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

Friday, May 13, 2016

Support Feet on the Earth Programs!

Please excuse this atypical use of my blog. But this wonderful organization that I work for needs help! Allow me the opportunity to explain...

Feet on the Earth (FOTE), a non-profit wilderness skills and nature-connection program for youth, has been operating for 8 years in Boulder and has grown to serve 150 families and counting, and gives around $10,000 per year in scholarships and sliding-scale discounts to families who otherwise couldn't afford these programs. The community demand for this kind of programming is palpable, and FOTE has definitely tapped into it! Right now, they are taking a decisive step toward fully integrating the core vision of their inception: nature-based coming-of-age rites of passage for youth, cultivated through long-term mentorship. FOTE has been building up to this moment when all the pieces are in place for rites-of-passage work that is truly resilient and actually "sticks," which doesn't often happen in a world where transformative experiences, wilderness therapy, and rites of passage have become commodified and isolated from every-day life. FOTE is operating on what in permaculture terms is called the "200-year vision"—a vision for stewarding ecosystems (which includes social/cultural ecosystems) in a way that steers them toward long-term health (rather than toward short-term gains).

This is FOTE's first crowd-funding campaign. Yes, crowd-funding is becoming all the rage, and what is also true is that FOTE is on the short list of organizations I personally know and trust that are deeply deserving of asking for what they need. 

As a small part of the exciting changes that are afoot at FOTE, my spouse and I have been helping integrate and implement gender-inclusive curricular pieces with Feet on the Earth's home-school program to make transgender and gender-non conforming youth feel not just welcome, but honored for their unique (ecological) roles in their communities. So far it has been a heart-opening and affirming experience for the mentors and youth alike. 

We are also very involved in conversations furthering cross-cultural dialogue (which will hopefully bloom into more active indigenous solidarity work) to fully honor the potency and importance of the work we're doing, and the land we're on. My spouse and I were recently sponsored to attend the Youth Passageways conference in LA, where a lot of hard work—blood, sweat, and tears, so to speak!—has been put in to drafting a working document of cross-cultural protocols for modern rites-of-passage work. The document, very compassionately written, begins to address the ethical complexity of this work, and also, affirms the dire need of this work in our world. The document is available online. FOTE is part of the movement for which this document was written, reinvisioning rites-of-passage work in the multi-cultural and globalized world that we're living in, a world shared by many different stakeholders and paradigms. The work these protocols intend to serve ranges across organizations working in wilderness settings to organizations working with inner city and incarcerated youth. There's a lot of work yet to be done on these fronts regarding cultural humility/sensitivity, but that work has taken root in our lives, and, we are proud to say, at FOTE. And contrary to what some people think about social justice work--it strengthens our hearts, it does not weaken us, does not make us more "fragile." That only happens when the work is purely ideological, with no grounding. The work we do is rooted in community need, in empathy with the stories of people, in the hearts of people.

A brief excerpt of Feet on the Earth's fundraising campaign story:

For us mentoring youth in nature-connection is more than the teaching of physical skills. While technical skills such as primitive fire making, plant identification and usage, wildlife tracking, and shelter building are some of the most cherished things we teach, they comprise only half of the picture. At Feet on the Earth the physical skills are introduced within the context of exploring the full extent of what it means to belong to the natural world and a caring community of peers, mentors, parents and elders. There is extensive research demonstrating that nature and mentoring powerfully facilitate growth and learning and we see that these activities need to be planted in children within the container of community in order to nurture and sustain them. Children need more mentoring and community beyond just their immediate family, and Feet on the Earth strives to provide this mentoring and create that community. 

Our Dream

Our dream is to provide wilderness based rites of passage for youth embedded in a nature-connected community built through long-term mentoring relationships.
After nine years of building relationship with the land and our community in Boulder County, we are taking a strong step towards making this dream come true by starting to integrate rites of passage fully into our curriculum. We offered the opportunity to participate in the first year of a multi-year rites of passage process to the youth in our weekly homeschool program who were ready to meet bigger challenges. Four youth and their families stepped in to participate this year and set their intentions at a Commencement Ceremony in March. We continue to meet with the youth weekly and the parents once a month in preparation for a 5-day wilderness immersion that the youth will embark on in July.

Check out the full story!
The group of 7 and 8 year old boys who I work with every Thursday at our homeschool program called "Village Day." Every fire at this circle is started without a match or lighter!
"The onset of youth instigates a vision quest, regardless of whether a society consciously recognizes that or not. If the fathers and elders of a culture don’t meet the sons on the grounds of their wounds and tempers, a sword hangs over everyone as the uninitiated eventually grow into positions of power and authority." 
                                - Michael Meade, the Water of Life

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