Tuesday, May 26, 2015

stock market crash

We didn't notice when it finally came undone. It had been so long since their pyramid scheme economy had had anything to offer us. They had been selling 'unique opportunities' to be a part of their elite haven. But the bubble city was broken enough. We could see that the same limiting system could only become more broken. It would be an elaborate coffin, Giza. Even the folks wedded to warfare looked for alternatives.

Apparently it came last week. We were planting. Autumn. The swales had settled with the rain. Old wooden furniture, fabrics, bones and prunings were buried under soil. Corridors of green, languid curving byways for water. The groundcovers were starting to come up.

We worked in teams, planting from cuttings and prunings. It was a joy to be out under the blue now that the heat was out of the sky. The world looked hopeful after rain.

We shared lunch, and planned the next suburb to tackle. Took out two thirds of the buildings and uncovered the soil underneath. It was dead and still, but we bedded it down with straw and manure. Built it up and left it for a year. We would come back and check for metals and pesticide residues. The dirt under the houses was usually not too bad. The areas which were most difficult were planted with a range of trees, to see what would cope.

After lunch the last of them came. Some still carried weapons but not as if they were the answer. They were still angry and frightened but seemed to settle down as they were given something practical to do. Something to learn.

We wore shirts with our chosen totem species on. Some embroidered, some painted or drawn. It was a way to celebrate the possibilities of each new species we found we could grow. Old customs perhaps, but a way to celebrate our individuality and our interdependence. A release from coloured factions.

One group was doing a scrap run. Motors and wiring from old whitegoods were handy. We had plenty of power so now we were looking for materials for new engineering projects. Tools and milling equipment. Smoother ways to process food and fibres. Experimenting with conductive materials and ways to consume CO2; as fuel, in plantings, lichens, algaes.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Manifest destiny

Their initial response to climate change was predictable.
They had great plans. They would own and control life.
Make life simple enough to keep in a bubble.
They could use mining, military, money, monoculture. Extract value.
They would try to shut down anything they didn't own.

They would start with a great homogenisation.
Break down their own societies by reducing culture to stories of war and violence.
Repurpose democracies with money and systemic corruption for a claustrophobic feudalism where only the species, people, ideas they owned would be safe.
Limit education to basic unquestioning competition for narrower and narrower definitions of participation.

They would make war on other communities with different perspectives, from indigenous communities to world faiths.
Anything they could use to muster conflict.
They could field armies against themselves and feed whole generations into them. Juggle profit.

And so the communities and natural systems were breaking. Are still breaking. But Earth has always been larger than human mayhem.

The bubble cities were dependent on few gmo crops, which were dependent on chemicals, cannibal cage farmed livestock, manufactured meats and processes that were precarious and contended. They were sustained by the destruction of forests. They fought amongst each other. Their crops did not adapt to shifting climate. Genetic splicing caused carcinogenic compounds in foods. The fracked groundwater was no tastier out of plastic bottles. Bees died. People who had been trained not to question found it hard to find the systemic causes for crop failure and tried to answer it with more poisons.

If you can only answer the world's dynamic challenges with answers you own the Earth will answer the anomaly with all of the power of a living system.
Their bubble cities were invaded by consequences like sandcastles on a beach. Something they could not war against.

The bubble city people learned and left. They moved like a river.

From the local city they came to us. We divided the first groups and sent them to different communities to learn. After that we needed another plan. We turned them around with water and short term food. Seeds to plant and people to show them what to do next.

At the edge of the city they were watched by the guards. They dug swales, planted for nitrogen, planted for food and materials, planted for pollinators, and tried a first planting of the local indigenous species.

It became a rhythm. People began to focus on specific tasks or species. They worked in teams and tried different combinations. The first crops were peas and buckwheat.

It was cold at night in the tents. But people slept close. They started to talk. To tell stories.

People still in the city were hungry. Looting. The guards and the people recognised the fear in each other's eyes. They allowed the gardeners back in. People moved back and forth. Trying the new polyculture patterns in the city. Looking for ways to make tools.

Our communities were more diffuse. Following landscape needs. Our communities worked to contribute ecological services to the Earth. And to feed and manage ourselves. We shared ideas and seeds, adapted technologies for materials which were not contended. No single points of failure, no need for war. We drafted an economics for stability. One which was designed to fit within the living systems, to be reciprocal, healthy.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Crafers Gully

Earth is seriously windswept.
Stark seasons twitch in and out of play.
All life is looking for safe eddies.

From orbit you can map the seasonal shift of the wind by scanning for biomass. Species hang on to each other in the crowded armpits of ravines.
They shift as erosion takes off with the topsoil and sculpts the rock faces.

Seasons are too variable for long cycle crops.
Opportunist plants launch after rain, burst into life with rapid root growth, shout airborne seed and duck for cover again. They are kept company by frogs, insects, birds that follow their lead. Birds collect and weave like beavers. Nests are more than eggroom now; a substrate for harvesting food, a means to increase the capacity of their locale.

Climbers weave through lower branches, they help to save the windward bark, but cause stress on higher branches.

Crafers Gully was built into the ridges along the freeway.
A truck gravel trap runs across the bottom. Check dams have been built into the bottom of the gully to trap soil and water. Banks of earth filled tyres are planted with bamboo on the windward edge.

Uphill from each of the the dams the soil has been collected into a small delta. Cairns and swales constructed from tyres, cars, logs and rock snake across the flat bottom valley. The cairns are built around the windward sides of trees making sheltered orchards called cheesegraters. Open ground shielded to collect soil, dust, seed, and to protect plants growing on site through effective windtaming.

Clusters of species collect inside the cairns. We look for any way to increase the diversity and adaptability of the seed stash. Anything to increase the literal web of life, and its ability to catch and hold soil and water. The cairns hold the heat through the night and shade through the heat of the day. Some of the rockwork needs reskinning or replanting every Lull.

The new ring of trees this year has cork oaks, pecans, acacias.

The cork oaks came from root cuttings brought from Mount Barker. They  have adapted and grow a faster, harder skin of cork on the windward edge. Evergreen and good for soil retention. 

Deciduous pecan nuts from Magill generate great leaf litter.

Local acacias fix nitrogen and help to anchor native species.

New hosts to play with.

Partnered with different understorey populations to give a distributed risk profile to the weather. We hedge our bets.

The home ravines have a saw blade edge which funnels wind away fro the edges. They need armouring on the windward edges. We are trying bamboo, tyres.

The wind turbines are helical, running like bristly spirali down the run of the ravine. Anchored from the ravine floor, until they are torn free, breakup and fly into the wind. They pass power into the workshops.

We are experimenting with Dutch ewicon static wind generators.

Bamboo, hemp is grown for working materials.
The strongest bamboo comes from the windiest ridges.

CO2 is captured and carbon stripped for fabrics, machinery parts, repairing the printers, oxygen kept for bad dust storms or for making water. 

Prisms, mirrors are used in the Lull to bring an imported sunrise into the workshops, into the gardens embedded in the ribs of the ravine.
Sunlight hung along the lit face like the edge of a prostrate skyscraper.


Naluwap took refuge from the wind in the orchard behind an olive cairn.
Hiking from the Adelaide Oval, heading for the hills.
He was well wrapped and carried a backpack.
Shaky from bracing against the wind.
Needed water and food.

Preethy led him back to the mine gully.
We have a stash of olives, almonds, potatoes, agave syrup.
Fresh dandelion, purslane and fennel.

Preethy: How are the fires in Blackwood?

They will be able to repair a lot of it now that the fires have passed.
The wind made it so fast that it skipped a lot of the leeward plantings.
The main damage was just from sheer heat. We lost two droids and a human.

At least they were not fighting in the Queensland fracked forests with methane groundwater.

They have been treating stressed and burnt animals both native and stock.
Goats, alpacas, sheep, koalas, possums, pets.
Some of the sheep were finding it had to walk on burnt feet.

I do have a Blackwood dataset backup so it would be good to send them back a droid with local knowledge in the next Lull?

Sure we have some spare parts here too.
I have been experimenting with bamboo for wind energy, wheels.
Blackwood are making goat carts.

The main challenge is quality of materials for power storage, conductivity and elasticity. We have heard that hemp bast can be conductive but have not had success at a useful scale.

Naluwap: Cool ok
Who is 'we' Preethy?

Preethy: Hazel is inside working on a space gardener and we keep in contact with Lyn. Crafers was established by Lyn. There are three droids on three orchards across the hills face gullies, aiming to catch topsoil from the plains. We started out by mining out the gullies and using the stone to set up check dams upwind. We did these as ribs or swales across the gullies every 50m down the length of the gully. The soil started to drop behind the stonework. We set in the pioneer wind breaks and started to experiment with cairns or linear runs of stone.

Naluwap: Where is Lyn now?

Preethy: There is open land with a lot of stone near Callington.
They are setting up ridges and trying out dryland species. Lichens, cork oaks, resetting native scrubland.

Naluwap: Great work on the orchards Preethy.
They are the thickest mesh of species I've seen and the soil looks good too.
I have some seeds we can try and I might be able to use the bamboo to help with engineering for power.

Thanks. This is an old site. There are some great forests further into the hills with more soil, rain and protection. They will be very interesting.

Like us they have heat, frost, water and slope issues. We have existing natural scrub to look after. We are planting them into the sheltered systems to bring the wildlife onboard.

We have runs of bamboo on the windward faces. The bamboo is stronger when it grows in the wind and poor soils on the edge. It provides good cover and soil trap.

We use the bamboo to make things like pens for rats and mice used to break down green waste materials (We want to keep the species alive but away from crops.)

We are growing wild roses for rosehips and to feed the possums.
We are experimenting with processing the eucalypt litter through the worm farms to make good soil and manage flammable material.

We are hoping to send kites or kangaroo couriers with a mix of seeds downwind to some of the other Hills gardens and
during the Lull we are hoping to send some material to the Oval.


Adelaide Oval now has a terraced garden on the west side of the grandstand. Soil has been harvested from the oval grounds and they are collecting water in a lake in the middle. We are likely to have salt issues with the rising tides but for now it is a good source for the gardens and birdlife.

Some populations of birds take shelter in the stand.
Thickets of dense bushes and bamboo run along the wind facing east grandstands. This helps to capture seed, soil, and generally protect the structure itself.

There are some interesting projects on the plains too.

They are looking at the other open soil areas in their area to see what could be defended. Houses which are unstable are being dropped into swales. Effectively retrofitting earth banks as insulation around the western side of the buildings that are stable.

They are planning to take out long corridors of housing and industrial space, roads, to build in corridors for life. It would be easier to build wind defences in the city between highrises but the soil is under pavement and some of the buildings have fallen, some are stressed and a risk.

There are some remnant patches of olive orchard and eucalypt scrub in the Botanic Gardens and the Parklands which could be more thickly planted and built up with stone from the city.

The rubbish dumps are being sifted for useful materials.
Metals, glass, plastics,

There is potentially good soil.
Main challenge is testing for the toxins we don't want.
We have been using skinks, mice, ants, worms, to see how they go.
Plant it out with a mix of seeds and see which ones are more successful.

There are still debates about the graveyards.
They do have good soil, and piles of bone due to the mass graves.
If they could be protected upwind and shaped into swales they could be very useful sites. People are squeamish about facing those piles.
But the soil will be airborne if it is not sheltered in any case.

So many lost through drinking fracked water from the East. Didn't take long to get right through the Murray Darling systems. It was worse upstream.

The water pipeline from the East has been stopped but the Murray is still not safe now that the toxins are washing through to the river mouth.

I guess it is more difficult to stabilise on the plains now that there is less water?

Local ground water is changing with the higher tides, holding water and working with salt is the next change coming on the flat.

OK. Which species do you have with you?

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Earth's profit

When the old society started farming and fencing land such that 'value' was the single species within the fence of ownership, we were displacing other species and their opportunity to exist for subjective use.

Classical economics was the result of that process being iterated until all the living systems were displaced and breaking. Billionaires, companies, claimed space and reduced the return to ecology and community through low wages and reducing biodiversity because it had no cost to them.

The economy was structured so that banks were really hubs of the same perspective and process. Society was borrowing money from banks which represented the concentration of 'value' in the abstract sense through processes which alienate life systems and communities. Their economics was designed to be asystemic. Atavistic.

The New Bank is a fund that is held on behalf of future generations of the whole system, all species, including humanity. It is spent to increase biodiversity and ecological stability and health. We recognise that our communities borrow the land, water, opportunity from current species so we pay to ensure they have a place. So that we build on the asset for the people and species of the future. The fund invests directly in species recovery and bioremediation.

Earth has lost so much. People, species, safe water, safe atmosphere, climate. We are working to stabilise what we can.

We assess and balance the opportunity cost of people running a business or using land for agriculture or towns. It is something which takes the space of other species. Our new economics is structured to cost that subjective use of resources. To plan for it in context so that it does not cost us our living future. Family planning, town planning are grounded in real living contexts.

We can save by making healthy use of land and water in ways which minimise the cost to other species.

Mines pay while the land is open and are required to return the soil in the correct layers and reforest it. They usually find it more effective and cheaper to mine the dumps. To close the cycle. We return materials to industry. Innovate with renewable materials. The profit feeds ecological recovery. A wealth we all need.

Polycultures which save water and have an increased local biodiversity are more cost effective. The interest on the activity is lower because the difference between optimum use of the resource from a biodiversity perspective is closer to what is actually being done.

Causing extinction is not an option. A debt that cannot be repaid.

A project works sustainably for the current purpose. Ecological profit increases the space and resources available to ensure increase in population of endangered species and their ecology. Real living wealth.

Our foundation commons.

Further reading:

Fencing the commons: A quote from The Mores by John Clare

    These paths are stopt - the rude philistine's thrall
    Is laid upon them and destroyed them all
    Each little tyrant with his little sign
    Shows where man claims earth glows no more divine
    But paths to freedom and to childhood dear
    A board sticks up to notice 'no road here'
    And on the tree with ivy overhung
    The hated sign by vulgar taste is hung
    As tho' the very birds should learn to know
    When they go there they must no further go
    Thus, with the poor, scared freedom bade goodbye
    And much they feel it in the smothered sigh
    And birds and trees and flowers without a name
    All sighed when lawless law's enclosure came
    And dreams of plunder in such rebel schemes
    Have found too truly that they were but dreams.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Scala Naturae

This is a fictional or speculative dataset idea for a story.
Atlas of Living Australia is a real project used for this kind of relational work.
Practical plants with polyculture.
Interested to hear of any other projects which take this kind of web approach. Especially with guilds of species plant/animal.

The Scala Naturae is named after the historical system for organising plant and animal life. It is a faceted database of species, peers, dependencies, climate, soil, location.

The new system uses the metaphor of the great chain of life to reflect the genome ladders and the interdependencies of species. The new 'tree' structure is not linear as there can be looping interdependencies. (Similar to software dependencies).

The garden of forking paths is a method for querying the dataset to view different possible outcomes in an ecology space. Choose the path which has the best outcomes for the most critical species.

It has become essential as species have become endangered and as gardening has become a moving target due to storm damage and changing climates. Gardeners can be isolated but can connect to the wider datasets to see themselves in context.

You can query the database for a specific species and see where it has been grown over time. You can view the plant guilds and insect partners which have been successful. The insects, dieases, plants, conditions, soils, slope, wind that have been problematic.

Use a sampler to input a tissue sample and get the plant and its data.
This automatically uploads and incident of the plant, animal, soil by gps location.

Images or descriptions of leaves, flowers, tubers, insects, animals which can be used to identify a species.

Different colour implication diagrams graduate from green where compatibility is well known, to yellow where there is a correlation of some problems, through to red where combinations are known to be causal of problems.

Specify a gps location and the system can scan the slope, climate, soil existing species and suggest  species, water holding techniques, such as check dams, swales, best locations for bamboo, for wind turbines, solar, tidal etc. Closest instances of species you are interested in. Closest instances of humans or androids which have skills, capacities(mining, engineering), materials(salt, metal, food) you need. Upwind issues such as bushfire, flood, locust or mouse plagues.

Gardeners submit the data from their growing season, they are returned with a list of species which are likely to do well in their next season, insects and animals which could be added, the also get a list of species which the dataset speculates that might be successful in that location given the conditions and progress in similar contexts. This includes endangered species which need locations to recover. They also get 3, 5, 10 year predictions of the gardener's currently grown perennial species like trees which might become a challenge as climate changes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Velvet Wiretap

We designed Velvet to be able to replace and adapt herself over time as it was difficult to model the static low grav compact space she would be working in. She was designed with a light weight anatomy which would only be effective out of the wind. And we packaged her in an egg for transport.
She could reconfigure from graphite in a hightech context or from bamboo and hemp in a highlife low tech system.

Each of the gardeners had the full dataset. But in the same way that they were careful to have diverse plant and life combinations the architecture of each gardener was customised. Each gardener had the lived experience of their line which related to specific landscapes and timelines. Intimate knowledge about how those spaces felt and changed over time.

Velvet was part of the team of gardeners developing the new Scala Naturae.
Mapping species to their peers and dependencies.

This dataset was structured in layers. Each layer representing a population of mixed species. Overlays show selected species and the lobes for most common successful ecologies. An adaptive Venn diagram of the species and its collaborators in different landscapes and seasons.

Velvet was helping to populate the Scala with the lived experience of her line. Ursa had spent ten cycles mining and gardening the gullies of Crafers.
Sea level, temperature, wind, and patterns of life in the area shifting over time.

Seedlings of groves planted ten years ago were replanted upstream as the temperature and wind shifted. Their thirsty ghosts holding soil until the newer desert species took hold.

The lobes of the planting patterns move like a plume across the Scala landscape as weather changed, cairns were built, and soil was captured. This would give her a history to build and a story of relationships and biocultures which would keep her conceptually alive and inquisitive over the journeys ahead.

Her lived data of the limited species set on board would be easier to map with a fairly static climate adjusted for growth rather than adapted to a landscape. Watching for adaptations in lichen, plants and insects to suit low gravity or to make use of plant growth patterns would help others making discrete sets.

Experimenting with aphids, ladybirds, bees, mosquitoes and beetles. Worms sustained with enough continual waste and minerals mined with comfrey. Her set included a bag of frog spawn, funghi and wood litter, seeds needing heat treatment and grasses just waiting to go.

So far the bats and birds had not made it into a set.