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These guys haven’t seem to have seen Jurassic Park

 

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After reading this article I am reminded of the movie Jurassic Park.  The novel by Michel Crichton (and to some extent the movie directed by Spielberg)  try to show an interesting interplay between nature and complex networks. What these scientists don’t seem to understand is that there are balances not only in the networks of nature (ecology) but of those of mankind(e.g. food networks,  socio-politico networks, comm networks, ect) .  These networks extend beyond any degree of control that appears to exist within the scope of the GM lab. In fact, a very property of large complex systems (like the one that exists in the universe where this lab resides ) is that there are some variables that are impossible to compensate for.  The book does a great job at illustrating how these variables can attempted to corrected for but ultimately they compound upon themselves.  It is certainly worth a read even if you are familiar with the movie.  Although, I doesn’t appear that these fish will have the same impact as the “dinosaur” monsters created in the book , but it is certain that some degree of oversight has occurred within this laboratory.

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Homebuilding: A report on various structures

There are several different ways in which shelters can be constructed.  Most importantly, of these various types each can be created from whatever resources on finds on hand in the environment.  Creating the shelter that best suits the needs of the owner and is constructed in such a manner that is both sustainable, as in it conserves as much resources as possible, and two is durable enough to withstand a high degree of wear and some degree of severe weather.  When considering such a design it is useful to reflect upon the housing that various indigenous peoples and that of certain roving nomadic bands. Of these types it can be divided further into at least 4 major types.

Temporary structures

These are one off shelters of any kind, designed for temporary use, but sometimes can be modified from longer term usage. These usually require the least amount of energy and resources to construct and destruct. Examples:

    1. Lean to
    2. Modern two man tent
    3. Quinzhee(snow shelter)

      Inside a quinzhee shelter

      Inside a quinzhee shelter

Semi permanent structures

These can be quite durable however they tend to be able to be either portable or perhaps are unable to withstand (or be habitable during) bouts of poor weather or other environmental factors. These can require a large amount of effort to construct but typically are created with materials found on site and are designed for minimal maintenance. Examples:

    1. Yurt (portable)
    2. Wigwam
    3. Adirondack or three faced shelters

      An three faced shelter

      A three faced shelter

Short term permanent structures

The major difference here from semi permanent structures being these structures are designed for repeated use however are not intended for year round habitation. These structures may be seasonal or even only used during certain parts of a trans human cycle. These can require resources from off site in order to increase durability and sometimes require annual maintenance to upkeep. Examples:

    1. Yurt (Non portable)
    2. Igloo (In nomadic or trans-human settlements
    3. Mountain Huts

      A yurt made of modern plastic.

      A yurt made of modern plastic.

Long term permanent structures

These are typically the most resource heavy and can require the most materials and expertise to create . These however are used for long term settlement style dwellings. Long term structures are usually designed to stand up to the highest degree of locale environmental challenges. Examples:

    1. Cabin
    2. Stilt house
    3. Long house

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      A recreation of a native longhouse

Each of these structure types has certain benefits associated with it. There may be benefits in terms of the speed and ease of construction or in regards to the resources required in order to construct such a structure. These, benefits must be analyzed before construction should commence. If for instance, one lives in a climate that is constantly below freezing then constructing a shelter that is made of ice such as an igloo could become a regular long term permanent structure. However, if part of the year it is too warm or if part of the year it becomes to harsh to live in cold conditions and migration is needed, then such a shelter may become a short term or even constructed to be temporary. There is an implicit assumption made in these lists and that is that the knowledge, tools, and resources are at the disposal of the individual or group that is constructing such a structure. These like with food are part of an intricate network and if built upon to tenuous of a foundation of knowledge or skill may become difficult to reproduce, maintain, or even construct in the first place.

Aside from the resources and expertise required there are other considerations to ponder.  Is this home going to create more work via maintanance, is a good starting question. Also, one must also consider whether the effort in building and maintaining will in some ways keep the person tied down and attached to a certain spot.  This may cause unneeded attachment to a set of circumstances, land, or even a structure.  If a strucutre is impermanent than it may cause less psychological attachment to the structure and way of life that it enables and in some cases requires.  Modern cities are an example of how this can get out of hand.  These are particularly long term settlements that are sometimes built without accessing the long term environmental effects.  This sometimes leads to large scale human decay, waste, and suffering.  This does not always have to be the case with human settlements or structures but becomes the case when a certain mandate or preference to lifestyle is considered before other important factors in structure building.

As always comment and ask questions and more posts of this sort will certainly be in order.

See also

The Problem of Problem Solving blog post and check out this link http://www.lfy.ca/ for more information about this sort of thing.

 

 

Foraging: An introduction

Here at the Nomadic Village we think it is important that everyone know the importance of foraging . This is a skill that not only can increase food independence but can increase all the yield of all sorts of all sorts of resources year round.  Important resources that can be used in dyeing fabric, making medicines, and even used in the manufacture of clothing.  Furthermore, foraging is a lot more than just merely scoping out and picking up valuable plants, with proper training one can go out and find all sorts of interesting things from fungi to plant products, to lichens to pollen.

Let us begin with the benefits with foraging for food.  Many already know the benefits of hunting for a portion of ones overall caloric intake, and depending on the environment meat can be a very important part of any diet.  Hunting alone, however, cannot provide all of the nutrients required to sustain a health life. Furthermore, meat preservation can be difficult in certain environments and climates and therefore can be dubious.  It is essential then to develop the skills to pull more nutrients from the environment.  This is conducted through the action of foraging.  Foodstuffs such as nuts, berries, leafy greens, and succlent fruits can be collected and eaten on the spot during any foray.  In fact, in some areas you dont have to look very hard at all to harvest some nutrient rich foods.  For instance, if you go for a quick stroll down any roadside, you may find a bounty of delicious dandelions, purslane

Purslane, regarded by some as a garden pest, but seen by others as a nutrient rich treat!

Purslane, regarded by some as a garden pest, but seen by others as a nutrient rich treat!

or red clover right at your feet and ready to eat.  If you take a walk through nearly any meadow the the late spring or early summer you can find a growth of the Great Burdock plant, which can be boiled down in two changes of water for a leafy green.  Burdock root is also used in several different ways as a medicinal plant.  This are just a few examples of the bounty that many may perceive  as just ordinary weeds or even garden pests.

There are other powerful  important plants that foodstuffs can be derived.  For instance, the simple cattail pollen can be collected and baked into a  delicious bread.  The yeast to bake such  bread could be derived from the outer bark of the Aspen tree.  This knowledge isn’t some sort of esoteric cult knowledge, no instead it is generated over years of experience of the natural world. In Europe during the Middle Ages, people would collect all plants that were known not to be poisonous and cook them together in soups.  This sort of trial and error in terms of plants was done for centuries including observing what foods animals avoid.  Now a days it is easy to get info about foraging with manuals such as   The Foragers Harvest    .  More information about the book can be found by clicking the link above.

Plants, however, are not just for eating.  They can be used to stock up your own natural pharmacy. This sort of gathering of medicinal herbs is an important skill set but one that should could after some experience identifying and preparing plants in the field.  There are literally thousands of medicinal plants that can be used to cure nearly any disease.  Furthermore, there are other important organisms by which medicines can be derived.  Fungi for instance can be harvested for a whole array of medicinal properties.  The Fungal Pharmacy is comprehensive volume written about the subject which also goes into some detail about the use of mushrooms beyond medicine as well.  If mushrooms are something of an interest, one with a well trained eye and a penchant for the hunt of an elusive fungi can truly enjoy making a meal out of these nutrient rich organisms.

These Yellow Morrels are a rare find but are considered a delicacy.

These Yellow Morels are a rare find but are considered a delicacy.

Expect a large treatise at some point expounding upon the numerous uses of fungi in terms of food, medicine, and various other interesting purposes soon.

There is another important element to foraging and that is the gathering of resources used in natural dyecrafting.  Many people may wonder what the purpose of gathering plants for later use for dyeing cloth when one can purchase so many different varities and colors of predyed fabrics and materials from nearly any well supplied yarn shop or fabric store.  The answer is simple.  There is a depth of color that is unavailible with modern synthetic dyes and furthermore, the chemical processes to create such dyes can be harmful to the environment and lastly, it promotes a culture that promotes largescale and perhaps unattainable textile creation that at some level has to put someone to work in a mill.  This isnt always bad but it certainly is something to be mindful of when setting about thinking about garments.  Certainly however it is important to understand the depth of color and the spectacular ability of the natural world to produce dyes for fabric.  On a historical note, dyeing fabric used to be at the heart of the world economy with certain components to dyes being worth more than gold.  Certain species of lichens were used to create a beautiful purple dye (purple by the way was considered one of the most difficult dyes to create). No matter what your prefrance to color is there is a deep array of oppertunity waiting just beneath your feet. This mushroom guide and The Art and Natural Dyeing  are two good starting points.

This shows how from various plants, a wide array of colors is born

This shows how from various plants, a wide array of colors is born

Overall these are just three small parts of the important art of foraging.  Look forward to seeing more articles outlining further various topics discussed here.  If there is one in particular that  is of interest please comment below and we will try to get you more info or post upon it sooner.

Ink made from black walnuts!

Ink made from black walnuts!

 

Paper made of mushrooms!

Paper made of mushrooms!

Link

Fungi Perfecti

Check this site out for all of your fungi needs.  It provides several kits for various mushroom growing projects.  They are an inexpensive way to bolster at home food production and it requires only a small bit of effort.  They are perfect for the urban homesteader with limited time and space to be grown in an apartment or even a wandering nomad who just leaves the kit to grow in a secluded rock outcrop.  Either way its a cheap and fun way to grow delicious mushrooms!

 

-Civil Savage

The problem of problem solving

One important thing to consider about our group is that we do have some views that may oppose those of the “modern or western” world.  This however is not exactly the case.  In fact the only reason this might appear the case is because of perhaps of the axiom we occasionally subscribe to, “If something appears to be broken, or if there is something happening that you disagree with, do not complain, but work towards solving the problem”. The idea is to become active in attaining a solution.

In practice this means learning about many differing sets of skills and becoming used to the idea that sometimes what appears to be an easy quick fix (such as using a power drill or purchasing all of ones food) is actually a short cut that will lead to just more problems down the road. For example, food is an essential for any human and completely needed for survival.  For much of the world food is actually quite sparse at least in terms of what modern agriculture provides to these people. Agriculture however has propped up populations in these areas far beyond what is should be.  In some cases perhaps modern agriculture is the only reason people can survive in certain areas at all. This problem tends to compound upon itself very easily, as I will show. First and foremost, having abundant food will lead to population growth at least in the short term( as small as one generation). This will then extend population beyond which could have been provided if the land was just hunted and gathered upon, small scale subsistence farmed, or even types of nomadic pastoralism.  Then if these people have began a certain type of food gathering method, it may limit the knowledge of other methods from the society.  For example if food being supplied to these people in the form of food being delivered and sold in local markets, they are then more dependent on not merely the food being delivered but all the problems associated in maintainable such a system.  Thus compounding potential problems.  This coupled with the inability or at least limited capacity to get the food from the land and the larger population created by the food network can lead to potential devastating consequences.  This does not have to follow such a slippery doomsayer sort of lay out but it is just used to illustrate the point that interdependent networks that require a knowledge, skill, and resource base that is not possessed by those who require the effects of the network can be limited by changes in this network.  Thereby, it become more difficult for individuals to act as they are limited by agents who seek control to maintain the delicate balance that has been struck.  The Earth does hold abundant resources however and the human capacity for learning and adapting is quite high so fortunately we are able to subsist.

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The Ryup aim however is to have a society that is based off of as few of these tenuous networks as possible. One that is hyper adaptable, sustainable and maintains its own skill and knowledge base.  This sometimes seems to conflict with the goals of other groups, however it is not pertinent to object to or even actively fight these groups, what is important is developing the skills,the knowledge, and the resources to a live within these limits even if they are self imposed to attempt to maximize sustainability, adaptability, and ultimately survivability. If you are interested in more of this sort of thinking perhaps you could read Garett Hardin’s Living Within Limits   or contribute to this blog or our upcoming wiki site which will include skill manuals and other related information.