Please Read and Advise – Here’s a statement I wrote for my application to a Human Factors program.

When I heard the explosion, I dropped to the ground. Shrapnel, gravel, and dirt began to fall around me, so I crawled under the nearest vehicle. The shockwave was powerful. I assumed our perimeter had been breached. I loaded my weapon. I hoped that the soldiers with the gear to respond assertively had the right information and that they were already on their way with a plan. I was anxious. Years earlier, when conducting touch-and-go practice landings at remote military airfield, I felt the same anxiety, and it was a similar set of hopes that I could enumerate – that other planes operating in the area would know I was there, and stay on flight paths that didn’t intersect in time and space with mine. When I have had to make decisions about what to do with my own resources, and what sort of insurance to purchase, or whether to form a series LLC or a sole-proprietorship, I’ve had the same feelings. It’s a set of concerns that virtually all humans share, and the questions that arise are always basically the same: Do I know what I need to know? Am I mentally and physically prepared to handle this set of circumstances? How can technology help me avoid catastrophe, and achieve a favorable outcome? Humans depend on our ability to respond appropriately, and that ability is deeply enhanced by the study of the human factor in any given circumstances. Thus, the study of human factors lies near to my heart, as my understanding of the discipline has certainly contributed to my survival in the past, and I believe it plays an integral role in our destiny as a species in the future.

It is because of the role that psychology and human factors have played in my past that I wish to continue my studies formally. My study of aviation revealed that we can avert mishaps through the implementation of best practices gleaned from research. The intersection of advanced machinery and human performance has many secrets yet to be explored and I want to be a part of that. I am especially interested in the ways in which humans will interact with the emerging artificial intelligence beginning to leave the lab and populate our homes in the form of self-driving cars and Digital assistants in the future. The lessons I’ve learned through my experiences with unmanned aerial vehicles and the ways in which people interacted and perceived them can potentially extend to other walks of life, now that my time in the Air Force has concluded.

As I watch my two-year-old son grow, I cannot help but imagine the drastic changes that will undoubtedly occur during his lifetime. He may never have a chance to drive a car or fly on an airplane being directly controlled by a human being. He might encounter a computer that is, in all aspects, much smarter than he. He and his future may even be threatened by machines set upon destructive paths by their creators as an act of terrorism, or even war. This last possibility is of great concern to me, as a father and former intelligence officer. I am a firm believer that the best way to prepare for the future is to have a hand in creating it. I envision using my knowledge of psychology, human factors, geopolitics, and emerging technologies to work with teams of scientists, engineers, ethicists, civil servants, and inventors to ensure the future we are creating is a safe, just, and prosperous one. I imagine that after working in the private sector with established tech companies, I might one day help to write public policy, and eventually return to teach the next generation of designers.

Good design with respect to human factors can not only increase safety, but it is vital to the wellbeing of societies. Connecting people with technology, rather than isolating them, can help fill our basic need for belonging. Belonging and integrating are more important than ever, in an age of globalization and rapid movement of potentially disruptive ideas. Following some of the more radical ideas of futurist thinkers, perhaps good human factors design combined with some of the technologies that are just now emerging will be the key to helping humans stop worrying about our petty differences, and concentrate on fulfilling our other needs in magnanimous fashion. Indeed, if I knew that an artificial intelligence was keeping me safe on the road, I could spend much more time planning how to grow delicious heirloom tomatoes to share with my neighbors. But not yet.

The attack mentioned at the beginning of this statement could have been much worse. Analysis of the explosion revealed that an improvised explosive device had been attached to the exterior of a fuel truck, essentially creating a driving suicide bomb. The device, however, had been attached poorly, so when it detonated, it failed to cause a secondary explosion of the magnitude possible with that much combustible material. I read a report that stated, had the attack gone as planned, the blast wave would have caved in the structure where I worked at the time. I am grateful that, and here to write this because of a very human error in the construction of that bomb. It seems fitting that I pursue further education in human factors psychology to enhance the safety of others.

10 Minutes

I’ve only got 10 minutes.

So here it goes.

When you have 10 minutes, there’s no time for revision. There’s little time for prep. There’s just go.

Sit in front of the computer, or the problem, or the person you love, and use that whole 10 minutes. Think, just for a moment, because the rest of the time will be best used for creating. Creating connection, creating content. Albert Einstein once said that if he were given an hour to save the world, he would define the problem for 55 minutes and act for five. That’s a nice thought, and probably perpetrated by people who love to plan, but what if you get it remotely wrong? What if you start, and then realize you’re being ineffective? Where is the time for iteration?

So, I posit to you – don’t wait anymore. I’m going to live by this. Create. Touch your loved one and create connection. Type away! Type anything (that’s what I’m doing ). Getting started is the hardest part. Attack that problem! Watch it dissolve against your determination to begin, or resolve into something easier to tackle.  Observe and see what you learn. Keep an open mind. Be ready to switch gears, or tacts, or problems all together. But start. Just start. Go now. You’ve only got 10 minutes, and this took 5 to write.

Throwing Spears and Self Improvement

Last summer, a close friend of mine came to visit. We went in the yard, lit stuff on fire, drank some beer, and looked around. I’m not sure where we got the idea, but the fence posts I had left over from the chicken fencing project were a bit like spears, so we started throwing them. We were not very good at it. But we got better. He had to continue on his way, but several days later, a composite handled, steel tipped vicious looking spear arrived in the mail. This thing just screams “badass.” I saw it, and I wanted to stab any and everything with it. It’s thoughts like those that make me feel like a pretty terrible adult, because I should know better. But I don’t. I threw it, and was even worse at throwing it. So I practiced. And practiced. I mean, throwing a spear might be an important skill in some post-apocalyptic future, or even tomorrow. Who knows when you’ll need to throw a spear? Might as well get good. So I watched some videos, and continued to improve. I also taught my wife to throw it. I got a video of her successfully lodging it in the target.

Now, when I have people over, sometimes I get the feeling that they’d like to throw a spear, so I offer. Usually I’m right. These would be spear throwers are usually pretty terrble when they start. I don’t let them know how much I had to practice – I just the spear once to “show them” how it’s done, then hand it over and watch them struggle. Sometimes they give up. Sometimes, they continue to throw, tweaking their technique every so slightly, and begin to get better and better. I learn about people by the way they handle frustration. Watching this process gives me a very clear idea about how these folks will handle other forms of adversity in their lives. Do they throw up their hands and walk away? Do they coach themselves into doing better? Do they ask for advice? What kind of concentration are they willing to put into improvement? This exercise reminds me that what one person has learned, anyone can learn.

I have been coming across many unexpected situations lately, many of which have been incredibly frustrating and resource consuming. This is one reason I haven’t been writing more. Some of these situations include being threatened with a lawsuit (non-spear related), finding a load bearing wall in  my house had been almost completely eaten by termites, not being able to get power turned on to said house because of antiquated wiring, having plumbing leaks, my dog developing a skin condition, and navigating the Veteran’s Affairs health system. It’s easy to get stressed out when encountering unexpected problems. I haven’t been mentally prepared for almost any of these situations, and I found myself wanting to throw in the towel, and walk away. But I cannot. People are counting on me to do what I have said I would do. I love these people, and I cannot let them down. I will not let them down, if I can help it. And I can help it. If I can throw a spear, I can get smart on landlord-tenant law. I can invest in professional attorney help and become familiar with legal conflict resolution. I can improve my construction skills and repair a wall. I can research and run electrical wire. I can do some veterinary work. I make the VA work for me. As much as I feel resistant to fixing plumbing because it’s a messy business, I can do that too. I can get better, and get good enough to successfully take anything life throws at me.

And I can throw too, and hit the targets I’ve set for myself. I will.

Where is my mind?

Pixies reference in full effect. Here’s why I haven’t posted for a long time: building a new thing takes a lot of energy (psychological? psychic? mental? (wo)man power? who knows… but I’ve been tired)

BLUF (but not really) so rather: Bottom line after the preamble or BLAP (highly discouraged by most report formats, as are my use of vulgarity and colloquialism): My friends and I are starting a new community.

BLAM! That doesn’t actually stand for anything, as far as I know. It’s just supposed to be an exciting noise, that gets you attention. Although, if I didn’t have it already, what the hell are you doing reading this far?

Communities need people in them (duh?). We want the right people. As I tell my classes, though, sharing your “Why” is difficult. I truly believe that words don’t do service to a person’s why: you must witness, and feel it in person. Here’s my best “why” for this next project, and I will happily expand upon it as requested.

Gig opportunity for: individual, couple, or even a family, who wants to increase their self reliance by living with a foot off the grid, growing high-quality food, and cultivating relationships with their neighbors.
 
My name is Scott Church, and I’m a Permaculturist with a penchant for propagating community. I’m in Montgomery, Alabama, and I would like the help of like minded people who want access to some land, tools, and resources, but also want to live close to town. I’m currently residing in a 7×14 utility trailer that I’ve outfitted with solar panels, the capacity to collect and filter rain water, and a detachable greenhouse. I run a small business providing more traditional housing to folks who are visiting Montgomery, and I’m looking to share what I’ve built with somebody who can help me with the operation.
 
Pay: ~$500/month, some form of housing*, utilities paid, fast internet, land use, access to greenhouse, lots of free-range, pastured chicken eggs
 
Requirements: experience with Permaculture, DIY project knowledge (or willingness to learn/try), interpersonal and communication skills, can-do attitude.
 
Assisting in this operation means being available to meet incoming guests, accommodating needs such as performing or coordinating rapid house repairs, cleaning up after guests have left, and, of course, not just maintaining but improving the garden and food forrest on the 1.3 total acres.
 
*Currently, I am looking for what kind of housing you, my operations manager will have. I am putting this ad out before I decide on precisely what I will provide because I want input from those who might live there before I start to procure something. Current options on the table are RV, trailer, up-cycled shed, tent, or anything you might want my help to build on the property.
 
If this note has caught your attention and you think you (or you and yours) might be a good fit, send me an email or PM telling me a bit about your background and describing your vision or goals for the next year or so. I’ll follow up as soon as I can to establish an dialogue and answer any questions your might have.
Holler.

Permaculture is Leadership

For students of Leadership, the study of Permaculture is an extremely complimentary pursuit.

Most recent and poignant leadership thought focuses on servant leadership – as Simon Sinek says, “Leaders who get the most from their people are leaders who care the most about their people.” Sinek’s (pronounced Sin-ek) approach to leadership is predicated on the idea that people need to feel inspired by a vision, or a nearly intangible “why” before they are ready to be moved to action. This means learning about your people, and what they need. This means people-care.

People care is a central tenet of Permaculture. People care, animal care, and earth care are what make many Permaculturists tick. We realize that without a healthy environment, which we can promote through responsible and holistic land-management practices, there can be no true people care. What good does it do to to provide for a human’s needs, and provide care, if you are participating in a system that is fundamentally destroying the environment for their children, or if the sustenance you are giving them comes at the cost of losing future fertility? So, real leadership is also helping people to realize how they fit into the web of life, and how they can help perpetuate abundance for themselves, as well as their descendants.

We protect our own, and in turn, others watch our back. That is the essence of what makes humans so successful. Alone, we can accomplish little. I tried to move sections of a downed tree into the back of my truck this past weekend. I got exactly two rounds of pine before I decided I’d rather have a healthy back than several more potential seats for my backyard gathering area. Had I a friend to help, however, I am certain we could have harvested much more. Had I a group, with the understanding that we’d all like places to sit in the future (and some fuel for a fire around which we might sit), we could have made use of the entire motherland. It is the power of teamwork that helps a group to survive against the odds, and to work with resources in a way that will benefit the entire group – and even allow us to thrive.

Realizing that, as the sum total of humanity, we are one giant tribe who all need the same basic things – clean water, nutrient-dense foods, safe shelter, community, and the ability to realize our own potential, we will also realize that we need work together to take care of each other, our planet, and interact with nature respectfully. That, friends, is Permaculture. Permaculture is leadership.

What to do when you don’t hit your goals…

The short answer: re-observe them, re-orient towards them, re-decide to accomplish (or give up),  and then redouble your efforts to get them done – act. OODA loop, bam.

I started this website with an explicit set of goals. Here they are:

1-Capture and report quality insights from where leadership, permaculture, technology, and wellness intersect

2-Provide a unique perspective, examining concepts and ideas from my multiple viewpoints (leader, father, entrepreneur, intelligence analyst, military, suburbanite, occasional maniac)

3-Report lessons learned and real-time updates on what is working and what isn’t

4-Explain how to those wanting to do some of the things I do

5-Encourage others to act for the betterment of this world, and the world our children will inhabit

6-Connect with both like-minded and contrary individuals

7-Entertain, especially if you like slapstick and/or how chickens are really little dinosaurs

8-Post weekly

I don’t think I’m hitting them, especially the last (most measurable) one. I have definitely not posted weekly. I have all sorts of reasons/excuses for that, but the first thing I learned about excuses in the Air Force is that there are no. No excuse, blog. So, what do you do when you fail to reach your goals, besides not make excuses for yourself?

It’s time to adjust techniques to re-enable myself to reach these goals, because after reviewing them, I still think they’re SMART and useful.

1- I think this is going OK. I’m not going to drastically change anything here.

2- I’m going to include a paragraph about which role, or roles, I feel I’m filling as I write in each journal, unless it’s obvious.

3- Even if my notes are incomplete, I’m going to post them. You can make sense of them as you choose, but I’ll highlight more refined entries. 

4- Instructional posts require me to have a decent idea what I’m doing. I will do more to explain my thought processes here.

5- If you’re reading this, it’s working.

6- No idea how to measure this, or what it actually means. It could be time to write some invectives.

7- Chicken gifs coming soon. For now: DUCKS, YES, DUCKS! …. //giphy.com/embed/BRRe7NQGhuKAM<p><a href=”http://giphy.com/gifs/BRRe7NQGhuKAM”>via GIPHY</a></p>

8- This goes back to the need to open the floodgates to even my less polished thoughts. I’ll do it.

I’m looking at this from both an analyst and entrepreneurial standpoint. Failing fast, forward, and frequently is an approach that resonates with me, because I think I’ve learned much from my mistakes in the past. Testing assumptions is the only way to gather data, and put together new insights. Insights come from examining novel phenomenon, and connecting them. The map isn’t the territory, but I think of failure as getting out onto new parts of that map – even if I don’t examine it closely, I’ll have an idea if I want to come back for further investigation in the future. 

I’ll share my failures so you don’t have to follow in my footsteps down the wrong paths – you can find new ways to get it wrong (and eventually right!)

To re-engage on here, I’ll be posting every day this week as I readjust to living with my family again.

See you tomorrow, folks. I’ll find the chickens.

How to Start a Community Garden in 5 Steps that Sound More Complicated Than They Are

A few weekends ago, on the 17th of October, around 50 students from the course I teach descended on two community gardens that previous classes helped build and prepared them for winter. I’ll explain what that means in a bit. First, the Carver Culinary Arts Garden is the better part of an acre in size and is located just outside the recently renovated state-of-the-art industrial kitchen built onto Carver High School. The Smiley Court Garden is about a quarter acre located at the Smiley Court Housing Office, a central building which houses administrative functions for the surrounding Government Project Housing. These gardens are purpose built, which brings us to the first step in garden building

1- Identify the need for a garden. Being a bit of a plant nut, I frequently find myself believing that everywhere I look needs gardens (I think I can make a pretty good case for this) but, for now, let’s assume that we need to, for whatever reason, enumerate WHY we might want a garden. Needs and desires will drive creation of the vision. Here are a few of the reasons Carver Garden was conceived… 

Food. The culinary arts program lacked good access to very fresh produce, for various funding and logistical reasons, and an on-site garden could produce right at the doorstep. Smiley Court housing is located in a food desert, or a place where grocery store produce access is challenging, for a number of reasons (intermittent public transportation, lack of access to vehicles, grocery store beyond walking distance). Both gardens will provide those around them access to food – virtually for free! Also, the gardens will provide an opportunity for…

Education. A garden is a site for multi-disciplinary learning and teaching. Calculating the length of irrigation hose needed is a math problem, and calculating flow rate through the drip tubing is physics. Analyzing the soil is chemistry, and determining the types of soil life is biology. Not to mention, bringing students out of the classroom is a great way to get them engaged and jolted out of any schoolroom doldrums that a daily schedule grind creates.  At Smiley Court, Government provided landscaping does not provide for garden space – so how would the children of the neighborhood even learn what a garden looks like? This isn’t a subject taught these days in most public schools (although we are trying to change that with Carver). The only elementary schools I know of teaching gardening currently are Montessori schools, which are far out of the economic reach of Smiley Court families, by the very nature of the housing project. Parents with incomes large enough to send their kids to education programs like these, some of which are based right on farms, where children can see and play with the stimulating things to be found in gardens environments, do not qualify for Government subsidized housing. So how else can kids get the exposure, and inviting outdoor environment found only in gardens and on farms? Should kids be forced to play in concrete jungles? No, I say, all children deserve to experience an ourdoor sense of…

Beauty. I am not sure I can describe what food gardens bring in the way of beauty, especially in the South, unless you have seen an okra blossom for yourself. Until then, you’ll have to trust me. Or visit a permaculture, biodynamic, or integrated farm yourself. You should probably visit, if for no other reason than to experience the…

Community. Remember all those school subjects I mentioned a moment ago? Each has its own educational community, which do not often cross-pollinate in our modern educational system  which seeks to break systems down to their basic elements and achieve understanding through analysis of each individual segment. A garden provides a perfect place to reintegrate much of what has been segregated – this creates multiple invested parties, and where people settle their interests, community arises. Thus, the gardens are multi-functional, as are many plants in the garden. Not only do they provide their caretakers food, but they serve as a rallying point for well-intentioned people, and create an atmosphere of curiosity and enthusiasm for those who see them. Getting all these people together, and picking their brain is a great way to get started with the next step in the process, too.

2- Develop a gardening strategy. Yes, there is such a thing. You have many options when it comes to getting a garden going. Will you go all Permaculture? Till up your earth and fertilize it? Raised beds? No till? The options are nearly limitless. In my opinion, each has its benefits, and drawbacks. For this garden, we wanted to minimize maintenance, maximize fertility, and ensure there was no risk of contamination of edibles by pesticides, especially because of the garden’s close proximity to children. We chose to do a sheet mulch/raised beds technique, irrigated with (somewhat costly) drip tape and soaker hose, for ease of care. When you have your strategy defined, it’s time to…

3- Plan your work schedule. Who is doing what? When? How will that affect other efforts? For Carver and Smiley Gardens, we decided to bring all the compost we wanted to use as our primary effort, knowing we could pile it into berms if need be, then run irrigation, then plant seeds. Building raised beds was a secondary effort because we didn’t have enough construction materials (pallets in this case) to hold all the size of the entire garden we had envisioned. Our work flow ensured that if we had to stop for any reason, another team could come in and pick up where we had left off. 

4- Execute! Start to finish, turning just under an acre of desiccated field into a patch of fertility with a few raised beds and fruit trees to diversify our effort and make the site more oasis-like took less than 4 hours. We had about 35 people contribute their efforts and skills.

5-Maintain. This is what happened last weekend. The garden was originally installed in May 2015, and this fall we had to weed. We prepared the soil for the fall by mulching heavily with rescued pizza boxes and pine mulch. This will hold in moisture all winter and give the soil fertility web a leg-up come spring, when it is time to plant again. Hopefully, we’ll be putting in more perennials in both places, because they require even less work than annuals, and will result in larger harvests in the long run.

(Bonus Step 6- Iterate/Review. Run your ideas past a few people external to the garden, and make sure that it makes sense to them. I call this optional, because, let’s face it, you’re going to make this garden no matter what if you’ve already put in the work to plan it this far.)

There you have it. Now that it’s Fall, it’s a great time to get ahead of the curve and start making plans for Spring, especially if you want to involve more people. After all, many hands make the work light.

Original article covering the construction here:

http://www.maxwell.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123448484

Trip Report

Yes, my PDC is one of the few, if any, which have been funded by the US Air Force. When we go TDY, it’s not acceptable to go galavanting about on taxpayer money, so the government wants to know what they’ve gotten by sending you. Here’s the official trip report I wrote about my trip, sans formatting.

DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
SQUADRON OFFICER COLLEGE (AETC)
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE ALABAMA

1 Oct 2015

MEMORANDUM FOR AIR UNIVERSITY STAFF

FROM: 33STUS 62FLT/CC

SUBJECT: Permaculture Design Certification Trip Report

1. PURPOSE: I attended this certification to attain a Permaculture Design Certification and acquire basic sustainability skills to be used in pursuit of Air University’s stated goal: innovation.

2. TRAVELER: Capt Scott Church, Intelligence Officer and Flight Commander 33 STUS.

3. ITINERARY: From 18 September – 30 September I attended class and workshops from 0900 to approximately 2200 at Spiral Ridge Permaculture, and had lodging at The Ecovillage at The Farm in Summertown, Tenn. The primary instructors were Cliff Davis and Jennifer Albanese, a pair of off-the-grid homesteaders who have spent most of the past two decades travelling the world to see and work on Permaculturally designed sites in various stages of development.

4. DISCUSSION: I came away from the course as a certified Permaculture Designer and with a good understanding of what the methodology makes possible, enabled by techniques that I observed and performed throughout the course. I learned that the overall goal of a permaculturist is to create or capture necessities for life, and to that end we practiced how to first recognize, then harness, and then enhance natural resources present in any given environment. We discussed Permaculture’s principles and structure, and the way that it centers humans, animals, and plants as clients in the system, and therefore seeks techniques that increase abundance of basic needs. The homestead where the class was held is an example of how, with strategic thought, basic technology, and minimal investment, a barren landscape can become productive for the people who live there. We studied sites throughout the world, which showed such efforts can be undertaken throughout a huge range of climates, and scaled anywhere from a yard to a city, or even a bioregion (a geographically related area defined by relevant natural boundaries, like mountains and rivers).

To achieve the natural abundance that Permaculture prescribes, we reviewed basic ecology, soil science, low tech surveying techniques, natural engineering, environmental planning, and relevant leadership techniques. Within the group, we had a great deal of expertise ranging from Investment Banking experience to Environmental Engineering, and my own Air Force experiences. We had engaging discussions on the interplay of environmental degradation and food security through the lenses of both decreasing poverty and decreasing radicalization in those regions. I was able to bring a unique perspective on the importance of organizing effective and well-resourced teams to first analyze what an area needs, and then bringing the full brunt of national apparatus to achieve political, food, and economic stability.

There were some techniques and theories that seemed to particularly well suited for military use because of their ability to clean up contamination, deal with large amounts of runoff, as off a tarmac or runway, or provide both earth sheltered security and temperature regulation. Mycoremediation is the use of fungus to clean contaminated soil of fuels, heavy metals, and other toxins. This technique is not widely known, although it seems to be gaining a foothold within the Federal Government, as they use it to clean up superfund sites. It would probably decrease costs at fuel depots and other hazardous waste storage areas. The creation of swales is a technique for slowing runoff and preventing erosion. This has the added benefit of creating space for beneficial tree plantings in areas that would otherwise be desert, which in turn cool the surrounding area and could provide local populations with important food, fuel, or fodder. Finally, earth building techniques, such as the creation of wallipinis, which are sunken greenhouses, provide not only powerful protection from incoming projectiles and bombardment, but use the mass of the earth and buried pipes to regulate temperature inside living or growing space. It seemed way better than a Hesco barrier to me.

5. RECOMMENDATIONS: Permaculture, as a discipline, should be a tool at the disposal of any expeditionary-minded commander. This is not to say that every Air Force Officer should receive Permaculture Design training, but simply being aware of the impact that Permacultural knowledge could have alleviate the pressure on logistics trains and build better relations with local nationals would be enough. The combination of the long-term thought that goes into Permaculture designs and low cost of many solutions will act as a force multiplier for any further expeditions into austere environments. Both low and large footprint forces could benefit significantly from utilizing permacultural techniques, and, unlike conventional methods, the larger the footprint, the lower the cost per Airman, because of increased access to areas that can be cultivated or utilized. It would probably make the most sense to send Civil Engineering personnel to practical Permaculture courses, but any Airman or Commander could benefit from the way the design methodology encourages practitioners to think strategically, stretch their minds in to the future, and value otherwise overlooked resources.

A Permaculturist’s Pledge

I, (Scott David Church)*, do hereby solemnly (and playfully) promise myself, and any others present, that I will care for the Earth, care for people, and take no more than my fair share for personal use. I understand my personal use, in fact, as working to to regenerate life in the land, in my communities, and in myself (my spirit, my soul, being, my Oneness). I will honor the efforts of my fellow Permaculturists in any form I find them. I will examine both intent and effect in my observation. I will give feedback lovingly, and accept the burden of working on myself. My network gives me strength, and I give back to it what I can, knowing that the stronger my network, the stronger I am. I take this obligation freely. I pledge to discharge these sacred duties faithfully, so help me (God/Goddess/me/nature/FSM). 

*Parentheses and words/other words intended to accommodate the  wide range of beliefs present  in my particular course. If you want to use this pledge, feel free to modify words as necessary.

I took an Oath of Office when I commissioned into the Air Force. I’ve always considered it a powerful statement, and it still gives me goosebumps when I hear people pledge themselves to a purpose. As I was about to receive my Permaculture Design Certificate last week, I realized there was no such pledge I’d be making in this capacity, although I consider the work just as (if not more) important. So, I wrote myself the above Promise. After showing off my clapping skills as a member of The Pink Flamincos of Colombia (Tennessee), I read it at our final group activity, the renowned PDC talent show.

It felt good to re-read that and transcribe it onto the Internet. It’s been a week since our last day at Spiral Ridge, and I am still having frequent revelations about how the world needs Permaculture, and seeing places that might have nice soil for gardens, with pleasant microclimates for experimental polycultures. I want to plant seeds everywhere, make compost, catch solar energy, dig holes… the whole shebang, but I am realizing that in addition to making my own yard a veritable paradise of edibles and medicinal herbs, I can have a bigger effect if I apply myself to social permaculture. This means helping to create systems that perpetuate the useful knowledge and and best practices that I just learned.

For now, I’m going to dry some molokhia that I can send to my wife. She’ll like that, and she’ll probably cook it for somebody. It grows really well in Alabama. 

I am still observing, though, and recording many thoughts on the best places to put my energy. Throughout my reflection, I have been feeling like I can have the greatest impact through practicing social permaculture. This means engaging more people around me, and helping them get on board with at least a few of the solutions that raise awareness, enhance personal wellness, and connect people to each other and the earth.

Permaculture, in my own words

Our final activity at the Spiral Ridge Fall Permaculture Design Course was to define Permaculture for ourselves. My thoughts: What is Permaculture? At it’s most basic, it’s a way to provide for your needs. When you get into it, though, it turns out to me much more.
It is a way of thinking, designing, and creating abundance that encompasses the sum total of responsible and regenerative farming, cradle-to-cradle living, and ethical decision making. It incorporates old school knowledge and cutting edge techniques to feed, shelter, and care for people. When people are talking about how to fix the world, permaculture is the solution that most people have never heard of.

5 Related goals:

1. Plan to facitste a PDC in 2016.
2. Write more instructional posts from here out.
3. Improve/create network with reliable and organized Permaculturists.
4. Experiment/implement key line design (more on this later)
5. Create full on designs for every property I can affect.