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Martin Gisser

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Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« on: January 19, 2017, 05:24:44 AM »
Here's the entry link to The Plan: http://ecosystemrestorationcamps.org

The link came up while I was collecting and examining material for a longish post here. So I can keep myself short first and add some more material tomorrow...

..................
First a little personal history:

Me and my alter ego, Florifulgurator, have been trying to plug this self-evident plan to save the Planet since 2009... with not much response. (The by far best result was that I met Neven in person before he started his now famous blog and was still living in Bavaria.) The way I framed The Plan was not very promising, of course: As an "epireligious quasimonastic order", since the two biogeophysical categorical imperatives of our era parallel the two classical monastic principles of poverty and chastity: Live carbon negative and don't multiply. A not so chaste corollary would be the imperative of maximising fun, to attract as many people as possible...

It soon dawned on me that there's not enough conventional spiritual zeal combined with basic biogeophysical insight alive in this world. And not enough donors and land to work the plan on the necessary scale. The Archdruid said about my 2010 comment, "the time won't be for a couple of centuries". Nevertheless I've worked out The Plan in Buddhist terms, from robes to carbon negative funeral. I'm aware that this lets Dr. Frankenstein pale in comparative megalomania: Trying to fulgurate a million-limbed carbon sequestrating monster with a rebootet Buddha head by spreading a mind virus. Here's the virus: The Two Mutually Dependent Hindrances for Post-Holocene Buddhist Practise:
1) Not carbon negative, no bodhisattva
2) Not carbon negative, no sangha

But standard Buddhists seem too non-self centered to fully grasp the serious implications for everything. One of my vain attempts is here.
.................

Well, the times have changed meanwhile.

The time has come to get serious with The Plan in different, more realistic clothing: The permaculture movement has gained steam and there are many who would want to volunteer in ecosystem restoration. And farmers around the planet also quickly get it. This better plan was inspired by John Dennis Liu, and a framework, language and strategy to engage farmers, investors and government was worked out by the Dutch Commonland Foundation.

John's film "" from 2007 was a major reassurance for me that The Plan is feasible. But only last month I learned he's done lots of more work since, and there were similar (if smaller) such successes in Rwanda and Ethiopia which he has inspired and documented.

And now he wants to start an Ecosystem Restoration Camp as part of a larger project to restore and rehydrate degraded highlands in Andalusia, Spain - before the Sahara comes too close and all would be too late.

is a presentation of the concept of "4 returns" by Willem Ferwerda, CEO of the Commonland Foundation.


« Last Edit: March 01, 2018, 08:38:18 PM by Martin Gisser »
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Neven

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2017, 09:35:50 AM »
Cool stuff, Flori. I'll try and watch that documentary with my family over the weekend.

We could use some restoration here in southeast Styria as well, what with all those zombie fields (as I like to call modern agricultural land). We're surrounded by them, and our hope for the future is to buy some of those fields and restore them.

Actually, not too far from where we live, there is a project where they try to sequester CO2 in the soil of agricultural land by creating humus again: Humusaufbau-Projekt Ökoregion Kaindorf.
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Martin Gisser

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2017, 03:54:28 PM »
Actually, not too far from where we live, there is a project where they try to sequester CO2 in the soil of agricultural land by creating humus again: Humusaufbau-Projekt Ökoregion Kaindorf.
Great! Didn't know they are close to your place. I was aware of some of their project: They are also working with biochar / terra preta. http://www.sonnenerde.at/pflanzenkohle.1208.html But it looked a bit suboptimal to me. (Will have a fresh look again.) The Pyreg reactor is nice. But it seems they are still not into small-scale carbon negative home heating. Still burning wood pellets whole.

------------
Here's something I said on Facebook, commenting on McPherson doomerism,
Quote
Here is a project that I will join this spring in Andalusia/Spain. It should grow into a mass movement: http://ecosystemrestorationcamps.org

I have advocated something like this for many many years, but in a different framework which nobody took seriously. Yet. While this saeculum is totally different to any other in the recent history of Life, there are eerie parallels to the end times of the Roman empire, when the desert fathers tried to undermine the empire and founded christian monasticism. What is called for today is something parallel to the classical monastic vows, poverty and chastity: Live carbon negative and don't multiply. (Corollary: maximise fun in this practise, to attract as many as possible.) Suddenly the Ought follows from the Is (and the axiom of preservation of Life - which is the ultimate meaning of Life).

Methinks McPherson's doomerism is hokum, a kind of pseudoscientific antithesis to climate denial and lukewarmerism. (My worst-case scenario would not be human extincton, but some cannibals surviving on Greenland.) He presents a parallel to the christian end-is-nigh belief at the dusk of the Roman empire. That's why I welcome McPherson's doomerism to some extent. Maybe he inspires some to not just sit and wait, but do something meaningful.

So, in my view these are also times to rejoice. Our life has never been that straightforwardly meaningful. Now we "just" need to organize that...
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 04:13:28 PM by Martin Gisser »
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Neven

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2017, 05:12:45 PM »
Great! Didn't know they are close to your place. I was aware of some of their project: They are also working with biochar / terra preta. http://www.sonnenerde.at/pflanzenkohle.1208.html But it looked a bit suboptimal to me. (Will have a fresh look again.) The Pyreg reactor is nice. But it seems they are still not into small-scale carbon negative home heating. Still burning wood pellets whole.

As for Sonnenerde, that's the company that delivered the Gründacherde for our house and carport. I actually thought of you when I saw that they had a machine to turn agricultural waste into 'vegetable charcoal'.

The company isn't super far from here, but not around the corner either (40-50 km), so I never went there on a tour or to get a couple of bags of Pflanzenkohle. They said they could deliver some if ever they have some other delivery nearby (otherwise it would be too expensive).

Quote
So, in my view these are also times to rejoice. Our life has never been that straightforwardly meaningful. Now we "just" need to organize that...

Very nice, I always like ideas/philosophies that turn things around. This is indeed a wonderful opportunity to give true meaning to life (that consumerism can't offer).  :)

Haven't had time to look at the Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative yet, but I will probably become a member soon.
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magnamentis

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2017, 07:01:57 PM »
And now he wants to start an Ecosystem Restoration Camp as part of a larger project to restore and rehydrate degraded highlands in Andalusia, Spain - before the Sahara comes too close and all would be too late.

interesting project, send me a pm once you make it to southern spain, i'll come up from MA and buy you a beer.
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Martin Gisser

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2017, 07:39:35 PM »
Haven't had time to look at the Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative yet, but I will probably become a member soon.
Since you know Dutch, it might be helpful to have a closer look at Willem Ferwerda and the Commonland Foundation. This is kind of the capitalist connection. (One thing I dread somewhat is Nestle or Coca Cola sponsoring a project, for the water. But then I half don't care if it profits the carbon cycle.) -- Anyhow, the Commonland Foundation is just a part of those helping to kickstart the Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative, and they are involved in a larger project with farmers in the area: The Asociación AlVelAl (Spanish link). Other players in the ERC are some high profile permaculturalists like http://world-permaculture.org

Here's a 11min video where John Liu lays out the ERC vision: (in the garden of his house in Beijing).

P.S./Edit: Here's a link from another NGO supporting the ERC. It shows a bit of the recent history, how/where The Plan gained steam: https://soilsolution.org/2016/12/short-report-from-cop22/
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 08:23:10 PM by Martin Gisser »
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Martin Gisser

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2017, 08:16:50 PM »
interesting project, send me a pm once you make it to southern spain, i'll come up from MA and buy you a beer.
Excellent idea! I love beer. Where/what is MA?
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magnamentis

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2017, 09:33:07 PM »
interesting project, send me a pm once you make it to southern spain, i'll come up from MA and buy you a beer.
Excellent idea! I love beer. Where/what is MA?

MA = Malaga _ SE = Sevilla _ GR = Granada

old car plate shortcuts and still used for provincial road numbering :-)
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Neven

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2017, 11:18:23 PM »
I've watched and enjoyed the Loess Plateau documentary, and I've signed up as a founding member to this initiative.
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Martin Gisser

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2017, 01:07:02 AM »
Keynote Speaker John D. Liu at the Dutch Postcode Lottery https://www.postcodeloterij.nl/npl_en
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Martin Gisser

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2017, 04:39:06 PM »
Short video report from "Redock Amsterdam":
http://www.redock.org/2017/02/01/february-meaningfulness/

Camp design in Andalusia seems well on its way. Location hint is here: https://m.facebook.com/groups/1206960359323785?view=permalink&id=1398226856863800
Altitude ca. 1100m. They even got snow in winter. Not the Spanish vacation dream. :-)
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Martin Gisser

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2017, 05:08:22 AM »
Keynote Speaker John D. Liu at the Dutch Postcode Lottery https://www.postcodeloterij.nl/npl_en
Here is the video:
It's about his life story, general global ecology and Willem Ferwerda's socio-eco-economic principles of four returns. No explicit mention of the Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative, but impressive images of the Chinese Loess Plateau. And he stresses a basic principle well-known in Buddhism: Right Intention.

Looks like John D Liu is the head I've been waiting for.
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Neven

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2017, 10:37:11 PM »
I've watched and enjoyed the Loess Plateau documentary, and I've signed up as a founding member to this initiative.

I've finally moved some funds to my virtual credit card and have donated for a 1 year membership. I hope it leads to some results. There's so much degraded land all over the world to be restored! I'm looking forward to newsletters, etc.

Have you looked into this further, Martin? Do you still think of becoming an active member and going to the camp in Spain?
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Martin Gisser

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2017, 10:48:37 PM »
Ha! Thanks for reminding me of the now top thing on my ToDo list. Have given up on payment 2 weeks ago, nothing worked, but now my Visa card is reactivated and I'll try this.

Actually I wanted to join monetarily and physically by end April. But I'm still recovering from having been totally broke last winter... :)

I have some plants prepared and prepare more pots tomorrow, but me dunno yet if they want them. It's crazy, I'm usually not such a shy and scared boy, but somehow I've avoided interacting with them for too long.
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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2017, 10:52:02 AM »
Did you know they have a forum as well?
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TerryM

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2017, 01:11:21 PM »
Roundup wins another round??


An Oregon county threatens to seize an Organic Farm, spray it with Roundup, then charge the owners for the herbicide!


https://mishtalk.com/2017/05/15/sherman-county-oregon-threatens-to-seize-2000-acre-organic-farm-and-spray-it-with-roundup/


A hearing is scheduled for the 22nd,


Terry

Martin Gisser

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2017, 01:12:13 AM »
The camp in Andalusia is still being built by a very small crew. Not yet open for short time or low skilled attendants. They want to be perfect and take no risk.

So, meanwhile I was in the Catalan Pyrenees, planting trees in a place that also needs soil regeneration. In the photo I (to the right) demonstrate quick and simple in-situ biochar production before planting the tree.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2017, 01:23:16 AM by Martin Gisser »
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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2017, 08:19:03 AM »
oo er! I enjoyed a few moments of peace watching John D. Liu documentary and drinking some soul wine at the ideas and the great Catalan photographs. I hope there will be more here. Reminds me of a brief spark of hope I felt years ago watching the Greening the Earth initiative. Will come back and see what else can be learned here.

Martin Gisser

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2017, 10:01:44 AM »
That was December at 1300m elevation. Quite frosty at night, 2cm ice in the bowl. Still, lavender growing everywhere on the mountains, quite an unusual sight for one who is used to the Bavarian Alps. A facebook friend who was near said the area looks like Utah with castles...

Oh, and vultures! Not far from where the photo was taken several dozen congregated from all directions. When we got there 5 minutes later, they were already finished and ascended back to the sky, just meters over our heads, like a swarm of sparrows flying away. Haven't dared look at the remains of the deer down in the hollow.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griffon_vulture )
https://www.inquisitr.com/650400/woman-eaten-by-vultures-after-fall-from-cliff/

Here is a view from afar and the other direction, from a road hidden in the clouds.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2017, 11:49:36 AM by Martin Gisser »
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Martin Gisser

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2017, 11:11:31 AM »
From the latest Ecosystem Restoration Camps newsletter:

------------->
Since our fundraiser campaign has begun we have been humbled by the generosity of so many supporters. We are getting close to €20.000 to fund our first camp in Spain! And, we will begin counting down soon ... we now have 9 days left to get closer to our goal.

In the last days you may have seen the inspiring
 #whatspossible campaign, in which we are showing the world what is possible in ecosystem restoration and regenerative agriculture. For example, day #1 looked at the Loess Plateau in China. The first picture above is in 1995, when the land was barren and unable to produce food. The second picture is in 2009, once the land had been restored.

There clearly is hope in restoration! Restoring the water cycle, drawing down carbon, ensuring food security, giving homes back to plants, insects, birds, and mammals. Can you help us start up our first camp and show the world it can be done?
<-------------
(my emph.)

Me again:
Of course, sandy Loess is much easier to work than the hard stony soil I found in the Pyrenees. It was quite some pickaxing to get the holes for the trees. Haven't counted them. We 7 planted perhaps 50 trees, extending a slow growing forest garden, mostly fruit and walnut in a very relaxed 2 weeks. But the trees alone won't do. The ground needs regular attendance and some deep rooting legumes etc. to build up better soil around the trees. That is yet missing. Maybe I return for a week next spring, on my way to Andalusia...

My idea would be: Get rid of the woody shrubs (incl. ulex/gorse/furze/whin, a legume) so the ground can be easily scythed for mulch (very dry and hot in summer). Seed alfalfa, dyer's woad, comfrey. (There is a spot of clay to make seed balls.) Add some mugwort to shade the trees.

But I fear invasiveness of those plants. Any expert comment?
« Last Edit: December 21, 2017, 11:44:24 AM by Martin Gisser »
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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2017, 02:45:12 PM »
Martin
Wonderful pictures of a wonderful project.


I'm as far from an expert as you could hope to find, but it seems to me that with the rapid climate change we're experiencing, the whole concept of 'invasive species' needs to be looked at afresh. What had been growing successfully in past milenia may no longer be the right mix for a particular location.


I had feared the loss of May Flies, 50 years ago a scourge to Lake Erie residents, only to find that they'd moved north a few hundreds of miles and were now pestering those on the north shores of Lake Superior.
Should trees and plants once indigenous to Lake Erie be considered invasive if planted now near Thunder Bay?
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Martin Gisser

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2017, 03:09:16 PM »
the whole concept of 'invasive species' needs to be looked at afresh. What had been growing successfully in past milenia may no longer be the right mix for a particular location.
Yeah, methinks also.
Also, if the ground needs them, they should be welcome and grow.

Still I would be careful. This is not about moving a whole bunch of plants, but about introducing just a few plants, perhaps without checks and balances. Then one might need to move the old inhabitans, when crowded out by the invasives, to a new place.

This is very sensitive ground: Bordering to a natural reserve, and with small fields farmed under difficult conditions since centuries. (Utterly amazing how far back the farmers made it. The place is only accessible with 4x4.)
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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2017, 03:50:17 PM »
Yes
The hoary "First, Do No Harm" needs to be followed - but how?


Here and in Nevada the invasives that have flourished have now become major problems. Prior to introducing something new the experts do need to be queried.


The safest plan might be to only plant species that formerly flourished there, but if rainfall, soil temperatures, growing seasons, and other variables have changed, this might not be reasonable, or even feasible. How then to decide what to plant that will prove beneficial?
Would restricting your choices to varieties found not more than say 500 miles from their new homes be useful? Again this is way out of my depth.


You're involved in a good project that seems aware of the dangers inherent.
Turtles win races.
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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2017, 08:07:47 PM »
Yes, the invasive species (and even extinction, nature being red in tooth and claw in the long term) thing is complex: good discussion.

Just yesterday, I was remarking on our losses of insects and birds over the years. Starling swarms have gone from 10s of thousands to hundreds, moths, butterflies, bees, etc. One problem is marketing and another is an increasing fear of nature. Mothers won't stand for their children's sport being threatened by the extremely small chance of West Nile (& other mosquito hazards) and tick-borne disease (Lyme has spread everywhere, you're getting it over there, no doubt, and there are new ones). So we get aerial spraying.

Marketers are very hot on 100% chemical-enhanced sterility, and paranoia runs high. They don't realize that a child not exposed to environmental dirt is likely to be quite sickly and have serious allergy problems.

It is so frustrating!!! You can't catch people's eyes walking down the street any more, they're all on their phones. Selfies instead of views. Sad.

Martin Gisser

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2018, 09:50:50 PM »
I have now effectively given up on http://ecosystemrestorationcamps.org in Andalusia.

Where has my membership fee gone?
After a year they have built a little toilet shed and 1 yurt. There is space for only a few workers in the house. Not looking like it's going to become a "mass movement" anytime soon if they don't want to have more workers up there...

Now the final straw that broke my patience: They announce a Permaculture Design Course June 17-28th for €950 (non-members) resp. €875 for members which they advertise as a "generous discount" - which I find ridiculous, if not offensive. I could have the same closer to home for the same price: http://wirbauenzukunft.de/100h-permaculture-design-certificate-pdc/

So, it looks less like a "grassroots non-profit" but more like yet another permaculture design certificate sales operation. In fancy new clothes, for, that market is saturating...

Anybody here took a PDC course? How expensive was it?

-------------
Maybe I help reforest the Scottish Highlands this summer: https://treesforlife.org.uk/ They are rapidly booking out - 100s of volunteers. Not just a dozen.



« Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 09:56:14 PM by Martin Gisser »
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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #25 on: February 26, 2018, 11:22:00 PM »
That's a bummer and always the danger with this kind of projects (so many failed communes all over the world). I got a bit worried when I saw that Liu was holding speeches for the Dutch lottery. And those updates with all the beautiful texts and pretty pictures of people loving each other, but no hard data. I guess the best thing about these camps, is that one might find a partner with the same interests one has. The focus is usually too much on sitting around the camp fire, playing the bongo and didgeridoo.

Like this here from the latest blog post:

Quote
The people that joined in this adventure truly resonated with me. We shared so many stories, experiences and dreams. We sang together, partied together and cooked together. By the end we had formed a beautiful family and it actually made it hard to leave. But I know I made friends for life and my world has expanded. Many more cities to visit where I’ll be welcomed by an awesome human being. I could write a whole blog post on every individual I shared this experience with me, instead I will compromise and write a few words on each fellow Eco Hero (our very modest self-proclaimed group name).

I understand why people find this important, but it turns me off.

---

I think the following animation shows the best way to do ecosystem restoration. If you haven't seen it, Martin, I can highly recommend it:



If I decide to stay in Austria, I'll try and buy as much agricultural land as I can, and convert it.
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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #26 on: February 26, 2018, 11:58:44 PM »
The blog post actually reminded me of my experience in the Pyrenees, except perhaps we weren't that heroic. Plus, one evening we watched this film! The whole thing was well-balanced between work and socialising. We were just a handful of people, so being lazy would have gone noted, but nobody minded. No group pressure except for showing up at the morning meeting at 9am.
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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #27 on: February 27, 2018, 12:03:51 AM »
9 AM, that's when Austrians have lunch.  ;D

I'm glad you saw the film. It's one of my favourite animation films.
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Killian

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Re: Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative
« Reply #28 on: December 07, 2018, 03:08:21 PM »
I have now effectively given up on http://ecosystemrestorationcamps.org in Andalusia.

...After a year they have built a little toilet shed and 1 yurt. There is space for only a few workers in the house. Not looking like it's going to become a "mass movement" anytime soon...
Now the final straw that broke my patience: They announce a Permaculture Design Course June 17-28th for €950 (non-members) resp. €875 for members which they advertise as a "generous discount" - which I find ridiculous, if not offensive.

What strikes me about this is the entire reason for this plan was to train people in situ, but it's just a PDC? Yeah, not at all what I joined for. Why did I? Johns *original* idea was very similar to one I had developed years earlier: Regenerative Community Incubators. The weakness with Liu's idea is it's a camp. A camp. Transitory. Ephemeral. Even if restoration is successful, what keeps it going after everyone leaves? Who protects it, keeps it going if problems arise? Sticks around to see if the design functions as intended? And what do we do with another 2 billion people?!

I had come up with RCI's as a way to spread ecovillages, permaculture and a new kind of governance, Regenerative Governance, around the planet a quickly as possible while also simplifying the planet at the same time. It's simple: Grow a village. Overbuild to accommodate enough people to create a core for a new ecovillage. Grow to that full size and when you have enough people with the range of skills, money set aside, and a site chosen, slough off that core as a ready-to-go community somewhere in the world. Wash, rinse, repeat. And they have to villages, and they have two villages... and if you can do this at the rate of a village every village seeding a new village every year, you get 1,000,000 new ecovillages in around 20 years.

Back to ERC's. Yes, there will, of course, be need to draw in money for such an endeavor, but that wasn't the reason this started out. It also was not the way it was envisioned. The PDC seems like a need for money. I had always assumed money would be raised to train all comers. Guess not.

I was part of the original Facebook group that responded to John's query about interest. It was, as you said, supposed to be grassroots, but as more people gathered a group of people - not at John's behest - took it upon themselves, meeting secretly, to decide the group would have a hierarchy. I warned against this strenuously because I strongly think egalitarian is the only future that works for humanity and I saw a chance to keep that in place with this group. Alas, John ended up happy to have people showing "initiative." Of course, I and others saw it as usurping and twisting the group to what they wanted it.

When they decided to step fully away from grassroots and announced - not asked or discussed as a group, but announced - they would seek grant money and become an NGO/non-profit, I was done. That was not what was originally state by John and I know I, like most, had not been involved in any of these decisions. At all.

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Anybody here took a PDC course? How expensive was it?

I founded, ran and mostly taught the Permaculture and Resilience Initiative - Detroit. My idea was to draw in paying trainees from outside Detroit to fund scholarship courses for people IN Detroit.

Didn't work. However, I am certified and have taught if anyone wants to talk about doing training. In Detroit, I averaged about $450 per trainee because of all the scholarships we gave.

I am currently in Korea, teaching English, but if anyone wants to try to get some training done, I'm happy to try to help make that happen.

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Maybe I help reforest the Scottish Highlands this summer: https://treesforlife.org.uk/ They are rapidly booking out - 100s of volunteers. Not just a dozen.

Hope you did.