Kitty Leith

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since Jul 27, 2012
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Oakland, CA
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Recent posts by Kitty Leith

I also wanted to add that I think the permaculture aficionado is one of the most accepting of neurodiversity in society. I think it needs to go a long way in regards to other types of diversity, however.

The attitude of people who are attracted to permaculture works well with people who want to do things their own way or with people who HAVE TO do things their own way. I don't really see communication as an issue unless one is choosing to live intimately with a community. Even neurotypicals are challenged by that. Which makes me wonder if it isn't the definition of community which we should be talking about? How far does community have to reach into personal lives? What are its boundaries?

I, for one, am all about mutual aid. That's as much community as is necessary. We can help each other out without having to "get" each other fully. This way I am, it's just my way, and I don't need to communicate it any further than that.
6 years ago
Great post, Tyler!

I think you've hit on what is the crux of the problem and why permaculture doesn't really take off -- so much focus is spent on the establishment of perennial food sources, yet the fact that the average consumer has no idea what perennials are or how they can use them is unaddressed. I mean, it's fine for the homesteader who can experiment, but if the aim is to scale up so the whole world eats more sustainably, then it is a big fail.

I'm stuck in the city right now and there are very few perennials available, and I live in an area where farm to table is very much the focus and in vogue. So even though I have every desire to eat perennials I, too, don't have the access or exposure. The only perennials I have really eaten have been while living and traveling abroad in cultures where foraging is not such a distant memory, and even with that they have different names and connecting the dots or knowing if they grow in the local zones is a doctoral thesis. I'm especially challenged because I have to eat a low carb high fat diet for my health (blood sugar regulation and seizure prevention) and my sympathies are to be fully plant-based. Watering the trees necessary for nut oils is also a problem in my drought-plagued area. Avocados are like a perfect food that are very life-sustaining.

I do have one suggestion from my travels, though, and that is pigeon peas. They are nitrogen fixing cover crop superstars, full of protein, are quick to cook (unlike so many beans), and absorb flavors well. There are many tasty great Caribbean and African recipes featuring them and they are a great addition as a supplement to any stews or stir-frys or rice, if you eat that.

6 years ago
I'd like to circle back to Neurodiversity. While I think it could be a beneficial growing experience for neurotypicals to appreciate and live with the spectrum, I'm not convinced it is as beneficial for us, simply because the effort is disproportionate. I'm skeptical the gap will ever close, and it physically takes its toll. And being an educator takes its toll as well.

And while I love that Jan appreciates straight talk, which is good because most autistics are incapable of anything but straight, I also think that a message unheard effectively says nothing. So if autistics want to be heard by neurotypicals then they either have to 1) train neurotypicals for autistic comprehension or 2) alter their message to be more accessible, or 3) rely on translators. That is, if one cares to. I'm not so sure I do. I'm finding myself snug as a bug in a rug and happiest when I am oblivious and not participating in those grueling exercises.

I live in the SF Bay Area, and every day conversation here is a PC minefield. This little satire piece could have been written about it:

Entire Human Race Problematic

This isn't the hyper-vigilant world I want to live in, but I do. And to me, all communities get ridiculous like that too often for my tastes. Sometimes communication is over-rated and just living/being aside/next to someone is enough. I can be neighbors with people and their criticisms and emotions, but that's as close as I want to get. So if polyculture is what you seek, that's as granular as I would want to go. I've always been attracted to homesteading for its self- containment, and permaculture helps make that possible with the smallest footprint. That's enough for me, especially after five decades of engagement with a society that takes more than it gives.
6 years ago
Neither can I! I forgot to add in my reply that I probably have to not build to code in some respect when I finally get to build as well. I will pay for a proper foundation, but everything else I will just rely on my own knowledge.

That being said, I do believe our codes, despite being well-intentioned, cater to the insurance industry. And there is a way of being that isn't accounted for in any code book, and that is maintenance. Vernacular architecture that has lasted centuries is maintained. Some cultures, building maintenance is part of the culture. There was an understanding that nothing lasts forever. Now we pretend like it does and the rules reflect that delusion.

I think owner-builder is fine - I also think everyone can be an architect (but few can do it well). The problem is that most owner-builders don't understand structural principles or the materials they are working with enough. So I would pay for a structural engineer And I would also pay for soils testing by a geotech. Even me, with 20 years of architectural experience. I would at the very least spend a few thousand on these critical consultants and if I couldn't afford that, then live in a trailer.

Also, 200 grand! This is a serious misconception about what design consultants make. Our annual salary is about the same as school teachers. Engineering might cost 2-3 grand, soils report 1-2 grand, Architecture anywhere from 5-up (depending on their fee structure and how decisive the client can be). This notion that designers cost more than the house is a serious problem.

Oops, I see you also included construction in that 200 grand. But still, people think design costs more than it actually does. For building safety, 5-10 grand might cover it, and I think it's worth every penny.
6 years ago

Yes - I am missing the small talk gene as well! I know it is code and cultural convention, but seems so inane. Another reason I don't really want to be part of society anymore - the stroking and validating requirements get so old. I'm older and want to be selfish now.

Small Talk
6 years ago
I learned a long time ago that you can write about your own experience and that can't be argued with because it's personal -- but about others, to others, sounds audacious, presumptuous, and patronizing; especially if it's unsolicited. I've been observing people a long time and they tend to end up doing what they want to do even if it is solicited, no matter who's advice they seek. If it is solicited, I advise as long as there are receptive ears, but I don't make a practice of validating anybody's half-baked (in my opinion) plans. It's often not really advice they seek - it's validation of their own plans. Knowing that, if I give unsolicited advice I have to ask myself about my own motivation. If it's to sway/correct somebody, then the opposite of what one wants to do is alienate the audience, so I must be cognizant of my own voice. So that's why sometimes a story is more helpful. Like the post I did here, Design as if your life depended on it.

I've also learned that people who want to break the laws made for their own safety will break them anyway. I can try and counsel them, and do, about the risks both economic and life-safety, but those kind of people don't want my counsel. So I do what professional ethics dictates I have to do and where they deviate from that is their choice and their problem. That's beyond my control, so I no longer let what others do upset or frustrate me.

And I agree, I don't think any of this has anything to do with being autistic, though it might seem like a caricature of what people expect an aspie to sound like. Some aspies have an almost borderline sense of right and wrong so things like this can really eat them up. But I think being overly righteous sounding is something everybody does, and it takes some bad experiences to seek other ways.
6 years ago
Whoa! This conversation went way off the rails! To be honest, I just skimmed it because it seemed a little too fraught to examine closely.

I've been an unlicensed architect for almost 20 years and I now no longer give a damn about what people want to do with their buildings, even though it's my job to get designs to code and get them permitted. I've learned to let some things go. And let people be responsible for their own health, happiness, and safety. I've totally lost interest in arguing a position on anything as well. I think age has something to do with that, and I love it. I'm also an Aspie. Quite similar to Bonnie:

I smile, make small talk, look in the eyes, ask pertinent personal questions and respond with empathy. On first meeting, people like me-----problem is, I really don't relate to them internally----I never learn their name----I don't recall the last conversation. To me, what sticks are ideas, principles, patterns, and solutions to problems. Try as I can to attach the people to the abstract, my brain doesn't care! I don't reciprocate gifts or phone calls; I get in trouble when I see person again and I have no idea what went on before. I'm the person in the photo with his back to the others, I'm happy by myself! I work alone just fine--sorry if it makes you uncomfortable. But if you ask for help to fix something and I'll be right beside you; so please don't hesitate to ask.

Well, except for the smiling, small talk, and looking in the eyes part Bonnie and I could be twins.

Anyway, it's been my experience that I get along okay in communities. It's not the community I butt heads with. In fact, be it job or intentional community or co-workers or social groups, people usually like me because my observations just.make.sense and I clearly care a great deal and they appreciate my perspective and different approach to things. I come value-added and I have something to offer. It's typically whoever is in charge and - despite the structure, no matter how egalitarian or anarchic or progressive or whatever they say they are - there is ALWAYS someone in charge, who has more of a share, or more power, or more money, or thinks they have more knowledge, that is the problem; that I butt heads with. I tend to look at systems. I notice when things aren't running smoothly and how they could be improved. I never claim to know it all, but I can identify problems and suggest group brainstorms of fixes. This is appreciated by everyone oppressed by the problems, but not by whoever set up the flawed system to begin with, because it doesn't reflect well on them. I seem to be able to get along with other neurotypes, just not narcissists/egoists and sociopaths. They regard me as a threat.

You know, the world is often discussing how to deal with autistic people but not realizing that, outnumbered, we have to deal with "normal" people to a greater degree just as a function of math! We are stretching to meet social norms each and every day. And it is not easy. But nobody stretches to meet us. What would that require? Maybe slowing down a second and listening? Maybe being a little patient? Maybe looking for positives instead of flaws?

I also don't know how power-hungry controlling ego-centric narcissistic exploitative people came to be thought of us "normal" (and yes, those types exist in the alternative and activist and ecological and organic and permaculture world as well) and we on the autism spectrum came to be thought of us lesser. The world is often an upside-down place.

I have found recently, meeting other autistics regularly - ones all over the spectrum, from severely disabled to so high-functioning you might question their being different at all - and I find them VERY easy to get along with. Thoughtful, tolerant, intelligent, respectful, gentle, kind.

I worked with another Aspie one time - and he was overbearing and everyone was annoyed by his superior air. He was making the slightly dense guy who worked under him's life miserable. I finally pointed out that the guy really needed some thoughtful training and that he would be good at training him since he had such a wealth of knowledge, and maybe he could find a way to explain some common sense to the guy as well as the more technical knowledge he needed to learn - to give him a strong foundation. The Aspie was inspired. He became a really good teacher. It was rewarding. He started just giving away helpful tips to people and smiling more. He was still a little overbearing, but everyone was benefiting from it and nobody minded anymore. Like all people, autistic people just need to have a role that utilizes their talents and then society recognizes their value more. And then we have a reason to communicate as well.

I would ask, does the larger "normal" (neurotypical) world bother to try to understand the autistic world? Can they learn to respect private space, and listen more? The phrase, "still waters run deep" comes to mind. It is easy to rush past and miss something beautiful.

Me personally, I find the neurotypical world far too political and stressful and exhausting. Reaching consensus with more aggressive types might be the death of me - both figuratively and literally. I'm attracted to homesteading primarily to get away from social stress and wouldn't want to recreate it on a smaller scale. I feel like the world could learn a lot from us and needs us more than we need it, actually.
6 years ago
Huge. Market that and you won't have enough time in the day to answer all your messages.
6 years ago
I have an appt. with Sustainable Economies Law Center next Monday

Please gather questions you might have so I can make the best use of my time with them!
6 years ago
Well, I think the order of operations would be to start small with the goal of a credit union in the future, as establishing a real banking institution would require being able to maneuver through securities & exchange commission and we would need some experience and expert consultation for that. First would come establishing the 501c-9 Fraternal Order / Homestead Permaculture Grange-like organization, and from that establishing some smaller-scale lending circles while working on the larger picture.

I think a PDC makes sense, but I also know that I personally have to choose between PDC or putting my money towards land. It would be nice if there was a path to PDC incorporated into qualifications and not just outright already having one. Perhaps a demonstration garden could be a requirement, that the food production has to promote food forestry, no-till natural, hugelculture, or some aspect of permaculture in practice? It could even be similar to the homestead act which had requirements and terms, such as x trees planted and thriving in five years.

Some real studying of organizational models is in order about now. Local chapters could be marketed through meetups. If we got non-profit status perhaps we could even get grant monies.

I would be happy to contribute and design a website. We should gather some charter members and target some candidates for a board of directors for oversight.
6 years ago