#81

shennong posted:

have you studied any similar experiments in the US? im always fascinated by that sort of thing

not as much as i should have at this point, to be honest. one thing i'm really interested in is the back-to-the-land movement of the 60s, which was large enough to cause measurable demographic shifts in the urban-rural divide in the US.

my folks were part of this. stuck to it pretty authentically for at maybe 15 years, but eventually the hard-work-for-practically-no-money thing made them transition to fairly conventional beef farming; even that was mostly a break-even thing. dunno what they would have done now that they're old if hunters and vacation homes hadn't driven up local land values to the point where they could retire by selling the hay fields--they definitely made more money via incidental land investment than they ever did by selling food

#82
and i know the point is to avoid the cash economy but without a large and highly skilled community you're going to be constantly drawn back into it. the advantages of heavy machinery, transportation etc are gonna be irresistible temptations if you're out there pulling a plow with a clydesdale or something
#83

thirdplace posted:
and i know the point is to avoid the cash economy but without a large and highly skilled community you're going to be constantly drawn back into it. the advantages of heavy machinery, transportation etc are gonna be irresistible temptations if you're out there pulling a plow with a clydesdale or something

let me know if y'all need any more hard-hitting analysis / basic and obvious facts about living under capitalism that no one needs to be told about

#84

thirdplace posted:
and i know the point is to avoid the cash economy but without a large and highly skilled community you're going to be constantly drawn back into it. the advantages of heavy machinery, transportation etc are gonna be irresistible temptations if you're out there pulling a plow with a clydesdale or something

this is a big part of what i was getting at. maybe we can have commissars who maintain ideological purity... a new order of soviet samurai

#85

thirdplace posted:
and i know the point is to avoid the cash economy but without a large and highly skilled community you're going to be constantly drawn back into it. the advantages of heavy machinery, transportation etc are gonna be irresistible temptations if you're out there pulling a plow with a clydesdale or something

yeah, this is a problem for sure. specialised crops are one way around this, you can make a halfway decent living with a 4-5 acre hopyard for instance. ultimately the kinds of techniques i want to work on (complex polyculture etc) is intractable to heavy machinery anyway, so to the extent that i can stick to that plan it's going to cut out a lot of that temptation. eliot coleman is sort of my hero in this regard because he's stuck to his guns and just uses little push-tractors and stuff.

i think the major thing is avoiding going into debt on the land. credit's so cheap right now that it's driven ag land prices really high and every joe blow farmer is waist deep in mortgages. if i can avoid that i can avoid the immediate cashflow pressure, anyway. in all likelyhood i am going to be extremely poor for a very long time but considering ive been in grad school for the last 6 years i feel pretty well equipped for it, haha

#86
look for places tied to more urban real estate trends, maybe? pretty sure land in my old stomping grounds is cheaper than it's been in a while b/c all the upper middle class people buying it for vacations lost their shirts in the recession..

granted you're not gonna find a lot good soil in woodlands but maybe get something with some wetlands attached, go dig up illicit peat under the cover of darkness?
#87
i saw a 90 acre parcel that was mostly muck go for about 90k recently, i thought that was insane but i wasn't considering illicit peat value, lol

atm i'm looking at stuff that's hilly enough to drive off folks who want to do mechanised farming, although if i go that route i'm probably going to be cursing myself when i get old. those areas are still >$1500/acre, though. the real estate bubble in canada never really popped (half million dollar surburban stick frame houses are pretty standard) but i'm guessing if there's a fairly hard crash this year it'll bring prices more in line with actual values. #88 [account deactivated] #89 what yall think of these guys? http://opensourceecology.org/index.php #90 [account deactivated] #91 [account deactivated] #92 [account deactivated] #93 xipe posted: what yall think of these guys? http://opensourceecology.org/index.php techno-fetishists, but the CEB press is something i intend to buy off them if they can show their blocks are equiv to commercial presses. they're selling them for i think$5k and commercial presses are \$50k+. the other stuff is of varying utility, tractor might be good, i can see the dimensional sawmill being worthwhile but shit like the aluminum extractor is just bonkers. they also haven't reconciled their desire to have the system be self-replicating with the fact that almost all of the devices use off-the-shelf parts from China

#94
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#95
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#96

discipline posted:
Ronnski, sind SIe Deutscher? ich habe einen deutschen freund der hier posten will

Yeah, I am

#97
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#98
Hey this stuff is p. interesting so thanks Shennong. I have to ask though: is there any literature about other Zomia-like regions around the world? I see a somewhat similar dynamic between the state and the peoples of the region of Caucaus, eastern Anatolia and some parts of Iran. Although that's just my gut feeling and I don't know anything about anything and much less about the agricultural practices of said peoples. Where should I look?
#99
#100

redfiesta posted:
Hey this stuff is p. interesting so thanks Shennong. I have to ask though: is there any literature about other Zomia-like regions around the world? I see a somewhat similar dynamic between the state and the peoples of the region of Caucaus, eastern Anatolia and some parts of Iran. Although that's just my gut feeling and I don't know anything about anything and much less about the agricultural practices of said peoples. Where should I look?

There is other literature, I'm not familiar with most of it. Scott discusses some of it at the start of TAoNBG in a comparative context, I'll quote that below. In terms of where to look for Caucasus, Anatolia, etc, I'd probably try digging around in JSTOR for anthropological literature on subsistence routines in those regions. You might end up needing to dig through ethnographies and things as well. If you find some stuff you're interested in but don't have access to the journals let me know here and I'll post the .pdfs

im not including Scott's cites btw so if you want the cites for specific statements lmk

Scott posted:
Valley states and hill peoples, are, instead, constituded in each other's shadow, both reciprocal and contemporaneous. Hill socieities have always been in touch with imperial states in the valleys directly or via maritime trade routes. Valley states, by the same token, have always been in touch with the nonstate periphery - what Deleuze and Guattari call "the local mechanisms of bands, margins, minorities, which continue to affirm the rights of segmentary societies in opposition to the organs of state power." Such states are, in fact, "inconceivable independent of that relationship."

Precisely the same case has been made about the relationship between itinerant peoples - including pastoral nomads - and states. Thus Pierre Clastres argues persuasively that the so-called primitive Amerindian societies of South America were not ancient societies that had failed to invent settled agriculture or state forms but rather previously sedentary cultivators who abandoned agriculture and fixed villages in response to the effects of the Conquest: both disease-induced demographic collapse and colonial forced labor. Their movement and subsistence techniques were designed to ward off incorporation into teh state. On the steppes of Central Asia the most ancient nombads, Griaznov has shown, were former sedentary cultivators who similarly left cultivation behind for political and demographic reasons. Latimore reached the same conclusion, insisting that pastoral nomadism arose after farming and drew in sedentary cultivators at the edge of the grasslands who "had detached themselves from farming communities." Far from being successive stages in social evolution, such states and nomadic peoples are twins, born more or less at the same time and joined in a sometimes rancorous but unavoidable embrace.

This pattern of paired symbiosis and opposition is a staple of Middle Eastern history and anthropology. In the Maghreb it takes the form of structural opposition between Arabs and Berbers. Ernest Gellner's classic Saints of the Atlas captures the dynamic I have in mind. Gellner, too, emphasized that the political autonomy and tribalism of the Berber population in the High Atlas is "not a tribalism 'prior to government' but a political and partial rejection of a particular government combined with some acceptance of a wider culture and its ethic." Sharing elements of a larger culture and a faith in Islam, such tribal opposition is explicitly political and deliberately so. Until very recently, Gellner claims, Moroccan history could be written in terms of the opposition between the land of makhazen (the pale) and the land of siba (beyond the pale). Siba could be defined as "institutional dissidence," though it has sometimes been translated as "anarchy." In practice, siba means "ungoverned," a zone of political autonomy and independence, while makhazen means "governed," subordinated to the state. Political autonomy was, Gellner insists, a choice, not a given.

also re: comparisons w/ Islam and the West I ran across this which i forgot about

Scott posted:
If living at high elevations was coded "barbarian" by the padi state, so too was physical mobility and dispersal. Here again there are strong parallels with the history of the Mediterranean world. Christian and Muslim states regarded mountain dwellers and nomadic peoples - precisely those peoples who had thus far eluded the grasp of the state - as pagan and barbarian. Muhammad himself made it abundantly clear that nomads who embraced Islam must, as a condition of their conversion, settle permanently or pledge to do so. Islam was the faith of a sedentary elite, and it was assumed that one could not be a satisfactory Muslim without being settled. BEdoins were regarded as "wild men," the precise opposite of the Meccan, urban ideal. In civilizational terms, nomadism was to the Arab state what elevation was to the padi state.

#101

meanwhile... http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/02/15/146893021/coming-soon-to-your-grocery-aisle-organic-food-from-europe

this is a great example of how the organic movement was coopted by the corporate economy and became "organic" credentialism. note that since "organic" credentialing doesn't reference fossil fuel use except in very particular circumstances, there's no contradiction in burning fuel to get "organic" produce across the fucking Atlantic ocean

#102

meanwhile... http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/02/15/146893021/coming-soon-to-your-grocery-aisle-organic-food-from-europe

lmao

#103

shennong posted:
-building some kind of culture that's resilient to cooption is important. i don't know what this might involve, but elements of monasticism (things have to be framed in teleogical/religious/moral terms i think), voluntary poverty, disdain for profligates etc, i dunno

idk if it has to be so much that as developing systems of symbols and signs that we use to organize our daily activity. there are a heck of a lot of places to look for ideas here and different approaches. some important elements off the top of my head:

• rules, rites, and obligations
• education/initiation practices
• spatio-temporal organization

i can expand on any one of those. i'd also look into the history of mathematics there, esp. with regard to record keeping. if my ideas have interested you at all, check this book out: http://www.amazon.com/Mathematics-Million-Master-Magic-Numbers/dp/039331071X

Before 3000 BC, large concentrations of population with greater division of labour made their appearance on the banks of great rivers whose flooding annually enriched the nearby soil with fresh silt.

Such were the Nile of Egypt, in Iraq the Tigris and the Euphrates, the Indus in Pakistan, and farther east the Yangtse-Kiang and Hwang-ho. From the start in Egypt and in Iraq, we find a priestly caste responsible for the custody of a ceremonial calendar, equipped with writing of a sort including number signs, and housed in buildings placed to facilitate observations on celestial bodies as signposts of the calendar round. We may confidently conclude that the recognition of the year as a unit emerged in the village communities which coalesced to make these city-states and kingdoms, and that the recognition of a lunar month of 30 days preceded that of the Egyptian year of 365 days, i.e. 12 lunar months and 5 extra days. It began when the dog star Sirius was visible on the rim of the sky just before sunrise, an event portending the nearness of the annual flooding of the sacred river. Long before barter of cattle or sheep or produce of the soil began, man had experienced the need to count the passage of time and in doing so must have faced a challenge with which the counting of cattle in one and the same plot of land did not confront him imperatively. Pigs do not fly but time does. To count time in units of any sort we therefore need a tally to aid the memory. If for this reason only, it seems to be very likely that number signs take their origin from marks chipped on stone or wood to record successive days. Indeed, all the earliest batteries of number signs in use among the priestly astronomers responsible for the custody of the calendar disclose a repetition of strokes.

if you want to go even further back and deeper into religious aspects, see this: http://www.amazon.com/Roots-Civilization-Cognitive-Beginnings-Notation/dp/1559210419/

#104
oh and one other totally random thing i figured i'd ask you about that might fit in here is "cryptoforestry"
#105

dm posted:

shennong posted:
-building some kind of culture that's resilient to cooption is important. i don't know what this might involve, but elements of monasticism (things have to be framed in teleogical/religious/moral terms i think), voluntary poverty, disdain for profligates etc, i dunno

idk if it has to be so much that as developing systems of symbols and signs that we use to organize our daily activity. there are a heck of a lot of places to look for ideas here and different approaches. some important elements off the top of my head:

• rules, rites, and obligations
• education/initiation practices
• spatio-temporal organization

i can expand on any one of those. i'd also look into the history of mathematics there, esp. with regard to record keeping. if my ideas have interested you at all, check this book out: http://www.amazon.com/Mathematics-Million-Master-Magic-Numbers/dp/039331071X

Before 3000 BC, large concentrations of population with greater division of labour made their appearance on the banks of great rivers whose flooding annually enriched the nearby soil with fresh silt.

Such were the Nile of Egypt, in Iraq the Tigris and the Euphrates, the Indus in Pakistan, and farther east the Yangtse-Kiang and Hwang-ho. From the start in Egypt and in Iraq, we find a priestly caste responsible for the custody of a ceremonial calendar, equipped with writing of a sort including number signs, and housed in buildings placed to facilitate observations on celestial bodies as signposts of the calendar round. We may confidently conclude that the recognition of the year as a unit emerged in the village communities which coalesced to make these city-states and kingdoms, and that the recognition of a lunar month of 30 days preceded that of the Egyptian year of 365 days, i.e. 12 lunar months and 5 extra days. It began when the dog star Sirius was visible on the rim of the sky just before sunrise, an event portending the nearness of the annual flooding of the sacred river. Long before barter of cattle or sheep or produce of the soil began, man had experienced the need to count the passage of time and in doing so must have faced a challenge with which the counting of cattle in one and the same plot of land did not confront him imperatively. Pigs do not fly but time does. To count time in units of any sort we therefore need a tally to aid the memory. If for this reason only, it seems to be very likely that number signs take their origin from marks chipped on stone or wood to record successive days. Indeed, all the earliest batteries of number signs in use among the priestly astronomers responsible for the custody of the calendar disclose a repetition of strokes.

if you want to go even further back and deeper into religious aspects, see this: http://www.amazon.com/Roots-Civilization-Cognitive-Beginnings-Notation/dp/1559210419/

this is really cool stuff. do you mean that alternate systems of reckoning and organisation need to be developed? that makes a lot of sense to me, but i'm not sure how one gets from here to there. imitation of no-longer used rules and rites? active mutation of existing hegemonic methods of organisation? i'd love to hear any additional thoughts you might have on this.

#106

dm posted:
oh and one other totally random thing i figured i'd ask you about that might fit in here is "cryptoforestry"

my immediate reaction to this is that this wasn't written by someone with experience in forestry. forests (whatever definition you want to use) don't scale down- edge effects start to predominate as you decrease area down past 100 acres or so. the psychogeography of an urban forest might resemble that of a huge old growth forest but the ecological content is totally different. if you extract an acre of soil and trees from the middle of a forest and plop it down in a plain, you immediately lose your deep-forest ecosystem and replace it with a forest-edge ecosystem. so that's one thing. i'm not sure it has anything to do with what the author was getting at though, i think i need to look more closely at the rest of the blog to understand what the project is

#107

shennong posted:
this is really cool stuff. do you mean that alternate systems of reckoning and organisation need to be developed? that makes a lot of sense to me, but i'm not sure how one gets from here to there. imitation of no-longer used rules and rites? active mutation of existing hegemonic methods of organisation? i'd love to hear any additional thoughts you might have on this.

it's more about understanding how the rules work. i'll have to come up with some examples

shennong posted:

dm posted:
oh and one other totally random thing i figured i'd ask you about that might fit in here is "cryptoforestry"

my immediate reaction to this is that this wasn't written by someone with experience in forestry. forests (whatever definition you want to use) don't scale down- edge effects start to predominate as you decrease area down past 100 acres or so. the psychogeography of an urban forest might resemble that of a huge old growth forest but the ecological content is totally different. if you extract an acre of soil and trees from the middle of a forest and plop it down in a plain, you immediately lose your deep-forest ecosystem and replace it with a forest-edge ecosystem. so that's one thing. i'm not sure it has anything to do with what the author was getting at though, i think i need to look more closely at the rest of the blog to understand what the project is

yeah i have no idea, i just found this there so i was wondering

e: also see this

#108

shennong posted:

No other country in the world has achieved this level of success with a form of agriculture that uses the ecological services of biodiversity and reduces food miles, energy use, and effectively closes local production and consumption cycles.No other country in the world has achieved this level of success with a form of agriculture that uses the ecological services of biodiversity and reduces food miles, energy use, and effectively closes local production and consumption cycles.

I don't know anything about Cuba but unless they're composting human waste on a really large scale, their "production and consumption cycles" are not closed. I prefer the term "nutrient loop" because it encourages thinking about the actual nutrients that are cycling through the ecosystem. it's not sufficient to merely recycle "food waste" nutrients into the system. we need to realise that agronomy doesn't end when the food is delivered to the table. we have to be as interested in the shit of the people eating the food as we are in the food itself. food's great, we know a lot about it, but we don't know very much about how to process shit from the enormous populations we have in a way that is both safe and closed-loop. my feeling is that the size of the conurbations we have now is inherently unsustainable, there's just too much centralised shit and converting the sewer system of a place like new york into a compost system would be sisyphean task. but its something to think about.

There are already places, even in Canada, that use anaerobic digestion as a means to "stabilize" biosolids. I'm sure you know, shennong, but for the benefit of others without the relevant education or experience: in a nutshell, stabilized biosolids are ones in which pathogen concentrations, vector attraction potential and odour generation have been reduced to desirable levels. These are all things that are very necessary if we want to turn human waste into something that we can safely put on our fields.

One cool thing about anaerobic digestion versus composting is that the gases produced during the decomposition process (mostly methane and carbon dioxide but also some hydrogen sulfide so don't go sticking your head in a digester) can be captured. The gases can be mechanically separated, and the methane can be used in place of natural gas to provide process heat for anaerobic digestion (it requires temperatures of 30C+), run whatever mechanical equipment you're using in your sewage treatment plant, and maybe provide fuel for some vehicles or farm equipment if you need it. The carbon dioxide, meanwhile, can be pumped into greenhouses (just make sure whatever residual methane you have doesn't put you in the explosive range), or used to asphyxiate livestock. Or dissidents. Which you can then feed into the digester because they will take any organic matter, really, although poop seems ideal so hey, let's turn our posts into fertilizer and biogas!

The liquid and solid (digestate) fractions can be used as fertilizer and soil conditioner, as long as they are adequately stabilized. Knowing some Very Basic Chemistry, you will know that all the nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in your feedstock will remain in these fractions since neither of them are in the primary gaseous products, ergo you are CYNL (Closing Your Nutrient Loop). Unfortunately, even if we have dealt with the pathogens, there are potential issues with pharmaceuticals and heavy metals remaining in the digestate. One response to that is to separate the liquids and solids, only use the liquid fraction on fields, and burn the solids as biomass. Also, anaerobic digestion CAN produce ammonia, but if your digester is doing that you have bigger problems than losing nitrogen because it tends to fuck up the bacteria that do the digestion.

e: thanks for this thread, shennong. I have learned a lot, and it's inspired me to do some additional reading insha'allah.

Edited by LandBeluga ()

#109
word. the thing i was saying about "we don't know very much about how to process shit from the enormous populations we have in a way that is both safe and closed-loop" wasn't well worded. what i meant was less that we don't know much about the technology for doing it- as you note anaerobic digestion is pretty well developed and liberates hydrocarbons while sparing the nutrients we care about, and even simple composting and weathering works just fine to sterilise waste- but rather that we don't know much about how to get from here to there.

the architecture of the system that we have basically presupposes a) the infinite cheap availability of fossil fuels (effectively infinite nutrient "throw radius") and b) the infinite cheap availability of phosphate rock. combined that lets you build things like the sewage systems we have where nutrients are effectively unrecoverable, because you end up with a sludge of human waste, runoff from roads with complex polyaromatic hydrocarbons, small molecule drugs & hormones, pesticides, etc etc etc. you can fuck around with ultrafiltration and shit like that but it's really hard to clean up the waste when it's in that system

i think the biodigestion thing has a lot of promise though insofar as the liberated hydrocarbons can power the transport of the nutrients from teh digestion site (which hopefully is more-or-less the nutrient consumption site) back to the farm. i'm not sure what the math looks like on that but if it could be done on a relatively small scale it would simplify the transition from the architecture we have to the architecture we need- neighbourhoods having small digesters and people carting over buckets of shit and getting a couple bucks or whatever like a bottle return seems more realistic in the short term than coverting the sewage systems we have to massive centralised digesters imo
#110
Yeah, coupling anaerobic digestion (AD) to a sewage system is problematic. Even if the sewage is kept separate from stormwater, eliminating runoff as a potential source of contamination, you can't easily control what people flush down their toilets. There are similar problems with composting municipal waste A former colleague of mine who used to work at a composting facility told me about a jar of mercury he found, which somehow made it through the journey from someone's compost bin to the facility intact. If it had broken, it would have been mixed in and basically all the compost in the plant at the time would have been ruined. Now imagine people flushing hazardous fluids right into the sewer.

You can do AD on a smaller scale, which makes it easier to pinpoint whose to blame for contamination and mitigates the risk as you don't have as much feedstock to ruin, but then you probably aren't going to generate enough gas to do much of anything. Most of the heat you need could come from a reasonably-sized solar hot water system if your digester is well-insulated, but generally you will size that so that it requires a supplementary source during the two-three months of the year with the least sun, or else you're going to have a lot of excess capacity in the summer when you don't need it.

I'll do some searching to see if anyone has figured out ways around those problems. As far as I know, the only AD facilities producing digestate that can safely be used as fertilizer are rural ones that use only livestock manure and agricultural waste as feedstock, but I have pretty limited experience in the field.
#111
can i join your goon island shennong

#112
send me your CV and naked pix
#113
what are the good pages of that thread, people trying to grow anything worthwhile in 100 acres of wild-ass jungle with zero experience sounds fucking hilarious but i dont really want to read 25 pages of garbage
#114

shennong posted:

what are the good pages of that thread, people trying to grow anything worthwhile in 100 acres of wild-ass jungle with zero experience sounds fucking hilarious but i dont really want to read 25 pages of garbage

forget it, shennong, it's something awful.

#115
shennong, do you have any good resources on bioremediation? This book looks like a fairly comprehensive intro to the topic, and presumably it's current since it was published this year, but if you already know a bit about it maybe you can recommend something better for me to start with. Thanks, yo.
#116
bump because i bought the james c. scott book
#117
cool, i hope you find it useful or edifying in some way, let us know what you think
#118
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#119
hey shennong can you lay out for me basically these things:

1) in WHAT WAYS our current agricultural system is dependant on energy subsidies in the form of fossil fuels

2) what sort of timeframe we're talking about for a collapse due to more expensive oil + other dangers inherent to the low robustness of a monoculture system of the type we're using

3) what sort of structural changes to society you think are likely/necessary reactions based on 1) and 2).

any reading material recommendations would be cool too
#120
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