The permaculture seminarian fundraiser

Copyrighted by Creative Commons. User permission required.

Copyrighted by Creative Commons. User permission required.

Beginning in August, I will be a student at the Lancaster Theological Seminary, here in Lancaster, PA. It wasn’t that long ago that such a notion would have seemed absurd to me but now it makes perfect sense. I am a spiritual person and spent my formative years (from 12-18) in the Bible belt, in the rural north Texas town of Blue Ridge. The messages that I learned from church in those days instilled in me a desire to follow the Golden Rule as well as to be a good Christian. These days,  I still have that desire to follow the Golden Rule, and see it has dovetailing seamlessly with the ethics of Permaculture, which to me are Creation Care, Neighbor Care, and Future Care. I also have the desire to “unlearn” many of the things I learned from well meaning pastors and to explore more deeply the historical, sociological, anthropological, metaphorical and ecological underpinnings of the Christian New Testament and the Hebrew bible and how this deeper understanding of scripture can be applied today in this world gone made on war and environmental destruction.

One of the ways I am hoping to finance this expensive and exciting educational undertaking is through my photography. While in seminary a traditional job simply is not possible for me but photography and also writing afford me the chance to earn some income in moments when I am not buried in books about first century Palestine or the Jewish diaspora. To that end I want to promote the sites where my photography can be seen and even better my work can be purchased. The purpose is two-fold, one I hope to increase my exposure as a freelance photographer and two, I want to earn some money to offset the $60,000 in loans that will be required to complete a Master of Divinity degree.

Those wishing to buy photos or a variety of items such as mugs or wall art can go to my personal website on the Lancaster Photo Collective website at the following link: http://www.lancasterphotocollective.com/Dillon-Naber-Cruz-Photography

I have a growing portfolio on the stock photography website Shutterstock.com. Photographers interested in getting their work published can help my seminary cause by signing up to be a contributor to Shutterstock at this link: Contribute to Shutterstock

Those interested in using stock photography from Shutterstock can use this link: Shutterstock customer link

If anyone thinks that theological education is super important and wants to lend a hand without buying a picture then this is the link for you:

http://paypal.me/DillonCruz

Here are a few recent shots to whet the appetite.

Reflections in the glass

Reflections in the glass

An Amish hay wagon

An Amish hay wagon

Lancaster County

Lancaster County

Cowsheds waterfall Moravia, New York

Cowsheds waterfall Moravia, New York

 

Pride: In the name of LOVE…

In the name of Love

In the name of Love

In the early 1990s I was indoctrinated, the only other appropriate word would be brainwashed, into fearing and discriminating against those who were born homosexual. It was a time of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military and I was in the Marines. I was also a member of a Southern Baptist Church in Honolulu at the time and it was there that I learned all about the “Gay Agenda” and how it was perfidiously undermining America, the nuclear family and society in general. I wish I could say that I saw right through the hate filled invective that spewed forth from the pastor’s mouth, the videos we were shown, and the story of the guest speaker who claimed to have repented from the “sin” of promiscuous homosexuality. Alas, I cannot truthfully make that claim for my 20 something year old self. I was told, along with the rest of the congregation, that the North American Man Boy Love Association was a typical, mainstream group in the gay community, i.e. that gay men are essentially pedophiles, and that the bathhouse scene of wanton, promiscuous sex was also the norm for gay men. Of course both of those things were outrageously false then as now but I fell for it basically hook, line and sinker and became an ignorant, homophobic young man who ran around wearing a custom made ball cap that said, “I Support Gun Rights and Gay Control” because I thought it was clever. It wasn’t. It was bigotry pure and simple.

I do not recall precisely when that view point began to unravel for me. The only explanation I have is that I am the beneficiary of some truly amazing grace in this and other areas of life and thought. As my collegiate studies progressed and I learned to think more critically about the things I had learned in my life while growing up in rural Texas and as an evangelical Christian Marine, the more views that were based upon ignorance, fear, or some sort of racial superiority complex began to come apart at the seams. I could no longer believe in the American fundamentalist version of Christianity, the notion of “American Exceptionalism” and its inherent militarism and xenophobia, nor could I believe that the LGBTQ community was going to precipitate the downfall of humanity due to its godless sinfulness. Later I learned, or finally allowed myself to understand that I am not “exclusively heterosexual” as described by the Kinsey Scale. I’d say that I would be determined to be a 1 or 2 on the scale which makes me predominately heterosexual but with “incidental” or perhaps”more than incidental” homosexual desires. On a scale of 1-100% I’d place myself as 90-95% heterosexual and 5-10% bisexual and I now understand that this simply describes how I was born as a sexual human being.

 

Student pastor Joao and Douglas

Student pastor John and Douglas from Wisdom’s Table United Church of Christ

The recent tragedy in Orlando, FL at the Pulse nightclub underscores painfully the ignorance that still exists in America and the world regarding homosexuality due in part to poor understandings of scripture, people’s inner conflict with being gay or having a gay loved one, toxic masculinity, and lack of education about the LGBTQ community. I am hopeful that my story, and the stories of others who have moved from abhorrence based upon ignorance to complete, loving acceptance of our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning neighbors will inspire others to become radically welcoming to the LGBTQ community and love them for who they are. To do anything other than accepting people for who they are often leads to hatefulness, bigotry and in extreme instances, violence. Imagine feeling extremely vulnerable whenever you are in public or literally being hated simply for being who you are…

Hooray for rainbow families.

Hooray for rainbow families.

I’m a white male in a heterosexual marriage and I have a university degree, all of which indicates a certain level of privilege. This privilege insulates me from a great number of things that people of color, LGBTQ, or in those in low income areas have to deal with routinely.  In order to understand, if even a tiny way, what it might feel like to be vulnerable like that and to show solidarity with my LGBTQ friends and neighbors, I decided to wear a skirt to church yesterday and then to the Lancaster Pride Fest afterwards where I would be working at the church’s booth for a couple of hours. It didn’t take long for the anxiety that I experience due to PTSD to kick in and the self talk to become a negotiation with myself about showing solidarity in a less “envelope pushing” or “safer” way. My heart started to pound before I even left our house and I began to sweat much more than usual. In the end, I stopped negotiating with myself, took a deep breath and headed out the door. Walking down the street by myself in our new neighborhood (we recently bought a small house in Lancaster, PA) wearing a long, bright red skirt, rainbow suspenders, and a blue “seek peace” t-shirt , felt like one of the bravest things I’ve done in quite a long time. There was no way for me to be inconspicuous. I’m 6’2″ tall, weigh about 180 pounds with long hair and fairly unruly beard. In other words, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

Pride and Joy

Pride and Joy

The walk from church to the Pride Fest was equally nerve wracking. Every time a person drove past me or walked by, I braced myself for some nasty comment or snide remark. To add to my consternation, I needed some cash for the event and had to stop at two different places to find an ATM. After getting some cash,  I got myself an organic iced tea and then went to stand in line at in the CVS to pay for it. The guy in front of me gave me a sidelong glance and I detected a mildly derisive look but nothing further happened. I walked the last few blocks to the event without incident and once I was there, I no longer stood out so much, nor did I feel threatened in any way. I had literally walked a mile (actually a bit more than a mile) in someone else’s shoes and it was scary, which was illuminating in more ways than one. On the lighter side, I know now that skirts are SUPER comfy in hot weather… I hope my decision to don a skirt and step out of my comfort zone will help me to be more consistently loving, more compassionate, and to more fully embody the ethic of “neighbor care” and “The Golden Rule” as I continue on my journey in life.  I also  pray that it will inspire others to do likewise.

Painting Prayer Flags at the Wisdom's Table UCC booth.

Painting Prayer Flags at the Wisdom’s Table UCC booth.

In the event that any evangelical Christian people chance upon this blog, I say, “Grace and the Peace of Christ be with you”. If by chance anyone wants to say that I am cavorting with “sinners” by having friends in the LGBTQ community and by attending an open, affirming church, then I’ll politely say in advance that I fundamentally disagree with the notion that God created people who are gay and then said, “Sucks to be you. You’re gay, I made you that way, BUT it’s a sin, so good luck with that.” Even if it were a sin (which again, I think is absolute nonsense) I would remind my Christian neighbors that Jesus hung out with so called “sinners” ALL THE TIME and he just loved them rather than condemning them. He offered them grace and saved his condemnation for systems of oppression and sacrifice. We are called to love as Jesus has loved for God is love. And here’s the kicker, “Love keeps no record of wrongs”.  So if God is love and therefore keeps no record of wrongs, why do we insist upon keeping such lengthy, detailed records of everyone else’s “wrongs”? I’d say we’ve had it backwards for far too long…

Diversity is beautiful.

Diversity is beautiful.

We are also called to stop judging one another and to look deeply at ourselves, make ourselves perfect first, which is a rather difficult undertaking, and only then can we legitimately call others out on their “sin” if we choose to ignore grace. I would also like to to remind anyone using God to bash gays, that Jesus said not a single word that we know of about homosexuality despite the fact that it was common in the ancient world. Perhaps this is because there was never meant to be a blanket prohibition of homosexuality at all, as a rabbi once told my dear friend Ben Weiss. Or perhaps it is because the ancient manuscripts do not actually speak of homosexuality but rather denounce all coercive, forced sex, including that which takes place between men and boys, which of course is an entirely different thing. We must remember that Jesus flipped so much of the Old Testament on its head by saying things like, “You have heard it said, but I say to you…”

A couple applying temporary rainbow tattoos.

A couple applying temporary rainbow tattoos at the Wisdom’s Table booth

I’ll leave you with my own modern retelling of the parable of the Good Samaritan:

A certain man, holding hatred in his heart against gay people, while walking home was stabbed in an alley and then robbed. The man moaned loudly as a bishop was going past. The bishop not wanting to stain his robes, crossed the road, muttering a little prayer for the wounded man. Soon a Southern Baptist preacher, in suit and tie, saw the stricken man and quickly turned away, looked at his watch and hurried past. Moments later, an impeccably well dressed and groomed black man, whose name was Nathan walked towards the alley where the wounded man lay. He was talking on his cell phone to his husband, and the wounded man heard him say,  “I love you too Gary and I’ll be home soon.” Upon hanging up, Nathan saw the wounded man,  let out an exclamation of alarm and then ran towards him. He removed his tailored jacket and placed it under the wounded man’s head and then pulled off his expensive shirt to staunch the flow of blood from the knife wound. Nathan then called for an ambulance and waited for its arrival while doing everything he could to keep the man in severe pain calm, holding his hand and speaking softly to him as the minutes passed. He rode to the hospital in the ambulance and once there insisted upon paying for the victim’s medical treatment and all his living expenses while the victim recovered.

Which one of these people was most like Jesus? Who do you want to emulate?

More scenes from Lancaster Pride:

 

Embracing the skirt

Embracing the skirt

My artistic wife painting her flag.

My artistic wife painting her flag.

Music minister and friend Douglas and my wife Christina spreading joy.

Music minister and friend Douglas and my wife Christina spreading joy.

Pride pup

Pride pup

I loved her sign. Her smile is radiant.

I loved her sign. Her smile is radiant.

Pride. 'nuff said.

Pride. ’nuff said.

My wife spreading joy through dance

My wife spreading joy through dance

Christina and our talented friend Michelle embracing at Pride.

Christina and our talented friend Michelle embracing at Pride.

My good friend Jennifer trying hard not to be cute.

My good friend Jennifer trying hard not to be cute.

Loud and proud.

Loud and proud.

Members of the band Fierce. Lancaster, PA

Members of the band Fierce. Lancaster, PA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wisdom’s Table UCC Lancaster

 

The Christian Call to Earth Stewardship

Slight edits made 5/31/2016

Creation Care, Neighbor Care, Future Care- The world through a permaculture lens

His eyes are on the sparrow and I know he watches me. His eyes are on the sparrow and I know he watches me.

In the Biblical story of the Earth’s creation, we are told that God created it and all of its inhabitants, proclaiming each and every aspect of this creation to be “Good.” To my mind this would make God the ultimate biological systems engineer. Each and everything on the planet has a role, a niche to fill to keep the planet’s systems functioning well. LIFE! A profusion of life was God’s goal in creating this place we call Earth and humanity’s role on Earth was and IS to maintain that life and those systems masterminded by God to perpetuate it. It is my belief that Earth stewardship is an integral part of walking the Christian path because to take care of the Earth is to ensure we take care of our neighbors. In this modern, globalized age, every person…

View original post 1,425 more words

A modest proposal

Home sweet home. NASA image

Home sweet home.
NASA image

Today is Earth Day, the day that we who are human beings ostensibly take the time to remember that there is only ONE planet that sustains us, nurtures, us, and provides for us, all while being a beautiful, perfect closed system.  The area from the ocean floor up to the sky is known as the biosphere because that is where life happens. From extremophiles that live next to steaming vents near the deepest places in the sea to the birds of prey that soar high above us on currents of air, all life on Earth happens within this biological sphere. We are responsible for maintaining it since we are the species that has the most power to alter the system and in our shortsightedness we have altered it in ways that are truly adverse to human kind and too multitudinous other beings whose aliveness is no less important than our own. We know that human beings require adequate food, clean water, clothing, and shelter from the elements in order to survive yet many of us, especially those of us in richer nations, all too often forget to keep our neighbors in the so called “third world” or “developing world” in mind while we mindlessly consume resources or participate in ways of being that are destructive to life and create “US versus THEM” scenarios.  Our actions lead to us using far more than our share of the planet’s limited resources and create a cancerous effect upon the planet with the detritus of our lives. In light of this knowledge I have a modest proposal that if implemented will create a more just, equal, and sustainable world for all of us.

This proposal contains several elements. The first of these elements is to use the universal maxim that in the Christian world is known as the Golden Rule- to do unto others as we would have them do to us. It is universal because it is found in every major spiritual tradition. This rule should be the litmus test for our behavior in big and small ways and should inform our decisions about everything from the things we buy to our interpersonal interactions. If for example we realize that the clothing we buy is from a sweatshop and that we ourselves would dread, loathe, and rebel against working in such a place for far less than a living wage, then we would be compelled to cease and desist from supporting a system that perpetuates those sweat shop conditions. Further elements of this proposal are tied in with the Golden Rule. See if you can wrap your head around just how I have come to that conclusion.

In honor of Earth day, I propose the following:

  1. Cease all extractive industrial practices that create pollution in our major biosphere systems, i.e. soil, air, water.  This would mean an immediate ban on fracking, mountain top removal mining, off shore drilling, and the creation of new sites for fossil fuel extraction. Leave it in the ground. We simply cannot afford to keep burning them and releasing carbon into the atmosphere.
  2. Shift immediately to smaller scale organic agriculture as recommended by the United Nations. Ban GMO crops that are created to resist RoundUp (glyphosate) because RoundUp kills soil life. Healthy soil is imperative for not only growing healthful foods to eat. It is also an important place to store carbon from the atmosphere and we need to radically reduce the carbon now in the atmosphere, which stands at approximately 400 parts per million. While 400 p.p.pm. may seem small, we need to be at 350 p.p.m. to maintain a stable climate.
  3. Raise the driving age to a minimum of 21 years of age globally. Fewer cars on the road will lead to less emissions, fewer accidents, and less resources being used.
  4. Ban air travel and personal automobile travel for a minimum of one day per week globally.
  5. Decommission all nuclear power plants world wide. Using a radioactive, toxic substance to boil water is monumentally stupid.
  6. Implement a basic living wage for all people. There is literally no reason that anyone, anywhere should be living in abject poverty without food, water, shelter and clothing.
  7. Drastically shrink military spending and offer members of the military a chance to leave the military early, with retraining. Use the members who stay for public works, disaster relief, and similar types of projects.
  8. Ban all fossil fuel based plastic and replace it with plant based, biodegradable plastic and or wooden products.
  9. Engage in a massive global reforestation and afforestation effort with species suitable to bioregions taking climate change into account when selecting species.
  10. Make music, arts, gardening and ecology mandatory parts of education from early childhood through high school.
  11. Immediately remove climate deniers from positions of leadership and political power. They are being willfully obtuse in the name of profit and putting billions of people at risk as a result.
  12. Make permaculture design and regenerative agriculture public policy.
  13. Ban nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.
  14. Inculcate a respect for diversity and for the Earth in kids as well as adults.
  15. Fundamentally alter our daily lives in order to be more sustainable, regenerative and fair to all humanity
  16. Practice Creation Care, Neighbor Care, and Future Care.

 

Why Permaculture Why Permaculture -positive

New photography website

After receiving positive feedback for my photos, I decided to set up a website so that people can purchase prints and other items with my photos on them. Perhaps that way I can go get those new lenses I have been dreaming of. I’ve now also got a Shutterstock.com portfolio.

Check out the new site. I am excited to be collaborating with another incredibly talented photographer.  Additional photos are being added on an almost daily basis.

Cruz Control Photography by Dillon Naber Cruz

Dillon Naber Cruz Shutterstock

Available on my site

Available on my site

 

 

 

Fiddle Creek Update part two

Recent flooding out at Fiddle Creek Dairy has caused significant damage to the farm’s infrastructure, namely to the driveway and one of the barns. Due to the topography flashflooding is proving to be a multiple times per year event. To fix this problem will require the rental of two pieces of heavy equipment, a mini-excavator and a tracked skid loader, paying for an equipment operator, and other related expenses (fuel, design time, etc).  We’re hoping to raise the money through this fundraising campaign and that anyone who can afford to will donate $10 (or more) to help support farming done the right way.  The paragraphs below are from Francis Miller one of the farm’s owners:

Greetings friends and family –

We are nearing our 4th year here at Fiddle Creek Dairy.  What a time of adventure, beauty, trial, death, birth, and growth.  We feel so blessed to belong to this land, living close to the wildness that is still here, learning more each day about how to be in harmony.

As many of you know, making one’s living primarily off of your own land, by growing and producing healthy food, is a difficult endeavor.  Our life here is filled with joy alongside a number of challenges that sometimes discourage the spirit.  Such was the feeling we had this Thursday morning Feb. 25, when we walked out to observe the damage done by the previous night’s storm.  Our beautiful little “Fiddle Creek” becomes a wide, raging river several times a year.  It has happened about 8 times since we moved here, doing a good deal of destruction.  Last night’s flood was the worst yet.  We had built enough berms and swales to save the garden this time but as we walked around Thursday morning, we discovered that the driveway washed out, leaving an 8″ deep gully, and lower down, a new washed out ravine about 5 feet in depth.  And then when I was feeding the chickens, I realized that a wall in the back of our horse barn had collapsed.   Life tends to pile up like this sometimes. (I’m looking forward to the day when I will have time to write down all these stories).

It was right after coming inside from looking around that we discovered our friend and fellow worker Dillon Naber Cruz, had just created a fundraising effort to help us with our stream project.  He didn’t even know about the most recent flood damage.  This kindness lifted our spirits immensely.

For a variety of reasons, neither the township, nor insurance, nor the conservation district have any funds to help us address the damage from this flood and the ongoing water issues.  It is in our hands.  We humbly realize that we cannot proceed alone.

If you are able to assist us, you can either send money directly to us at Fiddle Creek Dairy, 97 Loop Road, Quarryville PA 17566, or send money through Dillon’s fundraising site with paypal (click on link below).  All money will go towards the same project; to create a way for the flood waters to go through and back into the stream without destroying our land or the watershed.

To donate via Paypal go to Paypal and send money to dillon.cruz72@yahoo.com

Beautiful Fiddle Creek Dairy in Lancaster County

Beautiful Fiddle Creek Dairy in Lancaster County

Roaring water cut this trench in the latest flood event.

Roaring water cut this trench in the latest flood event.

Deep cut from the flood waters. The garden is out of the shot to the right

Deep cut from the flood waters. The garden is out of the shot to the right

Every flood makes this worse

Every flood makes this worse

Silt deposit from the flooding

Silt deposit from the flooding

The driveway is getting washed into the stream

The driveway is getting washed into the stream

Water pooling up behind the detritus of the flood

Water pooling up behind the detritus of the flood

Yummy!

Yummy!

Tim and Frances talk farming

Tim and Frances talk farming

Eli loves the cattle

Eli loves the cattle

The pastures are steadily improving with rotational grazing management

The pastures are steadily improving with rotational grazing management

Tim putting in the electric fence

Tim putting in the electric fence

Frances doing some fencing.

Frances doing some fencing.

Happy cows make great yogurt

Happy cows make great yoghurt

These swales have helped protect the garden. Bigger ones are needed elsewhere.

These swales have helped protect the garden. Bigger ones are needed elsewhere.

Screenshot (60)

This shows the nature of the landscape and how the water flows through it.

Screenshot (61)

 

Fiddle Creek Dairy update

Fiddle Creek Dairy in winter

Fiddle Creek Dairy in winter

Last year as part of the Advanced Permaculture Design Practicum I took through Oregon State University, I did a permaculture design for a local micro-dairy in Quarryville, PA called Fiddle Creek Dairy. The owners of the farm, Tim, Frances, and their toddler son Eli, are dedicated to regenerating the degraded land of the farm that they purchased a little over 3 years ago. They use rotational grazing practices and are taking a holistic management course to further improve their farm management and increase their sustainable yields. We have been working together for the past year to design and implement elements of the design for the farm in hopes that it can become a working farm model that uses permaculture design practices in order to influence, inspire, and lead the local farming community to more sustainable practices here in Lancaster County and beyond.

Flooding has been a problem at the farm and due to its topography (the land is kind of like a bowl or funnel). This issue has recurred multiple times within the past year. In order to alleviate this problem some earth moving equipment needs to be rented and used to divert water away from the garden and the house. During one flood last year a large swath of the newly installed garden was washed away along with the soil, plants and raised beds.  They have been relying on volunteer help for much of the implementation so far and now need some funds to rent an excavator and pay an operator to mitigate flood damage.  In light of that, I am seeking donations to help with this expensive undertaking. Donating money is a great way to “share the surplus” . All money received will go directly to the implementation of the permaculture design, starting with the flood control project. Any additional funds will go towards the coppice wood lot survey and planting and the windbreaks shown in the design.

Take a look at the link below for more on the Fiddle Creek Project and please share this post widely

Thanks!

Fiddle Creek project donations

Fiddle Creek Dairy permaculture design

Frances broad-forking the soil to get out the weeds.

Frances broad-forking the soil to get out the weeds.

Raised beds on contour top dressed with compost.

Raised beds on contour top dressed with compost.

Dillon Cruz using he A frame level to mark out the contour lines.

Dillon Cruz using he A frame level to mark out the contour lines.

Cultivating a sense of place

Copyrighted by Creative Commons. User permission required.

Copyrighted by Creative Commons. User permission required.

 

As America becomes ever more developed with the ubiquitous strip malls, fast food joints, chain restaurants, and McMansions that look remarkably similar whatever the location, it becomes harder to cultivate a sense of place. One could be put down in almost any  metropolitan area and have no idea where one had landed especially along a major thoroughfare with the various big box stores surrounded by enormous parking lots and the ever present drive through meal in a sack places on every corner.  Regional variation is lost as we move towards uniformity and I for one find that to be incredibly sad because it is that variety that gives places their uniqueness and makes them truly special to the people who live there.  In my lifetime so far I have lived in 12 different U.S. states and have experienced the wonderful variety that makes a large nation with so many different landscapes like this one has so interesting. I’ve also seen all that uniformity writ large upon the landscape in places as varied as Mililani, HI to Branford, CT with the only difference being the palm trees in the Home Depot parking lot.

Currently I live in Lancaster, PA a place widely known as unique due to the various Anabaptist groups that came here in the 18th century. This is Amish country and with that comes an idyllic landscape of farms, buggy repair shops, and a tremendous community ethos that is truly remarkable in modern America. The Pennsylvania Dutch settled here because of the rich, fertile soil which is still an important feature of this bioregion. Then there is the mighty and ancient Susquehanna River that forms a natural border with neighboring York County, whose headwaters are in Cooperstown, NY and it’s end is the Chesapeake Bay, not far from Lancaster. There is regional variation in the cuisine as well due to the Germanic influence and also in more recent times, Puerto Rican influence (Lancaster has a large Puerto Rican community).  All of these things make Lancaster and interesting and exciting place to live and a place worth maintaining as unique.

When we develop a sense of place by finding out what is special about our life places and then doing all that we can to enhance and protect it, then we more fully inhabit the places where we live.  To truly inhabit a place is to recognize the stake that we each have in ensuring that it is well taken care of for ourselves and future generations who will rely on it for sustenance, livelihood, and community. Getting to know the natural world where we live is of vital importance for many reasons. There are often a wealth of useful plants, animals, and natural cycles that when made use of mindfully can enhance our quality of life and in times of duress keep us fed. It’s also important to learn about the uniqueness of the culture where we live. What is the local history, geography, and climate. What makes your life-place special? Taking the back roads is a great way to experience the true character of a place. Finding the hiking trails and the waterways is another. Local historical associations and museums can further increase our knowledge and help to cultivate that all important sense of place that tells us where we are in the world and roots us in community.

My camera slows me down which is a good thing. It helps me to connect more deeply with the neighborhood and the bioregion around me. As always, I hope these shots inspire you to fully inhabit your life-place.

An amazing sugar maple at Tanger Arboretum, Lancaster, PA

An amazing sugar maple at Tanger Arboretum, Lancaster, PA

wheatland ave1

Wheatland Ave Lancaster, PA

I love trees.

I love trees.

Snow makes the world look lovely

Snow makes the world look lovely

Beech trees keep many of their leaves

Beech trees keep many of their leaves

Buggy shed at the bank Rte 340, Lancaster County, PA

Buggy shed at the bank Rte 340, Lancaster County, PA

Lancaster County Mules

Lancaster County Mules

We should put these everywhere

We should put these everywhere

Snow on the beeches

Snow on the beeches

Dogwood tree

Dogwood tree

Anachronism? Not really.

Anachronism? Not really.

Amish country traffic jam

Amish country traffic jam

Mycological remediation

Paul Stamets is a well known mycologist, a scientist who studies fungi, who does experiments in mycological remediation as well as other research involving fungi. The mycoremediation process uses certain types of fungi to clean up environmental toxins or to bring health back to the soil in areas of clear cut logging or other areas where soil has been abused. In Stamets’ view mushrooms can be a key component in reversing some of the damage done by the wanton mistreatment of the planet’s various ecosystems from forests and waterways to urban and industrial sites. In the video below he chronicles one such experiment using mushrooms to clean up piles of dirt contaminated with fossil fuels and other toxic substances such as heavy metals. The mushrooms break down the chemicals to the point of being inert. They also take up the heavy metals but do not break them down.

This leads me to an “I wonder” moment and the following question.  If the mushrooms were used to concentrate the heavy metals into their tissues, could the heavy metals then be extracted by allowing the mushrooms to decompose on top of or raised slightly above a powerful magnet? If so, could the metals then be made useful in the manufacture of metal tools or other useful items? I literally have no idea. Perhaps this question would be answered with a resounding “No!”. It would be tremendously exciting if something like this could work though. Not only exciting but a game changer in environmental remediation.

We need to be asking a lot of different questions like this in order to regenerate soil, clean up watersheds, creeks, rivers, lakes and the oceans. We need brilliant minds to come up with effective ways to remediate toxins in the environment without using other toxic chemicals or a proverbial sledge hammer when a feather duster will do the trick. Design solutions for reinhabiting the planet (which means to live mindfully in conjunction with the natural world and one’s neighbors) are of vital importance to the here and now as scientist warn of us of the potential for systemic biosphere collapse, i.e. a mass extinction that includes human beings. It’s time to re-imagine our lives and our way of living on the planet, to engage in right livelihoods that are sustainable, regenerative, and peaceful. It’s well past time to cease funding research and development of war machinery and weapons of mass destruction and to begin funding sustainable systems research for basically every facet of life to provide food, fiber, shelter, water and meaningful activity to people across the globe. We’re ostensibly intelligent. If we’re smart enough to devise ways of destroying the systems that support life (air, water, soil, communities) then we are smart enough to create ways that foster and regenerate those systems. Let’s get to it.

Watch the following video and be inspired. Ask questions. Change your world.

Lancaster County in winter

Copyrighted by Creative Commons.  Author/artist permission required.

Copyrighted by Creative Commons. Permission required to use photos or writing.

 

It took a while for winter to finally arrive despite what date the calendar said it was. Temperatures were well above normal a few weeks ago over the Christmas period. Now winter is making up for lost time with the season’s first snow fall and temps plunging into the lower teens at night. This first snow fall is a a humdinger too with near blizzard conditions and up to 20″ of heavy snow forecast to blanket the Susquehanna Valley. Climate change could make this type of storm system much more common in the future. In the seven or so years I’ve lived in the Mid-Atlantic or New England, I’ve seen over half a dozen snow storms with 10″ or more of snow.  Fortunately our larder is well provisioned as we settle in for a weekend of watching the snow fall out side the windows.

At times like this I am thankful that I do not own a TV and am therefore not bombarded with hysteria driven news about “Winter Storm Jonas”. The entire practice of suddenly deciding to name winter storms is clearly driven to sell more ads and find yet another way to get people to feel afraid of something. I’d rather grab my camera and take some shots. Nothing wrong with being well informed but the faux hysteria and hyperbolic  hype is over the top these days. Turn it off for a while.

Enjoy the shots.

Sunrise January 21, 2016 50mm

Sunrise January 21, 2016, New Holland, PA 50mm

Lancaster County farm outside of New Holland, PA 50mm

Lancaster County farm outside of New Holland, PA 50mm

Silos in the distance.  50mm

Silos in the distance.
50mm

Amish farm implement near Intercourse, PA 50mm

Amish farm implement near Intercourse, PA
50mm

It's snowing. Lancaster, PA 50 mm

It’s snowing. Lancaster, PA 50 mm

Icy streetlight. Lancaster 50 mm

Icy streetlight. Lancaster
50 mm

Clouds acting as reflectors of the city lights making it very bright for the time of night.

Clouds acting as reflectors of the city lights making it very bright for the time of night.

I'll be digging the truck out this weekend.

I’ll be digging the truck out this weekend.