Posted by & filed under DVDs/Books.

I am honoured to announce the publication of Mark Burch’s new book, The Hidden Door: Mindful Sufficiency as an Alternative to Extinction, available here. Published proudly by the Simplicity Institute, this text brings together some of Mark’s finest essays on themes related to mindful sufficiency and voluntary simplicity, and includes a new introduction (posted below). A deep yet accessible book, here’s the blurb:

Many people sense that consumer culture is dragging us toward extinction. We feel trapped in a cell of our own making. If humanity is to have any sort of future worth living in, we must discover an exit from our confinement. There is a door, hidden in plain sight.

What sort of culture might appear if we took seriously the essential values and principles that form the deep structure of voluntary simplicity and used them to inform a new perspective of the good life? Might we discover an exit from the confining cell of consumer culture? Can we find the passage leading beyond individual lifestyle choice to cultural renaissance? This book aims to help seed this renaissance by widening the conversation about how we transition from the road to extinction to a path with heart that has a future.

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Posted by & filed under Economics, Society.

Corporate power is the real enemy within, but none of the major parties will confront it.

The more power you possess, the more insecure you feel. The paranoia of power drives people towards absolutism. But far from curing them of the conviction that they are threatened and beleaguered, it becomes only stronger.

On Friday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, claimed that business is under political attack on a scale it has not faced since the fall of the Berlin wall(1). He was speaking at the Institute of Directors, where he was introduced with the claim that “we are in a generational struggle to defend the principles of the free market against people who want to undermine it or strip it away.”(2) A few days before, while introducing Osborne at the Conservative party conference, Digby Jones, formerly the head of the Confederation of British Industry, warned that companies are at risk of being killed by “regulation from Big Government” and of drowning “in the mire of anti-business mood music encouraged by vote-seekers.”(3) Where is that government and who are these vote-seekers? They are a figment of his imagination.

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Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Most comprehensive study reveals glyphosate and AMPA in the environment over 9 years and across 38 states.

by Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji

The most comprehensive research to date on environmental glyphosate levels exposes the widespread contamination of soil and water in the US, as well as its water treatment system. Looking at a wide range of geographical locations, researchers from the US Geological Survey (USGS) analysed 3732 water and sediment samples and 1081 quality assurance samples collected between 2001 and 2010 from 38 states in the US and the district of Colombia. They found glyphosate in 39.4 % of samples (1470 out of 3732) and its metabolite AMPA (α-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid) in 55% of samples [1]. Water samples included streams, groundwater, ditches and drains, large rivers, soil water, lakes, ponds and wetlands, precipitation, soil and sediment, and waste water treatment plants.

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Posted by & filed under Animal Forage, Land, Livestock, Trees, Working Animals.


Photos: Ingrid Pullen

At Zaytuna Farm we have been using our Boer meat goats to fast-track the weed-tree-infested forested valleys’ succession and reforestation with a diversity of high quality tree species. This is being done around the pasture edges of the valleys and the gullies between our pastures, which are dominated by weed tree inundations of small and large leaf privet, camphor laurel and lantana.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects.

Imagine a durable, practically indestructible round plastic container that allows anyone (generally women and children) to harvest at least 50 liters of water and pull it home without breaking their backs, or necks.

Check out the Q-Drum and the Wello Water Wheel — two ingenious inventions that have the potential to make many people’s lives more wonderful by providing an average size family with enough drinking water.

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Posted by & filed under General, Society.

I had a conversation with my eldest son, Michael, some time ago. We discussed: “Why can’t knowledge be used to make things in society work better?” This question of my son’s got me to thinking about what is knowledge and what is the difference between knowledge of nature and knowledge of human affairs. In philosophy, this is called epistemology — the study of knowledge.

I was very gratified that Michael was interested in this subject. And, although when I studied philosophy in University I wondered whether there was any point in it, my son’s question made me realize how important the consequences of a particular epistemology can be.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Urban Projects.

The Marda Permaculture Farm is a working farm and demonstration site for permaculture principles, techniques and strategies in Palestine. Based in the picturesque ancient village of Marda, the project promotes food sovereignty, health, self-reliance and empowerment. This is accomplished through modeling water harvesting, recycling, energy conservation and home-scale garden production with readily available and locally-appropriate materials.

Farm Founder and Director Murad AlKhufash has long dreamed of a teaching building using natural materials and techniques such as earth bag construction, cob, adobe, and local building technologies. The building, which would maximize space with two stories would provide a much needed office, indoor space for workshops, and lodging for interns and volunteers.

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Deforestation, Desertification, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Dr. Nadine Unger, an assistant professor of atmospheric chemistry at Yale, had an op-ed published in the Opinion Pages of the September 19, 2014 edition of the New York Times. Both the title of her piece and its analysis of the article’s focus — climate change — have drawn quite a response, as one would imagine.

I don’t have much to add other than asking for those interested to review what she wrote along with the responses detailing how and why what she has concluded is exactly wrong:

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Posted by & filed under Compost, Village Development.

As far I can remember, I have always loved collections. I started collecting postal stamps, then wild mice that I caught in barns, and at one point, I even collected ‘important’ items from our planet to show other universes (should I ever be abducted by aliens). The box consisted of simple items like an AA battery, a cinema ticket, a photograph of Michael Jackson and so on. As I mentioned before, very important items!

Since discovering permaculture, I started collecting yields. I’m not a hoarder though. I just love collections! I guess I took the third principle (obtain a yield) very seriously. Here is an example of how my brain works and how I collect yields.

My neighbor (500m from our farm) runs a tiny ranch and being alone in this venture, she struggles keeping up with all the hard work. I have decided to volunteer my time and make her days more wonderful. Twice a week, I clear all her paddocks of the huge piles of horse manure.

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Posted by & filed under DVDs/Books, Economics, Society.

Ecocide law, unlike any other law, has the capacity to disrupt what we perceive to be immoveable. How can we possibly decouple from fossil fuels, from economies based on making money out of heavy extractive industries, from businesses that are threatening to sue governments that refuse to allow them to destroy their lands? This is a question that is voiced in many different ways but the essence of it is always the same — the sense that we are so stuck in a system that we cannot see the way out.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects.

Abed is a farmer from Al Wallajah village who has been living in a cave on his land for 17 years, attempting to resist displacement by Israeli authorities and to maintain and care for his family’s land. He lives in a cave because he is not allowed to build according to Israeli military law. He is not connected to water, sewage or electricity networks. In caring for the land he has planted over 1000 trees in the last decade.

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