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i will admit to mostly skimming through this chapter. but i did find some interesting stuff. jennifer, let me know when you're done.

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Can we kick it off tomorrow?  I need tonight to finish up.

I'm back! Not that anyone was waiting on my shining light but I'm relieved to be able to say it, from an upright position with my mental capacity somewhat intact. I need to go do a quick dig through the last two sections to stimulate a thought process and then I'll just jump in if that works. I'm glad to see you've kept at it :)

hey, welcome back candy! although i do greatly enjoy jennifer's company, it's nice to mix it up. been a bit thin around here.
so, earthworks. i want to get this one done, because next up is cool temperate climates and i've read a bit into it and it's so great to read region specifics!
like i said, i did skim several of the sections in this chapter. but enjoyed the rest. i especially found the earth resources section useful. but the thing i liked best about this chapter was a general thing-- i feel like it perfectly exemplified permaculture's open minded thinking. rather than be rigidly luddite and insisting on doing everything by hand, permaculture embraces machinery, in their place. and under the condition that the work done by machinery is extremely well planned out, and that the after job of replanting is done immediately. basically, the capability to appreciate something which is typically so destructive for it's creative qualities-- making a problem into a solution. the rejection of dogmatic thinking.
mollison even seems to have something of a passion for those big machines, did you get that too? i mean, it's true, the capability there is awesome. nearly like firemaking, an incredible invention of humankind, so potentially destructive and simmultaneously so incredibly useful. i love the way that mollison doesn't negate humans' genius. i get the feeling that he enjoys and appreciates our species, our unique creativity.
maybe i have mentioned this before, it's pretty deep, but in the past few years i have started to think about humanity as evolving, just at uneven rates. i used to think of us as static, like we had reached a plateau and it was just a matter of time until we killed ourselves off. now i think that, on the one hand we have evolved to be able to concieve of and create these incredible forces, to weild an awesome nearly godlike power, but we are still evolving an *ability to use that power.* like a toddler who's body grows too fast for his ability to walk, and he just stumbles around everywhere. we still might not make it, the lag may be too great and maybe we will kill ourselves off after all. the difference i guess in the thinking for me is that i used to think we were fundamentally flawed, helpless to our evil ways. now i think that the potential for evolution is there, that even though it seems unlikely it is at least theoretically possible that we could *learn how to act differently.*
permaculture exemplifies that possiblity to me. it is using our big ole' oversized brains to do useful stuff. instead of just wishing we were simple like wild animals again. we evolved a way to grow enormous amounts of food, now we can evolve a way grow enormous amounts of food sustainably.
phew. i know, i think too much. see?
what did you think of the chapter?

I found this chapter to be enjoyable (and not so intense!).  

My parents built a new house about 5 years ago on a site that had been a pasture for years and years, then was left to become very overgrown.  When they were ready to build, they came through with heavy equipment and leveled everything and graded it flat.  Then of course the lawn didn't go in forEVER and the soil was left bare for I think 2 growing seasons.  Such a wasted opportunity!!  I see this all the time in my area as folks build new houses on former farm fields.  No earthworks.  Flat.  Bare soil.  All you have to do is read this chapter once and it becomes so obvious!  Duh.  

I didn't get too excited about slopes and levels.  It's interesting, but I don't have any projects in my near future that will require that knowledge.  My little part of the world used to be mostly prairie.  Not a lot of steep slope around here.  

I was really fascinated by fig. 9.19 - the earth-compacted wall construction.  A barn like that would be amazing.  A google search only got me info for complicated home construction, though.  I'd like to find more info on this.  

I had to chuckle when he started describing machinery.  I've got 2 little boys who are obsessed with trucks & tractors.  And my brother works for Caterpillar.  I pretty much already knew everything in that section.  It only took 9 chapters to find something I could skip.  

Meadow, you're right of course about the embracing of machinery.  I was vaguely surprised about that when I first came across it (in Sepp Holzer's book as well), but you crystallized it with your description.  If I had the energy, I could see making some changes on my property with an excavator or dozer.  It seems so destructive initially.  Seems like stepping backwards.  But adding berms upwind from my house & garden, digging out a pond, adding one or two swales on my gentle slopes - the long term benefits would be awesome.  

As far as the philosophical stuff...  I'm a cynic.  Sure, it's possible some, even many, of us could learn to act differently.  But most won't.  Not of their own accord.  (full disclosure:   I worked in public health.  people don't want to change their behaviors.  cause change sucks.  it's too hard.  people didn't start wearing seatbelts until it became law.  same with helmets.  people didn't stop smoking until government warning labels became law.  then tobacco taxes went up.  then smoking bans took effect.  waiting for individuals to change on their own will never work.  ever.  education won't do it.  marketing campaigns won't do it.  scare tactics definitely won't do it - remember the black lung pictures?)  Yeah yeah I know.  I'm a ray of fuckin' sunshine.  On the other hand,  gardening, urban gardening, organic growing, diy, homesteading, and yes, permaculture, are all steadily gaining popularity and prominence in our culture.  Awareness about GMO and the pro-labeling movement is consistently found in the mainstream news outlets (finally!).  Lots of people are at least AWARE that things need to change.   

yeah, i agree that you can't expect much change to occur within people. but i was talking about evolution. like-- LONG TERM. like maybe over another several hundred years we will learn how to use our power responsibly. the truth is, i think mostly like you. but i am learning to back up a bit and see how we have changed. the seatbelt thing is a good example. first we created cars. then we created fast cars. then people started getting killed. so we created seat belts. but no one wanted to wear them, so we created seat belt laws. *eventually* like, over the course of a few generations, it became completely normal to wear a seatbelt. we don't even think about it anymore, we just buckle up. we did, in the end, evolve responsible behavior to match the danger we had created.
just a few hundred years ago non-white people were considered *barely more than animals!* now, i'm not saying we are done with this one-- racism is still rampant-- but look how far we have come! pretty damn far for a handfull of generations.
however. even if i'm right, i don't know that life as we know it can wait around for us to evolve responsible behavior.
oh well. yea for the molds aand cockroaches.

I was surprised to see how much of this chapter actually applied to what I see in my urban community already...the parks department has done an excellent job of incorporating these design ideas over all ;).

That said, for the most part, earthworks fell kind of flat for me. I'm sure it's mostly a been here done that issue when trying to apply ideas to the family property (how is it that the old people knew so much with so little "education") and in town, other than the parks and soccer fields, there is very little earth to maneuver without a jackhammer and probable jail time... so, lots of ideas with no postage stamp applications.

I appreciated that he mentioned the rhythm that comes with doing things by hand as well as the nod to machinery. I own heavy equipment (I have to admit to driving a "big ol' truck"). I both respect and value how much easier they make my life. But I do think that the focus on bigger, better, faster came at the cost of actually participating in our work & being a part of our world to some extent. I think that's sad.

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