permanent culture

Last Monday, January 26, I figured out why I am in St. Criox. Obviously, it was a question I was asked a lot when I was making my plans to come, and I don't feel like I ever really had a clear answer. Basically it all boils down to my "problem" that I noticed a few years ago. Only now, I am not angry or sad or 20 years old - I am excited and inspired.

I get caught up, like most people do, in society and culture and all the normal ways of doing things. And I think I've come to grips with the fact that just because something is normal doesn't mean it is bad. Besides, the cultural definition of normal changes from day to day, from place to place. It's just that as long as I can remember (and I hope it never changes), I have seen the pitfalls in conforming to something just because it is the norm. This all sounds very nonconformist I know, but that's what it is. I guess its just a little weird saying it because I'm not some brash punk or bleak goth. I'm just a dude... anyway, back to my point.

So I try my best to look at things outside of the box - and not just to scratch a creative itch - I really think there are better ways to do things than the ways that have become adopted as the norm. And that is why I am here.

Last week, we took an in-depth look into Permaculture. In short, Permaculture is a way to design agricultural and cultural systems that are based on the relationships found in nature. Instead of constantly fighting against nature in order to gain some kind of marginal benefit, we can use natural cycles and symbiotic relationships to gain a great benefit - for us AND for our surroundings. And the great thing about it is that it can be applied to almost anything - farming, our home, our relationships, city planning, etc, etc, etc. A simple example of Permaculture in action is the use of solar energy to power a home.

Growing up, I found that I couldn't get away from the fact that our culture seems to be based on competition. It is everywhere. And it is depressing. I mean, there's nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, and it can force people to strive to be better and it often helps to give "the best" a showcase - but what about everything trampled underfoot?


For example, here on the farm, we use what are called chicken tractors. These movable chicken coops keep the chickens located over a small area of grass that we want to be mulched. The chickens eat all the bugs, grass and weeds in this area in a couple of days and then we move the tractor. What is left behind is rich soil that is ready to be planted in. No harmful soil erosion or nutrient loss through tilling. No harmful chemicals in industrial fertilizer. Little need for chicken feed. And best of all: little work! It is very exciting, I promise.

So, I don't know if I explained it very well, but I figured out why I am here. I want to learn how to harness the endless power and energy that we have all been provided and have access to in nature. Although it may be harder for people in urban environments, everyone has the ability to use the gifts that God has given us in creation. Instead of raping and hoarding to get what we need, we can go with the flow that has already been established. There is plenty to go around, you just have to know how to get it. I want to learn how to get it, and I want to give it to others.


David said...

ben, this is really cool to read - keep writing! I'm drinking in your reflections!

Anonymous said...

I had a dream last night that i was in a random school hallway with anout 20 people. The only people I knew there was my mom, my Memaw, and my sister...which is a strange thing to be in a school hallway.
My mom was afraid that Memaw was not too far from death. It was very sad and strange. But I looked over at my mom, and she looked like she was about to cry really hard, but then she looked up at the ceiling and looked at me and started singing "Holy, Holy, Holy"
It was so moving we were all almost to tears, as the whole crowd of people in the hall started singing, even though i didn't know who anyone else was.
This doesn't have a lot to do with your post, but I thought about it first thing when i woke up, and then i read your post, and i thought about God. And the fact that it's amazing, because he is Holy.
dove lamb.

Ethan said...

Ben, this makes me so so so so excited. You don't even know. I read both this and the "problem" post, and it is cool to so tangibly see the line in between. I think you are involved in awesome things and like I said, it excites me.

I'm glad you're loving it down there and that we're all sort of involved by way of reading.

Love you brother, God bless.

eurocarpastorfinityman said...

hey man, I know I haven't commented much yet, but I've kept up with the reading. I had a feeling that you were going to be receiving something important from God while in St. Croix, even before you left. This sounds like it. Soak it up, dude. Look up, open mouth, and drink.

jamesthesealion said...

"The masculine heart needs a place where nothing is prefabricated, modular, nonfat, zip-lock, franchised, on-line, microwaveable. Where there are no deadlines, cell phones, or committee meetings. Where there is room for the soul. Where, finally, the geography around us corresponds to the geography of our heart."

i'm rereading Wild at Heart... so good!

lizkirk said...

this is great, ben.

and you're cool too.
and you're in st. croix.
i love reading your posts.
keep learning.
talk to you soon.

benjamin said...

thanks for the encouragement, everybody. it definitely helps to have a strong support system like all of you...

and james, i have received something important from God since I got here, but I haven't blogged about it. get excited!