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Archive for June, 2004

Trying Mozilla 1.7

As part of my effort to get away from Microsoft, I have downloaded Mozilla and am trying the Web page creator. It’s part of my effort to get my life and environment in order. To get my tools in order.

I have felt overwhelmed… just walking around the condominium can give me a headache, seeing all the things that are broken or need attention. What if I were to ease off gardening (theoretical gardening) and spend more time on actual cleanup and getting things in order?

Small steps in secret

An acronym — SSS — for Small Steps in Secret. I think this is the way for me to proceed:

  • Plot your own personal satisfaction, rather than working for abstract ideals or to satisfy a group.
  • Slowly make connection with the community.
  • Work from your center outward. Start with the things you do frequently, with those that give you great. Get those things in order, then move outward to things you have not done much or with which you are less familiar.

Perhaps I can write a paper on this strategy.

Bill McKibben strikes back

On the Orion website I found a hard-hitting video talk by Bill McKibben. On the same site was a piece by James Howard Kunstler, a rant about the Cargo Cult mentality of modern America. The pieces encouraged me — made me feel my path was not so isolated.

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Still wondering, what to do about gardening? The present approach is not right. Let me back off from studying gardening. It has been good and I will continue, but not at the same degree of intensity. The gardening world is not the world for me, not entirely. Besides I want to relax from my “mission,” enjoy life, clean things up.

I actually don’t want to change my life that much. I just want to slow down, make sure that I get things done. Take it easy. Establish routines and work at things regularly. As opposed to the intense efforts I have been making to establish a new direction.

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I’m feeling down about gardening. I wonder why? For one thing, there is the frustration of having a large garden, falling behind in the work. The yield from the garden is large and continuous, and that is a strain on Ms P and me. P is overwhelmed by the cycle of produce (lots all at once), plus the challenge of learning how to make use of new vegetables.

In addition, it is hard swimming against the cultural current. Gardening with nature is definitely a minority viewpoint. Why not buy your food at the supermarket? Why not spray? Why not use chemical/organic fertilizers? Why not plant in rows?

For that reason, it is wonderful to find other people who share my values about this. At least we can talk.

But as I get further into this field, I see all the characteristics of a field which is not valued or rewarded by society. Systems and beliefs spring up which are superficial and opinionated. There is a lack of solid and continuous effort, e.g. scientific or professional. There is a split between jaded professionals and enthusiastic and idealistic amateurs.

And I am frustrated by my own lack of knowledge, lack of ability.

More Mel Bartholomew

Another system! People love it, I love it. Its limitation is that it only addresses the problem of Middle Americans who want simple reliable answers “Simple, easy, can’t fail” (like Your Money or Your Life, 12-Step programs, etc.).

To my eye, the square foot grids are as inspiring as a parking lot, as cubicles in a corporation, as prison cells. Uniform, efficient and sterile, though the plants — like children — can’t be totally stopped from their tendency to anarchy and freedom. The plan allows no surprises. Nothing unusual or unpredictable.

The downside is lack of curiosity, of deep knowledge. Complete control over nature.

Similar uniform systems are chemical row gardening, raised beds and corporate monoculture. In contrast, there are the organic forms of cottage gardening and forest gardens, and Fukuoka and Emilia Hazelip. The contrast is between the engineering mindset and nature/history.

The pluses of Mel Bartholomew’s system:

  • Mel B is inviting, open and generous.
  • His enthusiasm is contagious, and his confident evangelistic style inspires others.
  • The method itself is simple, effective, productive. It optimizes the production of vegetables for people who aren’t that interested in gardening and nature, who are pressed for time.

I think gardening lends itself to these Systems. Nature is very forgiving and will produce yields even with mistakes and strange inputs. On the other hand, it is complex and unpredictable.

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