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

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Upcoming Queer Fast with the School of Lost Borders

It is difficult to express how blessed I feel to have the opportunity for my first ceremonial fast to be within an intentionally queer/LGBTQ community of questers this June, on the literal eve of my 30th birthday. Doing a fast with the School of Lost Borders brings together two of my passions: nature-connection and rites-of-passage work. Both of these interests are inspired by my experience of these things as a queer person, and my longing to be able to share these elements of a resilient and healthy culture with queer folk and many others. 
One thing I’ve told myself is that the "queer" part of me is “the secret face of my connection to Creator.” I became interested in mysticism in my early teen years and it’s been such an integral part of who I am since then. My longings to connect to the realms of spirit and soul seem to be interwoven with my queer identity, which is really more of an “unfolding” than something that can be identified and quantified. Put another way, the unfolding of my queerness seems to be simultaneously an expression of soul (unique, organic, and personal) and also a means for connecting with spirit—with the transpersonal and cosmic. Being genderqueer was something I became aware of, on a sub-conscious level, when I was 7 or 8 years old, long before sexuality was something I thought about. Gender, which I understand in part as the interplay of masculine and feminine energies within me and around me, seems deeply coupled with that enigmatic concept folks call “soul,” as a pattern mysteriously emerging from the cosmos through me, and it is an inevitable mediator in how I relate to the world and to other beings.
I earned my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Religious Studies, focusing on the Judeo-Christian tradition. These traditions hold a lot of cultural trauma and ancestral grief, but also offer powerful connections to ancestors, and with that potential for healing and reclaiming parts of “Western” mythic consciousness. Nature-based and contemplative aspects of these traditions especially interest me as those have been largely lost in mainstream American Christianity. Although I was raised agnostic and non-theist, a big part of my draw to Christianity is to the devotion to Mary in my Greek matrilineal ancestry. To me, Mary is an underworld guide (a role that could also be known as “psychopomp” or “bodhisattva”) and represents perhaps the last vestiges of an archetype for “soul” in Christian tradition. One of my intentions in my fast is to continue a conversation that I began to discover the threads of last year; to delve deeper into my relationship with her as a guide and ally in my journey as a queer mystic, and to step outside of the comfort zone of merely knowing her in an intellectual sense (through scholarship).
My main intention though with this fast is to mark a passage into initiation as a mentor, educator, and cultural transformer who is genderqueer, someone who stands as a “star” person, a vital space in between the moon (feminine) and the sun (masculine) beings. Almost five years ago now, I came out as transgender and started hormone therapy to become more masculinized. However at the time of my coming out, I was in a long-term relationship where the pressure to be “heteronormative” was absolutely crushing. Though my former partner was fascinated by and supportive of my journeys in the realm of gender, the pressure and tension created by our very different upbringings and social circles had me trying to fit myself into a ‘male’ identity. It didn’t feel right. And truly, it was me who was my own greatest judge during that time. Slowly, I figured out how to get out of my own way and chose to hear the message that had long been there: that my androgyny (the androgyny of my soul as well as the androgyny that is visible to others) is a gift and is holy, not something that needs to be cured. There aren’t social roles or archetypes in Western culture for the possibilities of genderqueer personhood, but that does not mean that these possibilities don’t exist. Today, I’m still on testosterone therapy, though I’m on a low dosage that upholds, externally, the interplay of masculine and feminine that I feel inside.
Last year, only about 8 months after my former finance and I—with great difficulty—ended our engagement, I had the privilege of participating in a sunrise ceremony led by a Chumash elder in Southern California. I was among a group of about 30 people and the elder had been informed by our group leaders that there was a transgender person in the group, since part of the ceremony involved dividing the men and women into two different groups. When the time came to divide us in that way, I wasn’t sure where to stand, so I stood with the men. The Chumash man came up to me and gently led me to a place where I stood alone, at the head of the two lines of groups, (men and women) that were facing each other. Then, as he directed the groups to arrange themselves in a circle around the ceremonial fire, he asked me to hold his can of tobacco and stand at the place where everyone was filing into the circle. I was honored to assist him. Later, he met with the men and the women in the group separately, but allowed me to attend both meetings. He then publicly called me out in honor of the medicine I carried as a bridge between those worlds. I had never been treated like this before, especially not from a respected male elder and community leader. It did not feel like he was tokenizing me at all or excluding me from either world—he actually saw me how I saw myself, not as an “exile” or “rebel” from the gender-binary, but as someone who deeply empathized with the cultural wounding around gender and wanted to hold space for healing using the gift of shape-shifting and manifesting connection.
I see all humans as shape-shifters, ecologically speaking, but queer folks of many varieties (not just gender-queer folks) hold a unique sub-niche within that: we are able to access an innate understanding of shape-shifting that is rapidly being lost in the modern world.
In this year since the sunrise ceremony, I often think about the Chumash wisdom keeper and have such immense gratitude that I don’t know what to do with it. I feel so humbled, and also responsible for the important role that he seemed to naturally and effortlessly see me as occupying. It is hard to hide, to feel “unseen,” now, if it ever was easy before. For months I wondered, should I write to him and ask if I could learn more from him about how to hold that space that I caught a glimpse of? Do I dare ask that? I wonder, as a “Connector,” and someone who empathizes deeply with the struggles of the masculine and the feminine, how can I be a model of empathy when I still have so much unlearning of destructive emotional patterns to complete? I struggle to feel worthy in the realm of the heart, because I worry that I have not paid enough attention to its intense longing, and instead cultivated the intellect too strongly. I struggle to sing out loud and to enact the spontaneous ceremonies that my heart imagines. Confronting these fears seems connected to the ability to fully embrace what I’m capable of. At this time I cannot crystallize all of the above questions into one single question, and I’m not sure if that is exactly what is called for since in the realm of the vision fast, one has to be careful about posing questions to Mystery that are “too specific.” It feels like I am gathering important tools that I’ve gained in the last year and a half (in which my ego has been through a few proverbial blenders) and arranging them together, aligning them to see what they evoke, how they ask to be used in this world...
Thanks for reading, and for holding space for this quest if it moves you.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Indigenous Notions of Land Stewardship

A biocentric model of environmentalism that sees humans as alien or foreign to wilderness (mere visitors) is merely the extreme opposite of an anthropocentric model that chauvinistically sees humans as lords of nature. Both are unbalanced and the former is not a sustainable cure for the latter, more like just a temporary immune reaction at best.
“In wilderness preservation, in land management, forestry, and resource management of all kinds, Native Peoples offer a kind of model. But it’s not the biocentric model that you’re familiar with from deep ecology or Aldo Leopold’s land ethic. It’s fundamentally different because it’s primarily kincentric. That’s the word that I have coined to describe a unique Indigenous cosmology and relationship to nature. It’s not in the dictionary. I had to think of something that would work to explain that what this relationship is about in the universe is one of equality. Humans don’t even have the moral authority to extend ethics to the land community, as the Leopold land ethic and deep ecology would do.

Traditionally, we work with animals and plants. We are comanagers with animals and plants. We don’t have the right to extend anything. What we have the right to do is to make our case, as human beings, to the natural world. That compact, that kind of contract between animals and human beings, is what has guided Indians’ subsistent livelihoods—hunting and gathering—and Indian agroecology and agriculture in the world for a very, very long time.” — Dennis Martinez, Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future, pp. 89-90.
Yesyesyesyesyouaresoright. Reminds me of Murray Bookchin’s work (particularly the article on social ecology versus deep ecology). Deep ecology, which has a history of being considered sexy by left wing radicals, (bless our hearts) was rooted in an elite sector of Euro-American academia representing a very narrow demographic. I must quote Bookchin, curmudgeon-sage that he is: 
“Does it make sense, for example, to counterpose deep ecology with superficial ecology, as though the word ecology were applicable to everything that involves environmental issues? Given this mindless use of ecology to describe anything of a biospheric nature, does it not completely degrade the rich meaning of the word ecology to append words like shallow and deep to it—-adjectives that may be more applicable to gauging the depth of a cesspool than the depth of ideas? Arne Naess, the pontiff of deep ecology, who inflicted this vocabulary upon us, together with George Sessions and Bill Devall, who have been marketing it out of Ecotopia, have taken a pregnant word—-ecology—-and deprived it of any inner meaning and integrity by designating the most pedestrian environmentalists as ecologists, albeit shallow ones, in contrast to their notion of deep.

This is not mere wordplay. It tells us something about the mindset that exists among these “deep” thinkers. To parody the words shallow and deep ecology is to show not only the absurdity of this vocabulary but to reveal the superficiality of its inventors. Is there perhaps a deeper ecology than deep ecology? What is the deepest ecology of all that gives ecology its full due as a philosophy, sensibility, ethics, and movement for social change?”