Ready to do the work you love for a living, make a career shift, infuse your current job or organization with renewed vision? Several of us have created a landmark event for writers, musicians, songwriters, performers, workshop facilitators, counselors and clergy, activists and community leaders and those involved in or ready to start projects, businesses or organ intensive is focused very much on the nuts and bolts — marketing without selling your soul, business planning with integrity, mindful ethics, community program development, creating workshops and consultation services, fundraising, fund-earning and grant-writing — as well as on conversing with our calls to live in greater balance with our true selves and our community and eco-community.

The Right Livelihood Institute will be held June 5-10, 2011 at Unity Village in Kansas City, MO., with most of our activities taking place in one of the first green conference centers in the country.  Unity itself is a model of ecological right livelihood, growing as much food as possible on site for meals, and contributing to the health of the greater community.

Participants in the institute will:

  • Develop a comprehensive and soulful business plan
  • Learn how to engage with what calls to you as your life work for continual guidance
  • Identify and gather tools for planning, research, marketing, assessment, training, and education
  • Develop a transition plan  into the work you love
  • Determine your best self-care practices for personal sustainability
  • Investigate and articulate your own values so as to develop sound and ethical business practice
  • Address financial, emotional and educational barriers
  • Become part of an ongoing community sharing guidance.
  • Gain a mentor matched with you for your specific needs and visions.

“One day you knew what you had to do, and began.” — Mary Oliver

For more information, please see www.bravevoice.com

Hi everyone — we’re having a very vibrant discussion on the bioregional listserv, and I wanted to share with us a recent post by Alberto Ruz on this important topic:

Hi everyone:

Being a sweat lodge runner since 1979 or 1980, a privilege and responsibility passed to me by Melvim Chiloquim, elder and sweat lodge runner from the Klammath nation, and a peace pipe carrier, a privilege and responsibility passed to me in 1988 by a Council of elder women from many different traditions at the sacred Mayan center of Chichen Itza, being myself a mestizo man with an heritage of mixed French, Afro-Cuban, Mexican, Mayan, Spanish and Dutch blood lineages, I reclaim the right to learn in respect from all the traditions from these and other unknown ancestors, and I reclaim too the right to mix in respect the prayers, ways, songs, dances, medicines, stories, myths, prophecies, ceremonies, from all those and other cultures.

As an earthman and as a planetary human being, I reclaim my rights to inherit the traditions of all the cultures from the Earth, from the past, present and future, and to continue serving in all respect and humbleness the Mother, humanity, all my relations, for the purpose of the betterment of all living beings.

The process of civilization is the result of thousands of years of cultural, ethnic, commercial, military, artistic and blood exchanges among people, each one contributing to the global or planetary civilization we live in today. There are probably less than a 0.01 % of all human beings at this time of history in the planet who could claim not to have had, for centuries or millennia, absolutely any exchange with other people, or have been influenced by the contact with other cultures. But if they claim for any kind of “pureness,” it would be because they would have already been contacted by someone else, and therefore, lost their purity just by that simple act to be claiming for anything only “theirs.”

As bioregionalists  we are committing to the place where we live, but probably no one of us can trace their belonging to that specific bioregion for more than three, four of five generations. Especially in the Northern hemisphere. We all came from somewhere else, and we have a history of past mixed marriages in our lineage, that probably are unable to trace down after two or three generations.

First nation people are also the result of the mixture of different people and different cultures, through centuries of mixed marriages, through wars, through colonization, through forced or voluntary immigrations, and therefore, today, probably noone, or maybe just a 0.001 % (if much) could claim not to have had ever any contact with any other culture.

As planetary beings today, we can sit and meditate in respect as the oriental people did for millennia. We can celebrate in respect religious fests from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, African, Indigenous or pagan traditions, use digeredoos from aboriginal people, dress with feathers and clothes from all the cultures on Earth, dance circular peace dances from the four directions, pray with native, Yoruba, Asian or Celtic, drums and blow the conch shells coming from the Tibetan, Mayan or Aztec traditions.

The mixture of human cultures is the sign of richness, a richness that is reflected in Nature, especially in places where beings from the plant, animal, mineral world coexist, and take from each other with more abundance. Monocultures and desertification are signs of poorness. And people and cultures that did not mixed for centuries with others, declined and ended up disappearing.

The importance to preserve the specific elements from each culture, or from species in danger of extinction, has to do with the possibility that those elements do not get lost and our planet becomes each time poorer and poorer. On the contrary, the importance of preserving is to allow that those elements become part of all of us, enriching our lives, and creating a true planetary culture of peace, instead of a global supermarket with a large selection of merchandises.

The unfortunate decease from those people in a sweat lodge has probably to do with the process of global mercantilization and has nothing to do with the respectful appropriation from elements of one or another tradition. And that yes, has to be closely observed. When spirituality, any form of spirituality becomes merchandise, then, yes, we can say that its essential purpose has been distorted. But that can also be considered true for all religious practices. It is not only the problem of adopting elements from Native American ceremonies. It is true for the process of turning ANY element of any spiritual practice (or any teachings or cultural traits) into merchandise.

Should we stop doing Christian ceremonies, as they all come from the Palestinian Semitic cultures from the Middle East? Should we stop talking English, if we come from Cherokee, Lakota or Apache ancestry? Should we stop celebrating Independence Day, Christmas, Carnivals, Thanksgiving, New Year´s Eve, festivals who are the result of many rituals that take their inspiration from other previous more ancient traditions? Should we stop dancing in circles around the fire and singing chants from all proveniences?

As far as I know, people have died in sweat lodges here in Mexico, in Spain, in Bolivia, and maybe in many other places as well. We do not have a record of how many Native people died in sweat lodges through the centuries that this particular ceremony has been practiced. Others died in their vision quests. Or at Sundance ceremonies. People die going to Mecca, people die in catholic pilgrimages, people die in mosques, Tibetan temples, Hindi temples, people die at Candomble, Umbanda, Santeria, voddoo or any sort of Afroamerican rituals, people die climbing or falling from the temples of the Mayan cities…. People die doing yoga and stopping their respiration. People die. AHO!!!

I wish we could have other issues more pressing to focus our time, visions, energies, and purposes. Let’s not buy into the stories the global media wants us to spend our lives. Let’s use our lives to further bioregionalism, yes, but not fundamentalism from any sort. Bioregions are organs, members, bones, blood, tissues from Gaia, Tonantzin, Pachamama. We are born by accident in one bioregion, but we are ALL Earthians, Earth People, Planetary Beings, children from the same Mother. Let’s never forget it please.

My love to you and to all our relations!

Coyote Alberto

have just returned from the Tenth Continental Bioregional Congress at The Farm in Summertown, TN.

The Farm is an intentional living community which began in 1971 as an experiment in communal living when over 300 hippies, members of Stephen Gaskin’s Monday Night classes in San Francisco, formed a caravan and traveled across the country to settle in Southern Tennessee. You can read a fascinating history of The Farm here.

The Farm today is home to such organizations as the Ecovillage Training Center, Gaia University and Plenty International. It was a natural fit to locate the Tenth Continental Bioregional Congress there, since the Farm shares myriad goals and values with bioregionalism.

New Society Publishers’ roots are deep in the Bioregional Movement, and this was an exciting opportunity to meet old friends and new. I was especially thrilled to connect with a couple of our authors there. Albert Bates is the author of The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook and the director of the Ecovillage Training Center at the Farm, where he has lived since 1972. Albert has a formidable grasp of all things renewable and sustainable, and the distinction of having one of the friendliest smiles it has ever been my pleasure to encounter. Lately he has been focusing on biochar – watch this space next week for his article on using biochar in carbon farming which was recently published in Southern Tennessee’s Green Living Journal.

I was also very excited to finally meet Stephanie Mills in person – Stephanie wrote Whatever Happened to Ecology? and Turning Away from Technology, and is also the author of an upcoming biography of Bob Swann which we will be publishing in our Spring season. Stephanie was an incredible pleasure to spend time with – she is one of those people that feels like an old friend even though you’ve only just met. She recently received an honorary PhD from her Alma Mater in recognition of her lifetime body of work in the service of the environment and bioregionalism – exciting news!

The Congress itself was a cauldron of inspiration and ideas – people talking about permaculture, renewable energy, carbon farming, square foot gardening, foraging, wild farming, education, transportation, living in community, living in place, political revolution – a rich and vibrant tapestry of knowledge against a backdrop of song and celebration.

Interested? Bioregional events are regularly organized at the local and regional level. Check out the Congress Outreach Page and Links Page for ideas about contacting like-minded individuals or creating events in your area.

– Heather Nicholas, reprinted from New Society Publishers blog

Hello everyone,IMG_5021

Getting set up in coffee shops to do my normal Goddard and workshops and readings and other arranging work, I can barely imagine what to say to friends about where I’ve been except, “in a parallel universe.” The congress itself is something out of oIMG_6127ur mainstream American, or even alternative American construct of time and space. What happened there? I’m not sure although I have some hope that telling you about it will help me know more. Where were we? In some place constant and occasional, ancient and ahead of its time, ceremonial and ordinary, Tennessee and beyond Tennessee. In many ways, the road trip to the congress — all 10 hours of driving plus numerous stops — meant tIMG_6182unneling into the world in the center of the earth, and now we’re out again, back to the surface, and I have to say I’m just a little heartbroken to be apart from the congress and all of you who were there (as well as all of you who have been there and simply must be there next time and haven’t yet been there but will be there in the future).

There were all the normal congress rhythms and patterns: the plenaries that delighted some and make others want to jump from their skins; the workshops some loved and found the highlight of their time andIMG_6135 others found took us away from our time together; the dancing and singing; the food, which was tasty, but jeez, I seriously missed butter; the long talks heart to heart; the smiles across the circles; the sitting
together, knee to knee, to resolve conflicts and speak from the soul, dropping all defenses; the new friends who felt like old family; the old friends who felt like twin or triple souls; the weather with its too-much rain at times and too-seldom sunshine. Having now been to eight of the ten congresses, I kept more keenly attuned to the patterns — the way no one knows what we’re doing so much at first, and how it takes
several times to really arrive at congress together; the anxieties and what-am-I-doing-here moments; the nights it’s hard to sleep because of all the thrill until exhaustion overtakes excitement; and the collective
happiness that settles on us, or grabs us wildly to leap out of our chairs and salsa dance even if we don’t know how.

The congress is my home — I knIMG_6180ow it when I’m there, and especially when I’m not anymore. The circle if the room where I live best. Hearing each person speak — whether in the opening circle when we crowded into the big room, lopsided and earnest, saying our names and where we were from, or later in the spiral of the women’s circle, when we spoke about being a woman, living as a woman’s body at this age — shows me who we really are together, and who I am apart: a part of the circle.

The highlights, which our carload of Ken, me, Natalie (17), Gesa (German student living with us now, 16) and Forest (14), named while driving across Missouri, are what you might expect:IMG_6203

* Latin Night with the amazing dancing and treats, the music and pulse, the beauty and vitality. Arnold, Roberto and Maria doing a salsa dance skit with finesse and beauty until Juan-Tomas tangoed in to steal away Maria.

* The party on the last night with the driving music, and also the gang of fairies who descended upon us IMG_6204from some place two hours away, complete with accordion and tutus, to sing, dance, and slip down the
slide of the playground (part of where the dance was) in full-beards and layers of white tull.

* The men’s and women’s circles: the men’s circle, around the fire, that went on for hours; the women’s circle, inside, with our chairs in a circle, oldest on the eIMG_6220nd and youngest in the center; both circles
making for the kind of connection that for days afterwards, I kept grabbing the younger women who blew my mind with their articulate hearts and heavy load of passion and possibility, asking them to tell me their
names again, hugging them and telling them to come stay with us sometime when they’re were traveling through Kansas.

* Some of the plenaries when everyone laughed IMG_6161together, when we crossed over to some common and complex understanding as one, when barriers dissolved and we saw ourselves as being in congress together continually, this meeting a continuation of one that began in ‘84 and will never end, I hope.

* A circle of those of us who served on the coordinating council — the congress between the congresses — for the last four years, early evening, our chairs and bodies as close as possible, tears and joy, pride and release, and when we stood up, holding each other close, and could barely stop kissing each other. Thank you, Bob, Liora, Mary, Richard, Ken, Laura, Juan-Tomas.IMG_6187

* Late nights in the house we rented with our extended family, speaking English, Spanish, German (although most of us only understood English), and laughing over something that happened or would happen.

* Cultural Sharing night when Natalie sang “Bewitched” and — what was his name? — played the most amazing finger-piano-type instruments and sang hauntingly piercing tunes — and then Alberto presented a dazzling — for its scope and depth — slide show on LaCaravana (nomadic guerilla theater troupe that IMG_6153spent 13 years spreading bioregionalism through the arts througout Central and South America).

* The close moments with new and old loved ones — I put my hand on so many people’s chests, it seemed, to feel their hearts — in the rain or by the fire, in the midst of drumming or in the wind that poured through the trees.

* Hanging out often with Stephen Gaskin who kept reappearing because, as he said, he “wanted to soak in the IMG_6190energy of the Mexicans,” and who kept reminding Laura Kuri and me that we were his Ninja Muses because when he first arrived, looking just a little confused, Laura and I leapt up and hugged him, and stood — one of us on each side of him — during the opening circle, telling him we would protect him as Ninja Muses.

* The moment we arrived, and there was Curtis in apron and big smile. The moment we left, and there was Leonora — incredible Venezuelan singer and activist, coming to the car window to kiss us goodbye in the
still-dark morning light.IMG_6168

* Gary’s healing hands and voice, and how many of us did he work on throughout the congress? I hardly saw him not doing massage, energy healing or prayer for/with someone.

* Bea’s artful presentation about Thomas Berry at the memorial service held one afternoon. David Haenke throwing his head back and belting out the most gorgeous song for Thomas Berry, and soon IMG_6192after, David and Alberto pressing their foreheads together, crying over the loss of this great and enduring spirit, our own dream of the earth.

* Alberto telling the story of how LaCaravana went for 13 years all over South America, and instead of money, they used art because, as Alberto said, sometimes there’s no ATM machine, but there’s always art, and art works as a credit card wherever you go.

* Biko drumming us in parade to begin the arts and education day of the bioregional curriculum session, and at the end, drumming us outside to dance among the trees while Odin drummed alongside him. When the first song was done, and Odin started to walk back to the building, Biko called out, “Where do you think you’re going?” while we watched, laughing. Odin came back, and they played more of the most astonishing drumming, grabbing our heart beats and making us dance and pulse with life.IMG_6139

* Walking back to the house one afternoon, the whitish horse watching me as I watched him, the sky still damp and beginning to lighten in orange at its edges, the air delicious.

* Natalie returning from a day walking trails with the girls and young women, telling me that she tried to just take it all in — the breathing earth — and it amazed her to see what she had never seen before. Pat,
the physician’s assistant who helped run the kitchen, making a house call to help Forest, who was sick much of the congress, and then spending ample time helping us find an open pharmacy. Gesa laughing –
her whole face glowing — at the dinner table with Alberto, Laura and Fabio.

IMG_6195* The beautiful site committee and how much they did to make it all work: Greg, Jennifer, Susan, Alayne, Biko, Roberta, and (forgive me, I can’t remember all the names) so many others: THANK YOU!

* Long talks with Patricia, Stephanie, Laura, Fabio, Greg, Stephen, Bea, David in the road, Alberto on the fly, Juan-Tomas as we walked in the dark with Natalie one night, and so many others. I miss and love you — and really everyone — now so much.

Back from the congress, I’m still at the congress. We carry this with us, a kind of birthright, a dance as old as our breath; a body full of contradictions and questions, naive then seasIMG_6129oned understandings, misunderstandings and eventual clearings, old hurts and new healings, and above all, something that transcends how we live in the non-ceremonial world and shows us how to bring the village we make
together — even just a fraction more — into wherever we land. Wherever we are next — in the Northwest or Canada or Ohio or wherever else — I can barely wait.

love to all,
Caryn (Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Wakarusa Watershed of Kansas Area Watershed Council)

Pictures (from top): the congress; the woods at the Farm; IMG_6171Juan-Tomas, Bob, Stephanie, Andy, Albert; Natalie and Nyela (Sadie’s baby); Laura and Helen (from Mexico); Natalie as cat; the fairies arrive on All Species Night; more All Species (note the porcupine); Bea and me; Gesa; Mark, Richard and the bioregional quilt (started in ‘84, quilted by the men); Fabio and Laura with Stephen Gaskin; Ken, Curtis and others; David and Alberto; Leonor from Venezuela; Stephanie and me; the welcome tent; Gary working on Alberto.

Pathways towards energy Interdependence.

Published in Summer 09 Green Living Journal


Bioregionalism is the idea that our cultural and political adaptations should fall consciously within the natural boundaries of our home on earth.  Much of the emphasis of bioregionalism has taken the form of community organizing to bring local food to your table and re-ignite indigenous wisdom that remind of us of our deep sense of place and peace on earth.

Now, as we stare down the barrel of another big economic bubble taking form as “the green energy economy” bioregionalism offers us a glimpse of of social, technological and economic development that does not lead to a burst bubble ten years down the road.

Bioregional energy designs call for localized, energy that comes from multiple sources.  This kind of diversity leads to long term resilience.  An example of this would be a county or state that had invested in wind, hydro, biomass, and solar energy sources to power the cities and industries of the region.

However, energy technologies are only half the story.  The other half lies in grassroots, democratic control over the energy sources.  Organizations like Coop power in the North East USA are leading the way in organizational designs that empower citizens of a bioregion with decision making power over their electrical utilities from production to usage.

This is kind of participation relies on informed citizens with a deep interests in their homes.   Participatory, bioregional energy systems can keep our communities strong and our environment vibrant for generations.

The discussion continues:

Citizen groups, energy consultants and activists will be gathering here, in the Cumberland Green bioregion for the Tenth Continental Biroegional Congress to create a ceremonial village to discuss collaborative next steps for bioregional energy, food, water culture and beyond from October 3-11th on The Farm in Summertown Tennessee, placing Lewis County at the Forefront of the conversation that is leading North America and the world towards a greener, healthier tomorrow.

The Bioregional congress is a living example of a participatory, democratic village.
The congress, made up of volunteer delegates from the four corners of the North American Continent, meets in plenary sessions and forms working groups to cover issues brought up by the delegates and their bioregional constituents (including honorary representatives from the plant and animal kingdoms who lack a voice in our current political system).

During before and after these plenary and break out sessions there is open space for workshops coving a wide range of ecological wisdoms, techniques and ideas to help cross pollinate best practices between bioregions.

The intention of the Bioregional Congress is to create a forum where all voices can be heard, and model the kind of resilient, participatory society we would like to create.  This Congress will model sustainability by using local food, sustainable energy and off setting its carbon footprint, and that of its delegates by planting trees are participating in a carbon offset plan designed during the 1st ever Carbon Farming Course set to take place from August 25th- September 16th.

The human energy being gathered and unleashed can be seen as a beautiful metaphor for the next steps needed to turn the new green bubble into something substantial: the shift from a culture of passive acceptance  to a culture of participation.

If you are interested in participating in the discussion and ceremonial village during the Bioregional Congress please email cbcx@thefarm.org or visit bioregional-congress for more options.

Well, on Keith’s invitation thanks Keith I have for the first time wandered into the so called blogosphere, or — anent the trepidation I feel like that of all those peoples of the world don’t like to have their pictures taken (I hate it; I’m not going to say freakin cheese ok?; why should I “smile”? I don’t feel like smiling dammit) who sense that, like iphones, which have obviously large numbers of devils and demons in them, cameras have at least one or 2 — the blogosfear, having wandered in I’m looking around going, WTF do I do now? There’s no one here. All I see is this white space. Keith, I’m afraid. Who’s gonna read this, and why. Am I now replicated, nekkid, and being ridiculed and bullied until I commit sewersnoid (reference only to be known by antient hippie cartoon readers) on 300 million facebooks?

(in a tiny little squeaky voice….) Help me…

(just kidding…I’m too old to care anymore about null space, or 100 million character assassinations. But seriously. What do I do now? I admit it’s possible that the planet blog could be fun. Sometime I don’t do stuff just to be contrary. For instance, I refused back in ancient day to see Easy Rider, or read the Hobbit.)

d el h

Plan C: Individual and Community Survival Strategies for the Energy Crisis
The Fifth Annual US Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions October 31 – November 2, 2008 Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan www.plancconference.org

At this groundbreaking conference participants will explore strategies for reducing energy use in the areas of housing, food and transportation, including both theory and practice. We will examine the long energy decline of the 21st century, the psychological barriers to rapid change, and the challenge of persuading our communities to embrace local, low-energy living. Attendance at this conference may be of critical importance at this time when the ongoing energy crisis is being compounded by the very real threat of credit and financial collapse.

Our survival is now, more than ever, in question. And it is more urgent than ever that we gather in Michigan to evaluate survival strategies and disseminate skills for growing food, creating local food security in their communities, retrofitting homes to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and educating their communities to prepare for the difficult times we are facing.

Skyrocketing oil prices, mounting geopolitical tensions, grave economic realities, and dangerous climate changes are threatening our lives and communities like never before. The age of cheap, abundant fossil fuels is coming to an end, and urgent action is required to transform our overly consumptive society into one that uses far less energy.

By acting now, you can significantly cut your personal household energy use and overall consumption, support more localized economic production, and reduce your dependence on high energy transportation in your daily life. By doing this, you will be helping to create a more resilient and sustainable community adapted to the coming economic and ecological storms.

The conference will also feature in-depth workshops and panels, Connection Café discussion tables with area experts, an eco tour slide show, screenings of award winning films, entertainment, tours of local green buildings, a Green Living Expo, and healthy shared meals.

Schedule of Presentations and Workshops:
* Keynoter John Michael Greer, author of the forthcoming The Long Descent: A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age

* Keynoter Dmitry Orlov, author of Reinventing Collapse: Soviet Example and American Prospects
* Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute, author of The Party’s Over and Powerdown (via webcast)
* Katrin Klingenberg, director of the Passive House Institute US
* Peter Bane, editor of Permaculture Activist
* Christopher Bedford, President of the Center for Economic Security and the Sweetwater Local Foods Market

* John Richter, co-founder of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Education

* Pat Murphy, author of Plan C: Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change

* Megan Quinn Bachman, Outreach Director of Community Solutions; co-producer of The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

For more information and to register, go to www.plancconference.org, contact Jill Hollowell at Upland Hills Ecological Awareness Center at 248-693-1021, or email info@plancconference.org. Note: Members of an organization or activist network are encouraged to attend as a group and receive substantial discounts for 3+ and 5+ member groups.


In 1989, I was serving as Assistant Secretary of Housing. The housing bubble of the 1980’s had burst, and foreclosures were rising. The mortgage insurance funds of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) were experiencing dramatic losses. We were losing $11 mm a year in the single-family fund. All funds had lost $2 billion in the southwest region the year before.

My staff and I did an analysis of what had caused the losses. What were the actions that we could take?

Fraud aside, the single biggest cause of losses in the FHA portfolio was a falling Popsicle Index – an index that we coined as a rule of thumb to express the health of the living equity within a place.

The Popsicle Index is the percent of people who believe that a child can leave their home, go to the nearest place to buy a popsicle, and come home alone safely. It’s an expression of the sense of intimacy and well being in a place.

Not surprisingly, there is a correlation between the financial equity or wealth in a place and the living equity or human and natural wealth. Where the people, living things and land are happy, businesses thrive, and the value of real estate is good.

Much as I tried, I found it difficult to interest anyone in a rising Popsicle Index. Countless petitioners made their way through my offices – mortgage bankers, homebuilders, realtors, low-income activists, real estate developers, tenants and city officials. Invariably what they wanted was for me to make a decision that would help them make money. Over time, I could tell what government actions would cause the stock market to go up and down by the flow of people and their various petitions. Meantime, I could not interest anyone in a rising Popsicle Index. They did not see how it could make them money.

It took many years of researching to realize what was going on in our financial systems to incentivize this behavior. In most areas of the world, places are organized by government and financed with debt.

Corporations are financed with both debt and equity. The key financial opportunity is in owning the equity. When profits increase or the perception of a company prospects improve, the stock goes up. Senior management and investors sell the shares, generating capital gains. Capital gains on stocks and real estate are primary mechanisms for creating financial wealth in our society.

As a result, corporations can make money exploiting people and places and their stock will go up. The “stock” of the place harmed will not go down; there is no ‘stock’ of the place. By centralizing our investment capital into large corporations, our financial interests are not aligned with the interests of the people and our natural environment

So what do we do? If we are to stop the financial drain on our families and communities we must change how we manage our own finances. Perhaps the way to begin is as permaculture teaches us – to listen and build out from natural systems which are, ultimately, the source of most of our wealth.

In every place, there are thousands of existing financial agreements, including laws and regulations that impact financial values. If we are to nurture and restore places, we are well served to listen to both natural systems and existing financial agreements, looking for ways of building new, fundamental alignments between land, people and their savings that reduce risk and optimize resources on an integrated basis. From years of studying the financing of places, I can assure you that those opportunities exist. Years of continuous learning, patience and collaboration will be fruitful.

In every place, people and local institutions have financial capital, typically retirement capital or various kinds of savings and reserves. Increasingly, this capital is invested through centralized institutions and financial centers.

Developing ways of creating sound investments to finance permaculture developments and the businesses that supply them would serve to spread the adoption of permaculture techniques. The more opportunities locally, or through decentralized networks, the easier it will be for people to withdraw their retirement savings from destructive systems.

The power of financially sustainable alternatives is that they help create a safe haven for billions of dollars that would like to leave more traditional investments but must have a place to go that is respectful of their precious savings and need for retirement income.

I am often told that financial tools are destructive and we should withdraw from them entirely. However, it is important to understand that millions of people have their life savings invested in that system. By choosing to not create sound, reliable alternatives, we ensure that their capital will stay invested in the old paradigm, financing destructive activities. Let’s find a way to welcome and protect their capital. Think of the potential allies we could make.

When we look at the flow of time and resources within a place where are some opportunities?

Small Business: Small business is the engine of a local economy. Look for ways to help local businesses attract and build talent and market products and services that increase local self- sufficiency. With the importance of agriculture increasing, this includes small farms too.

Government Resources: Centralization means that a greater portion of resources in a place are controlled by government, including the federal government. This money – as well as government regulations -often creates incentives out of alignment with the best interest of the local community and local natural resources. Concerted attention to understand government rules and regulations can produce opportunities for reengineering.

Distressed Assets: We are experiencing significant mortgage and other debt defaults as well as bankruptcies. Organizing ways to proactively help people harmed and reposition assets owned by distant financial institutions or government may represent an opportunity. Could these assets be “greened?”

Local Capital: Increasingly local investment capital is invested through Wall Street. Look for angel or other small investors as well as philanthropists who would be interested in creating ways to circulate more equity investment locally.

Strategic Partnerships: Every community can benefit from renewable technology and new skills. Look for ways to build linkages between a community and the enterprises and institutions that help create self- sufficiency. Such partnerships may also provide another opportunity for local capital.

Waste: Just as physical waste presents an opportunity for greening a community, so does financial waste. Study what is causing financial distress and look for opportunities to find solutions. For example, one of the biggest sources of financial waste comes from using a currency that is falling in value. Hence, the growing interest in community currencies and barter.

Align incentives: Increasing local equity
investment means that investors can benefit from a wide variety of initiatives to lower costs and consumption, improve local business and markets and the flow of deposits, purchases and investments locally.

The idea of using the term Financial Permaculture to describe our efforts was coined by Thomas Hupp of the Leadership School as he, Jennifer Dauksha-English of the Center for Holistic Ecology, Greg Landau of the Ecovillage Training Institute, Carolyn Betts of Solari and I were brainstorming how to integrate Solari investment strategy with permaculture.

We decided the best way to create an integrated vision of natural and financial health within a place was to invite many more people into the conversation.

From October 24-28, with our colleagues Connie Sharp from the Sonnenschein Festival, Debbie Landers from Leadership Lewis and the team from GAIA University, we will gather with students and experts from across the country in Hohenwald, Tennessee for a five day course and simulation – Financial Permaculture: The Greening of a Rural American Community.

We would love for you to join us in the “invention room.” For more information and to register, see www.holisticecology.org.

Also see: The Farm Blog

Here’s a course that could bear repeating in every neighborhood of the nation.

Start: Oct 11 2008 – 9:30am
End: Oct 11 2008 – 5:00pm
Spring 2008: Santa Barbara, CA
Fall 2008: Bolinas, CA

INSTRUCTORS: James Stark and Christopher Kuntzsch

Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead


As we face the challenges of our changing world, many people are searching for avenues to make a difference – to play a part in transforming our families, communities, and the greater world in which we live. Each one of us has the potential to bring forth our gifts, develop the tools we need to make a difference, and live up to our own leadership potential so we can be of service.

Whether you have prior experience and training, or if have recently felt called to step onto a path of leadership for the first time, this program provides a unique opportunity to deeply explore who you are, who you wish to be, and how you will contribute to others. You will articulate your vision, get in deeper touch with your gifts and develop new tools, routines, mindsets and skills to be more effective in manifesting what you see for yourself and the world.


The program is rooted in the following three elements:

We are nature. We are not separate. The program engages leadership that arises from an intimate relationship with the natural world. The more our leadership sources from our connection with the earth, the more effective we will be as leaders.

Specific Leadership Technology. This element includes valuable skills, habits, and mindsets to improve your effectiveness in areas such as:

  • Communication
  • Making and Honoring Commitments
  • Project management
  • Gaining support for your vision from others
  • Presentation skills
  • Using your time effectively
  • Coaching – helping others develop new skills
  • Bringing all aspects of your life into harmony
  • Our ‘Inner Ecology’ Influences How We Show Up as Leaders. In the program, we will explore how our thoughts, mental models, beliefs, and the stories we tell – both about ourselves and those around us – affect our life and our ability to make a difference in our family, community, and chosen work in the world. As we understand and evolve our inner ecology, we become more effective at manifesting our dreams.

Our ‘Inner Ecology’ Influences How We Show Up as Leaders. In the program, we will explore how our thoughts, mental models, beliefs, and the stories we tell – both about ourselves and those around us – affect our life and our ability to make a difference in our family, community, and chosen work in the world. As we understand and evolve our inner ecology, we become more effective at manifesting our dreams.

Integrating these three elements, you will begin to experience leadership as a dynamic process that translates your awareness and insights – about yourself and the world around you – into effective action towards your intended goals.

On your development journey, you will:

  • Design and implement a self inspired project which will give you the opportunity to practice new leadership skills while making a difference in your community.
  • Explore patterns of behavior, as well as the thoughts and beliefs you operate from, and determine which of these do and do not serve you in your life and work in the world.
  • Receive structured coaching and support from your peers between workshops, as well as from program instructors and alumni.
  • Adopt routines to deepen your relationship with the natural world and who you are as a leader.
  • Take on practice assignments that will help you develop your personal leadership ecology and integrate the skills, mindset, and routines of the course into your daily life and chosen projects.
  • Develop and grow a regional leadership circle during the course of the program. After graduation, this circle will continue to serve and support you on your leadership journey.

As the Ecology of Leadership program unfolds, you will experience leadership as a new way of thinking and being. By engaging the practices and routines offered in the program, you will deepen your relationship to the natural world and, thereby, transform your life and your leadership effectiveness as you navigate through this changing world.

Regional Leadership Circles

A leadership circle is formed at the beginning of each program and is guided by the facilitators until graduation. At this point, the circle becomes independent, remaining dedicated to supporting alumni in continuing to integrate the tools of the program as each leader manifests their vision in their community.

Imagine local and regional leadership circles forming throughout the world – connected to one another and united as one. If you would like to explore the possibility of creating a leadership circle in your community, please contact us to set up a free introductory workshop.

Bolinas Meeting Schedule
The course meets once a month for 1-2 days on select Saturdays and Sundays. We will meet from 9:30am until 5:00pm. The first and last sessions will include a Saturday evening meeting, as well. Participants are welcome to bring camping gear and stay overnight at Commonweal Garden during consecutive meeting dates.

The time commitment for your participation – outside of workshops and the project you will develop – will vary by individual. However, you can expect to spend approximately 6-10 hours per month in peer coaching and engaging in program assignments on your own time. The assignments are designed to integrate into and empower the life that you choose to lead. Please consider your capacity to participate fully before applying to the program.

Course Testimonials

“It is not everyday that one is given the opportunity for deep self-reflection in a supportive, nurturing circle of other emerging leaders as well as two phenomenal instructors. It was an honor and privilege to work with two instructors who are sincerely devoted to each individual’s growth for the overall well being of the planet and its citizens.”
- Kiea Wright, Biologist/Community Activist

“I highly recommend Ecology of Leadership. The curriculum is indispensable for folks interested in working for world healing and transformation. The course taught me a powerful technology for leading from within. It stretched me past longstanding limitations. The practices I learned in the course will stick with me for life. EOL helped me to take more responsibility, to do it effectively and make positive change in nearly every area of my life. The course facilitators are especially insightful, and supportive. In addition, I made new, close friends who now serve as trusted allies in my growth. I regained a sense of connection with Nature in the course as a source of inspiration and guidance. Best of all, my clarity of purpose and creativity for projects I hope to do in my community has expanded. I am more effective as a friend, teacher and counselor, and a lot happier in myself. I would do the course all over again! ” - Michelle Nemer, Health Counselor

“EOL provides tools which can help us uncover and transcend the subtle ways that we stop ourselves from knowing and becoming who we really want to be. These tools require some time, some commitment, some willingness to be uncomfortable or afraid; but they do work, if you use them.” -Lydia Neilsen, Permaculture Instructor

“Ecology of Leadership integrates our inner realm with how we show up in the world. I gained insight into how I operate and how I can turn intentions into action in powerful ways.”

-Colin Spake, Biologist/Community Activist

A sure sign of spring on the Cumberland Plateau are the cherry blossoms and daffodils starting to brighten up the landscape after the cool gray winter.

There is hustle and bustle here on The Farm, with people putting in their gardens, starting to work on buildings now that it (hopefully) wont be dropping back below freezing.

And the busy work of organizing a Continental Bioregional Congress is also in full swing keeping up with the spring surge of energy. The Cumberland Green, as it is locally known, is the highland plateau stretching west from the southern end of the Appalachian mountains. The Green is wealthy in musical tradition as well as regenerative bioregional potential.

The Core organizing Committee currently consists of Eric Lewis, Administrator of the Cumberland Greens Biocouncil; Greg Landua, Program Coordinator of the Ecovillage Training Center; Ali Rosenblat, Secretary of Ecovillage Network of the Americas, Jennifer D. English, Director of the Center for Holistic Ecology and Jessi Ortiz, Office Coordinator of the Ecovillage Training Center. We are also blessed with the help of the Continental Bioregional Council as well as a group of elders from the Farm Community including Albert Bates, Doug Stevenson, and Mary Ellen Bowen.

Our hope is to synchronize our efforts in bioregional organizing with the wave on interest in alternative lifestyles, green living and localization to empower the bioregional movement on the Cumberland Plateau and The North American Continint. WE are hoping to catalyze a year and a half long discussion culminating with the Bioregional Congress and continuing on from there with clarity and purpose.

In service to the Earth.

Greg Landua

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