Albert Bates

A Gathering of Silverbacks: Age of Limits 2014

Whenever such large shifts in temperature occurred in Earth’s history, they were not gradual but came in lurches. Resilience is the capacity of a system to continue providing essential functions after receiving that kind of shock. The first known use of the Infinite Improbability Drive was initiated by Zaphod Beeblebrox and Trillian on the starship Heart of Gold. Its major consequence was rescuing Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect from open […]

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Youre Inn at The Farm (Tennessee, USA)

Hi Y’all, Albert Bates here. For most of my life I have been working on ideas that could make the world a little better — more fair, more free, more ecologically and economically sustainable, and more fun. In 1972, straight out of law school, I joined The Farm, an experimental utopian hippy community in Summertown, Tennessee. I know, say what you will about hippies, but the fact of the matter […]

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Recharting Collapseniks

Only a few are willing to risk arrest for the sake of an utopian outcome. Ted ‘The Unabomber’ Kaczynski obviously occupies the upper right corner. Starhawk, Bill McKibben and David Graeber are not lighting any fuses but at least have what they think are better plans, or maybe just better processes. Our post stirred the hornet’s nest and so we have found it necessary to revisit those star charts and […]

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Charting Collapseniks

Rather than spurning financial system terrorists, Holmgren urges activists to become “terra-ists”; to directly bring down the system by thousands of acts of economic disobedience. A ferment in the environmental movement, brewing for many years, has now bubbled up into the blogosphere. We are dipping our ladle in here to take a little taste of it, even though we are quite certain it is not done fermenting. Bill McKibben has […]

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The Farm: Where We Have Come From and Our Plans For the Future

As we in the North approach the winter solstice — traditionally a time of slowing down, contemplation, and letting go of the past year — we are filled with gratitude for so much that we have been given, and only barely awakened to the new possibilities these gifts bestow. Our small non-profit educational and scientific organization, Global Village is headquartered in an ecovillage in Tennessee, The Farm, and in recent […]

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Get Your Food from a Firehose

We have been delving into the dirty secret behind our food, which is that it comes from bacteria — primarily, with considerable assistance from a social network of fungi, nematodes, micro-arthropods and soil-dwelling microbes of various descriptions. Most people, asked what plants eat, answer something like, "sunlight, water and dirt." Water and sunlight play an important role, for sure, but what really counts is the life within the soil. This […]

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Fomenting Ferment

by Albert Bates Sandor Katz lives a couple hours across Tennessee from us, so on a delightful April weekend we decided to spend four days attending his Wild Fermentation Intensive. Sandor is quite the celebrity these days — after profiles in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and Michael Pollan’s new book, Cooked, Sandor’s own encyclopedia, The Art of Fermentation, still in hardcover, has galloped through several printings […]

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The Gift of the Maya

As we approach the winter solstice and the end of one long count and the beginning of another, our understanding of the Mayan world is rapidly being transformed by new knowledge. The traditional Mayan narrative in western literature is perhaps best exemplified by the writings of Jared Diamond and Joseph Tainter, who ascribe the collapse of the Classic Period to an over-exploitation of resources, and in particular, a deforestation of […]

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Goodbye Columbus

A.Eisenstaedt, Oklahoma Farmer 1942, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Forest gardening is about as close as any strategy comes to addressing all of the most pressing needs of humans in one great sweep. Climate change, peak oil, poverty, extinction, and civil strife– all are rooted in the ground, and in most cases, those roots belong to trees.

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Ordeal: Mulling the Meaning of Rio+20

Leaving Rio de Janeiro, site of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, we mulled the meaning of what we had witnessed, but could hardly put it any better than Charles Eisenstein in his excellent summary, Why Rio+20 Failed: You know folks, I’m a bit worried about my 16-year-old son, Jimi. When he was 13, he grew three inches. When he was 14, he grew five inches. When he was 15 […]

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Rio+20: What Ecovillages Offer

It is the start of Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, and the Global Ecovillage Network has a strong contingent here from all over the world. We have erected a dome at the People’s Summit in Cupala dos Povos (Flamingo Park) and are providing a “Speaker’s Corner” for ecovillages, Transition Towns, Occupy, and others to strut their stuff. So what is it that ecovillages and permaculture bring to this […]

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Permaculture at The Farm

Former stockbroker Brian Bankston now calls himself the “Keyline Cowboy” after a carbon farming course at The Farm’s Ecovillage Training Center transformed his life. He quit his job, bought a keyline plow and compost tea brewer, and moved to The Farm. Climate Prophylaxis For the past 10 years or so, the land management decisions of The Farm (a 40-year-old intentional community on 1750 acres in rural Tennessee, pop. ~200) have […]

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