Abundant Descent

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Who has a “right” to inhabit the land?

Is it logical to state that the first inhabitants of a territory are the original, right-infused “owners”? Especially given that most of the societies that had their lands overrun did not have any such notions of private property and ownership? This position is exactly that of the “I saw or grabbed it first, It’s mine!” school of thought that kindergartens everywhere attempt to convince small children is not fair: “We share our toys.”
The utility of this argument exists only in so far as it stamps out the much worse (and frankly predominant) position statement: “Might makes right.” This is the actual position of every colonial government. Spain said, “South America is mine.” France said, “North America is mine,” England says to France, “We will whoop your asses and now it is ours.” And some colonists from the US object to taxation and the long distance relationship with the Motherland that has become dysfunctional and they say, “Fuck off you redcoats, it is ours.”
And then their is the recourse to legalities and contract. “We made a deal.” Except the English, the Americans, the Canadians (etc.) never lived up to those deals. And for the Native populations those deals were about how to share occupation of the land – not what the colonizers decided they would be: legal smokescreens for Might Making Right. Manipulations.Ways to placate the Native populations when they were still larger and stronger and potentially able to stop the occupation. “Law and contract”..does not make right. Especially when the side with all the guns is making the laws. Treaties make for endless obfuscating, abuse, manipulating, attempts at cultural and physical genocide, placating, pretending to negotiate in good faith, paternalism, and unjust, unethical, ceaseless legalese wrangling. For generations. Hoping the problem will go away eventually?
And what about the fundamental ecological catastrophe? Can land claims be used to slow that juggernaut down? To an extent, treaty rights and the right to consultation have somewhat slowed that down in Canada. Notably, the pipelines. Yet here we have a new Prime Minister, talking up consultation with the Native inhabitants as the best way to get those pipelines built. I think he means bribery.
From anthropological and archaelogical studies we know a few things about the relationships humans and human societies (past and present) develop with the land and ecosystems they inhabit. We know that some humans, especially those practicing traditional hunting and gathering, nomadic, grazing & horticulture lifestyles in particular tend to act as members of the ecosystems they inhabit. Their spiritual beliefs reflect and reinforce cooperation and respect – with the members of their own tribe and with the living and non-living around them. We also know that a form of food procurement and settled habitation arose in some isolated areas all over the world. First it mainly arose in river deltas and flood plains. This is generally called agriculture. Daniel Quinn calls it “totalitarian agriculture.” This is where the private ownership of land seems to start. This is where the draining of ecosystems and hoarding of wealth and building of walled cities seems too start. This may be a sustainable way of life in a few ecosystems – the ones in which rivers flood nutrients back into the soil nearly every year, for example. Along the Nile, in the Indus valley, etc.
An unfortunate outcome of agriculture in these regions is the way human populations expand to meet the growing supply of grains (the most storeable of all food crops – therefore the most controllable). This has tended to lead to the desire to expand territories and obtain more land – fence it – kill or drive off the other humans living there – and the wildlife and plants deemed dangerous or useful or “weedy.” Also, this has led to the specialization of labour and to hierarchies developing: priestly classes, kings and soldiers. To make matters worse, it has led to “development” – metal smithing, trading, mercantalism, colonialism, capitalism and even industrialized communism.
Sometimes the “barbarians” outside the empire look at all that gold and grain wealth and domesticated animal flesh and think…I gotta get me some of that. Many times civilisations have clashed with one another: Persians and Greeks, English and Indians…producing “winners and losers”…The violence spreads, as per the Parable of the Violent Tribe.
Might makes right. In Reality, whatever spin is put on it, this is agricultural civilisation’s main operating principle.
So…what is the radical “solution?” What gets to the root of the problem? To stop the spread of violence is impossible. As long as empires could expand, they would. Violence is the strongest meme in times of expanding energy supplies. But as contraction occurs another meme gains ground, inevitably…because it is amenable to survival under such conditions. The meme is sharing. Cooperation. Get along, help one another out, make peace or die.
The root of the problem is an excess of resources & totalitarian agriculture (which is self-exterminating in most locations), and the resulting settlement – “civilisation” – violence for defense and expansion – private property – hierarchy – specialisation of labour – cities and fences and walls. (Here is an in depth discussion of the origins of warfare which takes an atypical and opposing POV, by refusing to differentiate between inter-tribal conflict and warfare. And here is a refutation of Pinker. )
The root of the solution is an unavoidable contraction of resources – especially energy – a renewed commitment to ecological restoration (because maintenance is not sufficient when so much has been destroyed) and a forward-looking return to horticulture (permaculture) and, I suspect, eventually to nomadism.
Here is my proposal:
Who has a “right” to inhabit any given landscape?
Any community of people who can demonstrate a commitment to regenerating the local ecosystem cooperatively with other humans and with the wild local systems.
Care, commitment, and competence make “right” in an era of catastrophic ecological collapse.
*See David Holmgren for details of his approach to the ethics of sustainability.
It won’t defeat violence and “Might makes right-ism.” Nothing we can think or that we control can. However, it provides an ideal to rally around as the complexity of global civilization and the biosphere collapse around us, and as resources become scarce.
This meme has the advantage of accommodating Dire Reality: of decreasing energy, of resource scarcity, and of the necessity of giving to the Earth more than we take, and of helping one another through this for our mutual benefit. Doubtless, as we descend, the spiritual notions of an animated, cooperative Nature deserving of our respect and gratitude will become more popular again.
And when the last human standing falls (may she live and rest in peace), may her bones feed a fertile soil and a still-living world.

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Serenity Project: Seed Order January 2016

This is the seed and tuber order placed in January 2016 for Serenity Subsistence Permaculture.

Hope Seedjerusalem-artichokes

Jerusalem Artichoke – Passamaquoddy Potatoes : 1 lb (7052-LO-A)
Quantity: 1
Price: $10.00 ea.

Jerusalem Artichoke – Skorospelka : 1 lb (7054-LO-A)
Quantity: 1
Price: $10.00 ea.

Products $20.00
Shipping $14.00
GST $0.70
HST8 $1.12
Tax Total: $1.82
Total: $35.82


Comfrey Common Bulk Seeds $ 10.00 g 1 $ 10.00

Rapini SowNatural(tm) Bulk Seeds $ 0.70 g 10 $ 7.00

Pre-shipping Order Total = $ 17.00 Shipping and Handling: $ 6.02 Sales Tax: $ 2.99 Grand Total: $ 26.01


Heritage Harvest Seed


Heirloom Broccoli – Romanesco
$3.95 CAD 1

Heirloom Rhubarb – Old Homestead
$3.00 CAD 1

Heirloom Herb – Salad Burnet
$3.95 CAD 1

Heirloom Herb – Lovage
$3.00 CAD 1

Heirloom Herb – Hyssop
$3.00 CAD 1

Heirloom Herb – Florence Fennel
$3.00 CAD 1

Heirloom Herb – Angelica
$3.00 CAD 1

Subtotal: $22.90 CAD
Discount: -$0.00 CAD
Tax: $3.62 CAD
Shipping and handling: $4.95 CAD
Total: $31.47 CAD

TreeSeedsPlus (Ebay)

siberian pea treeSiberian Pea Tree, Caragana arborescens, Seeds (Hardy, Fragrant, Hedge)…

Russian Almond, Prunus tenella, Shrub Seeds (Fast, Showy, Edible, Hardy)…

Red Rugosa Rose, Rosa rugosa rubra, Shrub Seeds (Fast, Hardy, Fragrant, Edible)…

Rockspray Cotoneaster, Cotoneaster horizontalis, Seeds (Hardy Showy Fall Color)

Lowbush Blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium, Seeds (Edible, Showy, Fall Color)

Black Mulberry, Morus nigra, Tree Seeds (Hardy, Edible)

Japanese Pagoda, Sophora japonica, Tree Seeds (Fast, Showy, Fragrant, Bonsai)

White Rugosa Rose, Rosa rugosa albiflora, Shrub Seeds (Fast, Hardy, Fragrant)

Highbush Blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum, Seeds (Edible, Fall Color, Hardy)

Sea Buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides, Seeds (Fast, Edible, Hardy, Showy)



Serenity Project: Seed

Seed Inventory January 2016

    This is a mistress list of seed on hand which can be used as a resource for kitchen garden & food forest planning, and/or for planning seed, tuber, or bare-root bush/tree orders for 2016.

Part One: House/Tropical

  • Avocado

Part Two: Perennials and Self-Seeding Annuals


  • Alpine strawberry
  • Peach (?)


  • Chestnut
  • Oak

Medicinal Plants, Teas and Herbs

  • Bee balm (raspberry)
  • Chives (x3)
  • Echinacea
  • Garlic chives
  • Lemon balm
  • Milkweed
  • Oregano (may be annual zone 4b)
  • Poppies – micro-orange (2014/2015), Ass’t from Lise
  • Sage (x2)
  • Thyme
  • Yarrow – wild white


  • Dianthus pinks (maybe)
  • Hollyhock – purple from Lise
  • Lavender – dwarf munstead
  • Lupines – mix (x2) NF!
  • Morning glories  from Lise
  • Wildflower mix from Lise (x2)

Part Three: Annuals


  • Oyster mushrooms

Flowers, Teas and Herbs

  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Cilantro (x3)
  • Dill
  • Genovese basil
  • Nasturtiums – dwarf cherry (hybrid)
  • Stevia
  • Summer Savory (x2)
  • Sunflowers – ass’t mix (garden 2015), Autumn beauty mix
  • Sweet marjoram


  • Cantalope
  • Ugly melon (x2)
  • Watermelon – ass’t unknown (x2), bush sugar baby, crimson sweet

Vegetable Rotation Group One – Legumes


  • Homesteader
  • Laxton’s progress
  • Little marvel
  • Oregon sugar pod
  • Sugar snap

Beans (fresh & canning)

  • Scarlett runner (vine)
  • Yellow wax (bush)

Beans (dry)

  • Ass’t unknown (garden)
  • Pinto
  • Red kidney
  • (also see kitchen supply next year)

Vegetable Rotation Group Two – Leafy


  •  Calabrese
  • “Sprouting broccoli”

Brussel Sprouts

  •  Eversham special


  • Rainbow swiss


  • Arugula (wild)
  • Mesculin mix


  • Dinosaur
  • Dwarf curled scotch
  • Nero do tuscana


  • Bloomsdale

Vegetable Rotation Group Three – Fruiting


  • Peaches and cream


  • Ass’t unknown
  • Lungo della cina
  • Marketmore
  • Wisconson SMR pickling

Sweet Peppers

  • Ass’t unknown (x2)
  • Marconi italian sweet


  • Acorn
  • Butternut (?)
  • Patty pan (summer)
  • Spagetti


  • Amish paste
  • Ass’t unknown
  • Beefsteak
  • Bonnie best
  • Roma
  • Silvery fizz (Cubit’s)
  • Sweet cherry (hybrid)
  • Yellow pear


  • Black beauty

Vegetable Rotation Group Four – Roots


  • Atlas
  • Colourful (Cubit’s)
  • Danvers half-long
  • Nantes coreless
  • Scarlet nantes




  • Red (seed)
  • Yellow (starts)


  • F1 hybrid


  • Yellow fleshed


  • “Radish”
  • Rainbow (Cubit’s)


  • American purple top


  • Swede

PLUS * one bag of unknown seed collected from kitchen, misc. and * 12 bags of wild seed collected early fall 2015 (misc. wildflowers and trees)





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Manifesto for an Abundant Descent into Human Extinction 1

Manifesto for an Abundant Descent into Human Extinction
Point One
Reality dictates, along the lines suggested by Limits to Growth, and with evidence of climate collapse accumulating daily, that we all redefine our imaginery of “what remains possible.”
Of course, everyone is doing that every day in response to localized signals from our environment. Meanwhile the global machine (The Empire) obfuscates the situation even as it acts to desperately keep itself chugging and (increasingly) sputtering along.
For those on the “left” and especially the environmentally conscious left, it is quite easy to spot this absurd denialism in the “right.”
It is considerably more difficult to spot it in our own speech, our own activism, our own pet organisations and beloved memes.
In his first post for Pray for Calamity td0s argues that “The predominant view of the so-called “climate justice movement” however, is that industrial civilization can continue in a fashion that allows modern western people to live essentially as they do now, with only a handful of tweaks. “
As anyone, left or right, who has carefully considered the Peak Oil perspective is well aware. This is impossible.
td0s is aware, and so he continues, arguing for “the need for social movements that are fighting drivers of climate change to accept a view of a low energy future.”
So the first point in my manifesto is
*I accept the reality of energy descent. I accept that there are no solutions available to prevent energy decline. I will organize my life to reduce my need for transportation fuels and electricity as rapidly and as completely and as compassionately as I can.*
Photo on 2015-05-21 at 12.07 PM

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Another Year, Another Paradigm Shift

Many thanks, Kenn. Compassion and empathy and the moments of beautiful hope will be available to any of us who choose to, or perhaps it is better to say those who find the deep courage to grasp them. Thank you for saying so bravely and clearly. – myrn

Kenn Orphan

“Our own life has to be our message.” ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

This month the solstice gently ushered us all into a new year. In times past, this occasion was often viewed as an opportunity for reflection.   It is a turning point when the sun begins to intrude into our lives just a bit more each day, casting away shadows, one by one.  As the calendar scrolls down another year I have been reflecting on my personal journey as it relates to the changing and tumultuous world around me.

2015 was a year where climate change, endless war, mass migration (the biggest since the second World War), the growth of the repressive, militarized police/surveillance state and environmental decimation all appeared to be converging at a crossroad, with industrial civilization itself teetering on the brink of collapse as a result.  Has it happened yet?  No.  But collapse should be understood as…

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Sexual Assault: A Primer for Collapse

Bunkering Down in Fear of the *Other* is NOT the Answer

*Warning: This blog post contains details which some people may find triggering. (I say this to suggest taking a moment to check in, breath and carefully consider reading on, though I know the title was a big clue.)

This blog post is a big ask. I am asking for a favour. I am asking everyone to deeply self-reflect and then to act decisively to minimize the sexual violence in our communities. I believe global society faces collapse and that our species is facing extinction. HOW we face it remains something in our own control, even as events sweep us along in the great tide of change.

My Personal History

I am going to disclose some personal history, in some detail. I am not doing this to illicit sympathy. I am doing this so that my readers understand I am speaking from personal experience, rather than naivete. Please know that these events are in my past, that they have shaped who I am now and that I have undertaken many years of healing with extraordinary support from close friends and professionals. I can write about this calmly now because I have done the work of processing these memories and their associated feelings.

Story One

When I was 18, a male friend, let`s call him Pete, drove me to the home of a mutual friend of ours whose parents were away. Jake (a pseudonym) raided the bar and offered me a screwdriver. I had little experience with alcohol. The drink he gave me, unbeknownst to anyone else, was many ounces of vodka mixed with orange juice concentrate. This disguises the strength of the alcohol and is a common rape drug.

When I very quickly became extremely nauseated, dizzy and ill, I asked Pete to drive me home. Jake intervened and said, `Just go lie down in my room, you will feel better soon.` Pete concurred with this idea, and so, in my muddled and trusting state, that was what I did. Pete then left. Years later he told me he had decided I was faking being drunk (how could I have been drunk on so little alcohol – little did we know) because I wanted to be alone with Jake.

Then my so-called friend (whom I had known since grade one, BTW) came into his bedroom. Jake climbed on top of me, dismissing my protests, forcing my legs open, cursing at me and threatening to pound me with his fist if I did not stop resisting. He raped me. That is how I lost my virginity.

Then he drove me home. I crawled into bed, still sick and now in shock and traumatised and completely confused. Like most victims of sexual assault, I chose to believe that this was my own doing rather than face the truly ugly and emotionally over-whelming consequences of having been attacked by someone I thought cared for me. Rather than facing up to what this meant about the world: NOT SAFE, I made up alternative stories that seemed less difficult to handle. i suppressed the feelings I did not want to have.

Story Two

A few years later, I thought my dreams had come true. The older brother of one of my childhood friends (He was so handsome! He had a band!) whom I had been crushing on since I was 8 years old asked me on a date. After a lovely dinner on Queen St. (very trendy area of Toronto) he agreed to drive me home. We still lived a short walk from one another, in our parents` homes.

Instead he drove me to an industrial area and gave me a *choice* (of sorts). Either I gave him a blow job or he would rape me. He told me this in the most curiously matter-of-fact manner. I preferred the former.

Afterwards he drove me home, physically held me in the car and threatened to drive me back to the industrial park for round two unless I agreed to go out with him again. I agreed. Then, when he called the next day, told him there was no fucking way I was going anywhere with him ever again. Once again, though, I blamed myself. I did not report him to the police.


There were other incidents. It should really surprise no one that in a patriarchal society, most women are sexually assaulted. Of all the women I have been emotionally close to in my half century of life, only one has escaped unscathed. The rest have been variously forced against their will. at least once, by at least one assailant – male relatives, boyfriends, buddies, husbands – into sexual activities. Sexual assaults are almost never reported to police. They are almost always conducted by people we know. Often very well. That is life in a civilized patriarchy.

What is Coming?

That may somewhat change, in the wealthier parts of the world, as social upheaval brought on by energy descent and abrupt climate change spiral out of control. We may face more stranger rapes, as is perfectly common, throughout the world, in all conflict zones. Soldiers rape.

I have no idea why sexual assaults of women (especially) and male prisoners or opponents and children (of course) are so commonly linked in men’s minds with the exercise of killing…and I do not particularly care. They are linked activities. Rape and pillage and killing go together like salt and pepper and eggs.

No sense pretending otherwise.

It is just plain sensible to prepare for this and I would like to make some requests. The following are based on my experiences of sexual assault, my healing with other women in circles of care, and my training as a feminist and political theorist. To introduce an element of formal credibility (for those who care about such things), I was an A-plus student, the top of my undergrad departments in both fields. I was the only student who had ever received a perfect mark on a Women`s Studies exam or on a paper. So, I am not ignorant of the sociological and social science research on sexual violence.

Again, I know these are big asks. Please consider carefully what YOU want to do. Please do your best, according to your own conscience and keeping your own self-care closely in your hearts.

First, for everyone:

While it is almost always men committing sexual assaults, women can and have done it, too. I believe everyone needs to educate themselves NOW, while it is still possible, on what the word CONSENT means. Only feminist literature covers this topic in depth. Even if you hate that word, please open your heart-mind and give this perspective a fair hearing.

If you would like to avoid being a rapist, you likely need to do some research because ALL of us were raised in a culture that completely normalizes sexual violence. This is not your fault. It is not my fault. This rape culture predates all of us. It is thousands of years old in some regions of the world. It is often referred to as patriarchy. It has been a tool for securing paternity when DNA testing was undreamt of. It was functional, in that sense. Although it has caused much trouble among us, as well.

Let me be extra clear: I am not blaming individual *men* for *rape culture* or *patriarchy*… It is the water in which we all swim like wee guppies. We have never had a choice but to breath it in and it is extremely difficult to see because it is ubiquitous.

I highly recommend forcing yourself to read Andrea Dworkin’s book *Intercourse* … In all likelihood this book will offend you. It will probably disgust you. I would not be surprised if you got very angry at me for suggesting this and angry at her for writing it. Her analysis is far from perfect. Most feminists hate this book as heartily as everyone else.

It is a tough pill to swallow, but allowing her perspective into your consciousness will sensitize you. As it did me. That is why I am asking you to read it.

Also, please read novels or non-fiction accounts by rape victims and those who have experienced childhood sexual violence.

Sit with their pain.

This will be difficult.

*Bastard Out of Carolina* is a good start. It was made into a movie. The book is much harder than the movie. Choose your poison.

This is my belief: To stop violence, or to slow it down, we all must, first and foremost, stop ourselves from committing it. In my experience, tolerating pain and learning to sit with it is the easiest way to get some control over my own violent impulses. We all have them. If you take the time to familiarize yourself with the particular pains associated with experiencing sexual violence, you will be far more hesitant to commit it. Let your natural empathy muscles do the work for you. (Only 1-2% of us lack empathy.)

Second, for men

Women cannot stop sexual violence against women. We have been trying very hard for a very long time. Needless to say, children are helpless to stop this, too.

Cis men: straight, heterosexual men who have never questioned whether they might, indeed be women, especially those who have experienced sexual assault, have a unique kind of gendered cultural power to DEFINE MASCULINITY.

Please advertise your disgust with sexual violence, please speak out about your own experiences, and please express your belief that

*Real men do not force sex on others.*

Please talk to one another about how wonderful sex is when our partners are willing, and even more so, enthusiastic. Try not to brag. You do not need to impress other men. Try to share from your hearts, your guts.

And also, if a male friend discloses he was assaulted…Love him and support him. Have compassion, rather than pity, remember all of the times YOU were physically defeated, hurt, in fear or overwhelmed. That happens to everyone. Use those memories to help him heal. Heal yourself also, along the way.

Some gender theorists posit masculinity as a violent hierarchy…think chickens and pecking orders. Resist the urge to peck to heal your own wounds. It does not work. It creates more wounds. Feel the pain instead. Deal with it.

Please note

Everyone can actually do this in their own communities, whatever their sexual or gender identity. We can all make it a thing. Open up conversation. Turn rape into an act that is completely unacceptable. This is social power we ALL have to some extent within our own sexual-gender identity groups. We can talk to our kids about consent. In fact, we should do so. This is part of protecting them, as well as encouraging them to become kinder and more aware humans.

That said, straight-identified men do most of the sexual violence. Every stat from every place ever confirms this.

We have no time to change the world, but we can always influence those close to us…and even more so as collapse unrolls and people come to deeply understand that banishment from a social group equals death alone in the wilds.

Finally, for Women (by which I mean ALL woman-identified women) 

WENDO – Look it up. Take a class. Teach it to every other woman-identified woman post-collapse. Create a Red Tent Society in your community and help one another to practice WENDO. Heal your own pain and trauma and help other women heal.

And understand that rape is not the end of life. It feels fucking awful. The people who assault us stomp all over our personhood. They do not give a fuck that we are separate, living, feeling & caring fully REAL people.

Say: Fuck them for being so ignorant.


Do whatever seems needful to survive. And forgive yourself unreservedly for whatever that was. Know that you did whatever you did to survive this far. Know that that is perfectly okay.

Say *It is not my fault* to yourself.

Say *It is not YOUR fault* to every other victim.

Hold and cherish and nurture and respect one another …Build together strong and soft and loving and compassionate and powerful kick-ass, self-and-other protective female identities.

Withdraw your support from patriarchy and it`s endless wars.

To Wrap-Up

It is not, in my opinion, okay to just be aware that the shit is about to hit the fan and that violence between humans will inevitably escalate. I am asking everyone who has managed to read to the end here to please consider what YOU can do to minimize the violence and maximize the compassion. I see no reason we could not continue to struggle to be kinder and gentler individuals, to make our families and our communities havens for one another. We cannot prevent all human violence. Please though, do not pretend you cannot prevent at least SOME of your own.