In our world today, we only see the poverty on the streets, hear about the wars, famine, factory farming, smell the pollution in the air and I think we all sense and feel that our human race and planet is very unstable. This overload of negative sensory stimulation can make many of us feel hopeless, depressed, angry and completely unsure of the future. I know I have felt that way at a pivotal point in my journey.
But truth be told, there is an invisible revolution happening – it’s taking place outside of the cities, on degraded lands, down long dirt roads, in the mountains and up dried river beds.
This revolution consists of groups of people who are deciding they have had enough of our extractive society and unfulfilling jobs, who are making a choice to pool their resources together and go back to the land (where we came from) to learn the old ways of living together in villages, cultivating community, taking care of one-another and learning how to take care of the land once again. Courageous and ordinary people are choosing love over fear, creation over destruction and finding the will in themselves to follow a vision for the thriving future they see for their children and grandchildren.
This is a movement of remembering that the earth is one fragile ecosystem and we are interconnected. We are designing our lives and our lands with the whole system in mind. Through this mindset we are finding ways to not only become sustainable but through proper management, we’re bringing more LIFE back to our planet. In this movement we are practicing regenerative agriculture, permaculture, alternative governance models, nature based education, natural medicine and open source information exchange.
These holistic farms and villages can be visited and they’re offering to teach us a new way of relating to this planet and each other!
Here are just 5 demonstrations of this revolution that you can visit on the annual Sustainable Living Tour:
A permaculture demonstration center that demonstrates holistic ways of designing human environments, restoring and revitalizing the land and community, and facilitates deeper understandings of ourselves and one another through immersive experiences in nature. Quail Springs whose stream went from 3 gallons per minute to 60 gallons per minute and have adorable examples of tiny houses made from Earth.
A 9 acre intentional community of health practitioners, children, visionary business leaders and educators all building a space for heart-centered community and collaboration. The Emerald Village visioned and co-created a 5 family successful, heart-centered and co-parented eco-village that practices alternative governance models and effective and responsible communication practices.
An education center that inspires through examples of landscape restoration and succession into abundance using permaculture ethics and principles. East End Eden turns over 12,000 pounds of “food waste” into rich soil yearly thanks to their pigs and are building a pond that will harvest a 1.5 million gallons of drinkable water that otherwise would run off into the ocean from just a few days of rain in drought stricken California.
An educational center, that engages individuals, families, and students in fun, hands-on activities that teach practical, environmental solutions at the household and community level.
An organic farm that educates, empowers and cultivates sustainable food through hands on workshops on gardening, composting, vermiculture, beekeeping, fruit trees, natural pest control, organic soil amending, animal husbandry and more. Wild Willow Farm cultivates resilient local food systems and trains up future sustainable farmers.
There are several more examples that you can discover on The Sustainable Living Tour and it is beyond inspiring to see this shift happening right before our eyes!
You can see this happening on and individual level through every
- mother that decides to give birth at home.
- parents that agrees to an alternative to public school.
- family that decides to grow their own food.
- person who decides to use their money as a form of voting.
- individual who chooses to follow their own passion to create a career.
- CEO who directs an ethos in their company of providing for the people and the environment.
On a personal level this shift from the inside can happen once we stop complaining about the problems and start creating, collaborating and contributing to the solution.
No matter how far you travel away from your home, when you are tapped into this network of new earth network, you will meet people on every corner of this planet who have a similar set of values and are actively working towards creating this collective vision. The degrees of separation continue to decrease, and soon we will all remember the Truth – that we are all interconnected.
It is every individual, each community, and all of these sustainable living centers that are leading the revolution to re-enliven our watersheds, bring our soil back to life, heal our human relationships and steward the earth with future generations in mind. The earth is coming back to LIFE.
Apply now for our 12-Day traveling retreat visiting Sustainable Living Centers in Southern California.
Get on the bus before it fills up, we’re half-full! www.earthjourneys.org/tour
There’s no need to panic about the state of our planet when there are so many solutions to shift the direction of our global society. With that said, now is the time to empower yourself with these solutions to take lead in your own life and in your community to facilitate restoring the damage we have done to our planet and secure a healthy sense of place on earth for our children.
You can step up to the plate by going on The Sustainable Living Tour and also taking a permaculture design certification that will allow you to reimagine the relationships we have with everything around us.
Taking time to observe patterns allows us to design with a holistic mindset leading to life-saving and wealth-creating solutions like bringing fertility back into the degrading soil of the earth and restoring our parched rivers, lakes and streams.
Permaculture is an ethics-based design method that can be applied to all aspects of our lives and our society. It’s a return back to the basics, how ancient farmers and villagers used to thrive but reapplied to modern context.
I recently took my Permaculture Design Certification at VerdEnergia and it inspired me to return to my favorite permaculture farm, East End Eden and settle down. I lived a nomadic lifestyle over the past 3 years, exploring permaculture projects and indigenous communities while connecting with my intrinsic gifts. All of the inner and outer exploration made me ready to commit myself to a place and a community.Now I realize that in order to make a long-lasting impact I need to ground and dig my roots into a specific land and community.
Here are my top five reasons why the time is now to learn permaculture:
Gaining practical tools to combat climate change immediately.
- A PDC gives you an easy-to-digest understanding of how to go beyond sustainability to literally regenerate the planet’s resources. This theory has been applied for decades within the grassroots permaculture movement. There is classroom time to explore what kinds of energy, water food, housing, waste and social systems are typically implemented at all scales. This means that you will be able to identify, utilize and communicate the best systems to use. These solutions can be implemented at any scale, from your daily life habits, to a city balcony to a massive farm aiming to feed the masses a nutrient-diverse diet rather than pure corn.
Seeing land as canvas for creativity.
- Understanding the aspects of land to look for when redesigning or even purchasing that parcel is empowering. My parent’s backyard never looked so exciting now that I can clearly see the potential for long-term food to grow through agroforestry. During a PDC, you get to work in groups to map out a local site, choose the most beneficial way to transform it and then present your professional design to the teachers for feedback. Permaculture values creativity and art so your work becomes rewarding and lights people up with inspiration.
Seeing the earth with new eyes.
- A Permaculture Design Certification is an internationally recognized certification showing that you completed the 72-hour curriculum as created by Bill Mollison, one of the major pioneers of the permaculture movement. This certification will not prepare you to immediately go out and sell land design services. A PDC is the first step in an important life-long journey to see the world in a completely new way and dare to redesign it to support the coexistence of our species and the planet. The actual certification is a badge of honor that could score you a spot in some of the best apprenticeship programs or permaculture projects to apply what you learned and teach others.
The great potential to birth new projects and collaborations.
- PDCs are typically 2-3 weeks long where you removed from your daily routine to learn and play with 10+ other passionate allies. Building community and nurturing relationships is not only a key aspect to the regeneration of the earth but it also can result in more support for your vision and life purpose. It may feel like a vacation, but this group educational process lends itself to collaboration and is likely to birth exciting new projects. PDCs tend to create friends for life.
Turn apathy and grief into inspiration and optimism.
- For those who chose not to have a blind eye to climate change and the unsustainable organization of our economies, there may be grief. It’s normal to feel confused or isolated when opening up to this understanding that we are in the midst of a global crisis. Instead of drowning in the increasingly terrifying news of pollution, disaster and war there are movements to join that are working towards shifting our values and empowering us to restructure our society. Permaculture provides specific efficiency principles to keep in mind when designing, managing your time, growing your business or simply living your daily life. Students leave with a positive outlook on the state of the environment with an immediate solutions-based perspective. We are capable of lifting each other up and realizing the future we want to live in right now.
The actual curriculum typically dives into permaculture ethics, principles, design, soil health, water retention, plants, energy, waste management, construction and social systems. If the masses saw the world through a permaculture lens they would see the abundant, food-secure future. Our structures will be built to work with instead of against nature and produce energy renewably.
We will restore forests and stabilize the climate while living fulfilling and meaningful lives.
The farm that I chose to live at is in Ojai, California of Southern California is focusing on a major challenge in California: drought. One of the largest contributors to drought is the mismanagement of rainwater and small shifts in the landscape could mean rivers and streams flowing year round in the state where 70% of the US’s food comes from. They are just one of seven stops on The Sustainable Living Tour, so apply now if you feel called to learn more about permaculture.
A lot of people sit back and blame the lack of water in California on climate change and natural occurrences. It is clearly an issue that can be tackled on a local, decentralized level. This video by Connor Jones, Founder of Ojai Permaculture and East End Eden defends this point and provides solutions as he angrily watches runoff water pour into a sewer.
Video by: Agustin Carri Photo, a documentary film maker who is creating a film highlighting permaculture farms, ecovillages and all types of land restoration projects around the world. Check it out! – -> bit.do/CEIBO
“Here, we are watching the effects of poor land management. This right here is a major distributor to a lot of problems in our society and particularly in California as a bioregional drought situation. It’s not necessary. This doesn’t have to happen. This is not a natural occurrence. This is the product of a lack of respect for the resource of water. We are not in a drought, we are just creating that. And that is what creates the drought and that is what creates pollution in our waterways. Roundup, Urea fertilizers, all kinds of different pesticides herbicides, general biocides off of these orchards and sending it into the rivers and streams where we source seafood.
This needs to stop and the solution is not that challenging. This could turn into agricultural production, This could turn into rivers that flow all year instead of while the rain is falling. This could turn in the climate moderation effect of hydrated landscapes. This could turn into high quality spring water and well water for everyone in the bio-region. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s absolute nonsense. This right here could fill a small reservoir overnight, no problem, enough water to irrigate this orchard all year but instead, but instead, because of this management choice, we lose water and if the grower doesn’t have a well, then they’re paying ah high price for municipal water. In this bioregion what our municipal water is, is this kind of water caught in a large dam and purified. We can do the same this on a decentralized scale. This is why California is in a drought.
The solution to this pretty immense problem is a just subtle change in the design and management of the water resource.Instead of paving, piping and polluting it and sending it away as quick as possible, we have to change the standard narrative of water management in our culture. What we need to do is slow, spread and sink the water into the landscape by doing contour diversions that would actually allow this water to flash our into the orchard and infiltrate. We want this to spread throughout the orchard, not concentrate and leave the orchard. We can do this! This is an easy kind of intervention to make in a landscape. And once you do it, it’s permanent.” – Connor Jones of Ojai Permaculture & East End Eden
Nature is the primary teacher. We have an infinite amount we can learn from plants, patterns, landscapes, animals and soil about ourselves and our relationships with each other. Guiding others to deeper their connection with nature is an art form that can be further developed through study or simply by doing. Although nature is our first teacher, we can deepen our understanding by reading these books that the Earth Journeys team put together!
Coyote mentoring is a method of learning that has been refined over thousands of years. Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature reveals this approach and what happens to student and teacher during the mentoring process. Strategies like questioning, storytelling, tracking, mapping, and practicing survival skills will inspire student curiosity and encourage self-sufficiency. Background information will help facilitators feel more confident in introducing new ways of experiencing and learning about the natural world. The author, Jon Young, founded the 8 Shields Institute to help with developing a best-practices process for mentoring and nature connection work. Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature will change the way you walk in the woods. Click here to purchase.
Since 1980, depth psychologist Bill Plotkin has been guiding women and men into the wilderness such as the redrock canyons and snow-crested mountains of the American West- but also into the wilds of the soul. He calls this work soulcraft. There’s a great longing in all people to uncover the secrets and mysteries of our individual lives, to find the unique gift we were born to bring to our communities, and to experience our full membership in the more-than-human world. This journey to soul is a descent into layers of the self much deeper than personality, a journey meant for each one of us, not just for the heroes and heroines of mythology. A modern handbook for the journey, Soulcraft is not an imitation of indigenous ways, but a contemporary nature-based approach born from wilderness experience, the traditions of Western culture, and the cross-cultural heritage of all humanity. Click here to purchase.
Permaculture design typically focuses on designing landscapes for optimum efficiency and sustainability. People and Permaculture is a refreshing perspective on applying the same permaculture principles to personal development and our relationships. When we observe our own patterns, just like observing the patterns of nature, we can begin to positively transform our own lives. This book goes beyond explaining concepts by providing comprehension activities, frameworks and design methodologies that can be applied immediately to your curriculums or daily life. Click here to purchase.
Our world is exposed to extraordinarily horrific stories about famine, genocide, wars, climate change and so much more. For a lot of us the scale of global crises is hard to swallow and can create widespread apathy. Coming Back to Life provides a way for our culture to turn apathy into meaningful action by addressing and moving through the despair hidden deep in our consciousnesses. The book provides many great exercises that can be used to support individual or group processes to empower The Great Turning. The original Coming Back to Life has helped people transform denial, despair and grief in the face of the social and ecological challenges of our time. This new, completely updated edition repositions the classic work within the context of deepening global crises and the cognitive, spiritual and perceptual revolutions occurring all around us. Click here to purchase.
5. The Nature Process
The Nature Process reveals the truth that will fundamentally change your life. We are one with nature. When we consciously connect to nature we plug ourselves into the most powerful source of energy known to humanity. Part personal story and part how-to, in this book Tabitha Jayne extends an invitation to experience connection to Nature as the catalyst for dissolving limiting beliefs and energetic blockages in order to create the life you really want. Click here to purchase.
Restoration Agriculture explains how we can have all of the benefits of natural, perennial ecosystems and create agricultural systems that imitate nature in form and function while still providing for our food, building, fuel and many other needs. It provides a comprehensive how-to for anyone looking to utilize permaculture principles and practice regenerative and responsible farming methods. If you are what you eat and what you eat is impacted by how it’s grown, then how we produce food is one of the single biggest contributors to our wellbeing as individuals and a society. For those interested in justice in food systems, Mark Shepard outlines a method that could change the face of agriculture and our society. Click here to purchase.
7. The Four-Fold Way
The Four-Fold Way is an anthropologic study of the ancient wisdom from cultures around the world. Author, Angeles Arrien is leading expert on native spirituality and shamanism and uses the four archetypal principles of the Native American medicine wheel to demonstrate how we can work towards higher spirituality, a more balanced self and a better world. The book is divided into 4 sections that are connected to the four seasons and four archetypes that all humans are believed to have. Each section explains the archetype, traditional ways of seeing it and different ways we can practice being more balanced or connected to each part of ourselves and the natural world. This is a great book to have around to help stay in touch with ourselves and our true nature as humans. Click here to purchase.
Braiding Sweetgrass is somewhere between a memoir, biology book and a document of storytelling and myth that will are so lucky to be gifted. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mixed heritage native woman who is schooled in both the western and native ways of knowing and understanding the natural world. She is therefore a natural bridge between the two worlds and in invaluable asset in helping us understand what steps we need to take to find solutions to the problems we face both socially and environmentally. I have taken to reading this book out loud to people as it is so beautifully written and the content feels so relevant to the questions so many of us are asking. Click here to purchase.
Permaculture : a designers manual is not your average college textbook.The author Bill Mollison, an Australian researcher, scientist, teacher, and biologist, has compiled an account of experience, cultural wisdom, and common sense to demonstrate ways in which we can re-connect with the natural world. Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all its forms. The philosophy behind permaculture is one of working with, rather than against, nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions rather than asking only one yield of them; and of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions. Click here to purchase.
Mycelium Running is a beautiful testament to the power of mushrooms. Written by renowned mycologist Paul Stamets, this book outlines the main role mushrooms play in thee ecology, whilst displaying a wide range of ways they can be utilized to help with some of our biggest problems.
“Mycorestoration” Stamets calls it, this practice involves intentional inoculation of land in order to rehabilitate it from misuse. By far one of thee most important bodies of work on ecological restoration and preservation,while simultaneously providing a big role for us humans to play. Click here to purchase.
If you would rather be out exploring your true nature over a long weekend with an intimate group, check out the next Earth Journey!
I grew up in the windy city of Chicago with the dream of being an entrepreneur. My life was consumed with technology, socializing and working a corporate job. I didn’t realize until I left that following a stale traditional path was consuming my potential to live a life filled with meaning and enjoyment. Although city-living is full of great networking, events and movers and shakers, I now prefer to live close to the land.
Since 2013, I’ve been traveling, offering my skills to grassroots movements and supporting NuMundo all over the Americas. This winter, I chose to live at a regenerative farm called East End Eden in Ojai, California. We incorporate permaculture into our lifestyle by maintaining closed loop systems such as greywater, composting toilets earthen building and integrated animal systems. I feel renewed in the short time that I’ve lived here and more connected to who I really am. Here are 5 reasons why living in this slower-paced, purpose-driven way is changing my life already:
- I’m unlearning impatience that I developed through spending glued to my computer in the past. Instant gratification, immediate answers and intuitive UI used to demand my everyday life. Life on the homestead is not always as easy as searching Google or browsing Facebook. The questions I ask are usually answered by “it depends”. For example, the goats don’t all like to eat the same kinds of trees as they have distinct personalities and preferences. The peppers are not irrigated the same amount each week, it depends on how much sun there is and how the plants appear. I’ve learned how to be present, observing and interacting with my surroundings and learning from the subtle differences. Instead of just marching through the nursery I can notice how the trees are liking their new locations or if the Asian pears are ripe. This shift in my behavior is allowing me to soak in knowledge and wisdom in a new way. I can easily incorporate this newfound presence into my everyday interactions and my work.
- My flexible schedule is expanding my potential. My agreement to live on the land in a modern room is to contribute 20 hours of my time to East End Eden. I have plenty of free time to run my own businesses and explore my interests. I appreciate my work/trade agreement because instead of resorting to a temporary part-time job to pay for rent I can develop relationships here with other change-makers. I don’t need to perform monotonous tasks with technology that even corporate full-time jobs require. Instead, I am obtaining a yield of education, empowerment and skills towards the regenerative homestead that I want to manage in the future.
- Authentic social relations boost my personal and interpersonal growth. My favorite part of living in community is the camaraderie that always develops when there is clear communication. At East End Eden, we have daily check-ins after breakfast to understand how each of us are feeling and how we’re planning out our day. Once a week we discuss long term goals and there is time to resolve and process any tension that built up over the week. This structure allows me to, well, ‘check myself before I wreck myself’. I get to witness others give praise, apply self-regulation & accept critical feedback. I practice not taking things personally and see everyone as whole and complete beings. These meetings are wonderful reminders to get out of my head and express what I really need or desire.
- Feeling integrated into an ecosystem helps me to embody the interconnectedness of all life. I am literally creating relationships with my food, water and natural systems that I interact with every day. In the past, I would toss food scraps into a trash can to be driven to a landfill which create toxic gases for the atmosphere. At East End Eden, we feed the scraps to the chickens who transform it into eggs we eat and droppings that enrich the soil. After taking a chicken’s life for the first time, I feel deep gratitude and respect for the food that I consume. By producing no waste and realizing that my outputs are inputs for other systems, I am beginning to foster closed loop systems in all aspects of my life.
- Experiential learning is teaching me more than traditional education ever has. By expanding the edge of my comfort zone and living at permaculture communities I accepted a lifestyle of life-long learning. I usually don’t even realize I am absorbing so much knowledge because I’m just having fun with my peers who also choose this lifestyle are encyclopedias of information. I feel whole, happy and fulfilled and the reality is that I am not living in a secret garden of Eden. There are hubs like this all over the world, perhaps even in your local community. How do the permaculture principles apply to your lifestyle?
Bryan has led retreats and workshops all over the world that led him to co-found Earth Journeys and The Sustainable Living Tour. The annual tour takes 30 change-makers to SoCal’s leading eco-education hubs on a biofuel bus. Get on the bus: earthjourneys.org/tour