On the east side of Austin, Texas, tucked away at the end of a road in a lower income neighborhood, there is something… different… happening. What was once a derelict lot has now grown into a forest, and not just any forest, a forest of food and community. Welcome to Weirder Austin – East Austin’s own Urban Permaculture Education & Demonstration site!
Touring through the sundry landscapes of Texas I am reminded of the vast topography under human influence. From beautiful rolling hills, creeks, lakes, forests, and farmland; there is such an incredible abundance of possibility. But, in the coming years, Texas will need to take a keen look at its resource management and find ways to manage holistically, or risk betting the farm.
While tumbling over the vast open plains of Texas it becomes more and more evident that our potential for abundance is all but unlimited. Texas ranchers are no stranger to acreage. Some of the largest ranches in Texas range in the hundreds of thousands of acres.* As the largest state in the contiguous United States, it should come as no surprise that land, BIG land, is a big part of what makes Texas, Texas. And BIG land means BIG potential.
It’s finally time, Austin!
As you might expect, I’m very excited to announce an upcoming visit home this August! I’m even more excited to announce this August PDC, an event that has been years in the making! Finally, with the help of so many amazing friends and family, this August, I will be facilitating an entire Permaculture Design Certificate course for the first time ever in Austin, Texas.
These last few weeks of traveling and adventure have been something of a dream. In three weeks time, I’ve transitioned from living in a tent, waking each morning at dawn and milking cows to, jogging in the city, meditating on the beach while the sun set across the pristine Indian Ocean, Sleeping in three airport terminals in two separate countries, to finally find myself in this fascinatingly beautiful city of Mueang Phuket, Thailand. I have one week to absorb and immerse myself in the culture here before making the trek north to meet up with team Panya CQ. After a very brief sojourn in Bangkok the crew and I will make our way north again to Korat and the 50 acres I will call home for the next year. Continue reading
Sitting on the floor of the Seattle airport. Fortunately, the only airport that had decent internet access was also the one I have the longest layover. In a little under an hour from now I’ll be boarding a plane to Honolulu.
Without community the whole thing is a wash. Without supporting each other we will get very little accomplished. Only when we act selflessly do we find security. That is not an easy thing to recognize for most of us. Selfless action appears painful… only the true ascetic would bring such things upon himself.
The reality is quite surprisingly opposite. The more you give of yourself, the more is given to you… ultimately allowing you to give even more! The more you open yourself to these channels of energy the more fulfilling you find your life becomes. This is what is meant by “becoming a conduit”.
As your giving and your capacity for giving grow you find that more and more people gravitate toward you and, recognizing you as a conduit, are more inclined to share their gifts with you. As they share and open up they too can discover the power of this positive feedback loop of selflessness. Before you know it, a whole community is loving and sharing and supporting each other (and you) while the stock of the of individual security increases exponentially.
Need a place to stay? I know 30 people that would love to take in a generous and loving soul. Looking for a helping hand with a project? I’ll pick up a shovel with you because I know it’s going to help feed a poor household.
This is only a small sliver of what it’s like to experience real community. And now, after all the things I ever wanted from life started to surface out of these realizations… I’m taking that leap forward and leaving the family I just met to make more family on the other side of the world.
When I have a family reunion… I want 7 billion people celebrating with me! And I want our celebration to not only be about the discovery of this human family… but the discovery that by working together, we can heal all wounds, lift all debt, alleviate every bit of suffering and cultivate a world of peace, love and abundance for all.
Just east of the Davy Crockett National Forest lies a little patch of red dirt I might one day call home. Douglass, Texas… crazy as it sounds, this place has a lot to offer. Pine trees, rich soils, natural springs, loving family and some of the most beautiful land in Texas are just a few of pleasures I have the good fortune to enjoy before my adventures ahead.
But is is all pleasure, the drought has hit this land particularly hard. Ponds and creeks are almost entirely dried up. Livestock and wildlife are struggling, not just to stay hydrated but to stay fed. Typical pastureland does not weather these arid extremes well… in fact, typical pastureland does not weather any extremes very well.
The vegetation is all but missing from the landscape this year. What is left hardly appeals to the ranging cattle. Many ranchers have sold off their herds early and those who haven’t have had to invest a lot in imported feed to keep them going. Either way, conditions like these make ranching a costly venture.
To make an already bleak situation worse, it seems when the high-pressure front that has hovered over most of Texas all summer, and prevented many a storm front from quenching this parched landscape, has at last moved on, it does so not with much needed rain but rather with raging winds.
As I write this, there are evacuations just minutes up the road from where I sit. The smell of smoke hangs in the air and an orange glow lights up the sky to the North West. All that lies between my parents sapped land and a devastating inferno is a pine forest (tinderbox) and a small band of dedicated firefighters.
Other’s have not been so lucky. Continuing to add insult to injury, this summer will not subside without great losses to land, livestock, homes and wildlife. The thousands of acres ablaze across Bastrop and all throughout Texas today is an unfortunate example.
There are no easy solutions to the situation we are witness to this year. And, with the continual degradation of our landscape through deforestation, ecological neglect and agricultural misunderstandings there is a good chance the situation will get worse before it improves.
Not only is this trend held in place by many causes, it also doesn’t seem to be localized to just Texas. All across the world, deserts are expanding while natural forests decline at alarming rates.
Despite the obvious challenges, there is a lot that we can do to turn this trend around… but it’s going to take quite a shift from our current practices of land management. What we need is a holistic approach. Building on systems such as Holistic Land Management, Permaculture and reforestation efforts we can begin to rebuild our soils, buffer damage from natural disasters, recharge our springs, aquifers and rivers, and even increase precipitation.
These changes are going to require a great deal of cooperative effort on our part. Only by working together are we going to be able to have any substantial recuperative impact on our environment.
Kicking off the adventures right, these last two weeks have felt the equivelent of a month’s worth of activity. Aside from not blogging on this page, here’s a little taste of what I’ve been up to since my last blog post:
The adventure officially kicked off on Saturday, July 30 with the most inspirational display of community love and togetherness. Yes, it was a party. To call it an epic party might even qualify as an understatement. It was beautiful in all regards and elevated my spirit beyond any previous frame of reference.
After the explosion of love that was the end of July, the first weeks of August have been a whirlwind of organization and development. Not entirely centered around the development of my personal upcoming adventures (fortunately, much of that organization is already in place) but rather the organization of Community Cultivators.
Somehow, I’ve successfully managed to occupy more of my time on this development than my 40+ hours a week at Wheatsville. As you can imagine, a lot can get done in a couple of weeks with full time project development. A key to the future will be figuring out a way to make this work a paid gig (or at the very least, a self-sustaining one).
Recognizing the community had reached an obvious inflection point, the consensus could be felt hovering in the air and floating on the breath of every conversation… it’s time to get organized!
One meeting, two meetings, committees, defined roles, events, a list of projects, timelines… Engagement, involvement, inspiration, encouragement, excitement! These are but a few of the happenings I’ve been blessed to witness over the past two weeks… and, above all else, the deep understanding that we’ve only barely begun to scratch the surface of potential with in this thing we call Community!
From reading this blog it’s easy to extrapolate that this is about all I do. Well, yea… but what else is there? Follow your passion! There is no time to waste on anything that doesn’t feed your spirit!
I feel incredibly fortunate to have found a community of people as passionate about life as I. But I didn’t find that by sitting around my living room in apathy. Bare your passion to the world. If you don’t find your community, Cultivate it!
Yes, it takes time and it takes commitment… the benefits are well worth your efforts!
And now, I set myself out to embark on an adventure that will carry this passion around the globe. Life is as much about cultivation as it is about exploration.
Until then, leaning out: giving the community the opportunity to find its own identity and build its own narrative.
Separating myself has to be one of the most challenging parts of this whole process. So many beautiful things on the horizon.
From a continent away I will look on and watch how we grow together even while separated by great distance.
Blah blah… none of this is what you came to this blog to read. You want to hear about my adventures. Well, stay tuned. The adventures have just begun.
32 days from Honolulu. 42 from Kona. 52 from Molokai. 59 from Australia. and 64 from complete permaculture immersion!
Next stop… Douglass, Texas?