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how to live your life after experiencing the permaculture click

 
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I didn't get good sleep last night, so my brains are not quite with me.  This makes it so I cannot really write coherent stuff.  

We recorded a podcast this morning.  It ran for almost four hours.  About the permaculture click.   Four of us believe we have experienced the permaculture click so we talk about it.  

The podcast will probably be available to patreon peeps tomorrow.   And to everybody else about a week or two later.

Here are our notes:

----------------------------

What is "the click"?
  - c-l-i-c-k
  - before the click, permaculture is a lot of cool bits and bobs.  Drink deep and there is always more.  It’s one cool thing in a world of cool things.  
  - and then there is the moment when all those pieces suddenly click together and you realize that you have lived your whole life, up to this moment, backwards.  And you are now hard wired to do a 180 and live your life forwards.   It is the only way.  At the moment, you are ankle deep in permaculture, but you desperately need to be neck deep.


To ask each person:
  - was it a jarring moment or spread out over hours/days/weeks?
  - was it really a 180 on your life or is that a bit of an exaggeration?
  - do you remember when you felt the click?
  - what do you need?

To NOT have the click might be a really nice thing.  Possibly not wise to pursue it

Frustrations
  - I have things that I have to do NOW and I can’t do them here
  - Can’t afford land
  - Everything is covered in toxic gick and I can’t get away from it
  - I can’t do enough by myself, I need more people
  - Everyone thinks I’m crazy
  - Swimming upstream
  - Family conflict/divorce
  - Most communities suck
  - How do I make money without a worky job
  - Is this going to take 20 years?  But I want it (need it) RFN

Q for ash, ashley, jen and paul:   how many people in the world do you think have experienced the click?

NEED to be neck deep.
  - ash is currently ankle deep
  - ashley is currently shin deep
  - paul and jen are currently chest deep
  - At wheaton labs, we’re working on getting neck deep and we’re really close
 
Ashley:
When I finished my Master’s Thesis:
  - Couldn’t figure out how to use the knowledge I had gained in the “real world”
  - Worked for Agriculture Canada for 4 years and couldn’t believe that it was the peak of agricultural research
  - Moved back to my hometown but was not content with the “ski bum life”
  - Took a PDC and fell madly in love with Permaculture: I could be an experimental scientist, nutritionist, ecologist, and more without ever having to spend another day in a classroom.
  - Visited Wheaton Labs and discovered that I had much much more to learn
  - Now trying to balance moving towards a homesteading life with the needs of family, spouses, and the social culture/economics of the area

Ash:

  - Currently Ankle deep, if that
     - Hugel in rental house yard
     - Putting some greywater on the garden
     - Doing other PEP stuff at home
     - I want to be way deeper
  - Have I truly felt the click? - OR - I have yet to cut off my right Arm
     - Years of pulling together cool bits and bobs,
     - I had let the doubters in my life convince me that my dream(s) were unrealistic,
     - I was maybe toe deep when I felt the click
     - I've felt a series of jarring moments
     - The pull is strong, but the ties that hold be to Denver (e.g. my 7 year old son), are strong, too
     - Six years ago, I was realizing I wanted both land, and also that I couldn't know or do everything
     - My life has since been turned upside down, and I've had to live vicariously through podcasts/forums/videos etc
     - A big moment for me was seeing the RMH in the FP house in a Justin Rhodes youtube video. Before that, all my research was Joel Salatin and Gabe Brown and Elaine Ingham stuff. That's when I learned people were doing permaculture things with buildings.
     - Going to Paul's place showed me that living neck-deep could be attainable
  - I’ve felt all of the frustrations
     - I NEED to have Sepp Water burbling out of a fountain in the square of a town with no cars that can feed itself inside a permaculture paradise
     - I still have a worky job, for Reasons
     - Strategy up til now: go to WL and fill my bucket, and bring my bucket back home
     - I now have found one other person who doesn’t think I’m crazy
     - I’ve managed to turn on a drip, so I’m not suffocating anymore

Jen:
When I felt the click
moved back to the ranch
Had been “into” permaculture but suddenly it became urgent
       Already on a homestead, but swimming upstream
       Can’t even do an online PDC
       Winning PDC tickets
       Clicked at PDC
       Leaving the ranch - really hard

Paul:
  - April 25, 2005, late morning
  - obsessed with the 3 sepp movies
     - i want to do all that, plus my ideas about natural building and community and so much more
     - if all the stuff in those 3 movies could be called “1 sepp unit” then all the stuff in my head that I want to do would add up to about 3 sepp units.
  - if I quit my job and do only permaculture, the most I would be able to accomplish in my lifetime would be 0.8 sepp units
  - need to be in community with 12 year-round people that are more knowledgeable and more industrious than me.
  - quit my career; left the mount spokane property (felt a bit like cutting off an arm)
  - i know the solution is community and that that is going to be, by far, the most difficult thing, so I started studying community and visiting communities.
  - can I join a community and do permaculture for 30 more years at that spot without getting kicked out or feeling like i need to get away from this group?
  - I have shared a lot, in past podcasts, about my community journey
     - books, workshops, web sites, intensive study
     - visiting ICs
     - living in several different ICs
     - on the board of an IC incubator board
     - deep study of decision making models
     - finally determined to create my own community (central leader); recording podcasts so people can learn what it would be like for this community.
     - want to offer a community that would have been a perfect fit for my 2005 self
  - On arriving on this property I have now imagined 10 sepp units of stuff i need to do before i die.  Maybe I will finally feel like I am “neck deep” when we get to 3 units?



wheaton labs

  - hair on fire
        - Changing “hair on fire” to “you know what would be cool?”
        - what is left so hair is no longer on fire?
              - Well
              - a few berm shed repairs
              - Complete greenhouse and movie
              - Allerton abbey ATI able to proceed
              - Food systems at 30% (includes chickens, which includes 4 basecamp paddocks)
              - Rentals, events, logistics working pretty good so that there is the beginning of steady coin

the tipping point
  - what does the tipping point look like?
        - financially self sustaining - no longer need subsidies from paul
        - allerton abbey at full gert (with hot and cold running water)
        - at least 12 year round residents
        - there is a lot of interest in our stuff without us trying to actively tell people
        - food systems at 80%
        - events sell out in a few days after being announced

what is left to be “neck deep”?
  - Massive water harvesting earthworks and ponds everywhere
  - Ruminants rotationally grazing the lab
  - Curing cancer by staying on the lab
  - food systems at 140%
  - Political stuff very small and far away
  - a new recipe for community proven
  - the promise of wofati is proven
  - growing a lemon tree outdoors in montana
  - events sell out in a few hours after being announced
  - Growing the future leadership of permaculture - maybe six out of the top 10 permaculturists in the world are/will be at wheaton labs
  - So many awesome people living here that we can no longer accept new residents

 
paul wheaton
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This will be three podcasts.   All three are available now to patreon peeps:  https://www.patreon.com/paulwheaton

 
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I definitely felt "the Click", it was when I spent around 10 days at Cob Cottage Company attending a RMH weekend workshop followed by a week of their work party. I had been on Permies for years prior, but this was the first time I actually stepped into the reality of it, cooking and eating food grown and harvested on the property; gravity fed mountain spring water used for cooking, drinking, and showering via RMH water heater; staying in cob structures with green roofs and not full of distracting electronics; splitting firewood to feed the RMHs; walking within 10 feet of calm deer who knew Ianto and his guests won't mess with them; gathering wood duff from rotting 100 year old douglas fir stumps to use in the composting toilet system; the overwhelming sense of peace as I calmed down and relaxed in the rainforest valley which barely had cell reception (so I left the phone in the car 500 feet back at the entrance) and the only electronics was 2 solar panels hooked to a car battery to power 5 or 6 light bulbs between the various buildings; and being around a group of people who had a similar desire to at least experience this lifestyle in some way.

I also distinctly remember hopping back in the car to drive the 900 miles home and feeling the stress seep back into every pore as the roads filled up with traffic, and especially driving through the literal stink of LA and all the air pollution; getting back to the 0.1 acre house tightly packed with all the other houses 20 feet away; a house poorly built with bad insulation but too expensive to open up and improve; using expensive SoCal drinking water to flush the toilet; with terrible soil not fit for growing edible food; working 40 hours a week to afford the house and all the other expenses involved with the job and environment.

Many years before I had worked out my expenses and savings to plan for early retirement at age 40, and that kicked back in but since my current job has a mandatory retirement system that I could use at age 50, that became my 5 years target date. I'm now working on my plans for that, hoping to build a house I had imagined since I was a kid and was fascinated by things like Buckminster Fuller, dome homes, earth ships, and reading copies of Mother Earth news at the library. But back then I fell prey to the "that's nice, now go out and get a real job and enter the system". Now I've realized it's an actual goal, and I'm looking forward to it!
 
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No I don't want sympathy or even a response and I know it's my own fault. I just need to get this off my chest and hopefully someone else will learn from it.

The click, oh I hate it. Around 2010 I started seeing permaculture stuff while trying to find a way to be more eco-friendly. I'm not sure when but I found Paul's podcast in the early days because it didn't take long to listen to the whole backlog. I'm still pooless and listen to every episode. I needed to know more and started researching and watching videos. I found some stuff from Geoff Lawton. I watched his videos on repeat and definitely clicked. In 2012 I went to a permaculture talk at a music and arts festival. The Perma Pixie mentioned in her talk that permaculture will kill your relationship. I was like naaa. In 2014 I married my wife and I started to realise that I want to live the permaculture life not this "normal" life. I was changing, growing more fruit trees, putting in vegetable beds and composting. in 2015 we had our son. So I basically worked and hardly slept for the next three years and I have been depressed on many occasions as the feeling of living the wrong life set in. I manage to pick my self up and put on my mask most of the time. I knew that I was already stuck so then we had a daughter in 2019. I thought my wife would click when she had children to make a better world for them and to get rid of the toxic crap to keep them healthy. She has not changed in fact I think she is worse. My wife is a consumer who continues to buy single use plastics even though she knows I hate plastic. She buys that disgusting smelly cleaning spray I can smell from outside the house. She is not willing to move to where land is affordable and she is not willing to give up the toxic gick and consuming crap. I'm not going to leave my family because I'm not an arsehole. So basically life sucks and I'll be old and physically useless by the time I can live the life I'm supposed to.

At least I can still listen to Paul's podcasts and dream about the way life is supposed to be.
 
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Alex Pine wrote:No I don't want sympathy or even a response and I know it's my own fault. I just need to get this off my chest and hopefully someone else will learn from it.

The click, oh I hate it. Around 2010 I started seeing permaculture stuff while trying to find a way to be more eco-friendly. I'm not sure when but I found Paul's podcast in the early days because it didn't take long to listen to the whole backlog. I'm still pooless and listen to every episode. I needed to know more and started researching and watching videos. I found some stuff from Geoff Lawton. I watched his videos on repeat and definitely clicked. In 2012 I went to a permaculture talk at a music and arts festival. The Perma Pixie mentioned in her talk that permaculture will kill your relationship. I was like naaa. In 2014 I married my wife and I started to realise that I want to live the permaculture life not this "normal" life. I was changing, growing more fruit trees, putting in vegetable beds and composting. in 2015 we had our son. So I basically worked and hardly slept for the next three years and I have been depressed on many occasions as the feeling of living the wrong life set in. I manage to pick my self up and put on my mask most of the time. I knew that I was already stuck so then we had a daughter in 2019. I thought my wife would click when she had children to make a better world for them and to get rid of the toxic crap to keep them healthy. She has not changed in fact I think she is worse. My wife is a consumer who continues to buy single use plastics even though she knows I hate plastic. She buys that disgusting smelly cleaning spray I can smell from outside the house. She is not willing to move to where land is affordable and she is not willing to give up the toxic gick and consuming crap. I'm not going to leave my family because I'm not an arsehole. So basically life sucks and I'll be old and physically useless by the time I can live the life I'm supposed to.

At least I can still listen to Paul's podcasts and dream about the way life is supposed to be.



Look at it this way: Not having everything you want can be a bless, even if you don't realise it now. When you get everything that you want, in return you might be losing things that you didn't ask for, but that were good for you. Which things you will not know until you miss them.
I also think that some people must stay in this side of the civilization so more people can learn and dream about truly sustainable lifestyles. Enthusiasm is contagious!
 
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Alex Pine wrote:
I'm not going to leave my family because I'm not an arsehole. So basically life sucks and I'll be old and physically useless by the time I can live the life I'm supposed to.

At least I can still listen to Paul's podcasts and dream about the way life is supposed to be.



Don't give up so fast. Honestly, you had YEARS of being subjected to the ideas, concepts and results of permaculture to get you this far. She has not. My hubs was similar in so many ways. Raised in a big city on concrete, his idea of gardening was either a couple tomato plants in the backyard or the large monoculture of his grandparents farm, even though he never saw it live before they sold. Just stories. Consumerism and convenience is how they kept their 'happy.' The people they look up to are hollywood stars and athletes. Nine years ago he met me. Opposites attract and when moving in together was discussed I told him I'd never survive an urban life, he must come to the mountains. And he did. Well, the coast right under the mountains. Then he complained about a lot. I tend to let the grass grow, mowing isn't high on my list until dandelions are going to seed. We don't have HOA's. He was used to golf course clean and wanted to mow weekly, lmao. He was used to recycling cans for money but not glass, plastic and cardboard. I want to recycle it all. He bitched about mud on the floors, in his truck, on our boots, everywhere! I explained that is what yards without concrete bring. There were many more small things that posed tiny arguments and smacks back to reality. The cleaning toxins were the biggest but I put my foot down. NOT IN THE HOME WITH MY KIDS. It was a hard adjustment for him so I got some non toxic multi purpose cleaners. He felt better with those than vinegar (we've now transitioned back to my homemade stuff). Then time, life happened. Currently he is on board with all of rural life. When we head to the city he has all the same complaints and concerns I have, after nine years he has watched me live and raise kids (I had two before he came along, one together now). He is all about growing food now but NOT fully on board with food forests but I'll get him there. That said he doesn't stop my fantastical ideas though he may silently question. The gardening is my area and I'll keep moving forward. I know he has to see the benefits to understand and he will with time.

Have you had a serious discussion about plastic use? That would be huge for us. It's not just horrible for our planet, it is teaching your little ones it is okay. It's blatant disrespect if she knows it bothers you yet continues to bring it home. Does she rewash and reuse it? That is a baby step. That is what relationships are. We cannot make another think like us but we can work towards cooperative solutions. If she is unwilling you may want to rethink being an arsehole.

My point is, don't give up on your hopes. Baby steps get us there. Do what you can where you are, it may end up being practice for where you end up. She may come around with more time and experience. No matter where you are practicing good soil management you are improving the world for your little ones. You are also leading by example. Plus, playing in the dirt is good for your soul!


As for my click? I'm definitely no more than ankle deep. The click occurred sometime in the past five years, was probably a long, drawn out thunk more than a click. Layer methods, tree guilding, chickens...I wanted to find a way to have a self sustaining property. Not anywhere near that yet but have learned so much in the past few years I think if given the land, time and a few resources it could happen. Currently working on expanding our annual/year round veggie garden with layer mulching. We have added guilds to some of our mature fruit trees, built six mini hugel mounds, promoted wild beneficial plants. I've learned to save seeds from just about everything. Raising chickens has been practiced, I'm going to try breeding this year. I think the draw back to the land is a naturally occurring survival instinct. I believe the strongest of us are the ones who embrace the feeling instead of running from it. Our society definitely makes it easier to follow the status quo.
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