Tuesday, October 14, 2008


As familiar as steps on the path this sound of children talking and learning together. This morning we are working on our first outreach program creating seed packages. Its a simple fast way to have a hundred or so packages made up very quickly for the broom corn seed we have to share out this year.

After our hot apple cider and millet cakes the teacher talked about reaching out to the world. I sat in the corner like a little kid myself on a short stool observing. Partly I was taking part in the discussion and partly I was taking advantage of the latent heat that the masonry wall dividing the classroom from the kitchen oven pumped into this part of the room. It was a chilly morning. Usually I liked a quieter start to my day however a couple times a week i like to bring my input up to our class lab and also take the time to stay close to the children.

It was simpler for us when our gates were open. Our mission was to teach and outreach. Now there is a lot of pressure to simply seal up the region since we have always maintained a basic level of self sufficiency as a bioregion. Partly being so cut off we never let our ability to provide our own basic needs slack. In our little cooperative workshops in the seventies and eighties alternative energy solar and radio phone, hydropower and wind power were born in invention. One whole invented way of life that we call "growers".

There are about a dozen kids in the classroom today and several teenagers and adults. We are all enjoying the atmosphere of excitement and the ready access to bandwidth, heat and human company. IN the corner I see my pal Asha doing her yoga quietly. We are all exceptionally stiff from bringing the harvest in the last few days. Its a good thing we have a boogie coming up.

Some of the children are cutting out packets and images of the contents along with directions and seedling identification.
This is the system that I developed for my Brazilian pal JorgeG's seed project. The idea is to create a way for people to quickly disperse high quality diverse seeds of useful plants to bio-regions that can use them for food, fiber, medicine and habitat and erosion repair. We are repurposing some old printed phone books for the project. It is important for the seeds to breath if they are going to be stored for any length of time or shipped any real distance.

My mind drifts off with the crunch of millet and flax and the taste of local honey. The teacher is drawing circles that represent the systemic connections between our tribal family and the surrounding community and the world. Already the children are familiar with the concept of the earth as a living organism. They have been raised to be naturalists interpreting the environment around them. The seasons and plants and cycles were the fabric of their daily life and their own position in it as part of a human element of the habitat was an often repeated idea.

This morning while we were all working together to make the stigmergic seed packets that would be simply sent off who-knows-where in the world we were not just telling the kids about these changes for our community we were asking them about it also.

They give good counsel these kids and sometimes they can think of things from another hidden view.

"so we want to help them but we cant have them come here?" said little Kenny. He was enthusiastically gluing seed labels on the packages. He frowned in concentration. For a moment his face shifted and he looked like a rabbit trying to find its way out of a series of blocked tunnels. Each idea seemed to lead to the same problem.

"We have to make packages"he said. Suddenly relieved as if he had found the way to the surface.

At first I smiled because we were in fact all making packages at that moment. Mostly my mouth was full and he seemed intent on an idea so I let him go on.

"We have to make BIGGER packages with more stuff in them". He said with a gleam in his eye. "we have to make a way to get out some of the things we can share".

"BIGGER". he said.

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