Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Growing Season.

This morning I awoke under a canopy, light shinning down through cottonwoods and a pear tree. I stayed in the sleeping bag listening to song birds and traffic. As I write this post I am waiting for the grocer to open that I may make a breakfast and lunch. I finally feel homeless.

Though the charm of leaf filtered sunlight as my alarm is significant, I wouldn't sleep this way more that a few times a week other things being equal. It might be better if I can negotiate some camping places where I feel no need to hide. What is better than living outside scheduled around sun set and rise to be trained in the subtle timing of natural gardening?

Now I have started volunteering with several projects: Happy Hearts, Gaia Gardens, Spring Kite, Haas Gardens, The Growing Project, and Green Dog Farm. Hopefully over the next couple weeks I will be able to streamline a schedule to balance about 40 hours a week among those projects. At this point too much time is spent on scheduling itself, especially when I am trying to organize other volunteers to help the farms which have the most to gain.

It isn't as much the farmer that I try to help as the farm itself. Loyalty to the land and its own potential to participate in the wider affairs of the area, actualized by human labor. It is the land itself that deserves our highest respect. The farmer is at their best as the farm's representative and steward in the world of humanity.

Through Happy Heart I have meet with many magnanimous young folks who are also passionate about growing food and building sustainable systems. I hope to be able to keep working with them, and to together find ways to start building the sustainable systems that fill our collective dreams. At Gaia Gardens I have found a beautiful place and a high minded farmer, there is much need for manual labor to bring the place to its fullest potential, I hope to find more time to contribute my share of that labor, feel free to volunteer with Monday work parties which will hopefully become regular there. Spring Kite farm, in its second year, is on a wonderful old farm being raised to a new glory, with the loving work of a couple who found their calling in the land; I have only helped there once, but the place is filled with dreams of a bright future. Haas Gardens is the name I give for my modest garden, still only 600 square feet, on the Haas family's property, the land is wonderful, and the family loving by disposition, their support this summer has been invaluable, and hopefully the increasing fertility of their land will find good expression as time goes on. The Growing Project raises food to help the broader community under the expertise of Chad and Lou, both skilled gardeners and generally handy. Greendog farm is another place where I have so far only worked once, but its owner Karl was bright with gratitude for my small contribution, and his attitude makes me eager to work with him more again soon. Raindrop retreat has not been on my radar for a couple weeks, but Tara the owner is such a generous soul, I hope to go and help there again soon. Also the Environmental Ministry Team at Plymouth and the Church more generally has been very supportive!

Roman, Adriana, James, Matt, Dave, Whitney and Micky have all shown great interest in this growing season, growing something of a higher value and type in Fort Collins. Maybe we will be able to grow more than a sense of community but a real team able to pioneer sustainability in Fort Collins. More on that in the next post.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Presentation for the Growing Project on May 6th.

Common Learning For Common People

Fort Collins is nearing a point of transition, in its rapidly developing local sustainability movement. Today there are many projects active between the bookends of starting up and being self supporting. The success of this season for Fort Collins sustainability will be measured in the movement of these projects toward the latter bookend of stability. It is generally known in the local and organic food movement that our current way of life cannot be sustained, and the signs of the unsustained aspects are showing themselves. We see then in unpredictable and extreme weather; in erratic and unstable economics; we see it in our forests, aquifers, soil, and our social institutions. Time and again these problems trace back to a tragedy of the Commons. What has been called "rational self interest" has again and again exploited resources which served whole communities.

The defense of the Commons has been the traditional duty of community, at duty that has been taken up in ways as diverse as the ways of life on Earth. But in our society's living memory this duty has been neglected to the point that the very skills, values, and traditions of protecting the commons - themselves commons of a sort - have suffered.

Those in Fort Collins aware of these difficulties have a duty to take roll model positions by beginning the great work of reforming and defending our local Commons. Some of that will involve protecting and regenerating systems, but they is also much which will need to be invented from whole cloth; likely a long and era prone process.

Many people are taking up this work, each in their own way or with friends, but it is inhibited in many ways. Complicated lives limit our time available to do work. Time consumed by jobs that too often produce little of lasting value; our minds often running on the ragged edge of information overload; our social networks which reach great distances spanned by too many gossamer threads that break under stress or neglect. Even the most impassioned are tied down in time, thought, and commitments to other tasks, often by chains of habit.

More generally the uncertain path of rediscovery and invention toward creating a regenerated and protected commons is difficult and uncharted. To break from at least some of the chains preventing this exploration this summer will, for myself and others of my generation I know, be an ongoing experiment in deliberate poverty. For me it makes possible the time and energy for a small, yet I think important, part of the a responce to this task: an attempt at a School of the Commons.

To Start a School be its First Student

An education of the virtues, skills, and duties needed to foster a commons, which I suggest takes the form of having the students regenerate, maintain, allocate, and manage a commons, the school itself. Working for existing projects, and gathering together a commons of infrastructure, communal structures, resources, and information that can usefully contribute to re-localizing our dependencies. Since the ways of life that will have to be practiced are still unknown, this summer is an experiment of being an untested schools first student.

I look forward to continue supporting and working alongside The Growing Project and many other worthy builders of a locally resilient commons around Fort Collins. If you are interested in such a project stay alert for how you could support and enable the work, or look into becoming a part of the experiment, even using your current work that may contribute to our regions commons as paradigms for future curriculum. Suggesting projects where a few motivated people can help you develop a bit of local resiliency is always appreciated.