Leaning back

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?

Ready or not…

My bag is packed. Yes, I said bag. As in singular.

Ok, so I will have a second bag… for my books. Aside from that, I have consolidated my life for the next year + into one bag. It’s a beautiful thing and I’m still having a hard time grasping it.

It’s like it’s all happening of it’s own accord now. A flow.

Maybe more like a torrent?

By the end of the weekend I’ll be for all intents and purposes, homeless. Really, that is to say, I will not have my inviting bed and only a hardwood floor to lay my head. Well, thats not true either.

Now, lets be completely honest… the point of this blog post is not to waste your time with silly exaggerations because…
Ready or not – IT’S TIME TO PARTY!

You are cordially invited to my Permaculture Adventure Kickoff!

When: Saturday, July 30th at 8pm — until the party ends.

Join me at the Deadend Homestead:
3616 Pennsylvania Ave

Hope to see you there!!

Discovering Permaculture in San Diego…

This past weekend was a strange mix fun, education and awkwardness. It started Thursday when I arrived at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego for a national conference of retail grocer cooperatives. You can surely imagine the irony of hundreds of old hippy co-operators invading the Hard Rock Hotel in Sunny San Diego. With out a doubt, the irony would only became more pronounced as the weekend progressed.

There are few things in this world that I find more fascinating than a less-than-subtile reminder that I live in a bubble of my own making. Exposer to the “hard rock” lifestyle, as prescribed by the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego being no exception. I’ll get to more of that in a minute…

A Hard Rock Checkin
I arrived in San Diego with high expectations. This would be my third year to attend a CCMA conference and the last time I would attend under my current board term. At the end of August, I will turn over my seat on the Wheatsville board of directors in preparation for my highly anticipated journey Down-under!
CCMA has proven in the past to be an “experiment in sleep deprivation”… quoted directly from Wheatsville’s own General Manager, Dan Gillotte. For three event-filled days it’s learn, listen, eat, drink, party, prattle, rinse and repeat. 
The conference always kicks off with a series of pre-arranged tours of the host city and all that it has to offer (or at least a decent cross section). Last year, I visited several farms throughout southern Indiana, ending up at a winery for wine and cheese tastings… yum! The year before that, I had an (unplanned) 32 hour tour of the DFW airport (the details of which I’d rather not go into) that resulted in me missing the (planned) tours of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
So you can imagine my anticipation of this event when I found a tour that included a permaculture farm in the Souther San Diego valley!
“Perfect!” I thought, assuming that this would be a great opportunity for me to get my feet wet before immersing myself in the permaculture travel blog that awaits me. Well, as you can probably tell from my lead-in… that is not exactly how things turn out.
Arriving with high aspirations, check-in at the lobby of the Hard Rock Hotel gives me a small taste of what’s ahead. My room is not ready?… Wait. What do you mean my room is not ready? Oh, you need a credit card to charge the room to, even though it’s already been paid for?… right. No, I do not have $850 dollars just hanging out on my debit card, sorry. No, I don’t think I’d like to have a $850 dollar hold on my card for a room that isn’t even ready yet, thanks. Can the strange blocky dude with the generic tribal armband tattoo hold my bag while I wait for my room?… yea, I guess. 
Whew, thank goodness that’s over with… now, on to the tour! Wait… not enough busses? Didn’t we register in advance? Bummer, I really had my heart set on visiting a permaculture farm. I guess it’s on to the Historical San Diego tour?… still not enough room, right!
It appears that all the busses have left the station… except for one — “Hello public transit!” San Diego’s finest! Get your gear together friends… it’s time for an adventure!
See the farm!… A battle cry of sorts. Tour number five, a motley crew of co-opers, blazes on into the great unknown!
The Adventures of Tour Number Five

Well, so far, my plans were not exactly working out as I had hoped. But, I had to check my baggage at the door (yea, that guy with the tight tee-shirt took ’em, remember?) and count my blessings. At least I was with a group of great people who shared my passion for co-ops and sustainable agriculture!
In the midst of our exploration of San Diego’s public transportation system, I lifted my head from the cacophony of co-operative conversation and immediately realized — I’m still in my bubble!
The stoic faces of San Diego’s hapless stared back at me. What a strange disruption to their afternoon commute we must have been. It was obvious that an examination of co-operative governance styles was not on their list of things they hoped to be exposed to on that fateful day. 
The swaying palm trees of Southern Cali

The public transport system had taken us as far as it could. Only our feet would deliver us now.
By this point we had completely embraced the idea of making Tour Number Five one to remember! There was plenty of sight seeing opportunities along the way and our lack of tour guild lent itself to uninhibited discovery. 
On our final leg of the tour before finally reaching Wind Willow Farm, we stumbled upon an expansive community garden in the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park. The community garden was host to many interesting sights. It was there that we discovered what can only be described as one of San Diego’s great hidden treasures, guarantied not to be found in any tourist guide… Behold! San Diego’s most unusual palm tree!!
Ok, ya got me… the picture on the left is NOT of a palm tree. This is, however,  one of the oldest brassica I’ve ever seen! In Central Texas, we have to mulch deep to weather brassica like this through our brutal summer, and sometimes all the mulch in the world isn’t sufficient. This little dinosaur needed nothing more than the uninterrupted beauty of Souther California’s climate and a cool coastal breeze to survive through several seasons and result in the canopy of leafy green goodness you see here.
Wind Willow Farm, finally.

At long last, as the official tour bus pulled away, our destination was in sight… Wind Willow Farm and Education Center was just around the next bend (the one that tour bus just pulled around. yea, that one!) 
Well, we probably should have called ahead. Thankfully, these were possibly some of the most hospitable farmers one could find in the Tijuana Valley. 
Mel Lions, a man with an obvious passion for his work greeted us. “did the bus leave without you?” he questioned. “No, we’re the unplugged tour… we didn’t want to be constrained to the guided tours and decided to explore the real San Diego. We took the public transit system.”
“Well, in that case, I think you all deserve a tour!”
To be continued…

The start of an endless summer?

In terms of seasonal progression, the first day of summer is still about two weeks away but you wouldn’t know it by the weather in Central Texas! It’s hot and getting hotter and the reality of this endless summer is beginning to sink in.

Just as the high temperatures here in Austin start to wane, I’ll be headed to the southern hemisphere. If the Australian Spring is anything like the Springtime weather we get here in Texas than my summer will likely continue unabated.

From there, the hot summer winds seem to be blowing me in the direction of Thailand. I’ve already bought a ticket, and, to satisfy the terms of my ETA (similar to a visa) I have to leave Australia by mid-February… Just when things will surely begin cooling down… on to the heat of Southeast Asia!

Who planned this trip anyway? Endless summer… what was I thinking?!

I was probably thinking, “Opportunity of a lifetime. See the world. Practice permaculture. Share abundance.” The logistical details of seasonal relief had obviously escaped me. Or, the excitement of these unbelievable opportunities overrode my sense for climate comfort.

Thanks to the amazing support of friends and family, I have the feeling all this summer heat is going to feel like a nice cool breeze. The generous folks at Eagles Nest Outfitters, for example, have set me up with some great gear to help me weather the elements. What better way to spend a year of summer than hanging out in a sweet hammock? How about hanging out in a sweet hammock with a rainfly and mosquito net?

In addition, I want to again thank all the people in my life who have contributed, in one form or another, to this epic adventure. Because of your love and support I’m seeing a whole world of opportunities opening up in front of me, the abundances of which I have every intention of sharing with you all!

My deepest thanks!

Plans beginning to take shape

Time is compressing down on this long awaited adventure. Only a matter of mere months now. It’s challenging to even relate all the little details. So many moving pieces, so many beautiful new connections, so many inspiring new inspirations. With all that’s happening, it’s sometimes difficult to maintain focus on all the ducks that I’m trying to corral into neat little rows.

Over the course of the next three and a half months I’ll be handing my role as Stocking Supervisor at Wheatsville Co-op over to a new set of hands. With any luck, this new person will be able to take the position (and the co-op) to places I’ve not even considered. Already the position is rapidly evolving into one that will be much more effective for my predecessor. I’ve taken a lot of pride in my work there and it’s important for me to continue to see it progress and improve, even when I’m not at the helm. 
Even as I’m planning an effective exit strategy at Wheatsville, I’m working to insure Community Cultivators has a solid foundation and leadership to continue growing and making a difference. The variables involved in those two things alone are enough to take up all my energy and then some. Somehow, I’ve still managed to make time to enjoy my life. In fact, I think I enjoy it now more than ever!
I’m not sure how exactly I’ve found the time to maintain two blogs in the midst of all this, either. One thing I do know is that I’ve hardly seen my house in weeks!! It’s mostly a place were I go to sleep at night and brush my teeth in the morning. why I’m spending so much money on something I could get at a free camp site I’ll never know.
Once the next three and a half months are up, I’ll have only a month and a half to get my stuff together before I embark on this crazy adventure. During that final month and a half there are several things that still need to happen. A trip to Douglas, Texas to visit my folks and store the few personal affects I’d like to retain is not least among them. A tour through Dallas and Houston will surely also be in the works for that short time.
On September 14th, two short days before my 31st birthday, I will board a plane to Honolulu, Hawaii. While there, I will spend much valuable time catching up with my cousin and aunt who I’ve not seen in several years. This is where I hope this blog will really start to take shape. The plan is to travel across the islands meeting new people and exploring the beautiful beaches of Hawaii. 
Oahu, Molokai, and the big island are all definite destinations for this leg of my journey. My aunt lives on the big island, in Kailua-Kona. I’m looking forward to checking out the lava fields and other sites I’ve been hearing about there. In Oahu, my cousin has a beautiful home (I’ve only seen in pictures) in Honolulu. The surf calls to me and, with any luck, you’ll see a picture or two of me riding the waves and climbing the mountains of Oahu.
My adventures in Hawaii will conclude, most appropriately, with a trip to the island of Molokai where I hope to meet up with Malia Akutagawa who heads up the Sust`aina ble Molokai network. Recently, Sust`aina ble Molokai Partnered with Permaculture Research Institute USA to develop a Molokai Permaculture Education Initiative. Check out this video that came out as a result of their hard work:
It’s a highly inspirational piece that I’m very excited to get the opportunity to visit first hand. I’ll do my best to document the progress their work has made on the landscape and share that with you here. 
Of course, there are plenty of things I’d like to get to do while I’m in Hawaii, and I’m sure there will be plenty of adventures of the spontaneous variety, but my time will be limited and the things I’ve listed here are about the only things important enough to me to have scripted.
After almost 20 days of island fun I start the grueling 22 hour flight that will take me to Brisbane, Australia. From there, I travel 3 hours inland to start my internship on Zaytuna Farm with the esteemed Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. 
The internship is a 10 week intensive that traverses five weeks of course work interspersed between five weeks of hands-on application. After completion of the internship, the real fun begins… and this is where I begin to show what your generous donations can do. 
After the internship I will venture into unknown territory. Although I am trying to establish some idea of where I’ll end up… I’m also hoping to leave this end of my trip somewhat open-ended. I’m sure opportunities will arise while I’m in Australia that are too appealing to pass up. The book is open and the pages yet to be written. Your generosity will help to carry me into unexplored lands. And, through this blog, you’ll have the opportunity to see the powerful influence a small donation can have on the lives of people who have very little.
Imagine, you could provide generations worth of food security to a whole community abroad with very little effort of your own accord. In return, I’ll show you techniques and methods to achieve the same thing in your own back yard!
Thanks to all those who have donated already. It’s been very inspiring to witness the generosity of my family and friends!
My deepest appreciations,

the sound of a distant train

As I shift things around in my house my mind drifts to all the new adventures I’ve yet to encounter. On the floor of my living room I’m building three piles of all the things I’ve accumulated over the past several years. 

One pile contains all the things I want to come back to, a collection of soft and comforting thoughts to welcome me home.  
Another, the largest of the three piles, is built of all the things that no longer serve me. Everything I’ve collected and, for one reason or another, found no particular reason to continue hanging onto. 
Last and, in this case, also least, is the small collection of things I will be taking with me. Purely utility, this pile includes mostly hiking and camping gear, a few books and a small collection of outdoor attire. The most recent addition to this area of my living room floor is a pair of durable, waterproof, italian leather hiking boots which will double as a sturdy work boot for my permaculture practice. 
Each of these piles represents a totally different frame of mind. Basically, my headspace, much like the physical space I occupy, is divided into three distinct piles.
I have, in this lobe, between these folds of gray matter, the thoughts of all the people, places and the various “works in process” that I hope will be here to welcome me back. With all the great friendships that have developed for me and all the projects I’m starting to see grow and progress, I feel that I’ll find it difficult to say goodbye. And so, like the pile on my floor, I put these things in a place that I can come back to with the hope that I will one day again have the opportunity to appreciate their fine qualities.
Then there is the large load of karmic accumulations that I will leave behind entirely. In the physical world… this is the largest of the three piles. In my figurative headspace, this is pile is actually quite small and mostly made up of intangibles. Things like a 50+ hour a week job, rent on my little North Hydepark cottage, and other stresses and obligations that go along with such vestiges of my “modern” lifestyle.
lastly, and conversely NOT least, is the space that I store all the dreams, goals and aspirations of what’s to come. Between almost every thought and idea there is a whisper of the adventures ahead. Like the sound of a distant train, these thoughts are increasing in size and volume, not far now from permeating the entire landscape that is my mind. As the steady hum of this approaching train draws nearer, I realize its becoming more and more difficult to focus on all things still hanging out in the other two piles. Drowning out many of the less significant things I would normally occupy my time with, the only things that really seem capable of still capturing my attention are the ones that are starting to shout at me through the recognition that I’m clearly not paying them nearly as much heed as I once had (ahem… utility bills, for example, have a good way of reminding me I need to maintain focus for just a little while longer).
And so, for a little while longer at least, I realign my focus and anchor my resolve so that the sound of this approaching train does not uproot me before I’m all aboard!

15 hours and $400 later…

Well ok, I didn’t raise $400 in 15 hours. But, thanks to all the generosity you’ve all demonstrated, I have raised over $400! I know, the progress bar on my ChipIn widget only says $355… but that’s because it’s not counting the cash donations I’ve received. I tried to find a way for it to include that but apparently they want to charge me service fees for that little transaction, so… I’ll just keep it where it’s at!

In exchange for that four hundred plus dollars, I’ve racked myself up a healthy bit of consultation hours. I’m excited about the prospects of this little experiment. This is a great opportunity for me to put my current permaculture knowledge to good use, expand my experience a bit, and really get myself thinking critically about various topics related to my upcoming ventures. Not only is it a good chance to test the proverbial waters of permaculture consultation, it’s a good way for me to dip my toes in the models and systems I’ll be completely immersed in before too long.

In the meantime, I’ve been continuing my work with Community Cultivators and ape99 at the Permaculture Park (aka Deadend Homestead and Farm) on the East Side of town. Every Sunday at around noon we break into whatever new or unfinished project that still needs doing… and believe me, there’s never a shortage of projects to work on! After the work is done, there’s great potluck food (almost always fresh and local) and occasionally some live music and/or campfire to help fuel a great community spirit.

The past few weeks it’s we’ve been finishing up a natural building project for the future greenhouse. If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, check out the video and write-up I did on that project as published on the Permaculture Research Institute’s website here!

In addition, I’m currently working on a story about the happenings of the Co-op Think Tank project as well as a more complete video documentation of the Permaculture Park. You can check out the Community Cultivators blog to follow those projects and various others that might crop up over the course of the next few months.

An outdoor shower made from woven bamboo…
one of many projects we’re working on at the
Deadend Homestead and Farm

Feel free to contact me if you are interested in checking out any of these projects first hand. We’re always happy to have extra hands helping out but we don’t expected it of anyone. Everyone has their own priorities and we just want to share what we’re learning and hopefully inspire others to start their own projects (we’re more than happy to lend a hand with those as well!!)

If, for some reason, Sunday afternoons don’t work well for you but you’re interested and want to get involved, just drop me a line! We’re normally putting on potlucks and other events throughout the week and we’re always interested in new peoples and new ideas!

Thanks again to those who’ve contributed to my fundraiser! It really is amazing to see generosity of the world in action. I’m looking forward to the adventures and opportunities your contributions will open up for me… and I’m looking forward to sharing your kindness and generosity with the world at large!

If you haven’t contributed yet, you haven’t missed your opportunity. For only $50 you get two hours with me talking your ear off about whatever permaculture subjects are of most interest to you. I promise, I’ll make it worth you’re hard earned investment!

In addition to getting some quality permaculture time with yours truly, you’ll also get to see your contribution go to good use as you follow along with my adventures through this blog. The $405 I’ve collected so far are currently resting safely in a savings account. With this blog, I plan to detail what each dollar donated goes toward. Forget the Red Cross, I intend to spend each and every penny on real aid work! On top of that, I intend to show where and how each of those pennies is being spent so that you’ll know your contributions have made a real impact on the lives of those in need.

If you’ve already contributed and are waiting to collect those consultation hours, you should have seen an email from me explaining how you can collect. If you haven’t seen an email, not to worry, it’s really easy. Just shoot an email my way! I’m happy to make myself available to you and work with whatever areas are of the most interest to you. If you happen to have a curiosity about a particular permaculture technique or field of practice for which I am not experienced I’m happy to spend some time researching for you so that I might be better equipped to provide you the best possible knowledge and advice on the subject. Besides, it helps to fulfill my goal of becoming more versed in permaculture theory and application prior to my excursion down under.

Thank you so much for your interest in sharing this experience with me and for all your support, be it monetary or motivational… I honestly couldn’t do it without you!