To help transition Japan to a peace promoting post-carbon country while enjoying every step of the process.
僕のビジョンは、祖国日本で、平和文化を育みポストカーボン(Post-Carbon) 社会を促進してゆく事です。

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

update announcement

I edited a few parts of the Greywater system entry and added more resources.

Present Moment interlude

I saw this at Deer Park Monastery when I went for a quick visit with my parents last week. What a great poster! Special thanks to Phap Dung (the Abbot in the middle of the picture) for all your support and Ron Forster for making this poster.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

PDC Week 3 in pictures

A little taste of PDC week 3 (part 1)

Outdoor class on pests and diseases (I think). An attempt to get out of the Aloha Lodge for the final remaining lectures. The challenge: how do you create an effective learning environment for 40+ people with limited time for 3 weeks on a homestead? How effective is the "lecture" format for teaching permaculture (Pc) to this generation of people? I remember the Bullocks talking about Bill Mollison's course they took in the Bay area, and how it was pretty much Bill non-stop talking, drinking tea, and smoking in a hot room in the summer.

Useful and medicinal plant walk with guest teacher Rhonda from La Campesina Project on the island. She is an energetic character full of enthusiasm and knowledge of edibles and medicinals. Look at all those studious permies!

Medicine making with freshly harvested plants.......delightful.
A display of books on herbal goodness and freshly made salves for everyone to take home and apply. Yes folks, we apply our permaculture!
This is an education-interest breakout session organized and facilitated by course participants. We started with a systems-thinking activity where everyone chooses 2 people they will try to stay equidistant to while observing how we (the system) all move as time progresses. Very interesting activity with an opportunity to get our bodies moving with our minds. We then experimented with Open Space meeting format to discuss how Pc principles can be applied to education. Other concurrent sessions included, bee-keeping and measuring the landscape.

Although finding time is challenging, I think it is invaluable to allow for course-participants to have a space to explore certain topics of interest. For one, some topics are not covered in the schedule, and two, we are all experts on some topic. We just need a safe space to practice sharing our expertise with others. Allowing "students" to teach also creates an opportunity to break the traditional student-teacher relationship. After all, we are all teachers and students.

Here is another example of course-participants with expertise leading a session. Natural builders Chris and Sid talked about natural building, codes and regulations, and a short introduction to Mud Girls (natural building collective of women for the People). Their website is And as a fan and previous owner of dreads, I must say dread-headed natural builders keep Pc funky fresh.

On the topic of cool creative organizations with women's empowerment as a key focus, there is another organization that I have been deeply impressed by. The Beehive Collective. I think in one of their presentations I heard that they started out as a women's mosaic collective. Now they do extensively well-researched socio-political-cultural commentaries through the use of intricate graphic posters and education workshops. They are mind-blowing! Anyways, hopefully I'll write more about them in the future but check their website out (especially the mosaics and the graphics), after you enjoy the beautiful slide-show of the Mud Girls. And if you live near Vancouver Island, then you might be interested in the Mud Girls' child, mother, and male friendly affordable natural building workshops.

One of my favorite activities, the Village Building Exercise. How would you design your plot of land? This is a fun activity to apply Pc on a 3-D medium. Small groups are allocated with plots defined by the strings, and all natural conditions true to Orcas island apply to the model. Like orientation, wind, sun, etc.
Sid trying to organize the frenzy of developers for some communal designing of the island. I remember Tom from El Centro Verde in Costa Rica saying something like at heart permies are basically developers. Maybe he said Bill Mollison said that. Anyways, its interesting to see some industriously designing and transforming their land while others attempt to approach this more on a island-wide community project. Its a good lesson for real life. Do we all need our own independent power generators,
Developers hard at work.
At the end of the session each group explained their design and the considerations that lead them through the transformation. Many groups worked collaboratively with their neighbors, and a few removed the strings delineating the boundaries. We had an incident where James started a mining operation on a piece of land with no Pc developers. He was voted off the island, but returned to build a temple for all to come and worship an esoteric Deity. Perhaps a silly incident but in reality you might have miners buy land next to you or interesting neighbors (cults, hippies, pot growers, mafia, meth house, gun enthusiasts, etc). How do you design these elements in? How do you engage with these people? So many variables.

I just realized that the activity is called VILLAGE building exercise. Duh! That is really key, and requires some thought into what constitutes a village and how to organize it. Special thanks to all those who tried to organize the island. We need a lot more community-builders in the world.

Here's James building his temple after his mining operation.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

PDC Design Project


Hi everybody! Well its been a longer hiatus than i would have liked but I'm back. Lets see how well I can organize the several hundred pictures and stories since my last entry.....ahhhhhhhhh. Breathing in, breathing out. Present moment, wonderful moment (I just got back from my other favorite community, Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA). Anyways, lets get the party started with Design Projects from the PDC.


We were divided in groups of about 5~6 people to go through the Pc (permaculture) design process and present to the whole group on the last day of the course. With limited time and increasing stress (for some), the key to this project is designing good group processes. Its important to remember that 1. we need to be able to work together to make the world a better place 2. the design project is an activity for learning, not to rush-produce the perfect product. Good PROCESS usually leads to exquisite outcomes.

0. Group Process グループのデザイン
First step of the design project is to design the group! Setting up social infrastructure and teaching each other tools for effective interactions/good relations. Breathing, checking in, and establishing effective community practices (aka ground rules) are a wonderful way to start. We did an intro to effective meetings in preparation for this design project. Mostly inspired by my work with the Education for Sustainable Living Program at UCSC (mad props!).

1. Meet the Land, Meet the Client (Observation) 土地とクライエントを理解する
After an initial meeting with our group members, we were assigned a piece of land that we would work with. One of the most important practices that Pc emphasizes is OBSERVATION. Its easy to get sucked into designing and imposing our ideas onto things, but observing what exists and doesn't exist is essential for good design. Most groups walked their land and took notes of key features and inspirations.

Then we met with our clients. They were anybody from a married man wanting to entice his wife to a simple life in a food forest to a wealthy eccentric New York dancer's vacation home. Our client was a former oil-rig worker with 3 wives and unknown number of kids who wanted to make primitive weapons and natural poisons for hunting. It was a challenging exercise to ask essential questions without asking the client design questions, e.g. :"do you want the house here or there", "do you want a wind generator?"

This second step of this design process is ASSESSING NEEDS AND RESOURCES. What assets and limitations are we working with. For instance, sacred sites, access, hydrology, wind, fire, sun, flora, fauna, erosion, soil type, existing structures, neighbors, natural disasters, history of the land, etc. All essential information will then be compiled into a basemap. The notes from the client interview are also compiled into a document.

2. Create a Vision and set objectives ビジョンと目標の作成
Based on the needs, resources, and client what are we trying to create. What are specific themes that we will incorporate into the design. This helps to guide the design process.

3. Conceptual Design コンセプトデザイン
How do different elements relate to each other? How will energy/water flow through the design? What are the needs and functions of chickens? An exploration of systems design. Tools we can use are random assembly, flow diagrams, needs/yields analysis, etc.

4. Master Planning マスタープラン
From our handout, "Place the elements of these Systems in a 'functional matrix' -- create beneficial connections between elements within each system, and connections between the larger systems" utilizing Pc design principles. (Bullock's PDC 2010). The product that comes out of this process is the Master plan which shows a visual depiction of the design to scale. Having a good basemap really helps for creating the master plan. Beautiful pictures will follow.

5. Implementation 実行プラン
Logistics and stuff. Budget, phased implementation, sources for labor and materials, feedback loops to assess and adjust systems. In terms of our project we were expected to have a phased implementation plan, what do we need to set up first (e.g. water systems, living space (temporary?), electricity), then the following year (or as funds/time allows) what do we add/adjust, etc.

The assignment included a base map, vision statement and objectives, master plan, phased implementation, final presentation (every member was expected to present), and details (each member worked on a specific detail such as budget, water system, planting scheme, etc.).

Alright, so for everybody's favorite part......PICTURES!!!!

Working on needs/yields analysis of elements

imagine a school where all students are engaged like this!

the discussion
greenhouse work party!
3 groups sharing space with the tomatoes late into the night.
the office

and now for the final presentations........

describing the needs/yields flowchart analysis
look at all those illustrations!
this group made a book for their presentation
techno permies with their fancy graphics and software
its a new era
awaiting questions and feedback
group picture with the client
their "love trap" captured John's heart.

and here are a few close-ups of the graphics
CLICK to enlarge.

Hydrology overlay on top of the basemap. Colors represent different soil types.
A beautiful base map.
Look at how many maps there are!
Image for a shipping container house with a courtyard, and a cross section for plantings on a slope.
The Master Plan

and not to forget the true stars of this project....
Meet the Clients! From the left, Lily, Lavender Seabreeze (channeling Sai Baba), Jimmyboy Jenkins (3 wives & unknown number of kids), John Valentine, Dave?, and the wealthy dancer Elton from NYC.