Episode-1573- Forget Sustainable Be Regenerative — 37 Comments

  1. Damn Jack, did you really have to murder Mark and his family there at then end of the podcast? Couldn’t you just move them back to Alaska or something?

    Joking aside, I’ve been reading the book Seeing Like A State by James C. Scott, which Toby Hemenway credited with influencing his evolution in thinking, in his speech at Permaculture Voices 2. It really illustrates the destructive nature of solutions imposed by the state.

    A couple years ago, I posted a comment about how I saw myself inching toward libertarianism (perhaps libertarianism is to anarchism as agnosticism is to atheism), but environmental concerns held me back. I still have reservations, but I’m starting to see, as you were saying, so often, it is the state that is preventing environmental regeneration. Or, it is the state that created the environmental destruction in the first place (for example, the forced rural relocations and agricultural centralization discussed in Seeing Like A State).

    We’re told we need the state to protect us from Monsanto, but the state is not actually protecting us from Monsanto. Moreover, Monsanto is a creature of the state, created, fed and sheltered by the state. That the state has been captured by its own spawn doesn’t change that fact.

  2. Boom! Another great podcast! I’ve always wondered about those giganormous “sustainable” towers where thousands of people can live all squished up together. They never appealed to me.

  3. I know I will be regenerating with Mulberry!!

    I tasted the leaves for the first time today, I did not want to stop! They are rich tasting, full bodied, almost like a meat. I knew from a previous podcast that they were high in protein, but I wasn’t prepared for for such a big taste from a paper thin young tree leaf.

    It makes me wonder about other things now especially if perhaps the best tasting plants were pushed into obscurity leaving us these green tasting nearly bitter and somewhat tough leaves as our common salad food. It makes me wonder too, If what we consider “Staple greens” like lettuces, spinach, and others were last resort greens because they were more hardy.

    Had to say it!


  4. One thought, what can be done with mercury? If the problem is the solution then what do you do with poisionous liquid metal?

    • There are some uses and most are not good anyway.

      Mercury has fascinated people for millennia, as a heavy liquid metal. However, because of its toxicity, many uses of mercury are being phased out or are under review.

      It is now mainly used in the chemical industry as catalysts. It is also used in some electrical switches and rectifiers.

      Previously its major use was in the manufacture of sodium hydroxide and chlorine by electrolysis of brine. These plants will all be phased out by 2020. It was also commonly used in batteries, fluorescent lights, felt production, thermometers and barometers. Again, these uses have been phased out.

      Mercury easily forms alloys, called amalgams, with other metals such as gold, silver and tin. The ease with which it amalgamates with gold made it useful in recovering gold from its ores. Mercury amalgams were also used in dental fillings.

      Mercuric sulfide (vermilion) is a high-grade, bright-red paint pigment, but is very toxic so is now only used with great care.

      The issue with coal and mercury is that there are tiny unrecoverable amounts in coal, they are almost impossible to filter from coal exhaust when it is burned. Burned coal emits tiny amounts into the atmosphere, it comes down as rain, but since we burn a metric shit ton of it per minute on this planet all those tiny amounts raise ocean and stream levels a great deal.

      This is why there is more mercury in canned tuna than in some vaccines! When that counter argument is made it ignores how bad mercury is in both places and how it got to such high levels in fish!

      Some info

  5. My first post was written before I listened to the podcast. It’s not totally in line with the message but close.

    Now that I’ve listened, Yes it angers me! I am learning to live for the first time. I lost 90% of my material things, but it’s being replaced buy an abundance I never knew was there for me. Some is material –food, but the knowledge I’m gaining just can’t be measured. This podcast is a big part of that.

    My Dad used to brag that he was the seventh cousin of Johnny Appleseed, I was enamored by the fairy tail but didn’t really believe it until my grandmother claimed he was just a bum. Our family, as near as I can tell, didn’t keep much information on his life so I’ve had to rely on the glamorized stories of others. Even though I don’t know how much of the stories are true; I am really inspired by the linage. Whether that connection encouraged my interest in growing food trees (orchards) or my desire to have orchards encouraged me to connect with an ancestor I don’t really care, it’s still a connection and I’m as proud of it as I would be if he were a king or something. (Forgive me Grandma) But I think his actions, intentional or not are worth celebrating and continuing. But now they can be done on a more sophisticated level with all that I’m learning. Not only that, but expanded too.

    So as Jack and this whole shift to insurrectionist way of regeneration solidifies my purpose going forward I am finding that “something better” that I somehow always knew was there but couldn’t see.

    I really like being a cultivator, and I like that it fits me.

    I got a lot more out of this podcast than this comment reflects, I hope you know that.

    Thank’s Jack

  6. Jack
    I am 47 years old and have been an anarchist sinse about 16 or 17 years old. I have lived and traveled in many communities throughout my life that are trying in so many ways to think outside the dichotomy and forge new possibilities as humans on this planet. I really have never heard anybody in these communities using the word sustainable to imply some type of support or thinking that backs up centralized government, Multi national corporations or the status quo of economic structures as they are. It has always been implied by anybody I know using the word sustainable, to be a reference to practices and lifestyles that will sustain both human needs and earth and animal needs on this planet.

    It seems to me that you are referencing The concept of sustainable as it has most recently been co-opted by mainstream culture and media. I agree that in this new use of the word, It has come to reference regulations and rules that guide practice and support central authority. This to me is like presenting a critique of anarchism based on what that word means in the mainstream consciousness., totally disregarding the 100+ years that the concept of anarchism has existed and developed towards so much more then the main state stream interpretation of it.

    To critique the word sustainable and potentially the people and communities that have used it for so long strikes me as potentially causing more negative fractures between all of us trying to create a sustainable freedom in this world than anything positive. Why not simply critique the use of the word as it is been co-opted rather than the entirety of it? I know you may not care but there are a lot of people in the liberal left to radical left that are and would be receptive to a lot of the libertarian and anarch concepts talked about on the show. Again, your critique seems out of step in and out of place with the reality of how this word is used by most of us living outside the dichotomy.

    Pardon errors or typos as I am using voice recognition while driving

    • The word means what the word means, just because people didn’t mean it when they said it, doesn’t change the meaning of the word.

      Sustainable – able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

      That definition predates all modern environmental movements. Just because you claim to of separated from the matrix doesn’t mean you fully have. We ALL carry establishment baggage with us, and we all interact with others doing the same. Using a word that doesn’t mean what you think it means is one example.

      • “A sustainable system is any system that, in its lifetime, can produce more energy than it takes to establish and maintain it” – Bill Mollison

        I’ll stick to Bill’s definition.

        • “Our hope is to produce students who move faster than we do, evolve beyond what we do and teach more effectively than we do” ~ Bill Mollison

  7. Always love it when people start getting into accusations about who is the true believer or follower of some ideals or belief structures. I am referring to the questioning of who it is or is not still in the matrix. I have no way of knowing whether you are in the matrix or not as you have no idea of knowing where I stand.

    Making assumptions based on a few words exchanged is a frightful proposition if one is to take it seriously. It implies a hell of a lot of judgment on people and validates or invalidates each other based on a very small amount of exchange in the words and thoughts.

    Hardly possible in such a brief analysis. Humans have fought enough over religious ideas pertaining to who has the true teachings and is following the true way. Let us not start such crap here in the liberty movement over who is in the matrix and who is not out of it yet.

    I think in the end I am actually on the exact same page as you. I do not think centralization is sustainable whatsoever. I do not think factory farmed children from public-school are sustainable whatsoever. I do not think our factory farming structures as practiced are sustainable whatsoever.

    In brief I do not think much of any of the current structures in place in this country and beyond our sustainable whatsoever. Hence I do not like the dismissing of the word sustainable because to me my analysis of things being unsustainable leads me into a mental framework of looking for solutions outside of all of these dead ends.

    • Dude please hit return a time or two hard to read that big block of text. I will fix it for you so others can read it.

      Anyway I never said you were in the matrix, my point was long after we extract ourselves we ALL carry a lot of baggage and many times don’t even realize it. Again WE ALL, that includes me.

      Further our continued use of words that do not mean what we think they mean is often one form of them.

      Again the definition of sustainable predates all environmental movements and frankly predates both of us.

  8. Oh and you are missing a huge point a LOT of things we refer to as unsustainable ARE sustainable. That is indeed the problem.

    As for “not starting such crap in the liberty movement”, seriously don’t bring that bullshit to me, I don’t want to hear that, it is utter nonsense.

    If we can’t debate and evolve here, we are not in anything approaching a liberty movement.

  9. Great show!

    The point is that we can change the status quo: one person, one family, one community at a time. We need to begin to shift our state of resilience:

    Most of the research is on ecosystem degradation, but positive change is also a practical outcome to human interaction with a system. ( Geoff Lawton, etc.)

    This “ball and cup” illustration helped me understand this big idea:

    The effect of our efforts must be great enough to shift the parameters to shape a new cup. This can be positive or negative overall. Shift variables can move the ball to a new cup, but maybe only temporarily (long drought).

    We can shift our parameters toward a better resiliency of environment, economics, etc. through personal and group efforts. We are individually responsible for our personal resiliency that contributes to a greater community resiliency in our gardens and our wallets. (I think of putting on my own oxygen mask before I can help anyone else with theirs.) That’s cultivation!

    I hope that helps someone along their path to a better way. If I have misconstrued or misunderstood please correct me. I would rather have high quality information transfer than be right;)

  10. Wow. Just, wow. I knew that I’d like this episode just from the description of it — and after listening I know that my intuition was dead-on.

    I currently work as a consulting engineer on projects for the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection — they handle all of NYC’s drinking water system, wastewater treatment plants, and sewers. One of the words that has popped up now in their standard lexicon of bureaucratic-speak is “sustainable.” As soon as they started using that word, I knew that it had been completely co-opted by the state, much like “organic” was. In fact, I now hate the word and cringe every time I hear it.

    Another case-in-point: there is a group in my town (Warwick, NY) called “Sustainable Warwick.” They are basically a group of liberal-minded boomers whose primary focus is things like solar PV, switching your light bulbs to CFLs (as the solution to climate change, of course), and driving electric cars. Not anything about regenerative agriculture, mind you — despite the fact that our area has a rich agricultural heritage and still grows about 25% of the country’s onion crop. No, it’s all about a bunch of gobbledy-gook bullshit that doesn’t encourage people to take actual responsibility or control over their own lives.

    One of the things that helps me realize that the regenerative approach is on to something is that no matter whether you start from the “right” (like you, Jack) or the “left” (like me) — it’s a track that leads you to basically the same place even if we may disagree on a few minor details. It’s a praxis that is about finding common ground and common purpose, not dividing people. And that is another reason why it is so seditious.

    Thanks for putting this out there. It was a great show and I agreed with pretty much everything you said in it.

    • Chris H Said,

      “One of the things that helps me realize that the regenerative approach is on to something is that no matter whether you start from the “right” (like you, Jack) or the “left” (like me) — it’s a track that leads you to basically the same place even if we may disagree on a few minor details. It’s a praxis that is about finding common ground and common purpose, not dividing people. And that is another reason why it is so seditious.”

      Dead on! Is it also funny that when you say that I started out right wing it slightly offends me even though it is absolutely true. Makes you feel dirty like being called a former dope dealer or something. Perhaps more like a former addict?

      • Jack said: “Is it also funny that when you say that I started out right wing it slightly offends me even though it is absolutely true. Makes you feel dirty like being called a former dope dealer or something. Perhaps more like a former addict?”

        Ha ha! Ditto for me when someone refers to me as left-wing or a liberal. Although my background still affects my perception to a degree, I’m more anarchist than anything now — which means that I offend people on the right and the left with equal opportunity.

        • The only good part of this is criticizing a politician say Obama and having a leftist start attacking say Bush, then you say “oh Bush he is just as bad, may be worse”. LMAO this breaks the agreed upon rules of you must pick and defend a side. It doesn’t matter which way this goes either! If you criticize a right winger and the other person starts attacking the left and you are like, “oh yea man don’t get me started on those guys, they are really screwing up our nation as well”.

          It is at that moment that you see the full on death of critical thinking that has occurred in this nation.

  11. I forgot to mention one thing about my experience on working on wastewater treatment plants. What you said about the combining of sewage and stormwater into one “monster” only scratches the surface. The NYC WWTPs can handle up to 0.25″ of rain through the combined sewers. Any rainfall over 0.25″ means that they have to just open up the gates, and allow untreated sewage to flow into the waterways, because otherwise the plant would overflow. This occasionally leads to the closure of beaches in the Long Island Sound due to excessive pathogen levels in the water.

    On another note, I received my order of 37 chicks last night (11 buff orpington cockerels, 26 silver laced wyandotte pullets) and will be putting them to work in a variation on Geoff Lawton’s “Chicken Tractor on Steroids” on my 1.3 acres. I’m in direct violation of town code with this project — I’m only “allowed” to keep 10 chickens on a lot my size — but I don’t care, because keeping a greater number is essential toward getting some real regeneration and fertility going on my land. I figure I can pay off my neighbors with eggs and nobody should complain.

  12. I was just thinking a lot about the difference between PRODUCTS and PROCESSES, and how they relate to what this episode was about.

    Anytime that an approach to things requires purchasing PRODUCTS (like the “Sustainable Warwick” group I mentioned in a previous post, or all of the survivalist packages that are sold to people on the political right), I know that it is not something related to increasing independence from the “systems”. Quite the contrary — it is usually about increasing your dependence, just from a certain perspective.

    On the other hand, if an approach is primarily concerned with PROCESSES, then my interest is piqued. Because once you learn it, you can replicate it yourself over and over and over again — and no one can take the knowledge gained away from you. While certain products might help in these processes (like using a piece of heavy equipment to construct swales), it is still ultimately about carrying out the process.

    This is why I have been so drawn to permaculture over the past several years (I’m currently finishing up Geoff Lawton’s online PDC, thanks for the discount!). It’s about learning PROCESSES that you can take out into the world and make a real difference, not just a different type of industrial consumption (like buying a bunch of PV solar, an electric car, and swirly light bulbs and calling it “sustainability”).

  13. Jack, just a heads up. I believe you forgot to mention the plant of the week during the podcast!

  14. No problem Jack, you had a lot of irons in the fire the last couple of weeks!

  15. If you walked up to almost anyone in this country and said, “I’m going to take half your money, throw you out of your house, kick your ass if you say a damned thing I don’t like, inject your whole family with anything I damn-well please, add crap to your drinking water and food ( whether or not you like it), send your kids to foreign countries to fight my battles that have nothing to do with winning, force you to accept views/religions/philosophies that you don’t agree with and just generally run your every waking moment the way I want without regard to your feelings” – how many people do you think would stand there and say, “okay – whatever you want”? Yet, that’s exactly what’s happening and we’re standing here allowing it to take place without so much as a slight whimper. <quote by Al Banks

    • Ronnie,
      You could look at the bright side: If it were any different we wouldn’t know Jack Spirko, or need a TSP. — 🙂

      …but that’s a pretty good summation of the issues.

  16. Merriam Webster – Full Definition of SUSTAINABLE
    : capable of being sustained
    a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged

    After taking Geoff Lawton’s 2015 PDC, I was primarily associating ‘sustainable’ with the second definition. Which made it particularly ‘funny’ hearing politicians/media use the term. BUT, because I didn’t look up the above definitions before listening to the podcast, I was grinding my teeth throughout most of it. ‘What the hell is he talking about? Sustainable doesn’t mean that!’ XD

    I was going to comment on how I fervently disagree with you about what ‘sustainable means’, but I won’t. For, you’re correct, insomuch as your analysis of the #1 definition. The #2 definition still holds, and isn’t applicable to many (if not all) of the arguments in this episode.

    – Education system, designed to subjugate and mis-educate the electorate = goal (negative)
    – Permaculture, tool for humans to design the natural processes of nature for greater abundance of both nature (greater) and humanity (lesser… or within nature) = goal (positive)

    Sustainable techniques can be applied to both (note – permaculture may be a bad example because it’s inherently sustainable), but the outcome is NOT inherently negative. It depends entirely on the system your applying the techniques to.

    I may be interpreting you wrong, but it SEEMED to me as though you were implying ‘sustainable’ was inherently negative… or insufficient… or not ideal

    Final note: the examples that you used (federal reserve, U.S.A. education system, etc.) are only sustainable (#1 definition) depending on the time-scale you choose. Are the ultimately sustainable? No. Indefinitely sustainable? No. Is life (as we know it) ultimately/indefinitely sustainable? May not be (interesting metaphysical question). Is the human species ultimately/indefinitely sustainable? Probably not… although the potential of permaculture thinking/techniques applied globally makes me wonder….

    Thanks for the episode, Jack

    • In the second definition sustainable still means to do less bad not to do more good. FORGET IT, you are a regenerative force properly applied as a solution.

  17. I find the logo a bit disconcerting. It is a representation of mankinds fall from grace when we were no longer at peace with nature. The serpent and the tree at the center of the garden were involved with the first deception that separated us from the communion with God and his creation that we first had.

    • Well if you believe that myth I guess so.

      Though here is the full image vs. the anarcho version you see here.

      Note the snake (ONE OF GODS CREATURES) is in the symbol for infinity. He is under the tree and part of the system. The imagery is one of healing and eternal regeneration it isn’t meant to be interpreted biblically. By the way those that interpret the story of creation literally should discuss it with an devote Jewish person, you will quickly learn it was NEVER meant to be taken literally.

    • More on this, here is the full meaning of the cover of the Permaculture Designers Manual

      The great oval of the design represents the egg of life; that quantity of life which cannot be created or destroyed, but from within which all things that live are expressed. Within the egg is coiled the rainbow snake, the Earth-shaper of Australian and American aboriginal peoples.

      “The legend of the rainbow serpent is the legend that explains the formation of the hills, the rivers, and all he shapes of the land. Every time It rains and I see a beautiful rainbow I am reminded of the legend of the the Rainbow Serpent.

      In the beginning the earth was flat, a vast grey plain. As the Rainbow Serpent wound his way across the land, the movement of his body heaped up the mountains and dug troughs for the rivers. With each thrust of his huge multi-coloured body a new land form was created.

      At last, tired with the effort of shaping the earth, he crawled into a waterhole. The cool water washed over his vast body, cooling and soothing him… Each time the animals visited the waterhole. they were careful not to disturb the Rainbow Serpent, for although they could not see him they knew he was there.

      Then one day. after a huge rainstorm, they saw him. His huge colored body was arching from the waterhole. Over the tree tops, up through the clouds, across the plain to another waterhole.

      To this day the Aborigines are careful not to disturb the Rainbow Serpent, as they see him going across the sky from one waterhole to another.”

      Within the body of the Rainbow Serpent is contained the tree of life, which itself expresses the general pattern of life forms, as further elaborated in the chapter on pattern in this book.

      Its roots are in earth, and its crown in rain, sunlight and wind. Elemental forces and flows shown external to the oval represent the physical environment, the sun, and the matter of the universe; the materials from which life on earth is formed. The whole cycle and form is dedicated, as is this book, to the complexity of life on Earth.

      • Now…….who is promoting a myth ?

        Where do the the magical unicorns come in where they are farting these rainbows that I’ve heard mentioned so often ?

        At the end, when we all draw our last breath, the way of things will be revealed to us all. The Lord’s blessing be upon you.

        • Actually there is a HUGE difference in presenting a myth as a myth and presenting a myth as fact. I guess that is hard for you to comprehend?

          Again even Jewish adherents that dedicate their entire lives to the study of the word, understand the creation story is not to be interpreted literally. How Christendom came to do so I will never understand.

  18. Thank’s Jack, for posting the full meaning of the cover of the Permaculture Designers Manual and it’s link to “The Legend of the Rainbow Serpent” Quite interesting, and it makes me smile.

  19. The only emotion better as a control mechanism than fear is.. shame.

    Much less work.

    And plenty of ‘do gooders’ are more than happy to spread/enforce your message of shame for you.. unlike your secret police (fear), they don’t even need to be paid.

    A feeling of smug self-righteousness is all the reward they need! ;-p

  20. The movie that you mention you watched, I believe it was “Inhabit”, where can I find that?

    • I will be posting a way to buy it likely today or this weekend where you purchase can support TSP. I tried getting a MSB discount but the producer is committed to their model of ONLY selling via affiliates so I might as well make two bucks a pop.