Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Emma la Exploradora de Ecuador?

...Ok, so not quite yet.

But let me start from the beginning. As you may or may not have gathered from my posts (or by knowing me personally), my passion lies in creating a self-sufficient lifestyle. Ideally, this life would exist within a like-minded community of people who treat the Earth kindly and responsibly. Recently, my husband and I went on an expedition to visit Guy McPherson at his homestead. It was a great opportunity to see and experience some of the challenges and rewards of living a self-sufficient, durable lifestyle. It's more difficult than I ever imagined to live a "simpler life", but I welcome the challenge. Fueled with our desire to live resourcefully and responsibly, we have since been trying to accommodate ever-bearing rabbits and broody hens into the yard of our rental house while preparing the garden for the spring and summer months.

I have been teaching myself permaculture techniques from Bill Mollison's text and reading Fukuoka's "One Straw Revolution". Mollison, the father of permaculture, stresses a life of permanent productivity within a sound community (see my last post for more on Mollison). Fukuoka, in an intellectual connection with the Earth, formulated a non-invasive heavy mulching gardening technique to mitigate the problems caused by pests. Fitted to larger scale production, Fukuoka's techniques might even relax the evolutionary arms race between pesticides and pests. This Red Queen effect is a problem in agriculture noted by many scientists and authors, but dismissed and/or used for profit by agro-corporations such as Monsanto (who conveniently have one of the largest monopolies on seeds, fertilizers, AND pesticides! But I digress). Fukuoka became loyal to his philosophy by quitting a scientific research position studying plant pathogens. He left the microbiology lab to move back to his family farm to grow organic foods. Along with Mollison and Fukuoka, I've been time and time again inspired by Barbara Kingsolver, author of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" and alumnus of UA (just like me!). What I like about Kingsolver is that she puts the self-sustenance ideas and practices within the reach of ordinary American people. Kingsolver herself moved to the Appalachian Mountain region from the nearly-waterless, hustling-bustling city of Tucson, Arizona, to craft a self-sufficient lifestyle for herself and her family. The point is: I aspire to the kind of life all of these authors believe in, the type of low-impact occupancy the Earth deserves from the human species.

So what about Ecuador? Well, I've applied for a permaculture internship at the Jama-Coaque Reserve in Western Ecuador. Not only is this the perfect chance to refine my Earthen philosophies and permaculture techniques, but it is the chance to be among people that believe in the same givebackwhatyoutake future that I believe in. I could finally put my degree in Ecology and Evolutionary biology into practice by studying native plants and animals... No, not to bring samples back to the lab, but to gain a practical understanding of an ecosystem while establishing a pure appreciation for it... to literally coexist in an ecosystem (I think Fukuoka would give me a high-five or say "良い仕事").

How is it that we humans have fallen so far from our ancestral tree that we mimic nature so poorly? The answer to that, I may never know. But Ecuador may be step closer to my own ancestral bearings. LIVING SUSTAINABLY in the RAINFOREST! A dream come true. Now, I anxiously await for my dream to become a reality.

I might as well be productive at home while I wait for the invitation to go abroad. The hubby and I are finally building a chicken coop this weekend! Buckets of nails, dirt, and sweat should get me through the weekend just fine.