News from Readers – Feb. 15, 2012

Sarah Potter

Sarah Potter writes: 

If you haven’t checked out the Food Co-op Initiative video yet, do. It is a great resource! Thanks to Daryl Sinn for sharing that info.

Joshua Lambert

Link to story at Penn State Live, via Josh Lambert: 

…Medical center-based farmers markets improve community health – Farmers markets at medical centers may contribute to greater wellness in surrounding communities while adding public health value to a market’s mission, say Penn State College of Medicine researchers who have developed and evaluated a market created at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

“Farmers markets are serving public health by increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, revitalizing neighborhoods, strengthening local economies and empowering community members to learn more about the items they buy,” said Daniel George, assistant professor in the Department of Humanities. “Markets are increasingly viewed as one part of the solution to national chronic health problems…”

Read the full story on Penn State Live.

Ann Echols

Ann Echols of greenWELLS and the Centre County Habitat for Humanity board of directors, writes:

“Check out the ReStore contest – lots of fun!”

Habitat for Humanity is looking for artists to create objects from reclaimed or reused materials to be auctioned as a fundraiser on March 31. Flier below.

Book Review and Video Link from Jackie Bonomo

Jackie Bonomo

A friend knows the man who produced this video. It’s about 30 minutes long, but it’s good.  “A 34 minute animated documentary about resource depletion and the impossibility of infinite growth on a finite planet.”

Jackie’s also been reading The Ecotechnic Future by John Michael Greer (The Archdruid), and has made an outline of the key points:

Food Growing – Methods to Use:

  • Biointensive – Jeavons
  • Organic – Rodale
  • Biodynamic – Steiner
  • Permaculture – Mollison/Holmgren

Post-Oil Soil Fertility:

  • Composting
  • Green manure (cover cropping)
  • Humanure
  • Animal manure
  • Hugelkultur

Home – Design and Construction Methods:

  • Strawbale
  • Cob (clay/straw plaster)
  • Passive solar
  • Masonry stoves (with coppiced woodlots)
  • Arks
  • Earthships
  • Bioshelters

Short-term retrofits of existing homes:

  • Insulate attics, walls, windows
  • Install solar hot water systems
  • Wind power (where possible)
  • Microhydro power (where possible)

Energy – First conserve, by supplying the following with little to zero fossil fuel use:

  • food
  • clothes
  • homes
  • jobs

Similar to the already established Master Gardener and Master Composter teams around the U.S., there was a trial program of Master Conserver groups in Washington & Oregon in the late 1970s (Instruction Manuals). Reestablish these trained groups across the country to retrofit houses for energy conservation.

Work in a Sustainable Future:

  • market farmers
  • agronomists
  • organic farming teachers
  • local soap making
  • local beer/wine making
  • sustainable engineering – esp. for canals and railways
  • machinists
  • salvage workers
  • permaculture and other earth restorative fields
  • secretaries & bookkeepers
  • home energy retrofitting
  • amateur/ham radio – Nittany Amateur Radio Club holds meetings at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at South Hills School of Business and Technology…open all members and any interested guests.


  • Have public conversations about ecological limits and laws, and a public process to determine what changes might be desirable. Make changes slowly and use the resulting outcomes as guides to see if the results are worthwhile. Do not make changes for ideological reasons.

Cultural Conservation:

To meet the need to preserve aspects of culture for future generations, three guidelines for being a cultural conserver:

  1. Focus – Choose only one aspect to conserve
  2. Simplicity – Figure out the key, necessary information
  3. Transmission – Teach that aspect of culture to younger generations

Related Points:

  • “It is when the mind engages thoughtfully with two or more different ways of making sense of the same thing that it can leap to a new level of understanding and come up with something authentically new.”
  • “Civilizations emerge when a creative minority inspires the rest of society with a vision of human possibility appealing enough to break through the ‘cake of custom,’ the body of tradition that shapes the lives of indigenous cultures.”
  • Mimesis is the mimicking of behavior, imitating what impresses us.
  • The problem lies with political classes who are increasingly unfit to lead, unable to follow and unwilling to get out of the way.
  • Religion has been the one force which has been consistently strong enough to carry cultural teachings forward through time. How can we connect science and spirit in a new way?


  • It’s better to preserve the scientific method, the fusion of practical logic with applied mathematics, i.e. science as a process rather than a product or outcome.
  • Do we need a scientific equivalent of the Bible to carry this information into the future without parts of it getting lost?
  • It will be important to develop appropriate ecology – doing environmental research using readily available tools and not complex technologies.
  • Ecosophy is an important principle: the wisdom of the home place

The Ecotechnic Promise:

  • Nature is about to foreclose on humanity’s carbon debt from humanity’s 300 year spending spree.
  • Culture fossilizes into a civilization when everything that can be done has been done, thereafter repetitions occur until new cultural ideas bring new possibilities.
  • One culture’s world view is not better than another. The value judgments which occur are from within the culture in which they are made, thus biased.
  • History is an ecological phenomenon; treating the environment as if it existed solely for humanity is a self-defeating habit. Human history is not solely under human control (although we have acted as if it were!)

Three Phases of Historical Cycles:

  1. Growth in population & resource use
  2. Succession – moving toward stability (subject to disturbance and change)
  3. Gradual accumulation of useful techniques, occasional bloom using a previously-unused resource

Best chance for the future – develop sustainable lifeways!

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