Pine Ridge reservation Natural Build update

We are going for a very ambitious goal this summer – to complete two buildings, build some mini-libraries and some other builds.

We would love your assistance to do this – we created a crowdfunding site that will keep people updated on our progress and details here (and read the story, even if you don’t give – we think it’s an interesting one):

http://www.gofundme.com/ac3gyw

If everyone on our lists gave just $5-10, we would have enough to get all of these projects done this summer!  Don’t hesitate to give a small amount – no amount is too small!! If you can’t give, spread the word and others will.  We truly appreciate all thoughts, intentions, small and large gifts, and forwarding to friends!  Your gift really does make a difference no matter the amount, and we sincerely appreciate it!

We have accomplished a lot because of the support we’ve received from both volunteers and funders, and also through the great ideas and knowledge that has been freely shared with us as well. We’re looking forward to what we will get done this year!

Benefit Corporations – are they a solution?

What if corporations had to prove they were having a net and material positive impact on society and the environment?

A Benefit, or “B” Corporation status is a relatively new legal structure for public corporations available in some, but not all states. It addresses some of the most problematic corporate law that encourages businesses to operate criminally. It isn’t a full solution but a step in the right direction. “The  purpose of a benefit corporation is to create general public benefit, which is defined as a material positive impact on society and the environment.” (Wikepedia)

What if all corporations had to demonstrate twice yearly in a questionnaire that their operations were having a material positive impact on society and the environment?  What if shareholders had to demand that of the company they invested in?

This is a paradigm shift from the current model, where shareholders can and do sue companies that put people or the planet ahead of next quarter’s profits.

Of course, material positive impact is a relative term. But B Lab, the non-profit behind the creation of B Corporate structure appears serious about addressing environmental and social issues. http://www.bcorporation.net/

This legal structure allows corporations who feel that people and planet are important to make a public statement about that. It also protects them from greedy shareholders who could cut across the ability of the company to make positive environmental and social decisions if it affects profits.

The concept of passive investors who do nothing but rake in profits and who feel entitled to as many profits as possible needs to be seriously questioned. It is not a sustainable paradigm because it rewards and encourages criminal behavior from many angles.  But Benefit Corporations are a step in the right direction. And well known companies such as Patagonia and Ben and Jerrys are taking the lead.

http://www.patagonia.com/us/patagonia.go?assetid=68413

Another relatively new legal structure, for privately held companies, is the L3C.  A gradient step between for profit and non profit corporations, this structure allows a privately held, for profit company to accept money from both investors and grants/foundations.  It is a “low profit” corporation, operating much as a non profit, but retaining for profit abilities. This structure was created to meet the needs of “social entrepreneurs” who run businesses that have positive social and environmental purposes.

All in all, it’s good to see some people in the business community working to come up with solutions to existing structures that encourage destructive, irresponsible and criminal behavior. Much more work is needed, in every sector.

Kickstarter campaign for Pine Ridge

We’re doing another Kickstarter campaign for Pine Ridge this year to pay for irrigation, fixing up housing and a number of other projects we have ongoing. See our photos, stories and more at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/892430421/permablitz-for-pine-ridge-reservation-2013. Our intention is to contribute to the creation of food and water sovereignty, healthy shelter and alternative energy  on the reservation.

Pine Ridge reservation food forests

It’s almost May, there is two feet of snow in the swales we dug in 2011 at Pine Ridge, and we might get there this year just in time to hit yet another snow storm.  But we have plenty of blankets and layers; we have shovels and other tools; we’re bringing up some hard to get plants in a trailer; we’re going to plant 500 trees there this year. Plus get a beehive going, create some rainwater catchment, fill a pond, and anything else we have the resources and manpower to complete.

Food forests at Pine Ridge reservation are full of metaphor. The Lakota have experienced a long history of  sabotage of their food supply.  Pine Ridge has recently declared itself sovereign.  There is a place in that for the seven generation food and water security that can be created by a food forest.  Food forests can create calm amidst storm; they are resilient for generations.

There is a spirit to Pine Ridge that keeps us coming back for more. It’s hard to describe. People have tried. You have to read between the lines to see it, without going there yourself and experiencing it.

As we are getting ready for our yearly trip, we started thinking about some of the highlights of last year’s journey in May of 2012.

About how the badlands looked with the sun setting on them when we were driving from Rapid City to Thunder Valley with a car stuffed so full of plants it felt like a jungle in there.

How the wind blew so hard one day you could stand at a 45 degree angle and not fall down and how we still dug trench and laid irrigation, leaning sideways. It was kind of fun. You could yell and the wind would take your voice somewhere into the next field, but the person next to you couldn’t hear you too well.

How the wind blew kept blowing so hard it shredded not one, but two of my tents! Both of them! And then someone just gave me a tent out of the blue. Which was low profile, thankfully (I know this secret well, having spent a month with my high profile tent wall resting on my face whenever the wind blew, the first year I stayed there – it miraculously did not shred or break). I had loaned my low profile to someone else so was using one of those high profile family sized jobs that someone loaned me – which does not work at Pine Ridge – do not bring!  LOL. Do not bring!

How the high school group that was there helping us dig trench in the sleet (yes, it sleeted and froze after the frost date of May 15, and after we planted tomatoes for Kimilelee that all died :-( got smart and used their cars and vans as wind breaks for their tents. They made a guild, while we, on the other hand, were scattered about like random, forlorn fruit trees with no skirt or blanket, or like stranger cats at opposite ends of the yard with their backs turned on each other in a snow storm.  (Pine Ridge kind of has a way of making you want to enjoy all that wide open prairie space, so we pitch our tents all over the field and embrace the weather)

How most of the volunteers who said they would come, didn’t show up, and we ended up with between three and six (at various times) super intrepid tree-hole-digging souls who we will love forever and ever. :-D

How I walked the field where we planted hundreds of honey locusts the year before, that didn’t get any water because the water tank broke, and they were still alive – I saw their buds just starting to come out and jumped and danced around them for joy.

How we helped set up the garden at the jail and planted  a bunch of golden currants for a border and I’m thinking, I gotta come back when these are in season and taste at least just one because I’ve never had one. How intrigued I am by the berries that grow in colder climates that I’ve never tried!

How we stopped at a grocery store on the reservation and they had three shelves of white bread, and the only fresh food was one orange and one apple. And the closest place to buy fresh or organic food is 100 miles away in Rapid City.

How much the kids loved watering the plants.

How big the sky is, how many stars you can see, and how the 80 mile 360 degree clear view of the lands from Slim Butte looks.

How Bryan from Oglala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative always comes up with these brilliant engineering ideas for things he has never dealt with before, but he just “sees” it, and how he then turns around and comes up with a brilliant idea for some issue in the community – such a well rounded genius.

How so many people helped us – how Dave Jacke sent us some awesome food forest plants, how Oikos and Bountiful Gardens donated some beautiful trees and bushes, how people who don’t know us from Adam believed in us and made it happen (and we could not have done nearly as much as we did without all of that).

How children were gently helped and encouraged to be a part of everything and how the kids had some serious skill sets at pretty young ages.

How Nick and Scott took people who came to visit Thunder Valley out back to the food forest to eat leaves off the linden tree, just to see their expression. J

How they were so helpful – how they got somebody out to dig a pond on really short notice, and how they made it happen to move and plant four 170 pound trees and how enthusiastic and engaged in creating resilience on the reservation.  And how big the scope and breadth of their dream is.

How hard working and dedicated Shannon from Earth Tipi is, how much she has gotten done and she is still going.

How we would look up from digging and planting trees and there would be a horse at full gallop with a bareback rider, streaming by in the ditch. Or we were driving home one day and there was a Lakota in full headdress, riding down the highway bareback on a horse.

How, when we’re planting the butternut trees, we’re thinking – these trees will be here ten generations from now, still bearing food. We’re thinking of how the soil will be built over time, the temperatures modified, the wind calmed in the leaves. And how that center of calm  abundance can spread outward once it is established.

How beautiful the apple tree buds looked when they started coming out. And how alive all the plants looked, and what a nice mix of plants we were able to get: serviceberries, nanking cherries, goldenberries, butternuts, cold tolerant pecans, hazels, three kinds of apple, pear, plum, apricot, goji berry, gooseberry, raspberries, buffalo berry, Siberian pea shrub, lilac, linden, pine, cottonwood, honey locust.

How one day when we were exhausted and still had lots of stuff to plant, and wondering how we got ourselves into this. We get out of the car, and a bald eagle circles above us three times, pretty low so we could see all the colors and feathers and his expression, and then soars off to the east. And we wondered in a different way then, and got to work.

Living Bridges – permaculture design inspiration

Living bridge in Meghalaya, India

Living bridge in Meghalaya, India

This is a wonderful example of the type of design solution we are interested in accomplishing with permaculture. Working with nature, rather than against her, the people of Meghalaya in India have created a beautiful design for a bridge that will survive heavy flooding. This is an exquisitely  aesthetic and informative 5 minute video that you won’t regret viewing, or forget!  How could we incorporate the lessons of this amazing design solution?

https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inbox/13a16e6996096942

Using compost to heat buildings

The Japanese have created a model tea house that is heated with compost in the walls with pipes running through it. It is an elegant design that could be replicated  in cob houses and other natural building, greenhouses, or other types of buildings. It’s good to see the concept is spreading.  We have seen several working compost showers.  How could you capture the heat in your compost pile?

bakoko-comploo-composting-shelter1

The link below has more information on the tea house.

http://inhabitat.com/circular-pod-tea-house-is-heated-by-compost/

Economics of Happiness

Mark Anielski, a cutting edge economist, has devised a way to make economic statistics reflect what people most want – quality of life.

http://www.anielski.com/celebrating-years-genuine-wealth-leduc-alberta-2/

“This work was inspired by the words of Robert Kennedy who said that the Gross National Product — the primary measure of economic progress– may measure the money flowing in an economy but fails to measure most of the things that make life worth living. This included the quality of our water and land and air, the way we spent our time, and our sense of trust and belonging to a community.”

“This is what the Genuine Wealth assessment delivers: a system of well-being measurement that is the basis of local governance and decision-making.”

This system for measuring quality of life is based on what citizens themselves feel that represents.

I appreciate the similarities between Mark’s flower graph and David’ Holmgren’s Permaculture Flower. Leduc-GW-Flower

permaculture flower

Apprenticeship opportunities in Tampa Bay

We are offering apprenticeship or “shadowing” opportunities to course students in several exciting projects we have ongoing. We are working on all of these from the Tampa Bay area, Florida. There is a lot happening, a lot that needs to be done and if we work together, the sky is the limit!

- Plan and implement a permaculture design for a city park.

- Plan and stage multiple food forests designs for Pine Ridge reservation.

- Work with Greenwood neighborhood on planning a permaculture community garden, and get it created.

- Help with fall planting and ongoing care for an expanding permaculture edible perennials nursery.

- Work on creating and expanding financial permaculture models, including innovative urban farming cooperative ventures, link-up, beneficial connection and integration of permaculture energies around the Bay for mutual benefit, start up businesses that get support from the existing community, time banking, etc.

- Work on community projects, including art gardens, neighborhood place-making, etc.

Our new name – Grow Permaculture!

We are changing our name to more closely reflect our mission.  We are focused on spreading the knowledge and practice of permaculture everywhere, to create more abundance, resilience, quality of life, and healing of both people and the earth.

Our projects include using permaculture to improve conditions in high poverty urban and rural areas with degraded lands, and working with schools, governments and organizations to educate people on the regenerative possibilities of conscious design.  We create demonstration sites so people can see, feel, taste and smell what that is like.

These are non-profit activities that are supported by our for-profit education and design business.  We offer high-quality education and aesthetic edible landscaping and other permaculture services via this service.

We feel that a Permaculture Guild has a very specific function of coordinating permaculture activities in an area and providing support and resources for professional permaculture designers and those who want to become professionals.  While we do provide support to the permaculture community in a number of ways through volunteering and other resources, we feel a better way to describe the relationship is as a sponsor of Guild activities.  It is not our main function to coordinate or facilitate all of the permaculture activities in our area, as a guild would do.

We love the abundance and regeneration inherent in the word “Grow” and we feel there is nothing more appropriate or needed than nurturing and growing the concept and practice of conscious design – far and wide!

Pine Ridge reservation 2012 – Food forests!

pine ridge erosionLast year’s tree planting and gardening at Pine Ridge has led to expanded plans for this year!  Our plans include three food forests at Pine Ridge this year, with three different organizations on the rez. We will also help install gardens and give classes on the techniques we’ll be using. We’ll be there from late April to mid-May, .  Planting will occur Apr 29, May 1-4 and May 5-9.

We still need volunteers! We have a Kickstarter campaign at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/892430421/pine-ridge-reservation-food-forest-2012-0

Pine Ridge reservation is a “food desert” in the extreme sense of the word. There are almost no organic foods being sold on the reservation. People often have to drive two hours or 100 miles to get organic or fresh vegetables or fruits.  Diabetes, heart disease and other diet-related diseases are at epidemic proportions on the rez.  The infant mortality and early death rates are some of the worst in the world.  Food security is a major issue.  The land is harsh – with severe, drying winds, hail in July, and freezes in June and August sometimes.  Insect pests are ubiquitous.   It can be challenging to grow things on this land.

Food forests are a way of working with nature to create stable ecosystems that grow lots of food.   We mimic how a natural ecosystem of trees would behave in this zone.  Because this is open prairie land and the main trees are pine forests, we will be experimenting to some degree to create a good microclimate for fruit trees. There are a number of successful orchards around that we are learning from.

Forests create milder temperatures (cooler in summer, warmer in winter), windbreaks, water capture, erosion control, and many other benefits.  One can have a small food forest in the backyard, or a larger one on a few acres.  Agroforestry is another version of using trees to produce food.  There are many advantages to all of these approaches and they can be integrated in the existing ecosystem in ways that enhance the ecosystem.

The Lakota are known for buffalo hunting, but they also traditionally appreciated the wild plant food that grows in the region.  We’ll be including native edibles traditionally used by Lakota in our food forest, as well as other fruits and nuts that are of interest.

Food forests provide a food system that mimics the ‘hunter-gatherer’ tradition of the Lakota.  We are creating demonstration/experimental forest gardens this year and will continue to document progress, make it publicly available, enhance the forests, and help plant new ones in years to come.  This is not a one shot deal!

We need donations of trees, seeds and plants,  irrigation piping and equipment, rain catchment containers, and funding for travel and food expenses for experts who will install and educate while there.  We also need volunteers to help with planting, and are looking for skilled volunteers to help install irrigation, water catchment, and other systems.

Two members of Grow Permaculture (formerly Permaculture Guild) Koreen Brennan and Bob Lawrason, will be headed to Pine Ridge in late April for approximately three weeks, from the Tampa Bay area.  We are looking for other volunteers to come up from the Tampa area to carpool and share travel costs.  There will also be volunteers coming from Oregon, Wisconsin, California and elsewhere.

Please consider a tax deductible donation via our donation Pay Pal button.

If you have donations of materials or would like to volunteer, please contact us via the web site!

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