Re: NOT just farming

I had this conversation with Kirkpatric Sale some years ago.  Kirk wants to
distribute the population of New York City all over upstate New York.  I
opposed this on behalf of my rural upstate friends.  In my view, this would
smear the city all over the state and it would soon all resemble the less
desirable aspects of New York.  The cities, however, will not strangle in
their own waste, they will die of thirst when it becomes impossible to
maintain the supply.  Here in Florida, there is a serious movement, probably
successful in the long run, to divert the beautiful, clear, clean Homosassa
River, among others, to the city of Tampa so that they don't have to get
serious about limiting growth and conservation.  Our friend in St.
Petersburg, a sister city on the other side of some bridges, was talking
about buying waste water.  It was a US$1,000 to dispose of water for the
city--water that could not be used on food crops!  Obviously I suggested a
roof catchment.  She is a naitive of Jamaica where this is common and jumped
on the idea.  The roof is already guttered and they can buy off the shelf a
very large plastic tank for $1,000, with no further charges except
maintenance from time to time. While such approaches are ignored, cities
continue to exert political pressure on the country side.  It is time to make
them solve their own problems.  I'm happy to teach permaculture in cities;
they will not get one drop of my water.

Also related, I happened to read in a newsletter we get on exchange from Nova
Scotia that the USA (no, NS has not become part of the USA, they just take an
interest in what trouble their southern neighbors stir up)...the USA has 200
million acres of abandoned farmland.  This is probably in excess of two acres
per family.  (One hectare = 2.4 acres, so say a hectare per family at a first
guess).  what family practicing permaculture could not produce all their food
on 2 acres of abandoned farmland (the other .4 acre needed for house and
sheds)?  So there are 400 million acres of farmland that we currently farm
more or less for recreation since as a nation we do not need to.  If we could
put one percent back into forests and prairie per year, in a few years we
would have reversed a large fraction of the damage caused by the European
invasion of this continent.

The fault, dear Brutes, is not in our lack of land, but in ourselves.  The
issue isn't about what is possible, but what people are willing to do.
 Intentional communities serve a certain need, but as a solution they would
cause more damage than they would heal.  We can't afford to replace the
current housing stock--we haven't that many trees left for one thing.  And we
can't afford to set up entirely new infrastructures in new places for the
entire population.  For people seeking to prove that communities can be
sustainable, at least less destructive, they are fine.  For people who just
haven't the energy to deal with trying to fix existing cities, they have the
value of a retreat.  But if everyone who knows what to do retreats, then the
cities will continue their current trends. I'm not a city person and I don't
much like neighbors close enough to see--never have.  I was born just in
time--a little later and I would be frustrated my whole life.  Folks who are
into community, if they are truely concerned about cities, may wish to
consider living there.  As permaculturists, surely we know by now better than
trying to fix any situation from the outside.  The essence of permaculture is
participation in the forces with which we contend and cooperate.

For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications (since
1982), Elfin Permaculture workshops, lectures, Permaculture Design Courses,
consulting and permaculture designs (since 1981), and now correspondence
permaculture training by email. Copyright, 1996, Dan & Cynthia Hemenway, P.O.
Box 2052, Ocala FL 34478 USA  YankeePerm@aol.com  

We don't have time to rush.