Feed the People
Heal the Land
Share the Wealth
Realize Homestead is a Permaculture Homestead in Northern Michigan, USA
Greetings, Weary Web Traveler,
I’m your humble host, Levi, at your service. Take off your boots, and make yourself at home. I’ll start warming up a hearty meal of home-grown stories to nourish and energize you.
“So What’s This All About?”
Mostly I’m just here to charm you into buying whatever I’m selling you.
Seriously though, as much as I like to keep things light and goofy, sometimes there’s some serious and heavy matters that need our attention.
I’ll try to convey my main thesis in as simple and clear terms as possible;
Premise 1: Life, as far as we know, is an extremely rare and unique phenomenon in this universe. Self-aware life such as us, even more so. This universe would certainly be a lot less interesting, and arguably less meaningful without it. All those special people and things in my life that I love; FAMILY, FRIENDS, MEANING, ART, TRUTH… only exist because a complex web of 10 million + species interacting over billions of years exists.
Premise 2: Primarily due to the unintended consequences of human actions, this complex web that makes life possible is becoming rapidly destabilized;
- 🚩 New deposits of Oil, which powers almost every aspect of modern industrial civilization, are not being discovered fast enough to keep up with current consumption, let alone the growth of this demand. This will continue increasing the costs of all industrially made commodities. (inflation)
- 🚩 Of course, our dependence on fossil fuels, like oil, as the primary source of our energy is destabilizing the climate due to the excess heat being trapped by CO2 pollution in the atmosphere. Take your pick of tragic consequences, from increased occurrence and severity of hurricanes, more wildfires, extreme flooding events, crop failure, and more. And if those don’t get ya, you can bet these frequent disruptions will affect supply chains making you feel it in your bank account.
- 🚩 This excess heat is being absorbed by the oceans, causing phytoplankton (the base of the oceanic food chain, and producer of most of the oxygen we breathe) to decline at a rate of about 1% per year, and we’ve already lost 40% since 1950!
- 🚩 Male fertility has declined by more than 50% in the last 40 years, most likely due to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in many of the plastics we use on a daily basis. Oh, and all those chemicals are wreaking havoc in the aforementioned oceans as well.
- 🚩 Due to the above causes, as well as the destruction and fragmentation of natural habitats due to human “development,” we’re currently living through the 6th mass extinction event in the entire history of the planet. Species are going extinct at a rate that is 10-100 times FASTER than any previous mass extinction, INCLUDING the extinction event that killed the dinosaurs! We’re effectively dropping an asteroid on ourselves.
There’s at least five RED FLAGS 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩 alerting us to the unfolding crisis, and I could list many more. Any single threat to our biological life-support system is a threat to all those things from Premise 1, that we love and deem important, or even sacred.
Conclusion: If we truly care about those things, then we should respond to these existential threats like our life depends on it, because they very likely do! But there are no silver bullet solutions. This is not a problem to be solved, but a predicament that is placing unique demands on us as individuals, as cultures, and as a species. One way or another, within our lifetimes, EVERYTHING IS CHANGING, AND THE CHANGE IS ACCELERATING.
How we experience these changes depends a great deal on what actions and strategies we, and our nearby friends, family, and neighbors choose to engage in together. If we choose to ignore these changes until we’re forced to react, then the sense of stability, normalcy, and aspirations many of us grew up taking for granted will be undermined by a growing sense of precariousness and ultimately deprivation. This is what it feels like to live in times of decline.
However, if we choose to be proactive, there are MANY excellent models of sustainable and resilient living we can learn from. My hope isn’t to maintain civilization in its current self-cannibalizing form. Good riddance! Instead, we can create pockets of refuge within the storms of chaos and confusion where we can incubate the seeds of a more peaceful, just, humane, civil, balanced, and healthy world.
“That sounds overwhelming and hopeless. What if human’s just suck?”
We’ll never know for sure unless we try, and given the stakes, we might as well invest every resource and faculty at our disposal to this effort. And even if we are doomed to extinction, we might as well go down singing and swinging.
“Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” – Voltaire
In that spirit, this space is an experimental sandbox to play and test alternative ideas about how human beings can exist together on this planet. It’s an exercise in applied philosophy. That’s why I try to focus on alternative solutions, and holistic problem solving.
If you want to dive deeper, then head on over to the “Why” page that answers this question in more depth.
“Okay, I get it. So now what? What can we actually DO about this mess?”
And I don’t know the answer! Everyone has to find their own path with this stuff.
From what I’ve gathered, we essentially need to radically reduce our energy and resource consumption by re-localizing our supply-lines, and integrating them sustainably within the biological processes of our local ecosystem. And you can’t get any more local than home-grown. So our homes need to once again becomes places of productivity, instead of merely consumption and leisure. Hence Homesteading!
It’s not realistic to expect everyone to grow and make everything they need. Self-sufficiency is a myth of an overly individualistic culture. Instead, I think we should aim for community sufficiency, or better yet, community abundance! If our neighborhoods can produce 80% of their own needs, then we will be a long ways towards a better, more just, sustainable, and equitable world. (Does that sound impossible? It’s been done!!)
If you’re ready to get your hands dirty then I recommend checking out the “How to Start Homesteading with Permaculture” video and article.
If you live in our neighborhood of northern Michigan, then head on over to the Farm Store to see if we’re offering anything you’re in need of! (And on the topic of local economies, read more about our experiments with alternative currencies here.)
“That’s great but it seems pretty self-centered.”
Very good. You’re very observant, dear reader (and quite attractive too, I might add…😁)
My personal opinion is that it’s one of those situations of putting on your own oxygen mask first, before helping the person next to you. If I go unconscious, then I’m not much help to myself or anyone else for that matter.
The global industrial systems that exploit marginal communities, and landscapes are the same ones that most of us depend on for our daily needs and wants. Weening ourselves off this inherently self-destructive system is often the best “aid” we can provide.
It’s addressing the root cause instead of treating the symptoms while feeding the disease.
Beyond this harm-reduction approach, we can actually engage in powerful hands-on work to heal the environmental damage and degradation we and past generations have caused!
Some of the most ecologically diverse regions of the planet, such as the Amazon basin, are largely the result of human influence.
If our approach is wise, then while we work to restore ecosystems to provide for our own needs the innate consequences of this work will be increased habitat for wildlife and native species, improved soil fertility, cleaner water, and a more moderated climate. Those changes benefit ALL life, and all generations to come. Not just our own.
That sounds to me like a good enough cause to dedicate a few lifetimes to, wouldn’t you say?
This is it, folks.
3.7 billion years of evolution has culminated in this peculiar experience in this unlikely moment. A chance encounter in the midst of our endless obligations of eating, sleeping, working, and folding laundry.
We’re all on the same boat, on a voyage with no captain, no maps, no idea where we came from, where we are going, or why we are.
But we do have each other, all 10 million-plus species of us.
And maybe… maybe that’s all we need.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk. 😁