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  • VA2SFX 10:40 pm on May 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Sustainability   

    Planting a food forest 

    I’m really not an expert on this. I’ve planted some fruit trees that lived, and some that did not.

    My basic concept is “set it and forget it.”

    Plant ’em, don’t water ’em, mulch ’em if you got ’em, but don’t weed ’em. Fuck the rest.

    I don’t have advice for anybody, I have only what I’m trying.

    Whether my approach is a success will take years to determine. I planted some of these fairly close together, but I figure if in ten years I have to decide which amazing perfect super fruitful tree I have to trim or remove, my time won’t have been wasted. And right now, the closeness maximizes the available space.

    The trees are on about 12′ centers. 2 ea. apple, pear, plum. 2 ea. serviceberry, blackberry and two ea. of two different types of seedless grapes. Plus two each of elder and hardy fig will arrive in a separate delivery.

    Elsewhere I have peach, fig, kiwi, cherry, plum, raspberries, (unproductive failing) blueberries, grape and pears. We’ll see what survives and produces fruit over time, over years.

    I used a grub hoe to take away the top tufts of grass and roots. Then covered in a square-ish shape the soil around the tree with some tough thick tarp pieces I have (the plastic doesn’t degrade much), and marked them with larger sticks, and with logs which I have in abundance.

    Over the mounds I sowed mixed edible, wildflower and other seeds, and in the spaces I sowed heavily oats over the grass and sunflowers round the perimeter. My idea is to stock the soil seed bank and add rather than subtract. Try to mimic an emerging meadow transitioning to a forest…

  • VA2SFX 9:55 pm on December 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Sustainability,   

    Why Trump should ‘cyber’ Earth 

    Computer GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

    I think the President-Elect said it best during the debates:

    “We have so many things that we have to do better…and certainly cyber is one of them.”

    He was actually talking about “cyber” warfare, but why stop there, you know? I’m ready to disrupt stuff. I say let’s cyber the whole damn planet. Other planets even. I think there are some asteroids we probably need to cyber…

    Cyber cyber cyber! amirite?

    Let me try to explain my current cyber-obsession, though — seriously. Basically I want to debug whatever code in our cultural OS causes us to interpret this:

    Forest trail

    And this:

    Server room

    — As being total opposites, fundamentally, diametrically opposed. Like so:

    Nature vs. Technology


    On one side is Nature, on the other Technology. Somehow the two are supposed to be alienated, separate and “against” one another. We could switch the labels up, too:

    Urban vs. Wild

    Either way, it’s the same basic calculation, with new variable names. Simple, basic, root things which make up our lives are in conflict. Not a very robust model if you ask me.

    That’s why I upgraded to Cyber-Ecology, where all currents are welcome and valued:

    Tech is part of Nature

    Yes, it’s a shitty diagram (and a cheesy neologism), but I think it carries an important distinction I’d like to seed further afield: namely, that Nature is the all-encompassing Ground of Everything™— the substrate from which everything else arises. Technology is therefore a normal “natural” extension of Nature, not something inherently in opposition.

    // Personally, I find that re-imagining to be kind of a relief, if not energizing. Maybe that's just me. 

    Natural Technologies

    Wikipedia gives us a useful definition of Technology which we could just as easily apply to non-human species as well:

    “…the collection of techniques, skills, methods and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives…”

    It’s not a leap of imagination to say that plenty of non-human species produce goods and services — from mitochondria churning out energy for a cell, to ants farming fungi, to decomposers returning dead animals to the soil, all the way on up to ecosystems providing services to human communities.

    Nature is composed of networks of entities making exchanges with one another. And so is technology. *That's s0 Cyber.*

    Tech systems resemble natural systems automatically by default because they arise from and are embedded within them. Whether or not we tend to think of human technology as “natural,” everything in it comes from Nature. Even toxins and pollutants. Even nuclear reactors. Even gene drives.*

    *(which for the record I think are fucking dangerous as hell and scare the bejeezus out of me)

    By extension, other life forms have their own technologies embedded in Nature as well. (And which we manipulate with genetics, etc) Their processes and methods, the way they do things to achieve their objectives: to reproduce and to survive.

    Feedback loops

    These multi-agent networks of exchange function according to many inter-locking feedback loops:

    One way we see these feedback loops play out in the natural world is through predation and the inter-locking relationships posed by food webs:

    A deer “feeds back” literally by browsing underbrush (and plopping out turds). Mountain lions by eating more (or less) jackrabbits. Humans by releasing (or not releasing) enormous plumes of toxic smoke as byproducts of our so-called industrial objectives.

    “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” [ — Aldo Leopold]

    All of these exchanges, interactions and transactions feed back on themselves, pulsating, magnifying and reducing through networks, acting as triggers, controllers and limiters for processes, available resources, and for natural “technologies” further on down the line. I said it once, twice, I’ll say it again: Cyber. Cyber. Cyber —

    Cybernetics is applicable when a system being analyzed incorporates a closed signaling loop — originally referred to as a “circular causal” relationship — that is, where action by the system generates some change in its environment and that change is reflected in the system in some manner (feedback) that triggers a system change.”

    Climate Governance

    Cybernetics, by the way, “…comes from Greek kybernetes “steersman” (metaphorically “guide, governor”); kybernetikos meant “good at steering.” [Etymonline]

    Which for me links back finally to this weird situation below vis-a-vis the future of NASA, EPA, etc. — I guess that being put into the position of steersman doesn’t make you automatically good at it:


    I like thinking of the future in terms of steering. That seems useful. If we imagine the goal of the steersman to be good at steering (*if*), then dismantling very large scale present feedback mechanisms (such as agencies or regulations, which govern business and industrial practices) may have cascading or amplifying effects as the system feeds back into sub-systems and inter-linked systems.

    Put another way: normally, when you burst a dam you get a big flood. Even if you’re good at steering, anyone actually on the water during such a situation might end up way up Shit’s Creek, where no amount of paddles would help…

    Water GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

    What “Cyber” means to me

    CYBER then to me means: let’s spend at least as much time and money monitoring natural phenomena as we do tracking and advertising to each other on the internet. That sounds reasonable.

    Good planetary governance of a Parliament of Species would require a multitude of rich nodes reporting routinely with high-quality actionable signals and sensor data back to the common network.

    See also: Cybersyn


    Anyway, I’m just saying, instead of crushing the brains of some of the best and brightest “data scientists” and software engineers of our time doing A/B tweaks of UI flows for tiny fractional user sign-up gains, let’s turn our human creativity, intelligence and innovation back to the source of our being, and of our technology: back to our roots, our Nature. Back to, you know, this planet that we seem to be feeding back our farts into on at least massive enough of a scale to fuck things up.

    In more practical terms: let’s just fix pollution. Like forever, completely. How hard can it be if we all got together on it and just — solved it?

    Obvious idea # 3653: Make a startup “ecosystem” around solving these recurring obvious natural technological problems which we’re seeing played out again and again all around the globe. There’s gotta be tons of money in that, right? We can build hotels nearby, hell — time-shares. Let’s put Climate Refugees back to work. Let’s re-fractalize our coastlines with living cyber-control points (ie, marshes). Let’s regenerate ravaged ecosystems by fostering biodiversity. Who the hell knows! Let’s re-forest our cities. Let’s pave our roads with solar panels and wish for the best. Let’s grow all our food indoors and sleep always outside under clean sweet skies wet with stars.

    In other words: Let’s not be so damned boring and small and petty with our narrow short-sighted “objectives”. Let’s live for something better. Let’s at least live for — something. I don’t know what. You pick one. Get back to me and tell me how it works out for you.

    But most of all, let’s do better cyber.

    It’s on you, 2017.

    I’m out. ☮

  • VA2SFX 1:15 pm on December 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Forests, IKEA, , , Sustainability   

    Guardian: Ikea to invest €1bn in recycling & forests 

    Leiden, Netherlands


    As part of a series of sustainability pledges, Ikea said it would also be investing €1bn in buying forests as well as companies active in recycling, renewable energy development and biomaterials. It already owns 74,700 hectares of forest in Romania and the Baltic countries and has phased out the use of polystyrene packaging in favour of recyclable alternatives, except for around kitchen appliances.

    The investment comes on top of €600m pledged last year for investment in renewable energy as Ikea works towards energy independence by 2020.

    By the end of this year, the company has committed to own and operate 327 wind turbines and to install 730,000 solar panels on its buildings worldwide. It produced the equivalent to 71% of energy used in its operations.

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