Friday, October 7, 2011

Preparing the Soil for Community Cultivation

Soil, Light, Darkness, and the Cool Refreshing Gift of Water.
In all, they are supporters of life.

Soil bacteria, fungi, and insects infiltrate every niche and space in the underworld creating a rich soup of goodness for our plants known as humus (grow chick peas or garbanzo beans with herbs and spices to make hummus). Which leaves us with the fatal question of how do you prepare the soil?

It depends but this post is about Community in relation to soil and gardening. (Give me some time and I'll write about soil another day.)

When it comes to the development of human necessities and other luxuries, the main limiting factor is people. To build homes, install gardens, or to establish community, all require willing and capable individuals to establish, maintain, and develop the communal link to succeed in any feat.

By doing so, infinite opportunities and networks form much like the mycelial network of fungi with plants roots and all other soil life. This extension enables the necessities for human development and growth to become a reality through our communal imaginations.

The fatal question is how do we develop the necessary links to actualize this potential?
To conquer this feat, it helps to look at the history of mankind's relationships to each other and the evolution or succession of empathy that is occurring.

In comparison to Permaculture Design methods, the development of sustainable and prolific ecosystems are guides in co-creating the landscapes we dream of. In the same way, communities can be guided towards similar outcomes through our observation and analysis of our past, present, and potential way of life.

Looking into Past Communal Relations
A great video and speech that opened my eyes to the development of human relationships is a Renaissance Society of America video on the Empathic Civilization.

Jeremy Rifkin describes the communal relations that have advanced with time. We have evolved from relating to our blood ties and viewing others outside of our family as alien. In time, as knowledge and information became prolific after the advent of agricultural irrigation we developed a new type of empathy through religious ties. As communities developed, new relations formed to create nations.

(Listen and watch to the program if you wish to get further details. Lets move on.)

Co-Creating the Community of Today for Tomorrow
Much as tribes coalesced to create new potentials, we are on a new stage today, a world of communal networks and relations. It begins by realizing that our blood ties are to each other and everything in this world (even our beliefs and ideas) are very much the same when expressed through peaceful actions and gestures instead of abstract words and ideas.

Disintegrating our own personal wants and focusing on our necessities is bridging the gaps between individuals and organizations. As an example, schools are beginning to partner with outside organizations to create the environment conducive for youth development with the benefit of academic and personal success in life for all parties involved. Furthermore, nonprofit organizations are finding methods of infiltrating the for profit world to add ethical elements into the business world.

Elements and design features of co-creating a successful community partnership are dynamic just like ecological systems, which can be terraformed in a number of ways.

Understand that It is Inevitable
Yes, Community Cultivation and Networks are inevitable just as nature will create prolific ecological systems with time. If left alone to it's own wits, it'll happen naturally just as the soil built itself up without any outside influences and actions and will do so with or without you or us. It'll just happen a lot later in our frame of time. (Estimated 100-400 years to build a centimeter of topsoil)

In a permaculture design, it's essential to sit back and watch the elements unfold. Allocation of personal needs and desires, climate, landforms, soil, plant and animal life, and more, all contribute to the formation of ideas for a particular area. In a similar fashion, understanding the dynamics of a community and its resources are pertinent in creating successful partnerships for particular projects. It could be beneficial to take the time to map community assets and networks while observing the societal dynamics. It's not going to be the same for a city as it is for a rural area. In relation to gardening, the desert is going to need more development and potential work than the tropics.

Design and Implementation of Community Cultivation
Developing relations and networks takes time just as it does to build the soil. There is a saying that the first year a garden sleeps, the second year it creeps, and the third year it leaps.

An important lesson I learned from Community Cultivators and educating children is to make it fun and interactive. Many times, I believed that the community around me and the children were at fault for not participating in an event or a lesson. Ultimately at the end of the activity, I began to look at myself.

In a similar fashion to gardening and farming, people often view nature as the enemy. The diseases, pests, and ailments that are affect our landscapes are often blamed on natural systems when it is us who are at fault for destroying the soil foundation. Do not be hasty to blame others or yourself. It's all a learning process.

With the appropriate lessons, the internal development of yourself will encourage the motivation and action to get yourself into the playing field as well as the passion to communicate and develop it within others. As the relations grow, the processes and ideas will naturally flow to achieve the feats and developments that are essential for a community base, which means don't set any expectations.

As an example, many community gardens here in Dallas-Ft Worth have created the idea that a garden will be prolific and abundant in the first harvest or season. This assumption creates a mind frame that expects the garden to yield phenomenal results. Although this can happen with proper planning and implementation, if there are shortcomings that are not communicated people can get discouraged and dissuaded to continue the project or to continue their journey in gardening while the "masters" stay behind to maintain it themselves. This single idea has created more work at some of these locations for annual gardening, to find new gardeners, or persuade the dissuaded ones to come back. Instead of having a community garden, they manifested a working farm with high expectations.

Likewise, community cultivation is an ongoing process that requires time, energy, and love. Given these essential resources, the development is left to infinite opportunities. Just like the food forest (paradise), we can cultivate the foundations to actualize the unlimited potential of ourselves through each other and create self-sustainable loving relationships that cater to all of our necessities and more. In fewer words, community cultivation is the pure joy of over abundance within cooperation and collaboration.

Enjoy every moment of it.