Category Archives: downshifting

Punk Rock Permaculture e-zine

About Punk Rock Permaculture e-zine


escape mental slavery

…the greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens.

If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone.

Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”  – – Bill Mollison

Hey all you permies in the blogosphere my name is Evan Schoepke (@gaiapunk) , I’m 25, I live in wonderful Olympia WA, and I’m the lead editor of punk rock permaculture e-zine.

I have a passionate love for permaculture, street art, guerrilla gardening, cooking veggie food, folk punk, harmonica wailin’, and riding bikes with friends.  In the Spring of 09′ before I graduated from Evergreen State College I received my permaculture design certification under the instruction of the lovable Scott Pittman of U.S. Permaculture Institute.  During the spring and summer of 2010 I did a 3 month Advanced Permaculture Design Internship with Ethan Roland of Appleseed Permaculture and Gaia University.  Currently, I’m the US correspondent with Permaculture Magazine and a affiliate producer with . Gaia Punk Designs is a full service permaculture design co-op I’m working on with some close friends in Olympia.

In Olympia I also work locally with Terra Commons, Ecocity Olympia, the Cascadia Guerrilla Gardening Brigade, and the Raccoon arts collective on community projects.

My intention for this e-zine is that it will act as link between the personal and communal showcasing examples of all the beneficial work  being done for the earth around the world.  This is a e-zine about a regenerative culture full of resistance and  inspiring creativity.  Anyone is welcome to become a syndicated submitter and add relevant posts, articles, art, stories, and multi media to this blog just email with the subject:

“Punk Rock Permaculture”


You are here to help

from How to Survive the Crash and Save the Earth

by Ran Prieur

4. You are here to help. In the culture of Empire, we are trained to think of ourselves as here to “succeed,” to build wealth and status and walls around ourselves, to get what we desire, to win in games where winning is given meaning by others losing. It is a simple and profound shift to think of ourselves instead as here to help — to serve the greatest good that we can perceive in whatever way is right in front of us.

You don’t have to sacrifice yourself for others, or put others “above” you. Why is it so hard to see each other as equals? And it’s OK to have a good time. In fact, having a good time is what most helping comes down to — the key is that you’re focused on the good times of all life everywhere including your “self,” instead of getting caught up in egocentric comparison games that aren’t even that fun.

Defining yourself as here to help is a prerequisite for doing some of the other things on this list properly. If you’re here to win you’re not saving anything but your own wretched ass for a few additional years. If you’re dropping out to win you’re likely to be stepping on other outsiders, instead of throwing a rope to bring more people out alive. And as the system breaks down, people here to win will waste their energy fighting each other for scraps, while people here to help will build self-sufficient communities capable of generating what they need to survive.

In the real world, being here to help is easier and less stressful, because you will frequently be in a situation where you can’t win, but you will almost never be in a situation where there’s nothing you can do to help. Being here to win only makes sense in an artificial world rigged so you can win all the time. Thousands of years ago only kings were in that position, and they reacted by massacring all enemies and bathing in blood. Now, through a perfect conjunction of Empire and oil energy, we just put the entire American middle class in that position for 50 years. No one should be surprised that we’re so stupid, selfish, cowardly, and irresponsible. But younger generations are already getting poorer and smarter.

As we approach the darkest day of the year

an article via . . . in honor of the darkest day of the year.

In Praise of Sweet Darkness 
by Shepherd Bliss

In recent years I have written articles with titles like “Dark Clouds Over America” and “Torture Memories.” Our nation’s war-making and other threatening behavior have disturbed me.  My study of Peak Oil and Climate Change has convinced me that we are in for a dark time as we run low on fossil fuels and over-heat this special planet.  At first, I found this depressing.  I have come to see that the loss of cheap energy can also be a great opportunity, depending on how we respond.

In addition to our external responses of doing things such as conserving energy and being more efficient, making a transition to renewable energy sources, and relocalizing, there is much that we can do mentally to prepare for post-carbon societies.

One opportunity is to re-consider the role of darkness and down times as part of a natural cycle. Everything that lives perishes — individuals, relationships, nations, empires, species, even planets.  Other living things combine from what remains of the departed to replace them.  It’s a natural cycle.  I see it everyday on my organic Kokopelli Farm in Sonoma County. My lively compost piles are full of spent plants, chicken manure, kitchen scraps, and a wide variety of once-alive but now-decaying organic matter. That compost nourishes my berries, apples, and other fruit and plants, giving them life.

Endarkenment is an essential, often-maligned aspect of that cycle, which frightens some.  What goes into my compost pile has many colors, including green, yellow, red, and even purple.  What comes out is darker — brown or black. I regularly bring in manure as fertilizer to feed my soil. “Shoveling shit,” as farmers call it, has been a pleasure.  This “brown gold” will bring forth tasty fruit. Darkness can be fruitful, in various forms, which some people shy away from.

I write in praise of certain kinds of darkness, which the Welsh-American David Whyte describes in his poem “Sweet Darkness.” Darkness can be many things, including a passageway from one thing to another. Whyte’s poem enabled me to see more deeply into the possibilities of sweetness in a time of darkness — literal, seasonal, political, and figurative. I do not mean to deny that evil forms of darkness also exist.

“The night will give you a horizon/ further than you can see,” Whyte’s poem assured me, providing me something to look forward to. A full moon was scheduled for that night, so I went to check it out.  Indeed, there was much to see with the benefit of that diffuse, less-focused light. I felt a larger context within which we humans dwell. In addition to the guidance of our daylight logic, we could benefit from the insight of night-time’s more diffuse lunar light within its ample darkness.

This essay began as I prepared to make my way back to visit Northern New Mexico during the darkest month of the year.  I used to hang out there with a Chicana curandera (folk healer) who glowed in the dark.  I have unfinished business in New Mexico, as well as in old Mexico and Chile — darknesses that I left behind, rather than integrated.  I’m on a soul retrieval. Integrating one’s own darknesses and those that have come toward one is essential para vida (for true life).

Industrial societies tend to light up the night with headlights, streetlights, houselights and many other lights, rather than relish the dark’s unique gifts. In contrast to contemporary Western attempts to ignore and deny the dark with its abundant refreshing qualities, indigenous people and some religious traditions tend to embrace it.

In Semitic languages and early Christianity “black” and “wise” were associated. St. John of the Cross wrote about the “Dark Night of the Soul,” a journey which was difficult but ultimately restorative. When one is called to el mundo subterraneo (the underworld) or is dragged there by a dark force, he or she may return with rich stories to tell.

But in the United States today, darkness has taken on a negative, even racist tone.  “Dark” is even used to label that which is allegedly inferior. Malevolent forms of darkness do indeed exist.  But my concern in this essay is with benevolent, or sweet, darkness.

Whyte’s poem stimulated me to seek more poems about darkness. “Night cancels the business of day,” the Persian poet Rumi declared back in the thirteenth century.  “Be refreshed in the darkness,” he added. “Midway along the journey of life, I woke to find myself in a dark wood.” Dante begins “The Divine Comedy,” which many consider the greatest European poem ever written.

“You darkness, that I come from and love so much,” Rilke wrote, once again describing that wider context within which we live.  Scientists describe it as dark matter and dark energy, which is still mysterious to them, such as how gravity works and holds us on the orbiting Earth. “If I reached my hands down, near the earth,/ I could take handfuls of darkness!/ A darkness was always there, which we never noticed,” Minnesota poet Robert Bly writes.

Kentucky farmer/poet Wendell Berry encourages us to “know that the dark, too,/ blooms and sings,/and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.” Theodore Roethke adds, “In a dark time, the eye begins to see,/ I meet my shadow in the deepening shade.”  He reminds us that we carry our personal darkness, our shadow, with us all the time, casting it behind as we walk, usually unaware.

Boston poet May Sarton celebrates the dark Indian goddess Kali and reminds us that “without darkness/ Nothing comes to birth.”

Maybe this darkness is not as bad as I originally thought that cold, wet morning when Whyte’s poem arrived and lead me into myself and to other poems.

“Nothing makes the light, the wonder, the treasure stand out as well as darkness,” writes Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estes in her book Women Who Run With the Wolves. She describes “night-consciousness,” noting, “Things are different at night… Night is when we are closer to ourselves, closer to essential ideas and feelings that do not register so much during the day.”

In darkness we can dream, revealing parts of ourselves that are otherwise hidden. “We need to dream the dark as process, and dream the dark as change, to create the dark in a new image. Because the dark creates us,” social activist Starhawk writes in her book Dreaming the Dark. Starhawk later adds, “How do we find the dark within and transform it, own it as our own power? How do we dream it into a new image, dream it into actions that will change the world into a place where no more horror stories happen, where there are no more victims?”

Sometimes I conceive of the Dark as a dance partner; it feels more feminine than masculine.  I do not try to lead, but rather to follow.

Weaving the multiple benefits of darkness into my life (and avoiding its pitfalls) seems to be my main Winter task here at the end of 2006, as 2007 approaches.  In the darkness one can rest and be renewed. Spring may come again, with a different set of abundant gifts.

Shepherd Bliss is a retired college teacher who now farms in Sonoma County, CA. He has contributed to 19 books, most recently to Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace,” edited by Maxine Hong Kingston ( ). He can be reached at:

How to put time on your side 

Jon Kabat-Zinn | May 2007 issue

How to put time on your side

Our world is changing radically right under our noses in ways that have never before been experienced by the human nervous system. In light of the enormity of these changes, it might be a good idea to reflect on just how they may be affecting our lives.

My guess is we notice what’s going on. We have been too caught up in adapting to the new possibilities and challenges, learning to use the new technologies to get more done and get it done faster, and in the process becoming completely dependent on them, even addicted. Whether we realize it or not, we are being swept along in a current of time acceleration that shows no signs of abating. The new technologies, touted as producing gains in efficiency and leisure, threaten to rob us of both, if they haven’t already done so. Do you know anyone who says he has more free time than he did 10 years ago?

It is said that the pace of our lives now is being driven by an inexorable exponential acceleration known as Moore’s Law (after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, who first stated it), which governs the size and speed of integrated circuits. Every 18 months, the computing power and speed of the next generation of microprocessors doubles while their sizes are cut in half and their cost remains about the same. This combination increases the seduction of computer systems (for work and home), consumer products, games, and portable electronic devices, which easily leads to the loss of all sense of measure and direction as we respond willy-nilly to the increasing volumes of email, voicemail, faxes, pages and cell phone calls coming in from all corners of the planet. True, much of what comes to us is from people we care about and with whom we want to stay connected. But where is there a sense of balance? How do we regulate the pace of ubiquitous connectivity, and the expectation of instantaneous responses?

With our mobile phones and wireless Palm devices, it’s now possible to be so connected that we can be in touch with anyone and everyone at any time, and do business anywhere. But have you noticed that in the process, we are running the risk of being out of touch with ourselves? We easily forget that our primary connection to life is through our own interior realms—the experiencing of our own bodies and all our senses, including the mind, which allow us to touch and be touched by the world, and to act appropriately in response to it. To take advantage of that gift, we need moments that are not filled with anything, in which we do not jump to get in one more phone call or send one more email, or plan one more event, or add to our “To-Do” lists. Moments of reflection, of mulling, of thinking things over, of thoughtfulness.

With all this talk about connectivity, what about connectivity to ourselves? Are we becoming so connected to everybody else that we are never where we actually are? When we are at the beach we are on the cell phone, so are we really there? When we are walking down the street we are on the cell phone, so are we really there? Have we given up the possibility of being present in the face of the accelerating pace of life and the infinite possibilities for instant connection?

What about calling ourselves up for a change, checking in and seeing what we are up to? What about just being in touch with how we are feeling, even in those moments when we may be feeling numb, or overwhelmed, or bored, or disjointed, or anxious or depressed, or needing to get one more thing done?

What about being more connected to our bodies, and to the universe of sensations through which we experience the outer landscape? What about lingering for more than an automatic moment and becoming aware of whatever is arising in our minds: our emotions and moods, our feelings, our thoughts, our beliefs?

Much of the time, our newfound technological connectivity serves no real purpose; it’s just habit, and pushes the bounds of absurdity as with the joke about commuters all exclaiming into their mobile phones at the same time, informing family and friends, “I’m getting on the train now.”

What is wrong with just getting on the train without that piece of information being communicated?

If we were simply telling ourselves that we were boarding the train, it might be an experience of mindfulness, and therefore useful in cultivating awareness of the present moment unfolding. I am getting on the train (and knowing it). I am getting off the train (and knowing it). That is true wakefulness. But tell someone else all about it? What’s the point? It can annihilate the magic of the moment through distraction and diversion. Somehow, being alone in and with our experience is no longer deemed sufficient, even though it is our life in that moment.

This is not to say that much of the technology we are developing is not extremely useful. Cell phones allow parents to stay in touch with their children, and everyone to co-ordinate the day’s activities in useful ways. Computers and printers and their powerful software capabilities, coupled with the capacity to exchange documents instantly by email anywhere and access information instantly, allow us to get more work done in a day than we might have gotten done in a week 15 years ago. I am not by any stretch of the imagination advocating a Luddite-like condemnation of technological development, or romantically wishing to turn the clock back to a simpler age. But I do think it is important for us to be mindful of all the new and increasingly powerful ways available to us today to lose ourselves in the outer and forget about the inner so that we become even more out of touch with ourselves.

The more we are yanked into the outer world with all these new technology-driven habits that our nervous system has never before encountered, the more important it may be for us to develop a robust counterbalance in the inner world: one that calms and tunes the nervous system and puts it into the service of living wisely, both for ourselves and for others. This counterbalance can be cultivated by bringing greater mindfulness to our bodies, to our minds, and to our experiences—including the very moments in which we are using the technology to stay connected. Otherwise, we may wind up at a very high risk of living robotic lives, no longer even having time to contemplate who is doing all this doing, who is getting somewhere that looks more desirable, and is it really a better place to be?

Excerpted from Resurgence magazine (March/April 2007), an English journal of spirituality and social change.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, well known for his teachings about mindfulness and meditation as a way to help people overcome stress and disease. This originally appeared in this book Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World through Mindfulness (Hyperion).

© 2007 Ode Magazine USA Inc.

There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads

There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads (part 1 of 6)

There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads (part 2 of 6)

There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads (part 3 of 6)

There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads (part 4 of 6)

There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads (part 5 of 6)

There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads (part 6 of 6)