Autumn’s Invitation

GS-Newsletter-Autumn-photoFall has never been my favorite season. Going back to school, shivering in the first snowfall, darker and darker evenings, watching the trees become stripped and gangly… it all seemed so depressing. But as I’ve slowly learned to listen to nature’s patterns, I’m starting to see autumn as a time of precarious abundance, a time when we can live off summer’s bounty as we re-assess our past year and prepare for the cold months.

Sure, I’d rather be biking to work in a t-shirt than a down coat, and I’ll take peaches fresh off the branch over homemade preserves any day. But when I’m surrounded by a culture addicted to perpetual growth, the end of the harvest gives me a much-needed reminder that contraction is just as important as expansion. Indeed, it’s the way all life operates. Without dead leaves rotting on the ground, the soil would eventually be robbed of its nutrients. Without fallen trees, there would be no light on the forest floor for new seedlings to sprout. And without a nightly dose of sleep, our bodies and minds would lose touch with reality and crash.

Still, as an entrepreneur, putting that understanding into practice can be mighty tough. When I’m on a roll with the Wild Green Yonder, I’m almost constantly pushing past my own limits: sending one more email to that awesome contact I just met at a conference, composing one more tweet about a revolutionary gardening technique, promoting my classes in one more place.

To be sure, success in a new venture depends on being ridiculously dedicated and thorough. But paradoxically, I’ve found that my biggest insights, my most creative moments, come when I force myself to unplug. Like fallen leaves breaking down into rich humus, the fertile grounds of innovation are only nurtured when we drop our temporary commitments, take a deep breath, and reflect on the larger picture of which our current situation is a part.

To me, that larger picture would seem to place our cultural zeitgeist in an October of sorts, as well: though we continue to reap the fruits of the great fossil fuel harvest, the first of chills of a different season are here. Does the coming winter of energy descent spell the end of the good times? Certainly not. It merely invites us to use our foresight and maturity to with the roll with the changing season, and preserve the precarious abundance we’ve gathered for the future.

In the meantime, though, there’s still leaves on the trees, and the sun is warm on my shoulders. I’m called to put away my laptop, take a deep breath – and marvel at the bounty.


Blacktail Permaculture makes it happen

It’s one thing to learn about the work of pioneers like Paul Stamets and John Todd and get all excited about their vision of the 21st century. It’s quite another to roll your sleeves up and actually start putting that vision into action. But that’s just what my buddies at the Blacktail Permaculture farm are on well on their way to doing. Situated on plot just outside of Denver, the Blacktail crew recently submitted a grant to use fungi to filter polluted groundwater and restore the native tallgrass prarie ecosystem. While grants don’t tend to read all that interestingly, this one happens to packed with verdy tidbits about the science of regeneration. Read on for the full text.

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Andrew Faust’s Biotecture Concepts

By Adam Brock

Yesterday’s City Dirt has a nice mini-interview with ecological designer Andrew Faust, founder of the Center for Bioregional Living. A recent Brooklyn transplant, Faust has been spending the past several years practicing sustainable living on a homestead in West Virginia and teaching permaculture courses. These days, he’s got some clever ideas for reintegrating nature into the five boroughs: how about a backyard wetland to soak up hundreds of gallons of stormwater runoff? Or a series of floating plant filters to clean up the Gowanus canal:

I want to design floating pond remediators. These are rafts will host plants that clean the toxins out of the water. In China they created floating walkways to clean up the open sewage canals. Not only are the plants removing the toxins from the water, but you have a beautiful area for people to stroll through and enjoy the waterways.

Plant pods seem to be on everybody’s minds these days: a similar concept was proposed in H2Grow, one of the finalists in the Envisioning Gateway contest.

Faust, meanwhile, will be keeping busy this spring teaching a permaculture certification course in Manhattan on fridays. Email if you’d like to sign up.

Rare Earthtones

By Adam Brock

At one point last spring, I became obsessed with finding a recording of a bird call that I could use as a ringtone… and gave up after a couple hours of coming across bad recordings and paywalls. But now my search has finally come to an end: the Center for Biological Diversity has come out with Rare Earthtones, a collection of free ringtones of the sounds of rare and endangered North American animals.

After perusing their selection for a couple minutes, I ended up springing for something even better than a bird call: a killer whale.