07/26/2017
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Good Life

I don’t think too many people are going to argue with the claim that the world is in a mess. It’s definitely a time when we need to re-vision our direction and make some course changes … if there is even time for that. The questions loom large. Where will these changes originate? And, how will they be implemented? There are a lot of “plans” that originate from the top-down and the outside-in. That is, they are formulated by some umbrella governmental agency and work on the premise that the necessary changes will simply be legislated. This is fascism, any way you look at it. It’s the Nanny State. Such approaches assume that people are incapable of self-correcting, through education and consciousness-raising, and purport that government...
Confucius said that the health of a nation could be determined by the integrity of its homes. If we apply that standard, we’re in trouble. Culturally, most Americans don’t even have homes anymore. They have houses, not homes. Homes are something that are made, not bought. And, homes, thus, require homemakers. That’s right, plural: homemakers. I’m not talking about just women. And, I’m not talking about Ozzie and Harriet stereotypical housewives. I am talking about what Dr. Shannon Hayes calls Radical Homemakers (in her book of the same name). Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture  Mainstream American culture views the household as a unit of consumption. A radical homemaker turns this conception upside...
(This isn’t Sherry’s kitchen. But it is the feel she describes.)  The kitchen is the heart of my home. It’s the hub of the domestic wheel. Since it’s where the woodstove is, this time of year, it’s where everyone gathers. And, everything of any importance takes place there: meals get prepared, recipes shared, bills paid, horse grains mixed, tinctures made, messages exchanged; kombucha brewed, coffee sipped and books read. Sometimes I take for granted that the kitchen is the living heart of my home. That is, until someone reminds me. And, invariably, that reminder comes in the form of them telling me how “old fashioned” or “cozy” it is. I’ve got generations of memories of the kitchen being the command post of the home. My grandmother’...
Everybody loves a good story. Especially this time of year. In Plato’s Symposium, Diotima recounts the story of Eros. She tells us that on the day of Aphrodite’s birth, the gods had a banquet. Penia—that is, “Poverty”— came begging at the end of the meal. There she espied Poros — that is, “Wealth” — drunk on nectar and asleep in Zeus’ garden. As a way out of her destitution, Penia decided to have a child by Poros, so she lay with him while he slept, and conceived Eros. Dirt poor We may fantasize that Eros was delicate and refined, but Diotima tells us that he was, in reality, always poor, rough, dirty and barefoot. For a person concerned about his soul cares not about appearance, dress or comfort. Such a person cares about freedom...
It’s not just a cliche that our machines used to be built to last.  My washing machine stopped working this week. It just quietly threw in the towel and stopped agitating. It’s a really old machine so I assumed that it had paid its dues. It’s so old, actually, that anyone under about 35 might not even recognize it as a washer. Anyway, I crossed my fingers and called the repairman. He came out and, within 30 minutes, had it running perfectly again. Then, he told me what a great machine it was….that “they aren’t making them like this anymore.” This one, he said, “had been built to last…and to be repairable.” His parting words were an admonition for me to hang on to the old washer because a new one wouldn’t be as sturdy, reliable or...
The following dialogue continues an on-going cyber-discussion between two cultural philosophers, Dr. Sherry Ackerman and Dr. Guy McPherson. ACKERMAN: Wow! I don’t leave the homestead all that often. And, when I do, I don’t go that far. But, today I had occasion to venture out into mainstream culture for the afternoon and I was flabbergasted. The mainstream has never been my thing, but, Guy, I’m telling you that it’s plunged even further into madness. Sheer madness. There’s nothing out there that has anything to do with real life. It’s an entirely constructed false culture. I live here on the homestead and there’s life all around me. There are living plants in the gardens, animals in the paddocks and active people working with the soil,...
Originally published at Transition Voice: I was in my greenhouse the other day, watering some enormous tomato plants. These plants are massive---over my head and still going strong. They are planted in a raised bed, with about thirty of them shoulder-to-shoulder in close quarters. It’s literally a tomato jungle. They are lush, full, heavy with tomatoes and the pride of any gardener. Enter my friend, who upon seeing this eye-candy, says “you can’t grow tomatoes like this. They will never survive.” After a pause to do a quick reality-check, I said, “What are you talking about? I AM growing tomatoes like this and they are gorgeous, verdant plants.” Totally blowing off my comment, my friend went on to tell me that “he had read an article on...
Orginally published at Transition Voice The following dialog is a continuation of one started by Drs. Sherry Ackerman and Guy McPherson a few weeks ago on Transition Voice. In that discussion, Ackerman and McPherson laid out some philosophical considerations about the need for a transition to more locally-based economies of human scale along with a deeper reverence for and consideration of the natural world that we share with plants, animals and other natural forms. In the following discussion, they talk very practically — pragmatically — about how to get there, laying out some of the nuts-and-bolts of preparing for a post-carbon lifestyle. Going lo-fi ACKERMAN: Guy, you and I are both essentially philosophers. Nevertheless, we’re not...
This article was orginally published at Transition Voice Transition Voice writers Guy McPherson and Sherry Ackerman have some things in common. They both got PhDs, taught and did research at universities and then left the ivory tower, deciding, as Socrates did, to take their message to the streets. And their common concern is how to live in a way that’s not a lie in our time of climate change, peak oil and economic and cultural crisis. McPherson’s background is in ecology and management of natural resources. Ackerman’s is in cultural philosophy and intellectual history. They both, though, reached a point where they decided to turn their backs on what Scott Nearing called The Establishment and try to find deeper meaning and authenticity in...
Time isn’t part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs,  which seems like a fairly serious omission to me, since much of the social pathology developing in the Age of Affluenza has to do with people’s perceptions of, and relationship to, time. This runs deep: people aren’t even taking the time to chew their food anymore. David Kessler, author of The End of Overeating, notes that whereas Americans, in the past, typically chewed a mouthful of food twenty-five times before it was ready to be swallowed, the average American now chews only ten times. People are becoming more and more stuck in the stress of excess, including possession overload and time famine. They are choosing “stuff” over time. Glossy, multicolored advertisements for sleep products...

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