Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shed of Interrelation (part three)

Meg and I insulated and plastered the ceiling of the Shed of Interrelation (SoI) today. You're looking at the small bathroom where a bath and composting toilet will go. The shed is for artists/writers-cum-woofers to take short residencies and rest, make art and work a little in the garden. The shed is a place to encourage transitional thinking in the arts, to encourage permapoesis where art and organic food generation are embedded activities.

In the meantime our winter seeds are rocking. Heirloom elephant leek, garlic, silverbeet fordhook, pak choy, sweet pea, broad beans, broccoli, carrots, black kale, spinach, spring onions, beetroot, baby cos lettuce and cabbage mini. Meg and I were discussing today how many families could potentially be living on this quarter acre in 10-20 years. I think it could feed about 15-18 people in the Summer months and maybe 10-12 in Winter. 

I'm looking down on young banksias and heavily mulched areas with lomandras, poa tussocks, broad beans, almonds, olives, peaches and my chain-sawed eucalyptus balls. The dry stone HaHa wall back-filled with rubble allows for water to pass through it without disturbing the integrity of the wall. You can also see a little of the social warming fence. We persuaded our neighbours not to have a fence that lined the whole boundary, but just enough to have a little more privacy. They also agreed that I could build it as a slatted fence, again for social warming properties. Of course the water tank finishes the picture and finishes an often quoted mantra on this blog spoken by Cuban permaculturalist Roberto Perez at our town hall last year–
Grow your own food, catch your own water, say hello to your neighbour.

Here's a pic of the main house showing flying fox route and solar panels. I'm also showing off my deck building skills here. Split level decks are party decks. You often hear of them collapsing and killing a dozen stomping teenagers, that's why this one is low to the ground. 

I love Zeph's cubby as much as he does. Apart from the obvious – cute, small, red, up-in-the-air – it frost protects our toms. Meg collected another basket full last week. Almost unbelievably the fruit was still ripening despite the plants having died weeks ago. They're not great, but fine for cooking up. You can also see the beginning of the flying fox route and the tail end of the social warming fence. The bed in front of it will be the kick-arse rhubarb patch. Rhubarb is year-round gold for food gardeners. I remember my Dad's awesome patch when I was Zeph's age.

And, finally a place very dear to my heart – the compost area. Underneath the new window of the Shed of Interrelation is a herb bed that's doing OK, but I have decided to dig them out and extend the compost bays to three. We'll also have the humanure from the dry worm composting toilet. Therefore we can have four brews at four different stages. I'm so excited about this. The building of the Shed of Interrelation has already led to so many possibilities, even before the first resident.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chewers Borers Suckers

A friend of mine has some justifiable problems with the word 'permanent' and its use in the portmanteau 'permaculture' and in my portmanteaus 'permaplay' and 'permapoesis'. He writes:
I was reading Holmgren's 'Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability' last night and read a couple of passages which took me back to our brief exchange about the word permaplay, permaculture etc., and in particular to my mild general objection to the word 'permanent'. So I noted these passages when I read them: xxx "Even the idea of permanence at the heart of permaculture is problematic to say the least." And, xxvii 'The limitation of this concept of sustainable culture is that it suggests some stable state that we might arrive at sometime soon (by applying permaculture principles)".
It goes without saying that individual life is temporary. Cultures, however, are more ongoing. They are mutable and transforming, but ongoing. Some last longer than others, but of course no culture is totally permanent in a literal sense. The ones that last longer directly participate in, or mimic closely, natural systems. We can say these cultures are more permanent than others. The ones that die out more quickly have generally adopted linear, anti-ecological philosophies and economics based upon social divisiveness and relations of avoidance. As I've often quoted, the Dja Dja Wurrung lived in these parts for 40,000 years and aboriginal culture continues to survive in areas of Australia where their genocide was less fierce. Aboriginal culture is based on relations of common substance, they see themselves as contiguous with the world. If you compare continuous Aboriginal culture to our own, you can say it is permanent and ours is not, despite the fact that we have done everything in our power to make their culture impermanent like ours. We see ourselves as exclusive and separated, the corollaries of which (dioxins, warheads, plutonium, DDT) brand our culture abstract, fantastical and impermanent.

If you interpret the word 'permanent' in the above three portmanteaus as meaning 'static' or 'fixed' you've missed the point. Permanent here implies mutability. Nothing exists for very long in a rigid state. The most controlling regimes are generally the most vulnerable to collapse. Immutability equates to impermanency. The steady-state of a forest implies a forest in active, cyclical momentum, where everything is taken up by chewers, borers or suckers, used for life, excreted, only to be taken up and used again in a never ending cycle. The steady-state of a forest can only be mutable. Its health relies on constant change, active reciprocity and chance encounters. A natural ecology, operating within a non-hierarchical, closed-cycle where every organism is a participant, is what a modern permaculture mimics at a systems level. 

Our culture is currently predominated by post-structuralist philosophy: post-modernism. "Keep moving, even in place keep moving." (Gilles Deleuze). Post-moderns brought us some better thinking about race and gender and sexuality, and brilliantly critiqued the modernist male bully, but all this has done little to mitigate our abusive impermaculture. In fact our culture's aggression has only intensified over the past 30 years. Post-modernism coincided with psychopathic Neo-liberalism, as if they begat each other through oppositional warring. But by linear progression – pre-modernism, modernism, post-modernism – Po-mo is yet another urban-centric, ecologically disembodied school of philosophy that "rages against permanency." (Hamish Morgan). 

The sign below is representative of our culture. The three types of organisms found on Earth all coerced into being us, shooting off on their own singular path, everything operating autonomously, everything monological and separating out, everything getting closer to the end of their individual paths. Impermanence. Linear death. Chk chk boom.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Our average daily use

The Federal Labor party has just axed the solar panel rebate and replaced it with a less than encouraging solar credits scheme

We got our panels through a solar nieghbourhood scheme in February. Our bill for this quarter was $74, and as you can see our emissions in the last two quarters have decreased at kick-arse speed (admittedly rising a tad for winter). But, so far we haven't been paid for what excess clean energy we have put back on the grid. We found out today that Powercor had lost our record of payment for the buyback meter ($160). Convenient. Supposedly everything is cool now.

We would never have been able to afford these panels without the government rebate. The role of governments should be to support us to make our lives more and more ethical and less and less destructive, and yet the opposite occurs – they allow themselves, and we put up with it, to be controlled by corporate lobbyists. In this case the coal industry. That's why the Federal government has axed this brilliant scheme as it was just getting off the ground. Under the new scheme I'm not sure we could have managed the extra costs. The old scheme has been far too successful and therefore is a big threat to the 'culture of make believe' (Jensen). The government says on its website:
Unprecedented growth under the Government's Solar Homes and Communities Plan has resulted in closure of this program...
If you have panels already and haven't signed the petition for the Federal government to pay decent solar feed in tariffs, you can do so here. (Thanks O!)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Waterless composting toilet

Since we started planning our permaculture garden two years ago we have given most of our energy to water conservation, renewable energy, heirloom food gardening, worm generation, composting, indigenous planting, companion planting and buying less and less items packaged in plastic. But we haven't yet got to black and grey water recycling and composting. So, after talking with a friend yesterday, who has just returned from a NZ permaculture farm where he saw a basic, home-made one in successful operation, I decided it's time to build a composting worm toilet in the guest shed. Any tips or good advice most welcome.
Design from here.

Sunday morning

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shed of interrelation (part two)

On dusk tonight, relations of common substance, the world comes in, relations of avoidance in decline. Some new, some reclaimed materials from the local tip. The future of food is under our feet.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shed of interrelation (in progress)

Click for bigger.

Tomorrow we start work on finishing the guest shed. The idea for this shed is to encourage artist and writer friends to come and stay and work on their various projects while contributing an hour or so a day to food gardening. Permapoesis is permanent meaning making. Sustainable food is central to sustainable arts practice. This guest shed will represent the coming together of these two things, the coming together of a modern permaculture.