Ecology for Hackers

My friend Sam is a remarkable hacker-activist, and one of the most aware people I have encountered. He listens deeply to the people around him, and opens himself to the spirit as well as the practicalities of what they are creating. Schooled first by electrical engineering and then by the occupy movement, he has now entwined those threads by developing into a nomadic technical contributer to all kinds of projects.

Thus I’m watching with interest his growing interest in permaculture, Open Source Ecology and related ideas.

Until now, I hadn’t paid much attention to these ideas. I’m temperamentally unsuited to living in a farming commune. Most discussion of permaculture seemed to come from people with a very different makeup to me: enraptured by the natural world, seeking a life of quiet stability in a small community.

So Sam’s approach caught my attention, if only for the superficial reason that he makes farming into slightly less of an impossible lifestyle choice:

You…start to tend the land by using natural processes to get the land to become ‘regenerated’ and then a productive living system gradually over your lifetime and transformed from dead soil or useless land into living soil and a forest garden in which you have planted trees that take 15 or 20 years to grow and can then sustain / feed you
All the while you continue on with your normal life elsewhere in the city or travelling or whatever… but through well timed purposeful, organised planting, sowing, watching and community building it can yield food and fuel. Then your land has more value over time and you then kind of inherit it later in your own life as a living system that will support you and others with fuel and food….
The way I would see it, I would attend the site at various points during my life to gently shape and guide the process but, for the most part, nature would take its course and the land and the system that would be developing there would be largely auto-catalytic and autonomous.

The full post is well worth reading. It steps much further back, linking agriculture to design and to some of the ideas of Buckminster Fuller:

I started to think about how I could use design to change the environment around me in such a way that would extend my internal functions and reorganise my environment so that it would work for me… so that it would, in the fullness of time, support me… as I think of my own future, I would like to eventually create a living system, by which I probably mean a forest garden, which I had designed after much studying and having made the tools to make the tools to make the tools.

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