Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ponds & Resiliency

I recently wrote about the importance of building resiliency into a self-sufficient system in “Creating Resiliency & Stability in Horticulture.” It’ important to build systems that serve multiple functions, that provide a yield that is decoupled with neighboring systems and that can bank resources for use elsewhere—all of which helps to smooth out the peaks and valleys of both cyclical and extraordinary systemic shocks. When it comes to accomplishing all of this and more, the all-star system may just be the humble pond.

A pond can be created, enhanced, or merely “captured” in a very wide variety of environments. It is a reservoir of water—a critical resource—that provides resiliency in times of drought and fire. It can be the center of an aquaculture system for food production—with a food yield that is decoupled from the yield of a garden or from other hunting and gathering. It can also provide a food bank—when other systems yield well, fish will continue to grow, to be harvested when needed. It provides recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, and a wide variety of other options. It is also resilient in the face of human action—while raiders historically burn crops and pillage mobile wealth, a pond is not a particularly valuable or vulnerable target.

The latest issue of Mother Earth News (print issue only) has excellent articles on both how to build and maintain small ponds as well as home-scale aquaculture. Also, take a look at P.A. Yeoman’s permaculture classic on key-line dams, ponds, and swale systems, available online here.


sventastic said...

As per usual, an excellent post, Jeff.
I really dig the disucssion of resiliency. It is this kind of ingenuity and adaptability that makes me optimistic about the human race.
Having several sources for food, water, medicine, other resources stewarded in a sustainable manner will be absolutely key in whatever-comes-next.
One of the main considerations for me is mindful placement of such a rhizome hamlet. One would have to be far away and not downwind or downstream of any nuclear reactors, chemical plants, refineries, weapons laboratories, etc. Unpolluted water would be most essential. Engineering knowledge of water wheels, wind turbines, and even solar panels would be handy, too.

sventastic said...

Seems like a geiger (or halogen)counter and chemical testing materials would be a wise investment...
...speaking of investments, there's a method in t'ai chi and taosim in general called "investing in loss."
This is a very profound outlook, one that takes into account the realities of interdependence and impermanence and makes for a very potent and harmonious way of interacting with the world.
One oft used analogy is that of water. Water is soft and yielding; if you punch water, it will accomodate the force exerted on it. Contrast this with stone or metal, which is solid and unyielding. It may at first appear stronger or more resilient than water, but ultimatly, anything made of stone or metal will decay and break down into minute particles, mainly by the enduring, persistent, and yielding force of water (i.e. erosion).
Investing in loss as a philosophy involves not trying to be like metal when encountering tricky situations in one's life. Rather, if one is like water, although it may seem like one is yielding on a superficial level, one is indeed drawing up their internal power, and indestructible and infinite source of power, that is in harmony with the way of the world.
This does not mean being a passive push-over, nor a stoic stick-in-the-mud.
It is about looking deeply at how systems and interactions actually work, not how we'd like them to or how we believe they "should."
I think Jeff is doing a lot of this, and rhizome is one interesting manifestion of becomming more in tune with how things abide.

sventastic said...

Investing in Loss:
Peak Oil and Whatever-come-next

The whole world and its inhabitants are impermanent, like a bubble, or like an exposed candle flame in a hurricane.
The sooner that we recognize and genuinely accept this fact, the better off we'll be.
Change and death are inevitable, the only things we can truly count on. It is the pinnacle of futility and childishness to try and avoid or ignore this.
Simultaneously, it is the most beneficial and rewarding experience to realize how interdependence functions, and make the best of our actual situation that we find ourselves in, and relax and let go of the clinging to unrealistic expectations, preconceptions, and belief systems that we are inured of and addicted to.
Death appears to be the final result, the end all and be all.
I disagree with this assuption.
There can be no life without death. If everything lasted forever, the world would be covered with shit.
What does this have to do with Peak Oil and its aftershocks?
Well, if we can intelligently and critically analyze what is really going on, we can prepare for what is likely to come next. We need to remain fluid and adaptaple, for things might change drastically and unexpectedly in a short amount of time.
We need to open our hearts and minds, prepare our bodies and skill-sets to be able to handle and persevere a radically different landscape. As Jeff says, we need to become resilient. To me, this means accepting that things will change and one day we will die. When we honestly confront these distastelful truths, we become fearless. They lose their power over us, or more accurately, we no longer invest power in them, but rather invest it where it will be of most benefit: in how things actually are.
We need to divest ourselves of our resentment and fear of decay and dying. A wise man once said, It is only after one has lost everything that one is free to do anything.

Anonymous said...

You might enjoy reading "The Pond Lovers" by Gene Logsdon ISBN: 0820324698. All of his writings are great organic gardener reads, btw.

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