Why farmpunk?

A farmpunk could be described as a neo-agrarian who approaches [agri]culture, community development and/or design with an anarchistic hacker ethos. "Cyber-agrarian" could supplant neo-agrarian, indicating a back-to-the-land perspective that stands apart from past movements because it is heavily informed by conceptual integration in a post-industrial information society (thus "forward to the land" perhaps?) The art and science of modern ecological design—and ultimately, adapting to post-collapse contexts—will be best achieved through the combined arts of cybermancy and geomancy; an embrace of myth and ritual as eco-technologies. In other words: the old ways of bushcraft and woodlore can be combined with modern technoscience (merely another form of lore) in open and decentralized ways that go beyond pure anarcho-primitivism. This blog is an example of just that. Throughout, natural ecologies must be seen as the original cybernetic systems.

**What we call for at the farmpunk headquarters**
°Freedom of information
°Ground-up action + top-down perspectives
°Local agricultural systems (adhering to permaculture/biodynamic principles) as the nuclei of economies
°Bioregional autonomy
°Computers are optional but can be used for good—see peer to peer tech, social media for direct popular management of natural or political disasters (e.g. Arab Spring), or the mission of the hacker collective Anonymous

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

gender identity & participatory ecology

I believe that something rather esoteric lives at the root of our sometimes confused and repressed relationships with both food and sexuality.

That something is our gender identity - and how it is or is not shaped by our relationship to the Land.

I am not borrowing anyone else's definition of the term "gender identity". What I mean by it is concise: it is the perception of one's embodied power and agency; what we perceive our bodies to be instruments of.

"Earthling" is effectively a gender identity for me, because it literally means one who dwells on, works, and is from the soil. 'Eorthe' in Old English means "ground, soil or dry land". The suffix 'ling' indicates that something is from something else, or literally born from something in the case of, say, diminuitive names for newborn creatures. A duckling, for example, is a creature taht was begotten by a duck. An earthling is then one who is begotten or engendered by the land. Of course, this is true in the sense of evolutionary ecology; it is the relative stability of the earth's biosphere over millions of years that gave rise to life on this planet. But it can also be true on phenomenological, vocational, community and spiritual levels.

Unfortunately, any positive models of "earthling" identity these days are drowned out by one powerful and presiding basis of gender identity: sexuality -- or, to be more precise, sexuality as defined by the corporate media. In a society that is increasingly urban, increasingly professionaly specialized in technological and industrial sectors, and increasingly disconnected from community agrarianism, some are left with one clear answer to the question "What is my body for?". Still mired in Victorian morals and Cartesian philosophy, our society tells us that our bodies are good for thinking rationally and displaying our status as a desirable mate through ornamentation. The latter essentially translates to buying trendy clothes/making ourselves "sexy". (It's what the Victorians did, too - they just had different fashion standards. The deranged and dissonant ideas about personal agency were the same!) Please note that for some reason this mate-status display has become conveniently (for profiteers) connected to what we buy. Hmmm...

The question "What is my body for?" is not really asked, therefore we as a society can pretend that we don't have to answer it. But we are gravely mistaken, for this question should be assumed to be tacit - and the opportunity for its answer a birthright.

Our bodies are for these things (answers are not political, they are taken from our sociobiology and our evolved physiology - function is inferred from form):

*Daily participation in small, close-knit community groups.
*Experiences of collective joy or emotion with and within said groups (such experiences were literally born from the outcomes of food security efforts like hunts or harvests)
*Walking/hiking/trekking over land - this includes exploration of novel landscapes
*Making and using tools - this includes building dwellings and other structures (inferred from physiology of the hand)
*Identifying ripeness of edible fruiting bodies (perception of color)

These are just a few of the things our bodies might rather be doing than, say, being emotionally overstimulated (TV) or physically understimulated (a lecture hall) in repeated and alternating succession, day after day after day.

Farming - an activity that calls upon many of these social and physical purposes - has been incredibly empowering to me in a manner that I perceive as gender-based. Embracing my queerness was cool - learning about queer theory was cool - but being rooted to the land through sustainable animal husbandry - that completed the circuit of my previously 'theoretical' self-actualization. It allowed me to steward beneficial reproduction - of animals, plants, soil, and traditions, and what could be more empowering than that? When your body becomes an organic extension of the landscape, you begin to live the religious experience; you feel at home in the universe because your body fits into the earth in a reciprocal, creative way. It no longer matters what you look like or what your 'social' gender identity is - for that is merely one tiny slice of the encompassing earthling identity. It matters how you function.

Form and function, forever. With Love.