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How To Get There 23/12/18

Written By: - Date published: 6:59 am, December 23rd, 2018 - 236 comments
Categories: class war, climate change, Deep stuff, Economy, energy, Environment, global warming, sustainability, transport - Tags: , ,

This post is a place for positive discussion of the future.

This post is prompted by TS regular Robert Guyton who suggested we have a dedicated thread where “the way forward can be discussed, within parameters such as doable suggestions, successful examples, contributions from readers who support the concept of the thread, new takes on the future etc.”.

How To Get There is an Open Mike for ideas, solutions and the discussion of the possible. The Big Picture, rather than a snapshot of the day’s goings on.

Topics rather than topical and we’d like to think it’s success will be measured in the quality of comments rather than the quantity.

Let us know what you think!

236 comments on “How To Get There 23/12/18 ”

  1. Robert Guyton 1

    This ambitiously-named thread, “How to get there” has only flown for a couple of weeks thus far, and is about to run into the Christmas lull, as experienced by blogs since Adam was a cowboy, but nevertheless seems to have interested people enough for them to take the time to drop-in their suggestions for…how to get there, and for that we are very grateful. During last-week’s discussion the suggestion of a topic was floated and supported; that being, “how to build a community” or something along those lines. It’s something that many people, myself included, think a great deal about and have tried our hands at realizing to greater and lesser degrees of success. Many readers here will live in or have visited successful communities, be they official or casual, and will no doubt have formed views on the success or otherwise of those, or you may have suggestions and theories on whether it’s even possible to create a satisfying community in this day and age. Personally, I like the hobbit-filled Shire, but there was that awkward problem of the rest of Middle Earth…

    • Ed 1.1

      The early kibbutz were wonderful communities.

      • Robert Guyton 1.1.1

        What, Ed, do you reckon was the glue that held them together?

        • Ed

          Their size, a shared philosophy ( they weren’t religious), small agricultural community. ( living off the land), they ate together, jobs shared, earnings shared.

          A few ideas.

          • Robert Guyton

            A strong work ethic as well? Do you know why the later ones weren’t so successful (I’m extrapolating here, you said “the early” kibbutz)?

            • Ed

              I think young people were attracted to the cities.
              But I’m not sure, Robert.

              I think growing food together is a strong binding factor to create community.

              • Robert Guyton

                Ah, the cities…not a lot of eating together, sharing of earnings or living off the land in those parts.

              • Jenny - How to get there?


                23 December 2018 at 7:32 am

                I think young people were attracted to the cities.
                But I’m not sure, Robert…..

                This is a major problem for all alternative or intentional communities and communes, the Ohu among them.

                I once read a shocking account of a young American couple that worked hard and managed to buy a small piece of land and build a house on it and determined that they were going to live sustainably off grid. They grew their own food, and generated their own power and harvested thier own water.

                Their early example of alternative lifestyle living was so remarkable and successful that National Geographic even did an article on them.

                Being responsible couple once they were all set up, they decided to have one child. And their son was born.

                In the early days things were fine.

                But then the boy reached school age. His parents discussed home schooling, but the routine of their subsistence lifestyle was too intense for either parent to spend that much time away from their chores.
                At the local school the boy realised how materially disadvantaged and different his lifestyle was compared to the other children, with all their latest whiz-bang electronic gadgets, their new bicycles, their fancy clothes, their parents modern cars and homes. (No doubt, bullying because of his difference would have come into the mix) In this white majority rural community one child stood out, – a sophisticated young girl from a black middle class family. In the boy’s mind this young black girl came to represent everything he wasn’t. His home made clothes compared to her latest fashions, her connection with the world which made of the cool kids. Obviously this was circle that he was excluded from. This envy grew to hate. Which led to disputes. Which led the school authorities contacting his parents.

                His liberal parents did their best to smooth over the differences inviting the girl and her parents over to dinner and trying to socialise with them and assuring them that they weren’t racists or anti-blacks nor was their son.

                Their was one bright spot in this boy’s existence. His parents had despite the loss of grazing and the expense bought a pony for their son. This was something that none of his peers at school had. And the boy adored the horse. It was the one thing that was the envy of the girl and her circle.

                One winter the pond on their land froze over and the horse walked on the ice and fell through and drowned.

                This was emotionally devastating for the boy. He became even more withdrawn and resentful. And his disputes with his classmates and the girl became more extreme.

                Eventuallly culminating in the boy burning down the girl’s parent’s house.

                To pay off the insurers the couple had to sell up and move to the city. The mother took up a job as a teacher, and the father became a school janitor. They bought a small cramped apartment, their son went for counseling. And fitted in far better at his new High School.

                The only reminder of their previous life was a faded copy of the National Geographic article stuck to the door of their fridge. 

                This story is apocryphal, in its extremity, but you get the idea.

                Young people are will not stay, they find the intentional communities (or Kibutz) they grow up in suffocating the naturally gravitate to the bright lights and sophistication and experiences of the wider world that their parents have rejected.

                This is only one reason that I think this whole approach is a dead end.

                • DJ Ward

                  Liked the comment Jenny.

                  I guess what your saying is the extreme in self sufficiency only lasts the generation.

                  If the parents took just one step or two closer to modern civilisation and provided the modern world things for the child. They went to teaching and a Janitor. Both these things are part of sustainable communities. They could have worked part time for the income so they could by a few gadgets and some new clothes providing for the next generations needs. Not just focused on the parents dream 100%.

                  No matter how well intentioned we are, any ideology taken to the extreme is dangerous.

                  • Robert Guyton

                    “I guess what your saying is the extreme in self sufficiency only lasts the generation.”
                    Well, no. Extremely self-sufficient rainforest tribes, for example, have lasted for generations uncounted.

                    • Jenny - How to get there?

                      “Extremely self-sufficient rainforest tribes, for example, have lasted for generations uncounted.”
                      Robert Guyton

                      Yes indeed they have.

                      But I hardly think you would want to swap with them.

                      Pre-literate, no science,, no medicine, no vaccines, no antibiotics, no obstetrics. societies like this have lasted for tens of thousands of years.

                      High mortality and short lives are matched by high birthrate.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      I couldn’t swap with them because I’ve been “cultured” differently.
                      Likely as not, they’d refuse to take up my position in the world. Those folk might be “pre-literate” but as they have no books, it’s hardly a disadvantage. No medicine? Hardly! The jungles provide a plethora of cures for all manner of ills. Antibiotics are part and parcel of their lives, most coming to them through the soil when children. Obstetrics? I wonder how their deliveries compare with those of Westerners, all up? Short lives, as compared to our prolonged, dementia-impacted prospects? High mortality? We all die, eventually, so I guess there’s is the same as ours, on an individual level.

                  • Jenny - How to get there?

                    Yes the selfishness of the parents in this story, rooted as it was, in their smug middle class dream of achieving self sufficiency and a holier than thou attitude, to the rest of society, struck me too. Ironic that they had to return to society for their survival and their son’s well being.

                    No man is an island

                    The solution to the climate crisis will be a society wide mobilisation.

                    Not unlike the society wide mobilisation needed to fight a world war.

                    In the words of Steve Bannon, anything less, is a “pillow fight”.

                    Break the grid lock

                    ….is there another “un-warlike” way of describing what you want to have happen?

                • Robert Guyton

                  What we are talking about here, “this whole approach” does not equate with your example, Jenny, at least, in my view. Retreating to isolation, self-sufficient or not, is not what’s being proposed here on this thread, in the main. I’m easing the idea of “a community within a community”, that is, a network of people, families and friends, moving amongst communities that already exist and interacting with them as usual, only with a different intent; that of strengthening everyone against the combined challenges of high population, climate change, political upheaval ; whatever it is that might come our way. Retelling isolationist horror stories isn’t really useful, especially given similar things happen in ordinary society as well.

            • bwaghorn

              I would guess that internal politics kills most communes when there isn’t room for the young upstarts to strike out into new territories. Leaving behind those that are happy to be a cog .
              It’s not an indictment on the upstarts it’s just the human condition.
              To many strong personalities in a confined spot will always end in tears.

              • Robert Guyton

                The young up-starts could strike out for…other communities! I bet this was how it was done back in the (tribal) days: cross-pollination and steam-letting.

                • bwaghorn

                  Yes but now there are few places to go .
                  Unless we go we no person has gone before .

                  • Robert Guyton

                    New communities can be started within existing ones. Our “green” community in Riverton is one example. Thye sorts of communities we are sort-of discussing here don’t have to be “gereenfield” developments.

        • James

          That’s an interesting question and I think it would be hard to answer given that they were from a different time.

          Whilst given the distance of time they may look like wonderful communities- but we don’t know much under the surface.

          If one opened down the road now – I doubt many would join and live there – and even fewer would stay.

          Time does make some things look a lot better then they were.

          • Robert Guyton

            Or maybe we are unable to apply ourselves/live that way now because of…tv…phones…role models who spurn such lifestyles?

            • James

              It’s not a matter of being unable – given a choice most people wouldn’t want to.

              • Robert Guyton

                Why not, do you think, James?

                • James

                  Because living in a Stone Age kibbutz would be boring as shit and not a wonderful place to live – that’s why most people given a choice don’t live like that.

                  Also there will be exactly the same people you have In everyday life there – just worse because you are in a small community.

                  • Robert Guyton

                    From the sounds of it, those early kibbutz weren’t boring (nor “Stone Age” neither) though they might look that way from this point in time. I wonder what it is we now have that casts those previously satisfying ways of living in a bad light? You suggest, James, it’s the restricted range of people that make small communities boring? That could be it…maybe.

                  • WeTheBleeple

                    But what if you could have your cake and eat it too?

                    There’s nothing to stop us being part of these times and community. The internet has given us a global village, and far too much fake advertising of fake living.. But we have amazing tech that can be utilised in conjunction with sustainable community structures.

                    The best of both worlds. Use your imagination man.

                    Your call that it’s back to the stone age is just dog whistling.

                  • millsy

                    No it wouldn’t be boring. People would be too busy doing the backbreaking household chores that modern technology has now made easier. Women would be spending the morning doing the washing, and the afternoon plucking the chicken for dinner. All while running round after the kids.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Why couldn’t present-day communities have technologies that save backs from breaking? We’re clever, we have plenty of material to construct what we need and we have history to help us; we don’t have to build a water-powered sewerage system, for example, nor would we have to “go” in the fields. Modern compost/earth-powered humane systems are cleverly conceived and constructed and work a treat!

                    • WeTheBleeple

                      You can beat your rags over a rock millsy, I’ll use a washing machine powered by renewable energy.

                      Each to their own I guess.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      A windpowered mill, even a small one, would do that nicely – a rocking agitator on a cam, sails lazily turning in the breeze, laundry-man lying idly by…

                    • KJT

                      No. We will be running the washing machine off the water wheel.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      And the clothes dryer too?

          • KJT

            The entertainment, of shooting up the Palestinians next door, no doubt relieved the boredom, and gave the teenagers something to do.

            • greywarshark

              The way forward KJT! I am sorry that you had to drop some chemicals into the mix to see if it would fizz. We are doing nicely bubbling along thanks.

            • Robert Guyton

              I rate KJT’s thinking from way back. I reckon cynicism has it’s place, as an acid to burn away calcification that might be obscuring vision.

      • Sabine 1.1.2

        a lot of my teachers in the seventies went to kibbutzes to work on them, a sort of a penance i guess, to make amends for the sins of their forefathers.
        A lot of these kibbutzes today are called the ‘occupied territories’.

        • Ed

          I agree about Israel.
          I was just trying to think of a community as suggested by Robert.

          • Sabine

            then i would not use kibbutzes as an example.

            They were build for a reason, taking over the land, and populating it for Eretz Israel. Again, not suitable for us here, unless you want to live in a cult like setting.

            • greywarshark

              Kibbutz did have an ethic of their own. They were a start for a group needing to have somewhere to live and food to survive, and had a joint background which enabled them to combine with similar approaches and with a very practical vision, with a strong integrated line. So they all worked to make their living conditions suitable, and they all co-operated in caring for their children in a structured way sometimes the children living separately from their parents.

              Later there was a change made so that families could have their own houses and still be part of the kibbutz membership and structure.

              Riverside Community in Motueka has a similar style of housing, coming together regularly for meals and activities.

        • greywarshark

          I was talking of course, about the original ones set up by people who had suffered very hard times. In the 50s and 60s perhaps before the original movement had a change and others came in from abroad.

          They had to cope. That is how they did it. Getting balance and keeping it would be the aim. People would have to agree on what they wanted, and then the amount of tolerance they would allow for people going beyond.

          ‘If there is acid to burn away calcification’ then that must be kept in balance as I referred to above.

    • Jenny - How to get there? 1.2

      “Personally, I like the hobbit-filled Shire, but there was that awkward problem of the rest of Middle Earth…”

      Robert Guyton


      As our global civilisation puts more stress on nature,

      It is my humble opinion that running off to the country and forming intentional communities. Will not alter by one jot the trajectory of the arrow of greater global society.

      Such communities will not be spared from the collapse.

      Tolkien’s fantasy was written in the midst of World War. And is seen by some as an allegory of that global conflict.

      Gandalf warns the Hobbits that if the wider collapse happens, their shire will not be spared.

      How To Get There 16/12/18

      • Jenny - How to get there? 1.2.1

        …..What has been done, and has succeeded, are not alternative parallel schemes, but mass protest movements that influence and change society.

        How To Get There 16/12/18

        …..It seems obvious, doesn’t it? When jobs are disappearing in the coal industry, that jobs should be made available in the renewable sector.

        It’s a long time ago that a coal miner was a man with a pick hacking away at a coal face. The skills that are used to maintain a modern coal mine, electrician, engineer, machine operator, driver. are easily transferable to the wind industry.

        Auckland Coal Action for a just transition

        Auckland Coal Action is a climate change activist based pressure group. ACA was founded following the tour of this country by world renowned NASA climate scientist, James Hansen. In his address to the Auckland Town Hall, Hansen identified coal as the most dangerous of the all the fossil fuels. According to Hansen; “If we can’ts stop coal it is all over for the climate.”
        Auckland Coal Action is determined to end coal mining in this country, but not as an end in itself but as example to other countries that coal can be removed from the energy sector. ACA recently organised a grass roots community campaign to stop the development of a new open cast coal mine planned for Mangatangi, just south of Auckland

        Our record speaks for itself.

        “We will stop your mine”

        Fonterra; [we] surrendered our mining permit at Mangatangi

        Auckland Coal Action is committed to shutting down other coal mines in the North Waikato Region.

        Nick explains why K1 must be stopped

        But rather than just being against things we need to be for things as well.

        Eric Pyle CEO of the Wind Energy Association said of the Hauauru Ma Raki project cancellation, “The project is fully consented and with the right policy settings it could be built in stages over time.”

        Let us lobby the the Green, Labour, NZ First, coalition to put those policy settings in place.

        Waikato Windfarm backtrack costs hundreds of jobs



      • Robert Guyton 1.2.2

        The Shire will not be spared, sure, but if those “shires” are over-lays (or underlays) of existing towns and cities (cities as a collection of towns, towns a cluster of villages, villages a composition of families…) and each “shire” populated by hobbits bound by their particular culture, practiced in growing and sharing their own food, tending their own pathways and so on, the ructions from without could be absorbed and overcome. In any case, the scouring of the Shire is the sobering but critical chapter in The Return of the King and that’s what excites me about the place we find ourselves right now.

        (In checking for the title, and writing “The greening of the Shire”, I found this:
        https://ssec.org.au/our-campaigns/greening-the-shire/ and while I’ve not yet read it, I’m intrigued and intending to soon).

  2. Ed 2

    It would appear one way forward, so we save the world from catastrophic climate climate, is to eat less meat.
    The Guardian’s environmental editor is looking forward to his first vegan Christmas.
    Damian Carrington writes.

    “I have changed what I eat because of the now overwhelming evidence of global environmental damage caused by meat and dairy production. It produces more climate-warming emissions than all cars, trains, ships and planes combined. If the world’s diet doesn’t change, we simply can’t beat climate change.”


    Let’s “hope that 2019 will be a key year in the overhaul of a broken global food system.”


      • Ed 2.1.1

        As you aren’t a child, ( the doctor specifically refers to children) you could adopt a vegan diet.

        As a way to help us get there.

        Vegans are right about meat’s impacts on the environment.
        And we all care about our children and grandchildren, right?
        And the world we pass on to them.


          • Ed

            Then stick to eating meat.
            This post was asking us to make suggestions of how to get there.
            You appear to have missed the point of it.

            • James

              No. I was just pointing out the flaws in your idea of the way forward.

              [Pack it in, both of you. This is not the post for petty point scoring. TRP]

              • Ed

                If we haven’t got a planet to live on…..

              • james

                Point was taken onboard from Roberts post – had already packed in.

                your point is noted also.

                • Robert Guyton

                  Thanks, James.
                  Can I say, when I read this from you:
                  “That’s an interesting question and I think it would be hard to answer given that they were from a different time.”
                  I thought, “I’d like to have a discussion with this guy”

                  • OnceWasTim

                    “I thought, “I’d like to have a discussion with this guy””
                    First off, I think you probably mean “I thought, “I’d like to have a CONVERSATION with this guy”, and second, I doubt he’d be up for it.
                    The ideological ‘positioning’ in that space, built up from various learnings going forward means James’ beliefs (truths) are all baked on.

                    I think the answer is probably some of that spray and walk away stuff. I’m sure you’d be able to justify the use of a bit of it (wouldn’t take much) given your footprint and offsets

                    • Robert Guyton

                      James ‘n’ I could talk about stuff, I reckon. I sense a reasonable man in there and he possibly feels the same way 🙂

                    • OnceWasTim

                      You’re probably right @ Robert. My cynicism comes from 30 years or more of what my family (those In gorgeous circles – oops i mean bubbles) tells me is that of a ‘rescuer’, and of trying to push shit uphill when I should have realised a lot sooner.
                      I’m in recovery dontcha know, and if I don’t make it, I’m just as happy to take my chances somewhere in the lower regions of the Himalayas – at least the water is still pure if you drill down a few feet and the folks are all out to help each other with smiles on their faces and the kids are happy occupying themselves with the most basic of activities.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Tim – I feel your…pain 🙂
                      I’ve a friend who guides in Nepal and helps out with building schools ‘n’ stuff. He talks of a community where people, especially the young blokes, work very hard to provide for everyone and smile all the while – coz, purpose. That’s it, I reckon. Genuine reasons for being.

                    • OnceWasTim

                      Understand the dots preceding the “pain”. Rest assured though that the only ‘pain’ I feel comes from the shame in knowing just how complicit lil ‘ole Nu Zulln has been in ripping people (such as ‘them’) off. Not just from that region but across south Asia and the Pacific Islands.
                      The immigration policies for example, set up to boost a shoddy ‘export’ education sector, or importation of labour – both of which provided and encouraged a vehicle for exploitation and left so many people worse off than they were before they ever set eyes on this place.
                      My point about James though is that although you might have an interesting discussion, you could never get him to understand why most in that region – and right throughout the Punjab and elsewhere, have zero interest in preserving things like the crumbling British ramparts and architecture of old garrison headquarters – many of them quite amazing.
                      I’ve got a good solution though next time I’m there. Most of them, once restored will make the perfect Clochemerle for the district

                    • Robert Guyton

                      That’d really piss them off.

          • Robert Guyton

            This is fantastic! We’d all hoped the thread might degenerate into a shouting match about meat-eating between James and Ed! You guys rock!

            • Sabine

              actually i think it should be discussed, not by these two guys obviously, cause they are both rocks that can’t and wont’ listen to reason, but it should be discussed,

              a plant based diet – with most of the diet imported from elsewhere because we don’t actually have the agriculture to grow all that ‘plant material’ that will fully sustain us

              a meat based diet – with most of us grown here, industrial agriculture with the issues of animal welfare, soil welfare, water usage etc etc etc.

              or a mixed diet – after all we are omnivores, as literally people lived before the ascend of he fridge. My choice, eat seasonal, eat grown in your yard and on farms, but also eat eggs, fish, meat, poultry, nuts (hazelnuts make awesome shelter belts) seeds etc. That is the nice thing about us humans, we can literally eat dirt and it might actually be good for us.

              We need to discuss how we are going to feed the few millions of us, and the few millions that we would like to have come here as tourists. Cause the idea that we are all gonna live on a livestyle block big enough to feed a family of several on plants only without issues, and the same with meat, is ludicrous and short sighted and above all lazy thinking. One drought and yer fucked. One blight and yer fucked. On hail storm during flowering season and we all shall gnaw on the hungerbone.
              So essentially we need to talk about how to secure food, grow food, store food in a world were our current ideas of food storage and transportation are moot.

              And Ed and James both need to pull their head in. The hyperbole is just boring and changes nothing.

              • Ed

                Where is the hyperbole in my comment at 2?
                Robert described it as a fair comment.
                James stalks anything I contribute to this site.
                It was my mistake to reply to his interjection about mental health.

              • WeTheBleeple

                “One drought and yer fucked. One blight and yer fucked. On hail storm during flowering season and we all shall gnaw on the hungerbone.”

                Lack of good design, biodiversity and earthworks/water retention is the issue here, not the weather.

                • Robert Guyton

                  I agree most strongly, WTB. Those fall-back lines (change is too hard!!) are the first defence for the BAU crowd – those with a vested, usually historical interest in stopping change (I don’t mean you, Sabine). The sheep farmers on the council I sit on bleat, “Cropping’s worst that sheep farming” in terms of nitrogen loss, citing the over-use of nitrogen in the 50’s&60’s, where wheat, oats and so on were doused in the stuff in order to maximise profits/growth, and completely ignoring balanced, subtle systems of cropping developed since then. It’s a hard row…

              • Robert Guyton

                Good morning, Sabine. Your moderation is greatly appreciated 🙂
                A discussion about food is always on the table 🙂 The islands we live on are very well-favoured, I reckon, for growing food. Much of the suitable land however, is taken up by livestock farming, which to my mind is a very poor use of the soil, relative to other systems such a permaculture that have diversity as a bottom line. It’s apparent that we can’t all live on a lifestyle block; there’s just not the room for that, but that’s “nuclear” thinking; one family on 10 acres of their own, and where discussion about community and what having a healthy one might mean in terms of land use and feeding everyone involved.

              • KJT

                A lot of things can simply be done better.

                Dairying, in low natural rainfall areas, like the Canterbury plains, is just daft.

                It doesn’t make sense to grow oranges in greenhouse in Canterbury, with all the attendant energy costs.

                Shipping Streets ice-cream from Australia crossing with Tip top from NZ, is also a waste of resources.

                Then. There is the amount of food waste going to landfill?

            • OnceWasTim

              And then I came along to ruin it all :p. But I’m in recovery. I’ll do my best and contribute a little later when the little bubs are less demanding.

        • greywarshark

          Frankly Ed I think that there has to be a meatless post which you can moderate so that we can range around in lots of ideas, like the thinking animals we are.

    • Robert Guyton 2.2

      Eating less meat “would appear one way forward”.
      I think that’s a fair comment, Ed.

  3. Robert Guyton 3

    “But veganism has been shown to cause mental retardation.”
    Then, James, get off that vegan diet you’ve adopted and have a sausage, for God’s sake!

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    Making progress was described as the intent of progressive politics, back in the days when the western myth of progress was the prevalent ethos driving the development of western civilisation. As someone who emerged into adulthood back then, I naturally went on a learning curve to become adept at being progressive.

    The cultural niche for that was the avante garde, which then morphed into the counter-culture, after which it became apparent that progress in culture was being compromised by lack of progress in politics & economics. So we created the Greens.

    To make the Greens successful, it was necessary to build a bridge to the mainstream. End result of that is the Greens becoming mainstream. Progress therefore grinds toward a halt. Other contributors to this topic have identified permaculture as the way to break through the impasse. I’ve also done so on prior threads. However, I’ve also pointed out that an altpolitical movement is another way to break through (and created a website for it).

    What the two methods have in common is praxis: people collaborating on the practice of manifesting destiny. In the past, this has been the evident strength of leftist politicos, when their focus has been on working together. When activists shift their focus onto what they disagree about, they tend to polarise against each other and groups splinter into factions.

    So the balance between success and failure is a hinge, and political praxis ought to be consciously adapted by the discipline of debating differences of opinion in reference to common ground and shared goals. Doing so requires skill in applied social psychology, and mutual goodwill. Progress requires the continual use of this skill, because progress does not manifest unless people invest their time and energy working together to make it happen.

    If a goal, such as the replacement of neoliberalism by a political economy that reduces inequality, is framed as a task, then the praxis required to manifest that alternative lifestyle is a task-force. A team that coheres around a challenge that members commit to engaging, and work together in team spirit to win the battle against the status quo. That’s what has been missing, during the past four decades of neoliberalism. Instead of hopes and dreams of a better future, and endless complaints about the way things are, there’s the option of doing what is necessary.

    • patricia bremner 4.1

      This is an uplifting read Dennis F. What do you think of the Te Puke P.O.?
      An example of a framed task. ‘Save our P.O. and provide hub for information’
      They have cooperated raised the necessary funds now all stations go.
      It could become a model for the future.

      • Dennis Frank 4.1.1

        Hadn’t heard of it, Patricia, but found this: https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/thepanel/audio/2018672041/te-puke-s-p-o-campaign

        The Greens were talking about this kind of stuff in the early nineties, and social permaculture designs for it too. As long as the design incorporates all stakeholders, produces mutual benefits, and incentives to work together are applied properly, with appropriate careful structuring of money flows, I’d expect it to be resilient.

      • OnceWasTim 4.1.2

        Yes …. good idea that, and probably an idea would be to resurrect/expand the Post Office for providing more government/local government services – the one-stop shop. A place for the didgitally distanced or challenged. Even CAB type advice where there is no presence.

    • Chris 4.2

      The problem is that nobody’s worked out to progress past the stage where the rich live in self-sufficent totally sustainable mansions and drive round in electric cars while the plight of the poor worsens. It’s interesting that the term praxis was used by Germany’s neo-Marxists in the early 1920s as the way forward, but inherent in its meaning was the almost inbuilt difficulty of progressive thinking being co-opted by the decision-making elite to, at best, create the illusion of democracy, at worst to crush dissent.

      • Dennis Frank 4.2.1

        Good points, Chris, and progress has been manifested far more via technology than social system design. Since the technology owners capture most of the economic benefits, that has empowered capitalism. Often by stealing the tech from the inventors. However social system design has historically been distinguished more by incompetence than suitable results. Usually due to failure to incorporate design for appropriate behavioural responses.

      • KJT 4.2.2

        The rich have bought the political power.

        Of course they are trying to get the poor, and working class, to bear all the costs of adaptation, as always.
        Socialising the losses, and privatising the gains, is something they are very adept in.

      • greywarshark 4.2.3

        Decision-maker thinks 💡 : Why have progressive policies; we are comfortable with what we have. End of story.

  5. Robert Guyton 5

    Dennis – I’m reeling from reading your words! I’m going to ruminate on those for a while now; my wife and are talking excitedly about “praxis” and that doesn’t happen often on a Sunday morning!

    • Dennis Frank 5.1

      That’s nice, Robert! It’s an ancient Greek concept I’ve only integrated in recent years, but explains things rather well, in terms of how intent is translated into results via actions. Building that discipline into a team context is where it goes from personal to political, so from a permaculture perspective, that’s the real design challenge.

      • OnceWasTim 5.1.1

        Don’t let @Wayne catch you talking about these subversive concepts @ Denis, or there’ll be hell to pay. If we all thought like that – well….imagine the quinsiqinces.

      • Robert Guyton 5.1.2

        The ArchDruid Project used to present this idea ” how intent is translated into results via actions. ” as core to John Michael Greer’s ‘way’. Construct a picture of what you want, then practice, practice, practice. That’s how you get there.

  6. My grandchildren have been quite a constant presence in my life, as after 2 of my children married locally,left and lived overseas, they came back to bring up children in our rural setting
    It’s been blissful , hanging out with the kids and turning them on to the extraordinary life stories of nature. Some of that stuff is like sci fi fantasy.
    Microscopes, binoculars and magnifying glasses help,and rambling round in rivers , the bush,the garden. drawing ,pressing flowers etc.Finding out about their discoveries by observation and reading
    I notice they have their eyes peeled , and can identify damsel flies, dragonflies, bird calls , ferns., damn near all they come across.
    Nature has an endless interest and narrative for them.They’re way better than me and
    now I ask them whats this that and the other thing?
    To get to the point, perhaps if we encouraged children to explore and love nature, in the specific , they would grow up to be respectful and careful of what nature provides
    Not so attracted by the myriad of consumer type” must haves”
    Apart from that, be happy, give up meat, paint the roof white, and dare I say it …Love

    • Robert Guyton 6.1

      Francesca – will you be our (virtual) community’s Harvest Queen?
      You’ve got it!

    • WeTheBleeple 6.2

      An interesting gentleman just stopped to talk gardens. I sent him home with an armload of taro and silver beet.

      He is a gang member. I talked to him about the gangs potential to fight climate change: the potential they have as an organisation to become independent through generating their own food water power housing and income using existing resources in their organisation.

      I pointed out examples of their previous positive community engagement and how well received it was; and how they were in a position to lead by example again, and in doing so invest in their own security. He walked off a happy man, with good food for the belly and mind.

      One only has to examine the grocery and power bills of an average family to see the huge benefits that might be gained with community scaled investment of time and resources into local generation of food, power, and water. The enormous potential lost to middle men and fat men who charge and charge and charge.

      Are we owned? Or do we own our fates? Should we charge into the rat-race, already doomed to failure, for we have no other choice? No. The writing is on the wall to act.

      We can organise, meet, consider, create, copy and disseminate wisdom and design. We must be inclusive and build ties where there were none. Competition and extraction is for the losers who broke the planet, winners will coordinate and cooperate in sustainable activity.

      The only people who will really have to tighten their belts are the idle rich. Those with typical incomes, finding themselves to a large degree free of power food and water bills could be considerably better off. Those not growing food can be direct marketed to by those in their communities that are. Only without land should one be not conscientiously tending land. Kaitiakitanga or land stewardship should be mandatory.

      Eating better, communing better, living better, being a part of something greater than oneself. This is the future. We can have abundance for all. Or carry on serving the few.

      We might get there by pooling our resources to invest in our sustainable secure future. Community… Collectively we can turn the economy on its head where only business offering products and services geared to the empowering of people to co-exist with the planet spring to the fore.

      We could turn the juggernaut round on a dime.


      It will start as it always has. Pockets of people that become a turning tide as reality hits home. Corporations and governments will bend to their will or be gone.

      I do not accept the status quo of competition. The endless barrage of messages that I am not enough without some product or potion or promotion I might purchase. This ridiculous farcical growth machine. It wears as thin as the screens and print it comes to me through. It is as useful to mankind as the plastic cocktail parasols it pimps. I do not accept ‘our fate’.

      Today I build a wee platform for bees down by the chicken coop. The beekeeper tells me any sick bees are cast from the hive by the others, to be quickly gobbled up by the attendant birds. The honey is shared 50/50 with the beekeeper. That’s more honey than I can eat. Excess can be swapped with other neighbors: one has feijoa wine, one will do work with power tools, others have cash…

      Sugar cane plus honey will allow me to stop buying processed and shipped sugar all the while maintaining a sweet tooth. You can have you cake and eat it too. Members of the community are the ingredients that make that cake.

      Everything we can see that is not of nature began with simple thought. That device you stare at, the roads, cars, the licorice twist… all of it, once merely an idea in a mind at one time. Just think of our brave new world.

      ‘Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve’ – Napoleon Hill

      • francesca 6.2.1

        Agree with you here.
        Bureaucracy/parliament is too incremental
        We the people can signal the change, they can catch up

      • Robert Guyton 6.2.2

        “Today I build a wee platform for bees down by the chicken coop. The beekeeper tells me any sick bees are cast from the hive by the others, to be quickly gobbled up by the attendant birds.”
        That’s a great idea – I’d often wondered what to do with those little ex-bees. I’m getting out of hoiney bees now though, to give the bumbles and natives a better chance to collect nectar. Our pollination rates are so high that |I don’t think there will be a downside and in any case, I don’t eat honey. “Today I build a wee platform for bees down by the chicken coop. The beekeeper tells me any sick bees are cast from the hive by the others, to be quickly gobbled up by the attendant birds.”
        “‘Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve’ – Napoleon Hill” – which is both encouraging and sobering; those other fella’s ideas can follow the same track and lead us into unpleasant places.

        • WeTheBleeple

          Keep disseminating good ideas to counter nonsense. That quote is from an insurance salesman, a hardcore door to door man who taught people not to take no for an answer.

          But it’s a great quote, and Napoleon has a lot to teach about keeping ones chin up against the odds. Despite the whole insurance industry and door to door sales people’s reputation thing…

          We need to sell good ideas on doorsteps close to home. We need our sales teams too!

          There’s gonna be bad ideas and bad people to implement them. Stupidity isn’t so hard to counter as corruption, though they often run hand in hand. Cunning and corruption however, very bad combo (shudder), but the ships rats are quick to save themselves, I imagine many scum might change to save themselves then revert to type as danger seems to drop. Ciggy companies are concerned about cancer lately, have you not heard? Buy an e-ciggy!

          But some folks may like not having to be competitive ‘edgy’ types anymore. Who knows. We may save ourselves in the process of saving the planet. Working together is so much better than competing. And so much gets done!

          Green washing reveals the distinction between lip service and societal service from business and government. Track records speak plenty but there’s a call for change. Amnesty for all on board. We can take an audit when we get through all this.

          • Robert Guyton

            I got this: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
            Wonder what I did wrong 🙂

          • Robert Guyton

            Again, I feel compelled to quote you, WTB!
            “Keep disseminating good ideas to counter nonsense.”
            That’s the way; if only some of us could secure positions in the field of broadcasting; radio, magazine, newspaper 🙂

    • DJ Ward 6.3

      Took the kids for a walk today. Got to get up close to a hare as it did the frozen, you can’t see me, trick. Then we caught a fish at the pond with our first cast. A Rudd so a pest species. Then a walk through the bush pointing out the amazing variety of fungus growing on the rotting logs. One log was covered in bright orange, others bigger than dinner plates. Teaching about identifying animal footprints, animal poo, and pointing out the places where they live. Sat down at the halfway mark for a drink, an apple, and watched fantails playing, listened to birds singing. Also saw a Tui the other day, and I haven’t seen one at home for a while. I have heard a few frogs at night but haven’t seen any, or tadpoles.

      • Dennis Frank 6.3.1

        I got frogs on my place but never hear them. Maybe some species don’t croak? I’ve seen seven since early last month (none for a year before that). Two different species. A couple of big black ones that have established themselves in the big plastic barrel I stashed under the eaves of my nursery roof to collect rainwater, now almost a metre deep, so I put an off-cut from a fence board in there to simulate a lilypad & they often sunbathe on it.

        The others are half that size & lime green, like the ones we had here in NP when we were kids, probably English imports from the colonial era. Last year the one I saw were different again: not black but very dark green, also large. There’s bush and the Herekawe stream not far from here so that’s where they likely travel from. After living in Ak almost half a century and seeing none, I find it quite refreshing.

  7. Janet 7

    For a ”future” ensured we must now, yesterday, individually take steps to reduce our footprint on the earth. We must stop standing back and waiting for governments to lead the way. Individually we must each start to make changes in our day to day life to ensure there is a future on this earth for those who follow us. We just have to decide to do that. List the changes we can make ourselves and start.
    Starters must be aware that too often people who have made some commitment to reduce their footprint on earth : eg deciding to catch a bus/ car share / ride a bike to work, buy quality products that will last 20 yrs not 2 yrs , buy locally produced food, farm sustainably and organically, eco -build etc…. will find that they are not yet recognised / rewarded to do so at local body level.
    The recognition as someone having a smaller footprint when it comes to land usage and property rating are areas the councils need to do their bit. So far they have not. District and Regional Councils have done nothing to recognise those who have chosen to reshape their lives to take care of the earth more. Particularly in the form of reduced rates. For example lower stocking rates and the use of organic techniques means lower production per square hectare, therefore less returns to the grower per square hectare, yet still he pays the land rates established on the basis of an income derived from unsustainable / factory farming practices.
    Councils speak with two tongues. They throw the word “sustainability” into much of their reporting, brochures and speeches these days. It sounds good , it sounds like they know what they are talking about to the uneducated ear but in fact they are not walking the talk.
    But , this should not stop each of us from starting to reduce our footprint on earth. Start the list and confer with your family, friends and neighbours. Start now.

    • WeTheBleeple 7.1

      You’ve made an excellent point Janet. Policy does not align with sustainable practice.

      And yep, it’s up to us to get on with it.

  8. mauī 8

    A New Zealand xmas parade 50 years from now celebrating diversity, creativity and a widely accepted Māori Santa Claus! Meri Kirihimete!

  9. greywarshark 9

    Some local communities. Riverside Community in Motueka. Tui Collective in Takaka. Cinny would know a lot about them and might have time to put something up. I have to get ready to fly out to family for Christmas. (Note – I am flying, sorry but I need to use these systems at present.)

    There are housing groups based around the idea of ‘Intentional Communities’ where like-minded people come to an agreement to buy into some idea of how they want to live.

  10. greywarshark 10

    Wallace played this new version of Blackbird by the Beatles this morning on his last session on Sunday morning. Best wishes for a good Christmas and 2019 as Radionz
    Panel? leader. Sigh, Mora has gone to Sunday with his little bag of complacency.

    The words from Blackbird wish for good things – you have just been waiting for this moment to arise etc. Love to all making your efforts to think of new ways of living and being. The blackbird does add its chirp and song in this version.

  11. WeTheBleeple 11

    Got me looking….


    ‘Ecovillagers are united by shared ecological, social-economic and cultural-spiritual values. Concretely, ecovillagers seek alternatives to ecologically destructive electrical, water, transportation, and waste-treatment systems, as well as the larger social systems that mirror and support them.

    Many see the breakdown of traditional forms of community, wasteful consumerist lifestyles, the destruction of natural habitat, urban sprawl, factory farming, and over-reliance on fossil fuels as trends that must be changed to avert ecological disaster and create richer and more fulfilling ways of life.’

    This is my kind of vision. Where the eco-villages become a linked network then ultimately all of society. I think the internet has made it entirely possible to be up to date informed part of the global village etc, while at the same time eco-villages help us be re-connected to our land and people in a meaningful way.

    Saving the planet is a worthy cause to unite under. Efforts to create counter-community makes sense, it is this that will emerge as the new norm. The level of tech may vary greatly but sustainable systems must occur.

    It is heartening to see the spread of eco-villages. There might be many examples of non-feral or ‘later-than stone-age’ community living to be seen. These are important parts of the transition required.

  12. greywarshark 12

    Marty Mars may be able to give some background and report on Tui village in Golden Bay.

    I have done some work starting to explore possibilities for housing communities when the Special Housing Areas was going under National. And took an interest in housing together, usually with similar environmental thoughts, sharing, eco communities.

    So here are some links relating:

    http://www.peterborough.nz/ (Christchurch)
    (showing post earthquake view)

    (Dunedin) 22 households, one lawnmower at Dunedin communal housing development

    https://cohousing.org.nz/communities/earthsong-eco-neighbour-hood (Auckland)


    Trouble – not easy to get the financials and people attitude in a row!
    Financial feud at Atamai Village (Motueka Nelson Region)

    • Graeme 12.1

      “Trouble – not easy to get the financials and people attitude in a row!”

      That’s not confined to eco developments. There’s a few decidely un-eco developments around Whakatipu that have gone the same way as Atamai, and then some….

      The freehold model, even with totally anal covenants isn’t all that effective at maintaining the character and intent of a development if someone doesn’t want to play by the ‘rules’. Hence retirement villages are license to occupy rather than freehold which gives the operator the ability to enforce the rules and maitain character. This usually results in a transfer of capital to the operator, which is an accepted trade off for the security offered by the village.

      Although I don’t see why a license to occupy from a co-operative, with a benevolent procedure to determine resales wouldn’t work.

      • Robert Guyton 12.1.1

        The “Aroha” gardeners visited me recently…

      • KJT 12.1.2

        Housing co-operatives in the UK are not dissimilar to that idea.

        Interesting that parts of Wales now exempt off grid, sustainable housing from the normal planning laws.

        • Robert Guyton

          I brought that up with my fellow councillors and those of other agencies connected, thus easing the idea’s passage…

        • Graeme

          I’m not sure exemptions from planning laws ad processes is great idea in the New Zealand development culture.

          Our RMA process is very good at sorting out dumb ideas, which is why developers hate it, but often it saves them from themselves. Unfortunately not having a lot of failed developments around has kept property prices high.

          Developers will also flock to the easy options and in this case we’d see a lot of greenwashed crap come through that either wouldn’t sell or fell to bits shortly after the developer departed. Pretty much like has happened with the SHA process.

          Some of the ideas for reform of unit titles and cross lease were along the co-op line and reform around tenure would be more productive than exempting from RMA controls.

          • Robert Guyton

            I think the changes in Ireland were for small scale, owner-built dwellings such as yurts and tiny homes, but I could be wrong and just imagining. It was done in response to unavoidable pressure for housing. If something similar could be done here, within the rules of the RMA, there’d be a lot of movement toward the creation of loosely-knit communities, I reckon. I don’t mean shanty towns.

            • Graeme

              Tiny houses are outside RMA if they are on wheels, but still subject to electrical regulation and parts of building act. Putting a lot together could be interesting from a regulatory response, but councils don’t seem to be able to do much about freedom campers when they are young tourists. Caravan parks can be done so a place for tiny houses shouldn’t be too hard to create. The big argument will be around permanence, and that would probably require going to court or legislation.

              QLDC have dramatically liberalised their residential flat definition in the new plan to allow detached units up to 70 m2 provided they complies with site standards. Will be interesting to see how this comes out of the process, as the tiny house thing sort of happened at the same time.

              We put a 50 m2 self contained flat on our place for my mum a few years ago. It ended up as a non-complying consent that I managed to shepherd through the process. The old (current) definition for a residential flat was such an arse it was quite easy to construct an argument that small units had less impact. I based our proposal around the Christchurch CC family flat rules, which were for a transportable and imply a temporary building, and evidently worked well in Christchurch.

              Where all this morphs from a primary and secondary unit on a site, to a collection of multiple small units in a comprehensive development, to a highrise apartment block is the discussion. We started going there in the 70’s to 90’s with unit titles but along came the McMansion and all that went out the door. Here we’ve got Shotover Country https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shotover_Country , it’s predominately single level dwellings all built to the site limits and from the Remarkables road is just a conglomeration of roofs with very little yard space. They are also selling for over a million each, whether that’s sustainable is a live debate around town. I can’t help wondering what it would have been like as something more European with very large multi unit buildings and public space between them, and housing the same, or more people. But it’s proving very hard to get us out of own little fraction of an acre.

              • Robert Guyton

                That’s very interesting, Graeme. Are yurts and gers “accommodated” by QLDC?

              • KJT

                Under ten square metres does not require a permit. Has to meet plumbing and electrical standards, of course.

                I did a bit of a thought exercise on several 10 square metres buildings around a deck, under a metre high, which also does not have to be permitted. Make a decent house.

                The RMA has the unfortunate effect, of making it hugely expensive to add an extra kitchen for the kids, who cannot afford a house. $16 000 for a consent here, before you even start.

                • Graeme

                  “The RMA has the unfortunate effect, of making it hugely expensive to add an extra kitchen for the kids, who cannot afford a house. $16 000 for a consent here, before you even start.”

                  That’s not so much the RMA as your local council’s district plan. Some do allow multiple units / kitchens in various forms as residential or family flats. Christchurch and Kapiti are good examples and even the old QLDC plan if it was attached to the dwelling.

                  Putting together a consent application isn’t hard. If you can construct and run an argument here you won’t find it too taxing, but study professional applications to get the form it takes and how the proposal is evaluated under the act. Another option is to submit at district plan review to get provision for flats or sub-units, these are becoming more common with rules to prevent subdivision by stealth.

          • WeTheBleeple

            More good points. We need decent working examples of alternate housing designs so Govt engineers et al can inspect and hum and haw. Regulations never stopped a lot of cowboys, but the intent was good.

            Straw bale design in NZ conditions?

            Cobb in NZ?

            Log Cabins?

            I could grow the logs in 5 years using privet or acacia it’d take me this afternoon to set up for a 2023 build date. Or I could shell out half a million dollars…

            I’m sure industry wants their half mill, and I am a dangerous hippie.

            • Robert Guyton

              I’ve changed my views around sycamore, following an impassioned delivery from a bloke who recognised the trees’ value for firewood and poles when coppiced, but privet??
              Can it grow straight?
              Are people no longer allergic to its pollen?
              Are there regions in NZ where it’s not considered a pest plant?
              Genuinely interested, as always 🙂

              • WeTheBleeple

                Hahaha. You asked for it….

                Well, just spent a very disappointing quarter hour as my Ligustrum lucidum paper is nowhere to be found. If this brain of mine could file I’d be dangerous. It was an appendix on a botany paper I wrote…

                Tree privet is one of the worlds worst weeds. It is still a bad weed, it still causes hayfever, it still invades and dominates ecosystems.

                I have privet timber growing in my yard the canopy is around 15 metres the wood is 10 m plus, 12-24 inches girth, and relatively straight.

                As the privet gets taken out I replace it with more desirable trees. Not before I have replacements privet > bare land. My section backs on to acres of large privet, it is called Jaggers Bush. They’ve spent 20 years trying to kill it. I can kill it, they cannot.

                Diesel, dynamite, roundup, diggers, fire…. fails.

                Cut it down and leave a stump. Pull the suckers off the stump every few months for 2 years. Dead privet. If you can’t manage land leave it alone plants > no plants. Do not cut privet to the ground (recommended practise of all govt contractors) it will sucker along the roots and then you need a bulldozer.

                Good firewood, building wood, coppicing, char, mulch and compost. The flowers are used in traditional medicine, western science finds they regulate blood sugar. Bee crop. Bird crop.

                Going to try run some vines up a couple if I remember…

                Public enemy number one!

                The problem is the solution.

                • Robert Guyton

                  “Cut it down and leave a stump. Pull the suckers off the stump every few months for 2 years. Dead privet.”
                  That’s the solution I too discovered. It’s relatively effortless. I hadn’t shed my old prejudice though, till now.
                  Right, lodgepole pines next!

              • RedLogix

                Are people no longer allergic to its pollen?

                I’m mildly allergic to it, but my father and brother are a different story. I can recall as a teenager my father coming out in the most horrendous rashes covering his face, arms, legs, back …. they still remain vivid in my memory … every year just before Christmas.

                It really was an utter blight on his life until finally one day I slightly grazed myself on a branch mowing the lawns, and unwittingly did an allergy test on myself. The rash that came up was identical in character, although way less severe.

                Next day that damned privet was goneburger.

            • Graeme

              There was an outfit building “log” houses around here in 80’s. They had a system like Lockwood or Framos, but using machined dfir logs rather than sawn planks. They built nice houses that have aged very well compared to some of their peers. This one is an example https://www.nzsothebysrealty.com/purchasing/property/SAT10171/8-corsican-drive-queenstown/

              There’s a lot of under mature dfir coming down around here that was planted in 90’s (major wilding problem) along with heaps of larch that would be ideal for this.

              • Robert Guyton

                Q-town area? Those standing-but-dead conifers up there must have taken some serious killing; the cocktail of chemicals used by the “wilding pine exterminators” is pretty wicked stuff and no good for the environment.

                • Graeme

                  I suppose it’s a trade off between the collateral damage from the lucifer (yes it’s an evil brew) and the damage the wildings do. The spread of conifers here has been dramatic and to very high altitude, so action had to be taken.

                  Boom spraying has been effective at taking out seed sources along ridge lines and the system is precise (there’s additives in the brew to make it very sticky and heavy) that individual mountain beeches can be worked around. They’ve done this on Coronet Peak Stn and above Fernhill very successfully. I’ve seen a few fuckups with lancing individual trees in steep country, but the damage would probably have been the same if they’d winched someone down to the tree and cut it, if that had even been possible.

                  There’s some very interesting ideas for replacing the wildings with a mixture of Mountain Beech, grey shrubland and maybe non-invasive deciduous species. Yeah, terraforming to create paradise, but isn’t that the objective of gardening.

                  • Robert Guyton

                    Where might I read those “interesting ideas for replacing wilding pines”, Graeme. I’m greatly interested. I wonder if there’s anyone thinking about augmenting and containing, wilding pines, with other trees, native and (more likely) exotic? That’s where my thoughts are.

                    • Graeme

                      This is a report on Coronet Forest and some replanting options, goes into the problem as well. If you know Neil Simpson have a talk, he gets a twinkle in his eye on this.


                      I don’t think containment is an option when you look at the wind speeds and resulting spread. Unfortunately execution may be the only viable solution, or accepting that Central Otago becomes a conifer forest with a dfir monoculture going up to 5000″ with larch above going to the tops.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Thanks, Graeme. I’ll read those later.

                    • WeTheBleeple

                      I reckon you could use Armillaria novae-zelandiae to control wildling pines. My idea is to have the mycelium in wax bullets and go pine shooting from helicopters to take out the cliffhangers etc.

                    • Dennis Frank

                      Good thinking, WTB! But may not work in dry regions. Govt scientists ought to be experimenting with this approach, eh?

                      “A. novae-zelandiae grows most abundantly from March to May. It grows in wet forests primarily. The pathogen can be spread through farming practices, underground pests, or by any other means of moving around infected soil such as on shoes and boots. The spread of infection is accelerated by high levels of moisture in the soil such as those caused by rainy seasons as well as excessive irrigation in agricultural fields, and also persists when temperatures are fairly warm[4]. A. novae-zelandiae has been shown to survive temperatures up to 41°C. Recent studies have shown that in forests in Spain, Armillaria does not persist as well in places where the average rainfall is less than 1000 mm. Studies have also shown that in pine forests, as pine root systems increase in size and overlap, there is a possibility of disease transfer which allows the spread of infection beyond the area of the original primary source.”

                    • WeTheBleeple

                      Threads getting long… re: Armillaria and wilding pines

                      I was going to do this as a masters with Auckland Council and Nick Waipara – got sidetracked by another project.. He was the leading bio-control guy and he reckoned it had merit. Nick’s gone to plant and food now.

                      I think if we shoot the fungus into the trees they can live off the moisture in the trees, but perhaps no in dry lands?….

                      We can certainly beat the crap out of them in areas of high rainfall.

                      Any companies want to make a bullet that kills trees design? Marketing will be free just time lapse me shooting a tree that dies and watch it go viral. Inquiries welcome.

            • KJT

              Logs. Yes. Good use for pine thinnings, also?

              Cob and straw bale a bit more problematic, at least in wet areas of the country. There is a reason why most of the surviving cob buildings are in Canterbury and central Otago.

              One of my building jobs was building a weatherboard extension, on the exposed side, of a rammed earth house in Northland.

              Beer bottles in plaster are a good, and abundant, building material, as is recycled and consolidated plastic waste. Old tyres covered in earth give you a wall, and garden, in one. Earthquake codes and the “acceptable solution” approach to building regulation add a lot to the expense if you depart from the code, however. You have to pay for an engineer each time, which is good for them.

              Maybe fund some University engineering/Architecture departments, to add more “acceptable solutions” using recycled and waste materials.

              • Graeme

                For alternative structures of methods, think of the wall as concrete block with it’s reinforcing, bond beams and concrete infill, then take away the blocks and replace with the alternative material. At present an engineers cert is required but is fairly basic if done like that. I’ve got solid stacked stone walls done like that, lots of labour, mine so didn’t cost too bad, but excellent result.

                There was a lot of work done 50 + years ago at Canterbury toward a “code” for rammed earth, unfortunately it didn’t really go anywhere. This would have incredible value if it could be developed in parts of the country where rammed earth is possible.

                • Robert Guyton

                  Nobody knows nuttin’ ’bout yurts?

                • KJT

                  I’ve seen new rammed earth houses here, so they must have got consent, but I think they may have timber framed them. In which case they would fit in the code like brick veneer, and similar, non structural claddings.

              • Greywarshark

                That s good stuff kit.

  13. Rainbow Valley is the oldest intentional community in Golden Bay
    Incredibly generous, over the years they’ve taken in heaps of people who would not otherwise find it easy to survive in the cut throat world of renting.
    They have woodlots, keep beef cattle and all have chooks and gardens.
    Somehow, despite the unavoidable people
    dramas, they’ve kept it together, and the place is beautiful, with well kept buildings and common areas.
    Of course this was able to happen back then , when rules were a lot more flexible. I have a feeling it was the Kirk years, when Matiu Rata got the ohu scheme going.
    Check this out for a very brief golden age of enlightenment


    The challenge is, as people get older, what happens when they pop off /need to go in to care, and the kids aren’t keen to come back.Hopefully younger ones will come to buy their share.

    • greywarshark 13.1

      Perhaps we can set up a post that looks out for places that have an opportunity for someone with the right attitudes to live and work and share. And we can publicise those amongst people who come here.

    • RedLogix 13.2

      Visited Rainbow and several other GB communities a number of times although not recently. I’m glad these places exist; they point to some of the other possibilities we’ve thoughtlessly discarded in our rush to modernity.

      While I often defend the extraordinary achievements of our global civilisation, it’s not and end state in itself. It contains many contradictions and failure points … intentional communities like these are a space to explore other social forms in real life.

      And besides they’re usually very quiet healing places.

      • Robert Guyton 13.2.1

        Don’t all hive off into intentional communities somewhere in the hills, though; we need people who see the value of living differently, in our towns and villages, to build community-webs onsite and connect the services you might find in those rural idylls. Creating a community within a community is where I reckon it’s at.

  14. Robert Guyton 14

    “Saving the planet is a worthy cause to unite under.”
    I don’t see it that way, WTB. The cause is too nebulous and the responses to it too tenuous to hold people’s attention long-term. A successful community has to come, I reckon, from a simpler, more heart-felt place; a sense of togetherness, love, joy, fun, safety, companionship, whanau/family, spirituality; that sort of ill-defined stuff. Whaddayareckon?

    • greywarshark 14.1

      I think the way to go is to look for like-minded practical people and work out how to set up a community, not necessarily a therapeutic community for all the lost who turn up, but friendly, respectful and trustworthy, and showing how it can be done, and be willing to help with advice. Holding workshops, putting info on line, can make it all available to others.

      We have had social welfare for decades in NZ, I would have thought that the sharing idea had become part of our DNA, but no. There are a lot of people who think they should be helped, but don’t believe in sharing the kindness, there is little giving back. The human brain soon forgets to be grateful, and overlooks its obligation to pass on to others, the good help that comes their way, whether they feel entitled to it or not.

      Now communities have to set up with people expected to input where required, to have some loyalty and commitment to those around them, not expect ‘services’ to be delivered as they are likely to be pulled out, run down, by those who have achieved prominence and some wealth.

    • WeTheBleeple 14.2

      A common purpose, or any purpose for some, will make a world of difference to many lives. The rat race is an aimless maze really. What we face now is unprecedented. How we go about coping will be a free for all grab for resources or working together. Only option two pans out well.

      Communities with holistic values are obviously preferable in the light of our shared experience of the consequences of mans free for all; or simply the shared experience of living with some ‘fellow men’… I’m not disagreeing community should come from a good place rather than dire need. But I think you’ll find today that the good place is a (great) TV show, and the reality is a (not so great) dire need. 😉

      I don’t find this saving the world stuff so much fun and joy, discovering the intricacies of mycorrhizal networking, or working on a stage, that’s fun and joy to me. This is necessity, I’ve learned too much to step aside and do nothing.

      How do we raise the level of conversation?

      I have been compiling a bit of climate change comedy…

      cos it’s fucking hilarious!

      The country’s screwed now. Rural… All the trees are gone. Nothin but rivers full of shit and cows. That’s why possums are jumping in front of cars.

      You follow those rivers out to the ocean where the shit hits the estuaries fan, all the gulls flying over and looking down at it ‘FAAARK, FAAARK’!


      How to structure community is not my forte as previously admitted. I’m an aspie I’ll have all speakers facing slightly to the side and not talking about things I don’t find interesting.

      No madam I wasn’t staring at your cleavage, I was trying to avoid eye contact.

      Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

      • Robert Guyton 14.2.1

        That’s funny stuff, WTB – when can we enjoy the full-blown version?

        • WeTheBleeple

          I’ve only just considered climate change a viable topic for comedy after writing a throw away line here a couple weeks back. Theoretically any subject can be made funny but some are a tough call. I’ll give it a bash and if it works yay… I’ll likely have to wedge strong one liners into the topic which is a bit of a cheat. Where’s George Carlin when you need him, he’d clean up with this material.

          Long answer short: Work. In. Progress.

          Currently writing on special needs, euthanasia and #metoo: why not add climate change – what could possibly go wrong?

          A man came to me the other night concerned about climate change and his escalating gambling debts. I sent him home with some gardening tips and a rosemary cutting; but it didn’t help. Only days later he stabbed himself in the back seventeen times and threw himself off a bridge.

          Hahaha. That one sure amused me. Wee bit dark.

      • ianmac 14.2.2

        Aha! “That’s why possums are jumping in front of cars.

        “All the gulls flying over and looking down at it (the silt) ‘FAAARK, FAAARK’!

        “No madam I wasn’t staring at your cleavage, I was trying to avoid eye contact..”

        Three examples of pithy, funny wise words. Thanks Wtb,

      • RedLogix 14.2.3

        Hah , cleavage if your lucky; as one young woman explained to me, she can tell an extrovert math grad because he’s staring at her shoes instead of his …

  15. BM 15

    All this talk of saving the planet by living an agrarian lifestyle in little villages, how this supposed to work for 4.7 million people?

    Are you guys expecting 95% of the population to drop dead?

    • Robert Guyton 15.1

      I know, BM – the 4.7 mil are our responsibility and we shouldn’t dare float ideas until we’ve shouldered responsibility for those poor souls….hang on….
      are we expecting… why would they “drop dead” – do you know something we don’t? (doesn’t appear so 🙂

      • BM 15.1.1

        Thing is Robert, society has evolved into what it is because it’s the most efficient way to support millions of people.

        Going back to the way it was will only work if the population drops by 95% at least

        I have nothing against anyone who wants to live the village lifestyle pottering around in the paddocks all day, but it’s not a way of life that can be scaled up to incorporate millions of people from all sorts of cultural backgrounds.

        Less environmentally damaging large-scale high tech farming is the future, not back to low tech village lifestyles.

        • Robert Guyton

          Billions of people are being fed and a fed population grows until it runs out of food or dies from its own toxic exudations; where are we in that picture, do you think?
          *Clue: not in a good place.
          “Less environmentally damaging large-scale high tech farming is the future, not back to low tech village lifestyles.”
          More food, more people, more toxic exudations; where, BM, do you think continued growth will end?

        • KJT

          Doesn’t seem to be that efficient, when a third of all food grown in the West is wasted, while millions starve.

          In fact large mono culture, in places like Africa is producing much less food than the previous, subsistence farmers. While relying on sustainable, and expensive, inputs.

          • Robert Guyton

            Large monoculture has cleverly stolen all the seeds (and offered up its own instead, at a price, one season at a time, no hoarding!)).

            • Graeme


              That’s where it all falls over. That’s what makes large scale intensive farming work, and what will make it not work any more once the antibiotics don’t work any more. And that’s probably not too far away.

              • Robert Guyton

                True, Graeme, re antibiotics, though I used it to mean “life killing’ in a broader sense. Stock farming/farmers kills off most other life in order to occupy the farmed space; native forests and their insect/bird/reptile/fish/fungal etc. life – gone. But, cows and grass.

                • Graeme

                  Yeah, same mindset. I saw an example the other day, 10 ha paddock re-grassed this spring with mixed grasses and clover, with chicory, plantain and a couple of other herbs mixed in too. It had had a bad thistle problem that was supposed to have been dealt to, but came back with a vengeance. So the thistles, and everything else got sprayed and it’s back to a grass monoculture again. Don’t know if they are going to try and redrill the herbs.

                  • Robert Guyton

                    Thistles are interesting creatures. On the various permaculture/forest garden/orchard projects I’ve been involved in, the thickets of thistles that grew at the outset, from pasture fresh or neglected, all faded out without any special attention, as the result of the new system being established. Pasture based farmers don’t report the same phenomenon 🙂

                    • WeTheBleeple

                      Trees mess with thistles. Trees provide partial shade but also lower recruitment numbers from the wind dispersed seed. They’ll come back from rhizomes in newly established shade but gone by next year. Can probably mess with them using pH too.

                      I have 1 thistle left on the property. I’ve never removed them. The forbes are all dandelion moving into plantains, clover, other legumes now and beet greens, cilantro and comfrey invading this ‘lawn.’

                      The thistles need to run their course, but if farmers run mono-cultures they never will fulfill their role and will just keep coming back. They love rich soil they might be a clean up design. Possibly too much fertiliser, open paddocks and not enough legumes set conditions for them to flourish.

                      All thistles are edible. Tell your cows to harden up.

  16. CHCOff 16

    The parliamentary partys having an hour (later expanded to 2) between themselves across the tv channels each week, that is of producing their own content.

    The time is allocated in priority according to their relative proportion of the respective blocks.

    Opposition Wednesday night.

    Government Thursday night.

    Every week.

    Independent, the partys have full creative control of what they produce. Lets have the partys leading the way in clearing out the gutter politics from the system in re-establishing NZ demand and supply.


  17. DJ Ward 17

    This comment is about Lake Waikare. Just to the north east of Huntly.

    It is tested as one our most polluted lakes. It’s large at 32 km2 but it has no depth at 2 meters max.

    So it’s surrounded on 3 sides by hill ranges with lots of little streams, a small river at the south east with a large catchment, and run off etc from Te Kauwhata township. There’s plenty of spots up on the hills where the view is amazing.

    The error made by us humans was the soil is so poor, except the flats. The soil is thin and the rocks underneath when exposed to water starts breaking down over a few years and turns to soluble mud. So really many hills should not have been turned into pasture.

    The lake has in effect filled up with sediment. When it rains the water causes the inlet river to flood turning into a hundred meter wide raging brown mess. So along with the sediment goes a lot of organic matter etc as well.

    The problem with the lake is due to its size the waves get big and the sediment, pollutants, nutrients are continually stirred up. In the summer sun it can then have algal blooms and has turned pink in the past.

    Compared to what it could be like, the lake is dead.
    The shoreline areas are undergoing conservation planting etc, but nothing seems to be happening with the lake itself.

    Who’s responsible.
    Humans obviously in stoping the Wiakato River flushing it out, and the widespread deforestation of the past. It could also be that we just happened along at a time in history where the lake was slowly turning due to sediment deposits into the vast swamplands like Island Block further north.

    What’s next.
    Give up on it being a lake and over the next 100 or so years let it fill with sediment.
    Or interfere in what’s happening and make it a healthier lake.

    What’s the problem and a possible solution.
    The lakes so shallow that it can not develope clear water so plants don’t grow in the water like you see on healthy lakes.
    Surrounding the lake is flat areas, including commercial food crops, maize, etc.
    The sediment must have some value for those farmers. High in Nitrogen etc. It may be good applied to land at only 10mm just before plowing. 20mm might reach some health limit, or be counterproductive.

    10mm over 1 hectare is 100 tons of sediment which could be pumped to a small number of spreading trucks.

    That one hectare would create a trench 2 meters deep, 5 meters wide, for 10 meters. A 100 ha farm would create a trench 1km long. So if 100, 100 ha farms got involved and just took back 10mm each of there pollutants you could create 100km of trench or create an area 1/2 km2 2 meters deeper. The deeper water will allow the sediments to fall out of suspension, making the water clearer.

    This is obviously not a quick fix and it may take decades. But like I said before nothing is being done.

    So a small company is made with a dredge, and spreading trucks using a levy on landowner in the lakes water catchment. Everyone in the catchment must accept a minimum purchase. The company charges for the spreading, dredging cost, plus a little profit saved for upgrades.

    The lake is infested with Carp and Rudd etc. The ability to get rid of them is slim to none. Rudd produce 200,000 eggs per kg of fish. For the lake to develope large plant life there numbers need controlling. The only way to do that is fishing, for fertiliser, or as baitfish, burley, products. Lessening the taking of pipers, pilchards, etc from the ocean, hopefully. The healthier the lake the more productive the fishery.

    Added to my last weeks, add ponds, wetlands etc, comment to lesson sediment losses on farm.

    Potentially you could have a highly productive commercial, and recreational fishery, great bird life, healthy, beautiful, swimmable lake, a short drive from Auckland.

    Or continue with the pretty shoreline next to a toxic national shame idea of the present.

    • Robert Guyton 17.1

      Are those your thoughts, DJ Ward, or are you compiling?

      • DJ Ward 17.1.1

        My thoughts, but I’ve thought about it for a long time. Drive past it a few times a week, zoomed around in a boat in it, stop with the kids at a camping area and viewing site. Can’t let the kids paddle in the shallows it so bad.

        • Robert Guyton

          Hmmmm…you’ve been thinking.
          Estuaries in Southland are similar in some ways and the idea to dredge the mud from them is tempting, but quite out of the question in reality, all involved say; lifting such weight is not in any way economically or practically do-able, apparently. So some areas are … stuffed, and there’s no reason to believe and expect that some might be. We might have to wear some awful damage for some time into the future, I’m sad to say. That said, I’ve thoughts of windmills, conveying silt and mud from choked waterbodies to…elsewhere…some of that stuff is toxic – “contaminated site” and where will you dump it???
          As for “carp infested” – I just read a quip, “the seas aren’t “shark-infested”, they just live there”. Don’t know if that resonates…

          • DJ Ward

            Yes your carp comment. There’s two trains of thought. Exterminating everything foriegn so only native species are left. That as I pointed out is not possible with the carp. Kind of like other things in the category pest. So at some point you need to accept its existence and manage its presence. The carp like all of us on earth shouldn’t be put in a construct of just a pest and costs, but it is made to pay its way. IE a small fisherie (the shark) with a good mix of job supporting products.

            The shark pays its way by keeping the seas ecosystem healthy. The carp is unhealthy because it has no predator and overwhelms its NZ habitat.

            As for costs of moving the sludge or sediment. Normal fertiliser is dug out of the ground, transported to a port, loaded on a ship, sailed around the world, unloaded at a port, sent to a storage facility, loaded on a truck, unloaded into a spreader.

            This involves pumping the sludge to the spreader at shoreline. Or though a pipe onto a spreader filling site on farm. So costs must be less.

            You mention Toxic. Which is why finding out how much of the stuff the land can take over what period is important. There will also be limit curves for the advantages of putting the sediment into the soil. There will be peak plant growth, peak reduction in nitrogen fertiliser use, peak water retention, peak soil PH etc. There will also be peak toxicity, or health limits. The aim would be to find the dose that substitutes fertiliser use giving it in real terms a value.

            Why I think it would work is that land that experiences flooding with large sediment deposits becomes more fertile.

            The toxic stuff. Some heavy metals like Cadmuim, Lead, Mercury could be at toxic rates. Don’t we have an obligation to remove it.

            The dredge could passively remove those chemicals so the output sludge is much lower in Cadmuim etc, and a high value waste, heavy metals rich, sludge that can be sent for recycling.

            • WeTheBleeple

              Interesting DJ.

              The sediment will need testing for viability it doesn’t have to go to food crops however, it might be used on timber or bush projects etc if there’s issues for food. I reckon it’s probably quite good. You’d want a sump/dredge type setup that separates out liquid at the water/air interface taking solids mostly out, and it will probably kill everything in the lake when you get started as there will be no air if you stir up that many nutrients the food chain goes boom…

              So you section off a portion of the lake at a time to work, or make the decision to pull the plug and just do the whole thing. Get the muck out, move it out, repeat till done. Then restock/replant everything as soon as you can.

              So you’d have to have a solid plan, and solid equipment. A place for the muck to go in advance. And a lot of parties agreeing, the hardest part. Council, landholders, iwi, government? Others in the catchment/s. This sounds like a PITA but due process saves a lot of PITA forever after. And the more people at the table, the more potential allies, ideas and resources the project might get.

              However, without working on the entire catchment/s you only band aid the real problem/s. Tillage and fertilisers. You are right that the lake represents a financial case. Making that will get you the most support. A sound economic/ecological case will help with iwi. I’ve scribbled about the multiple revenues/functions of wetlands and water bodies someplace here’s, I’m bound to repeat myself at some stage. If you can find benefits for all stakeholders you stand a chance of getting someplace but you will have to make allies and grind away at it.

              There is some precedence with lake clean ups in NZ, typically Iwi getting stuff done after decades long court battles… It’s like each individual waterway has to be fought for.

            • McFlock

              ISTR reading that there’s a company in the UK that makes bricks and gardeniong soil from dredgings from the river Clyde. Can’t remember enough details to find it on Google though. The heavy metals are separated.

    • KJT 17.2

      Used to sail on that lake.

      Was clean before all the subdivision and dairy.

      Lots of complaints up here about the spread of mangroves. Not so much consideration of the sediment overload, which is causing it.

      One solution which has come from our local roading engineers are swales, instead of drains, beside new roads.

      • Robert Guyton 17.2.1

        Dairy will pass…but subdivision???

        • KJT

          A couple of farmhouses there in the 70’s. Not now.

          • Robert Guyton

            How can we regain our equilibrium?
            “It is Story that heals us, that shapeshifts us, that saves us.”
            – Sylvia V. Linsteadt
            (Perhaps a bit obscure, sorry).

          • DJ Ward

            Thousands of more residential houses at Te Kauwhata are being added to the lakes problems. The lake edge will eventually split up into ever smaller farmlets increasing the residential burden. The populace will eventually want something done.

    • ianmac 17.3

      Lakes, ponds all have a wish to fill up and become marshland then a plain. We can speed this up with erosion or not, but in a few thousand years even Lake Taupo will become a plain. Lake Horowhenua near Levin is a lost cause as it has nearly filled right up.

      • DJ Ward 17.3.1

        Absolutely, the size of Cantabury plains, Hawkes bay, etc are gigantic. Taking millions of years to make. We however are capable of terraforming to create paradise. Even if it’s just a small project, at one clean green NZ flagship lake.

        Lake Taupo if it was dead would fill up like you said, but it’s more likely to bulge out and go pop.

        Very few things are actually a lost cause. They may be more expensive to do than what you are willing to spend, or the end result may be desirable like a vast wetland until some government reclaims it as dry land for profit.

        Don’t encourage them, it will be a wetland, they will dig a drain to control flooding, the land will dry out. No more lake, or wetland, or wildlife.

        • Robert Guyton

          “We however are capable of terraforming to create paradise”
          Isn’t that belief that got us into this mess?

          • WeTheBleeple

            Not really. We weren’t terraforming to create paradise at all:

            We took down mountains for minerals, forests for wood and land.

            Lake sediment is a natural reservoir of nutrients. Extraction is problematic as I outlined concerning anoxia following disturbance. But it is common practise at small scale. A series of ponds – drain one at a time to get at the nutrients, put these on the banks for fertility of terrestrial crops. It’s a self sustaining system, and the backbone of the most productive agriculture the world has ever seen.

            Check out chinampas


            Earthworks can create ponds swales and keyline irrigation. This is terraforming par excellence as it paves the way to paradise providing water security, flood and drought mitigation, and fertility. It also provides waterbodies for aesthetic beauty and microclimate control.

            • Robert Guyton

              I was being cynical about the massive “earthworks” that have been undertaken over, say, the past century or two, where “paradise” was seen as highway, city, airport, farm etc. “Paradise”, in fact, would be a great topic for another day 🙂 Sharing visions of that would be very interesting (would there be mosquitoes? 🙂

          • WeTheBleeple

            Have I mentioned at least three times yet how good I think you’ll find the documentary on biochar discovery. You will learn of ancient earthworks that span country sized plots… Entire ecosystems engineered in a series of connected villages making a huge civilisation…

            It’s been done before!

  18. millsy 18

    If you guys were around in the 1920’s and 30’s, you would be condeming the Bolsheviks for electrifying and industrialists Russia while idolising the rural peasant life under the Tsar as an ideal Utopia.

  19. WeTheBleeple 19

    So many topics to cover. Biochar must be included.

    “One of the most important aspects of biochar is the scale at which it can be deployed. If we turned all of the world’s production of forestry and agricultural waste into biochar, and stored the carbon, we’d remove about 4 gigatonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere…

    Among the most valuable outcomes of the application of the biochar technologies are greatly increased economic efficiency in agriculture, enhanced crop yields, and slowing the return to the atmosphere of carbon captured by plants. The result is diverse and clean energy supplies, more food per unit of input, and a chance at climate security.”

    Lehmann, Johannes, and Stephen Joseph, eds. Biochar for environmental management: science, technology and implementation. Routledge, 2015.

    I’ve tinkered with the stuff. I can attest to biochars efficacy as a soil amendment in Auckland’s yellow ultic clay. The key is to run the crushed charcoal through a composting process so it loads up on nutrients before it goes in the soil. It’s quite a learning curve the above book is the authority.

    The origins:

    • Robert Guyton 19.1

      Have you researched the gasses given off by the various char-making methods?
      Which one adds the least to AGW?

      • WeTheBleeple 19.1.1

        You capture or burn the gases if you make a double flue and air intake on the inner chimney it will clean the flame up good for home scale non-gas capturing style design.

        Big topic. That documentary is a great piece of history/discovery. You’ll love it. Wont answer your gas questions though 😀

  20. Jenny - How to get there? 20

    How to get there*

    ‘Left’, ‘Right’ and ‘Centre’
    *(Or not)

    @ #comment 1562935

    Jenny: “New Zealand needs to become the first country to declare war on climate change.”

    @ #comment156310

    solkta: “So what was your idea again, declare war on the USA?”

    @ #comment 1563361

    Robert Guyton: “you are declaring war on people”

    @ #comment !564204

    Jenny: “Only if you consider corporations people”


  21. WeTheBleeple 21

    Another innovation industry could jump onto, which some have already… is the use of shellfish industry waste to make soil amendments. Oystershell as a liming agent, mussel shells as a liming/mineral supplement… And outfits like salmon farmers struggling with waste could make fish hydrolysate as a fertiliser to sell. Crustacean shells can be used to produce high chitinase hydrolysate by using lactobacillus and trichoderma for a plant insect/fungal defense bolstering fertiliser…

    Local industries making great products from waste for other local industries.

    Things we can char: weeds, wood, mangroves, manures, seaweed, lake algae blooms, organic industrial wastes… Human shit. Pig shit. Cow shit. Chicken shit (also a term of endearment for legislators on climate mitigation).

    So you get a char plant that uses excess heat drying stuff for the char plant but also dries shell for crushing for soil amendments, timber for industry, food for storage, heats greenhouses, ponds…. there’s a range of uses for it. There’s gas to run things and a raft of services to provide, plus the char you can sell as is or amend with another waste stream to ready it for soil application…

    The char gets sequestered the soil fertility goes up the wastes get used. Agriculture wins on ecological, economic and massive carbon credits.

    After that: My Tsarist Utopia!

    My Tsarist Utopia features my BBQ that takes garden prunings and turns half of them to char while I cook my dinner. I prune my peasant roses and peach, my lowly plums and citrus. I walk, barefoot at times, and think of the mother, land.

    My neighbors, who live in a vast and complex civilisation of wise men with power switches: they hire a man who comes and sprays the things that grow unannounced. He cuts it all and carts it off to the dump where unwanted things belong. They shell out their dollars for him, and then more to buy peaches and plums, and more again to fuel their BBQ.

  22. Jenny - How to get there? 22

    Seven steps to save the planet: How to take on climate change and win
    New Scientist – December 4, 2018

    “It’s the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced, but we can keep global warming to within the “safe” boundary of 1.5°C. Here’s how we do it”

    On the first day of Christmas, ninety-nine-percent of scientists, said to me.

    Kill fossil fuels

    On the first second day of Christmas, ninety-nine-percent of scientists, said to me.

    Tra-avel light

    On the third day of Christmas, ninety-nine-percent of scientists, said to me.

    Rebuild everything

    On the fourth day of Christmas, ninety-nine-percent of scientists, said to me

    .A new industrial – rev-vol-lution

    On the fifth day of Christmas, ninety-nine-percent of scientists, said to me.

    Reap what you sow

    On the sixth day of Christmas, ninety-nine-percent of scientists, said to me

    Suck and not blow

    On the seventh day of Christmas, ninety-nine-percent of scientists, said to me

    Cha-ange ourselves..

  23. Jenny - How to get there? 23

    The ghost of Christmas future

    One climatoligist’s Christmas

    Kate Marvel – Scientific American, December 25, 2018

    “Hope is the knowledge that we can prevent bad things—but also the realization that we might choose not to”

    Imagine the terror you’d feel confronting a force of nature completely beyond your control. You’d rapidly go through all the stages of grief until you reached the bargaining phase. I’ve been there, after the terrible phone call or car accident, my mind cycling through what-ifs and could-have-beens, desperate for a reprieve that will never come……

    ….You may have heard that we have 12 years to fix everything. This is well-meaning nonsense, but it’s still nonsense. We have both no time and more time. Climate change isn’t a cliff we fall off, but a slope we slide down. And, true, we’ve chosen to throw ourselves headlong down the hill at breakneck speed. But we can always choose to begin the long, slow, brutal climb back up. If we must argue about what the view will be like when we get there, let’s at least agree to turn around first…..

    …..Hope, said Emily Dickinson, is the thing with feathers. I have never understood this poem. Hope does not keep me warm, nor is it always there. Hope is not comfortable. It demands things, drains you, makes you sad and anxious. Hope is the knowledge that we can prevent bad things, and the realization that we might choose not to.

    It’s eight o’clock and the train is passing through the outskirts of Baltimore. The weird orange streetlight glow is giving way to the gray mist of the morning. There is a small break in the clouds: not enough to show blue sky, but just enough to turn the sunlight bright silver. Tomorrow, there will be a second more of daylight in the darkness, and then a few more seconds, and then the long days of summer until the world swings back around the sun. It doesn’t stop. It never will.

    Kate Marvel is a climate scientist at Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. She received a PhD in theoretical physics from Cambridge University and has worked at Stanford University, the Carnegie Institution, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Her writing has appeared in Scientific American, On Being, and Nautilus Magazine, and she’s given talks in places as diverse as comedy clubs, prisons, and the TED main stage.

    • Robert Guyton 23.1

      “Hope is the knowledge that we can prevent bad things, and the realization that we might choose not to.”
      My thoughts exactly, Jenny. I’ve no idea what will happen; perhaps the comprehension of what we face might “occur” across the world; a shared understanding of what’s happening and the need to drop everything and halt the runaway train, some pan-planet, hitherto unexperienced global-awareness that strikes each and every person, causing the scales to fall from our eyes…or perhaps the understanding will spread as a wildfire runs through the dry litter of the forest floor and eventually burn off the excuses and reluctances, the traditions and habits, the cultures and practices that have built our now-threatened civilisation.
      Or perhaps we’ll just have to carry on as we are, getting more and more uncomfortable, till all that we can do is cut our losses and hang on tight and …hope. Against hope.
      In the meantime and on a personal level, I think the best thing to do is fan the tiny ember of hope and see if we can get it to glow a bit more brightly. I’ve seen fires burst into life as the result of the gentle by constant application of breath.

  24. WeTheBleeple 24

    DIY solar devices.

    This design has been plagiarised consistently, including from the author of the video. But it’s a good design, namely, a convection air heater made from cans.

    Why I like this particular video is the attention to specific materials and details provided by the ‘inventor’.

    We even had some locals in the Herald lately claiming they’d thought of it…

    This summer I might try knocking together a solar heater, but I’m more keen on making a solar dehydrator for easy storage of some of the food growing here. Just make a solar convection design and put the air through a box with drying racks. Job done!

    • KJT 24.1

      Not solar, but have you seen the air conditioner, made in India, of earthenware pipes and running water?

      • WeTheBleeple 24.1.1

        I don’t think so. I’m interested for sure.

        Passive/assisted cooling can be arranged pulling cold air from the base of the shaded side of a house. Plantings can make it shadier. A water feature adds evaporative cooling. Air is dragged in and air flow established via an outlet for hot air at the top of the opposite (sunny) side of the house.

        If a greenhouse/conservatory is attached to the front of the house you vent through the top of that. Reverse the air flow to heat the house in Winter bringing it in through the conservatory into the house then out through the back.

        Cooling can also be achieved using tunnels or lengths of ceramic pipe underground and down a slope toward a house. The cooling of the earth provides cold air ‘dropping’ to the house.

        • Robert Guyton

          As conditions heat up, a simple, non-mechanical cooling system will be invaluable. I’ve dug a cellar deep into the clay and it’s cool and moist. I could sit in that if the atmosphere gets too hot or smokey 🙂

          • RedLogix

            There are many ancient techniques like this that at least in non-dense, non-urban areas that have a lot of utility.

            It’s incredibly inefficient to generate high-grade energy like electricity, and then waste it on low-grade heating and cooling applications.

            • Robert Guyton

              The trick will be getting them in place before they’re needed; dig for victory! This why I especially like the idea of storing water in the soil by encouraging the formation of humus; it’s a non-mechanical solution to water-scarcity and one that can’t “break” and doesn’t require maintenance other than those actions used to create it – allow vegetative matter to lie on the surface, don’t kill the microorganisms that build it – pretty simple and “pretty simple” is a sign of great design, imo.

              • RedLogix

                The West has deeply embraced the scientific method since the Renaissance, and in many ways it shapes our presuppositions and thinking in materialistic, often quite narrow patterns. By contrast our ancestors were highly observational thinkers; their ability to grow food and survive totally depended on it.

                Agriculture is one of humanities most powerful and problematic inventions; it delivered us both triumphs and catastrophes. It deeply shapes our relationship with the land and our environment. Unquestionably the modern world has abstracted that relationship to excess; it isolates us from the natural world leaving us vulnerable and unaware of the ground shifting under us.

                When the ancients abused their landscape, or ignored their received wisdom, the result was immediate and personal … famines where a constant threat. Surviving each winter or dry season was an annual cycle no-one could ignore. By contrast most of us modern urban dwellers couldn’t grow a cabbage to save ourselves.

                I’m deeply persuaded that the optimum path forwards lies in intelligently blending our hi-tech civilisation with forgotten patterns our ancestors once knew intimately. We cannot go backwards, but we can expand our thinking and embrace the lessons from our past.


                • Robert Guyton

                  Yours are well-considered ideas, RedLogix and I very much support what your final paragraph says.
                  This: “Agriculture is one of humanities most powerful and problematic inventions; it delivered us both triumphs and catastrophes.” attracted my attention because while what you say is true, I wonder if it takes into account the final result; that is, if agriculture and it’s attendant structures (cities etc) cause a collapse of the major ecological systems, does it matter at all if along the way it “delivered us triumphs”? Good while it lasted isn’t good enough, imo.

                  • RedLogix

                    It’s like humanity hopped forward painfully on one leg for thousands of years; we barely made progress and we’d routinely fall over.

                    Now we hop forward on another, different leg, and the result has been quite different, but probably equally unstable.

                    Maybe we could run if we used both 🙂

                    OK so that isn’t very specific or immediately helpful, but it does point towards might work. Observational methods are very powerful over time; indeed the evolutionary process requires that only the successful methods survive. But it’s a slow process and carries a brutal cost of failure.

                    The scientific method addresses the key weakness of the observational method; essentially it demands that we don’t see in the data the causations we want to see. Propose, test, measure and confirm. Repeat the cycle rigorously.

                    The problem is at the measurement step; unless we can measure something accurately and reliably, and the information we get means something useful …. the scientific method flounders. It constrains us to the domain of factual data our instruments can obtain.

                    Whereas observationalists like yourself Robert, who bring a whole basket of values to the table, find this constraint irksome. And understandably so.

                    The secret ingredient that links the two domains is the conscious observer. Many people are now probing this link; at one side the physicists know that quantum fields manifest themselves in ways that are dependent on an observer. At the other side we are exploring the ways our values are sub-consciously shaped by stories and parables which have ancient, almost primordial origins.

                    OK that got too abstract too 🙂

                    How about this; try something out, start small and then observe. Collect data, all kinds. Don’t rule out anything. Learn some decent statistical methods to avoid misinterpreting the meaning of your data. Look for surprises and information you were NOT expecting.

                    And be aware that your consciousness is the fundamental component in the system.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Or…an observationalist might raise sons and a daughter who are talented in the “constraining’ fields and who share their thoughts freely. Whanau thinking beats individualised thinking every time 🙂
                      And…the “scientific method” may not “see in the data the causations we want to see” but scientists do/can.
                      And… you won’t be surprised to hear that I found this: “The secret ingredient that links the two domains is the conscious observer. Many people are now probing this link; at one side the physicists know that quantum fields manifest themselves in ways that are dependent on an observer. At the other side we are exploring the ways our values are sub-consciously shaped by stories and parables which have ancient, almost primordial origins.” most interesting 🙂
                      I think the Dancing Wu Li Masters may have chatted about this earlier.

              • WeTheBleeple

                I’m a big fan of mulching. While the mulch works well… mulch plus earthworks to slow the water down takes the prize. The earthworks also beautify drab landscapes with curves, mounds and water. Add trees – bam!

                A 20 cm layer of assorted broken down materials releases a fair bit of fine silt tannins etc after just one heavy rain. I deliberately laid that much out on my concrete pad after observing a larger pile leaching, and I watched it in the rain (while singing of course). It get’s worse over time as the material decomposes.

                This is great news for plants! But you can still get substantial nutrient loss from overland flow at the mulch/soil interface.

                As soil slowly develops the ability to take water (worms, roots, seasons…) these losses will be reduced somewhat. In the interim, where dealing with establishing new gardens/trees on degraded ground earthworks can shave years off establishing abundance.

                The first food forest I ever saw, it took me a while to recognise what I was standing in, then it dawned on me it was the type of thing I’d been reading and dreaming of. All manner of temperate and subtropical fruit bearing trees entangled in kiwifruit and passionfruit. A wee gulley on a farm in Raglan taking overflow from a dairy shed’s runoff.

                That was some smart design. Too steep for stock, but a couple of contoured swales where the nutrient’s came in leading to bowls for small sedge wetland areas and nutrient/effluent retention… and all that forest of food everywhere around it.

                It was christmas time and I was at a house on the property when I stumbled into the gulley to relieve some christmas cheer. I stumbled back out, seriously impressed, and with an armful of babacos and plums.

                • Robert Guyton

                  Nice – I was visited today, by 4 good folk from elsewhere: Baha, California and a Tongan Island called “Eueiki ” – the former a forest gardener who knew a great deal about more tropical gardens than mine and the latter, the owner of the resort island, a “will-be” forest gardener. All 4 were travelling to learn. It was a very productive couple of hours spent wandering our version of the Garden of Eden. We all learned stuff. We talked about soil, naturally, and it emerged that we saw soil-building not as “centimetres added to the surface” but the whole profile expanding through increasing root volumes, soil biota and gases; humus too and a whole lot of other stuff, aside from “topsoil”. It was an inspiring discussion. Learned about silica too and the value of drinking equisetum tea. Ginkgo tea too, and loquat.
                  I don’t mulch as such, more let lie what falls wherever. I do break stuff up a little, but only a little if possible. I reckon some fungi need bulk bits to thrive in, rather than chip. Wood boring creatures do too. Slowing down the movement of water’s the key and there are many ways to do that. Shielding soil from the wind and sun is primo.

                  • WeTheBleeple

                    Ideally a system operates like yours supplying its own mulch layer. But the transition from disturbed/degraded land can be considerably hastened by well placed earthworks, judicious mulch, and over planting.

                    Soil humus is NOT made up of plant parts. It is the parts of microbes and fungi that have, through weathering processes, become recalcitrant. The mulch layer worked by birds is perfect. It allows partial decomposition at the damp interface, followed by drying as birds turn it searching for fungi and worms.

                    Many of the soils I’ve dealt with are quite toxic after years of chemical abuse. The mulch has an important role in detoxifying soils too.

                    Here’s extracts of me in Heavy Metal Detox (work in progress)

                    “Co-culture of microorganisms with Metal Hyperaccumulating Plant’s shows, on average: metal extraction doubles, while plant mass is up to five times as much. We may never see the majority of them, but fungi and bacteria should be thrown a parade.”

                    “Hit the lights” – Metallica, Hit the Lights.

                    “The soil food web is composed of an enormous number and diversity of organisms supported by plant products. Plants in turn are supported by the soil food web. Soil food web functions beneficial to plants include: root system extension, pest and disease resistance, herbivore resistance, increased water and nutrient uptake, nitrogen fixation, phosphate acquisition, and drought, heat and cold tolerance. A healthy soil food web provides plants with many allies and services to support growth and reproduction. When we disrupt the soil food web, we disrupt plant support systems.

                    Symbiotic fungi help plants acquire hard to get substances bound in soil, like phosphate, or various metals. When phosphate fertilisers are used the fungi form weaker plant associations or none at all. Less useful freeloading species can take the symbionts place greatly reducing or removing their ecological function. Similarly, nitrogen fertilisers (and pesticides) compromise the associations between nitrogen-fixing bacteria and plants. To add insult to injury, phosphate is required for the nitrogen fixing process – so the loss of mycorrhizal function affects nitrogen fixation also.

                    Loss of one component often cascades into further effects. We then need more chemicals to finish crops, and more products to protect the plants. In time the soil is depleted of support systems, and plants are entirely reliant on chemicals – effectively, junkies.”

                    “There goes the neighbourhood” – Body Count, There Goes the Neighbourhood.

                    “Adding cellulose materials on top of the soil like woodchip, bark, peat, straw etc provides a mulch layer. A mulch layer helps compensate for removal of plant materials (historically, and your plant-metal harvests). Adding composted manures to this layer compensates for a lack of herbivores, which should be excluded where possible. Compost will bolster insect, fungal and bacterial growth and diversity in the mulch layer, where resources would otherwise be scarce. Mulch provides many benefits to the soil and brings in saprobic fungi. The nature of mulch additions directs which saprobes might grow there.”

                    Recall the topic is soil detox primarily, but in the process topsoil gets made. Saprobes are part 1 of the detox crew. Followed by plants, trichoderma, mycorrhizal fungi, bacteria… Saprobes require a mulch layer. If you haven’t grown one I suggest you import it till you can.

                    There’s a big rant on fungal and microbial succession in the process (a first of its kind from what I know) but still reading and corresponding on that. As far as evidence to support the need of ‘whole log culture’ as you hint at, I’ve never found a bracket on a chip so you’re probably right.

                    We could lose the majority of our productive land/export markets through the continued assault of cadmium on dairy lands. Having seen the writing on so many walls, I’m feeling a bit spread thin here.

                    But I will just keep at it. The metal detox is a sneaky piece of work, it helps people detox their land, but when they’re done, they’ll have rich topsoil.

                    Biggest thing holding me back is the university databank paywall. Took my 70K, taking my taxes, holding back the science we’ve all payed for.

                    People can’t learn to garden/heal land with the concept of just let nature do its thing. it seems intuitive/easy to you Robert, after you being an observer for decades. To go from the worst land in town to a primo site takes intervention.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Very good, WTB. “Judicious” mulching, indeed. I always thought humus consisted in part, of carbon-based molecules, some of which originated from lignin; that is, woody material. I understood the role of fungi in extracting and refining lignin, but didn’t know humus was only fungi and microbe “parts” but as I’ve mentioned before, I’d love to discuss humus here; there are many views of what “it” is or isn’t and I’d like to know what the up-to-the-minute understanding is.
                      You’ll have heard of the “Cadmium Group”? Their role seems to be to keep any discussion about the cadmium that’s been liberally applied across the country, a secret 🙂
                      Have you looked at feeding soil, or rather, soil organisms, fungi especially directly with sugars? The aerated liquid-feed people do it in their barrels and quickly multiply their “livestock” with oxygen and molasses, so I wonder if there’s value in general applications of sweet stuff to soil, especially when it’s covered already with forest/orchard litter. I know fruit falls and does this, but I wonder if there’d be a gain in pumping the system a bit. Probably unnecessary and forcing stuff isn’t really my way, but perhaps you’ve considered this?

                    • WeTheBleeple

                      Some of the humus will be recalcitrant lignin type stuff once weathered. The majority is bacterial and fungal in origin. It’s a very interesting distinction and explains why compost doesn’t last in soil. It’s only a wee fraction of humus. Adding clay will help retain the humus in a clay-humic crumb. The long lasting stuff is the humus itself, the best natural humus building system I can think of is the mulch layer plus small animals that disturb it as wet-dry cycling creates the recalcitrant parts. You know how drying scrunches stuff up, well, cut a bit out (partial decomposition), dry it, weird shapes get made… and enzymes maybe can’t get at it.

                      As part of a remediation process compost teas are outstanding. Without a soil food web microbial inoculates are highly recommended. Compost tea is one of the inoculates you can use. I also recommend if going that route to brew lactobacillus, trichoderma and to get nitrogen fixing and AM fungal hosts planted asap. But there are diminishing returns from compost tea as your environment is restored to health. At some point it’s not worth the effort if a cost-benefit analysis were employed.

                      The sugars can boost numbers of bacteria for bacterially dominated soils (annuals and vegetable type crops) and timed right with the emergent amoebas ciliates etc can provide quite a nutritional boost in organic systems. But is it boom-bust?*

                      Compost tea for planting vegetables when the organic matter is low – yes, absolutely!

                      Tim Wilson is my favorite authority on compost tea. He’s been adapting tools and making educational materials for decades. Mastered things in his own way. He was growing medicinal weed one time the crop grew so large so fast his soil visibly dropped an inch and a half in one season*…

                      Like many ‘miracle cures’ in organic gardening, compost teas have a time and place. Want a world champion pumpkin – compost tea!

                      Cadmium is our most badly kept secret even the counselors know about it and discuss it. Do the farmers know they could be locked out of markets overnight?

                    • Robert Guyton

                      “You know how drying scrunches stuff up, well, cut a bit out (partial decomposition), dry it, weird shapes get made… and enzymes maybe can’t get at it.”
                      I guess those “shapes” are too small to re-hydrate; they’re molecules, right, so can’t rehydrate unless they grab an H2O molecule but that wouldn’t change them, I suppose…trying to imagine these things…
                      ” But there are diminishing returns from compost tea as your environment is restored to health. At some point it’s not worth the effort if a cost-benefit analysis were employed.”
                      I imagine the habitat would be fully occupied at a certain point – no room at the inn. Pathogenic organisms dominate in a degraded soil, I’m led to believe. They’d have to take their places if all the accomodation was taken. Taking soil from the forest garden and brewing that up for other sites or not-so-vibrant patches here seems worthwhile. Perhaps my soil is fully populated and there would be no gain putting more organisms back into it, but how can I know – not that I’ll worry.

                      Do you rate the Biodynamic preps, especially 500? I do, but am using my romantic brain, not the scientific wafer. Did I mention silica? A daily dose makes your hair and nails grow strong and strongly – equisetum (I did).
                      “Do the farmers know they could be locked out of markets overnight?”
                      It’s more than cadmium that they have to worry about, so that fear is just shuffled to the back of the queue. It’s in the Foveaux Strait oysters.

                    • WeTheBleeple


                      Before we knew what microbes were they were the work of demons, witches, spirits, essence, life essence…

                      I can do without the mumbo jumbo. Many old books expand on these essences which are just microbes and their metabolites. I enjoy connecting the dots, but I don’t subscribe to the spirit world.

                      Silica is a very important and underrated plant protectant. We can cheat these days using Agsil with aloe and certain seaweeds for a highly effective defense bolstering spray. I rarely see such good ideas used here in horticulture but it could reduce pest pressure considerably. Plants are harder to chew on, plants have defenses activated…

                      So a silica spray is all good! Ferns (and horsetail) in the compost can help cycle more silica through the system.

                      Cadmium in the oysters? How’d it get there, via an estuary?

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Cadmium through the rives and estuaries that empty into the bays of the strait. The estuary muds are probably home to much more, as will be the cockles, I suppose.

          • WeTheBleeple

            Love it. I was thinking terracotta. I wonder how much water is lost to evaporation as that is the cooling mechanism.

            • Robert Guyton

              I wondered that too – water loss, in India??
              Still, you could have a condensing “roof” that recovered it…

              • KJT

                A condenser as part of the air conditioning, maybe, very valuable in India and their neighbour’s.

                Much of the water problems in India and Bangladesh is not shortage of water. It is shortage of unpolluted, water.
                Bangladesh, is one I know about. It is either covered in water that is too polluted to drink, or they have to resort to ground water that is high in arsenic, etc

                • Robert Guyton

                  Is it possible, in a country where the temperatures are very high, to build a condenser from simple materials that would purify drinking water by evaporating then only condensing H20 rather than the toxic mix you started with?

                  • KJT

                    Any evaporation then condensing, can remove impurities from water.

                    I’ve seen solar stills designed for third world countries. Some made from locally available materials.

  25. RedLogix 25

    Ink-jet printable PV cells:


    This perovskite tech has been in development in a number of places for about a decade now; the 2020’s will see commercialised production.

    Combine this with solid state lithium and/or lithium titanate batteries and the whole energy game changes.

    • WeTheBleeple 25.1

      Those are pretty damn rad!

      My only question is the plastic materials durability. We’ve fallen for ‘cheaper’ plastic stuff before.

      • RedLogix 25.1.1

        I’ve been following these for a while now, and my reading is that everyone in the field is quite aware that if these new cells don’t meet or exceed the current market life-cycle expectations set by silicon cells … there will be no point in going to market with them.

        Durability is really just a matter of packaging. Fundamentally perovskites are more vulnerable than silicon, but neither will last long if their encapsulation is not up to the environment they’re being used in.

        A good industry aggregation site here:


  26. Exkiwiforces 26

    I would like to thank everyone on this thread for some wonderful commentary on Boxing Day in between building HMS Ariadne and listening to the ABC’s commentary of the Boxing Day Test.

    What’s everyone’s view IRT water security at a local and national level? In particular the One Horizon Council “one water plan” (sorry can’t remember the name) and should this plan be adopted nationally? especially in the Canterbury Plains which was a traditional dry/ mix cropping farming until dairy the farmers moved and in my opinion is only going to lead to rack and ruined in the long term for everyone (townies and rural folk) IRT CC.

    Here is the rainfall records near where I live atm (about 400m-500m down the road) and you can see so far for the mths of Nov and Dec has been very poor so far.


    • WeTheBleeple 26.1

      I need to know what actual plan you are speaking of to comment on it. The adoption of a water plan for the entire country doesn’t sound smart considering the wide variation in ecosystems, catchment types, population densities…

      Waste-water should be seen as a valuable commodity to be utilised, not something to be discarded. On farms it is a source of biofuel, nutrients and compost. From Urban environments it is potential biofuel, biochar, chemicals for industry and composts and soil amendments for forestry/ag projects.

      Stormwater can be reduced by on farm storage, urban roof storage, rain gardens swales, planting, wetland restoration, etc.

      Drought can be reduced – see stormwater.

      Exporters of water should have to buy the water from the communities responsible for the aquifers. Communities that, using the above methods, replenish and maintain their aquifers. Farms can use soil storage and surface storage. The aquifers are not theirs only as part of the community they belong to. They might buy water from the wider community to supplement their own efforts.

      Water is life. We have ample in NZ if managed well. Through primary production we can offer high-water value products to areas with less water as well as the water itself. The intrinsic value of fresh meat and produce will only go up as water scarcity increases.

      Simultaneously the bottled water market can bring huge revenue to NZ if we move collectively to get grubby corporate mitts off it and keep the income for local enhancement.

      To maintain a very enviable position, we have to retrofit as if the planet were in danger.

      • Robert Guyton 26.1.1

        Have you watched this gardener? His no dig, firm soil dressed with compost system is pretty secure, imo. I learned a great deal from this.

        • WeTheBleeple

          Nice one. I was going to recommend Charles for people wanting a more traditional garden look while using sustainable practice. I’ve learnt a fair bit off him too. Charles is a good role model who doesn’t scare off the sustainable fence sitters is what I thought. Nice and tidy. Well explained.

          • Robert Guyton

            It’s the nice and tidy bit that worries me though 🙂
            I especially liked his “don’t disturb the soil” message – it’s got a subtle structure of pores, networks of fungal threads etc. On a very practical level, I appreciated seeing seedlings go into soil that was very firm, not even stirred up a bit for effect – he really has shown that sound soils are best for even tiny plants. I’d just finished planting several dozen young corn plants when I came in to watch his video, so felt a bit chastised, as I’d been fairly (and unnecessarily) liberal with the fork, frothing up a square metre or two of ex-chicken-run soil…His potato programme is really good also. He’s making the smallest possible hole, planting his spud vertically into uncultivated soil and harvesting only by pulling the plant straight up out of the ground with excellent results. He’s experienced an epiphany around cultivation and I respect him for that and for sharing his discovery. I’ve been establishing colonies of potatoes in sunny spots in my forest, but applying leafy mulch from on-site or nearby to keep the sunlight off the tubers and feed the soil – his method is to make compost and build up that way – his method is superior to mine, in the short-term at least, but I’m reluctant to make compost and move it about the way he does because it doesn’t fit my “natural forest” concept – I need to think more about this…

            • Robert Guyton

              Actually, I’ve just had an epiphany of my own 🙂
              I’ve a creek running through my forest garden. It originates in a spring 500 metres away and flows through a hobby farm (sheep and ducks) and carries a slow load of silt and duck poo when it gets to my place. I’ve dug a sump to intercept and settle it, and usually scoop that out and pile it up to dry then use it as part of a home-made potting mix. Now, I’ll apply it directly and wetly to my “sunlit clearing spuds’ in place of the compost I don’t make and see if that will do the same trick Charles uses compost to achieve. It seems elegant, if I may say so myself 🙂

            • WeTheBleeple

              I just harvested potatoes that required me to yank the plant and thus harvest the spuds. No till in mulch, ridiculous. Don’t even need to wash them. I like annuals. If I have stored spuds kumara beans and pumkins I’ve got winter covered. Branching into more now.

              I’ve been trying to do as little as possible for decades. Not because I’m lazy, I’m a maniac on the tools, but because I’m trying to make gardening systems easy. I’m sure you too would like to present work to your fellow man that isn’t so much work…

              What I’ve learned is that you do need to intervene especially with annuals. The trick is learning how little you can get away with. There is the saying ‘the best fertiliser is the gardeners footprints’ and I’m inclined to agree. But there is certainly a propensity to kill things with kindness aka tilling, fertilisers…

              I have some relatively weed free beds, but setting them up was quite major. A lot of work up front and less over time. This was what I heard Mollison mention and I’ve always expected it. It’s the same with native restoration projects. If you can get a closed canopy you’re good. Before then weeds have the advantage of rapid growth and often lower nutritional requirements (fungal hookups).

              If I didn’t trim the cosmos the lavender would be overwhelmed. Now I’ve got borage trying to take over the world, it came through the cosmos…. Without a spot of weeding the harvests are often less and sometimes non-existent. Many times one annual is overcrowding the next but consistent harvest allows both species to exist. The privet, wattle, sleepers weed, moth plants… recruits must be culled. It takes next to no effort to stay on top, a lot of extra work to try the route of neglect. Weeding, hedge trimming, coppicing, the source of next generations mulch/compost/char.

              But! I do ‘nothing’ for the banana coffee macadamia taro polyculture… I add chicken bedding occasionally, and pulled a moth plant out, so that’s at least an eyeball and a touch up… Recently I added extra mulch. That’s it for years… This next to nothing garden spot fascinates me. It’s highly productive. The canopy is closed and the spots filled with productive plants. The challenge is to allow all to grow together, with nuts as canopy, banana as sub canopy, taro and coffee as understory, there’s actually room for all. Had some beans try run up it a couple of times but they get confused in there no idea why they grow sideways and down and never straight for the light… Whereas that bloody moth plant know’s where the sky be at.

              That which you are attempting is the ultimate. The no maintenance forest garden – Eden. Perhaps only an ideal but I think it is possible to get close to no maintenance. The trick seems to be in filling in each ecological niche so that each has it’s own space in the larger picture. I believe this three dimensional approach should also apply to root zones with deep medium and shallow rooted plants able to coexist in close proximity.

              It is rumored the Mayans engineered entire ecosystems. The poor clay some historians attributed to their rein was found to be pre-Mayan. They are the makers of Terra preta. Every plant in the ecosystem had a purpose and each ecosystem functioned as if intact. Despite having the entire area under domestication, they still worked hard for their favorite annuals/staples. Slash and char followed by schlepping in shells and manures etc. Those chinampa designs of the Aztecs were also high maintenance but the most productive systems ever.

              Annuals are demanding. Smothering and no-till makes them much easier but one must plan in advance to use such methods.

              For me it’s easily delineated where to pay more attention by thinking of permaculture zones. More work in zones 1 and 2 where most of the annuals reside. By zone three I’m into orchard plants, timber perhaps, natives, bee trees… Where a lot less maintenance is required. Of course these zones are not so clearly delineated, but the rule of thumb works well in that, these are also where I’m most likely to be spending time harvesting, feeding chooks, watering seedlings, walking in and out of the house… My footprints are already there, the weeds are chicken fodder, it works out great.

              I love the idea of your colonies of annuals. I have a colony of brocolli and another of tomatoes going on right now. I’m going to leave them alone and watch. Maybe it will only work for some veggies, but for those it does – yay! Each system – Charles, Yours, Mine, Other… lends further understanding of how to ‘work with nature’ rather than against it. Knowing when to put your foot down is all part of it. Ultimately, we’ll cobble together all manner of functional guilds and things will get easier and easier as these become common knowledge.

              Another part of that knowledge will be knowing which plants to actively discourage, which to train, which to contain. e.g. I tried just let a plum grow as nature intended, now I can’t reach most of the fruit even with me handy bamboo pole picker. e.g. let a wattle run without trimming now it’s a monster threatening the greenhouse and will need some help to remove. Lessons learned.

              The eternal classroom of the garden is a blessing. But sometimes we see a system so jarringly different to our own we think we don’t know what we’re doing. It is human to doubt ourselves. You have much to teach and offer, and I think Charles garden is so tidy it’d give any permie pause for thought.

              If you are gaining topsoil, you are probably not wrecking the place.

              • Robert Guyton

                Great stuff, WTB – I’ve a couple of hours of forest garden tour to do now, but intend to come back with a reply to your excellent effort 🙂

                • Robert Guyton

                  Whoops! That escalated into 2 tours and a talk to the farm forestry group, plus unexpected visitors and parents-in-law arriving to pick black currants for jam making (they make ours as well) so, hei apopo!

  27. WeTheBleeple 27

    Haha no worries.

    I’m pretty sure you know the fundamentals of all this stuff anyways. I always assume other readers when conversing with you so I can go heavy on the regurgitation but also throw in some new ideas/insight as we go.

    I was talking to a permie mate today who’s only just got his pdc. He’s already got a bit of diversity etc but quite haphazard. You could get a feed but you’d need to be creative most times. He wants, he says, to establish some yields. This is really the crux of it for everyone.

    Yield is not necessarily the result of effort, but that is certainly the norm we’ve come to expect. While a tree system might take care of itself fairly well, it is still a considerable investment, in time, before yield is realized. The use of annuals in a permaculture system helps with yields, and the wait.

    • Robert Guyton 27.1

      By yield, do you mean solely, food?
      Material for mulching is a yield, imo and pulling down convolvulus vines for that purpose is harvesting. In the early stages of creating a garden of the sort we are discussing, flowers and grass heads could be used for “flower arranging” or sold to a florist; that is, mowing the meadow is not a task, but an opportunity to harvest. I harvest the “mud” that arrives in my creek from up-stream; bucketing the stuff out isn’t a “monthly chore” it’s an opportunity to harvest a freely-given resource. A yield can be gained from a flowering dogwood (I use a real example here) by photographing it and if you are fortunate enough to be able to sell that photo, you gain a secondary yield. Just being amongst your plants and being inspired by them, if you happen to be a writer for a gardening magazine, provides on-going yield. Praise from visitors to the garden is a yield. Droppings from visiting birds is a yield (for the soil – is yield confined to the human inhabitant? Sunlight is yield, nei ra, if you are a leaf. Kawakawa leaves provide a yield of medicinal tea, if picked and tea-potted. The oxygen produced by your forest is a valuable yield. Branches for firewood and charcoal. Willow withies for baskets and hurdles. Peach stones for growing peach trees. But food, certainly; have you read, “Around the world in 80 plants”? It’s an exploration by Steven Barstow (?) of perennial plants that can supplant our annuals.
      Steven stayed with us a few years back and is a delightful, driven man. His view on edible plants is very valuable.

  28. WeTheBleeple 28

    I’m talking about the products that sustain the human inhabitants of an environment: Fats, carbs, proteins, fibres, fuels, medicines – and biomass, propagules, pollen, ecosystem services… to keep the whole shebang running.

    The three dimensional nature of tree cropping suggests it can do a better job than annuals in production. I’m taking the position that the two combined will surpass one or the other. A mature forest’s production goes down without small scale disturbance. Annuals go in disturbed edges and clearings, increasing overall diversity and yield potential. Pioneers also need the gaps and edge to persist.

    On a landscape the gaps might come via selective logging. Pioneering and support species are placed to nurse slower growing trees in this gap, while ‘opportunistic’ light loving annuals can be used as ground cover to further support the establishing plants.

    It’s back to the start of succession in a mature forest. The mayans slash and charred areas keeping select trees, and then planting many others immediately. Their system ranged from pasture to mature closed canopy forest. The three sisters and other annual cultivation was practiced in these ‘pastures’ and the tender young post-fire growth lured in prey animals.

    One question that springs to mind: how much disturbance is sustainable? How little is problematic?

    There is a sweet spot.

    That resource sounds good I’ll check it out.

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