Making a Difference in San Luis Obispo County on the Central Coast of California
The Permaculture Communityby Bill Mollison
The global village community has been developing over the last decade. It is the most remarkable revolution in thought, values, and technology that has yet evolved.
For myself, I see no other solution (political, economic) to the problems of mankind than the formation of small responsible communities involved in permaculture and appropriate technology. I believe that the days of centralized power are numbered, and that a re-tribalization of society is an inevitable, if sometimes painful, process.
Unwilling as some of us are to act, we must find ways to do so for our own survival. Not all of us are, or need to be, farmers and gardeners. However, everyone has skills and strengths to offer and may form ecology parties or local action groups to change the politics of our local and state governments, to demand the use of public lands on behalf of landless people, and to join internationally to divert resources from waste and destruction to conservation and construction.
I believe we must change our philosophy before anything else changes. Change the philosophy of competition (which now pervades our educational system) to that of cooperation in free associations, change our material insecurity for a secure humanity, change the individual for the tribe, petrol for calories, and money for products.
But the greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter. It sometimes seems that we are caught, all of us on earth, in a conscious or unconscious conspiracy to keep ourselves helpless. And yet it is people who produce all the needs of other people, and together we can survive. We ourselves can cure all the famine, all the injustice, and all the stupidity of the world. We can do it by understanding the way natural systems work, by careful forestry and gardening, by contemplation and by taking care of the earth.
People who force nature force themselves. When we grow only wheat, we become dough. If we seek only money, we become brass; and if we stay in the childhood of team sports, we become a stuffed leather ball. Beware the monoculturalist, in religion, health, farm or factory. He is driven mad by boredom, and can create war and try to assert power, because he is in fact powerless.
To become a complete person, we must travel many paths, and to truly own anything we must first of all give it away. This is not a riddle. Only those who share their multiple and varied skills, true friendships, and a sense of community and knowledge of the earth know they are safe wherever they go.
There are plenty of fights and adventures to hand: the fight against cold, hunger, poverty, ignorance, overpopulation and greed; adventures in friendship, humanity, applied ecology, and sophisticated design-which would be a far better life than you may be living now, and which would mean a life for our children.
There is no other path for us than that of cooperative productivity and community responsibility. Take that path, and it will change your life in ways you cannot yet imagine. mBill Mollison is the author of Introduction to Perma-culture from where this is reprinted.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 January 2010 16:23 )
by Caroline Casey
(The following include abridged excerpts from her book "Making the Gods Work for You," with permission from the author.)
Think of your life as a spiritual detective novel. Each aspect of your life, especially the really quirky, maverick parts, are clues to your task, your destiny, and your gift to the world. Invite yourself to see life as a web of myriad meaningful patterns. Those moments when we apprehend and perceive patterns give rise in us to feelings of reverence and awe (ah!)—-two very healthy attitudes that have been the central foundation of great civilizations, but are what are sadly lacking presently in our own. Gandhi spoke to this point when asked what he thought of Western civilization, by replying that he thought it was a good idea.
Entertain the possibility that you are an undercover agent parachuting down to this beautiful planet in its time of need. What catalyzes your memory of your mission? Each of us has some crucial task to perform in the Grand Intrigue, a task that will not only transform us personally, but will also transform the entire climate of culture. By responding to the invitation to participate consciously in evolution, we cultivate the infinite capacities of being fully human. Our affinities, those things to which we are strongly attracted, lead us to our gift, and hence to our way of serving the larger community. We can then give a gift to the world that could be given by no other; we can do a work or work a magic that could be effected by no other.
The Lakota saying O Matake Oyasin, "for all my relations" defines community in the largest sense, to include all of creation. Through this saying the Lakota remind us that all our actions want to honor the spirit in all things—bugs, microbes, rocks, animals, plants, planets. Magical kinship should be encouraged at all times, for it is what makes life bearable.
Some styles of spiritual practice arise from the premise that the world is merely a seductive illusion to be transcended through detachment. There is not a lot of room for humor in this approach, for this is serious business, a kind of goal-oriented, solo, M.B.A. approach to enlightenment. "Down to Gehenna, or up to the throne, he travels the fastest who travels alone," says Rudyard Kipling, speaking for those who value speed and expediency. But is it the most fun?
Life is to be embraced as an ally—-to be transformed rather than transcended. We want to become completely involved in the responsibility of shaping reality for the greater good of all of our relations.
There are two primary Buddhist paths toward enlightenment. Hinayana meaning "lesser vehicle," is the path of (strictly) personal salvation, whereas Mahayana, "the greater vehicle," is devoted to the salvation of all creation. This book ["Making the Gods Work for You,"] aspires to the Mahayana path—of full self-cultivation, participation, reverent curiosity and concern for the well-being of other creatures—and thus encourages us to become increasingly conscious players on the team of creation.
We aspire to wed spiritual magic and compassionate social activism, because one without the other does not work. Vision and spirituality by themselves can be too ungrounded, detached, narcissistic, or oblivious. For example, there was a great blooming of interest in metaphysics and Eastern spiritual practices in Germany in the 1930’s, but without sufficient sense of compassionate social responsibility.
Yet activism by itself is too dreary and overworked to be effective. We all know people who are doing noble, hard-working good, yet who have a gray pallor of infighting fatigue, symptomatic of "magic deficiency." They are tyrannized by "realism," alienated from their innate capacity to draw upon larger resources to heal and revitalize themselves.
Visionary Activism invites us to participate actively in shaping and creating our personal and collective reality by embarking on an adventure of joyful maximum self-cultivation. The third Webster’s dictionary definition of maximum is "an astronomical term for the moment of greatest brilliance of a variable star."
Astrology describes us as living in a Kairos, or "fulcrum"moment. The future is not fixed (but it’s not broken, either). Our actions can tip the fulcrum either way, toward the life or death of innumerable communities of creatures living on this planet. By voting with our imaginations, we determine the outcome.
The all-too-visible forces of greed are stupidly lumbering along, dragging everything in their net toward the abyss of planetary systems collapse. But the forces of human ingenuity and artful compassion, allied with the world of the invisibles, are sprightlier, sleeker, and smarter, and they know how to dance away from the chasm. If imaginative people can use their powers to release creation from the net, then the forces of greed can hurtle themselves into the abyss (to be transformed at a later time) without taking the rest of us.
Therefore the cultivation of imaginative capacity is the primary, specific, and detailed act of magic to which we are dedicated. We do not need more power, magic, or wealth but, rather, to use the abundance we already possess in conscious, imaginative ways. When we suffer from magic deficiency, we do so not because of an absence of magic, but because of our inattention to its presence. We are constantly performing acts of magic, summoning and invoking our reality — personal and collective.
HopeDance publisher Bob Banner and Santa Barbara co-editor Margie Bushman are huge fans of Ms. Casey, who was heard at a Bioneers conference a few years ago. They are grateful to her for allowing excerpts of the first chapter of her book to be printed in HopeDance, which is of utmost importance at this time. To learn more about Caroline Casey, visit her website at: www.visionaryactivism.com; or phone: 1-888-741-GODS. She may be heard on the Visionary Activist Show on KPFK Los Angeles at 5:00AM Friday morning and KPFA Berkeley.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 January 2010 16:23 )
by Flicka Dukes
Disabling sexuality — My sexuality is fluid. It flows with my state of mind, my health, my clothing - my general attitude. It flows like the tide, ebbing and peaking from the pull of the moon. I don’t believe I’m alone in this peculiarity of life.
Looking back over my years, I observe a map of my self-esteem. It is a reflection of my claimed status in life - how I felt about myself and my surroundings at each interval. I see its valleys and mountains and remember time and place. Lows — when I was 24, the mother of three children, and feeling very unloved, unwanted, and undesirable. And highs — a 31 year-old single mother who worked as an apprentice machinist, made good money, and knew my abilities and my sexual being. I felt strong, secure and sexually confident. I projected that image.
I did take a side-trip between then and now - and that probably made more of a difference in my sexual existence than I will ever know.
I was married (for the third time) at the age of 33. The man caught my eye, caught my heart, and gave me the ability to be myself without apology. He also gave me a great lesson on sexuality. I was injured in an automobile accident less than two months after we married. I am paralyzed from mid-nipple down and use a wheelchair for mobility. Three years after the accident, I was still struggling to find my place. Who I was. What was left.
I felt down. Lost. One night, in daring and desperate conversation, I told my husband that I no longer felt like a sexual being. His answer stung, but made all the difference in my life. He studied me carefully and replied, "That is not my problem." Instantly, I knew exactly where the problem lie. It was my state of mind. I knew I could perform physically, I’d discovered that aspect of my sexual identity was still intact shortly after my injury. I needed to take a good hard look at how I perceived my sexual self in relation to the world, find my shortcomings and adjust my viewpoint. I needed to stop projecting negative thoughts about my sexuality.
Victoria really does have a secret— Yes, clothing does have a great influence on our sexuality. There is a sexual direction driven by appearance and how we feel about ourselves. After my injury, hospitalization (months of nothing but hospital gowns) and rehabilitation (where learning to dress oneself again usually involved wearing sweat-pants on a daily basis), the importance of apparel had dimmed in my memory. I also had to fight with the grief I felt after coming home from the rehabilitation hospital and seeing my former attire - that no longer fit my body - hanging in my closet and folded forgotten in my drawers. High heels, short skirts and dresses that no longer worked with my physique made me mourn for my former self. Work pants and boots - no longer a choice - made me weep. They reminded me of my former employment and the job I could no longer do. I had to find my new identity whether I wanted it or not.
I decided my first step would be one that drove me back out into the world and I enrolled in college. Once I overcame insecurities about my use of a wheelchair (and the fact that I was old enough to be the mother of most of my fellow students), I began to find a sense of self-esteem. I didn’t even notice that it had happened, but amazingly, I discovered myself transformed into something desirable and necessary. I no longer projected negative thoughts about myself and could see the difference in how others viewed and treated me. I began to paint my nails and wonder about new hair colors. I flirted once again. The change came from within - as all changes must. This might sound pretty shallow, but it has real depth.
What’s up with sex? My ability to physically climax is still an enigma after 14 years of paralysis. I understand that orgasm is 99% brain energy, but the physical part is where I become confused. How can a woman not feel a touch, or even a deep cut in the damaged area of their body, but react to stimulation to their clitoris? Women with paralysis have much better odds of achieving climax after injury than men. In reality, we probably have about the same odds as women who are able-bodied. We are also able to bear children without problem.
A male quadriplegic friend, who was injured in his early 20’s, once told me that "Black Monday", when the stock market crashed in 1987, was almost as castrating to him as his original injury. Over the years he had played the stock market and did quite well. He explained that he had transferred his sexual ability to take care of a woman to his financial capability. He was pretty straight forward with his inner feelings and I understood that I was lucky to be a woman when it came to sexual performance with a spinal cord injury.
Men with spinal cord injury have a much more difficult time adjusting to life and their new sexual identity than women - in my opinion. Not only do they have to stress and mourn the fact that they are no longer the bread-winner in their usual way, but their sexual performance is not what it used to be. Nowadays, medication (such as Viagra) helps compensate for the difficulty of achieving an erection, but men must still deal with insemination problems and the apprehension of truly satisfying a partner.
Bottom-line — Adding disability to one’s sexual identity definitely keeps life from getting boring. One consoling thought is that I didn’t have to endure the slow diminishing effects created by aging. I dealt with many of these insecurities early in life and realized that my position, my claimed status and attitude, belonged mainly to my self-esteem. I created its securities within my own being. Now, at age 47, I feel no lack of sexual identity. That doesn’t mean I’m safe from future feelings of insecurity and loss of self-esteem. It happens at all ages.
We are sexual creatures. Preening oneself before an encounter with our environment is a compulsion. We establish communication, assert our rightful place, and move ahead. Unfortunately, it can be that simple. Usually, the only thing holding us back is an unwillingness to participate in our social environment. Much of this hesitation spawns from television commercials and magazine advertisements that portray people as beautiful, seductive, and successful. These influences are powerful and can easily prey on our insecurities.
Marriage has a defined calling with those of us who are disabled. It calls on each of us to accept one another and live within its constraints. It asks our spouses to accept an almost unacceptable condition and embrace it with unconditional love. In retrospect, I believe that this is a predicament that sweeps across every intimate relationship. No one is truly different when it comes to affairs of the heart.
We are one.
Flicka Dukes lives and works from her home near Creston. She is a former publisher and editor of a newspaper that addressed issues surrounding the elderly and people with disabilities. She is a scopist for Lake County, home-schools her 16-year-old stepson, and continues to advocate toward equality for all people.