainstream culture –
which demands our compliance and wage slavery to benefit the greedy and
inherently unfair secret agendas of the ruling elite.

Homesteading, however, is never drudgery. I seldom work longer than an hour or two or
three at any one job before I move on to another. More often, I am doing ten things at
once, moving naturally through my permaculture system. In many ways, this is a more
efficient way of working. Tasks are proceeding on many fronts throughout the day, with
things that need attending to revealing themselves as one moves from point A to point B
along paths bordered by, intersecting with and passing by intensive garden beds, work
zones, outbuildings, different design components, and other people. Different routes
back and forth, along radial and circular paths, present a myriad of tasks needing
attention. To pass them by without stopping and attending to them when one is already
there is inefficient and illogical.

Sub-cultural communities have various ways of approaching work, or "things that need
doing". Here‘s some general advice from Bill Mollision:

"The individual in the community must recognize the need to subscribe to a group fund
for maintaining roads, fences and infrastructure, or to donate work in lieu of money on a
regular basis. There are no 'free' machines or free lunches. The essentials to
concentrate on are sound land planning, shelter, [food], a capital base, and the
development of livelihoods."

Twin Oaks, an intentional community in rural central Virginia founded in 1967, works on
a credit system, everyone having the same weekly credit quota that they must meet -
however, the more enjoyable a job, the fewer credits given out for it; conversely, the jobs
that nobody wants to do earn high credits. This changes week-to-week, as new
assessments are made based on how many people signed up for various jobs. Now that is
very interesting, and worth considering!

Compare Mollison, in A Designers' Manual:

“In every group, there is work to do. This work needs to be set out
clearly, as jobs or tasks. [See essay, 'PROCESS: Proposal For
Achieving Consensus On A Prioritized Five-Year Things-To-Do List']
Tasks fall into two categories, productive, or constructive, hence
pleasing, and those which are basically maintenance, domestic, office,
and garden work. Of the first category, we seek volunteers to take up
the task, and if they come forward, we ALLOT that task to them,
agreeing on a timetable and stages of completion. Of the second
category, we ROSTER people to do the work, laying out a worksheet and a
(usually weekly or monthly) roster.”

He suggests 1-3 people who are responsible for any action or task. They are the ones
who must see that the job is completed, which does not necessarily mean that they have
to do it all. At the Clayquot Peace Camp in 1993, the person in charge of volunteers
volunteered herself for every job that needed doing; hence, there was much that never got

At The Farm in Tennessee, there were similar "work crews". Sometimes one of them
would call for every able-bodied man or woman for some major task, like harvesting the
soybeans, but usually they worked as small groups.

From a Farm member:

"There were also "straw-bosses" -- those picked to overlook and organize the motor pool,
farming, horse crew, construction, store, etc. My father was the straw boss for the horse
crew. At first all the agriculture was done with work-horses.

"Besides the straw-bosses, everybody had a work role on The Farm. People were
encouraged to commit to a kind of work that they desired. My mother was a
schoolteacher at our local (Farm) school. My father, after he worked on the horse crew,
worked on the painting crew off The Farm in order to bring cash into the local (Farm)
bank. I harvested produce, worked on the pony crew, and occasionally worked at the
local (Farm) store handing out rations of flour, sugar, oil, etc."

I imagine us gathering everyday after breakfast for a short work orientation meeting, to
get clear on what needs doing that day and who‘s going to be doing it with whom; to ask
for and get information about tasks to be undertaken; and then to break into individual
work parties for further briefings and clarifications concerning the specific job that is
going to be done.

This gathering would serve, even more importantly, as a daily personal and whole group
reconnection with and re-commitment to the vision.


When one grows old outside of village or tribe, or outside the mainstream arena of
“professional credentials”, no one really knows what another has come to do well.
There is no greater insult to a life lived than to have the learnings of that lifetime
ignored. Perhaps the times are different now for the dominant culture where the
old have to be "re-trained" and even the education of the young is obsolete by the
time they enter the job market, but for a subsistence* culture, basic skills are
timeless, the tools mostly unchanging. I cannot help feeling sad whe n the practical
talents of elders are not recognized; whe n gung-ho novices waste time trying to
reinvent the wheel, perhaps too caught up in their own heady egos; and whe n
avoidable mistakes are made because the experience of those who have gone before
was not valued with respect.

Paying Attention and Following Instructions

Sometimes we fail to carry out tasks properly because we have difficulty focusing on
and paying attention to simple, clear instructions. Minds race, thoughts wander,
tapes run. I have found this trait so rampant in so many people with whom I have
had dealings with recently that I think it may be necessary when imparting
important information to each other to always repeat back what was heard, so as to
really establish that the communication took place.


Those who know how to do something will need to teach those who do not. There
will need to be a plethora of workshops, from mini, on the spot “gather around for a
minute folks” lessons to courses lasting a day or more. The faster that knowledge
can be shared, and the sooner that folks are prepared to learn, the more effective we
will be at developing this ecovillage and moving towards greater and greater self-

The Talking Stick is another form and opportunity to teach. [see essay, ―Process:
The Talking Stick‖]

*Subsistence: 1. The means of supporting life; a livelihood. 2. The production of a
sufficient quantity of goods required to sustain one‘s own existence or support one‘s
household without producing a surplus for trade (also attrib.: subsistence farming). 3 a
minimal standard of living; a basic level of existence. b the income required to provide a
minimal level of existence. - Oxford Canadian Dictionary, 1998

―Subsistence agriculture (also known as self sufficiency in terms of agriculture) is a
method of farming in which farmers plan to grow only enough food to feed the family
farming, pay taxes or feudal dues, and perhaps provide a small marketable surplus.
Subsistence agriculture usually refers to a farm that is enough to feed the family but will
not be enough for the family to participate extensively in the cash market. The typical

subsistence farm has the range of crops and animals needed by the family to eat during
the year. Planting decisions are made with an eye to what the family will need during the
coming year, rather than market prices. Tony Waters (2007:2) writes that ‗Subsistence
peasants are people who grow what they eat, build their own houses, and live without
regularly making purchases in the marketplace.‘" - Wikipedia

―…Both terms [‗subsistence ethic‘ and ‗moral economy‘] affirm the right of every
villager, of every member of the crowd, to make survival the supreme rule of common
behaviour, not the isolated right of an individual. Both terms bespeak an attitude, an
orientation, that protects the weakest from ruin. Both terms claim a right to a decorous, a
customary existence…‖

- Ivan Illich, Gender, 1982

[See A Pattern Language Pattern 9, 'Scattered Work', pp 51-57; Pattern 41, 'Work
Community', pp 222-226; Pattern 42, 'Industrial Ribbon', pp 227-230; Pattern 45,
'Necklace of Community Projects', pp 242-245; Pattern 80, 'Self-Governing workshops
and Offices', pp 398-403; Pattern 85, 'Shop Front Schools', pp 420-425; Pattern 148,
'Small Work Groups', pp 701-703; Pattern 156, 'Settled Work', pp 733-736; Pattern 157,
'Home Workshop', pp 737-739; Pattern 183, 'Workspace Enclosure', pp 846-852]




Community-based Transportation

- large pick-up truck

- tractor

- bicycles

- bicycles with carts

- horses

- horses with buggies, carts and wagons

- dogs with carts

- donkeys or lamas

- wheelbarrows (can be sailed)

- feet

Home Port based Vehicles

This refers to vehicles that would be parked at our "port of call", the nearest government
dock connected to the roads. I imagine, eventually, a minimum fleet of vehicles:

- one large box van

- one large flat-deck

A modified flat-deck with removable sides and a waterproof, removable cover could
serve the function of both. They – or it - could also serve to generate income for the
community, either as a "truck for hire or rent", or for transporting re-sale products.

- one bus, large camper, or large multi-seat van.

This would be for transporting large numbers of community members at once, to a barn
dance, craft fair, farmers‘ market, work place, the city, or a night on the town. A school
bus would be ideal
- one pick-up truck

- one very gas-efficient six-seater car

- one motorcycle

- bicycles

Wate r-based vehicles

- one large trimaran

Although I know very little about sailing in general and less about trimarans, I favour this
type of vessel for four reasons:

    a. It can both motor and sail, giving us flexibility and independence from oil,
       although any type of engine could be run on alternate fuels, such as ethanol;

    b. It has a shallow draw, using the "out-rigger effect" instead of a deep keel for
       stability. This will allow close access to shallow shores for ease of unloading or
    c. They come in many sizes, and a large one could transport large loads and many
    d. I understand that they are very stable, except in strong winds and high seas in full
       sail, when they can flip, with no chance of righting them. The solution, I believe,
       is to lower the sails before the danger point is reached.

- one work boat

This could be an old fishing boat, tug, etc. 30-40 feet in length, rugged, strong.

- one fast speed-boat

I imagine reserving this principally for emergencies.

As with all gas powered vehicles, it is important that we move towards unhooking from
the fossel fuel industry.

- canoes and rowboats, which we could also motorize or sail.

I have long fantasized about building a large open-water canoe modeled after those of
coastal First Folks (the largest Haida canoes could carry five tons); filling it up a couple
times a year with community products and with eight or ten or twelve people; paddling
to Wreck Beach in Vancouver for a week of selling and buying, and then paddling back
with our supplies


- runners

- bicycles

- meetings

- bulletin boards

- community newsletters

- bells

- talking drums

- walkie-talkies

- cb radios

- other 2-way radios

- an on-property radio station

- an on-property telephone exchange

- cellular phones

- computers

- homing pigeons

                       RECYCLE, RECLAIM

We all, as individuals and as a community, must carefully consider and assume
complete environmental, economic, social and ethical responsibility for every
physical object that we decide to introduce into our lives – from before we acquired
it until we have absolutely no furthe r use for it.

I have expanded the three R‘s to the six R‘s: Reject or refuse; reduce, reuse, repair,
recycle and reclaim

Refusing trumps the other five, and results in simpler and simpler living. Not only
do we need less money and have less stuff all around us to look after every day, but
we don’t have to spend any time at all on the rest of the labour of recycling.

The ideal to move towards for all of the things we do bring into our lives is that they
pass through all of the othe r five steps if possible..

For example, we could REJECT paper shopping bags by using cloth bags. End of story.
However, when we do end up with them, we can REDUCE our need for them by
REUSING them for their original purpose by taking them back with us to the store next
time. When the bag gets a little worn or ripped, we can REPAIR it with a little tape and
REUSE it again as a bag for something less stressful. When it's finally really falling
apart, we can REUSE it again to wipe up a spill or line a bird cage and then REUSE it
again as part of a sheet mulch or for chicken litter, where it gets RECYCLED into the
garden and RECLAIMED when it's transformed into a useful plant or animal,

The ideal to move towards is always doing all of these right on our own land and

There is a word in Spanish, "aprovecho", which means, "making the best use of". The
above is an illustration of this. Another would be feeding leftovers to ourselves instead of
to the dogs..

"Waste Not, Want Not"

I mostly learned not to waste from my parents. They, and the rest of that generation,
lived though the Great Depression and my father, even more impactfully, through the
Great Inflation in Germany after the First World War, when a wheelbarrow full of
Deutsch Marks bought a loaf of bread.

They also struggled, in the forties and fifties in Vancouver, to provide for five children -
he as an independent truck driver and do- it- yourselfer, she as a homemaker, home-canner
and bargain-hunter, occasional part-time worker, and later, writer. Frugality counted.

So we learned to turn out the lights when they weren't being used; to straighten rusty
nails for reuse; to beachcomb for driftwood lumber along Bayswater Beach in Kitsilano;
to save leftovers; to reuse envelopes and paper, one-side- good; to fix it, not throw it

Growing up, we kids resented some of this, and perhaps felt Dad was living in a bye-gone
era, for we never felt poor and this was not Germany or the dirty thirties: It was the rich
fifties and sixties! However, much of it was lots of fun, too, and I have subsequently felt
so blessed for their teachings. Those habits of thinking and acting have served me well
as early on in my adult life I spurned material success and wealth, and adopted a lifestyle
of voluntary poverty [See essay, ―Economics: Voluntary Poverty‖], first in the peace
movement, then as a city hippy, and then as a drop-out, back-to-the- lander. Some of this
conserver mentality is now politically correct and environmentally sound, paid at least lip
service to by the mainstream. One the other hand, I am surrounded by young friends and
acquaintances who don‘t even separate their food ―wastes‖ from their plastics, blackberry
vines from old wire fencing, or old lumber from the junk pile even though they heat with
wood and buy from the building supply.

I do not keep socks with holes in them because I am poor; I am rich because I keep socks
with holes in them. That is the case with all my frugality. It gives me great pleasure and
silent glee to beat the system soundly, and this is one of the ways that I do it.

Waste, Junk, Garbage

It is hard to believe that such words even existed in pre-industrial societies, but I guess
they did. Middens (sounds better than "garbage dumps", does it not?) here on the coast
were comprised mostly of oyster and clamshells, and broken pottery in others. What
else? Broken stone tools? Animal and fish bones? The dogs wo uld have gotten most of

We had our own midden a few steps from our cabin in Storm Bay where we put anything
that we could not deal with by the six "R's". A tree that had blown over, the ripped out
roots leaving a long, narrow, shallow hole about fifteen feet long by five feet wide by two
feet deep, created our pit. That depression took about five years to fill - mostly with
oyster shells, (I was not yet burning them for the lime) some rusted-out metal and the
plastic that was not yet accepted at the early recycling depot in Sechelt; then we found

Years later, I diverted our ―trash‖ to use for fill on the lower side of the firecircle I made
on Crow Road. Compacted and topped with soil, it, too, was no longer junk, but a useful,
reused resource.

At both locations during those periods, not once did we need or use municipal garbage
services – for fifteen years.

Conversely, waste, junk or garbage is ours, or it can be someone else‘s. That is a
completely different story! There is a huge amount of incredibly valuable material to
be had for the taking throughout the majority culture’s alleyways and byways.

Disassembling Components

Permaculture design is about putting components together. However, often we first
have to separate things in orde r to "make the best use of" and proceed with some
design or use. Many broken-down processions have more value apart than together.
Then stuff is inventoried and stored - or recycled.

This does not apply only to unrepairable manufacture d technologies s uch as
bicycles, motorized appliances and old cars. Dug dirt can easily be separated as it is
dug - into topsoil, mineral soil, clay, large rocks, medium rocks, small rocks, gravel
and sand - each having important uses around the ol' homestead. A cut-down tree
can be divided into leaves, bark, s mall branches, large branches and trunk, each
with their own uses. A pile of old boards can yield nails, screws, hinges, wire mesh,
barbed wire, sound lumbe r, firewood and mulch.

It is more work in the short term, less in the long term, and, for me, never a chore.
It is just another task of a savvy and environmentally conscious homesteader, and
provides the satisfaction of multiple yields and another opportunity to be here now
with breath and the holy mome nt.

Recycling Barn

Now it so happens that often those of us who scrounge for the flotsam and jetsam of our
floundering mother culture end up surrounded by a sea of such stuff - exposed to the
weather, covered in leaves, sinking into the earth, piles upon piles, tangled and unsorted,
a blight upon the landscape - an eyesore.

I want to develop a site for sore eyes.

I dream of a junk-s hed. Not just for things found and scrounged, but also for all
those thingy's that somehow come into our lives and that someho w might be useful
for something, someday. It would be large and well designed. It would have row
upon row of stalls, large bins, chests, cupboards, racks, cabinets and hundreds tiny
drawe rs, exquisitely and logically organized, for everything from big bulk items like
old clothing, fabric, rags, leather pieces, cardboard boxes, old rugs, and styrofoam
chunks to all manne r of sorted small items: nails, screws, nuts, washers, bottle caps,
odd lids, tinfoil scraps, rubber scraps, electric motors, sorted metals - copper, brass,
bronze, lead, steel, aluminum, tin - pipes, tubing, rope and string; broken glass and
ball-point pens that don't write anymore. (I once knew somebody who had jars and
jars of pens that did not work - and inside a glass vial inside a small box inside a
small trunk, hundreds of tiny steel ball bearings that he had squeezed from the tips
with a pair of pliers!)

We would inventory everything. We would label everything. Everything would be
cross-referenced. Everything would be easy to find. One person would be in
charge: an important and revered position.

With many fertile minds at hand, and necessity as the mother, we would eventually find a
use for anything and everything - for science class, mad invention, crucial repair or
thoughtful gift. Easy to find, delightful to browse, free of charge, a place for everything
and everything in its place.

For anyone who thinks that this would take a lot of precious life energy, consider the
alternative: hours and days of work required to buy things new – the time and expense -
time spent away from meaningful work, family and friends, expense of things meant to
break down soon.

Few parts of this proposed community can function properly outside of the context of the
whole. Most would not work inserted and isolated in a mainstream lifestyle.

Human Waste ... Not

I have been recycling my own ―waste‖ for most of the last thirty-five years. I have a
honey bucket under my bed that catches a never-ending stream of nitrogen-rich, sterile
urine. Diluted with water five to one, it keeps all of my doorstep gardens green, and a lot
of my bamboo, too! Think of that multiplied by a hundred. It is a lot of free fertilizer.
To waste that most valuable "waste" is unconscionable.

Each household can work out their own system, and we can organize collection,
storage and use. Perhaps we could even layout out a community grey-water system, for
all but our solid waste (maybe we need to make up a new word here: how about ―save‖
or ―conserve‖, used as a noun?)

It is also inconceivable to me that we would dump all our dumps down a nasty, deep
black holes (the flus h toilet has been left far behind, folks).

Right now, I sit on an oak toilet seat mounted on a twenty- five gallon plastic garbage

However, I dream of outhouses.

I have designed a multifunction shitter. It does not start with a hole, because why put
down what we will have to bring back up again? Therefore, there are a few steps up
to a platform over an enclosed compost bin. The re is a roof and three walls for a
wind-break, but it can be open in the front.. Plants for privacy perform other functions -
pleasing aromas, leaves and fruits to nibble on (maybe laxatives or binders or muscle
relaxants, depending on the problem!).

Personally, I‘m a bird-watcher, so in the area in the front of the throne I imagine bird-
attracting plants and spaces, baths and feeders on cat-proof poles, nesting boxes and
resting perches, so that reading matter does not have to be the only time-passer available,
and we can pursue hobbies, too, while sitting or squatting!

I could see one overlooking the toddlers playground, too, so that parents could keep an
eye on them, whoever was going!

Every time someone "goes", the deposit is well covered by, first,, a sprinkling of
garden soil, then by sawdust and finally wood ashes lightly sifted down. Done
properly, there are no flies or smell; neither is there excess liquid, as separate pees
are directed or collected differently. The pile is turned once every six months and in
a year or less is rich black soil high in nitrogen, phosphorous and potash (the wood

It would cost nothing.

There will be outhouses placed throughout the whole system, whe rever people live
and work.

I will “see them in court” rathe r than change the way I have been handling my own
manure for thirty-five years, a way that is simple, free, safe, environmentally sound;
and produces a valuable product.


"Single-mindedness is all very well in cows or baboons; in an animal claiming to belong
      to the same species as Shakespeare it is simply disgraceful.‖ - Aldus Huxley

I am really in awe of Homo sapien sapien. I really respect (and fear!) the possibilities
and potentialities of the human brain. I respect what have been coming down to us for
the past two and a half million years, since the first stone tools were made - our enquiries
and our discoveries; our learnings and our scholarship: the accumulated knowledge
passed by deed and grunt, then word and paint.

But we have moved from the personal to the indirect to the remote. The
master/apprenticeship relationship, once common, is no more. Trans -generational
trans mission in the vernacular domain has all but disappeared: Grandparents are
old-fashioned and "behind the times", do not live in the same city or are
emasculated by family feuds; parents are “at work”; television sits insidious in the
center; education is compulsory. The State rules. The teacher/student relations hip
sits in a box in controlled classes. If we are lucky, we may find a fe w folk-mentors in
our lives; we hardly know of the Guru/disciple relations hip in our culture.

Nevertheless, we need to recognize where much knowledge still resides, in
universities, books, docume ntaries and now google and the inte rnet, the main
trans mitters today of the wis dom and attitudes of the ages. I think we must, as
humans, still pay homage to these past discourses and olde r technologies and root
ourselves in what has gone before, still plug into the ancient oral currents,
electronically or otherwise, but not, at the same time, paying blind homage to the
old as an escape from the truths of the present.

All this is to say that we must not waste our time re-inventing wheels at the same
time that we do not return to stupid superstitiona. Information needs to be sought
out and acknowledged authorities consulted. Learning first, with a critical mind,
how things are done that have a history of being done, is usually the path to both
competence and to future innovation and improve ment - learning how we humans
have learned to do it so far. To ignore the elder, the prof and the scientist suggests a
kind of arrogance and ego that should be dropped. Many have gone before us.

If one does not learn from books, one learns from someone who knows and one
learns, at the same time, by doing. If one does not have someone on hand, one seeks
hime r out. If one finds himer, one picks hiser’s brain; if one does not find hime r,
one is left with having to learn it by hime rself or with others who do not know, and
while one will eventually learn a lot, one is likely to make many unnecessary
mistakes, work slowly and inefficiently, and pe rhaps miss things entirely. That is
perhaps more acceptable if one has all the time in the world; as a way of teaching
oneself to accept the challenge of self-learning; and if nobody is depending on
anyone. But basically, I believe in learning the rules before we break the rules and
honouring, welcoming and utilizing the expertise that is around us.

The exception is when there are no rules, and a lot of permaculture is like that.
When is comes to designing with plants, there are tens of thousands to select from,
and millions of combinations that have never been tried. Here is where we want to
make lots of intelligent mistakes, so that we can discover what works.

This also calls for non-attachme nt and a willingness to admit the mistake and cut
the tree down!

Once we do know how to do something and do it well, we should be advancing the
knowledge. That is what a PhD is always all about.

When we spurn the written teachings, we do ourselves a great disservice. When we
refuse to listen to the living elder whe n s/he speaks from the heart of hiser
experience, we do double harm. A whole life lived is being dis missed. The glazed eye
and wandering attention of the unlearned young is an industrial wound in the Old
Ones’ hearts.

Back to the mainstream's collection of the ―facts of the matter‖ for a moment: We
should not confuse institutionalize d science with the scientific method itself, with
rational thought and logic, and the unprecedented successes they have had
inpenetrating mysteries and discovering the workings of the universe. The former is
corrupt, a tool of the ruling class and the mass culture; the latte r are the best ways
yet found to discover what lies beyond subjectivity and oten mistaken common sense
perceptions, e.g. The sun seems to rise, but we now know it does not.

Spiritual understandings – practices – experiences - give us smarter ways of being
and transcendent knowledge: quite different, no less important,- in fact, probably
more so - but not in contradiction to the laws of nature discovered by application of
the rational mind, logic, experiment and testing.

Therefore, we can think rationally and "do our practice". There is no

The "facts of the matter" should probably always be the principal foundation of our
truths and beliefs. That means study and scholarship, noticing the phenome na of
nature around us, and closely observing the minute-to-minute dramas of our own
lives; then carefully applying thought to what we are learning. It is important that
we know the scientific meaning of speculation, hypothesis, theory and finally, law.
When the ignorant hear “scientific theory”, they think, “it's only a theory”, rathe r
than three steps along a path of knowing. Paradoxically, often when those same
people think they know the truth, it is more often than not a rather thoughtless
jump from speculation to conclusion.

We also need to learn the difference between the very real and possibly accurately
recounted personal subjective experience, and the explanation for that experience. I
will try to honour, be interested in, understand and believe in the fact of someone’s

experience, but I may disagree with their explanations and conclusions, or their
attachment to their explanation for their experience. This may be touchy stuff -
every person has a different subjective reality - but “[r]eality is not up for grabs”.
One pe rson’s beliefs are not necessarily just as good as anybody else’s, The elephant
is, after all, an elephant, and all of us, to varying degrees, are looking “through a
glass, darkly” and on a journey to discover, first, truths, and ultimately, the Truth.
There is, sort of by definition, only one Truth. All our little truths are steps along the

Pseudo-scientific conclusions abound - are in fact ende mic - and they drive me nuts!
The "will to believe" (see William James) can only be answered by "the will to doubt"
(see Bertrand Russell).

Here are some quotes I could endorse:

"It is wrong always and everywhere for anyone to believe anything on insufficient

- William Kingdon Clifford, mathematician, "The Ethics of Belief", 1879;

"A belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief; it is a superstition."

- José Bergamín, writer, The Rocket and the Star, 1923;

"I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief."

- Gerry Spence, lawyer, How to Argue and Win Every Time, 1995

"William James used to preach the 'will to believe'. For my part, I should wish to
preach the 'will to doubt'.... What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find
out, which is the exact opposite."

Bertrand Russell, philosopher, Skeptical Essays, 1928

“It is wiser to find out than to suppose.”

– Mark Twain

“Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.”

- Lawrence Ferlinghetti


I think we need minute makers and note takers, diary keepers and essay writers -
historians - from the start, to keep a history, a people's history, a history handed down,
and handed down to keep, a cross-generational account, ongoing, the torch taken up. Has
that ever been done this before, consciously, collectively, from the beginning of a new

I had a Mennonite girlfriend once who told me about her extended family's custom. I
don't know how old it was, or when and where and how the tradition began, but it
involved an ongoing, never-ending circulating letter, sent from family member to family
member, to parents and children and siblings and cousins; to grandparents, uncles and
nephews and nieces; to second cousins still known and remotes once removed. Each
would say hello, say what their life had been like since last they wrote, the things they
thought and the things they had done. It took a year or two or three before the letter came
around again, and always one could read what others had said, and then speak again in
turn. What a lovely tradition, I remember saying.

Of course, writing could also provide some cash. The Farm had a book publishing
company, called - what else - The Book Publishing Co. Neither should we forget the
convergence of music and word. A further cultural footprint can be made, info and
philosophy conveyed - and also a potential source of revenue and exchange.

I have already imagined and partially designed an historical and educational video
documenting the entire development of this intentional community, to be videotaped over
a period of ten years, from before we step foot on the land until it's well on it's way to
maturity. I guess that relates to scribes. In the event that all falls down, the written word
will be safer than video, though. The oral tradition will be safer yet -..unless we are
wiped out! Maybe we need to chisel some words in stone!

I come from a family and lineage of scribes - and here write I. I must think it important.
Should it be important for community?

                                      THE ARTS

The arts are a function of leisure time. If a society has to spend all of its hours just
in providing the basics, there can be no art. The First Folks here on the coast had a
rich culture due to their relative ease of living - the table was set when the tide went
out; the sea wasfull of food; salal, salmon and cedar we re everywhere.

Therefore, we, living here, could as well, aided even further by some carefully
selected tools of modern technology, by adopting permaculture and by having more
history and cultures from which to draw.

However, if you think that you can come to the developing community and paint or
play guitar all day and claim the role of artist, think again. Those may be the years
when, like a busy mother, we may all sometimes say how we are looking forward to
the time when we can "get back to our art" or "spend more time with our hobbies".
A cultural flowering may have to wait a fe w years, while we get on our collective

I do see the time when we will be down to our six hours a day, when the blossoming
will begin, whe n theatre, dance, painting, and craft will flouris h, and whe re the re
will be enough residents to provide for both pe rforme rs and audience.

In addition, on the ground, the re will be beauty and balance everywhere. That's my
art form - landscape architecture, the creation of s paces: the curve of path, the
color of food, the harmony of nature, each structure a sculpture, each garden bed
part of the design, each garden bench a work of art, arch and trellis flowe r-full, all
components chosen well and placed with care.

Yes! A great work of art! This segues neatly into:


In B.C., there is a $2000 fine for littering - for littering! Can you imagine?

Ram Das taught that living the spiritual life meant that you tried to keep your living place
such that it was always ready for the unexpected arrival of the Buddha – or the Dali

In our Storm Bay clearing, I wanted everywhere that my eye fell to be beautiful.

Viewing my landscape as an art piece, I use to wonder, when thinking of community, if it
was possible for many people to paint on the same canvas.

I do not think anyone should "have to" tidy hiser room. However, as soon as s/he steps
out the door - that is a different story. Nobody wants to live in, or vie w the canvas of,
someone else’s mess, especially those who work hard to make spaces pleasing.

Messes interfere with efficient functioning and thus run counter to permaculture -
and art - and beauty!

This is a permaculture mandala. Have you ever seen a messy mandala?

My friend Wichampi, one to whom I sent an early draft of these essays for comment, did
so comment here, and I insert it now in its entirety, despite initially reacting with
dismissal at her first sentence:

―You have brutally dismissed the job of the artist…the communicator. At Wounded Knee,
if it hadn‘t been for the journalist(s) and one photographer, the most dev astating
massacre of the Sioux and Lakota would never have been recorded for history. In the
coming event of a new community, consider a few members who can record its history by
writing, drawing and painting, photography (if we have the tech) in a professional
manner. No, ya don‘t want ten singer/guitarists smoking joints and singing songs as they
watch others working in the sun but the idea of music, for example, after supper,… to lift
the spirit, soothe and relax…. Art is always the reflection of society. The artists in the
new community will give that reflection. In the event of several children as members, a
creative arts teacher/resource person would be valuable, to say the least…Just
understand that working in the arts is a job, a real and at times, hard job like any other. I
am standing up for my fellow artists and myself!‖

At the same time, life is art. This ―Permaculture Mandala‖ will be seen from space -
circles of crops, a landscape painting!

                                  SEXUAL MORES

Basically, I believe, with Pierre Eliot Trudeau, that “the State has no business in the
bedrooms of the nation”. (On the other hand, when folks on The Farm heard couples
hassle each other behind the curtains of their ―private‖ quarters, they felt free to intervene

I believe in only a fe w sexual rules: do no harm; be kind, be honest, be open, There
must always be mutual consent and no coe rcion; powe r imbalances must be
recognized and addressed; private sexual agreements should be honoured; and no
sex had with anyone who isn’t of legal age and hasn’t gone through puberty unless
both participants aren’t of legal age or have not gone through puberty.

I once worried to my daughter – a self-described lesbian, ―pervert‖, and hedonist – if
maybe I had fallen down on the job somewhat by not imparting to her more explicitly
some kind of sexual morality, or at least raised the question for discussion more
consciously and more often while she was growing up. She replied by pointing out that I
had raised her with such a strong general ethic and morality concerning honourable and
appropriate human relationships and behaviours that it was not necessary to treat sexual
relationships as a separate case.

Good answer, I thought. However, I recall that I was referring more to putting so many
eggs in the pleasure basket. It was more a spiritual message that I wondered if she might
have missed - that nothing of the senses, finally, satisfies; that “the big ice-cream cone
in the sky” will never fill the hole at the center of our being.

The Buddha tells us: the wise man will choose the path of joy, and not the path of

However, I am a hedonist, too. I love sex. I feel relatively free about sex. I was a young
adult of the sixties, but a child of an even earlier sexual liberation: first, of my liberal
parents; second my god-uncle and his library; then Bertrand Russell and his book
―Marriage and Morals‖ written in 1929; later, A.S. Neill
in his book ―Summerhill.‖

Guidelines for sex and pleasure must come from within. They are personal, spiritual
or moral decisions on limits and restrictions.

Stephan Gaskin said, ―If you‘re making love, you‘re engaged; if you have a baby, you‘re
married.‖ I‘m not sure I agree with the first; I mostly do agree with the second. In either
case, he is emphasizing the import of sex.

I think all sorts of couplings are possible: meaningful overnight affairs; casual
sometime-lovers; common-law and traditional marriages; group marriages;
varieties of polyamorous relations hips; and gay and lesbian liaisons.

Neither am I an ageist. An age difference between lovers should seldom, if ever,
require censor or deserve prurient gossip. No one has yet been able to muster
arguments that have even begun to convince me that there is anything intrinsically
unethical about an age difference between two consenting adults, even if extreme.

Neither do I think that sex play between children is inappropriate. It is their
business and we should respect their privacy. Some attention should perhaps be paid to
age differences in this case, although in at least one culture, studied by Margaret Mead,
ten year old girls teach their six year old brothers how to have intercourse. Within a
context and culture of love, caring, trust, and openness, it is the censor and suppression
of children’s natural curiosity about sex that does the harm. Our children should be
shown that their ―no‖ means ―no‖, too, when it comes to either violations of their
personal boundaries or interference by parents.

I may not find any of this shocking, and perhaps you do not either, but at least elements
of society-at-large, if not the whole mass of it, almost certainly would! We at all times
will need to be aware of the possibility and danger of rumour and scandal. Any crossing
over of legal lines could heap wrath, hysteria and the law upon our heads. Even when no
laws have been broken, ―they‖ can hunt elsewhere like hounds for regulations broken to
satisfy clamours of outrage directed by the public towards people living by different
moral codes than they! There is a full-on attempt right now to bring down the Mormon
community in Bountiful, B.C. It brings chills down my spine to listen to the language
and assumptions of our mainstream mother culture when it comes to matters of sex!
Rational discussion flies out the window; hysteria reigns; and the ranks close. Victorian
ignorance still abounds.

On the other hand, historically the B.C. coast has been generally one of the most tolerant
regions of the world. Permissive attitudes towards such things as alternate schools,
home-schooling, sex, drugs and the counter-culture have made for a mostly benign and
tolerant relationship between my (our) alternate culture and both the straighter burgers
around us and various levels of government. In fact, in some areas, such as Roberts
Creek, we are both a tourist attraction and part of the government!

                                BIRTHING CENTER

I've been to about ten births, twice in a hospital – early father-present birth of my first-
born in Vancouver General in 1967 (the first two hospitals queried turned us down); and
first father in the delivery room at St. Mary's, in Sechelt, for my second child‘s birth –
and the rest at homes. Once on a boat. Only once with a midwife or doctor.

Let us hope we have a midwife living with us. There were not any back then, at least at
first. Now there are. I would take Wendy Clemens any day. The most experienced
midwife in B.C., busted by the organization she helped to set up, after she finally
received her formal training, just before getting her formal ticket, because a friend asked
her to come over after she started labour, and she did not call an ambulance for half an
hour. Grrrrr! She had done hundreds of births as an underground midwife and never lost
a baby, never lost a mum. It is time to go underground again. I think anyone is allowed
to deliver, as long as there is no charge. Wendy, will you come live with us?

Most women prefer to birth in their own homes, but I envision an indoor/outdoor birthing
center and grotto beyond compare, a beautiful warmed pool with grapes overhanging,
surrounded by useful birth plants, aromatic herbs, water, sky - the ultimate "birthing
room". Does anyone want to design it with me?

I would like to integrate it into a seniors‘ center and a children‘s center- the old, the
young and the new.

Self-sufficiency means looking after ourselves in every regard.

[See A Pattern Language, pattern 65, 'Birth Places', pp 328-330; Spiritual Midwifery by
Ina May Gaskin; "The Secret Life of the Unborn Child", by Thomas Verny, MD, with
John Kelly and Magical Child, by Joseph Chilton Pearce]


            ―Insanity is hereditary; you can get it from your children‖ – Anon


                 And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
                             - Speak to us of children!

                                      And he said:
               They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
                       They come through you but not from you,
                And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
                  You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
                           For they have their own thoughts.
                    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
                    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
                    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

                              You may strive to be like them,
                            but seek not to make them like you,

                  For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

       You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
                 The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
        and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
                 Let your bending in the Archer's hand be for gladness;
                       For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
                        so He loves also the bow that is stable.

                                Khalil Gibran - The Prophet


―One has the possibility of absolute power over a child, but if you exercise it, you destroy
                         the child.‖ – Unknown Catholic Priest


 ―…give me a child until he is six and he will be a Catholic forever.‖ - Ignatius Loyola


Thirty-one years ago, a baby girl slipped into this world. Spoon-fed love and wild ways,
 she grew to be a rag-tag tangle-haired woods baby. Small child thriving on the seeds of
    rebellious plants, rebellious ideas. Child encircled in the arms of a culture running
 counter to concrete streets, camouflaged intent and white bread, white sugar ideas…We
were the golden children, angels of the woods…The child who would climb into anyone‘s
  lap, even if only just introduced, because a friend is a friend regardless of how long the
acquaintance.,, Child brought up on Gandhi. Who presumed good intent, and love as the

  common denominator. Child taught to move gently through this good life – that each
   action, no matter how small, affects the whole. – River Light, ―Ghosts‖, from Wild
             Child, Girlhoods in the Counter Culture, edited by Chelsea Cain



While recognizing pride as one of the seven deadly sins, I will nevertheless risk
punishment by presenting, as my credentials on this topic, my own children and how I
raised and educated them.

As evidence, I can say with confidence that I experienced no behavioral problems with
my children, ever - never had to discipline them in any way - the entire time that they
were growing up, including during their teenage years. When I heard myself beginning
to say this to folks a few times, I began to wonder if I was perhaps exaggerating a little or
practicing selective memory. So I asked both of them - did they think it true? They both
replied in the affirmative. In fact, they describe the first nine and ten years of their lives,
growing up simply in the B.C. woods, not attending any kind of school, home with their
parents most of the time, as utopian. As for me, I would like to go back in a time
machine and do it all over again. I had that good a time with them.

Much of my own up-bringing primed me for a receptivity to humane, rational, and radical
paradigms of child-rearing. By 1960, my adult ideas were being shaped by the writings
on education of people like Paul Goodman, John Holt and Bertrand Russell. Then I read
"Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child-Rearing" by A.S. Neill, the great-
granddaddy of the free school movement, who laid the groundwork for progress ive
education in North America, and I ―got‖ it. It is essential reading. The school he
founded and wrote about still exists thirty-three years after his death. Its principal is his
daughter, Zoë Neill Readhead.

My encounter with that book happened four years before I had my first child, but years
later, re-reading it, I was amazed to discover how much of it I had incorporated into my

However, Neill deals with the school age child. Shaping our children, at the same time
that we let them unfold, starts, of course, at birth – actually, before birth, with diet,
sounds and good vibes; and during birth, by letting nature proceed unhindered in a
peaceful setting with intimates and intelligence.

From their very first days, I was speaking words to them, transmitting sound and
meaning, simultaneously. More primordial than language, the tones and timbres of the
human voice, particularly chanting and singing, can interrupt negative energy, arrest
attention and sooth the souls of small babies. Many a time have I over-amped a crying
baby with a groovier and more energetic vibe, transforming the situation from one of
complaint to one of rapt attention! Is not at least a little expression of sympathy in order?

I found that often just a few coos, questions and genuine expressions of empathy while
maintaining intimate and close eye contact with my babies, changed the whole dynamic
at once. I am always shocked and amazed to observe parents remaining silent while
trying, usually ineffectually, to deal with a miserable child. I could not have raised my
kids without early use of voice.

 At the same time, my children were receiving complex verbal instructions and
explanations. I was explaining why certain things had to happen even if they did not
want them to happen - diapers changed, breakables removed, scenes suddenly shifted,
play interrupted. They came early to the dawning awareness of connection between word
and action, and the sense of there being reasons for things. Long before they developed a
vocabulary, I found that it was possible, with precision of word, tone, touch, gesture and
demonstration, to communicate much of the basics - the moral and ethical imperatives,
the societal necessities, the psychological realities: ―gently, gently,‖ ―we don‘t want to
hurt,‖ ‗be kind,‖ fair is fair,‖ ―look after your brother,‖ ―we tidy our own messes,‖ ―our
house is like a ship, and we all have to help sail it through the ocean of life.,‖ ―there are
other ways,‖ ―consequences happen,‖ ―other people are important,‖ . ―pay attention,‖
―look! look‖! These became some of the building blocks for agreements, built upon a
foundation of a rational freedom predicated on safety, respect, and caring for each other.

Throughout, I tried to maintain awareness of and compassion for the challenge for these
new beings, emerging into a human world of which they knew nothing, having to learn
all of the ropes - all of the culture and subculture that had been assembled before they
came along. It is a huge task – huge! - and these little minds/big brains are taking it all
in, imprinting and sorting and processing and learning - bam bam bam bam - every
second - and we can help them along - every second.

Keeping all this in my conscious awareness helped me be patient and motivated me to
teach them all they could learn as early as they could learn it, naturally, without forcing
them or exceeding their interest and capacity.

All this communication led to basic, presupposed and understood agreements that were
the basis for further negotiated agreements and meant that for the rest of their childhoods
it was mostly reminder and compliance. I was still the parent, the coordinator of the
show, but ordering them around against their will was not an option. I was not the voice
of authority; the agreements were! They were given so much freedom within that
framework of mutual understanding that when wI did occasionally have to say "don't" or
"stop," with a logical explanation, they usually accepted it at once, sometimes after a
reasonable question or two, without whining and nagging in pesky persistence. They
knew that that would not work, anyway, at all, ever. They gave us, and we the m,
respect - as humans, not as autocrats or underlings.

Resistance, dissatisfaction or a ―no‖ from my children were always indications to me that
we were out of agreement and called for my immediate, on-the-spot re-assessment and
re-evaluation of the specific issue, and further discussion, modification, reversal or
clearer explanation. At very young ages, ―no‘s‖ from the parent (I preferred yeses!) were

reduced by arranging things so that we did not have to say ―no‖ very often – latches on
the cupboards, objects out of reach, hazards eliminated, etc.

As soon as they had a working vocabulary of a few hundred words, I was able to build on
this base successfully enough to explain just about anything to them that I understood in
such a way that they could gain some understanding of it. This meant that we were
covering university subjects, as real events intersected with their lives, from an age of
three or four. The average child has a working vocabulary of two to three tho usand
words by age six. However, word comprehension is vastly greater. I first read my kids
The Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring when my son was four and a half and my
daughter, six. I made sure they understood every word. The dictionary came out often.
From then on, I read nothing but adult literature to them.

Teaching them takes longer than ordering them around or just doing it oneself, especially
at first, as one provides explanations and builds up mutual understandings and
agreements, but it must be done. A very young child‘s learning potential is far greater at
this stage than it will be at any other time in its life. Some have learned twenty-five
languages before they are six! Not only that, but the teachings go in unopposed, like
water into a sponge. That means that the teachings will all ―take.‖ If it is the cardinal
virtues being transmitting, we give such a good start to our children; if it is religious
dogmas and demeaning rebukes, we create cripples. Either way, it is by far the easiest
time for parents to teach their children humane principles. Try doing it when they are
teenagers, and see where it gets you!

I think this is the most common form of child abuse – to miss the opportunity and fail to
take advantage of the young brain‘s capacity and capability. It is a biological
irresponsibility of the highest order, subverting nature‘s unfolding plan. Conversely,
acting to exploit the potential is truly a case of a "stitch in time" saving nine! It saved me
countless time and worry for all the rest of their childhoods, knowing that they knew how
to do things, show respect, be responsible, act appropriately and look after themselves.
Of course, we were fortunate to have adopted an integrated lifestyle with no distinctions
between working, playing, learning, teaching and spending quality time together.

That is how life will be in this proposed community. We will all have the time and
opportunity to raise children in a similar context, with the help of a whole village.

 Does it go without saying that punis hment of any kind - physical, e motional, or
psychological - by paddle or deprivation, - is not only unnecessary and harmful, but
would be conside red by us in this community to be a violent or vindictive assault on
a defenseless child? There are, however, logical and natural consequences for
behaviors that parents need to point out, explain and eithe r let happen or follow
through on, and that the child must learn and experience.


Once human beings have gone through puberty, they are no longe r childre n; they
are adults. They have adult minds and feelings. Now they really cannot be ordered
around, particularly by a parent. Ask yourself how you feel when someone tries to
exercise domination and control over you - the feeling of threatened powerlessness, the
sense of violation - the resentment and anger.

Here is where parents has to learn very quickly to let go, if they have been using
powe r and control to raise their child: Any command will meet with resistance.
Here is where the pare nt has to hope or trust that the lessons they have been
teaching the child for so many years have been good ones, and well learned. Here,
too, is whe re the parent begins to discover their mistake s and omissions, and their
unconscious and habitual assumptions of “powe r over”. Here is when the chickens
come home to roost, the karma comes back, and the “kids” get their revenge.

From puberty on, only suggestions, discussions and, in some cases, negotiated
agreements are appropriate and rules, impositions and commands are contra-
indicated and will usually bring instant resentment, stubborn resistance and
entrenched opposition.. Pare nts who ignore this do so at their own and their
offspring’s peril. They create a battleground.

I think that three crucial modern-day societal norms hugely exacerbate conflicts between
parent and teen and between society and teen.

The first is that there are no puberty rites. There are no passages acknowledging the
profound changes humans go through in the shift from childhood to adulthood and what
they imply; no ceremonial testing of the new adult; no initiation. Consequently, the kids
find their own ways, instinctively, without the guidance or the wisdom of the elders and
the tribe; there is rebellion against oppressive parents; juvenile delinquency; teenage
smoking; a slaughter on the highways; alcohol abuse; true sexual misconduct; and
challenges to that symbol of danger and authority: the police. For the male, at least, it is
all to show courage, to pit oneself against danger, to defy opposition, to test the limits, to
prove oneself strong and worthy of being male, worthy even of the right to survive, and
then to enter into, and become a fully functioning member of, the tribal adults‘ world. It
is all very natural to pre- industrial cultures, but now, in the West at least, we reap the
consequences of our ignorance and neglect.

The second norm is that this society then also conspires to prevent these new adults from
taking their place in the adult world. Instead, they have to continue with school,
sometimes for years; they have to postpone marriage - again, often for years; or they have
to work for slave wages with little chance of escape.

The third is that, increasingly, economic considerations are forcing many young adults to
remain in, or come back to, the family home and thus be in close and intimate contact
with their parents and, more importantly, with habits and patterns of relationship that are
no longer appropriate, often difficult to change, and destructive to friendship. No doubt,
territoriality plays a huge role in exacerbating this situation.

It behooves us to consider how we could avoid these problems in a village society
designed from the ground-up.

I propose a ―Teen Town‖ for young adults. It would consist of a three acre auxiliary or
tangential circle where they would ―be encouraged to form a miniature society, in which
they are as differentiated, and as responsible mutually, as the adults in the full-scale
adult society. It is necessary that they are responsible to one another, that they are able
to play a useful role with respect to one another…‖ and that they learn to govern
themselves. ―It is necessary, in short, that their society is a microcosm of adult society,
not an artificial society where people play at being adults, but the real thing, with real
rewards, real tragedies, real work, real love, real friendship, real achievements, real
responsibilities…watched over, helped by adults, but run, essentially, by adults and
teenagers together‖.

This would ―replace the ―high school‖ with an institution…in which the students take on
most of the responsibility for learning and social life…with adult guidance…but…as far
as feasible, keeping them in the hands of the students. - A Pattern Language, pattern 84,
"Teenage Society", pp 416-419

[See Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child-Rearing, by A.S. Neill; Magical child:
Rediscovering nature's plan for our children and Magical Child Matures, by Joseph
Chilton Pearce"; Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.]; Between Parent and Child and
Between Parent and Teenager, by Dr. Haim Ginott]


―Prior to the introduction of compulsory school attendance laws in the 19th century,
most childhood education worldwide occurred within the family or community…

―Paul Goodman‘s Compulsory Miseducation (1962) elaborated themes from his earlier
Growing Up Absurd (1960) and was the first modern statement of what, in the following
decade, came to be called the ―deschooling movement.‖

―Ivan Illich is perhaps the most well known person in this movement. In Deschooling
Society, Illich called for the disestablishment of schools. He thought that schooling
confuses teaching with learning, grades with education, diplomas with competence,
attendance with attainment, and especially process with substance. He thought that
schools did not reward real achievement, only processes. Schools inhibited a person‘s
will and ability to self-learn, ultimately resulting in psychological impotence. He claimed
that forced schooling perverted the victims‘ natural inclination to grow and learn and
replaced it with the demand for instruction. Further, the current model of schooling,
replete with credentials, betrays the value of a self-taught individual. What‘s more,
institutionalized schooling seeks to quantify the unquantifiable – human growth. For

Illich, creative, exploratory learning requires an individual‘s own initiative to truly
impact the learner positively. He called for learning networks that would allow people
with similar interests to communicate and explore problems together. The internet makes
his dream imminently realizable (Illich, 1970). – Wikipedia, ―Homeschooling‖ and
―Compulsory Education‖

It seems clear to me that the State educates us because they want us to work for them.

For the most part, I am not only opposed to the straight school system, but to most
alternate schools as well. I am not too big on the classroom situation, although it
has its place. Moreover, I do not believe our principle imperative and mandate is to
train our children to take their place on the line that is assembling mainstream
history, partly because mainstream history will “soon be history”. We should never
forget that we are training them to be able to survive in both the “real” world - the
“straight” world – whe n they are forced to move within it, and, particularly, the
alternate culture we will be developing in preparation for a time when it will become
the only alte rnative.

I had a conversation with a twelve year old once about school. I asked him if he was
learning how to build a fire in the wet woods so he wouldn't freeze to death; how to build
a shelter to protect from wind and rain; how to grow food so he wouldn't starve; how to
make clothing so he would be warm; how to get along with others when they had
disagreements. Of course, he said "no" to all of my queries. Then I asked him if they
were teaching him anything important in school. He didn‘t think so.

It does not mean that I believe that options are to be denied. I do believe in teaching
kids the three "R's" from the very start, but proceeding at their own pace according
to their own inclinations. Once they learn these basics, the world is open to the m. I
started my kids with flash cards, teaching them the names and sounds of the letters and
diphthongs. I read to them - lots - and only adult literature - from the age of four and
five. We had a dictionary, and a thirty-volume set of Collier's Encyclopedia in our six by
six foot living room, underneath a curved sitting bench. There were road signs, too, and
Sesame Street sometimes at gramma's. I had no doubt, because of their growing
awareness and love of literature, its vastness and variety, gateways to the universe, that
they would learn to read. However, they did not do so until they finally entered public
school in grades four and five. Then everything coalesced, and in one year they were at
the top of their class; in two at the top of their grade. My daughter at twelve would get
eight books on magic out of the adult section of the Vancouver Public Library, read them
all before the due date, and then get eight more. She read all they had in one year. My
son, in grade eight, was tested with a vocabulary at the grade twelve level.

I do believe in teaching children from the start anything and everything about the
world and everything in it - including the mind itself and the possibility of Mind - as
interest and opportunity arises. Every moment has huge teaching and learning
potential. One of the saddest forms of child-abuse is missing the enormous
capabilities of babies and very s mall children to learn and absorb, instantly, huge

amounts of information and a great number of skills "beyond..." supposedly,
"...their years." Stephan Gaskin says, "Babies are just as smart as you are; they just
can't talk yet."

No learning is possible, however, without curiosity. Unlike intelligence, curiosity
can be killed. If it is not encouraged at the age/brain-specific time of two, or even,
after, squashed and ridiculed, the inborn potential withers, and, by some accounts,
never reappears. Along with it - with the help of any television in the early years -
goes imagination, leaving, I believe, a kind of zombie, a kind of intellectual para- or
quadriplegic. Therefore, we have to lay the groundwork very early, indeed, from
conception itself on. [See "The Secret Life of the Unborn Child", 1982, by Dr. Thomas
Verny etc.]

Much of this is well known in this day and age by most ―cultural creatives‖ – 50,000,000
in U.S.. We were a reviled minority ―back then‖!

My children hated being assigned a work task to do by themselves. They loved doing
things with me, hanging out helping with the innumerable tasks that our lifestyle
involved. There, during the interface between doing and learning, is where the
possibilities for education are most fertile. A creature or a question in the garden
would lead to the guidebook, the encyclopedia and the microscope in the cabin. I learned
lots, too, and as an important extra bonus, the kids were learning that I did not know
everything, but we could find answers. At the same time, we were fulfilling our mutual
needs for quality time, touch, contact - huddling around with focus and excitement.

This kind of ―apprenticeship‖, one-on-one learning with someone who knows how to do
something, [See "A Pattern Language, pattern 83, 'Master and Apprentice‘, pp 412-415]
was mainly how transmission of knowledge occurred in Storm Bay and was how my
children loved to learn. It is probably the best way to learn. John Holt talks of a
physicist friend who went so far as to suggest that if he could apprentice a bright fourteen
year old, he was quite sure that within just a few years the eighteen year old would be
contributing original thoughts on advanced, cutting-edge physics.

My dad spoke often of the importance of "exposing children" to life's experiences, of
experience being the best teacher. The earlier the better, I believe, long before
rationality, understanding or actual skills develop. I stood outside in the black, Storm
Bay wilderness night and lifted my baby daughter face- up on my palms above my head
on up-stretched arms under the blazing starry sky, for as long as I could hold her up - just
her alone with her universe, me no intermediary. I held my infant son's face and hands
inches from the rushing, tumbling creek, let him be surrounded by the primordial energy,
all senses flooded. Later, I would perch him on the fender of the vehicle someone was
fixing, telling him to watch and learn. Such opportunities to teach and learn are
everywhere, the whole world a school.

Once children realize that this kind of learning experience is available to them, they will
seek it out themselves, come to expect it of situations and people, and move through life
absorbing information and knowledge.

I hope too that death will become as natural at part of life for the children as birth was for
our children when they were growing up.

Our ecovillage will provide a rich variety of opportunities for learning. Just as each
of us will have specialty skills and functions in the community, so too will each of us
have the added role of teacher, working side by side with young me mbers of our
community imparting our knowledge. My experience has shown me that what
children most want to learn is what people around them are actually doing, and thus
“toys” should mainly be smaller, usable versions of what adults are working with,
all the tools of our trades.

I cannot e mphasize the importance of this enough in the special context of what we
will be trying to accomplis h in the face of the future state into which we think the
world is likely to devolve. We could be the transitional generation. We will need to
teach our children from the very beginning of their lives the skills that we have
perhaps only recently learned or are just beginning to acquire clumsily – the basic
skills of growing food, from radishes to walnuts; working with animals; building
and blacks mithing; fiber arts. When we go for the first time into the woods to strip
off broad ribbons of cedar bark, separate the inner layer from the outer, roll them
up into bundles, and bring the m home to begin the process of converting the fiber
into clothing and cordage, it is absolutely essential that our children are learning
with us every faltering step of the way. We ourselves may be doing it in order to
learn how to do it and to prove to ourselves that we can do it even though thrift-
stores and dumpsters may still be providing for us; but they may have to provide
fiber for themselves this way, and they, unlike us, will be able to do it much more
confidently and competently when they come of age than we re their elders.

We need to impress upon our children that they must learn these skills, or they may
not survive after mommy and daddy are gone.

Something else I taught my children was history - their history. How did they end up
living in the woods? Why did they have ―hippy‖ parents? What are ―hippies‖ and what
were the roots of our counterculture? What were its ethics and its politics? Moreover,
what were the principles and practices of the ―straight‖ world?

I think it would be wonderful to learn how oral cultures learned to transmit the stories of
their people. I am sure that they started with children. It would be a simple matter to
either select a child with a photographic memory or teach a chosen child how to develop
a photographic memory, and then impart to himer the whole history of the tribe. There
is that moment in Roots, by Alex Haley, staggering to me - when he is sitting in the
village of his distant slave ancestor before the tranced-out ―Griot‖ who has been reciting
the village‘s genealogy for three hours and suddenly says, ―…Kunta Kinta, who went

down to the river to fetch water and was never heard from again.‖ It sends shivers up my
spine just writing it after all these years! I think that it would be wonderful and awesome
– momentous – to start this self- sufficient alternative to digital and printed information
storage! We must think boldly outside of the box.

When The Farm kids came of age, and were ready to adventure out into the world beyond
their borders, The Farm provided them with a list of alternate-culture contacts and
communities all along their routes, places where they could stay, people with whom they
would know, no matter how different, they would be welcomed. Many of them came
back: After some time away, they realized that the Farm was just about the neatest place
in the world. Many of that second generation is there now, involved, committed, also
"out to save the world", or as Stephan says, "be worth our oxygen". They are developing
a youth center on The Farm, and out-reaching into the surrounding area and beyond,
involving themselves with the international youth and ecovillage movements.

The Hutterites, too, encouraged their young people to fully experience ―the outside
world‖ when they came of age. They were not automatically members of the community,
but were given the opportunity to freely choose the lifestyle of their parents.

Turning the focus more specifically to this project at hand, I imagine a range of
possible educational strategies. Firstly and principally, as discussed, the children
will learn by participation in our lifestyle and from everyone in the community
practicing their skills; secondly, parents will be teaching their own childre n
informally in the home; thirdly, pare nts may practice more formal homeschooling
through correspondence courses; and fourthly, we can have our own “little red
schoolhouse”, accredited or not – preferable not! Finally, if we were located on
Maurelle Island, there is an elementary school at Surge Narrows. It would
necessitate a five-kilometer drive and a ten-kilometer boat trip each way twice a
day, five days a week. I hope that we will be able to provide our own alte rnatives to
that scenario.

I also hope that we will be able to provide our own alternatives to high school, as
well. Many of the folks who in the sixties populated some of the less-serviced islands
in the Strait of Georgia, such as Lasquiti and Reed, found the mselves having to
leave what they had built up ove r many years and move to Vancouve r Island whe n
their children finished elementary school. We must plan to avoid this dis ruption
and dispe rsal.

 [See Summerhill, A Radical Approach to Childrearing, by A.S. Neill. See, too, A
Pattern Language, pattern 18, 'Network of Learning', pp 99-103; pattern 35, 'Household
Mix', pp 188-191; pattern 68, 'Connected Play', pp 341-347; pattern 73, 'Adventure
Playground', pp 367-370; pattern 75, 'The Family', pp 376-380; pattern 76, 'House For A
Small Family', pp 381-384‘; pattern 83, 'Master and Apprentice, pp 412-415; pattern 84,
"Teenage Society", pp 416-419; pattern 85 'Shop Front Schools', pp 420-425; pattern 86,
'Children's Home', pp 426-430; pattern 137, 'Children's Realm', pp 651-655; pattern 154,
'Teenager's Cottage', pp 723-728; pattern 203, 'Child Caves', pp 927929. And see How

Children Learn and How Children Fail, by John Holt; On Education and Education and
the Social Order, by Bertrand Russell; Growing Up Absurd, by Paul Goodman;
Deschooling Society, by Ivan Illich; etc]

                          NEW AGE OLD AGE HOME

This whole community plan is actually a sneaky plot to trick and entice strong and
healthy young-ers into building a beautiful New Age Old Age Home - with me as its first
client. I have already lined up three people who have promised to be there to wipe my
ass for me when it comes to that.

I sometimes think I may also have the commitment of my two children for this touching
task. I use to say to them periodically, while they were growing up, that I was looking
after them for the first fifteen years of their lives, and I expected them to do the same for
me for the last fifteen years of mine. They always replied, very sarcastically, "Oh yah,
sure Dad!" until the last time: I leaned forward intently and said, "Well, what are you
going to do? Put me in an Old Folks Home"? I expected a spirited debate. Instead, they
greeted me with an uncharacteristic silence, minds no doubt racing for words not found,
unable to conceive of me in ―one of those‖ but unable to think of a viable third

I took this, at the time, to be a capitulation. It could lead to my dream to be once again
living and working in a paradise with my children and their families – even if it is only
during my end days!

If I am to be infirm in my dotage, I want to be infirm and then die in the firecircle -
brought out in the morning and put in a comfortable place by the fire in the center
of community life. Throughout the day, I would be tended by all who passed by - a
slipped-down shawl pulled up, anothe r bite of food given, a child in my lap, some
task in my hands, someone to stroke my face and say that they loved me. “Visiting
hours” and “hired help” would be a distant joke. No one would have to “sacrifice”
anything, take “time off from work” or "never have a minute for themselves". No
one would have to pay big bucks.

Community life would be all around me.

Children, grandchildren and home support workers tended my mother in the family home
for four years, but she died finally in a "very good" old people's hospital surrounded by
strangers and pale blue. The first time I came for a visit, the elevator doors opened, and
an old man, poised, waiting in a wheelchair for an opening and an ally, with a moment‘s
glance both desperate and pleading - made a quick and futile attempt to escape.

Minds trapped in bodies - stunned, disbelieving - wondering how it could possibly have
come to this: good friends absent - lodged elsewhere or not yet old enough; off- spring
sprung off long ago; no babies anywhere; village fires gone for generations; suspended
drugged in Limbo; last, precious days just on hold - while others, somewhere, wait
desperately for your bed.

The design for this community has space in each back yard for small cottages for aging
parents or frail members, private and self-contained but connected both to the rest of the
family compound and to the adjacent cottages. They could include small workshops
opening out onto ―Main Street‖ and community life.

The outbuilding ring will be nearby, offering involvement in a wide variety of activities.
The central community complex will also provide daily support, comradeship and

In between, throughout the central courtyard, benches scattered here and there, nooks
nestling alongside trellised pathways and activity nodes everywhere will invite sitting in
the sun, chatting with a friend, or playing a game of outdoor chess - for old and young

There will be a clinic, too, and a gravesite chosen.

We need to make a commitme nt, as a community and as individuals, to look after
each othe r in all ways with love and selfless service, joyous in the [w[holistic lives we
live and the opportunity to practice loving kindness.

[See "A Pattern Language" by Alexander et al, Pattern 35, "Household Mix," pp 188-191;
Pattern 40, ―Old People Everywhere,‖ pp 215-220; Pattern 155, "Old Age Cottage," pp
729-732 and Pattern 156, "Settled Work," pp 733-736; Patter 157, ―Home Workshop‖;
Pattern 165, ―Opening to the Street,‖ pp 773-776]

                                DEATH AND DYING

For me, the ultimate indignity that the madness of our culture visits upon our lives is not
only the actual circumstances and manner of our deaths - though that, too - as once and
still our births - but the inculcation of a psychological, emotional and spiritual alienation
from and dysfunction towards our ending that percolates our social beings like pollution
from the factories manufacturing our consent. When my brother- in- law, Krishna, died, I
rode on the edge of tears for him and his children, but the real sadness - always - was for
myself, my own mortality, my own imagined death-bed regrets, my fear of eulogies
forced to deceit by decorum, my on-going failures, my less than perfect relationships; my

truths not spoken for want of knowing how; for my often mundane life; for the countless
wasted minutes lived as though there was no end rushing into view; for the millio n dead
in Iraq and for their cavalier killers; for the existential meaninglessness of it all.

Above all, I mourn for the vernacular, vanquished, vanished villages; for the crushed
circle of teepees; and for the dark holes where once the blazing fires gathered us around

I think about death periodically throughout the day - my death yoga, the grim reaper
riding over my left shoulder. It always feels scary, sometimes knocking the wind out of
me. Speaking of which, I once acted out, in the middle of some dramatic discussion on
death, an imagined last exhale – expiration - and started letting out a long, slow-motion
breath, on and on, until suddenly it felt like I really could just go on and
pain...maybe past a point of no return...and die...on purpose! It felt like I was leaking out
- or was it something leaking out of me? Are we the beach ball or are we the air? I think
it is clear: The brain is the ball. The mind is the air. It gives us shape. When the ball
deflates, molecules disperse. When the brain dies, electrons disperse and without their
printed circuits, they are no longer mind.

This is just to say that my emphasis is on the person dying, those around himer and the
people left behind. It is our words, thoughts and actions that matter most to me, not our
beliefs about an afterlife,. The former seem much more appropriate for community
consideration than the latter.

We hippies pushed the envelope by reclaiming homebirths as our own, and I think
we will do the same with home-deaths as well - and home-burials. Many reading this
manuscript will have no doubt moved in their thinking beyond the mostly empty rituals
of church and state and yearn for more control over their lives. Once again, by ―starting
from scratch without trying to reinvent the wheel,‖ we have the opportunity to put
together and develop our own culture.

I saw a custom in the movie "The Emerald Forest" that I loved. When people died, they
were cremated. Then a large clay, stoppered urn was brought out, opened, and a handful
of new ashes added to the ashes of countless numbers before, endless ancestors. After
the ashes were thoroughly mixed, one handful was taken back out, and thrown to the

However, burning is a waste and ―all waste is pollution‖; and burning is pollution, and
―all pollution is waste‖. I would rather feed the plants. So what would we have to mix?
What about cutting off some hair (How ironical! Not too short, O.K.?), chopping it up,
and adding a handful of that to the community funeral urn instead of ashes?

I think meaningful rituals - which are only those that all participants perceive, understand
and feel to be meaningful - are meant to focus our minds on important events and
realities, and the deeper mysteries beneath them. I look forward to evolving those rituals
through discussion, experiment and agreement.

Stephen Gaskins's wife Ina May, head midwife and author of "Spiritual Midwifery"
[], lead a small party of thirty people or so into The
Farm's cemetery on "The Day of the Dead‖, one day after the feast of All Saints and two
after Halloween, and in the spirit of Mexican festivities - traced to the indigenous peoples
of the Americas and their Mesoamerican civilizations and dedicated to the celebration of
children and the lives of dead relatives - they moved from grave to grave and gave pause,
and those who had known them spoke of them, recalled their gifts, kept them alive with
good reminders, and then moved on to the next marked stone.

Perhaps we could celebrate people's ―deathday‖ as well as their birthday; what about
making death masks – or perhaps smiling life masks - of everyone and putting them up
over the years all around the firecircle; what about a tall stone monument with chiseled
list; what about community processions carrying the newly departed throughout our
community, along the paths once tread; what about an Irish wake, with our dearly
beloved propped in favorite chair, part of the circle and the party ―a friars‘ roast-type
celebration where we wine and dine and celebrate the person…the contributions made,
the funny moments….‖

Do we have a graveyard or do we scatter burial sites throughout our permaculture
mandala? In "A Pattern Language", by Alexander, et al, [Pattern 70, "Grave Sites", pp
355-357], it says:

"No people who turn their backs on death can be alive. The presence of the dead among
the living will be a daily fact in any society which encourages its people to
live...Therefore: never build massive cemeteries. Instead, allocate pieces of land
throughout the community as gravesites - corners of parks, sections of paths, gardens,
beside gateways - where memorials to people who have died can be ritually placed with
inscriptions and mementos which celebrate their life. Give each site an edge, a path, and
a quiet corner where people can sit. By custom, this is hallowed ground."

This is so cool – we would be living in our graveyard! And I could see, as part of
puberty rites, the children who are becoming adults sent out for three days of solitude,
silence and fasting, moving throughout their community landscape until they find the
place for their own future grave.

Similarly, each of us, whether close to the end or not, could host our own "Pre-Death
Planning Party", a weekend affair. The first day, gathered family, friends, acquaintances
and admirers of the pre-deceased, along with the guest of honour, would organize their
response to the inevitable future news of the meeting's facilitator‘s demise, and discuss,
agree on and plan the memorial service. The outcome would be a blend of following the
wishes of the inevitably doomed and the needs of the future mourners.

The second day could be the dress rehearsal. I, of course, will have suggested a circle
and a talking stick. Therefore, I will have the satisfaction of hearing what everybody has

to say about me before I die...and so will you. There will not be any, "If you can hear me
now, Peter, wherever you are" nonsense. I will be right there, playing dead, listening. I
would want to hear all the loving chides, the gentle asides, the knowing chuckles, the
glowing tributes and the hilarious stories - and the failures and the regrets, to which I will
not be able to respond - not one defensive word! Wow, fierce yoga! Maybe the life-
challenge then becomes to make folks eat their words when the real time comes.

Let us reclaim death as ours and make it more profound and close to our doorsteps
and evolve new and meaningful rituals and ceremonies that flow from our own ne w

                                   HEALTH – Diet


There are four pillars to health: diet, exercise, stress and the environme nt.

In regards to the first on the list, the general daily well-being of any project can rise or
fall on whether or not people are eating all the delicious and nutritious food that they
need and want, and really enjoy it. Anyone who has tree-planted knows what I am
talking about. One hundred and fifty people were so provided for three times a day, all
during the summer of 1993 at the Clayquot Peace Camp. It made all the difference in the
world. Just that alone, regardless of long-term health, can be a key ingredient for
community cohesion, mood and success.

More specifically, there are many different food regimens out the re, many diets that
have been promoted over the years, and I am certainly not going to add anothe r one
here. However, we will be doing mostly communal growing, cooking and eating, so
we will have to agree on the basics.

Personally, I do not eat much wheat, white, meat, sweet or silly.

To put it even more simply, I think it is well understood that we should eat less meat,
little junk and more plants.


Wheat is idiosyncratic, in that I have an allergy to it - it makes me very depressed - so I
certainly am not suggesting that we have to be a wheat- free community. However, it is
one of the more common villains behind various food allergy symptoms (see "Allergies",
below) and many people vaguely feel that they would like to see it eliminated from their

Other grain and seed flours, such as rye, corn, rice, soy, oat, buckwheat, are readily
available in bulk – many organic, though still often ridiculously expensive – and simple

to substitute for wheat flour. We can eventually grow a lot of them ourselves. Therefore,
eliminating wheat from a community diet would be quite easy if we chose to do so, or if
we find that it is easier to grow other grains. I have been making my own wheat-free
breadstuff for twenty years - for much of that time as a baking-powder ―bun‖ in a cast
iron frying pan, sort of like baking a fat pancake in a Dutch oven.

Growing our own grain is definitely feasible. Dan Jason is a big promoter of this through
his books (See Greening the Garden) and his seed company, Salt Spring Seeds. There is
also an excellent book titled Small Scale Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon, wherein he
says,―… nine bushels of assorted grains might be raised on 1/6 of an acre and can
provide you with the major portion of your diet.‖

Multiply by thirty-two families, and one gets about six acres, do-able by hand with many
hands, which is the way I have always grown my food. Permaculture encourages
creativity, efficiency and a philosophy of ―least labour‖, and embraces small-scale grain
growing after Fukuoka in One Straw Revolution, so I am sure that we could develop
strategies appropriate to the West Coast [See essay ―Animals – domestic‖, ―Energy‖ and
―Tools and Technology‖].

My sense of it is that perhaps Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), an ancient South American
food staple, will be the way to go. A broad- leafed plant closely related to my favorite
weed, Lambs Quarters (Chenopodium album), it is 16% protein, with an essential amino
acid balance close to the ideal; easy to grow; and produces well.

Buckwheat can be grown easily as well and the grain eaten just like rice as well as
ground into flour…gives great energy. Neither quinoa nor buckwheat - nor amaranth,
another promising South American crop - is, strictly speaking, a grain, being broadleaved
plants rather than grasses, but all have great potential to provide us with an important part
of our protein requirements.


Not eating white means eating brown which means eating whole foods, whethe r
wheat, rice, noodles, spaghetti, etc (It doesn‘t include eggs - there is no relationship
between egg nutrition and eggshell colour). To eat otherwise is to eat unhealthily.
Rich people in rice countries eating white, go back to "peasant rice" or brown rice, when
they get sick. Maybe they could prevent illness if they did all along.

The brown is mainly B-vitamins and fiber, which are both crucial to good heath.

We baked with one-hundred-percent whole-wheat flour one hundred percent of the time
for ten years, for everything from bread to birthday cakes to cinnamon-rolls, and people
were always drooling over them, wondering why they were so good, and asking us for
the recipe. We always just told them that it was the whole-wheat flour (this was before I
discovered my allergy).

The Tassajara Bread Book was our bible.

I will not help pay for white food.


Let me say at the beginning that no matter what arguments we might present for or
against meat eating, there are eight essential amino acids found in protein that are
necessary for human beings. They are the same, no matter whether found in plants
or animals. There is no such thing as “animal protein” in contradistinction to
“plant protein” except as a description of the source. We need a certain amount of
those amino acids in a ce rtain balance to sustain ourselves properly, and it is quite
possible to acquire the m from plants, especially plants knowledgably combined in
the diet.

In addition, here I am only presenting my thoughts on the health aspects of meat eating.
For further discussion on the subject, see the essay, ―Animals: Domestic‖.

I think that it is clear that humans did not evolve biologically as hunters - we do not have
the teeth and claws with which to open up an intact carcass. For example, John A. Rush,
a medical anthropologist, writes:

―Our teeth, as well as those of our ancient ancestors, indicate an adaptation to a varied
diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, insects, and a small amount of meat. There is no evidence
of large game hunting until 350,000 years ago (Bower 1997:134), and it was probably
supplemental to a mainly scavenging mode of existence.‖


―…[W]e are adapted to eat meat, but everything else as well; we are not specialized
meat eaters as are cats. Moreover, adapting to a varied diet means that we derive our
nutrients from a wide variety of sources.‖

Hominids were no doubt opportunistic meat-eaters for millions of years - scavengers
actually - taking advantage of kills by other animals. Our remote ancestors no doubt also
ate insects and perhaps reptiles, amphibians and other small invertebrates such as clams
and other seafood. .

Despite this, our hominid dentition for the last 4.5 million years shows that we were
without a doubt omnivores, and not carnivores. When the hunting of large game became
common is still much in dispute.

Only much, much later came the domestication of animals..

―The early ancestors of modern humans, from at least 4 million years ago, followed diets
almost exclusively of plant-foods. Beginning at least 250,000 years ago, many of the
hunter-gatherer societies consumed meat as a large part of their diet. 1 However, more
recently, over the past 12,000 years of agricultural development, people‘s diets have

been mostly based upon starches, like rice in Asia, corn in North America, potatoes in
western parts of South America, wheat in Europe and Northern Africa. In terms of the
time line of evolution, 12,000 years, and even 250,000 years, is only a brief moment.‖

If we took our guidance from our closest relative, the chimpanzee, meat would comprise
two percent of our diet. That is held up by some to be the perfect ratio for us as well and
perhaps even closer to the diet of the modern hunter-gatherers of this world than to the
diet of modern humans in industrialized societies. (See Jane Goodall). However, it may
be a shaky premise to base a natural human diet on the diet of chimps.

After all, we diverged from our common ancestor about seven million years ago. If we
are prepared to go that far back, why not to the earliest primates, whose diet was mostly

Current modern medical recommendation is two servings a week. There are a huge
number of health problems associated with regular, daily meat consumption, long known
by vegetarians, but now fully recognized by the straight world's nutritionists and

The above discussion is at least important to keep in mind as we evolve and settle
into a “community diet”.


Too much sugar or honey, in any form, is not very good for us. However, if we can
keep bees, tap broad-leaved maple trees and/or grow sugar beets, we can have free,
natural sweetening, and I think that that is sweet! As usual, moderation is the key.

If we used lots of sugar or honey for alcohol production of any kind, then, of course, we
wouldn't be consuming sugar - or putting it in our gas tanks - but rather, alcohol.

Sugar and refined and cooked carbohydrates are the principle villains for tooth
decay, and if dental bills are to come out of community funds, then I think it is valid
for the community to be involved with dental health.


Silly's an indefinable. I think highly processed. I think heavily packaged. I think
ridiculously s mall amounts. I think highly chemicalize d. I think coffee -mate. I
think breakfast cereals in a box. I think white. I think TV dinners. I think most
store-bought canned goods.

I think junk food. I cannot imagine spending community money on such products.


Much that can be said about meat can also be said about milk products. As well, milk
was meant for the young: No animal suckles adults. Moreover, cow‘s milk was meant
for calves, not kids; and goat milk was meant for kids, not children.

On the other hand, the Inuit People will breast-feed their children until the next child, and
until puberty in the case of the last-born. However, life is harsh in the Arctic, famine
always around the corner. It was harsh during the dustbowl, too, The Grapes of Wrath,
by Steinbeck ending in a barn with a bereaved mother offering her over-full breast to a
dying old man.

I have a weakness for cheese and butter. I crave them or miss them when I do not have
them. I hope we can perhaps eventually learn to satisfy my craving with alternatives.

While we were living in Storm Bay and were bringing up two children, we bought four
fifty-pound bags a year of non-instant skim- milk powder from Buckerfields, supplier of
animal feed. Occasionally a bag was sour. We would use it for cooking. The others
hadn‘t skimmed completely, and contained some butterfat. These cost half the price o f
―human consumption‖ non- instant skim- milk powder, which cost half the price of instant
skim- milk powder, which cost half the price of liquid milk – roughly.

We made our own yogurt, literally, by the gallon.

I bring this up because if we are consuming dairy products and until we are producing our
own, this is a very cost-saving way to purchase milk and store it without refrigeration.

Having a small herd of goats or cows is tempting, and we might end up with one, but
whether buying dairy or producing our own, we participate in periodically
separating baby animals pre maturely from their mothers and then killing the m.
Are you ready to do that? Think about it.


I think that one of the reasons we westerners have so many problems with diet and
health is that food has been commodified and the re is so much choice of crap.
Because of the welter of products, mass marketing, unscrupulous capitalists,
minimum daily allowance figures, chemical farming and pharmaceutical companies
with a vested interest in having us get sick, it behooves us to think about and
examine all we purchase, to read the labels, and to study nutrition. The simpler we
buy and the more we produce ourselves, the less proble m this will be. Raising our
children beyond daily exposure to television and the temptations of stores, and
surrounded only with healthy food, gives both them and us little choice or
opportunity to eat unhealthily - end of argument!


There is no reason not to be growing 100% organically. I can say that from
experience. Then we do not even have to wash our vegetables, let alone peel them!

This will definitely be an organic food-producing community – that’s for s ure!


The closer our food sources the better. Five feet from the doorstep is better than
ten; B.C. is better than California; Canada is better than China.

This is a good reason to switch from rice to quinoa.


Raw is good. So is cooked, though, sometimes even freeing nutrients. A good
balance seems in order. How could we not eat tons of both, living in a permaculture

 ―Although fire was nice to keep the cave warm, its biggest impact was that it let people
 cook their food. Cooking expanded the range of food people could eat, and also made
   food easier to digest, allowing our bodies to get more energy out of the same meal.

 ―This was a very big deal – some anthropologists think cooking was the key adaptation
                       that led to the success of the human race.‖

- from ―When the oil runs out‖, a review by Kurt Kleiner in The Globe and Mail, Jan. 30,
    2006, of a book by Alfred W. Crosby entitled, ―Children of the Sun: A History of
                    Humanity‘s Unappeasable Appetite for Energy‖.

What else do we know? We know that some nutrients are water soluble, so if we
boil vegetables and throw the liquid away, we are leaching and throwing away
nutrient. Steaming is better: less liquid to recycle into the soup or drink for a
wonde rful hit of s weet and healthy. This is rational thinking; poor habits learned
from Mother is not.

Frying with some oils creates transfatty acids that are very bad - clog up the cells;
frying with others do not. So we choose intelligently.

Most of the nutrients are in the skins of vegetables; I am sorry to say that I think
peeling organic produce is crazy! Irrational!

Stems are usually much more nutritious than the leaf or bud, e.g. broccoli and kale
stems, yet I’ve noticed that some people cut off the stems and throw the m away!

A large - gargantuan for a community - pot of ongoing soup - brought to a boil once
a day - is a wonde rful device for reducing the labour of daily meal pre paration;

providing a perfect receptacle for leftovers, scraps, plate scrapings and rinsings and
thus cutting down and practically eliminating food waste; and ens uring that there is
always a nutritious bowl of food available and ready for unexpected guests or late -
returning worke rs. The stock is always in the pot, and, once a day, water and a
different food group can be added: one day, grain; the next, legumes; another,
various garden vegetables; and always oil, herbs, soy sauce and nutritional yeast,
etc. (Boy, do I want to learn how to grow nutritional yeast and make soy sauce).
My friend John Paulin comme nted, “To those uninitiated, this mélange in a pot
might seem some what sus pect, but I’ve been eating Peter’s soup for thirty years and
it’s always good!

Vitamin C

Linus Pauling, the only man to win two Nobel Prizes - the first in chemistry and the
second for peace - devoted the last twenty of his 94-year life to studying vitamin C. He
convincingly made the case, based on four evidential arguments, that humans should be
ingesting at least five grams of vitamin C a day, and as we become older, twelve grams.
That is to maintain health; when we get sick, we take a higher dose, determined by our
bodies – when we get the runs, we back off a gram.

The first argument for this is that because we evolved from fruit-eating apes in the
tropics, we lost our ability to synthesize Vitamin C because our supply of it was so rich.
Then we moved away from the equator and our source of this rich diet. Most animals do
manufacture Vitamin C in their own bodies, and studies have found that these produce
comparable high doses.

Vitamin C protects cells against invasion of viruses because it is the main ingredient of
collagen, which is the principle component of cell walls. Flu is a virus.
The world may be facing a flu pandemic. Maybe this is a way that we could increase our
chances of survival.

Our pe rmaculture design should include dozens of species and cultivars of plants
selected for their known high Vitamin C content. It is going to be difficult to ingest
enough fruit and veggies here on the 49th parallel to reach the recomme nded doses,
but I think it would be a worthy permaculture goal. Fruit leathers would help
concentrate available vitamin C and as well would be storable for long winters
without fresh berries and fruit.

Alle rgies

There really are people with food allergies. I cured forty years of severe depression by
eliminating wheat from my diet. Therefore, we need to pay attention to that.

Miracle Foods?

Here is a list of some of the foods and supplements that, over the years, I have heard
recommended for daily consumption to keep one in the best of health. Almost all of
them we can grow or learn to produce ourselves. It would not hurt to keep them in mind
as we build a healthy society. I am sure we could add to the list.

   -   garlic
   -   vitamin C
   -   almonds (three a day)
   -   cayenne
   -   ginseng
   -   reishi mushrooms
   -   bee pollen
   -   royal jelly
   -   spiralina
   -   cider vinegar and honey
   -   flax seed oil
   -   fish oil
   -   hemp oil/seed heart
   -   pumpkin seeds
   -   wheatgrass juice
   -   nutritional yeast
   -   zinc
   -   red wine
   -   dark chocolate
   -   beer
   -   coffee
   -   grape juice
   -   green/black tea
   -   tomatoes
   -   dark leafy greens
   -   cabbage family vegetables
   -   apples
   -   apple pits
   -   multi- vitamins
   -    one quarter of an aspirin (Willow bark)


Here is what I learned about feeding my children:

We did not give them the choice of eating junk food – we never had it around.

We served very small portions so when they said, ―more please,‖ everyone was happy.

We put a clean sheet of plastic under them when they were just learning to feed
themselves so I could scoop the spilt food back up and into their mouth or their bowl and
so did not have to fret about waste.

If they would not try something new, I would tell them that they had to try one bite, and
if they did not like it, then they could spit it back out on my hand.

If they had not tried something they did not like for a number of months, I would tell
them that ―taste buds change‖ and that they had to try another bite.

They liked salad without a dressing more than salad with a dressing; and they liked
separate raw vegetables better than vegetables mixed in a salad.

Kids get cranky when they do not eat, can learn to recognize that when it is pointed out to
them, and will trot off at once to get a hit of energy.

We taught them, once they were not babies, that food is for eating, not for playing with.

We taught them to ―waste not, want not‖ and to honour and respect every step of the
process of bringing food to our table.

                               HEALTH – Exercise
As with much in these essays, I want the help, inspiration, commitment and pressure of
community to aid me in doing what is right! It is hard for us, I think, to do it on our own.
If we all agree on at least some obvious minimums in our lives, starting points, we
can hold each other and ourselves to these obvious sensibilities and work together
on advancing along chosen paths.

Only once have I felt satisfied with my exercise regime n. I was doing yoga twice a week,
two hours each time, with a small group; I was jogging in the woods with my son for
twenty minutes twice a week; and I was on a scientific weight programme under the
supervision of my son for two hours twice a week. It felt very good to be doing that, a
real sense of continuing accomplishment.

There are three kinds of exercise: Stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular. I
used to point to yoga as the best example of the first, but it is also strengthening and
even, at times, cardio-tonic. Running and s wimming, of course, get one puffing and
thumping, as will any sustained activity, for the recommended minimum of twenty
minutes three times a week. Pushing weights properly can get one strong all over

However, I have been developing the idea of "workacize".

Although physically working all day establishing and maintaining a "homestead"
can involve all kinds of exercise, more often than not we seldom sustain vigourous

effort or run with the wheelbarrow; the weights we briefly grunt to lift more often
strain than train; and the bending and reaching more often pulls and damages than
tones and stretches.

However, with thought, careful attention and delight in innovation, creation and the
"stacking of functions", we can greatly improve the health benefits of our work, get
the job done faster, and obviate the necessity of setting aside as much time for
separate periods of exercise. We can jog around our land in the course of a
workday or sprint to get the tool we forgot back at the house. Stretching backwards
every half-hour to balance the constant forward-bending we do leaves the back
feeling toned, not trashed, at the end of a hard days work; and we can stretch
forward more delibe rately, learn to lift and pick things up differently, hunke r down
instead of bending ove r.

There really is no single more efficient and productive way to achieve full benefits
from any kind of exercise than learning to do them properly and allotting specific
times for the m, but we can go a long way towards physical health by the choice of
our lifestyle together and by the attention we pay to getting the most benefit from
our physical work.

                                 HEALTH - Stress
Are fear, nervousness, anxiety, and stage fright synonymous? They are either pretty
close or one can cause another.

I was an actor in some of my younger days: radio, television, screen and stage.
Therefore, when, just a few years ago, someone admitted to me that his lifestyle involved
stress pretty well all the time, I related that to stage fright and could hardly conceive of
such a thing. I understood how it might literally ―rot one‘s gut‖ and actually kill people!
It is an extremely uncomfortable feeling! Moreover, not only does holding stress hurt,
but also it can hurt others, projected out as vibes or negative behaviour. In addition, it
can hurt the whole community, lessening efficiency, lowering productivity and casting a
pall of low energy and negativity.

I realize that largely, I have engineered my life in such a way that I am able to avoid
many causes of stress. I have few deadlines, few performances, no money problems, no
children problems, few partner problems, no boss or fellow worker problems, no
membership in clubs or organizations (gee, sounds like no community!), no rush, no fuss,
– most of the time!

Some stress can have a physical or dietary cause, and much is a modern disease we can
eliminate by lessening our participation in the mainstream.

   However, although there will be many ways that living in this ecovillage will reduce
 stress, there are also many ways that it could increase it. For me, and I suspect most of
     us, by far the most common cause of stress is rooted in relationships and thus in

breakdowns in communication. This is particularly intense in marital dysfunction – and
 communes! We must assume responsibility for the stress we feel within ourselves
 and develop personal strategies to reduce the intensity and duration of it and we
     must have mechanisms in place as a group to deal directly, promptly and
     compassionately with the unde rlying causes. [see essays on ―PROCESS‖]

These two agreements reflect the two sides of stress: the feeling and the cause.
Whichever one we are considering, much of our success in dealing with tensions
leading to stress in this proposed community will be due to individuals assuming
personal responsibility - for paying attention, for noticing how we feel in the moment,
for recognizing “negative vibes”, for trusting our intuitions and hunches, and for
having both the courage to speak up and the willingness to have issues brought
before ourselves and others.

So first, we design a lifestyle that is not stressful. Second, we note stress as soon as it
appears, whether our own or another’s; if it is our own, we analyze it and the n see if
we can resolve it ourselves. If we detect it emanating from someone else, whether or
not we might be a cause, we address it promptly. That was a cardinal rule on The
Farm – it was called ―not holding subconscious‖ and was dealt with ―on the spot‖, often
with other Farm members within earshot ―gathering around as fair witness‖. I think that
they rarely considered it a legitimate excuse to say, ―Now is not a good time.‖
Nevertheless, I learned that it is legitimate to say, ―Ok, when would be a good time?‖ as
taught in my training at the Justice Institute of B.C.
Generally, process must come before content in importance and priority. It
therefore becomes necessary and pe rmissible to interrupt what we were doing in
order to work out how we are being. This can be very difficult and challenging, to say
the least, once emotions have escalated out of control. I can storm off in an ocean of
rage, mortification and humiliation, running to hide and hurt. This is even more reason to
catch the slightest hint or suggestion of a ―falling away from agreement‖ and address it

Third, we agree to process the stressful issue through all the steps necessary, as
summarized in the essay “PROCESS – Conflict Resolution - Inte rvention

                       HEALTH: The Environment

Environmental health refers to our own healthy environment. That is good in and
of itself, of course. However, it also refers to protecting ourselves from everything
unhealthy that impinges on us from the outside: cigarette smoke and factories;
noise pollution; contaminated air and water; toxic s pills and nuclear radiation;
global warming and ozone depletion.

If we choose and create good, vibrant health for ourselves, we win a third of the
battle. How much s moke are we producing? Do we have adequate ventilation? Are
we using any toxic materials?

If we pay attention to how we site ourselves, we win a second third: Are we down-
wind from a pulp mill? Is the water polluted? Do we have trees to protect us from
solar radiation? That is another third taken care of.

The final third is mostly beyond our control – gove rnme nts, businesses and the
masses are not going to respond in time to the biggies to prevent a global biosphere
catastrophe. That does not mean that we need to be caught bringing it down,
though, by contributing to the proble ms.

Germs also come from the outside. I do not believe a lot in the ―germ theory of disease‖,
though. Usually, every result has multiple causes. Germs alone often are not enough to
make us sick. Good health can protect us from much sickness – not all, but most.

An increasing number of well-known diseases will be migrating to these regions and
mysterious new viruses and antibiotic-resistance bacteria will cut down the weak, infirm
and unhealthy as climate continues to change.

We need to pay attention without getting paranoid; keep our eyes wide open; keep
our vitamin C levels high; eat well and exercise; and re member that despite all our
defensive and protective actions, something is eventually, inevitably, going to get us!

                              HEALTH – Western
   Lab supervisor to researchers: ―It‘s fine to discover cures, but, remember, chronic
                            disease is our bread and butter.‖

Western Medicine isn't everything, but often, despite our criticis ms, it seems to be
way ahead of whatever is in second place!

However, even though I count a couple of doctors as friends (each renegades), and have a
great deal of respect for their learning, knowledge and skill, I nevertheless view western
medicine much as I do the law: It is both majestic and an ass.

Only a few hours in med school is devoted to nutrition. If they taught prevention and it
caught on, they might do themselves out of a job. The commodification of practically
anything corrupts it.

Did you know that theoretically if you want to go to a doctor in British Columbia, just for
an annual check-up, sans any specific symptoms, you have to pay for it? So make sure
that you tell them that there is something wrong with you.

Did you know that in China it used to be that you would pay the doctor for preventing
illness and when you got sick, you stopped paying?

Doctors are really good at patching you up if your body has been busted. They also give
pills. I usually go to them for a diagnosis, or maybe to be reassured by them that there is
nothing wrong.

Why do so many people, as with lawyers, love to actually hate doctors? They have
always treated me pretty well and have done a few simple jobs for me.

I like the science of it, but many people these days bash science. That is a shame,
because it is by far the best way to ferret out reasonably objective truth, despite the
effects the observer has on the observed! You have to respect eight years of rigorous
training and study in anything!

Yet it is true that scientists and doctors are the modern priests of our world. As such,
society holds them up as somehow more than human – gods - infallible. Many also claim
the high ground, imply "have no other gods but us", and reject most of what is alternate,
anecdotal or not of academia. They seldom accord the patient respect for personal,
subjective experience. If it works at all, they often say, it is because one believed it
would - the placebo effect. Which I suppose is better than nothing!

(I think we could make a million dollars on E-bay. All it would take would be some
bottles, some labels, and some sugarcoated pills. We would call our medicine ―Placebo,
the pill that can cure everything‖, and reference all the studies for every disease for which
there are figures for the cure rate due to its effect. If anyone runs with this, I expect a cut,

Institutionalized doctors are sometimes corrupted, brainwashed, or forced by the system,
but I think that it would be great if we could wrest one away to independence and
freedom! We will want at the very least a first aid station and attendant, if not a full-
blown medical clinic and maybe even a small surgical ward - like they do on the
battlefield, off in the boonies – a ―field station‖.

A dentist would be great, too! If we do not have one, the community will have to foot the
dental bills!

                               HEALTH – Alternative
I think that just as there are many paths to “god”, so too are there many paths to
healing and health. None of the m are perfect; some of them probably don’t work
very well at all; others do so spectacularly; some are corrupted by avarice and
institutionalization; some work as the result of the powe r of suggestion and the

placebo effect; all of them have something to offe r and some still have course
corrections to make; and all of them deserve both our respect and our skepticis m.

In addition, I have found all of these paths have some practitioners who tend to suffer
from professional elitism.

While I immensely respect scholarship and knowledge, I also respect our ability to
educate ourselves and dare to practice what we learn; to test and experime nt on
ourselves and others; to observe the results carefully and come to conclusions about
the efficacy of the treatment; and to accept or discard things that work or don’t

Hippies questioning authority, rejecting compromised institutions and learning self-
reliance, preceded the discovery of “alternative medicines”. Then the mainstream
“discovered” the m. after first disparaging the m and then forgetting the original
practitioners. Many were here all along, with ancient lineages; however, many have
been recently invented - some out of whole cloth.

When we first went to Storm Bay in 1967, there was no health-care programme, we
distrusted everything ―straight‖, we had no money, and we intended to learn to ―live off
the land‖.

We had one little herbal book which served us well those first few years as we set about
learning how to look after our own minor first aid and health needs.

Eventually we were wild-crafting about forty plants for medicinal purposes, and using a
dozen of them regularly. We used them for wounds, infections, coughs, whooping cough,
tobacco substitutes, sauna steam, wasp stings, skin conditions and nutritional teas. They
obviously worked, sometimes dramatically. It seemed like a miracle to us, and I still find
it very exciting to be able to recommend plantain for open sores, and see the results short
days later.

One day, down from the Bay, sitting around a table talking and toking in a cabin in West
Porpoise Bay, I found myself being asked questions about herbs by a straight- looking
English dude with quite a proper accent. He turned out to be Dr. David Gerring, medical
maverick practicing out of the Sechelt Medical Clinic and an anesthetist at St. Mary‘s
Hospital. He went on to become a homeopath and one of my best friends. For a while,
he worked out of a multidiscipline clinic with eight other healers, both alternative and
mainstream. He lives a pretty straight lifestyle, but still, I sometimes imagine us
communing together!

I have helped at or been co-responsible for, eight homebirths. There was a midwife at
only one. That was Wendy Clemens. Most of them were before she started her
underground practice.

Wendy was trained, surreptitiously, by another maverick doctor and dear friend of mine,
Nona Rowat, who went on to co-found and operate a ―Preventative Health Clinic‖ in
Vancouver, and who once told me that she would never give antibiotics to her family,
even for a potentially life-threatening infection. She would have them fast instead!

I have visited chiropractors dozens and dozens of time, with great satisfaction and usually
instant relief. I have learned how to manipulate myself just a little, and even others, with
a couple of procedures.

Marijuana, to all of our amazement, is turning out to be useful for more and more medical
conditions. I have certainly had that confirmed by many friends who have used this herb
for an equal number of complaints.

Alternatives to mainstream medicine clearly have a role to play in our lives. However, I
have known a number of people recently who, when given a terminal diagnosis, went all
out with a great number of different alternate therapies, but they all died about when their
doctors told them they would. I suppose that could possibly be attributed to the power of
authority and suggestion, but if something does not work simply because somebody
implies that it will not, it could not be very strong medicine, could it? A lifetime of self-
abuse and environmental insults is what people are principally dying of and there is no
pill for that. Some of the damage can be reversed by changing a lifestyle, and some of it
cannot. There really are things that kill you

                           HEALTH - Emergencies
A phone and a fast boat of some sort would a good thing to have when we find ourselves
not sufficient to deal with a medical emergency. We had neither in Storm Bay for the
bulk of our time there. Once my son fell ten feet from the sleeping loft and twitched
spasmodically a few times before he recovered in a bit of a daze. This was late one
stormy evening with no boat, and our reality hit me with a bit of a panic. Once we went
out in a canoe and flagged down a plane when we began to think that thirty-six hours was
a little long to be in labour. And we used copious amounts of cold water and dozens of
vitamin E oil capsules when one of our toddlers pulled a cup of freshly made tea down
over his head and face, causing second-degree burns. It was four days before we walked
into the Sechelt Medical Clinic. He was fine, however – no infection, no scarring.

We were lucky. We could also have been considered fools who rushed in where angels
feared to tread!

Having someone with some kind of medical training is much more likely if we are many
instead of few. I could even see setting up some kind of a
‖field hospital‖ if we have trained folks to staff it.

The first line of defense is paying attention and being careful.

                         PSYCHOTROPIC PLANTS

Psychotropic means, ―affecting the mind‖. Coffee is a psychotropic. So is tobacco.
Psychotropic plants are often referred to as ―drug plants‖ and their derivatives as ―drugs‖.

One can hardly speak of “drugs”. We have to ask ourselves what plants, which
drugs, why, how much, whe n, where, how often, and for how long? Only when
these questions are ans wered can ethnobotanic and pharmaceutical knowledge be
brought together to evolve a rational drug culture for any community.

There are many ways that we can categorize “drugs”. The re are legal and illegal
drugs; soft drugs and hard drugs; alcohol, marijuana, psychedelic, s edative,
amphetamine and opiate drugs; street drugs or doctor drugs; inactive drugs and
useful drugs; recreational drugs and medicinal drugs; dangerous drugs and
harmless drugs; natural drugs and synthetic drugs.

I would like to make a distinction between plants we grow and process ourselves
and plants we do not. As with food, our goal needs to be self-sufficiency.
Candidates to conside r might include tobacco, cannabis, poppies, psilocybin
mushrooms, morning glory, Ephedra, vale rian and hops, barley, grapes, honey and
other possible ingredients for alcohol production. Some of these are clearly
medicinal and others clearly recreational

There are also different levels of use when it comes to mind drugs: spiritual use;
philosophical use; therapeutic use; recreational use; use; misuse; abuse; addiction.

Using certain plants for ecstasy and transcendence is widespread throughout time
and space. Here and now, however, does not seem to be a time or place. Our
mother-culture has re jected even its own wild mid-summe r nights and bacchanal
celebrations, replacing them with cocktail parties and drunken bars.

One can have no intelligent discussion on this subject unless we take all of the above
variables into consideration. So, too, with any policy we might develop as an
intentional community. Nothing is ever black and white. A tiny bit of cyanide will
not kill you. Neither will smoking copious amounts of pot!

I would also like to make it clear here that no one in this proposed community has to
use any drugs and would be respected for leading such a clean lifestyle!

A Fe w Words on a Fe w Specific Psychoactive Agents:

We will need to find agreement on our involvement with va rious drugs and herbs. I think
it should be an ongoing conversation. Here are some of my thoughts on specific


Major studies have shown no harm from two to four cups of coffee a day. As always,
individuals have different reactions to drugs - for example, coffee makes some people
nervous, prevents sleep in some but not others. Recent studies, on the other hand, show
many dramatic benefits for up to six cups a day! However, we can‘t grow it here on the
west coast (maybe our great grandchildren will). There are substitutes, but they either do
not have similar effects or cannot be grown here, either.

I‘m sure some of us will want it as long as we can get it!


Mostly the same as for coffee – beneficial in many ways - but even better, medicinally,
especially green tea.


Alcohol can be a serious problem, of course, for certain people. Others only have a glass
of wine at dinner. I sip all evening, it seldom gets in the way, and all six of my liver
functions are perfect. Correct dosage is crucial! How much and how long are relevant
community questions.

It seems as though there are four types of drinkers: drink until you pass out; drink a bit
all day; drink only socially; and hardly touch it. It is the same for monkeys!

My dad made wine, and so did I in Storm Bay. We always used fruits and vegetables that
we grew or harvested ourselves.

I think that home brewing or purchasing alcohol should be a household decision and
expense unless everyone in the community drinks. Inappropriate behaviours at
inappropriate times are a very legitimate community concern, however, no matter
what the substance or where the behaviour occurs.


It‘s the most dangerous drug! I have thought of growing and marketing a stop-smoking
kit - a gift-wrapped package containing four tins. The first tin contains a month‘s supply
of organic homegrown tobacco; the second tin is three-quarters tobacco, one-quarter
smoking herbs; the third tin would be one-quarter tobacco and three-quarters herbs; and
the last, straight herbs.

I still smoke, off and on, though I quit for seven years. It‘s the worst habit. Even outside,
I am always concerned, for the non-smoker, which way the wind blows.


Mild, gentle and safe. I live, to some extent, and have for years, in a cannabis culture. I
doubt that will change. But one of its cultural practices is to be tolerant of those who do
not partake.


These are the holiest of the holies, sacred substances, to be used with forethought and
care, following instructions carefully!

Timothy Leary added two commandments to the Ten:

1) Thou shalt not alter the consciousness of thy fellow man.

2) Thou shalt not prevent thy fellow man from altering his own consciousness.

I don‘t partake of psychedelics much anymore – just the very occasional magic
mushroom trip. However, there are no teachers like them.

There is a vast and comprehensive literature on these substances.


If we could grow coca, I might chew it. Turning it into a white crystal is another matter.

I have done cocaine maybe a dozen times over the past thirty years. I stopped doing it
when I thought it had too much blood on it.

Personality types attracted to this high and then further affected by it tend to be too
wrapped up in invincible egocentricity to work well in any community. This drug
should probably have no place in our intentional community.


One of my gardening aims is to grow drug-grade opium so that we can achieve
strong pain-kille r self-sufficiency.

However, even the natural extract is quite addictive, so because of the temptation to bliss
out, we would have to be pretty careful. As with all psychoactive drugs, it too attracts a
class of users. It kills emotional pain and that can be a huge relief for those being
overwhelmed by it, but side-effects perhaps create a mandate therapy of a different

As to heroin, morphine and codeine, other than accumulating a stash for eme rgency
use, they are so addictive, dangerous and expensive that any thought of supporting
their use seems inapropriate.


I self- medicated with eight milligrams of ephedrine – a plant extract and a precursor to
Dexedrine - every morning for three or four years until it was banned. I used it as an
adjunct to my own therapy for depression. It‘s a neo-adrenaline indicated for folks with
unnaturally low levels of adrenaline. Two of my doctors and my pharmacist felt
comfortable with my usage and dosage.

Now that it has been banned, I want to learn to grow Ephedra sinica. I have obtained
some from a Chinese herbalist in Vancouver. One still has to be careful with dosage with
this plant. The herbal original of many drugs often remains viable for medicinal use.

On the other hand, in the sixties there were buttons that said, ―Meth is Death‖ and ―Speed

It is tragic that these refined amphetamines have made a serious comeback in recent
years. As with crack, cocaine, and heroin, their use, unless clearly for me dical
reasons, is probably too proble matic to be acceptable.

                                  ANIMALS – Pets


Consider this: Thirty-two families have a dog. They would all be concentrated most of
the time in or within the "Human Habitation circle" - about five acres.

Here are the problems with that, as I see it.

1. Barking.

The number one complaint to local governments is dog barking. I hate it, personally, but
only when it goes on incessantly. Do many dogs inevitably mean lots of barking?

2. Feeding.

If we humans are trying to be food self-sufficient, and we are trying to grow food for the
chickens, and if working pigs can be fed garbage and roots, then we would want to "grow

our own" for the dogs, too. That means either animal products or high protein
grain/legume combinations.

 If we were a hunting community and/or a major meat-raising community, then we might
have enough for the dogs too. However, I have some problems with either of those
choices as an emphasis. On the other hand, there are lots of deer on Maurelle Island and
Mollison speaks of the high yields one can obtain from unmanaged rangeland, surpassing
any cultivated system of livestock, not only from large herbivores, but small animals as
well, such as rabbits and frogs, and, under the ground, even insect larvae. Many of these
species could also prove to be pest species, giving us further justification for judicious
harvesting of wild animals. (See essays: "Animals, Hunting" and "Animals, Domestic")

We will be facing the important challenge of growing enough protein for humans year-
round. What will it mean to also have to produce enough for, say, dozens of dogs as

We will have to, of course, initially buy food for them, just as we will for ourselves. It
should always be remembered when reading these essays that in some instances there
will be a long transition period between what we start from, and a mature, fully
productive permaculture system.

I see only these two problems to consider, barking and feeding, if we were to confine
dogs for the most part to the family compounds, areas perhaps 60'X100‘. If we do not
confine dogs to the family compounds, I am concerned about the following:

3. Annual gardens. With old fishnet still available locally in large quantities, it is
possible to consider netting not only the vegetable gardens, but the multiple benefits of
netting the entire zone one garden, including the small fruit orchards.

4. Packing. Dogs in a pack are dangerous to wildlife, domestic animals and
children. In no case should dogs be free to roam the property at large unless they
are very well-trained and/or selected carefully for breed characte ristics. Especially,
they should not be allowed to roam at large beyond the prope rty line. As well,
cougars and coyotes are often plentiful in British Columbia and eat dogs.

5. Untrained, snappy, tempermental, neurotic and potentially vicious dogs would be
vigorously retrained, muzzled, tightly restricted to family compounds or not be

A trial time for new dogs may be as necessary as a trial period for new human members!

The Farm in Tennessee was pretty down on personal pets (I am not sure of the
philosophy behind this) – and Mollison is, too, unless it‘s dogs tethered outside the
henhouse to guard against foxes!

Having said all this, I now have my own dog - my first - that I dearly love, and there is no
way that I would leave him behind - and he is a great watchdog. As well, going
thoroughly through a dog breed book one time, I suddenly saw it like a seed catalogue.
Every breed has been developed for a specific purpose, and I imagined a permaculture
kennel and dog-run for breeds specially chosen for various tasks: a ratter; a bloodhound
trained to find everything from tools to toddlers; a cart-pulling breed; dogs for the hair, as
the Salish had; Newfoundlands on the water for rescue; herders for the sheep; guard dogs
to.protect livestock, children and adults from predators and to warn of any type of
intruder; and so on.

Bill Fedoriuk and I have been theorizing about a communal dog run as a ring completely
encircling the village, away from gardens and small livestock, and perhaps with large
livestock, to protect them and the community as a whole from pests and predators, such
as deer and cougars.

The further away from the center such a ring kennel is, the more fenc ing will be required,
but the idea is definitely worthy of consideration.


Cats kill birds, dig in freshly planted gardens, and are harder to keep out of places than
dogs. On the other hand, they also kill rats and mice, eat less, need less exercise and do
not bark. We might categorize them more properly as "house pets", not free to
roam. Besides which, they are also tasty little snacks for cougars.

Smaller Pets

I kept every type of animal imaginable as pets at my childhood home in Kitsilano, except
cats and dogs: crows, budgies, canaries, mice, rabbits, starlings, chickens, snakes, turtles,
frogs, salamanders, and ants. I have no problem with any of these, and think that they
can be great companionship and education for any child if s/he looks after them properly.

                              ANIMALS – Domestic


Animals are a big responsibility, a quantum leap greater than plants. They are
sentient beings. They need to be prepared for, located, obtained, trans ported,
fenced, housed, protected from predators, nursed, sheared, slaughtered, fully
processed, fed, let out, put back in, milked, groomed, cleaned - daily. Pens need to be
regularly cleaned, hives tended, honey extracted, dams built, ponds constructed. All
of that can be immensely re warding, but space-cases cannot look after the m
properly. Unlike with plants, one cannot just say, “Well, I will do it tomorrow”; or,

“I think I'll take a break for awhile.” Tenders must be wholly committed,
dedicated, competent, compassionate, and completely on top of their charges.
Without proper care at all times, much damage can be done, both to the animal
itself and to the surrounding environme nt, both wild and cultivated. Uncleaned and
mismanaged quarters can be pigsties.

It will be helpful to be raising livestock communally, for even though it will still be
essential to have designated tenders, they can be small crews rather than single
individuals, so that daily chores can be shared and rotated.

A major consideration needs to be how we feed animals. If we are aiming for self-
sufficiency partly by growing our own food, it makes little sense to purchase feed for
livestock. While there will no doubt be a transition period during which time we will
have to buy feed from outside sources, our aim will be to eventually provide for all
livestock from the system and the immediate surrounds. Permaculture has a lot to say
about this, and there are thousands of plants from which to choose. Many of them are
annuals that can begin yielding within months of us sowing them; some are perennials
that will produce in a year or two; and a great many are trees, shrubs and vines, which
will not bear fruit for three to twenty years. By thoughtful interpenetration of plant and
animal systems into the design from the beginning, we will end up with a whole that is
greater than the sum of the parts.

There is a lag effect before many species, such as trees and shrubs, start producing but we
can use the animals themselves to help us create the ecosystems we will be designing for
them. Therefore I suggest that we first create the infrastructure – build the shelters,
fence the runs, develop the water-systems and plant the pe rennials and woody
plants - for each animal species before we acquire them; acquire only a fe w of the m
in the beginning; and then concentrate on growing annuals between, around and
under those slower-growing plants until they begin producing. Populations would
increase as the carrying capacity of our design increased.

We need to carefully consider and balance at all times the efficacy of cycling food
through an animal rather than eating it directly. Often, much more food for humans, and
much more complete protein, can be produced in a given area from plants than from
animals. On the other hand, in carefully designed systems, the animals can often be
consuming principally waste and things we would not eat directly. As well, they give
back much to any agriculture. Some argue that they are essential, and I did find that when
my chickens were gone, the heart seemed to go out of the enterprise. The place felt
empty without them.

Meat and Dairy

Most of my objections to eating meat and dairy are rooted in agribusiness farming:
inhumane, unnatural, profit-driven, chemicalized, medicated, polluting, climate-
changing, resource-greedy and uneconomical. , All of these objections are eliminated
when the animals are raised in a permaculture system. I still have some proble ms,

however, with the act of killing them and even more with having meat or dairy be a
principal part of our agriculture and diet, or even our principal source of protein
[See essay, "HEALTH: Diet].

The Zoroasters wear a mask over their mouths so they will not inadvertently kill small
bugs by breathing them in. The Buddhists do not, but they will not kill worms. When I
was a boy, I collected insects. One of the acceptable ways of killing beetles before
pinning them was to drop them into boiling water. I noticed how easy that was to do with
the small ones. I noticed how I hesitated and steeled myself before dropping in the big

It is easier for me to pry open an oyster than to club a fish. It is easier for me to club the
fish than to cut off a chickens head. It would be easier for me to decapitate a bird than a
rabbit. Easier to shoot a deer I do not know at a distance than to slaughter a cow that I
had raised close up. The docile cow would be easier to kill than the intelligent pig, that
existed only for me to fatten, and the pig easier than my dog, even if I was very hungry.
And if I met an ape face to face, would I feel it was murder?

We all have a position on this killing continuum. But we are still often prepared to let
others do the ―dirty work.‖ Even the Tibetans played coy with karma, delegating lesser
incarnations to butcher the meat they needed to live in the snowy winter plantless
Himalayan reaches.

Somehow, we have to find a community position on this scale of compassion.

Perhaps we could agree to an emphasis and a sequence: Plants primarily, animals second;
lower animals first, then the higher; animals for eggs, wool and work before flesh, hide
and horn; wild animals culled before rearing for slaughter; and whole bodies as by-
products before becoming a target crop.

This way, we approach things from the bottom of the food chain up, feel our way into
relationships with higher forms and eventually settle on what feels comfortable.

I think it will help us evolve our position if the whole community is expected to gather
for the taking of life - to honour the beast, witness the killing, and partake of the meat in
communal reverence.

The folks on the Farm were vegans. Stephan said, ―I‘ve been to pig roasts and rice
boilings, and rice boilings have better vibes.‖ When I think of a pig roast - the animal on
a spit surrounded by laughing, drinking party- goers – I think of The Hell‘s Angels and
their pig roasts, and of a scene I witnessed in Mexico: a huge squealing pig hanging, its
full weight suspended against the trunk of a tree from a branch by its hind legs, and a
man – casual, oblivious, chatting with friends – slowly shaving it with a straight razor;
and then I think of the most horrific photograph that I have ever seen: a circle of a
hundred men, women and children standing around a bonfire in a clearing in the woods -

no mob, picnic like - and on the fire, tied eagle-spread to a wooden frame, a black man

I know that this is not a bonafide argument; it is just a suggestion that we should watch
our karma and notice our casual assumptions.

On another note entirely, and relevant principally to mainstream, industrial meat or
dairy cons umption: meat production and trans portation - and the animals
the mselves - create more greenhouse gases (CO2 and methane) than, in second
place, air trans port; and, in third place, automobile travel! The latest figure I have
heard, from the ne w book Food Matters: A Conscious Guide to Eating – has it that
industrial meat production accounts for eighteen percent of all greenhouse gases,
putting it in second place. From the same book, I learned that in 1960, it took three
calories to produce one calorie of food. Now it takes, on average, ten calories to
produce one calorie of food, and thirty calories to produce one calorie of beef. It has
to do with scale and production methods: too many people eating too much meat
produced by modern unsustainable methods. If we are to be a microcos mic example
for the world then we should make sure that we are not re peating their mistakes.

And be willing to correct ours: During the first millennium A.D., the Tilopians, who
have lived sustainably on a tiny island of just 1.8 square miles in the Southwest Pacific
for 3000 years, decided ―to compensate for the drastic declines in birds and seafood [by
shifting] to intensive husbandry of pigs [but] a momentous decision taken consciously
around A.D. 1600, and recorded in oral tradition but also attested archaeologically, was
the killing of every pig on the island, to be replaced as protein sources by an increase in
consumption of fish, shellfish and turtles. According to Tilopians‘ accounts, their
ancestors had made that decision…despite the high status of pigs in Melanesia…because
pigs raided and rooted up gardens, competed with humans for food, were an inefficient
means to feed humans (it takes about ten pounds of vegetables edible to humans to
produce just one pound of pork), and had become a luxury food for the chiefs.‖

- COLLAPSE: How Societies Choose to Fall or Succeed by Jared Diamond, 2005


When I first got chickens up in Storm Bay, I assumed that I would be eating them as well
as their eggs. I had grown up part-time on small mixed farms, watched my god-aunt
whack birds over the head with a stick of wood, slit their throats, and bleed them into a
bowl of mash that the other chickens were, at the same time, greedily consuming.
Unsentimental indeed! Waste not, want not! I must have been sheltered, though, from
kid killings, for although my god-uncle always had a small herd of goats, and I remember
playing with the young ones, and we ate goat- meat, I never saw one slaughtered.

However, back to the chickens: Sometime soon after I had my own flock I realized that I
felt very uncomfortable raising animals for the express purpose of eating them. It may be
irrational, but I think I felt more comfortable with the idea of shooting a deer.

I also soon found that the chickens had more value alive than dead anyway, as tractors,
cultivators, shredders, fertilizers and pest controllers, including small slugs. Seeing as
we were able to obtain free wheat at that time by sweeping out waste from the boxcars in
Vancouver we did not have to worry about the expense of keeping old, unproductive
hens. Unfortunately, that source is no longer available with the design of new, sealed
grain-cars. Now, though, I have a list of dozens and dozens of chicken food-plants.

However, it makes sense, of course, to raise our own chicks to replace old birds and build
up the flock or flocks. Half hatched will be males. A design might call for a number of
small hen houses, each accommodating a flock of 30-50 birds, each with one rooster. A
greater population of males than that, and they will kill or drive out the weaker. Excess
roosters do not lay eggs, but they eat. So we would have to be prepared to cull the e xcess
- solemnly, ceremonially, holding to the principle of "reverence for life".


Ducks also provide eggs, meat, manure, feathers and insect and slug control, including
the big ones! I have thought of a duck run encircling the vegetable gardens for the latter
purpose. They would also integrate well, of course, with aquaculture. Given the
enormous productivity of growing in water, providing food on site would probably be
easier than with chickens.


Again: meat, eggs, feathers, manure - and weeding! There are many crops they will not
eat – such as potatoes and raspberries - but the weeds they will, particularly grasses,
which really are the principle weed of zone one and two gardens. They are also guard
animals! I have never had them, seldom been around them. They can be aggressive
towards people and even cows and an ongoing adventure for children but are a valuable
adjunct to a permaculture system.

Guinea Fowl

"Guinea fowl were usually to be found in every Pennsylvania German poultry yard,
not only because they were supposed to foretell the coming of rain but because by their
shrill cries they frightened away hawks, crows and other birds which were likely to carry
off small chickens."


I have thought of homing pigeons. If sister communities develop, it would be neat to
communicate with birds carrying messages. Try hacking into that, suckers! Try to
intercept that mail, counter-revolutionary spy!

Pigeons are also valued for their phosphorus-rich manure, and the eggs and baby pigeons
can be eaten. Squab, anyone?

They eat seeds and grains.


Quail can also provide eggs and meat. They need little attention. They are insect eaters,
do not harm vegetables, and can be run in greenhouses to great advantage.


They are beautiful. They are also loud. We could use the feathers to make jewelry. Eat
them? Any other uses? Manure.


My god- uncle and aunt, Ebe and Hilda Koeppen, were at one time the largest breeders of
Angora rabbits in North America - first in Chilliwak, then Cloverdale and finally
Langley. They marketed the fur, used the manure, raised worms for sale under the
hutches, and ate superfluous males (always the males! You think I feel good about

I would like to have them for the first three reasons. As usual, I am not so sure about the
last - it may only be necessary while building up numbers.

I have worked on drawing up a design for a modified, self- foraging rabbit system that I
would really like to see tried out. When I asked my uncle if one could run males in such
a semi-open warren, he replied, "No, they'll chew each other's nuts off." Hummm … cute
little bunnies!


I have no experience with sheep, but what simpler way to provide most of our clothing -
easier than cotton, flax, hemp or bamboo, I think, especially if we made felt. They eat
grass and get eaten by dogs, bears, cougars, wolves, coyotes - as do most livestock.

As with all of these possibilities, a least one person has to commit himerself fully and
responsibly to the animal before we embark down the path of "owners hip".

Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs are an important source of protein in some South American countries. We
could keep them very close to the house, or even in the house, and feed them garden
scraps and seeds. They are useful in weeding around small trees. But would that be the

principle reason we would have them? I doubt it, and I do not feel good about raising
them to eat.

―How to Cook a Guinea Pig‖, from ―The Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human
Nutrition‖, 1993, by Bill Mollison, who delights in offending the sensibilities of
middleclass vegetarians:

―Heat two … 1 inch thick steel plates, about … 12 ins round, over a brisk fire; one of
these plates has a handle, center top. Tap the guinea pig on the head and throw it on one
of the plates, lift the other plate and slam it down hard on the guinea pig. The fur singes
or flares off, and the animal is cooked in a few minutes as a roundish, flat ‗pancake‘, and
is so sold in markets. Fast food indeed, excellent for nibbling on. This method is
applicable to many small furred vertebrates.‖


I have not been around pigs much, but I know that they are one of the ten smartest
mammals, smarter than horses and dogs, and I really do not want to kill them, let alone
raise the m for slaughter. However, they are very good work animals, preparing land for
cultivation by rooting out and eating most vegetation - pig plows - so having a few for
that purpose, if we can mostly provide for their food necessities, would be a useful
strategy. One could start preparing land with goats and follow with pigs – and chickens
before, during and after.

It is very important to fe nce pigs securely; when pigs escape, they are difficult to re-
capture, can do much damage to gardens, and can go feral and adversely affect the
natural ecosystem.

The following is from the United States Department of Agriculture:

―Hunters, farmers and landowners need to be aware of the extensive damage wild pigs
can cause to their property and livestock. The rooting and wallowing activities of wild
pigs cause serious erosion to riverbanks and areas along streams. These destructive
animals have been known to tear through livestock and game fences and consume animal
feed, minerals and protein supplements.

―Not only do wild pigs feast on field crops such as corn, rice, watermelon, peanuts, hay,
turf and wheat, but they are also efficient predators and – when given the opportunity -
will prey upon young livestock and other small animals.‖


Of course they provide milk and cheese, but they're hard to fence, eat everything,
devastate cultivated plants, strip bark from trees, need concentrated feed for good milk
production, and as with any milk animal, must be bred every year or two and the male

kids killed. They are also tasty prey for predators. I love them, grew up with them.
They are useful for clearing new land or abandoned pastures, penned or individually
tethered. However, Bill Mollison says goat husbandry in large numbers is incompatible
with permaculture.


I am not an equestrian, but if anyone who is joins us - and I hope they do - and they come
with their horses or know where to get some good ones, they would have so many uses:
transportation, pulling stumps, logging, hauling heavy loads, pulling all manner of
wheeled vehicles, cultivating acreage, etc. Once again, we have to be able to feed

Richard Heinberg, writing in ―The Party‘s Over – Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial
Societies‖ says this about animal energy:

―A significant implication of the use of large ruminant animals for traction was the
necessity of growing food for them. Oxen, which can live on grass stubble and straw,
were cheaper to maintain than horses, which also need grain. A horse typically requires
between four and five acres for its food production; thus, the use of traction animals
reduced the carrying capacity of the land while at the same time adding to it by enabling
the plowing of larger fields. The net result varied…‖


―Previously, one-quarter to one-third of all agricultural land in North American and
Europe had been devoted to producing feed for the animals that pulled plows and

One point comes to mind, however. Permaculture strategies should be able to cut that
―four to five acres‖ ‗way down. ―Forest farming‖ or ―three-dimensional farming‖, is
mainly about integrating livestock, pastures and trees. There are many species of plants
that can provide feed for horses, cattle, goats, chickens and pigs, and if we can grow grain
under, around and between them, in a low energy intensive system, then not only horses,
but also any animal, makes much more sense.

Horses also love bamboo, which can be four time higher in protein than other grasses,
and is green in the winter! There are low growing species that could spread over acres if
handled properly, and taller kinds, grown for shoots, poles, hedges and windbreaks,
produce copious amounts of thinnings and prunings.

Horse are somewhat like goats in that they will consume a very wide range of vegetation
and can be very helpful for land clearing, eating and trampling down rough, over-grown

As with ALL animals, proper housing and care must be ready before acquisition.


One cow can provide a lot of milk and thus butter, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.
They also eat a lot and need a lot of pasture, which means a lot of land cleared, limed,
fertilized, and planted to hay [see above]. They must be bred every year or two, calves
prematurely separated from their mothers, males slaughtered. Dairy, like meat, is not
particularly good for adults in much quantity, though I love butter and cheese: In fact,
they are a major unresolved ethical contradiction in my life.

Bovines are certainly a possibility, but I am not sure I would want to be very involved.
This, as with many of these animals we are considering, needs discussion and agreement.

Bees make a lot of sense and are a good multiple-use component of any
permaculture design. Hundreds of multifunctional bee-plants - having as well many
non-bee functions - can be selected, from annuals to huge trees, to provide staggered
times of production of pollen, honey, royal jelly - and wax! – I love the idea that we can
send bees out for light!

Our one large hive in Storm Bay, in one season, provided both the bees and us with
eighty pounds of honey. The bees got through the winter, and we didn‘t have to buy any
other sweetener from that point on.

Even more important than their products, however, is their role in pollination.
Consider: Every third bite of food we eat comes courtesy of the bee.

They are good on roofs, away from bears, as well as human heads in their flight paths.

Moreover, they are fascinating creatures.

Aquaculture Creatures

Now here is where it gets easier to kill. Funny, is it not?

Fish, clams, oysters, univalves, crayfish, mussels, frogs, seaweeds, pond algae, etc. are all
much healthier for us than meat, and can be incorporated into incredibly complex,
productive and beautifully designed ecosystems of water, plants and animals. Marine,
pond and creek culture are all possible. Water/land edges can be exploited, and products
from both incorporated into the other. Mollison and others have much material on this.

Organizing water flow, catchments and retention needs to be a very early stage of any
permaculture design: ―Take care of the hydrology and all else will follow‖. Designing
and implementing aquaculture in conjunction with this, then, makes eminent sense right
at the beginning and could mean that food - both plant and animal - will come on line

                               ANIMALS – Hunting

My dad lived on moose, deer, bear and wheat for ten years.

When I went to Storm Bay, I thought I would be a hunter, a gatherer, a fisherman and a
gardener. I soon found that each took many skills and much learning and a lot of time!
Hunting soon fell by the wayside. Fishing sporadic and erratic. We did become learned
gatherers, however, and though The First Folks only tended nettles in clearings, and
gardening in the middle of the forest was unheard of, we did have success with this, and
started laying down practices that would become known as permaculture.

Back to hunting: The deer population, at least on the coast, is much higher than at the
time of white contact, due to clear-cut logging. That is an interesting example of the
―edge effect‖, an important principle of permaculture, which says that diversity and
productivity increase where two systems or components meet. Therefore, deer could be
an important food source if we decided it was necessary.

Of course, meat is only one product from any animal. They also provide fur, hide, bone,
antler, sinew, bladders, intestines,and glue. Processing these will involve skill and
commitment, for we should waste nothing, especially if we are taking the life of a
sentient being.

Mollison writes about exploiting ―range land‖ and suggests that often we can harvest
more food from unexploited animals living in a region than converting the land to
domestic meat production, such as cattle. [See Permaculture: A Designers‘ Manuel, pp
442 - 446].

If cultivated crops are being threatened by wildlife, a possible control solution that might
be considered, especially if all other solutions fail, could be harvesting the pest species,
whether grasshopper, squirrel, deer or bear.

Any harvesting of wildlife must be done sustainably. That means “forever”. If we
live on an Island, there is an easily perceived finite border. It is already in balance:
cougar, wolf, deer. When we come a’ eating, there can still be balance, but it will be
a different balance – and if we hunt deer, does that mean that some cougars will
have to hunt human?

I think that we will want to get some good information from fis h and wildlife

                                ANIMALS – Pests

One of the greatest ironies that a vegetarian gardener can face is finding himerself
making war on animal pests. I have shot a robin, a raccoon and a cat; trapped mice, rats
and a flying squirrel (by accident); and, of course, squished many a bug and drowned
countless slugs. I am not proud. Yesterday, I caught a Norway rat that was raiding the
bird-feeder outside my window. Today, I set a trap for a roof rat that was doing the
same, but killed the female of a nesting pair of Towhees, instead. I just about cried. I felt
horrible. My only consulation was reminding myself that it could have been a hawk.

But it has really caused me to deepen and broaden my thinking once again about what I
was doing. Why did I judge the rats less interesting to observe than the birds? By
feeding the rats, I was diverting them from knawing for other foodstuff they might try to
get into. -

It comes with the territory. But killing many of these species is always a last resort.

The best solution is, first and foremost, prevention - keeping them out - by fence,
netting, barrier hedges, repellants, attractants, wildlife plantings elsewhere, human
presence, etc; then, raising strong, healthy plants that can ward off and withstand
insect and mold attack; using organic sprays, etc; planting enough for
“sharecroppe rs”; planting pest-free species; daily observation and hand-picking;
and eating the pest.

There are many books on this. The main point here is that half the battle of raising
food is protecting food. I cannot emphasize this enough. I have been fighting for over a
month now to protect my pea plantings from rats, mice, slugs, robins, chipping sparrows
and towhees. It can get frustrating and discouraging. Anticipation and advance action
is very important .

We may be moving to a relatively isolated island: eighteen people live on the coastline;
no one lives in the interior. It is remotely possible that some exotic species have not
gained a toe hold there yet – slugs, rats and various insect pests. It might be worthwhile
to find out and pay particular attention to preventing accidental introductions.

Learning to live in harmony with nature is a complex task. We should not forget that we
are a part of nature, too, and have a right to be here. Having a light footprint does not
mean having no footprint . Permaculture is about providing ecologically for all human
needs in as small a space as possible. We should remember that however else we might
be doing something, we would be having a larger impact on the planet.


                     ECONOMICS - Voluntary Simplicity

                                        “He welcomes GST?”


 ―I welcome the GST, for it reminds me and resolves me to spend and make do with less
and less; to ‗‗simplify, simplify;‖ to revel in ‗small is beautiful;‖ to delight in making and
   growing it myself; to work harder at becoming ―downwardly immobile‖; to commit
 myself deeper to the informal and underground economy; to trade and barter; to get it
 from mother earth instead of a store; to practice survival skills I‘m going to need soon
  anyway; to once again ―turn on, tune in, and drop out‖; to divorce myself ever more
  from everything official; and to rejoice as I become freer and freer from the system.‖

                               - Peter Light, 1991, letter to the Editor


―Kuan Chung... could seize the fief of P'ien with its three hundred villages from its
owner, the head of the Po family; yet Po, though he lived on coarse food to the end of his
days, never uttered a single word of resentment. The Master said, ‗To be poor and not
resent it is far harder than to be rich, yet not presumptuous.‘"

Confucianism. Analects 14.11

One way to be rich is to have a lot of money. Another way is to live so simply that you
do not spend much money. Therefore, you have a lot. It is also not about how much
money one earns, per se; it's about the percentage of your income that is "disposable",
which means money you can spend after the basic necessities are covered.

Thoreau said "Simplify, simplify, simplify."

Gandhi said own nothing the poorest amongst us could not possess: "Live simply, that
others may simply live."

Jesus said ―…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich
man to enter the kingdom of God.‖ – Matthew 19:24

―A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.‖ – Anon.

"The larger mission of The Farm [in Tennessee] was anti-materialism, not having any
more than is needed in order for there to be enough to go around the world. According to
the Farm philosophy, it is wrong that some people own 5 million dollar houses while
others don't have enough to eat. On the Farm we were committed to strict vegetarianism
because we believed there would be more food to go around the world if people ate
soybeans instead of cattle."

"... rollback is the necessary alternative to horror....Subsistence that is based on a
progressive unplugging from the cash nexus now appears to be a condition for
survival....Perhaps the maximum anyone can reasonably hope for is equal access to the
world's scarce resources at the level currently typical for the poorest nations....Economic just a negative necessity but a positive condition for a better life...."

- Ivan Illich, 1984

Environmentalists say to walk with a light footprint.

I am just a regular middle class guy from Kitsilano.

I took a vow of "voluntary poverty" when I was twenty.

Now it's called "voluntary simplicity". I am not at all sure, though, that it is the same
thing. I think that it might be a middleclass attempt to try to stay middle class and still
have a conscience.

I have managed, I think, to stay true to my vows all my life...well...I am not so sure about
now. I have certainly never pursued riches. I have always looked poor. I have stayed on
track with an obviously simple, even primitive- looking lifestyle. However, for many of
the last forty-two years, I have felt rich. And I mean monetarily rich, although I also felt
wealthy gathering oysters at low tide under a bright moon; being at home with my family
throughout the day and year; never having to work at a nine-to-fiver; never being in debt;
and living through-out the seventies as a family of four on an average of $4000 a year.

However, half of that was disposable. Therefore, we were rich in money, too! As well,
fifteen or so of all these years I was living in monetary poverty, sometimes literally
penniless - and did just fine, thank-you. I have never had any financial problems in my
entire life.

When one breaks it down, here is what is needed:

   1.   People
   2.   Air
   3.   Wate r
   4.   Heat
            a. Sun

             b.   Food
             c.   Shelter
             d.   Clothing
             e.   Fire

Even these are not all basic to animal life. Other humans, of course, and fire and
clothing, at least in te mperate regions, are human needs. Regardless, all else is
secondary, cultural or superfluous, and not essential for survival, although we may
indulge in the m for our O so human happiness, convenience, laziness or fear.

If I we re to add three more needs, not fundame ntal, but humanly ancient, they
would be

   5.   Light
   6.   Stone
   7.   Wood
   8.   Metal (Scrap)

With stone, we could make tools and s harpen metal; with scrap metal and fire, we
can do the same; with both of the m, we can work with wood. That should do it.

We need always to remain conscious of these “fundamental basics” as we move
closer and closer to the collapse of our major trade partner: the global “village”.
We must ready ourselves to adapt in the face of the extre me changes that are likely
to occur in our lifetimes.

Voluntary poverty will be a crucial key to our chances of achieving self-sufficiency
and success in this monumental venture.
------------------------------------------------------- -----------------------------------------------------

Peter's idealized guide to acquisitions:

Never buy anything at the regular price if you can get if for sale;
Never buy anything retail if you can get it wholesale;
Never buy anything wholesale if you can get it second-hand;
Never buy anything second-hand if you can get it at a thrift-store;
Never buy anything at a thrift-store if you can make it or trade for it;
Never make it or trade for it if you can get it free;
Never get it free if you can repair it;
Never repair it if you do not need it.

                         ECONOMICS – Startup Financing

For a start, let me say that in no way should we get involved with banks or
governments for any grant, start-up financing or loan.

Unlike when I started living in Storm Bay, I think we may have significant start-up
capital at the beginning of this enterprise. This is too bad, in a way, because I could
teach us how to do it with almost nothing. The necessity that flows from having
almost nothing is the mothe r of invention, a good thing when one is trying to learn

However, I am now a property owner, thanks to an inheritance from my mother‘s estate.
Not only that, but the value of the property has increased considerably since I bought it. I
thus may be now able to purchase the land for this project and own it all outright - no
debt, no mortgage – and have enough start-up funds for vehicles, boats, tools, kerosene,
basic food staples for a year, and all manner of other supplies,

I see this initial outlay by me at the beginning gradually repaid out of the start- up shares
expected from everyone joining later.

I do think that it is important, psychologically at the very least, that all participants
do contribute an equal amount to the start-up costs, and thus feel themselves to be
equal owne rs of the property. I also think that it would be unfair to those who
initially put up large sums of money not to be reimbursed (but see essay Economics:
Income Sharing).

This start-up contribution would include an individual‘s share in the cost of the property
and a sum to be deposited into the general community fund.

The main difficulty with this proposal is that many people, especially younger folks who
might be real assets to community, with strength, energy and skills, will not have, say,
$10,000 to hand over.

The two broad choices then, in such cases, would be to raise the money before residency
or after residency.

I think we should rule out borrowing money in either case. In fact, I believe strongly that
being individually free of debt should be a pre-condition for joining the community.
However, what about the debt of the "entrance fee" itself?

Before Residency

1. We could just say, "Yuh have to raise the money before you can become a community

2. We could draw up a fund-raising proposal and strategy that, along with this
"Community Prospectus", could be used by someone as a basis for approaching family

and friends for $500 - $1000 contributions that would make each donor a "Friend of the
Community", with special visiting privileges, priority access to community goods and
services...or something like that. Perhaps, too, a $1000 contribution could count towards
a share if that donor decided later that s/he wanted to become a full- time resident.

After Residency

3. One could live at the community and commute to a job locally, contributing most of
their earnings to the start-up share until the debt is paid off;

4. Same as above, but a home-based business.

5. The, say, 25% members rebate for personal use from community funds [see essay
"Economics: Income-sharing"] could be diverted to pay off that person's debt until it has
been cleared. This would mean that such an individual would have less or no personal
spending money, but would still be supported collectively by the community.

All s hare-money would be divided amongst those who have contributed start-up
funds over and above the share amount, according to the relative percentage of the
total each owe d.

Anyone who wanted to donate extra money to the community at any time would be
welcome to do so. It would be non-refundable.

The start-up share would be refundable if and when someone left the community
but we will need to make agreements about how and whe n that happens. (see essay,
―Getting In, Getting Out‖)

             ECONOMICS – Ongoing Income Generation

You have heard the motto, ―Doing more with less‖. My motto is “Doing less with less”.

Money may not be everything, but it may be the best indicator of our s uccess: The
less we want and the less we spend, the more successful we are; the less we use, the
greater our independence from the majority system; the less we need, the better our
chances of survival; and the less we have, the more likely we will be to develop a
simple alternative culture of self-sufficiency.

I am convinced that having practically no money for the first three years in Storm
Bay, along with an ongoing lack of proximity to shopping sources, accounted for
much of my success in having lived simply and comfortably in the woods for ten
years. With money and roads, I doubt we would have been able to resist temptation

and persist with the dropout goals we had. I doubt, too, that I would have learned
the skills and experienced the satisfactions that I did.

Until or unless absolute necessity dictates, however, we will never completely
uncouple from the financial world-at-large. We can, however, be constantly moving
in that direction. We can strive always to be “downwardly mobile.”

In the last forty- five years, I have worked two years in any sort of regular job, but have
never had a problem with money. I have always "followed my bliss".

In the book, "The Seven Laws of Money" by Michael Phillips, the first law is to not
worry about money, but to just start doing what you really want to do (the second
law is to keep records).

The first mandate of permaculture is to provide, firstly, directly for our children
and ourselves by creating abundance in everything we need; and secondly, to sell,
trade or give away surpluses.

To a large extent, then, what our income-generating activities will be will grow
directly out of our lifestyle and successes and therefore will not necessarily be
known before-hand.

Mollison speaks of the first year of a permaculture design consisting of the collection
of species; the second year as one of multiplication of species; and the third year
being about creating abundance and then surplus, to be given away, traded or sold
(this is in the tropics).

In my life, I cut loose from school and dove into the anti- nuclear movement in 1962 with
nothing, and found myself supported for the next three years in dozens of little ways by
that very movement, with only one paying job for a few months.

Once again, in Storm Bay, by following the vision and fully living the lifestyle, slowly
the elements of that very lifestyle began providing a subsistence living, including some
cash flow, adequate for the simple life we were leading.

Later, when I first started collecting bamboo for love and permaculture, I was horrified
and covetous when Sam Dill, and then others, after I had evangelically turned them on to
bamboo, first started to ask me if they could have some. It was only three years later,
when plants started to spread, that I realized that I had another wonderful and obvious
way to earn a living!

So, many and various ways of generating capital will present themselves if we keep the
faith and our ―eyes on the prize‖.

As well, I‘m sure some people will come to the community with ways of generating
income. I, myself, I will have a business or two to "donate". Our isolation may alter the

nature of those enterprises, perhaps towards wholesale, or mail order, or farmers'
markets, or a satellite dish, but we will not have to start from scratch.

 Sometimes it may become necessary for individuals or small work-crews to go off- island
to contract jobs in the surrounding area and local towns if dollars are scarce.

If everybody is making under the minimum taxable amount - easy to do when living
collectively in voluntary poverty - taxes will not even be an issue. They never have been
for me, as an individual. On the other hand, a successful, registered business may want to
stay completely "on the record" in this regard.

                      ECONOMICS – Income Sharing

I once thought that nobody in the world should be allowed to earn, say, ten times more
than anyone else. My friend, Sylvia Dodd, strongly disagreed, arguing that in any
society, every working part was just as important as any other: Neither the doctor nor the
garbage collector should be considered to be of more or less value for the common good.

We were both discussing mainstream economics at the time, and perhaps I was
theoretically positing the more ―realistic‖ scenario of the two, for certainly my thoughts
on intentional community over the years has never included the idea that there would be
both richer and poorer among us!

I propose that this be an egalitarian community: one for all and all for one. I propose
that this include economic egalitarianism: that nobody be materially or monetarily
wealthier than anyone else is. I propose that any income generated by any member be
firstly put into a community "bank" account and that then, say, one quarter of that total be
designated "Savings‖ to be used for emergency funds, such as buying out members who
leaving the community; one half be designated as ―Community Funds‖, providing for all
agreed upon community needs, both collective and individual; and one quarter be
designated ―Personal Funds‖, to be distributed on a regular basis equally among the
adults currently residing in the community, an ―allowance‖ for personal spending money,
subject to few restrictions.

"The Farm" in Tennessee had a "bank lady", very strict, who would dole out money to
members who could make a good case! I don‘t think that there was a personal allowance
of any kind given out to members there – I hardly think they made a distinction between
―personal‖ and ―collective‖ - but here we will certainly have to be constantly deciding
how we spend our collective money.

Gifts of money given to individuals as Christmas presents, etc., could perhaps be kept for
personal use, but perhaps only up to a certain maximum amount so as to keep to a
minimum disparities between the personal wealth of members. I can imagine a small gift

of fifty dollars from granny ―to treat yourself to something special on this special day‖ as
acceptable, but would have problems with rich daddy buying a Ferrari for his lovely
daughter - unless she donated it to the community, that is!

We need to re-think and re-define how we think of such things and new ways of relating
to the outside world. We can tell our relatives that we would feel any gift to the
community as a wonderful personal gift; or perhaps we could deposit unexpected money
in our personal ―Can‘t Spend‖ account (see Essay

Members emphatically would not have to be income generators to receive an equal share
of total income. Some folks will be generating necessary community dollar wealth,while
others will be working full- time only on direct community projects.

Conversely, those generating income cannot use that fact to avoid further community
work, nor use it to judge others who do not. Any member, however, can speak up if they
think someone is not "pulling their weight".

All methods of generating income - individual or group – would be approved by
consensus and based on the ethical and political fundamentals and standards of the

It would not be mandatory to contribute savings or resources derived from lifestyles lived
and incomes earned before folks become members of the community, but I suggest that
neither could those funds be spent for personal reasons as long as people remain
members. They would be a resource in waiting for folks deciding that the community
was not for them. They will then be able to move on with their new lives, picking up
(more or less) from where they left off financially. [See essay, "ECONOMICS: Start-up

Conversely, perhaps we might agree that after five years, one quarter of all personal ―off-
island wealth‖ would be contributed to the community; after ten years, another quarter;
after fifteen, another; and finally, after twenty years, the remainder.

I suggest, however, that income generated in the present from past enterprises - e.g.
royalties from a book or invention, - be considered current earning and be put into the
common community pot for redistribution as discussed above.

This issue of economic egalitarianism may be the most difficult stretch for some - or
perhaps many – people who might be considering this venture. Yet for me, it is what
almost defines true communalism. I think that it marks the line between ―playing at it‖
and total commitment. It really indicates the degree of togetherness that I think should
characterize our collective. I think it is a necessary commitment to counter the human
tendency towards power, glory and control, not to mention greed, envy, covetousness and
crime. I always thought it sad that the Coast Salish peoples had rich and poor living in
the same village – and of course, the richest was the chief.

Friend, colleague and supporter Bill asks: ―If one [person] makes $100 per hour and
another $20, why would a large earner want to dedicate their full income to the group?‖
and I would answer: because the group comes first; because making good money makes
it possible for others to work more at direct community tasks; because the money will
benefit him, too; and, mainly, because I do not think I want to live in a community of the
rich and the poor.

What of those members who earn nothing, but work all day at our primary goal of
building and planting so that the whole community can achieve both greater and greater
direct self-sufficiency and greater reliance on our own produce, products and services to
generate revenue?

It seems to me that the easier anyone can make lots of money, the better for the whole
community and the more time we will all have as a group to get on with the real task:

How could we justify one person making lots of money - say as a consultant - and getting
to keep much of it while at the same time living in a community where other people are
working for no wages growing organic food which will all be turned over to the whole
community for free? Could we imagine a person who is putting the most time and energy
into growing, say, a huge crop of kiwifruit claiming the right to have more than anyone
else for himerself; or insisting on selling a portion of it for hiser own gain whether or not
it might leave the community with a shortfall?

If we said anyone could earn any amount of money, whether from off- farm activities or
on- farm businesses developed on- farm, and then claim a certain amount of the income for
themselves, wouldn‘t that be saying that everyone then needs to strive to make money if
they want ―to get ahead‖? Ahead of whom, one might ask. Ahead of what? Moreover,
could not that lead to folks spending more time satisfying themselves rather than
providing for the common good? And wouldn‘t that be exploiting our collectivity by
personally profiting from of an inexpensive way of living?

What if the community did not have enough funds to pay for some dental work while at
the same time some other member had accumulated thousands of dollars for himerself, all
the while being able to enjoy the simple lifestyle made available and having all of his
needs provided for by joint funds?

Something that my friend Wichampi said relates to this issue, and has given me pause to
re-think an issue discussed in the essay, ―Getting In, Getting Out‖. She suggests
that ―considering the state of the world…whatever money there is in the beginning
[should] be used to buy every conceivable necessity – from dried food [to] tools,
materials, etc because …when the crash comes down boom, money will be worth fuck
all.‖ In other words, we should spend money now while we can and while it is worth
something in order to maximize our chances of being able to exist independently of the
system, later.

In this light, I am forced to begin to revaluate my thoughts on each member paying an
equal share of the initial cost of the property, as discussed earlier. If I happen to be so
fortunate to have the money now – the result of my mother‘s death and the real estate
market, neither earned - to spend on buying the property outright, and someone else
coming along in a year or two has, say, $10,000 then to contribute, then heeding
Wichampi‘s enjoiner, shouldn‘t that all go to what is needed by the community at that
moment or for the onrushing future instead of only a percentage of it, the rest diverted to
pay me back for something that we already have?

If the answer were yes, then we would be going further towards egalitarianism than I was
proposing - closer to the policy and principle of The Farm in Tennessee. I suggested
earlier that except for the ―entrance fee‖, we might agree that people can keep any pre-
community savings they have, but not be able to spend them for personal gain while a
member of the community. One use of those funds could be to enable anyone who
decided that the community was not for them to pick up roughly at the level of affluence
to which they had been accustomed. I confess that I do not feel comfortable with the
thought of donating rather than loaning $300,000 at the beginning of this venture only to
find myself five years later leaving behind both the community and the legacy of the
lives of my parents.

I also think that it is psychologically important for all of us to feel ourselves to be equal
owners of the property and, particularly, that all of us feel we have control over our own
―family compound‖. At the same time, I know that insisting on a start- up share, as a
precondition for entry, will be problematic, due to people‘s disparate wealth. In addition,
because of that disparate wealth, not only would it be harder for the poorer to pay their
share, but also it would be more of a sacrifice for them to do so, and less of a sacrifice for
the richer and consequently less psychologically meaningful for them.

This latter point suggests a sliding scale.

So, where have I come to with all this at this point? First, I am still not comfortable with
anything other than economic egalitarianism when it comes to income generated while
one is a member of the community. Second, I imagine delaying full income sharing until
after the probationary periods discussed elsewhere and an individual makes the full
commitment to join the community. As to all the rest, I think that there is a lot of room to
find middle ground and a fair and equitable way, to come up with solutions and
percentages to satisfy both the needs of the individual and the community, both now and
in the future.

I will conclude this essay with some examples and quotes concerning economic

Early, primitive Christianity took to heart Acts 2:44-45:

        ―Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold
        their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need‖.

and Acts 4:34-35

       ―Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors
       of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
       and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every
       man according as he had need.‖ (Acts 4:34-35)

The Hutterites, with the same roots in the Protestant Reformation as the Mennonites and
the Amish, have followed these teachings and successfully practiced strict economic
equality for almost five hundred years.

―The religion of the Hutterites is unique in their belief in the community of goods in
which all material things are held in common. This idea is gleaned from the teachings of
Jesus, where he explained to the rich young ruler what he needed to do to receive eternal
life (Matthew 19); from the fact that Jesus and his disciples shared everything (John
12); and from the early church where the apostles and their followers held all things in
common (Acts 2: 44-47). Hutterites believe community of goods is the highest command
of love.

―All members of the colony are provided for equally and nothing is kept for personal
gain. Hutterites do not have personal bank accounts; rather, all earnings are held
communally and funding and necessities are distributed according to one's needs.‖

 ―People often ask to what extent Hutterites share their possessions. No, Hutterites, don't
share their toothbrushes and the like. All Hutterites keep some personal possessions,
which include personal effects. In addition, homes are private and household items
within them are considered personal, although the colony may have provided them to
begin with. But the homes, garages, barns, fields, vehicles and machinery, successes and
failures are all jointly owned and considered "ours".‖

See for more
information on the Hutterites. I like these people a lot, even more so tha n what I know of
the Mennonites – my distant ancestors.

Here, too, are few thoughts from Marx, of course an ardent and influential exponent of

―From each according to his ability, to each according to his need‖ (or ―needs‖) is a
slogan popularized by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program. The phrase
summarizes the idea that, under a communist system, every person shall produce to the
best of their ability in accordance with their talent, and each person shall receive the
fruits of this production in accordance with their need, irrespective of what they have
produced. In the Marxist view, such an arrangement will be made possible by the
abundance of goods and services that a developed communist society will produce; the
idea is that there will be enough to satisfy everyone's needs.

―Marxists, as well as some anthropologists, have asserted that hunter-gatherer societies
were characterized by a communal economic system. In Marxism, this is called
―primitive communism‖.

―All social rules and all relations between individuals are eroded by a cash economy:
avarice drags Pluto himself out of the bowels of the earth.‖ – Marx

In addition, here is an interesting quote from a wildly different source:

 … ―the deeper meaning of a vow of poverty is not about having nothing, it‘s about
holding all things in common. Like a monastic community, a family holds property for the
communal good, from the kitchen table to the college funds. Income is not solely for the
benefit of the person who earned it. In a family, we learn to put others needs ahead of
ours and to share in the big and the little ways.‖

-from Parenting as a Vocation by Robin M, blogger:

The Federation of Egalitarian Communities is a network of communal groups in North
America with values including egalitarianism, non-violence, income sharing and

Each of the Federation communities:

   1. Holds its land, labor, income and other resources in common.
   2. Assumes responsibility for the needs of its members, receiving the products of
      their labor and distributing these and all other goods equally, or according to
   3. Practices non-violence.
   4. Uses a form of decision-making in which members have an equal opportunity to
      participate, either through consensus, direct vote, or right of appeal or overrule.
   5. Actively works to establish the equality of all people and does not permit
      discrimination on the basis of race, class, creed, ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual
      orientation, or gender identity.
   6. Acts to conserve natural resources for present and future generations while
      striving to continually improve ecological awareness and practice.
   7. Creates processes for group communication and participation and provides an
      environment which supports people's development.

They go on to state:

―Because we share so much, and because we are committed to a vision of community
which transcends our individual groups, we have joined together to cooperate on
publications, conferences, recruitment efforts, community support systems including

health care, and a variety of other mutually supportive activities. Our aim is not only to
help each other; we want to help more people discover the advantages of a communal
alternative, and to promote the evolution of a more egalitarian world.‖

I do not disagree with anything about these principles or aims, and would like to
suggest that our village joins this Fede ration.

                       PROCESS - Introduction

Process is the medium; content is the message. Process comes first. It is the
foundation. Without precise, useful and compassionate forms of communication,
meaning is hampe red. When the form, word or e motion of the process blocks or
interferes with the transmission, interruption of the content flow becomes
appropriate and necessary.

It struck me forcefully after reading "All Possible Worlds: Utopian Experiments in
British Columbia" by Justine Brown (all of which possible worlds proved to be
impossible - because they failed, sometimes miserably and always soon after their
idealistic and hopeful inceptions) that all had a vision only of what they wanted to do
together, but not how they wanted to be together.

The most difficult thing for any intentional community is to get along with each
other. It is the major key to success or failure. We can learn either to do it or fail
with this project. No numbe r of agreements about the material plane will suffice.

Therefore, we must not only agree on process forms and techniques, but on the
importance of committing to learning the m, with the full realization that it will be
up to all of us to contribute skillfully to our conversations. Nobody can assume that
Mommy, Daddy, God or the Great Leader will make it all right and look afte r us.
In othe r words, we will want to feel comfortable developing and adopting
sustainable ways of talking with each other whe rever there are defects, and not
assume that we already know everything we need to know about effective

This may be the most fundamental and important agreement I am asking for in this
entire community pros pectus.

Nobody s hould assume that love will be enough. No one should assume that utopia
will spring fully formed out of a lotus flower.

If you think marriage between two people is difficult, imagine thirty-two families at each
other's throats!

Clearly unde rstood and heart-felt mutual agreements can make us very powe rful
together. Some of those agreements will come with the filter of the screening
process - for example, these essays and an entrance process and “examination” (See
essay, “Getting In, Getting Out”). Others will come from working the m out with
each othe r as we go along. Although agreements at all levels will eliminate much
friction, conflicts will still inevitably arise. Only if we have process agreements will
we have the tools to deal with the m when they do.

There are factors othe r than those covered in this section that will contribute to both
making and keeping agreements, decision-making and resolving conflict: namely,
the actual physical design of the community; our spiritual beliefs and practices; and
our commitment to pe rsonal growth. (See relevant essays)

I feel in my bones that this latter is going to be the crux of the matte r - our belief in
and commitme nt to personal growth, to changing - changing our minds.
How sane or neurotic are we? What hang-ups do we bring with us? What are the
buttons that get pus hed?

The buttons that get pushed: here, perhaps, is the crux of the crux. I think that,
personally, I will rise or fall on whether or not I can control my reaction to having my
buttons pushed, or reprogramme myself to change my reaction – actually eliminate the

Recently at the "collective" where I live, there was a minor dispute about firewood
involving four people. One reacted with judgement, one with impatience, and two with
tears. All withdrew and avoided in fear. We have some process agreement potential
here, but nothing automatically in place.

I noticed my impatient snap, and felt despair that such a small thing that I had little
emotional investment in could irritate me so.

That is a button.

I need help with all this just as much as anybody else does, which is one of the reasons I
want to live in community. I am empowe red by clear agreement, e mpowered by
methods I trust and empowe red by the thought of sympathetic assistance, and hope
we can all be empowe red by the potential of coming toge ther around this
"Community Prospectus" and particularly this series of essays on process .

                    PROCESS – Shortcuts to Consensus

If a group can agree on certain bodies of knowledge and information already extant,
this will greatly facilitate the shortening of the process of welding a group of people
together in a common approach to community living. My Mennonite ancestors, for

example, banded together immediately after the Protestant Reformation in 1521 in
opposition, and as a clear alternative, to the decision of the Swiss Reformation leader
Zwingli to replace The Roman Catholic Church with Protestantism as the new State
Religion, and now, almost five hundred years later, are still going strong. They based all
of their agreements on the Bible. It worked for them - and for the Doukhobors, the
Amish and the Hutterites. [See essay, "Messages from the Mennonites"]

In fact, I have heard it said that the only inte ntional communities that have survived
for any length of time have been religious ones.

In our case, of course, the Bible will not be our main point of reference as a
community. Fundamental spiritual and ethical truths contained therein, however -
to the extent that they line up with the great teachings of all spiritual thought - will
quite likely contribute to forming a basis to our spiritual agreements: love,
forgiveness, charity, non-violence, truth, etc. [See essay “Spiritual – Morals and

Other texts and teachings, though, spiritual or otherwise, can also serve us well. I
would like to mention some of those that have formed parts of the basis of my path,
direction, beliefs, lifestyle, and thinking about community, and how they figure for me in
these specific formulations. I have organized these according to "subject" or aspect of
culture creation.

These are books which all prospective member should at least become familiar enough
with so as to know their general outlines and thrusts, and whether or not they are in
accord with the over-all information presented. This is not to say that every word is
gospel - we should take the knowledge gained and run with it - testing, proving, creating,
inventing, advancing and rejecting. Nevertheless, they strongly indicate my approach to
things, and here I am, formulating and initiating this, so....

Neither is this to say that there are not dozens or even hundreds of other books that have
strongly influenced me - and you - and will contribute to the whole of who we are, who
and what we are becoming and, hopefully, will become. However, this limited
bibliography certainly points to the nature of the community that I am envisioning.

1. Spirituality

There are thousands and thousands of "spiritual" books ―out there‖. Banyan Books is full
of them: Hundreds of paths. We need to approach them all with intelligence and
rationality; pay attention to their lineage; pay attention to "the holes that line up" -
the expressions of human universalities; pay attention to how rich the authors are;
pay attention to the adage "by their fruits ye shall know them."

Paying attention, mindfulness, being here now, perhaps meditation and yoga - these
are some of the basics. We must not allow ourselves to be too diverted from these

The fourth and final section of Ram Das's book Remember, Be Here Now, called
"Painted Cakes", is a selection of "books to hang out with", "books to visit now and then"
and "books it's useful to have met". It is a very good place to start.

Here are just a very few books and authors that have had an important influence on my
spiritual development:

Remember, Be Here Now, 1971, by Ram Das (formerly Richard Alpert, colleague of
Timothy Leary at Harvard University).

This was the most influential and eclectic, non-doctrinaire spiritual book to come out of
The Sixties, specifically written for us acid-taking hippy spiritual novices. It has sold
well over a million copies without any advertising - not even in alternate publications -
and has clarified universal teachings for more folks and launched more people on some
spiritual path than any other book of the 20th century. Definitely check it out. It also
includes a very good psychedelic history from the perspective of one of the makers of it.

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, by Chogyam Trungpa
The Myth of Freedom, by Chogyam Trungpa

Another two books aimed at sixties folk trying to understand the spiritual path and
confusing the trees for the forest. These present pure Tibetan Buddhism, pure Buddhist
psychology, written in American sixties colloquial - very important books.

Monday Night Class, by Stephen Gaskin
The Caravan, by Stephen Gaskin
This Seasons People, by Stephen Gaskin
Hey Beatnik!-This is the Farm Book, by Stephen and the Farm.

Stephan Gaskin is another figure that helped us make sense out of spiritual confusion:
eclectic, vernacular, folksy, down-home. I refer to him a lot in these essays. He helped
found the largest successful hippy community in America, if not the world. He is kind,
wise and practically helpful. He was/is also, along with his friend and colleague, Bill
Mollison, originator of permaculture, more committed to trying to save the world than I

The Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu, the founder of Taoism.

2. Permaculture

This is one of the clearest and easiest for me. One way that I define the intentional
community I have in mind is as a ―Permaculture Community‖, and seeing as
permaculture means not only permanent agriculture but also permanent culture, it will be

somewhat of a template for all aspects of our lifestyle. Anyone interested in living long-
term in this community needs to familiarize himerself with the fundamentals.
   Permaculture: A Designer's Manual, by Bill Mollison;

All participants in this project should probably read the first four chapters of this book,
even if they do not consider themselves to be destined to be gardeners or designers.

   Any other books by Bill Mollison;

   Other writings on permaculture and permaculture resource texts:

  "The Permaculture Activist" - a magazine of the North American Permaculture
movement [];
  "The Global Gardener" - video with Bill Mollison;
  "In Grave Danger of Falling Food" - video with Bill Mollison;
   Forest Farming by Douglas and Hart;
   Forest Gardening, by Robert de Hart;
   Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture, by J. Russell Smith
   Farmers for Forty Centuries, by F.H. King
   Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally, by Robert Kourick
   One Straw Revolution, by

3. Organic Garde ning

Do I need to say any more? Is there anyone who would disagree with “organic”?
There are many good books, and many more on growing, generally.

Gardening with Nature by Leonard Wickendan

This one first taught me organic gardening and got me started. It was actually enough. It
is still in print. I liked it, too, because someone who was also a chemist wrote it! A
drawback is that the author is gardening in the northeastern U.S. He also dismisses one
of the most important components of gardening and permaculture: mulching!

No Work Gardening, by Ruth Stout

This book more than makes up for the deficiencies of Wickenden‘s book. Ruth Stout is
the original ―permanent mulcher‖

Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest, by Blinda Colebrook

This is a very important book written for our area. Winter gardening is much more than
Brussels sprouts and kale!

Small-Scale Grain Raising, by Gene Logsdon

This is a great book because of its subject - and he is another organic gardener.

Greening the Garden, by Dan Jason

This is an important book because the author emphasizes high protein crops. Dan lives
on Salt Spring Island, is the founder and proprietor of Salt Spring Seeds, and is a long-
time personal friend of mine.

There are so many good plant books just on my shelves that it is rather pointless to
continue trying to list the best. We will no doubt have hundreds on our library shelves.

4. Design

  "A Pattern Language - Towns, Buildings, Construction", 1977, by Christophe r
Alexander et al

At one of the Pe rmaculture courses I took, there were only four publications on the
reading list and this was one of them. It is a superlative work, the middle volume of
a trilogy, and a very usable manual discussing two hundre d and fifty-three design
aspects or patterns for planning for human habitation on the planet as though
human use really matte red.

If I knew that a group of people developing intentional community were running all
considerations through the frame work or lens of the Permaculture Designer's
Manual and this book, I would rest assured that we would be applying supreme
intelligence to everything we were doing "on the ground". We would be starting
with a very, ve ry powerful set of agreements.

5. Education and Child-rearing

As with books on growing plants, there are thousands of books on growing children.
These are the progressive ones I cut my parenting teeth on many years ago; I am sure that
there are other good ones, although there may very well be many bad ones, too!

  Summe rhill: A Radical Approach to Child-rearing by A.S. Neill

Summerhill was/is a residential free school in England
[] that was the great- grandparent of all free schools,
with the exception of the Montessori Schools, which developed in France aro und the
same time, and the Waldorf schools, based on the thinking of Rudolph Steiner. I read it
five years before I had children, and thought: "Right!‖ I raised my kids based on it.
Moreover, I think that I was better at raising them than I am at garde ning. My children
are my proof of that [See essay, ―Child-rearing and Education‖].

Other education classics that have influenced my thinking are

  How Children Learn, by John Holt;
  How Children Fail, by John Holt;
  On Education, by Bertrand Russell;
  Education and the Social Order, by Bertrand Russell

Some I wish I had been familiar with then are

  Between Parent and Child, by Haim Ginott
  Between Teacher and Child, by Haim Ginott
  Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.), by Thomas Gordon
  The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, by Thomas R. Verny, John Kelly
  Magical Child, by Joseph Chilton Pearce
  Magical Child Matures, by Joseph Chilton Pearce
  From Magical Child to Magical Teen: A Guide to Adolescent Development, by
Joseph Chilton Pearce
  A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander et al;

6. Consensus Decision-making, Conflict Resolution, Facilitation. Mediation

  A Resource Manual for a Living Revolution by Coover, Esser, Deacon and
  Getting to Yes, by Roger Fisher and William Ury of the Harvard Negotiation
  Getting Past No, by William Ury"
  Creative Conflict, by Christopher Hills
  The Joy of Conflict Resolution, by Gary Harper
  The Mediator’s Handbook, by Jennifer E. Beer with Eileen Stief
  Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making, by Sam Kane r
  Negotiation, Mediation, Conflict Resolution, workbooks for courses offered by the
Justice Institute of B.C.

Many other good books on consensus, conflict resolution, participatory democracy and
facilitation can be obtained though New Society Publishers. I have recently ordered a
number of them for a community library.

7. Community

 “Communities - Journal of Cooperative Living" – magazine

This magazine is excellent. Get a subscription. Get back issues. It mainly covers
the North American community movement/network.

  Communities Directory, published by the above
  Creating Communities Anywhere by Carolyn R. Shaffer & Kristin Anundsen
  Communitas, by Paul and Percival Goodman

  Creating a Life together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional
Communities by Diana Leafe Christian.
  Ecovillages: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Communities, by Jan Martin Bang
  Builders of the Dawn: Community Lifestyles in a Changing World, by Corinne
McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson
  Seeds Of Tomorrow: New Age Communities That Work, by Cris and Oliver Popenoe

There are many other books on this subject, of course. These are the ones I have. We
should build our library.

8. Living in the Woods

  "How to Build your Home in the Woods", by Bradford Angier

A classic. This is the book I studied to build my log cabin. Very simple, assumes few
tools, rustic approach.

  "How to Stay Alive in the Woods", by Bradford Angier

Also a classic. Simple. Primitive. Assumes you do not have much more than a knife!
Survivalist, I guess.

   "Camping and Woodcraft", 1916, by Horace Kephart

Another classic – it is one of the finest outdoor books ever written. I finally own it again.
It is very detailed. It is pre-plastic.

   “Walden Pond” by Henry David Thoreau

How classic can you get!

9. Voluntary Simplicity and Dropping Out

  "Walden Pond", 1854, by Henry Thoreau

Thoreau was one of the original American exponent of ―… tuning in, dropping out‖ (after
the Pilgrims!). Most famous quote: ―Simplify, simplify, simplify ‖ and ―Most men lea+d
lives of quite desperation‖.

  "The Good Life", by Scott and Helen Nearing
  "Continuing the Good Life", by Scott and Helen Nearing

These two American originals were the great-grandparents of the modern back-to-the-
land movement in America, having abandoned the city in 1932 for a rural life based on
self-reliance, good health, and a minimum of cash.

See also the Bible, primitive Christianity and the "peace churches" - Mennonites, Amish,
Hutterites, Doukhobors; the writings of Gandhi; the songs and interviews of Bob Dylan.

10. Midwifery

  "Spiritual Midwifery," by Ina May Gaskin

This is a wonde rful, scientific and spiritual book. I am sure there is not a midwife in
the English-speaking world and beyond that is not familiar with it and in love with
it. A Farm book, inspired by the teachings of Stephan Gaskin and the reality of
universal, timeless, spiritual messages applied to real-life situations – like birth!

11. Health and Diet

Books by Andre w Weil, arguably America's foremost current exponent and
practitioner of scientific, common sense alternative medicine - a bushy, hippy

   The Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Espe Brown, 'The quintessential bible of bread
baking'. In the 1970‘s, every hippy that liked to bake and eat healthily had this book.
   The Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer, another Bible, and just about as thick! Pre-
hip, but incredibly comprehensive. It is from this book that I learned how to cook the
chicken-killing raccoon I shot.
   Let's Eat Right To Keep Fit, by Adelle Davis
   Let's Have Healthy Children, by Adelle Davis
   Are You Confused? by Paavo Airola, N.D.

Boy, these four books date me! We had them all in Storm Bay. Now I guess there are
hundreds. However, good eating is simple, really. (See essay, ―HEALTH: Diet‖). Weil
is the modern champ, though, I would imagine. Sensible, balanced, intelligent, scientific,

Here are some good recent titles:

12. Forestry

    The Redesigned Forest by Chris Maser
    Seeing the Forest Among the Trees: The Case for Wholistic Forest Use by Herb
Hammond []
    Restoration Forestry: An International Guide To Sustainable Forestry, by Michael
    Ecoforestry: The Art and Science of Sustainable Forest Use, Edited by Alan
Drengson and Duncan Taylor

There are others: See books listed in the center-fold of ―The Permaculture Activist‖

13. The Oil Crisis

The Party‘s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies, by Richard Heinberg,

There are other subjects I am sure I have not even touched. I will probably expand this

                      PROCESS – Conflict - Introduction

The fact that many people have a horror of ―communal living‖ is testimony to how far
away from the potential for convivial community it is that global post- industrial
mainstream culture has taken us. It is also evidence of thousands of communication and
relationship failures that have corroded hope and created hermits. As well, by
implication, it indicates a paucity of environments and tools that can enhance and enrich
human relations.

With few articulated agreements, poor communication skills, an absence of negotiators or
mediators, no creative context for conflict resolution and a history of painful and
discouraging encounters throughout our lives, it is little wonder that past attempts to get
closer to others have so often led to disaster rather than harmony and unity and that the
mere mention of the idea of trying to get along with a hundred people on a hundred acres,
let alone one, causes some folks to recoil in panic into a reactive and protective position.

I intend this prospectus itself, and the eleven essays on process, to provide the start of a
collection of a basic set of tools that will enable us to begin to overcome the shortfalls
that prevent non-toxic, integral interactions.

Conflict will be inevitable. However, we can vie w and then welcome conflict as the
first exciting step towards discovering truths higher and finer than the positions
held initially by the conflicting parties.

I believe that if one party thinks there is a proble m or conflict, then there is one. It
is not appropriate for the other party to say, “Well, I have no proble m with this, so
there is no conflict, so I don’t have to deal with it.”

There is also a time and place for everything. If someone says, ―I don‘t want to talk
about it‖, a good response might be, ―When, specifically, would be a good time to talk
about it?‖

If two people are alienated from each other, cannot talk, and do not approach others
for assistance, it becomes our duty and responsibility to intervene, to “stick our
noses into somebody else’s business”. We are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers
because all conflict, ultimately and soon, becomes everybody’s business . Unresolved

disagreements will poison the environment and threaten the well-being and the very
existence of the whole tribe.

Only with certain useful and compassionate attitudes about conflicts; a strong body
of agreements on how to deal with the m; and a commitme nt to individual "therapy"
or "change-work" when we become pe rsonally stuck in unresourceful, contra-
productive and uncompassionate reactions, will we have a chance of surviving them,
whether they are hundreds of small ones, or huge cataclysmic ones. Without the
preceding pre requisites, any group of people will be torn apart in no time at all.

If we know that nobody is going to force any position on anyone; that we are not
going to have to change a position until and unless we feel one hundred pe rcent
about it; that we do not have to let our buttons get pushed; that none of us have
perfect understanding or the whole truth; that much conflict is communication gap;
that conflict is an opportunity for growth; that we have a whole array of tools to
utilize and the powe r of whole-group agreement to support us - then conflict can be
a wonde rful thing not to be avoided, but, rathe r, clearly confronted, joyously
embraced, and skillfully dealt with!

Many things can help us with conflict resolution. Expositions of them follow in this
series of essays on process.

Wichampi writes:

―My most disappointing moments are with people who are stubborn beyond a mule and
bad, bad listeners and… those who monopolize conversations to the point that there is no
conversation - only a monologue. So [this is an] indication of what would cause conflict
for me…‖

      PROCESS – Conflict Resolution - Intervention Hierarchy

One can start with self or end in war - two ways of resolving conflict. In the
formulations presented below, there are seven other levels. As each approach fails,
necessitating dis putants moving on to the next level, each loses power.

At any stage in conflict resolution, therapeutic intervention might become necessary.
If two people with a me diator cannot stop yelling at each other, they need anger
manage ment before things can progress. More on that in the process section headed
"Self-Improvement and Therapeutic Intervention ".

I learned this sequence at my training in conflict resolution at the Justice Institute of B.C.
I added the first step and the last three.

   1. Work it out on your own.

   Here we have all the power. To see our mistakes, to see how it really is with the
―other,‖ to use our power of reason and logic, to reach into our spiritual tool- kit, to
forgive, to repent, to apologize, to resolve the conflict without even the necessity of
involving the other party, this is the first approach to conflict. When this fails, the next
step is

   2. Negotiation

  The disputing parties, face to face, try to work it out using a tried and true negotiation
modal. When this fails, parties move on to

   3. Mediation

   A third party attends to the process, and only to the process, walking parties through
the emotions and the confusions, making each feel safe and heard, applying tools and
skills learned from experience and extant material.

  When two parties can't stand each other's presence, they move to therapy and/or

   4. Conciliation

  When two parties feel so scared and alienated from each other that they cannot
communicate face to face, then a conciliator takes messages and positions back and forth
between two separated spaces. If an agreement still cannot be found, we go to

   5. Non-binding Arbitration

  After listening a lot, the arbitrator makes a decision and presents a solution, but parties
do not have to accept it. If they do not, they have the option of

   6. Binding Arbitration

   Both parties agree that they will abide by the decision of an arbitrator(s), but there is
no penalty for violation of it. If either do not hold to the decision, then the next step is
either the

   7. Courts

   After listening a lot, someone makes a decision, both sides have to agree with it, and if
there's a violation of the Court's authority, it will grab you like God, shake you like a rag
doll, beat you up, and thrown you in a dungeon...or

   8. Nonviolent direct action...or

   9. Violent Revolution…or

    10. Chaos/Gangs/ /Coups/Wars

How the consensus circle of the whole community fits in here is worthy of consideration.
Obviously, if conflicts arise between two people, it would be wasteful of everybody‘s
time and energy to automatically engage everyone in resolving the conflict, when it could
be handled more privately. Sometimes during community discussions, it becomes clear
that just one or two people are having difficulty with the attempt to arrive at consensus.
In cases such as this, the dispute resolution process can be re-convened for awhile with
many fewer participants.

I am sure, on the other hand, that at times many people will have a stake in the outcome
of the conflict, and will want to participate in its resolution.

                          PROCESS - Decision-making

What are the choices?

Benign Dictatorship.

All right, I am just kidding. However, these essays have some similarity to that, do they
not? . Throughout, I indicate characte ristics of the community I am envisioning
that are clearly beyond argument; however, much else is not: I am also informing,
questioning, suggesting and making argument. Moreover, and most importantly,
these ideas, proposals and formulations are all presented before the fact of our
formation. Once we do come together in accord with the essentials presented here,
the basic agreements coupled with consensus will be the dictator! In the meantime,
I intend them to be a filte r: those who do not agree will not end up in the wrong
community from the start.

It is a bit like my relationship to the Firecircle. I built it, they came; I hosted it, and they
were comfortable; I articulated the fundamental agreement, and we made it sacred. After
that, I was just one equal voice. We ran it on consensus.

Roberts Rules of Order

I think that there are some valuable things to learn from the process structure known as
Robert‘s Rules of Order. Perhaps we threw out the good with the bad when we rejected
this square form, with its executives at the front facing members on hard chairs, stultified
by the dry and the formal, lacking soul and depth and shutting minority voices down and
out with majority votes. We became enthralled by circles and consensus, replaced
chairmen with facilitators, threw down our pencils and picked up our joints.

However, I think we might have left behind a few helpful elements to which we might do
well to return - simple things like dealing with ―old business‖ first, then ―new business.‖
As well, it is hard to return to ―old business‖ if everyone has forgotten what that old
business was because nobody wrote anything down! Therefore, we might re-consider
that honourable but sometimes odorous task of ―taking minutes‖ and write down new
agreements sometimes labouriously crafted.

The one aspect, however, of Roberts Rules that I still unequivocally eschew is decision
by vote.

Majority Rule

Whether using "Roberts Rules of Order" or not, voting is a common way of making
decisions. Majority rule, however - what others and I call "the dictators hip of the
majority" - always leaves a dissatisfied minority and the seeds of discontent.

Voting is the easy way out! There are many contra- indications. Although there is
discussion, once all positions have been clarified, argued, and defended impatience and
linear thinking conspire to demand ―a vote‖ long before genuine attempts have been
made to bring about full accord by deeply understanding first, the positions of minorities,
and then the issues and interests that inform those positions. When the group is not
forced to come to consensus, time and the majority drives it - discussions cut off and
decisions made prematurely.

Partial Consensus

Mollison thinks, firstly, that a group should start with just one big meeting, using
consensus to reach agreement on the major ethics, principles, and plans of the
community. This seems crazy to me. What was it that brought the group together
in the first place? Was it some simple single desire or issue? No random group has
much chance to agree on all that is necessary and important whe n trying to establish
a complete society. My articulation here of some “major ethics, principles, and
plans” is part of a selection process to bring together a group of people who share
common values to begin with.

He then goes further, only slightly touch in cheek, and says, "...have one meeting where
the sole agenda is to vote [sic] to abolish decision meetings...and another where a
consensus is reached to abolish consensus". He calls whole group consensus, "tyranny of
the dissenter" or "tyranny of the minority", and talks about ..."coercion of the often silent
or incoherent abstainer by a vociferous minority."

He proposes a "troika" approach, which limits the number of people responsible for any
one action or task to small groups of one to three people, who manage independently [and
presumably would act on consensus]. Further, he says, "it is a fail- safe strategy to attach
occasional understudies to this small group, or to stand ready to duplicate the function if

it is not being administrated, for there is no more time-wasting process than that of
believing people will act, and then finding that they will not."

After indicating the advantages of such a group, he goes on to say, "Unfortunately,
despite our most devout wishes, there are very few people who can start up and maintain
a function; we are lucky if we can find six or seven of these in any group of thirty to forty
people. Thus, for all functions needing entrepreneurial skill, we need key people."

.It sms obvious to me that Mollison has not had many positive experiences with
consensus; is unaware of the large body of literature on the subject, most of it entirely
based on practical ―on the ground‖ experience; has not studied it extensively; and has not
thought through the full implications of using other methods. His focus seems solely on
"getting the job done", as indicated by his statements,. "in every group, there is work to
be done" (which is very true and very important [See essay, "Work"]), and "Only in the
initial planning do people need to assign or choose functions; once chosen, no group
meetings for business are necessary".

However, I think that there are many considerations not addressed by any decision-
making form other than full consensus.

[See "Permaculture: A designers' Manual", Mollison, Chapter 14, 'Strategies for an
Alternative Nation,' pp 530-533]


During my earliest experiences with social action groups, I always felt that when a group
―sensed the majority position‖ it ceased to listen to and consider my minority views with
respect. I felt that they never gave me a full hearing after that. After all, why bother?
Everybody recognized a point of view outside of the box and knew that it would not have
a hope in hell of prevailing when it came to a vote.

At the same time, I admit that often I was in the ―wrong group‖. It would have been
unfair of me to insist on a suggestion outside of the parameters of its vision statement and

Nevertheless, in a group committed to consensus, no matter what the selection process,
just one person and unskilled facilitation can hold up a group forever.

My first experience with consensus was when I was in Washington, DC in 1963 for the
March on Washington, where I heard Martin Luther King deliver his "I Have a Dream"
speech (and heard Dylan live for the first time).

Also in Washington at that time, the "Quebec-Washington-Guantanamo Walk for Peace
and Freedom‖ participants, a racially integrated group of men and women, had gathered
to plan for their dangerous next phase - penetrating into the Deep South on the first-ever
mixed-race peace and freedom march. Black and white men and women associating
together were an explosive combination in the South at that time, and the marchers were

risking beatings and even death from white citizens and local police alike. In the early
sixties, the southern states were still living an archaic existence. Black people did not
have the right to vote. Racial segregation was rampant at all levels of society - from the
educational system to public transportation to hotels, motels, restaurants and toilets.
Even lynchings were still possible: The last one happened in 1981 in Mobile, Alabama.

I sat in on one of their meetings, facilitated by the venerable Quaker, A.J. Mustie, and the
―Bertrand Russell of the American peace movement. There I watched thirty or forty
people, with his assistance, forge consensus agreements on crucial life and death issues.

A few months later, I went to jail with them in Albany, Georgia. Before, during and after
this event, I experienced and participated in many a meeting using a consensus approach
to finding unanimous accord.

I was so impressed, that when I returned to Canada and was asked to participate, as part
of a directorate of four, in organizing Canada's first nonviolent civil disobedience action -
sitting down and blocking access to the airbase at La Macaza, Quebec, one of ten in
Canada that housed nuclear weapons - I refused unless leaderless consensus decision-
making was adopted as official policy. Dan Daniels agreed, successfully lobbied Dimitri
Roussopoulos, and we ―officially‖ introduced consensus into the Canadian peace
movement. It rapidly caught on from Halifax to Vancouver.

There is now an almost blasé acceptance of it in left wing, alternative and communal
circles and endeavours.

Yet paradoxically, while most readily assume or agree to adopt consensus for s mall
group decision-making, fe w have studied the subject, or developed the skills
necessary to contribute significantly and effectively to the process. Furthe rmore,
not grokking the full implications of the commitment, many tend to freak out when
one person fails to agree with everyone else and holds up unanimous agreement
They often end up accusing holdouts as "blocking consensus", or being "on an ego
trip", or "just stubborn", out of frustration arising from feelings of helpless

While there can be people who sometimes hang up consensus for ego-reasons, such
people or such occasions are noticed and worked with, sometimes in private sessions
during breaks or between meetings.

In a situation where "getting things done" is essential, we still must not forget that
the quality of the relations hips, the mood and strength of the whole group is very
important. We gain so many re wards with serious, skilled and sensitive exploration
of issues, people and their various points of vie w.

Reaching unanimous agreement is no easy task. Getting to that point demands an
understanding that we do not have the right to intimidate small minorities not yet in
agreement with the majority. We are all equal. Some simply feel they have not

been completely listened to, not yet understood. They may feel the majority is
clearly making a serious mistake. Or perhaps they the mselves do not have a clear
picture of what is being proposed. Once it is realized that we cannot demand a vote
simply because we are the majority, we have already evolved. We now need to listen
with ne w ears and begin to unde rstand at a deeper level - a level more personal and
otherwise undiscovered. The air is suddenly clearer. The minority now can speak
with greater confidence and express their deepest hopes, needs, fears and desires.
Everybody begins to unde rstand that
we are eschewing a form of de mocracy that so often leads to bitter factions bringing
dissension and disaster to communities and states worldwide.

The need for consensus can sometimes result in great personal growth for the one or
few still not in agreement. Not only will their ideas be probed and challenged, but
also their innermost private places could very well be explored and revealed.
Indeed, this process gives us no choice except to develop patience, reasoning, good
instinct and wisdom, all based on study, training, sensitivity and skill - and a real
commitment to these. Otherwise, consensus decision-making can drive participants

Conve rsely, I have been in situations whe re one solitary but pe rsistent holdout
ended up convincing everybody else!

There are dozens of books on this subject - on decision-making, consensus and
group facilitation - and decades of hands-on experience in meetings, seminars,
trainings and, particularly, in the field - on de monstrations and campaigns and in
community organizing work. A huge body of skills and techniques has been
developed, tested, refined, taught and practiced over the years . It behooves us all -
unless we want authority figures to arise and take the reins, or want to spend
endless, needless, and frustrating hours going around in circles - to familiarize
ourselves with this body of scholarship..

By bringing this together with what has been developed in the fields of counseling,
negotiation and me diation, we inherit a mass of information on "tried and true"
approaches to conflict resolution and decision-making.

                 PROCESS - Leadership and Facilitation

"All and every particular and individual man and woman that ever breathed in the world
  are by nature...equal and alike in their power, dignity, authority and majesty, none of
them having (by nature) any authority, dominion or magisterial power one over or above
                             another.‖ - John Lilburne, 1645

            "Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters ..." – Bob Dylan

      ―Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely‖ – Lord Acton

I have been an anarchist for forty- five years. However, I am in favour of organization,
structure, facilitation and leaders hip.

Leadership. Not leaders.

If one analyses what makes a good, natural leader (excluding authoritarian,
dictatorial ones), one can then chunk hiser ability down to a number of finite
component parts. Once we are aware of those individual parts, they can be taught,
some or all of the m, one by one, to anyone. Alternately, one can notice and
encourage oneself and othe rs to utilize those leadership abilities already possessed
and to play a leadership role in those ways when it is called for. This way, we can
think of everyone in the group as having leadership qualities and something to
contribute to the facilitation of resolution.

Some folks have a large number of leadership skills, some few, but all can learn to
contribute, and all can expand their repertoire.

Here are the functions that members of a group must perform throughout all discussions
in order for the group to function effectively. I am just naming them here, not describing
them, but it will give you the idea. (Courtesy: Jim Crowfoot):

                                   Positive Functions:

                               Task Functions (content)

                                 1. Initiating, contributing

                            2. Information or opinion seeking

                             3. Information or opinion giving

                                 4. Elaborating, clarifying

                          5. Orienting, summarizing, evaluating

                                    6. Standard setting

   7. Acting as procedural technician

  Maintenance Functions (Process)

      1. Supporting, encouraging

      2. Gate-keeping, expedition

    3. Harmonizing, compromising

 4. Observing and providing feed-back

         5. Tension reducing

   Human Development Functions

         1. Leadership s haring

2. Responsibility and Potential Assuming

        Negative Functions:

       Self-oriented Functions

             1. Following

             2. Aggressing

              3. Blocking

             4. Nitpicking

            5. Dominating

        6. Recognition seeking

                                     7. Monopolizing

                                   8. Sympathy seeking

                                        9. Rescuing


I had the privilege on a number of occasions to observe the facilitation skills of the
venerable A.J. Muste, Quaker, pacifist, chair of the Fellowship for Reconciliation, the
Committee for Nonviolent Action and the War Resisters League. I remember his
minimalism. There would be a question to agree on; he would let the discussion go for
ten or fifteen minutes, stop it, summarize the emerging views, make sure folks agreed
with his summarization, and then let it go on. Mostly he just continued to do that,
sometimes asking for clarification, maybe pointing out an alternative that nobody had
mentioned, sometimes making a suggestion for consideration.

Although a facilitator is some what like a chairperson and some use the terms
interchangeably, because one comes from Robert’s Rules and one from consensus
decision-making, the re are profound differences between the two.

I think that even with everyone developing and practicing leade rship skills, there is
still a great need for good facilitation at meetings, although no doubt the highe r the
competence of the whole group the less a facilitator will have to do.

The facilitator should be someone able to practice many of the skills listed above
needed for effective individual and whole group functioning as well as be able to
oversee the whole process – able to keep track of all of the bits and changes of a
discussion. Until many of us learn these skills, choosing one person for this job will
certainly be necessary; probably it always will be. We can choose the person for this
role for each meeting ahead of time from a roster of folks who have developed
abilities commensurate with the task. The more difficult the task - the more
complex the issues and strong the opinions - the more competent the facilitator will
need to be.

Once again, only if “everyone is in training” can true democracy flower and

Everyone intending to participate in this community needs to be committed to
learning leade rship and facilitation skills. The more that do so, the less we will need
to rely on only a few people; or, god forbid, only one; or, horrors, me!

                     PROCESS – The four-part I message

This is a very simple communication tool. It is a phrasing used when one person needs to
share with another a real or imagined grievance.

For example:

―I feel [part one] sad [part two] when you accuse me of always interrupting [part three]
because it doesn't recognize how hard I have been working on this, and how much I feel I
have improved [part four].

The first part establishes that one is speaking of oneself and ones own feelings. It does
not start with ―You make me feel….‖ Neither does it include the word ―that‖, as in "I
feel that", which does not then lead to the naming of specific emotions but to intellectual
formulations, thoughts, which, it is true, always precede emotions, but are not the

The second part describes one's personal reaction to something that the other party has
said or done, one's internal experience.. It not only communicates something to the
second party but also provides the speaker with the opportunity get in touch with what,
specifically, s/he is actually feeling. To say, ―I feel bad‖ is not as useful to either as, say,
―I feel sad‖, which is still not as precise as ―I feel belittled.‖

The third part describes the words or actions that triggered these feelings. It does not
attack the person; it describes behavior.

The fourth, and perhaps most important part, explains why it is upsetting. This is
sometimes the most difficult but revealing and important part of the format to express. It
helps to get each party in touch with what is really going on on a somewhat deeper level.

Learning to confront someone in this way helps both people to re main respectful
and resourceful.

John Paulin writes of another form:

―My son suggested to me the ―shit sandwich‖ when being confronted with a problem to
work out. Start with a positive observation first, [ the bottom slice], then the problem
at issue,[the filling], then an encouraging suggestion pertaining to rectification,[the top
slice]. Simple, but has proved to be effective in some matters.‖

We might all strive to speak of issues that concern us in these ways as often as we
can re member to do so.

                          PROCESS – The Talking Stick

The "talking stick" is such a simple but profound piece of magic. It by itself can go
a long way towards conflict resolution, group facilitation, consensus, and personal
growth. The re is no doubt in my mind that it will be an important tool in this
intentional community I am envisioning. It goes so well with a circle..

Also known as "the talking feather", one takes it up to gather and hold the energy
of a group’s attention before speaking. It lends import. It makes the holy moment
solemn. Mainly, it brings focus – one hundred percent focus, not ninety-nine pe rcent
focus - and that makes all the difference! It is the responsibility of all present to sit
up and shut up, and the responsibility of the holde r of the stick to wait until that has

From the Clayquot Campaign of '93 I borrowed a further device to bring about that focus
quickly in a large and even spread-out group: As soon as anyone sees that someone has
taken the stick, s/he stops word and action and raise hiser hand; and as soon as others see
a raised hand, they do the same. In seconds, hundreds are silent. This works in a crowd
even if there is not a talking stick present: Everyone soon finds out who has something to

The only interruptions allowed - done by making a "T" (for "time out") with the
hands - are for the purpose of attending to the process - if, for example, anger or
insults start to erupt, or someone can not hear the speaker, or, sometimes, if one is
going on too long, or needlessly repeating oneself. Even one-word verbalizations of
agreement with something, said while someone is speaking, have been found to be
distracting, and a practice, again learned from the Clayquot Peace Camp, called
"twinkling" is substituted, which involves wiggling the fingers of both hands, a
move ment very noticeable with periphe ral vision. There are othe r little signs that I
have heard of, and some that we could make up, that allow whole-circle
communication without vocal interjections.

The Talking Stick can be passed around a circle to facilitate a group discussion; "opened
up" to "first come first serve" (risky); or taken from its place of honour by any individual
at any time and returned there by himer.

There are a few times when it might not be not appropriate to "take the stick", such as in
the middle of a hot music jam!

The impulse to respond immediately to something someone says can be mitigated by
making a very quick, brief noteof reminder, but even small diversions of attention can
result in missing a fraction of the action.

The integration of the utilization of a talking- stick and the use of a facilitator for complex
decision- making, is, as far as I know, an unknown realm of relationship, but one that we
will quickly learn, I am sure - if they are not mutually exclusive.

                       PROCESS - The "Withhold Game"

This is not really a game but rather a simple, short dialogue form that allows a
person to say something to somebody without getting an imme diate defensive
reaction as a reply.

In its long form, it goes like this:

Peter: "Nico, there's something I've been withholding from you."

Nico: "Yes, would you like to tell me about it?"

Peter: "Yes, when you blow your nose on the hem of your skirt, it really grosses me out."

Nico: "Thank-you."

The short form is "Nico"; "Yes?"; "Blah, blah, blah"; "Thank- you."

The "thank-you" - and only "thank-you" - is the key: it prevents a defensive reaction.
Nevertheless, the conversation may continue immediately, within the form:

Nico: "Peter."

Peter: "Yes?"

Nico: "I don't think it's as gross as wiping it on yo ur sleeve, so maybe you should get
over it."

Peter: "Thank-you."

One can use this device when one wants to say something to someone about some little
thing but not get into a big discussion about it or even, necessarily, receive a reply at all,
or at least not then. One can also use it to say something heavy to someone when it is
scary to speak it because of the fear of reaction. Moreover, it can also be employed in a
marathon to clear a huge number of unspoken thoughts in just a few hours.

I've practiced this communication device with a talking stick going around a circle of
people; one-on-one with someone for four hours; and a few times a day with my partner
at the beginning of our relationship when we were just starting to get to know each other.

It is very useful.

I do not usually read the ―WORKING‖ section of the Vancouver Sun, but did the other
day, and found this:

                           ―Pet peeves can turn into problems‖

          ―They may seem little things, but they can make us feel unimportant.

―… [W]hat is it that really gets us stressed out and fired up? When someone walks away
with our pen. A colleague who talks too loudly on the phone. The pod-mate‘s cell phone
                            that rings the Mexican Hat Dance.

 ―Workplace pet peeves – they‘re just too silly to complain to anyone about. But after
awhile, those little peeves permeate our day and grate on us to the point where we want
 to pull our ears over our heads and hide with the dust bunnies under our desks. They
may seem like little problems that we blow up into big issues, but they can actually make
  us feel that we are about as important to our co-workers … as those dust bunnies.‖

This is just the kind of thing that the withhold game can cut through.

   PROCESS – Self-Improvement and Therapeutic Intervention

I do not much believe in, "Well, that's just the way I am", evoking helplessness or
inevitability to excuse or justify inappropriate, negative, limited or incompetent
behaviour. We can all change, with willingness, self-aware ness, recognition,
individual and group feedback, and specific therapeutic change tools.

At the same time, as long we are stuck, we are stuck, and until change occurs at both
the conscious and the automatic, unconscious level, we will re main stuck. I'm sure
we've all noticed how long our conscious mind can want specific changes, without
anything improving, year after year, except a deeper and deeper understanding of the
problems and how they negatively affect our lives! Therefore, tolerance and
compassion are called for. It is always easy to see someone else’s problem - and be
amazed and impatient that they “can’t just change” - than it is our own, and to
re member how long we have had our own entrenched problems.

Nevertheless, it really is, literally, only a change in how we think - the specific nature
and literal sequence of thoughts that flip us almost instantly from a resourceful state
to an un-resourceful state - that stands in the way of a "cure". However, those
thoughts are the unconscious ones, the ones that lie just beneath awareness. Change
them, just one time, into a different sequence with different qualities, and lifetime
hang-ups can disappear as if by magic.

This the rapeutic magic is, for me, the “magic” of NLP – Neuro-linguistic
Programming, or simply “Neuro-linguistics”. I am quite sure that there are other
processes, techniques, systems, and spiritual practices that can bring about therapeutic
changes, but I know of none that works so simply, quickly – in minutes, actually -
painlessly, precisely, effectively, thoroughly and assuredly as the body of strategies

that comprise Neurolinguistics. Whether or not the reader ever ends up part of this
project, I urge himer to check it out! I am so impressed by it, and by the high percentage
of successes I've had applying it as an amateur intervener for others in a limited number
of cases, that I've actually thought of giving up permaculture to become an NLP
therapist! Maybe I will have a chance to actively ply both trades one day!

I am also yearning to connect with someone who can act as a competent practitioner for

However, the purpose of this essay is not necessarily to push for one particular method.
Different strokes for different folks. The crite rion needs to be "does it really work?"
I do not care how neuroses; hang-ups; phobias; negative and inappropriate emotions,
words and actions; character flaws or personality defects are eliminated or transformed. I
only know that in such close community, they will need to be dealt with quickly and
effectively or we will assuredly crash and burn.

Here is one of the methods that a successful intentional community uses to achieve the
goal of interpersonal change:

"One of the ways members [of The Farm community in Tennessee] expedited personal
growth was to agree to engage in non-stop personal interventions, sort of a never-ending
encounter group. Your inner business was everybody's business. Each person had the
responsibility to [gracefully] suggest changes for others while gracefully (in theory)
accepting input about themselves, in order to elevate consciousness.‖ - Voices from the
Farm, edited by Rupert Fike

There are non-therapeutic group processes, as outlined in this collection, which will go a
long way towards ensuring that words, actions, behaviours, situations and events do not
trigger unresourceful reactions. We can provide safe environments for people to talk
about their problems. We can have great music jams to help us temporarily forget our
troubles. We can suppress our reactions or ―step to the balcony‖ to give ourselves time to
cool out. Ultimately, however, at some point, as individuals, each of us will have to
confront the fact of our limitations and how they get in the way of social intercourse
and community success; acknowledge them to self and others; admit the need to
change; and either do it using their own methods or seek assistance. Admission,
confession, apologies and assurances can only go so far.

"The sooner the better" should be a motto, balanced with: "There is a time and
place for everything". "The snake sheds its skin at the rate that the snake sheds its

I feel in my bones that being able to accept feedback, learn from criticis m, admit
imperfections and risk engaging in change work is going to be a crux of the matte r
for us.

I will need help with all this as much as anybody else will. It is one reason I want to live
in community. I am empowered by agreement, empowered by the thought of
sympathetic assistance, and empowered by methods I can test and trust, In addition, I
hope that we can all be empowe red by the potential of coming together around this
"Community Prospectus" and particularly this se ries of essays on process.

The basic agreements in this area must be that psychological change for self-
improvement and community survival is desirable, necessary and possible; that
we're all in different seats in the same very human boat, so "stop this foolish pride,
you won't die, it's not poison!"; "If it's broke, fix it"; if we cannot do it on our own,
there's people that can help us; and if something doesn't work, try something else.

PROCESS – Proposal For Achieving Consensus On A Prioritized
               Ten-Year Things-To-Do List

I am a list-maker – my whole family was and is. I could not do without them – they put
the clutter out of my mind and onto the paper. They allow me to see and realize that the
list is not endless, but rather, at least at that moment, finite, which affords me relief from
the feeling of being overwhelmed by a huge, jumbled sense of enormity and number.
They also help me prioritize tasks and chose to do the most important ones first.

This becomes more necessary when a whole community is trying to decide what
needs doing, determine how important it is, and agree on it all collectively.

I propose the following:

   1. Each participant makes a list of every task they can possibly think of that will
      need to be done in the next one year, five years, or ten years;

   2. The lists are collected, combined and consolidated into a master list by a
      committee of a couple of people;

   3. The master list is printed up and distributed to all participants;

   4. Each person ranks each task as to its relative importance, by assigning the number
      one to the least important task, and so on up to the most important. Also noted is
      an estimate of the time each will take, in hours, days, weeks, months and/or years;

   5. Each task's ranking and time is added up and then averaged to come up with a
      group number value and time estimation. A new master list is then drawn up of
      the "average collective rank and duration" of each task and redistributed to all

   6. Group discussion ensues to determine if any priorities or times seem to be way
      out of line. Individuals can argue for a higher or lower value;

   7. Final master list compiled, distributed to all households, and posted on all bulletin

   8. Individuals could also order each task on their copy of the master list according to
      how much enjoyment each one would bring. That way, we can find a balance
      between what we really need to do, and what will be fun to do. There will be
      times when moods will suit or demand deciding on a job or project that brings a
      lot of pleasure.

   9. The process is repeated when necessary as new tasks and times become evident.

   10. Less important tasks that will take only a short time may be done sooner than an
       important task that will take a long time, especially if it is work that someone
       might particularly enjoy.

Generally, all community processes will help us feel that we have strong, clear
agreements on our priorities and will aid us in reminding each othe r of what needs
to be done, and why.

           PROCESS – Towards an Alternative Justice System

My new justice system would eschew police, punishment – corporal or otherwise -
lawyers, judges and jails.

There are two reasons why we might consider the possibility of evolving an alternative
justice system. One is that we might object to the principles and practices of the current
one; the second is that the present justice system may not exist in the future.

Ours would be predicated on precepts that faithfully relecte3d our community beliefs and
at the same time, be comprised of elements of the best that humanity – modern and pre-
industrial – has to offer.

It would involve love, empathy and nonviolence throughout; the determination of the
facts of the matter; consideration as to natural and logical consequences; investigation of
root causes; recognition that it almost always takes two to tango; remedial actions;
victim/perpetrator interaction; reconciliation; rehabilitation; protection of the victim and
community; possible incarceration; and keeping in mind, ―There, but for the grace of
God, go I‖

It would remain true to our highest moral, ethical and spiritual values, at the same time
that it would be in harmony with the best of scientific knowledge.

It would draw, for part of its inspiration and ideas, from ―Restorative Justice‖, introduced
into the present prison system by the Mennonites.

In the movie ―Gandhi‖, a highly distraught Hindu, fresh from inter-religious rioting, turns
in his weapon to a fasting and near-death Gandhi and, eyes bulging in horror, says, ―I am
going to Hell. I took a Muslim baby, and I bashed in its skull.‖ Gandhi replies, barely
able to speak, ―I know a way out of Hell. Find a Muslin child whose parents have been
killed. Take him into your home as your son and…raise him as a Muslim‖.

Let us assume - as an exercise - a bad but not worst-case scenario: a loved and trusted
community member flies into a murderous rage and strangles his wife to death. Second-
degree murder. What do we do?

Let us say that he comes of his own volition to a circle. We start talking. If he does not
come, a trained team of negotiators goes to his home and persuades him to come to the
circle - and we start talking. If he still does not come, we send a squad of marshal arts
experts and gently take him to the circle - and we start talking. If they meet a gun…there
are many choices. Everyone could withdraw except one skillful communicator.
Everyone could gather around the member‘s home and sit silently, fasting, day after day,
waiting for him to come to the circle. We could do it in shifts, and send food into him. If
that did not work, we could send in our Ninja, he comes to the circle and we start talking.
Or we could spike his tea with LSD, opium and valerian, and carry him to the circle.
Alternatively, the whole community could withdraw from the village, wait for three days
and then send in a Gandhian nonviolent love- master prepared to sacrifice his life.

Let us assume that one way or the other, we bring him in. We talk. The first task must be
to determine whether or not he holds an immediate threat. Let us assume that we agree
that he does not. We talk. He admits he did it. If he does not, we talk for a long time -
with him, with everyone who has evidence and with every member of the community -
until there is a consensus as to guilt or innocence. The prisoner is included in that
consensus. If he blocks consensus, we decide if we need to confine him until further

Let us say, finally, that we agree that he did do it; that he could do it again; that he needs
assistance to change; that healing with his children will become paramount; that choosing
meaningful penance is important; and that - because of other outbursts of rage in the past
-until real, deep psychological change has occurred, we must protect the community from

Let us further assume here that the community decides that in order to feel safe from this
particular individual, actual incarceration is necessary. Imagine if we built a secure,
comfortable little hut, on wheels, with double barred walls of bamboo, and drapes inside
for privacy. We would house him here, with love and caring respect. We would keep
him close to community life when he wanted to be, but placed for peace and quite when
that was requested. Adults and children would be encouraged to hang out next to him,
talk with him, and learn from him. We would bring him into the circle or out into the

fields. We would give him community tasks that he was interested in and capable of
doing in his small abode. He would still be a participating and loved member of o ur

As therapy proceeded, the community would test him repeatedly. We would press his
hottest buttons. We would raise his most volatile issues. We would bring up his most
sensitive failings. Only when we determined that he was no longer triggered by the
taunting would he be considered for release. Only when we decided that he was truly
cured and would never be a threat again would he be freed.

If we decided he was an incurable, psychopathic, serial murderer, he would stay
imprisoned for life, perhaps with a constant wateher; however, there would be no death
penalty, no punishment, and no revenge: only loviong kindness.

                         SPIRITUALITY - Introduction

We certainly do not need to start another religion or define a new spirituality. It is
perhaps enough, in order to forge strong agreements, simply to remind ourselves of what
many might agree are the fundamentals of goodness or holy striving. In fact, much of
what I write here is merely a distillation and reiteration of the ―perennial philosophy‖
(Huxley) or the ―wisdom of the ages‖ – the commonality of kindness and good human
relations. It is presented to, hopefully, remind us, not instruct us.

As the presenter of these words on spirituality, I briefly recount my own erratic, eclectic
path to help make sense for the reader of where I am coming from and afford an
understanding of the bases and the bias‘s of the brief presentation below.

My Spiritual History

My Gramma was a Christian Biblical literalist; I started out in United Church Sunday-
school; I didn't get it and was yanked out by my free-thinking father; I was influenced
away from belief in God and Organized Religion by my father, uncle, god-uncle and
Bertrand Russell, becoming an atheist at fifteen. I started moving back the other way
after my first LSD trip in 1966, becoming an agnostic; and then, later, in 1969 or so, after
reading Autobiography of a Yogi and the Edgar Cayce biographies, I became a believer
in all things spiritual and cosmic. However, I was drawn, desperately, by the hope of I
began nurtured myself spiritually with Ram Das, Stephan Gaskin, Carlos Castaneda, Zen,
Alan Watts, Chuang Tzu, the Seth books by Jane Roberts, and the Venerable Chogyam
Trungpa, Rinpoche, among many others others. For the seven years following my
reading of ―Remember: Be Here Now‖ by Baba Ram Das in 1971, I defined myself as a
spiritual practioner, doing my "sadhana". I built a low, small alter and tried to meditate
five times a day; I often wore a home- made robe because I saw that the wise men had it
right: they were simple and comfortable. I chanted in the sauna and I chanted city, I

chanted to myself and I chanted with others. I posted little reminders to myself. I
discussed it all confidently with anyone into it, sharing my interpretations and insights

This spiritually active period of my life lasted until 1978, when I fell off the wagon. My
practices and learnings did not help a jot when a life crisis overwhelmed me. Neither had
they relieved the almost never-ending pain of depression. On top of that, my skepticism
began to kick back in. Why was I not experiencing any direct evidence myself – of
ghosts, bent spoons, telepathy or my past lives – when an avalanche of authors, articles
and anecdotes were trying to convince me that these phenomena were all around me?

The Holes That Line Up

Once, when someone asked Stephan Gaskin how he had arrived at his religious
beliefs, he said it was as if he had stacked up all the world's religions as though they
we re old-style computer punch cards and then noticed which holes went all the way
through. This did and does make much sense to me and provides a valuable way to
separate the wheat from the chaff. The re are many paths said to lead to "god" and
I presume that many of the m do. However, there is only one Ultimate Goal and only
One Reality - that is not up for grabs. The refore, we can take an eclectic approach.
Nevertheless, that does not include everything. It is being broad-minded, but not
empty-headed. It is keeping an open mind, but not so open that yr brains fall out.

We perhaps need to be a little wary of the ―New Age Movement‖, bastard child of Hippy.
While in many ways, it is a relief for part of history to have evolved in this direction, its
varied and good-hearted nature has spawned a welter of unexamined beliefs become
shibboleths that often defy reason and logic, ignore the scientific method and contradict
the basic ―facts of the matter.‖

My understanding of ―the teachings‖ is that the path to enlightenment necessitates
dropping all beliefs. Perhaps the true spiritual seeker after truth never ―believes‖.
―Seeking‖ implies constant movement and further discovery. Believing is like stopping
along the path to surround oneself in a collection of thoughts. It might be fun to visit
with them for a short time, for a bit of rest and pleasant illusion, but if one does not get up
and move on, they will encase the unwary and hapless human in a web that will harden
into concrete, hard to crack. It even becomes easy to wo nder if there is still anybody in

The Mind

     "Life consists of what a [person]'s thinking of all day." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is a little difficult to tease out the differences between the brain, the mind, the spirit, the
soul, feelings, emotions, rapture, lust, love and thoughts.

I believe that the human brain/mind/ is an imme nse and amazing collaboration of
abilities and "powe rs" way beyond what we are normally using, including healing
itself, consciously and unconsciously. I believe that much of what folks attribute to
coming from "out there' and point to as proof of God or Spirit or Astrology or Crystals,
can be explained by brain/mind/body, by the unconscious and superconscious mind of
which we are not normally aware. In other words, the kingdom of God is within.

I also believe in the ability and usefulness of that part of the mind/brain that is
rational, logical, and consciously able to think about all experiences, observations,
conclusions, ideas and beliefs arrived at about anything, including the pe rsonal,
subjective, mystical and spiritual.

That is not to say that that rational part is all of it.

I also believe that the scientific method is one of the best ways to understand and
explain most phenomena, although there are probably things beyond our capacity
to discover scientifically.

Satori or enlightenment may do part of the job pretty well,. That experience can also be
(and is!) studied scientifically. These experiences may arise ―only‖ from within, but it is
what it is. We can still call it spiritual.

The core of Buddhist practice is Mindfulness. That sounds good to me.

Spiritual Practices

At bottom, I think all spirituality involves practice, mindfulness and transcendence, in
that order. Perhaps one of the most fundamental and widespread practices is sitting
meditation - very basic, tried and true, from many cultures and religions. Practice taming
"the drunken monkey" mind - ordinary consciousness. Sit.

But there's also yoga, Sufi dancing, mantra, praying all night - all demanding real
practice, all working with mind, all seeking real transcendence, not a buzz, or groovy

Some might say the goal is union with God; some, Universal Mind. For me, I understand
it to mean expanding into my own brain/mind spaces and capabilities; more specifically,
to remind me and train me to ―be here now‖ all the time - ―on the spot.‖

No matter how far I've fallen in my life, how alienated I've been from the spiritual path,
how skeptical, agnostic or atheistic I've become, I still have to admit that grounding my
life in some simple mind practice - for me, if anything, meditation with a Tibetan flavour
- is probably in order.

I could see us all committing to do some basic daily practice, privately, and in addition,
evolving some agreements on a group practice. Alternatively, we could just agree that

we want to bring more spirituality that is genuine into our lives and encourage that as a
community, by reminding and encouraging each other, by building a "retreat hut", by
having a room to do yoga in together, even by building a temple together, once we agreed
on what we wanted to do in it!

A disciple in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition once asked his master, "What is the essence
of Buddhism?" His guru responded by standing up, turning around, lifting his robe, and
showing him his ass - all covered with bruises and calluses from sitting meditation – and
saying, "Practice is the essence of Buddhism."

One can collect only so many books, so many teachings, so much knowledge, so
many objects for the meditation shrine, so many retreats and workshops and
Intentions - so many "antiques" for our spiritual store - before one has to ask
oneself "Is this where it's at? Am I really making any progress? Can I think myself
holy? Can I study myself to enlightenment? Is catechism and totems enough?” [See
"Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism" and ―The Myth of Freedom‖ by Chogyam

If we really expect to make spiritualActual mind/body/brain/spiritual practices must
be adopted and practiced, it seems to me, for real progress to be made It's effort,
it's discipline, it's time-cons uming. On the other hand, is it? [See essay, ―PROCESS:
Therapeutic Interventions‖; and the Neurolinguistics bibliography in essay, "PROCESS:
Shortcuts to Agreement"]

.Be Here Now

"Be Here Now", the Holy Moment, Authentic Presence, seems to be one of those
holes that line up - the essence of any practice - anchor and starting point. Neither
the past nor the future exists, unless, in eternity, they are each part of the he re and

To bring our minds back repeatedly to the he re and now microsecond of time,
whenever we can re membe r to do so, is the beginning of an "every minute Zen"
spiritual practice. Others might call it “being in the presence of God”.

Once someone asked a well-known Thai mediation master,

 ―In this world where everything changes, where nothing remains the same, where loss
and grief are inherent in our very coming into existence, how can therebe any happiness?
How can we find security when we see that we can‘t count on anything being the way we
 want it to be?‖ The teacher, looking compassionately at this fellow, held up a drinking
 glass, which had been given him earlier in the morning and said, ―You see this goblet?
   For me, this glass is already broken. I enjoy it, I drink out of it. It holds my water
 admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it
has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on a shelf and the wind knocks it over or
    my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ―of

course‖. When I understand that this glass is already broken, then every moment with it
       is precious. Every moment is just as it is and nothing need be otherwise.‖

The Cardinal Virtues

Other truth- holes that seem to so obviously line up are: be compassion; practice
love, truth and beauty; relieve suffering; do no harm; change is possible; we're
here to learn and grow; none of us are pe rfect; none of us are bad - there are only
broken parts and mistaken parts; we are here to serve while we are waking up, for
the good of all, starting with ourselves.

Stephan Gasken once described love, truth and beauty as the three sides of a
pyramid, the top of which was God. They certainly seem to be major pathways
beyond Ego. [See essay, ―Spirituality: Morals and Ethics‖]

I would assume that all of us at least pay lip service to these values. I suggest we
should strive to bring them always to the center of our lives to guide all of our
thoughts, words and actions. They are all both outcomes of spiritual practice and
spiritual practices themselves.

The Mystery is Real

I have to admit, finally, that no matter what I think about spirituality, the universe is vast,
mysterious, awesome, unexpected and multilayered. The speculations and hypotheses of
modern quantum physics boggle the mind and are as weird and "cosmic" as anything else
anybody has ever come up with - yet seem to be in harmony with both the deepest
spiritual teachings and the subjective experience of psychedelics.

                SPIRITUALITY – Evolving Group Practices

I imagine weaving the evolving spiritual, ritual, cere monial and celebratory
practices that naturally and consciously arise out of our lives, our agreements and
our lifestyle - genuine, authentic and meaningful - with parts borrowed from the
best of cultures worldwide, creating, after many years and even decades, our own
distinctive tribal .

I am not sure if I know the real difference between some of these practices, but I think
celebrations can contain ceremonies, ceremonies can contain rituals, and spiritual
practices can imbue them all with greater mindfulness.

I'd like to see a community commitme nt to evolving some minimal - at the least -
regular, group practices marking events throughout the day and the year that
include elements of all four.

For example. I imagine gathering every day for grace at meals; for half a day or a full day
once a week; for the new moon and the full moon; for the spring equinox (fertility rites),
the summer solstice (a mid-summer night's dream), the fall equinox (harvest festival),
and the winter solstice (return of the light, the sun of God arising - Christmas and New
Years rolled into one); for "All Saints Day" (the Day of the Dead); and for births, deaths,
marriages and puberty rites. Not for Christmas, New years, Easter, Thanksgiving Day,
Halloween or Valentines Day – at least not regularly as a group – which are all artificial
dates divorced from the natural world.

Here is how I have imagined evolving these community practices.

For the daily, weekly and bi- monthly occasions that come around again quickly, different
individuals each time would be responsible for designing and leading them, announcing
them in advance or not, bringing forms and practices from any discipline or creating them
from whole cloth. Gradually we would work through the whole community, each person
who wanted to contribute bringing forward their own ideas or preferences for "holy

For the longer-period cycles - the equinoxes, solstices, and special occasions - I imagine
the whole community discussing, agreeing upon, planning and actualizing a different
approach each time, year after year - adding, subtracting and modifying; or trying
something completely different.

In both cases, as we cycle around the days and years, I imagine that gradually, by
repeating forms we particularly liked, by mixing and matching parts from past
contributions, we would evolve our own, democratic, distinctive, mea ningful and much
loved minimum group spiritual/cultural/ceremonial practices.


Here is a ceremony I have imagined that developed as a solution to a permaculture design
problem I was trying to solve:

There are apples that hang well on the tree and apples that drop from the tree. The ones
that drop are often cider apples, so it would be of great advantage to plant large standard
trees for this purpose, making harvesting a breeze.

However, in most permaculture systems, there are often a variety of under-stories beneath
the largest trees, planted with shade- loving and tolerant smaller trees, shrubs, ground
covers and fungi, so that harvesting fallen fruit becomes problematic.

Where might we place these trees?

We could plant them throughout the children's playground. Besides fruit, the trees would
provide shade, protecting from heat and ultraviolet radiation; they would be there for the
climbing; their branches could hold swings and tree houses; they would stand as places
under which to gather; and the grass beneath, cut short, would find use for livestock and
for garden mulch.

We could teach the toddlers that their annual role in juice production, and therefore
community self- sufficiency, was to, first, spot the first fallen fruit of fall; second, to
spread the news to the rest of the community; and third, to gather the fallen fruit daily
before playing.

When they find that first fair fruit, the children could begin a ritual, a ceremony to spread
the word to all: little town criers, perhaps a parade or daisy chain of song weaving
through the hamlet, ending in a circle of children and adults around the tree that bore the
apple, giving blessing.

Finally, when the first batch of juice is pressed, the young – having been a part of every
process – gather; and passing the sacred cider chalice, get first taste of the year‘s first

Someone who grew up on The Farm recalls, "I remember harvesting strawberries, green
beans, potatoes, tomatoes, etc., with the rest of the crew living at Seven Nations (my
household). It was very rewarding and many times celebrations were centered around
harvest times."

                      SPIRITUALITY – Morals and Ethics

Surely, the essence of all morality or ethics is ―do no harm‖ and ―be kind.‖

"Peace, love and good vibes": that still sounds good to this old hippy.

Permaculture starts with an ethic: Care of the Earth, Care of People, Setting Limits to
Population and Consumption. That sounds good, too

.When I was knee-high to my grandmother she taught me "Do unto others as you would
have them do unto you" and "Love your enemies" and "Forgive seventy times seven" and
―turn the other cheek‖. ―Ok,‖ I remember thinking, ―sounds pretty good to me.‖ My
pacifist Mennonite ancestors that I only learned about a few years ago - speaking then
through that grandmother - were following that creed in revolt against the Roman
Catholic Church and the State Protestantism that quickly followed The Reformation.
They fled into the hills. They dropped out and adopted a simple lifestyle. They are still
around, five hundred years later!. [See essay, ―Messages from the Mennonites‖].

Aldous Huxley was asked for some words of wisdom on his deathbed and said, "Be
kinder whe never possible."

"I am He as You are He as You are Me and We are all together." That sounded very
good, didn‘t it? Still does.

The Dalai Lama had this to say recently:

―I don‘t think myself having especially good qualities. Oh, maybe some small things. I
have positive mind. Sometimes, of course, I get a little irritated. But in my heart, I never
blame. I never think bad things against anyone. I also try to consider others more. I
believe others more important than me. Maybe people like me for my good heart. Under
this skin, same nature; same kinds of desires and emotions. I usually try to give happy
feeling to the other person… We have to make every effort to promote human affection.
Promote a warm heart; look at humanity as a whole. Todays‘s reality: whole world
almost one body. One thing happens some distant place, the repercussions reach your
own place. Destruction of your neighbour as enemy is essentially destruction of

What am I trying to get to, here? I am not talking about rules of conduct imposed from
above. I am talking about universal basics: Love, truth, beauty, forgiveness, service,
kindness, harmlessness, peace - all the buzzwords - ideals that show the way, indicate
the path, create the struggle and define the goal. Moreover, if they are indeed universal,
perhaps they are somehow intrinsic to at least the human species, and perhaps even to life

Of course, many of these words are just nominalizations, almost platitudes, nearly clichés
- they name, but do not describe. For the words in action, one example leaps first to
mind: Gandhi. Others soon follow: Thoreau. Martin Luther King. The Dalai Lama.
Jesus. People who embodied or embody the cardinal virtues; people to emulate.

The idea of non-violence, which seems to include expression of all of the cardinal virtues,
is a little like the automatic and assumed belief in consensus that many pay lip service to
but few maintain and apply when the ―going gets tough.‖ When a minority blocks what
seems to most to be a reasonable decision, or somebody hits you when you were being
nice, then often the masks come off and the gloves are put on. Peace, love and good
vibes with no training is like the tough guy with no training: It works most of the time,
but then along comes an adversary who flattens you.

Here are some other ways to organize our thoughts about morality and ethics,
formulations by philosophers and theologians over millennia. It seems worthwhile to
reflect on them as reaffirmations or recommitments.

Contrary, Heavenly, and Cardinal Virtues

In this world of iniquity, they are a few gleams of hope in the mire of our shameful
indulgences. Various formulations of Virtue have been proposed over the ages.

The Cardinal Virtues:

Prudence, temperance, courage, justice

Classical Greek philosophers considered the foremost virtues to be prudence, temperance,
courage, and justice. Early Christian Church theologians adopted these virtues and
considered them to be equally important to all people, whether they were Christian or not.

The Theological Virtues:

Love, hope, faith

St. Paul defined the three chief virtues as love, which was the essential nature of God,
hope, and faith. Christian Church authorities called them the three theological virtues
because they believed the virtues were not natural to Man in his fallen state, but were
conferred at Baptism.

The Seven Contrary Virtues:

Humility, kindness, abstinence, chastity, patience, liberality, diligence

The Contrary Virtues were derived from the Psychomachia ("Battle for the Soul"), an
epic poem written by Prudentius (c. 410). Practicing these virtues is alleged to protect
one against temptation toward the Seven Deadly Sins: humility against pride, kindness
against envy, abstinence against gluttony, chastity against lust, patience a gainst anger,
liberality against greed, and diligence against sloth.

The Seven Heavenly Virtues:

Faith, hope, charity, fortitude, justice, temperance, prudence

The Heavenly Virtues combine the four Cardinal Virtues: prudence, temperance,
fortitude -- or courage, and justice, with a variation of the theological virtues: faith, hope,
and charity. I am still researching the origins and popular usage of this formulation.

The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy:

Continuing the numerological mysticism of Seven, the Christian Church assembled a list
of seven good works that was included in medieval catechisms. They are: feed the
hungry, give drink to the thirsty, give shelter to strange rs, clothe the naked, visit the
sick, minister to prisoners, and bury the dead. [Matthe w 25]

And here are the Buddhist virtues:

“Wis dom is the key to unlocking the ability to practice all the other Buddhist virtues:
generosity, just morality, patience, creativity, concentration, and artful activity.
Explaining how to practice them and how they help you reach true happiness is what the
book itself is about. First, understand what is real about you and your world. Then
give to others as much as you can. Be sensitive to their needs and feelings, and
interact with them fairly, justly, and harmoniously. When they step on your toes, be
patient and don’t add to the stress by getting mad. Be creative in expanding your
own happiness and in sharing it with others. Learn to concentrate your attention
and mind to develop a deeper appreciation of and insight into life. And as your
wisdom itself gets deeper and deeper, you will become more and more artful in your
way of living and sharing."

Noble Eightfold Path:

(1) Right Seeing. (2) Right Thought. (3) Right Speech. (4) Right Action. (5) Right
Livelihood. (6) Right Effort. (7) Right Mindfulness. (8) Right Contemplation.

―In general, 'Not to do any evil; to cultivate good; to purify one's heart - this is the
teaching of the Buddha.'”

“Although Buddhists value highly such virtues as loving kindness, humanity,
patience and giving, pe rhaps they value compassion most of all. The idea of ahimsa
or harmlessness [non-violence] is very closely connected with compassion. The
compassionate desire to cause no harm to other beings (Buddhists would include animals,
plants, inanimate objects and even the world in general in this) has caused many
Buddhists to become pacifists or vegetarians, although they are not obliged to do so. In
all things Buddhism places great stress on self-reliance [sic!] and the Buddha himself told
his followers not to believe a thing because he told it but to test it for themselves. ‖

There is no real need to reinvent either the wheel or ne w moral formulation. I only
want to re mind us of these noble precepts, and state that all of the above are my
ideals. I care about the m every day, I re mind myself of them constantly in my
dealings with others, I try to guide myself by them and bring my life into line with
the m, and I want to live with people that like wise prioritize their values. We strive,
fail, and feel humiliated or persecuted, we so often fall short of our ideals in
practice, but we keep trying, we reaffirm our highest commitments, we accept help
from others, and we try to “change our minds and hearts and keep the change.”

                  SPIRITUALITY – Meditation Retreat Hut

Early on in the development of this community, I want to locate and build a small retreat
hut, perhaps as the next project after the construction of the firecircle and the laying out
of the design - to demonstrate intent, commitment, and priority.

I imagine locating it outside of the inner zones - the firecircle, human habitation ring, out-
building ring and all the activities between - or maybe outside of the entire Permaculture
Mandala - on a hill overlooking it all - aloof, detached, "not of that world" but with a
view of that world, a panoramic perspective from the outside.

It would be a place for an individual to go in the morning or the evening, or sometimes
for a whole day, or sometimes for longer retreats - for meditating, praying, fasting,
repeating mantra, doing prostrations, practicing silence, studying holy books, writing
haikus - whatever - with outside support provided by the community.

I see this "sacred site" as "consecrated ground," forming "a series of nested precincts,
each marked by a gateway or doorway, each one progressively more private, and more
sacred than the last, the innermost a final sanctum that can only be reached by passing
though all of the outer ones."

This concept of ―nested precincts‖ references, in A Pattern Language, a church or temple.
In that sense, we can design the essence of the pattern into the Sacred Firecircle in the
Center. As it pertains to a small meditation retreat, I imagine the outermost precinct
being a small, open but covered veranda, a connection to the world, allowing reflection
on nature and the community we are building. Next, inside, a smaller study, with a table,
a chair, a cot, a small wood-stove, a few books, writing material. Finally, smaller still,
the inner sanctum - the altar, the icons, the candles, the meditation pillow.

OOO, nice, eh?


As long as I have known about the idea of intentional community, I have read that the
only ones that have endured are those that are religious. Moreover, the ones that are
listed as examples are the ones that are called "the peace churches": the Quakers, the
Doukhobors, the Hutterites, the Amish...and the Mennonites. Little did I know ‗way
back then that not only did I have Mennonites - hundreds of them - in my own ancestry,
but that the essence of their distinctive message had been passed down to me through my
maternal grandmother! What a discovery!

I hadn't thought to write a whole essay on them for this collection until I recently
reviewed material I have on both the pre-Mennonite historical roots of the sect and their
agricultural methods - for after their beliefs, and hardly separated from them, they were,
and often still are, above all else farmers.

Both are worth recounting. The following is taken from "The Trail of the Black Walnut",
by G. Elmore Reaman.

Mennonite Roots and Creed

"Christianity itself began as a separatist [read ―drop-out‖] movement in Judaism, and in
the Roman Empire it preserved its character as an exclusive society which not only
forbade its members to participate in the popular worship and exercised strict discipline
over their conduct, but also tended to separate them from the political and economic
society; consequently, the early Christians became a relatively self-sufficient society
within the empire, with resulting antagonisms.

"From the third century [after Christianity joined forces with the State to form the Roman
Catholic Church] to the eleventh, there were sporadic develop ments of groups which
directed their protests against the growing power of the clergy, the relaxation of
[personal] discipline, and the substitution of doctrine for inspiration. Early Catholicism,
however, was able to unite this sectarianism with the ecclesiastical movement and
thereby negate the influence of the sects.

"In spite of this, however, the early years of the twelfth century witnessed the rise of a
number of sects. One group, the Waldenses, retained their sectarian character and
professed beliefs. They sought individual perfection apart from the church, rejected the
official clergy, abstained from oaths and from the use of force, and attempted to
reintroduce primitive Christian fellowship and apostolic simplicity of living...[T]he
beliefs of these people have been widely accepted. In fact, members of this sect still

―... [F]or several centuries the Waldenses were bitterly persecuted yet were never
completely conquered.

"...In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries John Wyclif (1324-1384) in England, who
translated the Bible into English, and John Huss (1373-1415), built up movements that
looked to the formation of a separatist community. This meant that they incensed not
only the Roman Church but also the state authorities and in the end suffered greatly.

"A modern commentator, Henry John Randall, considers that the 'Waldenses may be
regarded as one of the earlier forerunners of the reformers...they were anti-clerical and
they reduced the sacraments to two - baptism and the mass. In the fourteen century came
Lollardy [a follower of Wyclif] to England and in the fifteenth the Hussites to Bohemia.
The movement initiated by Wyclif was scholarly and somewhat aristocratic rather than a
movement resting upon the masses. His main proposals were a church independent of
the State, without ordained priests, and without wealth, cults, or political influence. The
Hussite movement, on the other hand, was more political and more revolutionary...

"Out of the defeat of [this] Bohemian movement, ho wever, a definite sect, the Moravians
or Unitas Fratum (1415-1648) emerged, which reverted to the tenets of the Waldenses:

               'The group accepted the ethics of the New
               Testament not as a program to be forced upon
               civil society but rather as the constitution of a
               separate religious community. It rejected all
               forms of violence, required its members to
               withdraw from public life and trade, to
               content themselves with agriculture and
               manual labour and to develop among
               themselves a fellowship of love.'‖

When I read this, I was truly awed! We could almost lift this as our own community
statement. Maybe we should all become Moravians! They still exist. Check them out:

To continue: By the time of the Protestant Reformation in the beginning of the sixteenth
century, and when Luther, in 1517, nailed his ninety-five theses on the church door, "it is
said that ...there were 200,000 Moravian Christians. They no doubt were an influence on
those that became Mennonites.

Coterminous with the movements initiated by the dominate Protestant reformers - Luther
in Germany [Lutherans] and Zwingli in Switzerland [Reformed
Church] - was that known as Anabaptism, also called "Swiss Brethren", "Hutterites" in
Austria, and "Menists" in Holland and North Germany. All these groups except the
Hutterites eventually became known as Mennonites, or "Plain Folk".

The Mennonites accepted as their only religious authority the New Testament and the
teachings of Jesus, not the priest and the Roman Church; they believed the church was a
fellowship; they believed in "a new ethic of love and non-resistance."

"Their principles of belief were acted out in the lives of the believers to such an extent
that they were bitterly persecuted [and executed - by the thousands for 150 years - both
by the Swiss Protestants because of their unwillingness to serve in the Swiss mercenary
armies, and by the Roman Catholics because of their opposition to the Church of Rome.]
Their principles of nonconformity invited persecution, something they seemed to expect
and which increased rather than decreased their numbers and importance. Their
emphasis on brotherhood denied the right of private property: one branch...the Hutterites,
came to practice a form of Christian communism. [Others dropped this provision.]

"In this principle of non-resistance, or Biblical pacifism, which was thoroughly believed
and resolutely practiced by all the original Anabaptist Brethren and their descendants
throughout Europe from the beginning until the last century, and in Russia and North
America to this day, the Anabaptists were ... creative leaders far ahead of their times ....

―Thus two outstanding characteristics of the present-day Plain Folk have an historical
explanation: their tendency to withdraw from the world and associate as little as possible
with it, and their policy of non-resistance.‖

My ancestors fled Switzerland and the Rhine Valley to Pennsylvania, drawn by promises
from owner William Penn, a Quaker, of religious freedom. They were the earliest
Mennonite dropouts within Pennsylvania, too, being the first settlers to move into the
wilderness interior of the state, in what was to become Lancaster County. One hundred
years later, from 1805 to 1825, they dropped out once again, moving in Conestoga
covered wagons to Canada over impossible-to-traverse mountains, across unforgeable
rivers, and through the impassable Beverly Swamp, to settle in the trackless wilderness
that was to become Waterloo Township in Ontario. I am talking here about my g.g.g.g.
and g.g.g.g.g grandparents!

Mennonite Agriculture

I was amazed to discover the number of similarities between Mennonite agricultural
practices and permaculture. In Switzerland, in Germany, in Pennsylvania, and in
Ontario, the Mennonites were famous for their farming. They were even lured onto
ruined land in the Rhine Valley only to have their fertile family farms, vastly improved in
value, taken away from them two generations later!

Of the Swiss Mennonites it was said, "...these Anabaptists had the reputation of being the
best farmers wherever they voluntarily located or were forced to settle. They made great
use of manure, also gypsum and lime, and a three fallow system. Clover was one of their
main crops and they irrigated whenever possible. They also took great care of their
domestic animals. Their motto in the latter part of the eighteen century was: Kein Futter
- Kein Vieh; Kein Veih - Kein Dung; Kein Dung - Kein Ertrag. (No food - no cow; no
cow - no manure; no manure - no profit) In addition, they had an outstanding knowledge
of livestock breeding and milk production."

From "The Trail of the Black Walnut" by G. Elmore Reaman, 1957:

"...the Pennsylvania German character was molded by the fact that the Pennsylvania
Germans were farmers practically and spiritually.

"...[they] built numerous small buildings in close proximity to the house, such as a
summer kitchen (often topped by a dinner bell), smoke house, wash house, tool shed,
bake oven, leach house for making soap, maple syrup shanty and spring house...

"They have no peers as farmers. In this form of husbandry, their leadership has never
been challenged. Today there are 3000 counties in the United States. Of the twenty- five
most productive counties in the nation, nine are peopled chiefly by persons of this
lineage. They were the first to develop the system of rotating o f crops and contour
ploughing; the first to devise guards against soil erosion, the first to practice
conservations of our forests and the first to introduce clover to agriculture.

"Horticulture, as applied to garden produce, was unknown in England at the time William
Penn invited the distressed and persecuted Germans of the Rhine Valley to share his
province in the New World. England did not grow vegetables in gardens until William of
Orange brought with him some Dutch gardeners at the time of his accession to the
English throne in 1688.

"The Pennsylvania German farmer...showed a strong predilection for family- sized
holdings...and relatively intensive forms of agriculture. He looked upon his calling as a
preferred way of life and not primarily as a commercial occupation. He sought an
acreage sufficient to feed and clothe himself well...In his work program, self-sufficiency
was his ideal. Plantation agriculture and slavery in particular were anathema to him.

"Two general practices generally observed...were the preservation of the woodlot and
acreage for fallowing...

"...wheat was usually a first crop, following with a variation of grains such as corn, oats,
buckwheat, barley, and rye. Grasses early assumed considerable importance...the settlers
found clearings of various sizes covered with native grasses...two or three cows ... during
the summer were allowed to range day and night on the native grasses which grew in the
forest...first the uplands of mostly annual grasses ... [then] meadows, where the perennial
grasses grew...All lands along streams were turned into grasslands as far as possible, and
to promote the growth of grass and to harvest two and sometimes three crops a season,
the early Pennsylvania Germans resorted to meadowland irrigation.

"...The streams flowing through meadows were diverted along the hillsides and the water
distributed by lateral ditches over the lowlands. The procedure often took much labour
but the increased hay crops apparently justified the expense.

"The cultivation of Red clover is mentioned in England as early as 1633 and William
Penn speaks of an experiment in sowing English grass and "great and small clover".
Someone else noted "fields of red clover" near New York in 1749.

"It was not, however, until after 1768 that a discovery became known that made the
growing of clover a success and revolutionized, so to speak, the whole farming industry
of Pennsylvania. This discovery was the use of gypsum in the raising of clover."

A labourer in Europe mixing stucco mortar noticed clover growing luxuriantly a long his
path, presumably due to the dust from his clothing, tried it out, had it confirmed, passed
the knowledge on to a visiting Mennonite who brought it back to Pennsylvania and
introduced it to his brethren, who after some hesitation, introduced the practice into their
farming methods.

"...any outsider who took the trouble to look into their ways of farming would have
discovered that they were the best farmers in Eastern Ontario."

"...He avoids carefully running to extremes in any particular branch [of farming], and
ascribes his success mainly to the diversity of his productions, together with general
economy in management...they never believe in putting all their eggs in one basket. It is
difficult to conceive of them not putting the growing of food first...

"...They had such a horror of debt that if they did have to be in debt, it would be to
someone of their own faith who would loan money without interest...

"As the Pennsylvanian German farmer was unique in his care of animals, he put up a barn
as soon as he was able to. This was possible because he lived in a community that
believed in and practiced cooperation...

"...the early pioneer cow as a [quadruple] purpose animal - for meat, milk, [manure] and
motive power...Swine were profitable animals to keep because they multiplied rapidly,
[and] require[ed] little care, for they lived on nuts, such as acorns, beechnuts, chestnuts,
and various roots...Sheep...were kept mainly to clothe the family.

"...In considering farming practices we must keep in mind the responsibility which these
Plain Folk had towards their lands. They never forgot that they were custodians of it and
that what the land brought forth should be returned in some form or another. This meant
that in farm practice they were not dependent on outside markets. Each farmer or group
of farmers were more or less self-contained, and they were more interested in increasing
their herds and acquiring more land for their families than in obtaining cash for their
products. Since money was scarce in their day, most business transactions were carried
on by trade. What the farmer had to buy he got by bartering something he had grown, for
to him to waste anything was a major sin...

"These farmers...were great believers in the value of manure...grew plenty of
clover...used lime and gypsum...practiced crop rotation...fallowed the land...had an open
mind to new ideas in farming practices...raised poultry...and Guinea fowl...had a good
apple orchard aside from pear, cherry or other fruit trees...obta ined sweetening from
honey and maple sugar...and made his own tools from wood and iron...

"Conservation of the soil was never any problem for these Germans, since they felt
themselves the custodians of it for future generations. Furthermore, to this day
conservation to them has not only been a mere farm practice but also an attitude of mind.
Being custodians of the soil, they have religiously and rigorously kept soil erosion to a
minimum. The generous application of manure and the use of clover as hay a nd pasture
have materially aided in preventing erosion. Another factor is the retention of timber and
woodlots...and in these districts, conservation has never been a problem. From this
timbered land (which is excellent farmland), dead trees are taken out each year for winter
fuel but the owners prefer to leave their investment in the trees...

"Because farming to this ethnic group is not only a way of making a living but a way of
life, the farms are still family farms of from 100-200 acres. The following is a fairly
accurate picture of a farm in Waterloo County in 1944: 'The average farm is

approximately 100 acres...with a high proportion of productive land and the
diversification of crops. Crop yields are high, and a list of farm products excluding
livestock include wheat, barley, rye, oats, corn, buckwheat, hay, potatoes, turnips,
mangels, peas, soybeans, tobacco, vegetables, small fruits, and others...there is also a
domination of forage crops - oats, mixed grains (largely of oats and barley), and hay
make up 78 percent of the entire area under crops. Woodland and wasteland includes 13
per cent."

All this leaves me breathless, actually. The above could certainly constitute part of our
agreement on agriculture, although permaculture probably includes it all, and greatly
extends and expands it.

        THE OUTSIDE WORLD – Good Community Relations

In 1971, 350 counter-culture people and their vehicles drove off the interstate, then the
paved road, then the dirt road, then across a farmer's field and onto the 1700 acres of rural
Tennessee that would become The Farm. The freaked-out neighbour promptly blocked
off their only egress.

"For this exotic group of hippies to plop down and thrive in the Deep South was a long-
odds gamble. These were times of crisis in this country - Vietnam and urban riots
controlled the front pages. Willie Nelson had not yet grown pigtails. The Easy Rider
boys had met a bad fate in Dixie. There was no such thing as Charlie Daniel's
longhaired country boy who just wanted to be left alone. Indeed, if you had long hair in
the South at this time, a country boy would likely not leave you alone.

"From the beginning Stephen likened The Farm to a skin graft that the surrounding area
would either accept or reject. During the first years, Stephen's charismatic leadership
was clearly pivotal in developing the community's relationship with its neighbours. He
understood universal manners and instilled the value of being just plain folks in suburban
young people who were anything but plain and who had never thought of themselves as
folks. The Farm shared with local Tennesseans the values of honesty and hard work.
Long-haired, overalled young men and women were eager to learn from wizened
Tennessee farmers who knew how to grow food and survive at a subsistence level."

This example is an inspiration and a confirmation for me. Except for futile visits from
the RCMP, Immigration officers and Game Wardens for six years, which never yielded
anything, and stopped when a lawyer wrote that he would charge them with harassment if
they did not desist, we – in Storm Bay between 1967 and 1978 - were never bothered by
anyone. We, along with hundreds of other long-hairs who came to the Sunshine Coast
here in southwest B.C. throughout this period, got along pretty well with everyone,
despite the vitriolic efforts of one local newspaper editor.

Walking proud, always being impeccably and pro-actively friendly, open, helpful,
humourous, genuine and gentle should go a long way towards good community
relations. This will be particularly important if the political climate shifts strongly to the
Right; as economic times get tougher and tougher; if wild rumours of cultish practices
circulate; or if we are busted for our practices. Laying the proper groundwork by
establishing good, respectful relationships and friendships will serve us well if such times
arise. Even though the B.C. coast historically has been one of the most tolerant regions
of the world, we should not be lulled into thinking that ―it couldn‘t happen here.‖

      THE OUTSIDE WORLD – Hiding and Protecting Ourselves.

As I have pointed out, we live in one of the freest, most tole rant and least violent
places on the globe. Nevertheless, as I have also suggested, that could change. even
if we have been doing well in our community relations. As the global system
collapses, everyone will become desperate. Then perhaps the greatest threats to our
survival could come from vandals and vigilantes, rip-offs, refugees and rogues.

Perhaps an even more important consideration for the future is starving people desperate
for food. Here, the issue is as much ethical as survival. Do we turn people away? What
if we barely have enough food for our own community? These important questions may
confront us sooner than we think. In fact, I am already meeting folks in Roberts Creek
who often barely have enough to eat. These people also often tend to be disturbed and/or
dangerous, a challenge for anyone, as well as a young community struggling to establish
itself at the same time that it inevitably attracts ―crazies.‖ One thing that will help is that
this is not an ―open‖ community: There will be an entrance procedure. Another thing
that will help will be our isolation – inland, perhaps on a somewhat remote island.
Nevertheless, I think that we will need to evolve policies concerning unwanted visitors
sooner rather than later.

I imagine signs that read, ―Please don‘t shoot – we can grow food‖!

Here are some other ideas I have had to make ourselves less vulnerable if our first lines
of defense - good outside/world relations, our isolation and inaccessibility - fail.

   1. Lookout Tower [see essay, "Community Design"]

The tower could be camouflaged with trees and vines so as not to be obvious from a
distance. It may have limited use in a tree-covered landscape. It could give us a visual
view of approaches to the community. On the other hand, it could provide a beacon to
guide attackers!

   2. Access Road

Instead of the access road leading directly to the entranceway into the community, I
imagine it passing very close, but swinging by tangentially, as an arc, and then
continuing for miles to other distance destinations. In an emergence, we could quickly
alter the short distance between its closest approach and the way in so as to look just like
"the side of the road." A few prepared holes to receive potted perennials, shrubs and
trees; some large moss-covered boulders rolled into place; logs and branches pulled onto
the site; and bags of leaves ready to scatter as a mulch could "disappear" a short section
of driveway.

   3. Barrie r Hedge

I imagine a dense, fifty- foot wide, multifunctional barrier hedge encircling this one
hundred-acre village and comprised of all manner of stinging, prickly, barbed, thorny,
thicket-forming perennials, shrubs, vines and trees. The inside perimeter of this ―hedge
against the future‖ may need to be designed to allow access for harvesting, but not be
obvious if approached from the outside.

We could design the outer perimeter in such a way that anyone approaching it from any
direction would be forced to veer off and circle away to the left or right and thus not
become readily aware of its circular nature. This could be accomplished by scalloping
the outer edge into an irregular series of outward facing arcs, thusly: ), such that
anyone trying to work their way around the obstruction would always be deflected out
and directly away from the center!

If someone did get through the barrier, scratched, punctured, bleeding, and
stinging, we should s witch tactics and offer first aid, food, shelter and love!

Regardless of whether or not this defense against invaders proves to be unnecessary,
unworkable or wrong-headed, this hedge would have many other important
functions: To keep livestock in; to keep pests and predators out (especially deer and
cougar, but also bear and wolf); to serve as the outer-most bamboo barrier (deep
shade); to provide products (fire wood, honey, fruit, nuts, etc); and to provide food
for wildlife, mainly birds, thus drawing the m away from our important food crops.

   4. Drawbridge

This is fun, or maybe a bit of fantasy!

So that we can access our own property, I propose a drawbridge arching over the barrier
hedge. We would design it so that when an imminent threat is determined, we could raise
it, pivot it ninety degrees, and lower it back down and out of sight behind the barrier
hedge. The area between the outer edge of the hedge and the curving access road would
be the area disguised as described above under ―Assess Road‖.

   5. Escape Tunnel.

I propose a carefully disguised escape tunnel passing under the encircling barrier to be
used if it ever became necessary to evacuate all or part of the community "out the back
door", or to send individuals into hiding to escape unjust apprehension by authorities.

   6. Food and Tool Stash

I propose a large, well-constructed and carefully hidden underground storage bunker
containing a whole set of spare tools and food for the community for up to a year. We
would draw upon these stores in the event of any dire emergency.

   7. People Stash

It might also be desirable to construct an underground hiding place for people. If we are
offering sanctuary, say, for political refugees, we might want to offer them that protection
- part of a new underground railroad - an admirable tradition.

We could also "disappear" much of the community on site if that was ever deemed
necessary – hide the women and children, so to speak.

              THE OUTSIDE WORLD – Nonviolent Defense
Most folks have heard about nonviolence; few have heard about, ―Civilian Defense‖.
Practically everyone has heard of Gandhi and Martin Luther King; hardly anyone has
heard of Gene Sharp or Hans Sinn. Everybody knows about marches and sit-downs as
part of a campaign for a cause; nobody knows about the idea of training a whole
population of a country to overcome an invading army nonviolently.

 As rare as cases of this might be, there are actually some recent historical examples of a
populous resisting an occupation. When the Germans marched into Denmark, they
issued an order that all Jews had to wear the Star of David. The Danish king urged all his
citizens to wear it, and did so himself, riding through the streets to openly display it in
public and inspire and unify the citizenry. In Norway, thousands of teachers refused to
teach the curriculum the Germans were trying to impose in the school system. Quisling
said, ―You have defeated me with your tactics!‖

There has been some significant and scholarly thought and writing produced on this
subject. The British activist and theoretician, Gene Sharp, Professor Emeritus of Political
Science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, wrote a book in 1965 entitled
Civilian Defense: An Introduction. He has also written Making Europe Unconquerable
(1985) and Civilian-Based Defense: A Post-Military Weapons System (1990). Hans Sinn
and others in Canada and elsewhere have been hard at work evolve tactics and strategies
that would replace armies and weapons with an informed and determined citizen. Sinn
was a founder and chair of Peace Brigades International (1981) and the founder of
Nonviolent Peaceforce Canada (2000).

It makes huge sense to train a population well in advance of any threat. Once an occupier
is established, it is much more difficult for citizens to communicate and organize.

Some of the nonviolent tactics relevant to such a situation are the boycott, the general
strike, non-cooperation and fraternization.

In 1965 and 1966, I participated, along with about thirty other people, in ten-day
nonviolent trainings on Grindstone Island, in Ontario, run by the Quakers – the ―Society
of Friends.‖ They each included a period of extended role-playing, scheduled for three
days - although each was cut short by the unfolding dramas. For the first scenario, we
were told that while we had been attending this workshop on this small isolated island,
the Separatists had declared independence, the Canadian government had fallen and been
replaced by a right-wing government that had called for help from the United States,
which had sent troops to Canada to help put down the insurrection in Quebec. Local
intelligence had been able to determine that a small tactical squad of U.S. Special Forces,
having received reports of a group of pacifists nearby undergoing training in nonviolence,
and concerned that upon returning home these people might organize opposition and
resistance in their communities, was on it‘s way to occupy and secure the Island and
detain the participants. They would be arriving sometime in the next twenty- four hours.
For a full account of this famous exercise, see Thirty-one Hours: The Grindstone
Experience by Theodore Olson, Gordon Christiansen, Canadian Friends Service

For the second scenario, Jack Pocock, one of the organizers and facilitators of the
Grindstone Island seminars, told us that he had gone into town the day before for some
supplies, and that when he had finished shopping, had decided to drop into a local bar for
a beer before heading back. While there, he had overhea rd some drunken toughs talking
about the ―god-damn commies‖ and ―fucking peace creeps‖ out on Grindstone Island,
and plotting a raid. It was the considered opinion of Jack and the other facilitator -
Murray Thomson - that the group was under serious risk of an attack within the next
twenty-four hours.

The first exercise ended tragically and prematurely when soldiers shot and killed thirteen
of the participants. The second ended suddenly when the person playing the leader of the
thugs actually fell and dislocated his shoulder. Both exercises were strong emotional
experiences for all participants; both resulted in much learning and much failure; and
both have added to our knowledge of nonviolent resistance.

If it gets bad, I do not want to defend our ―fall- out shelter‖ with shotguns; I do not want
to call in some other army; I do not want to become somebody‘s slave; and I do not want
to run away and abandon our village to invading marauders or paramilitary Minutemen.
What alternative is left? Only nonviolent defense.

I have imagined us all wearing buttons that say, ―Please do not shoot – we can grow

I have imagined liquor stores long gone and a gang of Hell‘s Angels descending upon us.
―What can we do for you?‖ we politely ask, sitting down with them for a toke. ―Beer‖!
they bellow back. ―All we want is beer, an‘ if we don‘t get it, we‘re gonna trash this
place, beat the shit outta you and rape your fucking women‖!

―Beer,‖ we reply. ―Yes, we know how you can have beer.‖ We hand them some hop
cuttings, some barley seeds and a beehive.

Flash forward one year: We are sitting around under a walnut tree on a break from work
and the hot sun, flowers and children blooming around us, beers in our hands. The
Angels have become proud farmers, and have found new friends, the peace and
understanding that they always yearned for but never had, and the best goddamn home-
brew they have ever tasted!

And that is a taste of nonviolent resistance – it is moral jujitsu, it is embracing, it is
unitive, it is saying no. It boils down in the end to how much true Dalai Lama- love each
individual can learn to cultivate and express.

I think that plans must be in place if history and events appear to be moving towards
extremis. I think we need to be prepared, starting with thinking about being prepared, for
worst-case eventualities. We must practice reflecting all our values in whatever we do.
Moreover, it is not just in the realm of attack and invasion that these values can be
expressed. They are also relevant to internal abuses of authority or even an attempted
hijacking of the project from within. Furthermore, nonviolent tactics can even be applied
within the domestic situation. Once, on the egalitarian commune that he founded in
South Africa, Gandhi began a fast when his wife refused to take her turn cleaning out the
latrines, a task normally falling only on the lowest castes.

               THE OUTSIDE WORLD – Political Activism

My father took me to hear somebody speak at the Unitarian Church in Vancouver about
1958. I do not remember anything about the talk, but I picked up a pamphlet on a table in
the lobby and read, ―The bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima killed 140,000 people; the
bombs they have now are a thousand times more powerful.‖

That was the beginning of my political awakening. Shortly thereafter, in the spring of
1959, when I was 16, Dad told me that there was a ―ban-the-bomb‖
peace march coming up and asked if I thought we should go on it. We gathered at
Kitsilano Beach along with about 500 others, walked downtown on the sidewalks, had to
stop for traffic lights, and were jeered and heckled: ―Commies go home!‖; ―I‘d rather be
dead than Red!‖ and ―Get a job!‖ I heard peace songs – ―Last night I had the strangest
dream…‖ – and felt ―the power of the people‖ for the first time. It was thrilling.

This was the beginning of my social activism. Nothing became more important than
saving the world from nuclear annihilation. After three years as a student activist, I
dropped out of the University of British Columbia after one year to begin working full-
time in the peace movement. At the time, only one other person in Canada was doing
that, Dimitri Roussopoulos, in Montreal:

One of the groups that particularly inspired and shaped me was the Committee for
Nonviolent Action: The nucleus of the New England branch lived collectively on a farm
and launched small civil disobedience actions in nearby Groton, Connecticut everytime a
new nuclear submarine was launched – every two weeks!

I had lived communally in temporary summer peace camps – always a rich experience –
so it was but a small step to begin to think about a full-time pacifist/anarchist/activist
rural community.

However, at about the same time, in 1965, I was beginning to have serious doubts that we
had a hope in hell of stopping the worldwide wave of militarism and nuclear
proliferation. That year I again dropped out - this time out of the anti-war movement -
and became a city hippy for two years, exploring consciousness and living free for the
first time in my life – free of institutions and structures: jobs, schools, parents,
movements, clocks. Then again, two years later, in 1967, I dropped out for the third time
- into the woods, part of the early back-to-the- land movement.

I have been here - on the fringe, out of the mainstream in varying degrees - ever since,
whether in the woods, on rural acreage, or in city back yards; but not living communally
and only minimally politically active, although my whole life and existence could be
considered ―political action‖.

So where am I generally at with all this now?

My main metaphor these days for direct political activism to try to ―save the world‖ is of
a huge balloon inflating inexorably to the breaking point and all around, a few individuals
poking at it, seeing the indentations they are making, and exclaiming, ―Look, we can
make a difference!‖

In other words, I do not think that enough people are going to do enough soon enough
even to begin to divert the various catastrophes that already surround us and are rushing
towards us. Moreover, forget about governments and industry. Polls and profits are all
that concern them. Short-term pre-occupations are very much contraindicated!

This notwithstanding, I still believe in the ―personal witness.‖

Here are some other ways I think about political activism:

―Think globally, act locally‖;

―Not in our back yard‖ – yes, definitely - in fact, not in anyone‘s back yard

―The buck stops here‖ - US president Harry S. Truman's use of the slogan "the buck
stops here" in speeches, and on a sign on his desk, derives from the adoption of the
phrase "passing the buck" as a metaphor for avoiding responsibility.

―Live simply that others may simply live‖ - Gandhi
 ―Live the revolution‖;

"We are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old." - Preamble,
International Workers of the World

―Permaculture is an ongoing demonstration.‖ – Peter Light

This last was a great revelation! To realize that forty years after I thought I had stopped
demonstrating, I was still demonstrating!

The principle reason that I have not gotten involved in local politics here in Roberts
Creek is because I have always felt temporary here, always seen myself, for the last thirty
years, as working my way back off the grid. These were not the borders I wanted to
defend. I was not home yet.

When I am, then I will be ―in my territory‖ and will assume more responsibility for all of
what goes on around me. Local issues will then truly be my issues. However, strong
political action is one way to bring repression down on one‘s head. We had better be sure
that we have broad community respect and support and always remain sensitive to the
unique and perhaps vulnerable position we are in.


           ―...thinkin‘ ‗bout the government, thinkin‘ ‗bout the law…‖ - Dylan

      ―Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely‖ – Lord Acton

     "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's; render unto God what is God's." - Jesus

          "Keep a clean nose, watch the fire hose, yuh don't need a weatherman
                      to know which way the wind blows." – Dylan

        ―One day even yr home gardening is going to be against the law‖ - Dylan

               ―The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern.
                     Every class is unfit to govern.‖ – Lord Acton

"All and every particular and individual man and woman that ever breathed in the world
 are by nature all equal and alike in their power, dignity, authority and majesty, none of
them having (by nature) any authority, dominion or magisterial power one over or above
                                 another." - John Lilburne


In the gymnasium and auditorium of Kitsilano High School – late 50‘s - my dad and I
refused to stand for the ―Queen‖ or ―O Canada‖: no respect for wealth and power, aware
of the dangers of patriotism.

One way I sometimes define myself these days is as an anarchist with dual citizenship in
Woodstock Nation and the Independent Nation of Roberts Creek.

I do not believe in laws; I believe in agreements.

I do not believe anyone has the right to order anyone around without pe rmission.

However, there are those around us who do have powe r over us if they care to
exercise it, so it is important, at least, to keep our “fingers on the pulse” and to
anticipate that for which they will most likely come after us. We should be careful,
discrete, nonviolent…and, finally – when it seems appropriate - ready for the good
(nonviolent) fight.

I was rather shocked to read recently that The Farm totally cooperated with law
enforcement, turning over anybody wanted by the po lice. Stephan himself stepped to the
plate and took the rap for some pot grown on The Farm in the early days - in fact, spent a
year in jail for it. There were over a thousand colorful hippy- folks living at The Farm
and there were thousands of visitors and many newcomers every year, as well as
runaways, fugitives and felonies. I think they were following the precept, "Render unto
Caesar what is Caesar's…" They were also building up a huge amount of trust and
respect from local authorities - including the FBI - necessary, particularly in the Deep
South, to forestall major harassment on lifestyle issues; massive, invasive searches; or
busts on technicalities.

If they take a distinct dislike to you, they can really come after you, that is for sure! I
think currently of the slow build-up of tensions concerning Bountiful, the Mormon
community in B.C. So far, the authorities are reluctant to make a heavy move, but
clamours from the majority society periodically escalate.

They never went after us big time at Storm Bay, despite obligatory annual raids for six
years. Forestry and Fisheries dropped in on us now and then, but mostly just for a social
visit. We were on good terms with them. There was a rabid newspaper editor for a few
years that use to write editorials railing against ―the scum‖ that were invading the

Sunshine Coast during that period, but he never singled us out for abuse. We suffered no
press scandals, public outcry, or government oppression. This was despite open dope
smoking, children out of school, rampant nudity, draft-dodgers and wild rumours that
there were hundreds of us up there! At first, it was in the very early hippy days, so they
were mostly checking us out; then, it was during the very liberal 70‘s, so they left us

Therefore, it does not have to happen.

On the other hand, there have been a few times that they have reached out for me with
their iron fists – a sobering reminder of the power they have when the ―creeping meat-
ball‖ (Frank Zappa) starts to roll!

By moving to a relatively isolated place, it is easy enough, ironically, to stand out like a
sore thumb, although being inland a kilometer or so would greatly decrease our visibility.
Of course, from the air, like citizens all over the world, we will always be s itting ducks!

Times are not particularly good politically for freedom- loving folks, broadly speaking,
these days. Right wing governments in B.C., Canada and the U.S. are not going to give
us anything that we want, so it‘s best not to ask, but, rather, to climb discretely down
between the cracks.

So far in this essay I have been speaking primarily of either laws we might object to
on principle or the future possibility of persecution and repression. On the other
hand, the anti-social behaviors that many common laws address, I, too, find
objectionable. At the same time, I also find police forces, courts and prisons
objectionable. Therefore, I would like to see us develop alternative ways of relating
to transgressions that occur within our own community – a community-based
justice system. (See essay, “Process: Towards an Alte rnative Justice System).

Finally, there might be some individuals and some behaviours that go beyond what
we might be willing or able to cope with. There might be times when we decide we
need to summon the authorities and have someone charged or committed. However,
it should be a last resort – after all, we would be appealing to an authoritarian
system based on powe r and punishment – and, as always, we should ask ourselves,
“What would we do if we couldn’t do this?”

    GOVERNMENT AND LAW – Group Legal Definitions – The

                 "To Live Outside the Law You Must Be Honest" – Dylan

                                ―The law is an ass.‖- Anon

                               ―The law is majestic‖ - Anon

There are two parts to this essay: how we define ourselves to the outside world, and how
we define ourselves to ourselves. There is a big overlap, but they are somehow two very
different things.


(NOTE: Much of what I have written here may be unnecessary. I have learned that
Maurelle Island is not governed by building codes and one principal and one
secondary residence per ten acres is permitted. Since I am considering paart or 411
acres on this island, and clustering is allowe d, there should be no proble ms with the
project I am envisioning. Nevertheless, we should be fully prepared for hassles)

Even if one buys private property, sometimes is seems there is scant that one is free to do
without permission - if one asks for permission.

It is easier to ask for forgiveness.

That can be our first line of defense: Go in quietly, start building paradise, and see
how far we get before some field worker discovers us.

I am going to operate on the assumption that when they find us they will be blown away,
see that what we are doing is wonderful, be embarrassed that they are bothering us, and
try to find a way to make it all right. I am not being facetious here - I have various
personal historical precedences for believing this. Various versions of this have
happened, dramatically, in my life.

We can say to them then, ―we are so many things, and doing so many things, that we
were just not sure how to categorize ourselves, how to approach the system, so now that
you are here, could you please help us to find the easiest and least expensive way to make
what we are doing legal?

So then, after the fact - of our existence as a functioning group - we can decide which of
the following possibilities would pave our way most expediently. All of them will be the
truth, albeit perhaps some an unusual version of official expectations.

I can think of three criteria for judging whether a possible approach is expedient or not:

   1.   If there is a good chance that it will be accepted;

   2.   If it doesn't cost an arm and a leg;

   3.   If we can do it as alternatively as we need to without compromise.

The reason for all this maneuvering is the barriers governments erect to groups of people
who simply want to live together. I was going to say "alternatively" but just wanting to
live together is often too alternativew for rulers everywhere.. Most residential properties
allow for one residence and one guest cottage. More than five unrelated people under
one roof are not allowed! Buildings must conform to rules about materials and
construction. Unnecessary septic fields must be dug even if every person on the property
is wholly using self-contained and approved composting toilets!

On the other hand, friend and colleague Bill writes:

"I think, though, we may not have these difficulties as per the status quo. These issues
usually occur when we get too close or become surrounded by something of a CRD or
SCRD, which is really a municipal district that encompasses little places that have grown
too big. They are city oriented and come with city regulations.

"Loopholes yes are first "a farm status" which creates all kinds of exemptions from the
status quo. I would think as far as our prospective community goes it will be far from
these bureaucrats. Maurelle Island is in the Islands Trust but it is my understanding that
they are very much less of an influence, though it would be good to become familiar with
their statutes as well just for the reference."

Me, I am not so sure. Yes, I feel that the more remote we are, the better our chances are,
and as already indicated, we should start by just manifesting our vision as quickly and as
wonderfully as we can, so that ―a Garden of Eden‖ greets all commissars coming!
However, I have been hearing bad things about recent bureaucratic intervention into the
homes and lives of people living alternatively on Cortez or Hornby Island. True, these are
built- up communities serviced by ferries, hydro and police. But I have heard the Island
Trust can be very strict. The Regional District here once issued a stop-work order for all
of the Storm Bay property - fifteen miles beyond the roads - in the late 1990's after a
vacationing building inspector heard the pounding of a hammer. Of course, it had
become subsumed into the regional district after much of the building had been done, but
nevertheless, they did not diswcover us for thirty years. Then they grandfathered them.

In the eventuality, here are some approaches to legality if we need one - or two or three -
all of which I think are completely legitimate:

1. The Community as a Farm

We obtain farm status. We house labourers in "bunkhouses". We farm.

I think that this might really be the way to go. It is what we would be: A permaculture
farm. Producing many products, first to feed ourselves, and second, to sell as surplus.
There is year-round work and production on 100 acres to be done and we need farm
workers. We are the farm workers. We provide "bunkhouses" for thirty-two labourers
and their families.

We need to investigate this thoroughly. We should make inquiries about farms up the
Frazer Valley that house workers, and go and visit them.

2. The Community as a Religion/Retreat Center/Monastery/Religious Camp

This could be another very feasible way to gain legitimacy. Some government statutes, at
least in the United States, define religious beliefs very broadly. (See below under ―Legal
Frameworks for Ourselves‖)

3. The Community as Bed-and-Breakfast

This could, unofficially, become one of many ways to generate income. Likewise as a
conference center. We are permanent staff.

There are always two sides to any government coin. We had better watch out that we are
not opening ourselves to more hassles, rather than less, in applying for any kind of status.
Again, it is usually better to ask forgiveness than permission.

4. The Community as Logging Camp

    "The forest seems to be fairly simple. I think I could build one" - Field notes, Bill
                                      Mollison, 1956

If we have one hundred acres of forest and reforested land, zoned Forestry One, and are
managing it as an eco-forest; and if we are harvesting trees for lumber, whether for
ourselves or for sale; and if we are planting thousands of Black Walnuts, Ginkgoes,
Pines, various oaks, and hundreds of varieties of other food trees and specialty
hardwoods - in fact, planting and tending a "forest farm" or a "food forest" year-round -
then we need a large labour- force and housing for them.

This is what we would be doing. We do need many people to do it. This could very well
be a way to have thirty-two families clustered on the land.

What follows is an abridged article recent sent to me by Om Bodhi. Note particularly:

       "Anywhere from five to 11 people work at Windhorse at any given time.
        There are usually around five full-timers, including a forest manager, a
    business manager, two carpenters in the wood shop and a full-time gardener. It
 changes season by season and often he has volunteers or interns working for room and


           Jim Drescher is not your typical lumberjack. Sure, he cuts down
           trees, Mills the logs and sells them. Yeah, he's got big strong
           hands, wears tough denims, checkered shirts and steel-toed boots.

But unlike most loggers, Drescher spends a lot of his time in the
woods meditating. He's a practitioner of what he calls
"contemplative eco- forestry" - a custom blend of forest ecology
and Buddhism, a way to cut down trees without cutting down the
forest. In fact, the primary goal of his business is to keep the forest
healthy and resilient.

"The forest is the final product," says Drescher. "The lumber is
just a perk." Drescher's 'product' is Windhorse Farm, 150 acres of
sustainably harvested old-growth forest on Nova Scotia's
windswept South Shore.

What keeps his forest healthy is his method for harvesting the
trees. Drescher only selects a few hundred trees, never taking
more biomass then can be replenished in a year. He only cuts in
the winter when the ground is frozen and coated in snow, to
prevent damage to the surrounding soil and plants.

He doesn't bring in heavy machinery, but rather a chainsaw and
small Portable mill. Instead of trucks and tractors, he uses his two
giant Clydesdale horses to haul the logs over the frozen ground.
The logs are milled in different spots throughout the forest,
leaving all the sawdust, wood chips, branches and bark behind to
decompose, to give nutrients back to the soil. The horses then
carry out the planks to the meadows where they are stacked for

A walk in his woods is to go to a place most think no longer exists
in the Maritimes. Massive trunks surge out of the ground into the
sky - up where arching green- needled branches make a vaulted
cathedral canopy. Bright green sponge moss carpets the forest
floor. Pale green stringy lichen grows like unwanted hair off tree
limbs. Ferns and saplings poke out of the moss carpet and catch
whatever beams of light have filtered through the foliage

In 1990, he discovered this special piece of land for sale. It's a
pretty rare thing in Nova Scotia, to find land with old growth

Drescher sets aside time in his day to wander aimlessly through
the original Wentzell forest. Sometimes he crawls, sometimes he
rolls around, sometimes he splays out on his back across the
needles, and sometimes he just sits and meditates. But whatever
he's doing, he's not thinking about the forest with his brain, he's
feeling it with his heart.

Although he doesn't preach or encourage any of his employees to
meditate, he does want everyone who works for him to develop a
deep connection to the forest. Anywhere from five to 11 people
work at Windhorse at any given time. There are usually around
five full- timers, including a forest manager, a business manager,
two carpenters in the wood shop and a full- time gardener. It
changes season by season and often he has volunteers or interns
working for room and board.

Windhorse makes the most of its trees in the woodworking shop
by converting the logs into flooring, shingles and cabinets. Value-
added is an important concept in sustainable forestry. Jim also
runs the "Ecoforestry School of the Maritimes," and offers courses
to youth, woodlot owners, forest managers and Buddhists.
Margaret, who's in charge of the gardens, sells organic produce a t
farmers' markets.

Surprisingly, Drescher never uses naturally felled dead trees - too
many animals and insects depend on them for habitat. "Dead
wood is the life of the forest," he says. "It's one of our eco- forestry

Windhorse Farm operates under 31 of these slogans - bits of
wisdom collected from around the world. A big one for Drescher
is "Sustainability through diversity." The more diverse an
ecosystem is, the stronger it will be. When selecting what trees to
cut, he never cuts the tallest trees, as he wants as much diversity in
heights and ages as possible. An even-aged stand is structurally
weak. The more species of animals, plants, insects and bacteria a
wild area has, the stronger the forest will be. He never cuts under
represented tree species.

"Slow the Water" is another key slogan. The more a creek
meanders, the longer it keeps the water around for the plants and
animals that need it. The more contours in the forest floor, the
more opportunity there is for water to be collected and stored.
Machines and roads are not allowed in his forest because they
compact the earth, creating a hard surface for rain to quickly run
off into the rivers. Down in the meadows and gardens, Jim and
Margaret have turned a short 500- metre long creek into a
meandering system of ponds and wetlands several kilometres

Drescher has learned to be patient and let the forest teach him
what he needs to know. "We may not know how a forest works,

           but we can unearth some of its knowledge to help keep the forests
           we work with strong."

           And he has had excellent human teachers too, he says. "There's
           Merv Wilkinson who's been doing all this out in B.C. for decades.
           My father. Trungpa Rinpoche, who is my guru, but who is
           unsurpassed as an ecology teacher."

           And the Buddha, Jim Drescher might add, who didn't just sit
           under the Bodhi tree - he also cut them down from time to time.

           Source: IDEAS - The International Development and
           Environment Article Service

5. Community as an Experime nt in Sustainable Living - whe re's the zone for that?

I think that if it became necessary we should consider applying for special zoning
designated for "Experimental Living" and ask the Regional District or Island Trust to
create such a category for us and argue that not to allow this violates our rights under
Canada's Human Rights Charter, and pursue it all the way up to the Supreme Court.
What ultimate right does the state have to allow hundreds of people to live in a high-rise
apartment on a few square feet in the city, but not allow chicke ns; and allow someone to
live on acreage and have chickens but only one house and a guesthouse? Ex-SCRD
regional district board member Margaret Morrison once reminded me that "by- laws are
flexible things, and if you want to live in an 'hippy agricultural commune', as you put it,
and find a suitable piece of land for it, then you come and see us and we'll create a zone
for you."

6. Community as "The Four Ton Challenge"

From the Government of Canada (emphasis mine):

"The One-Tonne Challenge asks you to reduce your annual greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions by one tonne. How? Use less energy. Conserve water and resources. Reduce

"Fewer emissions mean protecting our climate and having cleaner air and healthier
communities for all Canadians. And saving energy puts more money in your pocket.

"Big things can happen at a local level. In Canada, sustainable community development
is catching on, with some great results. Communities are working to become more
livable by acting on urban transportation issues, energy use reduction, alternative energy,
and sustainable planning. Decision makers, business people, community organizations,

citizens and youth are working together to improve the quality of life in their
communities. The result? Improved local air quality and community health, reduced
greenhouse gas emissions, a more vibrant local economy and community pride. It's a
winning combination. Read on to see how communities are focusing on climate change."

"Communities Take the One-Tonne Challenge!

"Selected communities from across Canada are creating One-Tonne Community
Challenges. They will adopt a rich variety of approaches as they build Challenges to
engage their citizens in greenhouse gas reduction activities in their daily lives, while
addressing their local needs and priorities.

"We each produce over 5 tonnes of greenhouse gases and other pollution every single

Boy! This sounds like us! I think that we should tell them that we are taking the ―Four-
tonne Challenge‖! They should love us!

7. The Community as a Business

David Steel's group incorporated as a business and drew up a detailed business plan.
Their business, and the way they intend to "make money", is to reduce their needs by a
factor of five while at the same time continuing to generate as much income as they
currently do. The chartered accountant that helped them draw up their charter was so
impressed with the idea that he invested $1000 in the company at 5% a year! How would
this approach help us?

I could see a dozen businesses developing in any Permaculture community.

8. The Community as a School

    We could call ourselves "The Residential School of Sustainable Living" or ―School of
Sustainable Living, Immersion Program‖- although on second thought perhaps the word
"residential" would ring bureaucratic alarm bells and bring all manner of regulations
down on our heads - nevertheless, a School of Sustainable Living, with a spring, summer,
fall and winter curriculum. Everybody is either a student or a teacher. We could draw up
course outlines, brochures, registration forms, etc. inviting people to enter our ten- year
programme.. As people learn, they become teachers. Class and course projects would be
synonymous with our community projects: to design, build and maintain a socially
viable, permaculture intentional community.

As there will be, inevitably, a turnover rate as there is in every intentional community,
this will be quite in line with both appearances and reality.

The students would be comprised of community members, visitors and guests, and actual
paying students coming for specific courses of specific duration.

We would offer courses for children, too, of course.

All of this seems quite legitimate to me. Right from the start there will some of us who
will know very little about very few aspects of simple living in the wilderness,
community building, permaculture, etc. and all the attendant homesteading skills, and
will have to get up to speed quickly. There will also be people very knowledgeable in
some of these things. Therefore, there will be workshops and courses given right from
the start - lots of instruction. At the same time, everybody knows something that
someone else does not, and we can all learn to pass on that knowledge.

Doing this could solve the problem of thirty-two families living together. It may not
totally avoid other regulations, but from the basis of a school, we can argue that
everything that we do must exemplify what we teach and stand for: building wit h local
sustainable materials (See essay, ―Building Materials‖); recycling all "wastes" (see essay
on Recycling and Human waste); sustainable energy systems (see essay, ―Energy‖); low
cost very affordable housing (see essay ―The Community Design‖); wilderness survival
skills); etc.

This seems worth considering, to me. As with all these possibilities, we need to check
with friends with current or past experience inside or with the system: lawyers, SCRD
directors, MP's, founders of free schools and others who have "worked the systems."

9. The Community as a Cultural Expression in a Country that Prides Itself in
   Being a Multicultural Society.

10. The Community as an Ecovillage

"Gary Kent's group" in Robert's Creek spent five years and tens of thousands of dollars
filling out forms, jumping through hoops, having to try fitting their only slightly rounded
pegs into square holes. It was from him that I found out that completely self-contained
composting toilets are allowed but one still has to install a complete septic system for
anywhere from $5 - 80 thousand dollars!!! I would be proud to go to jail for taking an
environmentally sound shit. I wonder if they have to catch me in the act.


When folks in Storm Bay freaked out over something the signed owner did, they decided
to define the group legally. I would have no part in any of it, except signing the
document! I was a raging anti-establishment hippy - still am - but maybe a little more
tolerant, a little more realistic and a little more chicken-shit. I trusted Colin, though I
guess the land could, theoretically, have been lost. Nevertheless, I also hated that we
could not draw up our own trust agreement in our own words for ourselves, but instead
had to pay a lawyer and play the straight game. I am for home-everything! However,
maybe that is like reinventing the wheel. Groups have been coming together for a long

time, and running into problems with each other for a long time, because they did not nail
down important agreements precisely in the beginning. The up side to having everything
very clear, legally, is that it removes the opportunity for anyone, so tempted, to abuse a
situation that is a result of there being ambiguities in title, funds, interest, etc.

We could define ourselves according to one or more of the formal legal organizational
alternatives listed below, but then not formalize it with anyone except ourselves unless or
until we got challenged to do so. On the other hand, would we have to have a legal expert
to draw it up properly, or can we research it ourselves, do it, and have it checked? Self-
reliance means we do it ourselves: home gardens, home births … and home law.

The following list and quotes are from a Community Library Reprint published by the
Fellowship for Intentional Community, entitled ―#7 Legal Options for Communities;
Community Land Trusts.‖

" may seem impossible to come up with a definition of what your community is or is
not. But if you don't do it, then [Revenue Canada] will".

[Well, I don't know. They have never come after me. If we keep our heads down low
and live simply, then, if they ever checked us out, they would know at a glance that none
of us had enough income to have to pay taxes!]

The option or options chosen would be those most compatible with how we actually
choose to define ourselves - whether church, farm, school or logging camp, etc. These
options affect taxes, income possibilities and distribution, resale, ownership structure, etc

"As far as possible, the object of choosing a legal structure is not to shape the community
to fit the law, but to fashion legal forms that fit the community. Still, we have to admit,
sometimes it's easier just to shape the community." At first I thought that they meant
without reference to any legal structure, and agreed, but then noticed, that in context, they
mean "to fit the law", and disagreed.

I will list all but one just by name here, to give you the idea, but will include a copy of
the article from which I am taking them with this packet of essays. They are American,
so there will be some differences.

Legal Options For Communities

1. Simple Partnerships

For-Profit Corporations

2. Subchapter S Corporations

3. Limited Liability Companies

4. Limited Partnerships

Non-profit Corporations

5. Cooperative or Mutual Benefit Corporations

6. 501(c)(7) - "Social and Recreation Clubs"

7. 501(c)(3) - Educational, Charitable or Religious Corporations

8. 501(c)(2) - Title-Holding Corporations

9. 501(d) - Religious and Apostolic

I thought that I would write the details of this possibility because it, or something like it.
might be close to the way to go, and because it will give some idea of the language of
these options:

"If a non-profit community has a spiritual focus and a common treasury, it may app ly for
this tax-exempt status. The IRS interprets "religious" and "apostolic" very liberally; this
can include self-described spiritual beliefs or practices, or secular beliefs that are
strongly, religiously, held.

"In any case, the 501(d) is like a partnership or Subchapter S corporation, in that any net
profits after expenses are divided among all members pro rata, to be reported on the
member's individual tax forms. Unlike the 501(c)(3), the 501(d) corporation cannot
confer tax deductions for donations.

"501(d) nonprofits make no distinction between related and unrelated income. All
income from any source is related. However, if a substantial percentage of community
income is in wages or salaries from ―outside" work, the 501(d) classification may be
denied. A 501(d) can engage in any kind of businesses it chooses, passive or active,
religious or secular. A 501(d) does not have the restrictions of a partnership (it does not
have to reform itself with each change of members), and it is not limited to 35
shareholders like the Subchapter S.

"501(d) corporations have no restrictions on their political activity - they can lobby,
support candidates, and publish political "propaganda". They may or may not elect to
have a formal vow of poverty.

The substantial advantages of the 501(d) may be outweighed in communities that would
prefer to hold property privately. If the common ground between members is just that,
the common ground, one of two other types of exemption may be more suitable.

10. Private Land Trusts

11. Community Land Trusts

12. Homeowners Associations, Condominium Associations

13. Housing Cooperatives


"In designing a new community, or transforming an existing one, it is imperative that
mutually respecting relationships evolve among the participants. Often the process of
choosing the legal organization is the first opportunity a community has to develop a
convivial style of interpersonal relationships. Community members should be aware that
creating formal by- laws and gaining corporate recognition is of a lower level of
importance than the group‘s actual process of self-definition - that is the crux of the
intentionality in intentional community..."

So there you have it. We will need to settle this sometime. I would like to get a copy of
a British Columbia or Canadian equivalent of the above list, think it all through a little
deeper. You are welcome to, also. Can anyone research this now?

                 GOVERNMENT AND LAW – Laws and Bylaw

                 ―It‘s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission ‖

I do not know how many by-laws we might have to worry about. It depends on our
location, our visibility, our isolation, what jurisdictions we are in, our legal status, the
character of on-ground enforcement officers, the universal righteousness of our mission
and whether we ask for forgiveness or permission.

I think we should try our best not to ask for permission. If we know we are trying to
do the right thing by any living creature and really believe that, and speak and act like
that is true and believe that anyone we talk to will know that too, then the way will open
up to us when folks of whatever ilk discover what we are doing.

Hey, it is a good philosophy to hold to our hearts!

Bureaucracies and departments prefer to approve beforehand, but seem to accept ―after
the fact‖ in many cases, too, with chances increased significantly if we are doing it with
care and beauty, and if we deal with those we encounter with truth, honesty and respect.
Then we will often find ourselves, on the ground, suddenly being ―folk to folk‖ with
them. The more remote we are and the more conscientious and ecological we are, the less
trouble we should have from the authorities. I found in Storm Bay that fishery and
forestry officials soon came to respect our way of life, relieved that as nature-lovers

themselves, they were not dealing with ignorant tourists, careless campers or commercial

Here are a few areas that we need to pay attention to, nevertheless. If we are going to
break any law or violate any by- laws, we had better at least be aware of the ones we are
breaking, the details of the law or bylaw, and what might be the range of consequences.
Of course, there are often good reasons to follow by- law and not rebel unthinkingly or
criminally. I try to rebel intelligently and civilly!

I should also note that not applying for a permit does not necessarily mean not doing
what they might want us to.

1. Building Regulations,

Building codes are killers if you go straight. However, if you can convince an engineer
that your house will stand well and be safe, they seem to be loosening up on alternate
structures. I am imagining building in the style of the West Coast First Folks - massive
post and beam - and then "daring" the building inspector to declare it unacceptable.
Seems to me there could be a politically incorrect scandal lurking there!

We got away with ten buildings for thirty- five years in Storm Bay before a vacationing
building inspector heard a hammer and went ashore for a look. Lorne Berman, my friend
and dentist for decades, had a small but high-end house built on the beach at Middlepoint
out of drift logs - a beautiful ―post and beam‖. When it was discovered, he was taken to
court - and fined $200!

There are no building codes for Maurelle Island or the whole of the Powell River
Regional District. Beyond them, it‘s cowboy country.

2. Housing

This is one that I have fretted about a lot, despite the tacit acceptance of multiple-person
living situations shown by local governments in some jurisdictions. Even the write-up on
the 411 acres on Maurelle Island, ten miles beyond the roads and a mile from the water,
noted that it has been divided into eight lots, so that eight residences could be built! I
think, however, that that has recently changed for the better: According to a local
businessperson from the area, one primary residence and one secondary residence is now
allowed per ten acres.

I have heard that a single residence is defined as having one roof and can be as big as is
wanted; and that a single family is defined as the people using one kitchen. That would
fit our housing plan very nicely! However, I have also heard that a single family has
been defined as no more than five unrelated peop le under one roof. I wonder what
jurisdiction has framed that law. [See essay, ―Government and Law – Group Legal
Definition – The Choices‖ for some speculative ways we might get around this].

3. Zoning

See essay, ―Government and Law – Group Legal Definition – The Choices‖

4. Health

Under this rubric could fall septic tanks, outhouses, grey-water systems and a communal
kitchen (depending on how we are finally defined, e.g. school, logging camp, religious
retreat center, etc.) I compost all my shit, and will continue doing this even if it means
open defiance. I would say that I have had decades of experience doing this safely, and
―they‖ do not.

In a communal situation, irresperctive of any bylaws, we would have to take more care
than I do as a single person.

5. Wate r

 Whether or not the creek or creeks on the property are fish-bearing will make a
difference. As water management will be a fundamental and integral part of our design,
perhaps being classified as a farm will make things easier for us. Obtaining water rights
is not legally mandatory, but guarantees us protection from anyone upstream who does
obtain water rights, so we would need to make an assessment of that possibility [Bill
adds: ―Speaking of ‗rights‘ – we ought not to forget or neglect to get the Mineral Rights
as well. Otherwise someone could acquire them and come in and walk right over us. It‘s
the law!‖].
Water, ecology and the environment being so important to us, I would suspect that we
would be able to convince officialdom of the rightness of whatever we do.

That sounds pretty naïve, does it not?

6. Fishing

There is commercial fishing, sports fishing and native fishing. The latter most closely
defines us, but there really needs to be a fourth category, self-sufficiency fishing, for
people living remotely and off of the land. I hope that we will develop our own
aquaculture, thereby reducing or eliminating our need to harvest from the ocean. There
might still be regulations, such as ensuring that exotic species do not escape into the
surrounding ecosystem

The property that I am considering has 80 acres of marsh populated by trout and beaver.
I would love to work at enhancing habitat for both – and us!

7.   Boating

 Life jackets are mandatory, as is taking a course if one plans to operate a power boat-
sounds OK to me.

8. Forestry

 When a forestry official who had come to check out a small brush-burning fire I was
tending (I don‘t burn wood waste like that anymore) discovered that I had built my log
cabin fifty feet off the property, I was accommodated with an obsolete ―Special Use
Permit: Homesite Lease‖. The designated one third of an acre, the exact location of
which was not discussed with me beforehand, did not include any of the land from which
I needed to remove trees for sunlight and firewood. It did not matter, though, because not
once in the next ten years did anyone come back to check that I was fulfilling the
conditions of my lease.

Everybody building in Storm Bay harvested trees from crown land rather than the
property. Only one person did that improperly, harvesting most of his from a small area
– almost a minor clear-cut; the rest selected the trees to be cut from a wide area. They
were never noticed or missed.

I consider crown land our land, land that has been stolen from us by king, country and
corporation, and feel no compunction whatsoever in responsibly utilizing timber from it
for our own, onsite, personal needs. It is important to be ecological and discreet. It is
also possible that we could get a timber license or some such thing, and/or a shake-
cutting permit, if the hoops were few and the cost was low.

9. Hunting and Firearms

[See ―Fishing‖, above, and essay, ―Animals – Hunting‖.]

Rifles legally need to be registered now, I believe. On the other hand, do they? I do not
know how I feel about that. One also needs a license to hunt. One does not shoot does
out of season. I think that wildlife on one‘s own property, especially if predating on
livestock or damaging gardens, can be shot legally– anytime?

10. Schooling

We are fortunate in British Columbia that school options are pretty liberal and varied, but
we never opted for any of them. We home-schooled, but in our own inimical way, not
under the sanctions of the system, and never once were we challenged, despite our
children being very visibly not in school.
On the other hand, setting up a school might be one way to legalize our communal
arrangement [See essay, ―Government and Law – Group Legal Definition – The
Choices‖ and ―Child-rearing and Education‖].

11. Business

 I have no experience whatsoever in setting up a business, but despite its foreignness to
me, it is not that difficult to do – in fact, of course, the dominate culture is very much
geared for it – and it might be a practical and advantageous thing to do. We will see.

12. Taxes

As with all of the above, it is important that we stay as far ―below the radar‖ as possible,
down between the cracks, poor, discreet and unostentatious - small- fry - and thus, believe
it or not, mostly invisible – unnoticed - and hence protected. The more ―registered‖ and
―legitimate‖ we are, the more hoops there will be in our way. However, it is important
that we do not go irrevocably ―out on a limb‖ or burn bridges behind us.

13. Insurance

I guess I do not believe in insurance. If one goes down that route, there are many rules
and regulations that we would have to follow, or the insurance would be invalid. Where
it is mandatory - as in automobile insurance - well, OK, but we can even avoid that if we
drive only on our own land and on isolated logging roads.

We need to ensure ourselves, as in ensuring that our buildings do not burn down. That is
very important. Fire is all too common in the backwoods. I think that we should install a
sprinkler system both inside our buildings and on the roofs.

British Columbia‘s first intentional community, in Bella Coola, burned down after just a
few years, with great lost of life, effectively demoralizing and destroying the community.

14. Electrical

If we eventually do begin generating our own electricity, we will certainly want to have
someone who knows what they are doing to install the wiring, probably to code. (I
wonder if the code applies to remote locations and buildings without insurance?)


Personal Disclosures

Hi, I‘m Peter Light.

Half of my waking time I wonder if I really want to live in community at all and feel
overwhelmed – with rush of fear and hopelessness washing over me – plagued by the
personal impossibility of it all, the huge job ahead: I have lived alone now for many
years; I still have problems at times getting along with people; I wonder if I am too
moody; I fear that I am too old and it is too late, that it is too big a project and that the
degree of responsibility I would have might crush me; I wonder if I am capable enough;
I fear that I am deluded in gauging how much people might love and respect me; I worry
that folks will say anything they think I might want to hear just to get in and that others
will be so incompetent and wounded that that I will wish they had not got in; I future trip
that the obstacles we will face will be too great; and I feel dread at the thought that at
some point, I could become the group‘s scapegoat.

Hi, I‘m Peter Light

The other half of the time, various urgencies and optimisms propel me forward towards
the goal with almost gusto! I have a sense that I have a smattering of at least half-
developed, rare knowledge, skills and experiences accumulated by very few other folks
and that I have a duty, responsibility and possibility of sharing them with others; I have
the feeling that the current world crisis is so evident that not to take immediate, intelligent
action would be the height of stupidity - would be like getting caught red- faced with my
pants down; I have a strong sense of wanting to contribute by helping to provide a viable
sanctuary for people living untenable lives; I have a growing longing to create a space to
die in; and there is an overall sense that this seems be what my life has been leading to: a
kind of culmination, an eccentric life of experiences garnered to serve the center of a
future that has arrived – and that not to do it or at least put good effort into doing it,
would constitute a huge failure. Above all, I am motivated by the vision that has
evolved. Seeing in my mind‘s eye how absolutely beautiful it would be gives me great
rushes of irrepressible energy. I think that this is a really, really good vision.

Hi, I‘m Peter Light

I center myself with breath, reminding myself not to future-trip, to take one-step at a
time, to do well in this holy moment, and to view these essays as possibly having some
value even if I do not go any further than writing and circulating them.

On the one hand, I am facing by far the largest and most complex project that I have ever
undertaken; on the other, I have reached "retirement" age!

Part of me wants to kick back, live this simple life in Roberts Creek, collect my Old Age
Pension, do a few workshops now and then, hang out with folks when I can, have no
commitment to any other human being, and just put up with feelings of loneliness and
separation…and then die.

Another part of me wants do something much more meaningful, finish my Work, really
go for it, dare to put one more sustained ten- to twenty-year burst of energy into my life,
help create something very special for some people, respond to future probabilities
appropriately, justify the sum of my existence, fulfill some kind o f a lifetime wish, and
live the rest of my life in harmony with wonderful dear friends who get along with and
love each other.

If I think about it, I am afraid of failure, of blowing it, of biting off more than I can chew,
of embarrassing myself, of deluding myself, of falsely imagining that I will be capable of
fulfilling my roles, of having a nervous breakdown. There seems to be so much at stake.
I have to give myself some exit strategies, literal and psychological.

There are times when I am scared lonely with thoughts of heading up the coast without
committed support, leaving my friends and familiars behind after twenty- five years of
marking time here in ―the Creek‖. There is a part of me that goes slightly nuts thinking
that I might wind up somewhere isolated, start something that nobody will ―join‖, and
end up just a crazy, eccentric hermit in the woods, alone and bitter, an old man ―with
broken teeth, stranded, without love.‖

Nevertheless, when I imagine good people at my side, friends who are wise, competent
and supportive - who can tune me in and cool me out, calm me down and pick me up -
give me some perspective and balance - then I feel stronger and not so alone. The sooner
I can start sharing the load with others and begin delegating some responsibilities, the
better I am going to feel!

Hi, I‘m Peter Light

I thought I did well a while back as the host of a firecircle gathering twice a week for two
years. It seems to me that I achieved a good balance between owning my power and
putting myself out, on the one hand; and being just one equal voice in a consensual
democracy, on the other. It may have been my best work so far. It empowered me, and
re-built some inner confidence. I seemed to have been able to keep my center and speak
from the here and now. It gave me good practice and perhaps a good reputation, but no
matter how well it worked or how close we felt to one another, it was only intentional
community for a few hours twice a week. Nevertheless, it was an inspiration for all and a
taste and indication of the potential of agreement, space and form, and people.

Bill and Wichampi advised me not to get too personal, and certainly not to reveal my
weaknesses to the reader – ―Not the time or place‖. I took a few things out and toned a
few bits down, but mainly took their advice and waited until now and left it to the end. I
am not sure if that is exactly what they had in mind, but I believe in speaking the truth
when it is necessary and compassionate. This is the truth, I do think it is necessary and I
do not feel hurt by my words! We need to trust enough to open up to others. It is
important to me not to be seen for more than I am – or less!

Extre mis m

When I do my dishes, I do not use a dishwasher.

Neither do I use two sinks full of hot water, one for the wash and one for the rinse; nor
two of cold; nor one.

I often do not use any container.

I usually do not use hot water.

I usually do not use soap, a dishtowel, or a dish-rack.

Lately, I have stopped using a dishrag.

I usually wash my dishes under a trickling cold-water tap with my fingers.

I dry them above the stove.

Am I an extremist? No, I am not an extremist. Are you an extremist? Yes, I think you
may be an extremist.

Your footprint may be extremely heavy;

Your hydro bill may be extremely large;

You may be extremely trapped in modernity;

You may be extremely caught in the dominate paradigm;

You may be extremely cut off from your energy sources;

You may be extremely over-confident about everything lasting;

You may be extremely restricted by what you think is necessary;

You may be extremely brainwashed by television monster;

You may be extremely alienated from your natural surroundings;

You may be extremely paranoid about germs and disease;

You may be extremely convinced you cannot do it any other way.

My dishes do not look dirty. They do not smell bad. They do not feel greasy - I do not
cook meat, fish or chicken. My only oil is olive.

Most importantly, I do not get sick.


Actually, my entire dishwashing trip is pretty complex. I have wanted to simplify it:

Some monastery monks have but one teacup, one bowl and a pair of chopsticks, all
wrapped up in a napkin. When they come in for meals, they take their little bundle down
off a shelf. When they are done, they use the last of their tea to wash and rinse their
utensils, and then drink the last of their meal - good to the very last drop! Then they dry
with the napkin, wrap up their little bundle again, and put it back on the shelf.

Ahhh, yes – We should all drink our dishwater!

It is so extremely simple!

However, it is not so much where we are, but the direction in which we are committed to

Much of what I do deviates considerably from the norm. Very few emulate me; most
view me as an oddity; some, perhaps, as a loveable eccentric.

Yet, I see my minimalism and my ―ex-central- i-cities‖ as somehow appropriate, timely
and necessary. I see them demonstrating, in part, a manners of living that I believe many
folks, very soon, are going to wish they had earlier learned and adopted. One can choose
to live this way now by climbing down carefully between the cracks or choose to do
nothing and suddenly fall through them, suffering, in the process, deprivation,
psychological trauma, injury and death.

For the most part, I have carefully considered much of the whole - and many of the parts
- of the middleclass, industrial pie that we were all baked in – the one that is causing all
the problems – the one that we were all taught to assume as the only, normal and
expected - and then rejected many of them for good.rational, social, economic, political,
environmental, psychological, ethical and spiritual reasons. I both gradually and rapidly
adopted what I thought were - and still think are - saner alternatives, and I have mostly
lived them for years, continually adding insights and simplicity - without any suffering or
discomfort. I challenged the con, discovered its enormity, found it a ―paper beaver‖,
experimented with other options, and discovered the ease and simplicity of beating the
system and living like a king: free of most restraints and ravages; lots of leisure for
family and friends; work my own and I my boss.

I think I just lucked out: I suspect that those who have lived only in the modern mode
have often simply been unable to find the time, opportunity or perspective to exhaustively
examine their lifestyle, actions and alternatives as thoroughly as I have been blessed to
have been able to do. Having been at it for years, I insist, at least, that folks take me

seriously. In the context, at least, of my seemingly idiosyncratic style, I insist, at
least, on being respected for what I have experienced and learned. I insist that my
sometimes seemingly odd or archaic ways be at least considered or reconside red. I
insist that the unique life I have lived not be overlooked or trivialized. I hope that I
will accord othe rs the same respect and I am prepared to reconside r everything I
know, but I also insist that other folks be willing to re-examine their own learned
actions in light of some of their own professed beliefs.
At the same time, I am not some kind of fanatical and infallible authority and I will
recognize and welcome those who can add to or subtract from the knowledge, skills and
understandings I have accumulated so far. Nevertheless, let no one who lives by old,
unexamined habits think that I might not challenge their assumptions and beliefs.

What one considers extreme is relative, depending on state of mind, a perspective and
context. If I say, ―Load up your packs, folks, we are going camping‖, would that be
considered extreme? Yet in the beginning, the way we will live will more closely
resemble camping than condominiums. If you cannot tolerate camping, you might want
to either rethink your interest in this project or be prepared to endure an adjustment

Of course, a permanent camp is a lot more deluxe than a temporary one - maybe it will be
a picnic.

Alternatively, think ―Indians‖, ―pioneers‖, or ―settlers‖.

Mix them all with a bit of the best of hippy and the modern world, and taste the blend!

Extremism indeed!

Role Considerations

I was going to title this part of this essay "My role in all this." Then I started seeing
plurals everywhere, and thought, "Shit, I'm probably going to have to serve many, many
functions in this project, at least at the beginning." This could be problematic but
necessary. I have spoken elsewhere of the steep learning curve that many folks are going
to have to commit to if they expect to be able to pull their weight effectively. While I do
not want people to think of me as ―the voice of infallible authority‖, or of ―being on a
trip‖, or ―knowing everything‖, conversely, I do know a lot more about many aspects of
―homestead living‖ than many others, I have walked the talk, I do like to teach and there
will be lots to learn.

Maybe ―roles‖ is a misnomer. I am just bringing skills to this community like anyone
else. Here are some of them. They do not preclude others having many of the same roles
and skills. They do not imply that I will be the only one doing these things or that I will
always be doing these things - only when there is a vacuum, when they are needed, only
when there is agreement. As well, they do not preclude me finally retiring!

1. Conceiving/Designing/Initiating

My drawings and these essays present a fairly well developed plan for a permaculture
intentional community around which I am inviting interested others to gather. It is,
admittedly, but one possible approach to formulating ideas intended to define and intiate
action on a collective endeavour, but it happens to be mine.

2. Coordinating

I have coordinated many actions and projects in the past, from organizing and conducting
a backyard orchestra at the age of five after my first experience of a live symphony and
producing and directing puppet shows in grade two; to organizing a complex six month
peace project in 1965 and, solo, the largest civil disobedience action and mass arrest in
Canadian history, at Clayquot, in 1993. Moreover, I am currently coordinating this
project. As it develops, though, others will start to assume this role as well, particularly
for various individual community projects and tasks - but also the whole.

3. Facilitating

I have observed very experienced people facilitating group decision- making, and have
studied and practiced that role myself on a number of occasions. I may be rusty, and
have lots to learn, but I think I can play that role well. So can others, I hope.

I successfully played all the above roles in the development of the last firecircle I hosted,
but despite this, it turned out to be the most democratic and egalitarian group most of us
had ever experienced. A number of times at the beginning I stated that despite superficial
appearances, I was not the leader of the group - certainly not the guru - and urged
everybody to watch me like a hawk and to jump all over me at the first indication that I
was stepping out of line. A couple of folks really took that enjoiner to heart, sometimes
to the extent that I had to remind them that I had just as much right to express my
opinions as anyone else!

4. Mediating

I have taken one hundred hours of excellent training at the Justice Institute of B.C. in
negotiation, mediation and conflict resolution.

5. “Therapy”

A loaded word. It just means facilitating change through the application of simple
methods or ―interventions‖ when someone wants the change. I have taken a ―lay
counseling‖ course through Continuing Education, informally studied NLP for a number
of years, and, mainly, had great success in the couple of dozen NLP ―therapeutic

interventions‖ I have practiced for various folks over the years. I have even had
occasional, fleeting thoughts of giving up permaculture to study and practice NLP full-
time. It is ―magic‖ and really, really neat, making fast, painless psychological change not
only possible, but likely. I have not been professionally trained, but will be able to
provide some ability in this department. I also may end up broadening and deepening my
skills in response to people‘s needs and requests.

6. Teaching

I think I have always been a good teacher and communicator, except when I become
impatient and sometimes a bit intolerant. As a teacher, I will be able to, and may have to,
impart some or all of the above, and some or all of the below. Many lessons will be
spontaneous, on the spot, one-on-one or small group mini- workshops. Others will be
more formal and last longer. I will encourage everyone who also has important skills and
information to do likewise.

Here are a few of the things that I can teach.

a. Tool use

Axe, maul, sledgehammer and wedges, drawknife, froe, scythe, chainsaw and a motley
assortment of hand-tools. I am only a rough carpenter, but have had hammers, saws,
chisels, rasps, knives, and axes in my hands since the age of three or four. I took shop in
high school, too, and got A‘s: woodworking, metalworking and drafting.

b. Tool sharpening

This is more important than tool use, actually. Files, a series of sharpening stones, and a
hand- lens can help to get a knife so sharp that one can ―dry shave‖ with it, or swing it
down and cut a cigarette paper in two! I cut down, de- limbed and cut to length all the
trees for my log cabin in Storm Bay with a very sharp double-bit axe.

c. Organic gardening

I have been consciously gardening organically since 1969. I taught a twenty- five hour
course on organic gardening through Continuing Education.

d. Permaculture

I‘ve been doing permaculture since 1969, have studied it since 1986, have taken two full
design courses and a ten-day hands-on workshop, taught at a couple, soloed at a three day
and a half-dozen one day workshops, and presented various shorter talks and workshops
on the subject.

e. Harvesting resources from shore, field and forest

This includes wood, plants, seafood, rocks, moss, fertilizer material, etc.

f. Building with logs and poles

I built my first log cabin at the age of twelve, in Langley, B.C. I build my second in
Storm Bay – 16‘x24‘ – for $150 with an axe and a crosscut. I have been regularly going
into the woods to harvest building materials of some sort all my life, and do so to this
day. I‘m rough but ready.

g. Identification of and foraging for plants and animals

My grandmother took me out into the back yard when I was three or so to harvest
chickweed for our canary. I was the president of the Junior Section of the Vancouver
Natural History Society for three years. I have been a bird-watcher since the age of eight.
I have been harvesting and using local wild herbs and mushrooms since 1968. My library
is full of plant books and field guides.

h. Designing for and managing chickens

I have had the best chicken set-ups I have ever seen – and that was before I studied

i. Childrearing and education

See essay, ―Childrearing and Education‖

j. Food Processing

This includes harvesting, drying, canning, storage and cooking.

k. Etc…I think.

So, ―toot, toot‖ - but everyone will have their opportunity!


I think our main enemy will be our inclination to repeat all the human mistakes, both
personal and political, that the race is presently making and which are bringing the global
village to its knees. By assuming that these mistakes and tendencies will surface amongst
us; by taking careful note of them from the beginning and examining their nature, by
understanding their roots and noticing what drives them; and by designing specifically to
counteract them, we may be able to avoid pitfalls and maximize success.

 Others in the past attempting a goal similar to ours have made no end of mistakes; and
there have been past societies that have arisen, flourished, declined and disappeared. We
can learn much from their gifts of experiences and failures.

For thirty years, ―Communities Magazine‖ has filled its pages with information from the
front lines of the intentional community movement; and just recently, Jared Diamond, in
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005), has pulled together recent
scientific investigations to account for the demise of the inhabitants of Easter Island and
the Pitcairn Islands; the Anasazi and their neighbours; the Maya; and the Norse in
Greenland. He also examines two or three spectacular success stories and looks in detail
at three modern societies in deep trouble: Montana, China and Australia.

Diamond identifies five major causes of societal collapse: environmental damage,
climate change, hostile neighbours, decreased support from friendly neighbours and a
society‘s response to its problems.

Environmental damage falls into eight categories: deforestation and habitat destruction,
soil problems, over-hunting, over- fishing, effects of introduced species on native species,
human population growth, and increased per-capita impact of people.

Climate change has happened so slowly in the past that it was hardly noticed within a
lifetime. We are more fortunate. We have heard from reputable sources that it has, is
and will. We hear of it happening around the world and experience it ourselves year to
year. We have some credible predictions of how it will affect British Columbia‘s Pacific
Southwest. We will be able to design our support system from the ground up to take
advantage of the coming changes and protect us from them.

Hostile neighbours have been discussed in the essays on ―The Outside World‖ and
―Government and the Law‖

The likelihood of decreased support from friendly neighbours is one of the principal
dangers this community is anticipating by its very establishment. For the immediate
future, our principle trading partner will remain the outside world, the global economic
system. We are preparing for its collapse. We need to develop others. There are some
already - for example, farmers‘ markets.

Societies‘ response to its problems, according to Diamond, falls into four broad

―First of all, a group may fail to anticipate a problem before the problem actually
arrives. Second, when the problem does arrive, they may fail to perceive it. Then, after
they perceive it, they may fail even to try to solve it. Finally, they may try to solve it but
may not succeed.‖

By paying close, conscious attention to each of the above, by carefully designing a
sustainable permaculture system, by intelligently reviewing the practices of our evolving

society, by taking remedial and compensatory measures, and by teaching our children the
absolute necessity of strictly adhering to those measures, always and forever, and why –
who knows, maybe it will be we who will write the history books!

Further discussion of these and other pitfalls follow.


The shadow side of human nature is always present. We will be fortunate to have forms,
structures and agreements to aid us in confronting our darker sides and minimizing their

1. “Powe r Over”

Being an anti-authoritarian anarchist, and in revolt against a loving but somewhat
authoritarian father who was, thank god, at the same time co mmitted to fair-play and
challenging authority himself, I have an aversion to and reaction against anyone ordering
me around with the voice of authority. Perhaps we all do, although I understand that
there are some people who resent not being led and assume that someone is going to look
after them.

Of course, there are different kinds of authority, derivations of authority, and styles of
authority. There is political authority backed by force – rulers, armies, police,
bureaucrats - and scholarly authorities supported by respect – teacher, tradesman, elder,
guru. There is authority imposed from above through laws; and there is authority
accepted by a group through agreements. There is benevolent authority and harsh
authority, both.within us and around us.

It is a bit complex. The recipient of a request, suggestion or advice can challenge
someone on either process grounds or content grounds. Let us explore this briefly.
Supposing an elder with fifty years experience in something tells someone to ―do it this
way‖. The challenge might be, ―What gives you the right to order me around?‖ The
reply might then be, ―Because I have fifty years experience with that and you have none.‖
That feels valid to me. What would not feel correct is ―Because I‘m an elder.‖ There is
no political position called ―Elder‖ (although there is on The Farm). Neither is there any
guarantee that just because someone is older s/he is necessarily wiser or more

There is also the way that someone says something that can make all the difference. ―Do
that!‖ is different from, ―You should do that.‖ which is different from ―Have you
considered the possibility of doing it this way?‖ In addition, the words are only part of it,
of course. Tone is so much more!

Maybe there are never orders, just conversations.

A second challenge is to the content of authority – a back and forth of explaining and
questioning: to fill in what might have been left out, to provide a full understanding of
the context and the reasoning, and to probe the suggestion for legitimate objections or

But ―power over‖ has to do with more than just the question of authority. It also has to
do with so-called ―power imbalances‖ – the inherent power of the older over the younger
or the younger over the older; of landowner over renter; of the rich over the poor; and of
beauty, intelligence, firm command, imposing presence or intimidating presentation over
their opposites.

There is also the vexing problem, not at all understood by this author, of the constant
contention that the rise of social stratification followed the transformation from hunter-
gatherer societies to agricultural societies. A Wikipedia entry on ―Primitive
Communism‖ suggests that ―not all early human societies [exemplified primitive
communism] because some hunter-gatherer societies may have been able to store food
and thus generate surplus and have social stratification as a result. ‖ Does anyone
understand why social inequality necessarily must follow the ability to store food? We
need to understand this and avoid it!

I believe that many problems can fade away, diminish, or present themselves in
manageable form when in a context of small face-to-face groups with powerful

Nevertheless, we will need to watch for, and confront when necessary, this tendency of
―power over‖.

2. Naïveté

Naïve dreams, pie- in-the-sky idealism, unrealistic expectations, and airy- fairy woo-
wooism - all these can cause disillusionment, discouragement, fanaticism, helplessness,
and failure. I would hope, once again, that these essays will contribute not only to
―heading off at the pass‖ such states of mind and help make clear some potential ideals
worth striving towards, but also indicate the rough path we will always be treading as
poor, suffering, sentient beings, all of us.

3. Hot buttons and Short Fuses

I have covered this pretty well in the essay ―PROCESS - Self-Improvement and
Therapeutic Intervention‖ and other essays on process and spirituality. Here, I am
thinking of outbursts and short-term conflicts resulting in precipitous over-reactions such
as leaving the community before things cool down and are sorted out. Having
agreements on ways to deal with such melodramas will no doubt forestall such responses
to conflicts.

4. The Seven deadly Sins

The seven deadly sins, although all worthy of philosophical discussion, as is every
invention of man, and although written in a book of questionable authority, are listed here
to focus our minds, and to indicate the level of intelligent thought and spiritual discourse
we might aspire to.

They are pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth.

They all have to do with egoism and egotism.

5. Overpopulation

We need to limit our human growth, as individuals, as a community and as a planet.
There really is no doubt about it. Whenever an animal population rises in numbers
so rapidly that the curve is heading almost straight up, it soon collapses. I have seen
this with tent caterpillars and flower beetles. It is a well-known and studied natural

Therefore, we keep our families small, limited to no more than an average of two
children per couple, for the good of our world and our community.

In the sixties, my uncle, Norman Z. Alcock, the founder and director of the Canadian
Peace Research Institute, thought that the threat of nuclear war was the greatest facing
humankind, and used to debate the issue with Brock Chisholm, the chairperson of the
World Health Organization, who thought that overpopulation was the greatest threat. I
think that my uncle won the debate, but that still means that overpopulation came in

Robert Wright, in his book, "A Short History of Progress", notes the two major reasons
for the end of major world civilizations, namely, o ver-population and agrarian collapse.

The obvious solutions are birth control and permaculture.

Five years before I had children, I read that in order to achieve Zero Population Growth,
average family size needed to be two point four children. I settled for two, and then had a

How do we determine the optimum and upper population limit of this permaculture

The design calls for thirty-two family units. If we assume and start out with an average
family size of four – two adults and two children - times thirty-two equals one hundred
and twenty-eight; if all sixty- four children married mates from outside of the community
and had an average of two children, and stayed in the community; and if all parents lived
and stayed, those three generations would add up to a population of three hundred and

twenty. By the next generation, most of the original generation will have died off and
many children will be marrying fellow community members.

Add singles, and a couple or three great- grandparents, and we have, perhaps, an upper
limit of about 350 people, by this reckoning.

Bill Mollison, in Permaculture: A Designers' Manual, pp 522-523, says this about the
size of villages:

―Human settlements vary in their ability to provide resources, to develop a high degree
of self-reliance, and in their alienating or (conversely) neighbourly behavior according
to population size and function. At about 100 income-producing people, a significant
financial institution can be village based; at about 500, all people can know each other if
social affairs are organized from time to time.

―At 2,000 people, theft and competitiveness are more common, and sects set up – the
‗ecumenical alliances‘ are lost. Perhaps we should start small, at about thirty or so
adults, build to 200-300 people, and proceed slowly and by choice to 500, then ―calve‖
into new neighbourhoods or new villages.

 He also says, on p.531, that a population of 200-300 is "[t]he basic number for genetic
variability; such a group can, by careful breeding, maintain their numbers as a tribe and
allow for some losses to disease. Probably the minimum human village size (called a

To deal with increasing numbers, whether caused by our own procreation, by more and
more desperate refugees, or by people attracted to the nature and success of the project, I
propose that sometime in the first few years we decide on a site for a second community,
become familiar with it, do a permaculture assessment of it, lay out a rough design for it,
begin preparing the ground ahead of time, and collect a second set of tools. When the
community reaches an agreed upon maximum limit, we divide it in two. Half of each
half is made up of seasoned, experienced people, the other half of novices and
newcomers. Half moves to the new site, half stay at the original.

This was the practice of the Hutterites, who divide their Communes of ten to twenty
families in half when the population reaches sixty to one- hundred-and-fifty. This
Hutterite limit is in fascinating alignment with something called ―Dunbar‘s Number‖, as
are the musings of Bill Mollison:

―Dunbar's number, which is 150 [with a large error measure (a 95% confidence interval
of 100 to 230)], represents a theoretical maximum number of individuals with whom a set
of people can maintain a social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with
knowing who each person is and how each person relates socially to every other person. [
Group sizes larger than this generally require more restricted rules, laws, and enforced
policies and regulations to maintain a stable cohesion. Dunbar's number is a significant
value in sociology and anthropology. Proposed by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar,

it indicates the "cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person
can maintain stable relationships". Dunbar theorizes, "this limit is a direct function of
relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size ... the limit imposed by
neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a
stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained.‖

Dunbar noted the Hutterite co-relation, as well:

―His surveys of village and tribe sizes also appeared to approximate this predicted value,
including 150 as the estimated size of a neolithic farming village; 150 as the splitting
point of Hutterite settlements; 200 as the upper bound on the number of academics in a
discipline's sub-specialization; 150 as the basic unit size of professional armies in Roman
antiquity and in modern times since the 16th century; and notions of appropriate
company size.

―Dunbar has theorized that 150 would be the mean group size only for communities with
a very high incentive to remain together. For a group of this size to remain cohesive,
Dunbar speculated that as much as 42% of the group's time would have to be devoted to
social grooming. Correspondingly, only groups under intense survival pressure, such as
subsistence villages, nomadic tribes, and historical military groupings have, on average,
achieved the 150-member mark. Moreover, Dunbar noted that such groups are almost
always physically close: "... we might expect the upper limit on group size to depend on
the degree of social dispersal. In dispersed societies, individuals will meet less often and
will thus be less familiar with each, so group sizes should be smaller in consequence.‖
Thus, the 150-member group would only occur because of absolute necessity, i.e. due to
intense environmental and economic pressures[!]

―Dunbar proposes furthermore that language may have arisen as a "cheap" means of
social grooming, allowing early humans to efficiently maintain social cohesion [Africans
and slave gangs singing their work] Without language, Dunbar speculates, humans
would have to expend nearly half their time on social grooming, which would have made
productive, cooperative effort nearly impossible. Language may have allowed societies
to remain cohesive, while reducing the need for physical and social intimacy.‖

This feels very important to me. It aligns perfectly with so much of what I discuss in
these essays. The physical design is specifically meant to enhance social cohesion at
every turn.

The foregoing gives us some numbers to consider when directing our attention to future
population limits. I would express the range as (30)80-150(500).

Given, too, that we could be locating on a virtually uninhabited island - except for
eighteen folks living on the west and south coasts – of about sixty square kilometers, we
must give great thought and observation over a number of generations concerning the
maximum sustainable carrying capacity of this small, finite area of land. For amazing

example of relevance, see Collapse by Jared Diamond, and his account of Tikopia; and
the article on it in Wikipedia,

6. Pollution

[See essay, ―Health – Environmental‖]

Here, the concern is our own pollution. The first and most obvious will be wood smoke,
probably followed by exhaust from any engines – chainsaws, tractors, vehicles - that we
are using with conventional fuels. The other major source could be from chemicals we
might bring to our village – paints, cleaners, varnishes, WD40, and on and on.

A numbe r of things come to mind whe n I think of us using wood for fuel. First, if
we use one fire for all our cooking and much of our heating, that is a very light
footprint indeed, if one divides it by dozens; second, it’s free, and we didn’t have to
do – what? - to buy it; third, it comes from our doorstep – no refining, no
transportation; fourth, It should ideally be completely dry and seasoned before it
gets burned; fifth, we need to plant lots of trees to replace the ones we cut and to
offset the CO2 emiossions; and lastly, wood smoke has been around as long as life
has been on the land.

Concerning engines, we should use them very little, for many people; we should
move towards alte rnative fuels; and we should consider pe rhaps evolving to
electrical and then, even - and maybe ideally - to direct mechanical energy.

As for using noxious che micals, for the most part, we should not. Any that we do
agree to use, we must contain, and then return to from whence they came, for
environme ntally sound disposal.


A. Human-caused

 1. Government

[See essays on ―Government and Law‖]

 2. Public Opinion

[See essay, ―The Outside World – Good Community Relations‖

 3. Attack

[See essay, ―The Outside World – Hiding and Protecting Ourselves‖ and ―Nonviolent

 4. Nuclear

Kiss your ass goodbye.

 5. Global Warming

Seems to me that we are not just toast, but burnt toast.

Probably kiss yr ass goodbye.

In the meantime, assuming some time, we can take steps now to prepare for
- here on the coast - warme r, wette r winters; hotter, drier summe rs; and
stronger and more freque nt wind events. I have come to believe that in the
long-term – say, one hundred years - or more likely the medium- term – say fifty
years - that the race is not going to pull through. However, in the short term,
we are blessed by our location on the globe, and if we take some proactive
measures, we may be able to gain some decades for ourselves, our children
and perhaps our grandchildren. We might even be among the survivors.

For one thing, we should at least have mother plants of species that might
not produce well now because of cool summe rs or are only just able to
tolerate our winters, but which will produce well and/or have a more
dependable survival rate in the coming decades. Then we will have to learn
to propagate them.

We can be helped by knowing what local trees will disappear first, plant them in
suitable microclimates, and choose substitutes ahead of time.

Just planting trees of all kinds helps with global warming and provides us
with both protection from radiation and with cooler microclimates in
which to live and garden.

All methods of harvesting, slowing and storing water should be in place.
Those of us responsible for permaculture design should thoroughly
understand permaculture dry-land strategies. Plants tolerant of dry and
windy conditions need to be collected.

As I write this paragraph on August 29, 2006, the news is reporting that Tofino,
B.C., is running out of water because of a particularly dry summer. On this
Friday, all commercial and business enterprises will have to stop using all
water. That includes, for example, lodges and restaurants. If the drought
continues, homeowners will be spared as long as possible, but first off the line
will be young healthy people; last, old invalids!

Of course, I assume that at the same time, Tofino, as is the case in many places
in British Columbia, is in the middle of a housing boom: grow, grow, grow!
Jobs, jobs, jobs!

Good for the economy, you know.

Unfortunately, Gaia is so inte rconnected, and the consequences of huge and
rapid climate change so complex, that it will be impossible to anticipate
most repercussions. We will have to rely mainly on the principle strength
of permaculture: to design and create “dynamic living systems that are
ecologically sustainable, mimicking the self-reliance, diversity, and
resilience of natural systems.” Growing a wide variety of plants is an
inherent part of any s uch system.

6. Global Cooling

It seems paradoxical, but global warming could cause an ice age – suddenly.
Here is how it works: Fresh water from a melting Greenland - lighter than salt
water and diluting it - builds up at the northern terminus of the North Atlantic
Current, fails to sink, which slows and finally stops the flow of warm water
from the tropics. Europe would experience winter year-round within three
years. Eastern North America would suffer a similar fate.

Cooling would be much harder to deal with and survive than warming, up to a
degree. Production really goes down. Meat eating becomes more necessary,
clothing essential, etc. See anticipatory strategies for global warming, above.

Maybe we should try to persuade a couple of Inuits to join us! They would
have a lot to teach us. Alternatively, maybe we should send a small team from
our community to the Arctic.

Of course, while all this is happening, we will have reached peak oil, supplies
will be dwindling and prices sky-rocketing.

There is another form of global cooling, caused by particulate matter as
opposed to gaseous matter. It has been masking the true extent of global
warming. As we clean up pollution, or as it diminishes during a global
recession or depression, temperatures really start to rise.

B. Natural Disasters

 1. Fire

Mollison worked and lived much of his life in Australia. He has much to say about
permaculture designs and strategies for protecting against fire. Fire is a regular and

natural phenomenon here on the coast, as it is there and elsewhere, and we need to
prepare for it.

As I write this paragraph, a year later, on Feb. 8, 2009, Australia is burning. Long-term
drought caused by global warming in a land already dry; an exceptionally hot summer;
and ferocious winds has resulted in the greatest fire disaster in Australian history, with
hundreds dead and burned, thousands homeless with nothing. How ironical that the
country that spawned the genius of permaculture failed to heed the warnings and
implement the design strategies suggested for fire. Death and injury, loss of home,
garden, barn, and farm - all could have been prevented..

 2. Earthquake

We are overdue for a major earthquake here on the west coast. We need to build on
strong foundations with flexible materials, use stone only low and for outbuildings, store
no heavy objects over our heads and make sure the creeks above us have not been
blocked. [See Flood, below]

I have been trying to find out if the massive longhouses constructed by the West Coast
First Nations people fell down during the great earthquake that occurred here about three
hundred years ago. If so, I would like to know if a building of the same type of
construction, but connected in one great ring, would.

 3. Flood

As long as we are not right at sea level, the local head of emergency preparedness has
told me, we have little to fear from tsunamis from earthquakes, protected as we are, here
on the inner South Coast, by the islands to the north and south and the Strait of Juan de

 However, creeks could become blocked by a build-up of dislodged debris. whether from
earthquake or heavy rains, and when the backed-up water lets go, as happened here in
The Creek a few years back, it came down taking with it all the standing forest of sixty-
foot trees for forty feet on either side of the creek, narrowly missing two houses. .

Heavy rains can also cause creeks to jump their banks, pouring water through new
courses and doing much damage.

 4. Wind

I have wondered if global warming could cause unnaturally strong winds here in these
parts that might blow down the whole forest! Then a lot of Stanley Park blew down!

Wind can be deflected, channeled and utilized. Windbreaks are an essential feature of
any permaculture design because wind greatly lowers agricultural productivity and
increases heating requirements. It can blow off temporary or poorly constructed roofs,

topple newly planted trees and toss boats onto rocky beaches! It can also capsize them,
drowning all aboard. It can also help you die quicker from hypothermia.

So we need to pay attention to wind.

5. Disease

6. Collision with asteroids/meteors/comets!

Kiss yr ass good-bye!

On that happenstance note, I will end the main body of this hopeful missive, Thanks for
reading. Maybe I will see you around. Bye for now.





                                    Peter A. Wagner
                                3531 S. Logan St., #D-104
                                  Englewood CO 80110

                        ―Life is tough…Tougher if you‘re stupid.‖

Saturday, March 6, 1999

Peter James Light
Box 2126
Sechelt, B.C. V0N 3A0

Dear Peter, (not me, you)

I started to write you a letter in January, but it quickly became a book. Let me explain—
in 100 tiny words or less:

         To detect any Y2K problems my co mputer may have, I reset the system date to the year 2010 then,
         when I load and use software that might use a two digit year designator, it‘ll appear as 1910 and
         really stand out.
         Well, what‘s happening is my Y2K co mp liant software auto matically dates files, images,
         correspondence and batch jobs. 2010. I can catch it and manually redate the letter before it goes to
         the printer, but as soon as I save it, it ju mps back to 2010.
         Anyway, while I was writ ing my original letter to you dated January 2010, I began to write it fro m
         the view point of what my model o f 2010 might look like.

There. 116 tiny words or less. 30 if you whack the first two paragraphs.

The aforementioned letter I started to you extrapolates a bit from our last phone
conversation about preparedness and surviving in general should some sort of global
catastrophe hit town. Then, it was early morning, and I needed a letter from you, so I
made one up. That drew the line between it being a weird letter from me and a work of
fiction. I was having too much fun stuffing words into your mouth to quit after one letter,
so I made you and a few other folks spew a whole bunch of stuff I can only hope they‘ll
only dream of saying.

My apologies for wordstuffing also go to:

Shaun & my future grandkids, River, Shad, Art, David G, David S., Maya, Jim L. and
several feral cats.

Feedback always welcomed.

Love, Peter (not you, me)



July 2013

The technological clock has stopped. The biowars of 2013 have virtually eradicated any
chance of continuing with civilization as we know it. There are no organized work
forces, no jobs, no government, no cities, no information. People are focused on
immediate survival, and not the preservation of accumulated knowledge or culture. The
best one can hope for is to keep this terrible lesson we learned alive for our children
through journals, verbal heritage, and practice.

If humanity survives, it will survive due to the tough determination of those few who
refuse to give in to the alluring dream of what once was, and accept—at least for now—
our fate on a planet that has shrugged off all attempts to control its own destiny.

We have inherited a toxic ball—the cleansing of planet earth will take millennia. As its
first new wardens, we have the responsibility to ensure future generations are respectful
to earth and its remaining ecosystems. We are The Meek.

But we are not all meek. Some of us are lured by the sed uction of power through
leadership, existing lethal technology, and the fatal intoxication of laziness and greed.

Everything is consumable, save for knowledge itself, which will deteriorate due to a lack
of custodianship. Our universities are gone. Our libraries are buried. Technological
achievements, once great and many …now almost all lost. Music - save for the
survivors‘ memories and talents - lost. All of human history - reduced to a fragile

2013 Year of the Fall

August, 2013

Biological warfare has wiped out 75% of the earth‘s human population. The hardest hit
were the most technologically advanced countries. Civilization as we knew it has ceased
to exist. In the following months, many more will perish due to disease, suicide, murd er,
residual toxicity, starvation and the lack of basic survival skills. Many wildlife species
are gone forever.

I had long developed the habit of going outside every morning when I wake up to play my
soprano recorder to the birds. They came from several blocks away to hear me play and
then start their own chorus during my breaks. It has always been my favourite part of the
day. This particular morning was no different. I got dressed in my usual flurry, grabbed
my recorder and left the old bus I live in. The first thing I noticed, though, was that there
were several dead birds lying on the ground. Looking up, I saw birds flying in big
wobbly loop-de-loops, as they attempted to land on the power lines. I saw several fall
simultaneously from the sky and called Peter to come out and look at the scene in front of
the bus. ―They must have gotten in some bad water‖, was all I could figure. I had no clue
until several days later what was going on. I played a sad song, then Peter slowly picked
up the birds and put them into a large garbage bag. That day there were no birds
singing back, as I listened with silent tears running down my face.

It had been prophesied that The Final War would start in or involve the Mideast. In
2010, after a few Arab countries had their nuclear weapons destroyed by NATO, they
focused on mass production of warfare chemicals. Within a few months, there was a
terrible accident that sent a toxic cloud over a neighbouring country. That country
retaliated and the resultant war escalated until NATO detonated seven nuclear warheads,
effectively ending the chemical war, the countries responsible and about 390 million

The news tonight has many reports of what they are calling ―The Fall.‖ It also seems
that there are a great many people dying, too. I think it is something in the atmosphere,
maybe dust from an exploding galaxy or something. The Mexicans down south are
swearing we‘re under attack by some angry alien culture, possible the Mayans returning
to earth to once again go home to Machu Pichu. Peter thinks it‘s something else, and I
just don‘t know, but it seems to be happening all over the world.

        Three years of relative peace followed in its wake, called the era of ―recovery‖,
but on August 2, 2013, somebody destroyed the world. A biological agent was released
from an eastern country using a vector so effective and thorough that seventy five percent
of the world‘s population were dead within a week. People were falling dead in the
streets of populated areas throughout the world. There was not enough time to properly
warn or prepare for the onslaught.

Can you believe this? I always knew there was the chance of biological warfare, but
never really believed anyone was stupid enough to use it. But then again, I live right
down the road from a trailer park where people cheer to hear news of countries dying. It
is slowly becoming more dangerous to go outside without protection of some kind. I
never walk around alone any more. Peter insists that I not go anywhere without him, and
I‘m damn glad to have him along. People are looking at everyone as if they might be the
one who did this thing to them and their families. Some people have been killed in their
homes for their food and whatever other resources they may have. The vigilantes are
becoming stronger as the police force dwindles to stay home and protect their own.
When we went to town today, there were three men and two women hanging from ropes
in front of the post office. The sign beneath them, propped up on the ground said
―Looters not welcome.‖ I threw up right there in front of God, the dead and the living.

        Governments collapsed, armies ran commandless, prisons burst open and
hospitals caved in. Fires burned out of control, riots and looting were the norm.
Complete anarchy reigned. Scattered cars and bodies were everywhere. It seemed that
everyone would die - if not from the original agent, then from secondary diseases or from
infections, gunshots, starvation, radiation or toxic exposure. Many, many people fled
from the cities to the countryside, forests and deserts. Many of these people were still in
shock or hysteria, unable to care for themselves. Most of them died.

By Radiofax 13:10 GMT 08/08/13 to Peter Light from Peter Wagner

I‘m still seeing people die. This shit is bad. We‘re doing what we can to keep away from
most suspected vectors, but ya just don‘t know. Is it airborne? Is it in the water? Big
Macs? Fleas? Toilet paper? Aspirin? Nobody knows. Still in shock…or denial.
Numbly, I watch someone, a man - no, a teenager - probably hungry, wander in circles.
He is in obvious despair. He has a gun. I feel certain of his next move. Sure enough, he
puts the gun to his head and fires.

       As long as nobody lobs a grenade under our bus, we‘ll do fine. We‘re secure in
here. Steel plating and Laminex where I have to see to drive. Filtered positive air

pressure—good for nuke fallout—but an open door to viruses. We have enough food
stored - both in here and at several other locations - to last us a good year. I‘m finding
caches I buried in the ‗90s for Y2K! Water at the more plentiful sources is usually
crowded with crazies. I have a fair spring that, so far, no one else seems to use, and we
won‘t need it until maybe November or so. It‘s coming out of a mortar crevasse in a
metro parking lot. My secret.

         The US Army has not deemed us a threat, and have left us alone. A platoon
stopped us at some sort of check point, west of Denver, but we didn‘t have what they were
looking for. (Did they know what they were looking for?) I think they were just burned
out, scared and going through the motions until they drop. If they wanted to blast us,
they could have. They‘re losing ranks fast and I give their command another day or two.
Some of them have stopped wearing their viral suits. (Why? Stress? Shock?) Scary thing
is when they croak, who‘s gonna get their goodies? I see folks that are hanging on their
trail - just waiting like buzzards.

        Spend a lot of time on the radios - yakking it up with a loose league of old hams -
and more time monitoring some of the more ambiguous frequencies. Can‘t catch nothin‘
contagious over the radio! Six days of raining bodies and birds. It‘s all over the world,
Peter - Europe, Asia, the Eastern Bloc, South America, and Australia. Cheryl and I
haven‘t been in direct contact with other humans since last Tuesday, and so far, neither
of us has got a bloody nose.

        Electric power finally went down for the count Monday. I thought those systems
were run by computers anyhow? Up until then, the army, in camo viral suits, were
driving through the streets in their APCs with loudspeakers telling everyone to stay in
their houses. When there were more burning houses than not, they quit that tactic.

       Civilization, as we knew it, is gone.

       Year 1 2014 The Year of the Gun

August, 2014 or Y1

The world‘s population now stands at a declining 10% of pre- fall numbers. Nuclear
detonations and a plague have taken many. Alas, this has delivered us respite from the
many surviving armies intent on mass domination.

Communications are still possible through messenger and radio, in favourable conditions.
Birds, the biowarrior‘s suspected vector of choice, are for the most part, extinct, leaving a
hole in the evolutionary chain so needed to regenerate our woodlands, wetlands, and
prairies. Insect populations and infestations have run amok. Medical care is non-

existent. Most who were medical doctors or workers no longer admit to being so and no
longer minister to the injured or sick. Sanitary conditions are poor or nonexistent.
Potable water, soaps, basic toiletries, clean linen and toilet paper are a rare find. Many
wilderness sites are becoming the nuclei of collectives or communes. People need people
to survive.

To Peter Light from Peter Wagner- January, 2014

Cheryl and I can hear gunfire day and night. Folks who left camp here and ran into the
foothills just west of Denver last week to set up cap are being raided as I write this. They
will be slaughtered by dawn, their generators and fuel and their food traded for a bullet
between their eyes. These marauders have M-16s. Some are fighting back with their
own arsenal. You can hear the different pokpokpokpoks - probably AR-15s. Those who
can defend their camps successfully will survive: these cowards don‘t waste time or
ammo battling it out. They‘ll just move onto easier pickings. Those who trust outsiders
will be eventually overrun by refugees or looted from within.

Ya gotta be hard.

We have secured ourselves an LRT commuter parking lot just south of Denver. It already
had the barbed wire fence and roller gates. The vehicles parked here and anything else
we dragged in became ours by default. I‘m welding up an inner fence too. To stop the
gate crashers. These guys are no fun - they barge in and steal all your goodies and then
pop you one.

Someone was lobbing grenades in here yesterday. I don‘t know what they were trying to
accomplish, other than obliterating a ticket kiosk. Maybe they were going for the power
supply to the fence. They gave up after a half hour, not even attempting to see if the fence
was still hot. (It was.)

Told a few cool people about what you are doing in BC but folks wanna stay near
familiar territory. The few travelers I have run into were going south - and they were
beat. If I thought I could travel, I would be up there in a New York minute.

To Peter Light from Peter Wagner August 2014.

Most of the stench of decaying bodies from last year has subsided to that of damp mould.
Perhaps a little sweet still. You still know when you‘re near one, even if you don‘t see it
right away. For most around here, the shock of survival is real. What took others and
left us? Whatever it was, it was lethal to those who displayed that hideous first
symptom—a simple nosebleed. Within 72 hours you were dead: massive internal

        Most people I talked to thought you could catch it from contact with the bodies.
Some thought it was from the birds, which fell like rain in some areas. Others thought it
was insects. No odor, no coloured gas, no blast. Just death and the dying. Our
Government initially reacted by telling people it was a ―limited accident‖ but within
hours it became evident the world was over.

          But we didn‘t catch it. Perhaps we were in the right place at the right time.
Maybe we‘ve got an immunity gene. I wait for it to hit…and it doesn‘t. So I got a little
cocky, like dragging out a body or two to free up a vehicle or shelter. Still no symptoms,
but we still see other folks falling. Not like last year, where they fell by the billions; but
still, they fall.

       Hard to make friends.

        Now it is down to the business of real survival. Survival not so much from the
elements—that‘s second nature—but survival from people. Both the psychotic and the
predacious. Folks, ordinary folks - perhaps loners who were less resourceful - and freed
prisoners, have turned into predators and adopted a ―take-all and damn the others‖
attitude. Using guns mostly, they come up on a camp and slaughter everyone for the
meagre food and fuel they may have stashed.

        This has forced us to fortify our perimeters and stand sentry. We are venturing
out with heavy arms to salvage - it is no longer called looting - in abandoned stores,
trucks and warehouses. Fresh water, canned goods, fuel, ammunition, guns,
communications gear, clothing, hardware, tools - all have high value and are sought by

       The cities have all just about burned up, most of the fires having burned
themselves out by last winter. Occasionally, a new fire will start up sending yet another
column of smoke into the sky.
       Year 2 - 2015 -Year of the Home Fire

August Y2

Fossil fuels are beginning to decompose. Diesel and gasoline fuels are now all but useless
in internal combustion engines. Many tools, such as chain saws, generators and
automobiles, sit idle. Alternative fuels, such as methane and alcohol are being produced
and used by resourceful folks, but most ETOH applications greatly accelerate the
oxidation of the old technology due to the lack of stable lubricants. Most wind-powered
generators have seized up and failed. Solar conversions to electricity now power the
surviving radio communications network, but lead-acid storage batteries are becoming
less and less reliable. Most new clothing now depleted. Only the rare, fine mechanical
timepieces are in evidence. Many lone Survivors are forming small communes for
survival and self-sufficiency. In some, folks are experimenting with innovative
agricultural techniques. Others, more close to urban centers, are based on salvage and

To Peter Light, The Maurelle Island Settlement, fro m Peter Wagner

Robert arrived here yesterday. He is doing well but is already looking forward to
returning to his wife. I don‘t blame him; it is dismal here.

Let me describe my surroundings…

I am seated at my writing table in our small bus. There is a quiet hiss of the ETOH
catalytic heater, the tick tick of the ETOH engine cooling after my last run.

In an hour I will be asleep, not to wake until the sun touches the western horizon. My
wife will stand watch with the magnum until darkfall, when I take the night watch. This
arrangement has been necessary since some marauders tore down the South perimeter
last week. They made off with a quarter of our food reserves and shot up our secondary

Burning alcohol is necessary in the daytime for heat because the smoke from wood will
give away our exact location to the few militia bastards left with mortars. I can hear
them on the armed forces frequencies at night…what, they think nobody has radios?

We scored a shit-load of sorghum at the rail yard yesterday. About twenty barrels just
sitting at the bottom of a tanker car somehow passed over for spoilt petrol. Built a fire
under it and it poured like pancake syrup. According to my calculations, this will make
enough alcohol to keep us mobile and warm for maybe six months.

You asked where I‘m at. Let me skirt the issue (you hate this, don‘t you?) The bus is
parked facing west. I am facing east. It is 7:51 in the morning. The sun is just peeking
over the horizon. To my right, I can look south out the window at the metro parking lot,
now just a field of abandoned, stripped and drained autos. Each in their own little slot:
the meters rusted away long ago. The asphalt beneath them has for the most part, been
chopped up for fuel and given way to a first growth of grass, small shrubby things, and
something like paradise trees.

Beyond and west of the autos I can see the southern end of the Front Range, the
Colorado Rockies. Some folks cleared and repaired the Santa Fe rail to the Springs, and
whenever one of their contraptions pops up from the horizon, I am the first to see and
hear it. (Maybe a good thing, eh?) Behind me are the mountains closest to old Denver,
now a radioactive cinder.

The wildlife around us are (in order of population) rats, feral cats, raccoons and doggies.
There are also two domesticated Rottweilers that I turn loose in the compound every
night. They chase the raccoons, but leave the rats and cats alone. I think that has
something to do with the population order. I‘ll leave it to Darwin. Anyway, the skeeters
will kill you unless you spread bad stuff on your body, but one night of profound itching

will cure any hesitation you may have harboured in doing this. Really miss the birds.
Still glad we decided to dig in instead of running.

If you are reading this, sir, it means you have met Theresa or have word of her. You have
an affair with this woman, Peter, and she will cut your heart out and serve it to you a la
mode. She is planning to depart New Denver tomorrow carrying this letter and pass
through BC by June. Bid her Godspeed. She is establishing a better communications
and migration route to the Pacific Northwest.

Word of your Fire Circles and Permaculture Mandalas, and the masses (3,000 Peter?!)
of farming pacifists, have reached the Front Range late last year. Expect many more to
pass through your end by late summer. The exodus goes without resistance as the
arsenic in the water here has killed off many without filtration units. Farming or eating
game here will be dangerous for another decade or so.

We‘re in need of a small amount (5 kilos) of goose down and some smoking mixture. Do
you have?

Word has it there is an old freight train detailed on a spur west of Leadville that has
these new Levi‘s I‘ve been seeing every so often, plus bulk grain (and some seed that is
probably a dead horse by now). In addition, some other forms of textiles. Will investigate
once spring sets in.

I‘m sending 15 kilos of dry penicillin, 1 kilo of morphine sulfate, and 2000 units of so-so
insulin with Theresa and her party of ten. Tell David Gerring and Art Hister that our last
MD departed here December 2nd for the South. Really left a bad taste in my mouth, as
there are still hundreds here who depended on him. He had amassed quite a stockpile of
pre-fall pharmaceuticals and we wouldn‘t let him take them with him. So, there‘s a
surplus here of NSAIDs (2012) , opiates (2013) , steroids (2013), penicillin (2013), dead
insulin, and a whole slew of stuff you‘d have to be a doctor to know what it did. All
expired 2012 and 13.

As for me, I will eventually get around to traveling up your way again. Soon, Peter,

I‘ve discovered how to make old petrol burn, but it is still the consistency of peanut butter
and I cannot thin it enough to pump it without getting it dangerously hot. So it is only a
stationary fuel used for the stills and century lamps. It beats hacking telephone poles
with an axe, but just.

Also, I have been experimenting with an alkaline base for the hundreds of car batteries
that abound. I did get the old generator to take ETOH, but I can‘t run her long enough to
get a decent charge. When I went off the air and dropped off the radio relay, some folks
from the League were concerned and brought by some solar panels. I feel nervous
having this technology out in the open as it is a commodity here. (Maybe I can use them
at night?)

I‘ve been favouring a small, abandoned wind generating plant up at Lookout Mountain.
After repairing a smoked bearing it was cranking out 240 volt 3-phase. The set up was
geared to sending this juice over quite a bit of wire. At an average wind speed of 30 kph,
and shunting the flow through a step-down transformer and a rectifier, I get 30 batteries
charged in 12 hours. Now, if I can only find a way to not burn half of that getting up
there (and the other half coming back), I‘ll be in business.

I hope to be back on the air by early March. Send my love to Shad . I understand he is a
grandfather now! Congratulations!

Peace, you old fart.
Peter Wagner

P.S. I have also asked Theresa to bring several prints of us for you, so they should be
with this letter.
P.P.S. Tell Jim Land to quit smoking or die young.
Listen for me Friday mornings 2.3 MHz at 13:00 GMT.

Year 3 2016 -Year of the Baby

August, Y3

Corrosive rains have now begun to oxidize most unprotected and exposed metals to the
point of uselessness. This encompassed a great number of applications including some
roofs, fasteners, neglected hand tools, surviving automotive applications, containers,
vessels, surviving electrical and electronic applications, and most abandoned weaponry.
Communications almost totally reduced to running messengers. Sugar and food are the
trading commodities.

Year 4 2017 -Year of the Wheel

August, Y4

A second toxic wave has hit most former advanced areas due to the leakage of mass
storage vessels leading to the contamination of many existing water sources. Most cities
are now burned-out toxic ruins. Many women have miscarried. Many survivors have set
up small camps far away from these dangers, and those fortunate (?) enough to find one
are either killed on the spot - or welcomed in. Many communes are within a day‘s walk
from each other. Some large, organized communes still have an open door policy. Food
and goose down are the trading commodities.

To Peter Wagner Fro m Peter Light – May 2017 Year 4

River is beginning to piss me off. Her crusade to save the children has reached epic
proportions. Her latest roundup in the lower mainland netted 400 kids between 6 months
and 15 years of age, who arrived here in various stages of health and starvation.
I guess I sound like a child-hating ogre but my first concern was the resource drain. Yes,
we came close to short stores depletion, but River injected her special energy which
quickly spread and lifted the burden these youngsters had arrived with. She has taken
over one of the new ―wheels‖ - actually I call them ―Permaculture Mandalas‖ - and
within three months, she had them building circular longhouses, tilling, tending the
youngest, the eldest and the infirm. She has built three wheels since last year. (Started, I
should say: A Permaculture Mandala, I find, is never finished.)

She has amassed a juvenile workforce that rivals any of our farming, construction or
salvage committees. She has worked with David and a young doctor named Shy-Lynn
something and along with Wendy & Josephine, they have expanded the infirmary wheel
into a major Healing-Learning-Birthing center.

Speaking of David: Dr. David Gerring graduated his first three medical students to
Physician‘s Assistants. Maya will be staying on with him for her NMD. Shad built a
small foundry and is now teaching knife and tool-making to the other wheels.
Again speaking of David - Dr. David Suzuki wants to organize a trek down to South
America, to the rainforests to collect a growing list of plants and specimens! He just
doesn‘t quit!

Peter, so much has happened in the past four years since the biowar but I fear not fast
enough. The struggle, the ever-unfolding daily struggle to hold onto human knowledge,
and to salvage what remains, consumes my dreams. I want people to use this experience
to try and transcend into…never mind. Oh, just forget it. Fuck it all. Just forget it.

You know I still can‘t live a day - no, an hour: I can not live one hour of my life without
thinking of Linda. In some form or another. Next year marks the fortieth anniversary of
our separation - well, of her abandoning me.

To Peter Wagner, Outside Old Denver
From Peter Light, Maurelle Island Settlement

July 12, 2017 (Y4)

       Theresa is fine. She arrived here May 26th with 200 energetic, healthy and
enthusiastic souls with enough resources to begin our 23 rd wheel - average population
about 300. Yes, 300 people working together, living together, having babies together,
making love together, growing food together and - something I didn‘t plan for - dying
together. We had another viral outbreak but it only took 25 souls. Nothing like the ‘13

         The penicillin, morphine and insulin arrived intact. Art Hister says to look for
sterile plastic or rubber tubing kits and any cortico-steroids you can get your hands on.
He and River sent a team to salvage what they can from Nanaimo Hospital, but they
expect they will glean more from the hidden stashes of dead militia and suicides (gross).

I am sending this with Charles. He is planning to depart for Old Denver in about six or
seven days, so you will be reading this sometime in October. There is a particular nasty
weather system passing through the Keremeos area and he‘s waiting it out. Also,
Charles is bringing you 10 pounds of goose down, some smoking mixture, and letters
from your son: Shaun‘s bringing in 150 pounds of fish a day, enough to keep our
smokers busy full time. He is reluctant to stay on land for more than a few hours. His
family looks hard-worked, but in good health.

Sorry to hear your secondary still bought it. I am sure you had a backup online before the
old one cooled. We are growing Jerusalem artichokes and sugar beets for our alcohol
equipment. We processed 80 acres raw into 4,000 gallons primary. Rationed for heat
and cooking fuel, that will last one wheel one winter. Problem is: we don‘t have 80 acres
per wheel for fuel. Some are cutting trees again. I suppose it is inevitable.

To: Peter Wagner All of June 2017 (Y4)
From: Shaun Wagner – Sunshine Coast

Peter Light‘s trip really took off and the population on land is getting crowded. Again. I
don‘t think that‘s what he had in mind, and River keeps on bringing them in. I can‘t keep
bringing them fish. It‘s time to show them how to build a boat.

I turned 35 this April and Alicia, the kids and myself are heading up to the Haida Nation
off the coast of Cape Scott for a while. Too many people here to maintain any form of
sanity. There was another outbreak and they lost, like, 26 people in a week. I don‘t want
the kids to pick anything up while we‘re there. Peter called me a redneck. I told him to
cut his hair and get a job.

Dad, don‘t take my comments as criticism, but I think what you‘re doing is a waste of
energy. Everything you‘re salvaging will eventually break, wear out, or become useless
with age. What are you going to do with hundreds of batteries? Power a radio until it
goes down for the lack of a chip? Get real. It requires way too much energy to keep the
past technology alive. We don‘t have the support system for that any more.

LET IT GO! No film for you camera. No bullets for your gun. When your cigarettes are
gone where you gonna run? Come out here and build boats with me. You want to
salvage? Salvage stainless screws, salvage hand tools, dive for brass fittings. Whatever
happened between you and mom is history. She can‘t hurt you, so grow up, quit yer
moaning and get out here.

This letter is going with Charles – Wish him Godspeed.

Love Shaun, Alicia, Allison and Marc.
(P.S. Enclosing digitals. I would‘ve sent prints but they haven‘t come back from the drug
store yet.)

To: Shaun Wagner, The Haida Nation
From: Peter Wagner
December 2017 (Y4)

Charles arrived here December 12 in good health. He will be staying with us for as long
as I can make him. I‘m afraid I am news starved, and it doesn‘t take much for Charles to
start in, putting off his departure yet another day.

I won‘t go into his account as he will tell you in person but it looks like the Sikoku Pass is
rife with bad guys and a detour is in order. Charles will be mapping a route way to the

Mostly what you say is true, Shaun. The technology doesn‘t have the support system in
place and that‘s what brought this world down in the first place. But while I still have
access to it, dammit, I‘m going to use it. I recently welded a ½‖ thick aluminum shroud
for our ETOH-powered land rover (using high tech welding equipment, I might add). It
has already taken a few high-caliber hits that probably saved our lives.

To: Peter Wagner, outside Old Denver (Y4)
From: Peter Light

July 2017

Shaun and his family have settled far from the wheels. I feel abandoned yet again. He
has agreed to do the boat-building workshops with his tribe. We sent five folks to the
Cape and they‘ll come back in a year with their own boats.

Word of Ruth: she is Grandmaster Mother of all the Loyal Cedar Orders of The Red
Circles, and they are now based up on Cape Scott somewhere. Some LCOTRCs visited
the Wheels here recently on a ―membership spree.‖ Some of them stayed, some of us
went back with them. Cultural exchange. They number about 250 and claim they heal
thousands. None have been back since.

Rumour has it there are surviving, breeding birds in the South Pacific! If this is true, we
need some pairs here! The summer insect population is overwhelming. I wonder if
they‘d survive this far north?

I had an interesting experience recently. I was having the last of my teeth (2) extracted
and I was administered a concoction consisting of ethyl alcohol, expired ketamine and
oleander ester. I was given about two cups to drink but I don‘t remember drinking the
second cup. The next thing I know, I‘m waking up in bed with maybe a thousand worms

crawling all over me and I‘m being told to hold still. Then the worms (all of them) crawl
into my mouth and turn to salt water. Extremely vivid hallucinations with very little
connection to the here-now of having my last remaining teeth ripped out of my skull. No
pain (or at least, no memory of pain.)

To: Peter Light, The Maurelle Island Settlement, From: Peter Wagner
December, 2017 (Y4)

Somebody has got hold of another mimeograph machine and fed it some ETOH. This is
the third Gutenberg to appear this year. What stands out is…this guy‘s good!
Community service and all that. See copy below.

Word along the pike is that the rail is clear all the way to Salt Lake City. I‘ve been
seeing these bicycle type things zip by. Looks like they‘re made from parts of two bikes
and an old shopping cart. Sort of like a rail canoe. Light enough to portage around
breaks and blockages and oncoming traffic. Those boys in Boulder - I guess nothing will
stop commerce.

From the Ego-Free Press.

Sent from Omaha to all points North, East, West and South. Copy if you ca n - by
machine, or ManSpread the Word, the Will, and the Way.

Feed your travelers, for they enrich your soul with news from afar.

Bad Route Roster: East: Travel on Interstate 95 anywhere south of Maine full of pirates.
North: Several foot trails through South Dakota developed a camp of rapists. A team left
Omaha to straighten them out. Godspeed. South: Big territorial fight/war between bad
guys and more bad guys happening in Texas. West: Arsenic has leached into the Rocky
Mountain water table east of the divide. Bad news for the souls who live there.
Westbounders: Pack testing chemical and water from 50 kilometres east of Old Denver.
You cannot boil this stuff out.

Where the Good Guys Are: A collective near Brandon, Manitoba is growing more than
they can eat and need Packers and Traders; a collective near Nashville has been growing
more than they can eat for the past fifty years. They invite all good people - guns and
Traders not welcome; A settlement of 50 souls near Old Denver is pulling up stakes and
migrating to BC. They will be taking the Sikoku Pass. I‘m sure they‘ll need Packers and
Railers. A Tribal Wheel community is thriving in the Pacific Northwest. North of
Vancouver. Word has it these folks really have it together agriculturally. (What can you
grow up there besides cranberries?) Another one is sprouting just south of Portland but I
don‘t know if there‘s any connection.

Traders‘ News: Goose Down is the hot commodity. Seems the most plentiful is in
Quebec and they‘re trading down and warm skin boots for coconut oil. Pre-Fall

Processed Leathers are in demand west of the Rockies. The new stuff just doesn‘t stay
together. Folks in Utah will trade preserved food, 22s, and salt. If you‘re going south,
the swampy places need Pre-Fall Nylon Webbing, any width. They have smoked meats,
light boats and woodcraft for trade.

If you‘re a Railer, there‘s a bicycle bone yard on the Soo Line south of Indianapolis. The
folks there need preserved foods, and will custom make or repair your railped.

2018 Year 5 - Year of the Seed

Cheryl and I are physically not capable of a foot trip to the coast. Soon, though, the rail
will be clear enough to the coast to try out my new wood-fueled, steam-powered caboose.

Rumor Control: According to some lady in the Netherlands, the world‘s population now
stands at 9 million, but is declining at an estimated annual rate of .7%.
High mortality due to lack of medicals, reduced birth rate due to toxic environmental
exposures and apathetic suicides (people not willing to live the struggle) are the main

A guy in the Nevada territory says the world‘s population is, at minimum, triple that. He
says that the tropics hold the highest populations and growth rates, but ―advanced‖
countries hold the highest death rate (and declining birth rate.) He says that all those
―starving‖ people in the third world began thriving once the controlling regimes toppled.
How‘s that for a motivation?

There was another nuclear explosion in Mexico.

England suffered a catastrophic storm wiping out scores of settlements.

Birds have been discovered on the Admiralty Islands and off the north coast of New
Guinea. More than a pair of seagulls were spotted!

Worldwide consensus still says, ―No government, please.‖

Where do I get this stuff? Hey, when someone comes around the compound here, it‘s a
big thing. I listen to what their hearts say (but I still watch their hands).

Year 10 - Year of the Sage

2023 (Y10)

Plastics exposed to UV radiation are now long gone. Most rubber products such as O-
rings, seals and gaskets, too, have failed. Most mechanization comes to a standstill.
Almost all pre-fall clothing worn to rags. The last remnants of political structures,

organized force and armed or mechanized violence collapses. Literacy, in any language,
is deteriorating along with the paper books that kept it alive. Those born ten or less years
ago have not been taught to read. The scarcity of writing paper does not help.

Much of North America‘s population can be found cooperating with each other and
living communally in what is called collectively The Wheel, a network of functionally
designed sustainable villages that started in what was once British Columbia, Canada. A
blueprint of the basic structure, agricultural layout - and seeds - is being distributed to
many groups and other communes. Once these establish and fruit, experience and seeds
will spread to others.

Most Wheels operate like the kibbutzim of Israel: All property is collectively owned and
work is organized on a collective basis. Residents contribute by working according to
their capacity and in return receive food, clothing, housing, medical services, education
and other domestic services according to their needs. Each wheel is governed by a
consensus-elected assembly, which also reaches decisions through consensus.
Cultivation and processing of essential foods, fibers, fuels and materials dominate the
activities of able-bodied men, women and children. Many pioneers wish to learn to read
and write. Paper - new paper from hemp or bamboo - is being made and the Survivors
are teaching the Pioneers what they know about papermaking, reading, penmanship,
grammar, language arts and basic mathematics, as well as tool- making, fire starting and
woodcraft that they learned in their first ten years.

The first generation since the Fall call themselves The Pioneers and have learned from
The Survivors to forge, salvage and preserve the few metal hand tools needed for
woodworking. These folks have never seen (or do not remember) refrigeration,
automobiles (that move on their own), radios or flashlights, or have ever heard amplified
music, but they do believe the fantastic stories of the Survivors. They do not, however,
hold to dreams of once again returning to such a place or time.

Advanced mathematics and nuclear science, the Survivors thought, should be doled out
with a little more discrimination. Not many Pioneers were interested in learning history
or cultural heritage. They have been around the Survivors long enough to know about the
Toxwars in ‘09 and 2011. They know a lot about the 1900s. They know about where not
to go with respect to radiation. What they teach their children is up to them.

Year 25 - Year of the Scholar

2038 (Y25)

The world‘s population steadies out at 5% of pre-Fall numbers. Most diseases becoming
scarce as human strength and resistance becomes stronger due mainly to the radical
genetic pruning the race has gone through, aided by vegetarian diets and a cleaner
environment. Skin cancer is prevalent among those who did not practice solar shielding
in their youth. There was an obvious period of less atmospheric protection due to the
huge release of CO2 and chlorofluorocarbons before, during and shortly after the Fall.

The sudden cessation of clear-cutting practices in the tropical and subtropical rainforests
as well as forests worldwide, coupled with the cessation of the release of greenhouse
gasses associated with petrochemical production and use will eventually balance out the
harm already done, but this will not become evident until well into the new millennium.
Already, the mean earth‘s temperature has risen 2 degrees C since the Fall. That‘s a 75%
increase over previously established predictions. Along all coastal regions, flooding and
superhigh tides are the norm. Ocean level rise due to the continuing melting of the
Greenland and Antartic ice caps and glaciers worldwide is submerging many coastal
ruins. Wild and unabated vegetation covers most inland ruins, accelerating the
deterioration of architectural structures and landmarks.

Year 50 - Year of the Historian
2063 (Y50)

Organized salvage expeditions by historians into the ruins have recovered a few riches
originally thought lost forever. The focus is on information, knowledge and history.
Very little is retrieved that is useful in the New Civilization. Among the well-preserved
literary works that have been recovered are:

      The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the primary source for English history from AD 10 th
       to the 12th century.
      The Islamic History of Prophets and Kings by Al- Tabaari 8th to 9th century.
      The Records of the Grand Historian by Su- ma Ch‘ien produced during China‘s
       Han dynasty.
      Many different versions and copies of The Holy Bible, various authors.
      The prophet Stephen King‘s The Stand from the late 20th century.
      Numerous college and university texts covering the medical, mathematical,
       agricultural and historical fields.

Historians have looked more and more to the social sciences - sociology, psychology,
anthropology, and economics - for new methods and forms of implementation; the
sophisticated use of quantitative data has become the accepted approach to interpretation.
The influence of Marxist theories of economic and social development remains trivial, as
does the application of psychoanalytic theory to history. At the same time, many
historians have turned with sharpened interest to the theoretical foundations of historical
knowledge and are reconsidering the relationship between imaginative literature and
history, with the possibility emerging that history may after all be the literary art that
works upon scholarly material.

The Annals of History, whose recovery was once thought imperative to the continuance
of the New Civilization, is now believed to be contrived works of fiction by various

Culturally, music has made a resurgence and historical findings have sparked futile
efforts to decode magnetic and digital artifacts. There was significant progress made into
mechanically reproducing the recorded sounds from recovered vinyl pressings made in
the last century. Favoured among those ―albums‖ circulated by local Wheels are:
Double Fantasy by John Lennon (AD 1980?), Farm- Aid by various artists (AD 1983?),
Slow Train Coming by Bob Dylan (AD 1979?), Greatest Hits Volume II by Beach Boys
(AD 1970?), Are you Experienced? by Jimi Hendrix (AD 1967?), Woodstock by various
artists (AD 1969?), Great Pretender by The Platters (AD 1958?), Sentimental Journey by
Les Brown (AD 1942?), Rum and Coca-Cola by Andrew Sisters (AD 1945?), Cry Me a
River by Julie London (no date available).

Year 99 Year of the Century
2112 (Y99)

―There is a time in every man‘s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is
ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself, for better or worse, as his
potion; that though the wise universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can
come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to
till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is
which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.‖

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Excerpt from Self Reliance (AD 1841)

The last original survivors of The Fall are gone. There is now no one alive who knows
what it is like to turn on a light, drive to a store, use birth control, apply aerosol
deodorant, go to a drive- in or watch TV. Verbal heritage has carried these useless
meanings far enough. The Pioneers - the direct descendants of the Survivors - have
discarded the spoken memories of an impossible world like a dying language. Artifacts
found near ruins no longer spark memories of years past, but instead, inspire dread as to
what they were once used for.

The direct descendants of the Pioneers, called The Sc holars, are making new
technological breakthroughs in the fields of Metallurgy and Ceramics. The Scholars are
also responsible for developing breathing techniques that allow one to overcome disease,
dogmatic theology and ritualism.

Studies centered on wellness, permaculture, collective reasoning and the renaissance of
Transcendentalism dominate the academic world.

The world is now a Utopia.


                                  SKILLS NEEDED

Mollison says that thirty to forty adults are "acknowledged as the minimal group of
people in which most human functions can be covered, and who (if well chosen) ca n cope
with almost any type of problem." Unfortunately, he does not list them. I have not found
anyone who has. So I will.

Below is the attempt. This is a tentative work in progress. I would appreciate
collaboration on this itemization. Some of the groupings are obviously too broad and
contain separate skills. I am sure that there are some omissions and that some re-
groupings might work better.

   -   communication I - facilitation, negotiation, mediation, conflict resolution,
       nonviolent interventions

   -   communication II - walkie-talkies, CB radio, ham radio, VHF, internal telephone,
       computers, satellite dish, etc

   -   organizational - leading, coordinating, supervising

   -   therapy - NLP, re-birthing, hypnosis, gestalt, etc

   -   healing and health - medical doctor, dentist, first aid attendant, nutritionist,
       massage therapist, herbalist, etc

   -   spirituality - meditation, yoga, etc

   -   midwifery

   -   educational - childcare, child-rearing, adult education, workshops, teaching

   -   permaculture design

   -   environmental - assessment, ecology, forestry

   -   manual labour - digging, hauling, lifting, clearing, firewood, etc

   -   earth working - dams, ponds, berms, walls, subterranean buildings, terracing,

   -   rock-work, concrete, plasters, mud, clay

   -   building, boat-building, construction, log work, bamboo builders

-   woodworking

-   metal working, blacksmithing, welding;

-   firewood, logging, wood processing, milling, bamboo

-   hydrology - creeks, dams, swales, ponds, drainage, irrigation, plumbing, heating,

-   horticulture - growing, gardening, planting, cultivating, propagating, grafting, etc

-   food - harvesting, processing, cooking, preserving, fermenting, nutrition

-   animal husbandry

-   aquaculture

-   horse logging

-   bee-keeping

-   hunting

-   fishing

-   gathering

-   fibre arts - harvesting, spinning, weaving, knitting, sewing, dyeing, etc

-   pottery

-   mechanical - automotive, small motors, pumps, alternate energy, etc

-   electrical – solar, hydro and wind

-   general repair and maintenance

-   marine - boating, sailing, navigation

-   office - business, book-keeping, accounting, banking, newsletters,
    correspondence, computers, etc

-   working the system - governments, bureaucracies, banks, taxes, real estate,

   -   literary - writing, proposals, history, research, essays, letters, etc.

   -   artists

   -   mathematical

Thirty-seven. Any additions? Combinations? Separations?

We should not forget that some folks would have multiple skills, although maybe not
enough time!

It would be a while before we will have all of these professions covered. To hold out for
them in the beginning would mean never to start! As well, there would always be a great
need for manual labour, especially during establishment phases and if the community
remains low- to no-tech. However, physical work also involves skills.

People ultimately need to be doing work that they love or grow to love, work from which
they find real satisfaction and worth. Of course, if the work that one enjoys is
―homesteading‖, that takes in a lot! Maybe, for some, that very variety itself is what is
enjoyable. There was no part of my Storm Bay lifestyle that I did not like - including
emptying the shit-bucket. This is the way it should be, when the work is truly ―your
Work‖ and not the Company‘s work.

Nevertheless, in community we can afford to, and may need to, specialize. When Maury
Mason took over the job of managing a large environmental group in Alaska,

"...his first act was to meet with each staff member individually. He asked one question:
'Describe your dream job here; what would make you happiest and most productive?'
After the staff member had described hiser ideal situation, Maury said, 'That is your job
description, lets work together to make it so.' The result was that productivity rose by a
factor of three.

"He wanted to take the accumulated positive qualities of the experienced staff and build
on their success. He was not concerned with what had not worked or mistakes made.
His goal was to recreate the experiences of success and build upon the positive and
creative energy felt at the time.

"Everyone was encouraged to take on tasks that were slightly beyond their experience
and skill sets. There was excitement in challenging themselves and the emotional and
psychological rewards of accomplishment were highly satisfying and created a desire to
repeat the experience.

"In return for the chance for a dream job, staff members needed to give 20% towards
administration and fundraising. They were given training opportunities and, when
funding permitted, better technology. Support staff was hired."

It is an interesting approach, worth considering.

                                  SUPPLIES NEEDED

I worked diligently for six months in 1967 compiling a list of and collecting what we
would need for moving into the ―bush‖ - and forgot matches!

However, that is all we forgot!

There is not going to be a store waiting for us at the other end, nor mummy and daddy
leaders to attend to everything that we need. How successful one is at this early stage
will be some measure of how prepared one is to live this kind of life and how capable of
assuming personal responsibility.

Start now collecting all manner of personal hand tools: first the basics, for wood-
working and gardening: axes, saws, chisels, rasps, files, froes, planes, draw-knives,
spoke-shaves, scythes, sledgehammers, wedges, and on and on - shovels, picks, rakes,
hoes, wheel-barrows, pitch- forks. Add kitchen supplies, sewing tools, bedding and
books, good clothing, good footwear, fishing gear and a lot more basics are covered. Do
not forget kerosene lamps. Eventually we will need simple specialized hand-tools to do
everything we can imagine, from bee keeping to blacksmithing.

Oh yah, do not forget the matches!

There are bigger-ticket items, in addition, that we may want to collect:

Surveying equipment; fruit presses and grinders; an oil press; pressure canners; a pedal
grindstone; water–craft; specialized land vehicles, etc. . Think about it. Think pioneer
appliances. Start gathering resources. Good junk, too!

I already have a canoe; a chainsaw; a 1500kw turgo turbine/generator; seven Solar panels
and all the accessories; and a fourteen-foot diameter eighteen-bladed horizontally
mounted windmill! I have also lined up a tractor with a mower (it chips alder, too), a
grader blade and a posthole digger. I am trying to locate a sawmill.

I am pretty sure that this list needs adding to, certainly in terms of broad categor ies, so
help me out if you can.


Some of these steps are sequential; some will be happening simultaneously.

1a. Write these essays - done.

1b. More drawings

At this point, I have about a dozen drawings of parts of this proposed "Permaculture
Mandala". Some of them could be added to, some redone. In addition, there are a couple
or three new ones I need to do.

These visual representations of the design, particularly the original, have excited many
people over the years; some, naively, to the point of wanting to join me in the endeavour
based only on them. Although I do not think that they are nearly enough to indicate much
other agreement, I do think that they are an important and very necessary adjunct to any
written words.

1c. The Vision painted

I intend to commission local artist Rob Marian to do a large painting of the one hundred
acres intended for this village. If everyone intellectually drawn to this proposal to form
community can also actually carry around a big, bright, detailed and highly motivating
internal visual representation of the end goal, I cannot think of any other single thing tha t
could maximize the chances of actually manifesting the vision. As well, it would mean
that this is not just my mine, but also everybody's vision, a community vision.

Using simple NLP strategies, such a visual representation can be tailored and easily
installed to suit each person‘s internal motivational structure. [See essay, ―Creating a
Common Vision‖]

2. Revise rough drafts of essays - done

3. Send preliminary drafts of essays out for peer review – done..

Once the preliminary drafts are completed, I will send them out to two or three dozen
friends and colleagues for peer review. A covering letter will explain my growing sense
of urgency, and request earliest possible attendance to the task, at the same time
acknowledging that quite a number of hours of demanding attention will be necessary out
of busy people's lives.

4. Rewrite and add to essays – done, and in progress.

Taking into account feedback received, I will add to, subtract from, revise and re-write
the essays.

\5. Distribute essays – has started

The assembled essays will constitute my "Prospectus" or "Proposal for Intentional
Community." I will first distributed it by hand to people I meet personally who seem to
have a genuine interest in the project; mail it to relevant individuals, organizations and
web-sites; and post it on the Web. I will send a later revision to New Society Publishers.

6. Gather people, finances, tools and supplies – on verge and ongoing

The essays may start to gather people. A weekly firecircle could begin organizing us.
Concerning start- up financing, I, for one, have invested an inheritance into property,
which will probably allow me to be able to purchase, outright, a large piece of remote,
wild land, a couple boats, a small fleet of vehicles, tools and supplies, and food for a year.
One other person in a similar situation with a similar commitment would cinch it.

If property presents itself and is purchased before others are ready to commit, I will be
starting alone. There are a few people already committed to helping me makie the move.

7. Locate and assess property – in progress

8. Purchase property

9. Establish temporary camp

By establishing a temporary residential site on the property, whether trailer(s), tent(s),
lean-to(s) or camper(s), we can begin to explore and map the property and its resources.

10. Determine the center

Bill Mollison suggests taking a year to study and observe a property through four seasons
before beginning to lay down a permaculture design. Familiarity with slope, aspect, sun,
water, wind, forest cover, soil and a myriad of other pertinent details, and completing an
extensive, if not exhaustive assessment of resources, will determine where to locate the
center. It will be crucial to take great care in this, for there could be no greater "Type
One Design Error" than misplacing the agricultural and cultural heart of the community.

11. Develop the center

Once the center has been established the construction of "The Sacred Firecircle and the
Eight Doorsteps" (sounds like a Harry Potter novel) can commence. At this stage, it can
begin to serve as a communal campsite, organizing center and work place.

12. Locate and build Retreat Hut.

To indicate ultimate priorities, I think this should be the next step. (See essay
―SPIRITUALITY - Retreat Hut")

13. Lay out

With exact dimensions and distances known, the paths and the rest of the entire one
hundred acres can be surveyed, pegged, posted and tagged with clear labels to avoid
future confusion. Once this is completed, we will be able to determine what goes where.

This surveying will probably proceed in stages. Stage one may be principally to
determine the layout of the human habitation ring nd areas in the center five acres that
will need major earth-working, such as leveling or pond construction. At the same time,
however, there will be seedlings of large trees to locate within a year or two of starting,
and they go way out in Zone Four.

14. Level human-habitation ring

We can do this by shovel and hoe, with horse-drawn equipment or with rented or bought
earth- moving machinery, depending on the magnitude of the task, finances, the number
of people on hand, or the availability of draught animals. Flattening is relatively easy;
leveling could be huge, depending on the elevation of the opposite sides of the ring,
unless we decide to level each section or neighbourhood - or even each unit - separately,
and not the whole ring, although this might compromise some benefits of one level.

If large machines are brought in to do this, that might also be the time to do any major
earth shaping within the five-acre courtyard.

15. Demarcate and occupy family compounds

With the location of the human habitation ring established and leveled, and thirty-two
family compounds marked out, individuals or families will be able to choose a location
and occupy it in temporary shelters - tents, teepees, small travel trailers, camperized vans
or shacks - in conjunction with tarps or some other temporary roof extension. Folks
could erect some of these small temporary structures with the idea of incorporating them
later into the main structure, or locate them in such a way that they could later serve as
back yard "out-buildings" within the family compounds, such as a teenager's cottage or a
cabin for an aging parent.

16. Continue and complete development of community central complex

17. Develop Courtyard

Begin designing, laying-out and planting family and firecircle doorstep gardens; the
small- fruit orchards; the chicken systems; path net-work; etc. Erect fencing.

18. Start tree nursery

Trees, and then shrubs and vines, are the principal vegetation of any permaculture design,
and are slower to produce than annuals or perennials, so getting them started as soon as
possible is important. We will need tens of thousands of them!

19. Begin construction of the core of the human habitation ring.

   a.   Post-holes
   b.   Large support posts
   c.   Large cross beams
   d.   Roof beams
   e.   Roof

Here on the wet coast, we could survive without walls; take away the roof and we would
die. Therefore, it would make a lot of sense that our next priority would be to erect the
permanent framework for the core part of the building complex, and then cover it with a
temporary roof. I think an investment in thirty-two large, durable camouflage tarps
would make a lot of sense – either that, or clear greenhouse poly.. This would
immediately provide dry shelter for the myriad temporary small living structures - many
of which would not necessarily be completely weatherproof - as well as dry useable space
around them. I now live half my time, year round, outside of my trailer and under the
clear canopy that I have erected over my quarters – a lovely indoor/outdoor space.

A permanent roof will take some time, over time.

20. Complete major earth-works

One time only, major shaping of the rest of the land for hydrology – dams, swales, ponds;
terraces; leveling - with earth-moving equipment;

21. Start planting out large, slow-growing trees

22. Fill in. This will take five to ten years (then, always multiply by three!)

Of course, there are outhouses, greenhouses, tool-storage structures and woodsheds to
build; ponds and storage tanks to be constructed; water supplies established and directed;
power and energy needs to be considered. Nevertheless, this document should indicate
some, if not most, of the major steps we need to take at first.

Here are some thoughts on how to approach these tasks so that despite the enormity of
what needs to be done, there will be time and good energy for leisure, getting to know
one another, discussion, conflict resolution and getting on with the job:

   1. Have good food well prepared three times a day

   2. Have all our tools at hand and sharp from the very beginning.

   3. Have enough money to be able to buy our pre-self-sufficiency basics – food,
      kerosene, clothing, etc.

   4. Be willing to live primitively but comfortably for awhile

   5. Keep our early tasks and trajectory modest in scope and difficulty

   6. Learn the skills of communication on a steep trajectory

   7. Observe the maxim, ―A stitch in time saves nine‖

   8. Perform all tasks efficiently and effectively; practice ―protracted and thoughtful
      observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action‖


                                     (Not yet done)

                                  IN MEMORIAM

To the memory of Linda Flora St. John, who died, to me, in 1978. If she had remained at
               my side, this work may have happened a long time ago.


                                     [Not yet done]

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