West Coast road trip, Days 4-5, Part 1: Social Forestry, Turtle progress.

Note: I’m in the midst of collecting all the West Coast Road Trip 2018 posts to put as their own page under the head of TRAVELS, and just noticed that I did not actually publish this draft with the others. So here you go!

The presenter is slightly right of center, his legs crossed and hand up.

I happened to be strolling into my final morning at the Convergence when I happened upon a very crowded outdoor workshop.

Though this was my first introduction to the presenter — and his theme, what he calls “Social Forestry.” I did find out his name, Tom Ward Hazel, and, I must say, this is one consummate Elder. And knows it. And feels enormous pressure to impart what he has to give. At one point in his talk, he says, as a sudden aside, “Can you imagine how much knowledge I’ve got stored in my 70-plus years that has to be shared with the new culture?” The young ones were all ears. So was another elder, Starhawk, in the audience. And so was I. Utterly entranced by his amazing stories. Though I came late, and left early (this one was 3 hours long), on my way out of the Convergence I saw him still in there, talking to one of the young ones. Here’s a podcast that might cover some of what he was talking about, and of course, is highly relevant to all who attempt to live in parched western lands.

Tom Ward Hazel Interview: Permaculture Perspectives on Wildfire

What I especially picked up on from Tom was how intensely complicated everything is, and how interesting those complications! Here’s an example:

At one point he talked about how original nomadic peoples work with the forest. Say they want to move camp from one season to another.

First, they send out the Rangers. They are scouts, get the big view of what lays ahead, report back to the Council, usually the Women’s Council, but not always.

Then they send out the Herbs, Seeds and Roots Guild, who pick and stash or carry back what is easily available and would be harmed when further guilds come through.

Then the Bodgers Guild. These people do the first pruning, identify special pieces of wood for furniture, tools, etc, and reduce the fuel load.

Next the Soyers (sp?) Guild. Do some thinning, felling some trees, not others, and NOT the legacy trees. They lay out a trail system that will also be a fire break, after having connected with the Rangers, who have advice for them. They also make sure animal trails are not disturbed.

Finally, the Charcoliers Guild, who gather wood for a fire from which they make and charge charcoal to fertilize the soil.

All this before the people move from one camp to another! You get an idea of the complexity of how native peoples care for their forests?

One other little tip here, which really helps me: “The tips of branches, bark, leaves and seeds, these are the “ramial” tissues, nutrient rich. The wood itself is all sugar.”

I then went for my final stroll through the Convergence, to check on the progress of the Turtle. Mostly filled in!

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BAD BLOOD, the book: A study in “Noble Cause Corruption”

I have just finished a book that was recommended to me by a brother-in-law, one who spent much of his career joining and then abruptly leaving various corporations that, he would discover sooner or later, were corrupt; this book was recommended to him by his son, a physician, for whom the Hippocratic Oath, “Do No Harm,” is deeply meaningful. These are two people for whom such a book would be not only riveting, but mirror aspects of their own life experience.

I’ve not walked in the shoes of either of them, however I have endured a multi-year experience with predatory attorneys, another focus that this book describes in gory detail.

Moreover, like most people who have been captured by this digital age, I rarely read a book all the way through anymore. And when I do, it’s because a book grabs me and will not let me go. Such is the case here, with Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. The author turned what could have read as a confusing mess into a fascinating, straight-up thriller. Essentially an inexorable chronological account of the rise and fall of Theranos, the book masterfully focuses a wide-ranging lens to capture the stated views and experiences of what seem to be hundreds of people who were somehow involved over time with the lead actor, Elizabeth Holmes, a young, beautiful, charismatic, brilliant, Stanford drop-out with a deep baritone voice, big staring eyes, and one Big Idea: to invent and market a small, inexpensive device that could, with a single prick of a finger, perform, simultaneously, any and all diagnostic blood tests. She envisaged her device installed, not just in doctor’s offices, but in homes, just like computers moved from mainframes in offices, to home-based. Yes, her hero was Steve Jobs, and she was determined to be the first woman to emulate his entreprenurial success.

This story, told in blow by blow detail, moves with a sense of inevitability and succeeds in bringing all the various voices, encounters, events, business meetings, etc. etc. into a single current that moves inexorably along, wide and deep, showing how Holmes’ stubborn and mesmerizing belief in her own vision and the device that was supposed to guarantee it but never did work consistently, ended up generating a tangle of exaggerations and lies that, sad to say, most of her employees, even after, one by one, in their compartmentalized silos, would begin to personally realize that something was very off about the company’s claims, did not blow the whistle and so became complicit in the con. This growing hornet’s nest of mendacity which attracted a Board of Directors that included people like Henry Kissinger and George Schulz, that courted and signed contracts with both Safeway and Walgreens which, in the end, went sour, that attracted a total of $10.5 billion from investors over ten rounds of funding, went on from the beginning, in 2003, when Holmes was 19 years old, until its  protracted ignominious denouement in 2015, when John Carreyou, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter at the Wall Street Journal, decided to publish his findings about this formerly lauded Silicon Valley start-up.

And following that, this book, Bad Blood, a tale so fascinating that it’s one of those that we call, “you cannot make this up:” for what finally started to bring down the company was the whistleblowing by Tyler Schultz, grandson of Board member George Schulz, who worked briefly for Theranos, and then quit; he then tried to tell his 95-year-old grandfather about what he had found, only to be rebuked by the old man whose belief in Holmes’ vision never did waver.

My take-aways from this book. Notice how “idealism” can become a trap. Notice how small exaggerations can gradually swell into gigantic lies. Notice how, in capitalist culture, we tend to make money the priority, rather than either truth or love. Notice how we let fear stop us from doing what we know is right. Notice how different value systems can tear families apart. And of course: notice how the end never does justify the means.

Tyler Schulz is the hero of this contemporary morality tale, and not just because he told the truth, but because he didn’t let threats from Theranos predatory attorneys sway him from telling it. Tyler’s parents are also heroes, because they paid his legal fees which, when the book was published, amounted to over $400,000.

I appreciate the author, who does not view Elizabeth Holmes as someone who started out to con people, but as someone who believed so much in her own vision for changing the world that she would do anything, anything, to make that happen. Holmes now faces criminal charges and her company dissolved earlier this year.


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Walking the dogs, dreaming the universe

Walking the dogs this morning, I was reflecting on how my decades-long felt immersion into the seeming paradox of both full-on living oneness and infinitely proliferating complexity has held me surrendered to its unending implications. And how, inside this vast, ever-expanding, multidimensional atmosphere, I continuously behold others with whom I live and move and have my being as each a profound, potent miracle, a tiny seed of enormous capacity squeezed into a material body that, depending upon the “age of the soul,” more or less deftly maneuvers through or blindly crashes into other material bodies over a lifetime. Compassion floods me as I notice, once again, how old souls have it easier, suffer less grievously, despite having to identify and work through situations so exquisitely complex and multidimensional that a young soul couldn’t even recognize their existence.

For if young souls tend to want to “figure things out,” and to come up with a version of reality in their minds that sticks, that’s certain, hopefully logically justified, “true” (and in the past 300 years, what we call “scientific”), then old souls are quite used to the fact that their view of the world both within and without is continuously expanding and deepening, so that no final “framework” is possible, nor is it needed. Unlike the soul who must hold on to what it “knows” in order to feel safe in what appears as an unpredictable world full of conflict and separation, older souls have learned over lifetimes to remain centered and grounded while exploring the furthest reaches of the imagination that holds all of life in its loving embrace.

All this while walking the dogs. Then, when I returned, synchronicity struck again, in the form of a Scientific American article uploaded to the Green Acres Village private facebook page by my podmate Solan.

Now I don’t read Scientific American anymore, despite that, in the 1960s, this magazine introduced me to the concept of two brains, left and right, loaded inside each of our skulls, one for logical thinking, the other for  spatial visioning. Like everyone in this culture, I had been programmed to identify (left brained) I.Q. as the measure of  “intelligence.” That article (I can no longer locate it) instantly plummeted me into what I would call now, the primacy of the right brain, where mechanical left brain logic (which aims at mapping the outer world with certainty) functions as but a tool to serve right brain imagination, which itself is centered in the heart and communes with the cosmos.

Here’s the piece Solan found:

What Would Happen If Everyone Truly Believed Everything Is One?

And here’s a larger, more delicious and fruitful version of the same that, rather than attempting to “justify” its findings with “scientific methodology,” focuses more poetically on the mysterious living conscious complexity of our home planet, and could easily swell to include the entire cosmos and dimensions beyond and within.

Charles Eisenstein: Initiation into a Living Planet

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Trees teach us how to live

Note: I thank Maria Popova of brainpickings.org, for the inspiration for this post. (P.S. Get on her email list! Always inspirational.)

As each of us begins the profound work of reflecting upon what we alone — given our skills, talents, and life experience — can bring to all our relations with both humans and the natural world, we can learn from the trees just how to do it.


The Songs of Trees: A Biologist’s Lyrical Ode to How Relationships Weave the Fabric of Life

“This dissolution of individuality into relationship is how the ceibo and all its community survive the rigors of the forest. Where the art of war is so supremely well developed, survival paradoxically involves surrender, giving up the self in a union with alliesl . . .The forest is not a collection of entities… it is a place entirely made from strands of relationship.”

I think about this now, as I embark upon the latest evolutionary shift in relationship with my own six surviving siblings, choosing now, to speak with two of them, separately, on a weekly basis. What can we learn from each other? What do we have to teach each other? What is our common purpose now, as individuals, as a blood family, as our larger human family, when the so-called “civilized” world seems to be falling apart at the seams.

Above all, as we aim to remain centered and grounded during this chaotic time, let us remember: “There’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.”

BTW: just because we are here to be in relationship, doesn’t mean that we lose our unique individuality. Check out stunning variations in different species’ tree bark:

The Mesmerizing Microscopy of Trees: Otherworldly Images Revealing the Cellular Structure of Wood Specimens

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My ambivalent reflections on Pastor Brunson blessing President Trump

Something I have not discussed here, is the invocation of Christ, Jesus, God, and so on, all Christian names, in so many many of the alternative media whose videos and intelligence I respect and admire. These include Liz Crokin and others whom I can’t recall right now; plus, the very name “Praying Medic” and of course, Mark Taylor and his “Messages from God” fit this bill. Again, while I appreciate the content of each of these people’s views very much, I remain puzzled by the need to invoke a specific version of a “higher authority” in order to justify what is said and/or to explain the sense of protection felt.

What about all the other religions? Even better: What about spirituality without religion, even beyond language? In short, what we know as “the ineffable.” I too, know intuitively that there is a spiritual dimension to my being, and am utterly comfortable invoking and appreciating invisible guides and other beings from higher dimensions for their wisdom and protection, but I’m not in the least bit tempted to call anybody “up there” Christ, Jesus, God, and so on. To me, it’s an insult to my hopefully open-minded intelligence that I would favor Christian over Muslim or Jewish or Sufi, or Native American, or Paganism, or Buddhist, or Hindu.

But then today, we have the remarkable occasion of a blessing by Christian Pastor Brunson, just released from a Turkish prison and in the White House, praying for and over President Trump, with mainstream media looking on. I guess I’ll just give this incident a pass, since both men were so obviously sincere, in both giving and receiving.

When Pastor Brunson asked if he could give him a blessing, Trump responded, “Well I need it probably more than anybody in history.” I dare anyone to dispute that comment, to say that it was crazy, or exaggerated. Standing tall in the direct eye of a continuous storm of impeachment, coups, treachery, and threats of assasination, this large-hearted colossus is putting his life and the life of his entire family on the line for all human beings.

Now, as I’ve repeated many times, if only we could somehow entice Trump to take mushrooms and walk barefoot in the forest! Then he might open even further, and include all of Nature in his large embrace as well. But, did you notice this?

Trump Signs Oceans Plastic Pollution Law 

Okay, that’s what Trump’s doing. Now what is each of us doing? No saviors, not even Trump or Jesus Christ. Just us, folks. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.


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Green Acres Village, mid-October 2018: Community Dinner, IU Biodiversity Group, Flaming Monster from Hell

I was out of town for two weeks, so blogging on the village stopped. So did photos.  The village did carry on as usual, with work parties and Thursday evening Community Dinners, including an Equinox Ceremony, thanks to Gabby, Andreas, and Justin.

So blogging commences again, at least once a week, shortly after the Community Dinner. Given the sudden onset of what seems like winter, after a solid week of humid high-80s weather, here we are, wanting to be inside without fans or AC. I’m even toying with starting a fire in the fireplace.


Last night’s dinner reflected our bodies’ sudden new need for warmth,  the meal offerings shifting completely from light salads and snacks to heavy, with chicken, lentils, one salad, and three three different kinds of orange squashes, made three different ways. At one point I noticed that there was hardly any green in the meal. So Dan ran outside and harvested some collards, cut and steamed them. Voila!

Here’s Justin’s plate. He wanted to take a picture of it.


Notice the three squashes. One of them, BTW, was the giant that threatened to bonk people on the head whenever they walked under the bower on the way to summer meals on the patio.

Devon told me, in between mouthfuls of that squash, that it actually did bonk him on the head on his way out one dark night. And hard! Sorry!

More meal pics (some of which were taken by Gabby, who more and more, is going to be taking over photos for this blog and fb page, and she has established an Instagram page for Green Acres as well).

Oh, and BTW: we thoroughly enjoyed Dan’s special carbonated burdock root wine. YES!


Dr. Heather Reynolds, of the Biology Department at IU, has a class this semester called Biodiverse City, in which teams of undergraduate students are working at various local sustainability places to  both help out in each place and collect data for the class’s various projects within that overarching theme. Two teams of four are working here, one a Marketing Group to devise ways to inform IU students about Green Acres Permaculture Village, and the other a Biodiversity Group, also with four, which is going to map a section of, they decided, the front yard of the DeKist 1 house and compare it to an equal section of a normal green lawn across the street in terms of plant biodiversity. So that team arrived with their teacher last night one hour before dinner, to decide what part of the Green Acres garden to map and to be shown how. Here are a few photos I took on that occasion.

The initial drawing:

Measuring the section:

Suddenly, one of the students: “Oh wow, there’s a Monarch caterpiller!”

And more!

Yes, they were crawling all over the buttefly bushes.

Professor Reynolds mused: “Hmmm. Well, you could do some insect diversity as well . . .”

They will document the goji berry bushes. Here’s a single berry, clinging.


And there’s a fig tree too, but we doubt the figs will mature before it gets too cold.


I’ve saved the worst for last. And this is a short report on a little plant that looked totally benign when I wiped my ass with it after taking a dump in the woods, but then ignited a flaming swollen monster that took my immune system four days to quell.

What in hell — for yes it felt like hell — is it?

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Remember the song? “Two different worlds, we live in, two different worlds . . .”

That song referred to two different individuals; but what if we scale up to two different world-views and value systems, existing side by side in the same 3-D space? I feel it here, even in Green Acres Permaculture Village, where podmates must “go to work” in the world for “money” in order to survive, and the conscious values of sharing and cooperation jostle subtly with the programmed values of dominance and competition.

These two different worlds are, you guessed it, those of WAR and PEACE.

With this in mind, please pay close attention to the following:

The only way Donald Trump can truly put America first

This post makes a lot of sense, to wit: Stop the incessant militarism! It’s the “wrong lens” through which to view the world.

I would like add to this analysis by reiterating a Paul Tillich quote from a post two days ago, regarding corruption in the institution of the Catholic Church.

“all institutions, including the church, are inherently demonic  . . . To extend their lives when confronted with collapse, [institutions] will swiftly betray the stances that ostensibly define them. Only individual men and women have the strength to hold fast to virtue when faced with the threat of death. And decaying institutions, including the church, when consumed by fear, swiftly push those endowed with this moral courage and radicalism from their ranks, rendering themselves obsolete.”

The American Military is also an “institution,” indeed, perhaps the most cancerous institution to mushroom up in the 20th century. Even now, way few of us realize that the U.S. military not only takes up at least 60% of the economy, but that it actually drives the economy. “We” have at least 800 bases in 70 countries across the world (many of the smaller ones there as outposts in the trafficking of guns, blood, organs, money, and children). Inside the U.S. there are about 500 (declassified, with who knows how many classified) military bases or military-allied companies, existing as a chronic, malignant, erupting, vicious RASH. See this map, and list.

And that’s just on the surface of the earth. What about below?

D.U.M.B. and Dumber: Deep Underground Military Bases

Locally, I have often pointed to the unholy alliance between nearby Naval Surface Warfare  Center and Indiana University.

Google “NSWC Crane and Indiana University.” These “agreements” and “partnerships” come up immediately:




Our entire economy is infected with the virulent militarist virus, including video games and toys.

Meanwhile, let us celebrate efforts like this one:

Musicians for World Harmony

Truly, we live now in the in-between, as jotted down in my notes about a year ago.

It’s important to keep this in mind, this dynamic contradiction between the old values and the new that lives not only around us, but inside us, as we continue to birth a new/old regenerative culture from the old rotting capitalist order.

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(Always) Ten years left to save the planet

I found this video hilarious. Not that I be-LIE-ve Tony Heller, because on this matter, I have no idea what to believe. And I can’t imagine you do either. After all, is the map ever the territory?

The New York Times keeps thinking so. Here’s the latest, from two days ago:

Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040

(Oops! Not ten years this time, but twenty!)

Frankly, I relish Heller’s tongue-in-cheek delivery. And notice, as he points out, the source of the fluctuating predictions — for both global warming and global cooling — is usually(?) . . drum roll . . . the U.N.! (And Agenda 21. And Agenda 30).

Via sott.net.


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