Urban Permaculture & Community in East Austin

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!

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A Thank You to Permaculture Supporters

Facilitating this Permaculture Design Course has easily been one of the most inspiring and life changing experiences I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of! The involvement and participation of not only the students in the course but also the broader community in this course was key to it’s success. I believe in giving credit where credit is due… I could not have accomplished a fraction of this on my own. For that reason, I wanted to take this opportunity to send out a deep thank you to the people and organizations that helped me to make this dream a reality.

A deep thank you to all the Permaculture Supporters in Austin and beyond:

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Seeds of Permaculture

A Free Documentary about Tropical Permaculture

Recently, while working at Rak Tamachat Permaculture in Thailand, I had a unique opportunity to be involved with an incredibly exciting project. A chance to impact thousands, if not millions, of people across the globe with the seeds of permaculture design.

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Spirit of community…

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.

I’m still having a hard time processing it all. Setting the intention to make this leap a over a year ago now… I would have never even considered how amazing my life would become even before officially embarking.
My heart swims with a profusion of emotion. For the first time in my life, I’ve discovered something that seems to elude the vast majority of our society (at least the majority of American society). Community is an enigmatic thing. I’m sure I could wax at length (in fact, I think I have) about various explanations and ways to define the word without ever touching on what it actually means to be apart of one.
Fact of the matter is, I could have never expected that the experience would be so visceral. A family so loving and dedicated not just to themselves and each other but to all of humanity. We want to change the world and we realized that none of us have what it takes to do that alone. We’re going to need to get everyone on board if we hope to have any significant impact.

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.

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?

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,
Theron

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!