Apologies for the lack of English lately.
Since I'm in Japan and networking for the upcoming Far East sustainability revolution, I've been focusing my energy in this region. "Permaculture" information is quite limited for non-English speakers, although there is still a wealth of traditional knowledge that is slowly dying with the oldest generation. Ah yes, impermanence.
I've recently posted a few articles about City Repair (シティリペアin Japanese writing) in Japanese in hope to grow some creatively subversive inspirations within my Japanese audience. I'm doing a presentation at Transition Cafe Koganei tomorrow as a second phase of this operation. Who knows what will fruit in a few years?!!
Mark Lakeman and the Education for Sustainable Living Program
I first heard of City Repair from Mark Lakeman who we invited to UC Santa Cruz through the Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP). I hope to write more about ESLP in the future, as it was an amazing program that revolutionized education in the Academia and transformed my life dramatically. To be brief, ESLP is a student initiated, funded, and organized educational program/movement where students invite weekly guest lecturers (e.g. Vandana Shiva, Francis Moore Lappe, Paul Stamets, Winona LaDuke, etc) to share their insights about solution-based sustainability activism.
Extra motivated students would organize Action Research Teams (ARTs) in order to implement tangible change within the university and local community. Efforts while I was involved included, a myco-permaculture demonstration site, cob and strawbale building, a gardening and nutrition program for a public school in a low-income neighborhood, green purchasing and energy, highlighting UC's involvement in the production of nuclear weapons, etc.
The lectures are open to the public and happen most Monday nights of Spring Quarter, so check it out if you are in Santa Cruz, CA! There are also ESLPs at other campuses, I think at UCLA, UCSB, UCB, and one or two city colleges and community colleges in California.
Here is the link for the speaker series this year 4/4/11~5/12/11 at UC Santa Cruz.
What?!!! Mark Lakeman is the speaker for April 4th 2011 lecture!
Thats a trippy coincidence...or is it?
His bio from ESLP:
"Mark Lakeman is a co-founder and sustainer of numerous city-changing initiatives and organizations, including The City Repair Project, the Village Building Convergence, Communitecture, Inc, Dignity Village, and the new Planet Repair Institute. Each of these entities is an aggressive, multi-disciplinary creative culture, working in partnership with numerous others. All of Mark's work engages and inspires place-based communities to creatively transform the social and environmental infrastructure of the public commons and private realms where people live. Often featuring permaculture or natural building techniques, each local initiative builds relational networks while leaving gorgeous footprints on the path to a better world."
Out of power point presenting activists, Mark Lakeman (and Paul Stamets) is exceptionally talented and inspiring. Both at ESLP and this past North West Permaculture Convergence, Mark launched the audience on a journey that investigated the various aspects of community and place, as he eloquently tells our story as villagers who have lost our places for connection. His narration weaves history, culture, power, philosophy, and a revolution in community design and public space. I experienced the type of inspiration where I have an uncontrollable smile of excitement and I want to just jump out of my seat and get to work. A James Brown moment.
Perhaps that was a little too much focus on Mark, as City Repair is ultimately a vibrant movement of an empowered community that have organized to reclaim and "repair" their pubic spaces. A powerful example of urban permaculture that is beautiful and accessible to the mainstream audience, and allows for children to collaborate in redesigning their city. An amazing story of a sensible yet illegal action, "intersection repair", becoming a government sanctioned activity that has now spread beyond the the state boarders of Oregon.
I had a wonderful opportunity to go on a bike tour of City Repair sites and stay at Mark's house this past Fall, and it was exceptionally sunny! The sunny version of "when is rains, it pours."
There were little food forests (diverse edible perennial polyculture) and raised garden beds along the sidewalk here and there, rabbits and chickens being raised, a woman growing silk worms and making urban silk, a cordwood sauna with a witches hat hangout area, a young half Japanese girl constructing a tipi to live in for the winter, painted intersections of course, a mesmerizing mermaid bench, 24 hour free tea station, a school with an outdoor classroom filled with cob benches and a living roof, and all kinds of delightful functional cob elements scattered everywhere. Super exciting!
Check out the pictures in the Japanese articles HERE, and here are some resources for further information about this amazingness. There are lots of pictures and videos about City Repair on the interweb so have a look. And if you have a chance to hear Mark speak, go for it.
City Repair Website
Like the Transition Town Handbook, City Repair has made a Placemaking Buidebook that I highly recommend!
Also, find out about the Village Building Convergence, a yearly festival of workshops and City Repair goodness unleashed onto Portland.
Great short intro video of City Repair!!!
An little about Dignity Village, "the most organized shanty town on earth"
A pictureful article about City Repair including an interview with Mark
Yes! Magazine photo essay of City Repair
City Repair — YES! Magazine