Fotos de Vivir Libre en Buenos Aires en Septiembre

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Se puede ver cada foto más grande con un click en el imagen. // The larger version of each photo is accessible with a click on the photo. Llegando a la casa de Julieta // Arriving in Julieta‘s house…   … Continue reading

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Reacquainting Myself with Argentina

I arrived in Buenos Aires on Saturday, August 13, five years after my previous visit, thanks to the generous support of my parents, my brother, Peter Schweitzer and Anita Whipple (who made the inaugural donation to this Vivir Libre project!), and the wonderful hospitality of my host family, the Silvestres, in the town of Rafaela. For background on my intentions during this trip, see Vivir Libre.

In Argentina, I find myself in a country where the very concept of a country raises different memories, feelings, and strategies than in the United States of America. My understanding of how some people relate to the State here has deepened in the past week.

Last Wednesday I enjoyed a new dive into Argentine history when I went to the “Community and Public Good Communications” course that my host-cousin Daniela Silvestre co-teaches at the University of Business and Social Sciences (UCES) (links: English, Spanish). Continue reading

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E-Portfolio Concept Map

I made a concept map about e-portfolios (in November 2009) that explores the topic from these questions:
– What characterizes an e-portfolio?
– Why might I want an e-portfolio?
– What’s up in the world of e-portfolios?

I found this survey quite helpful for understanding my Gaia University portfolio. Part of the map looks at how other institutions are using portfolios.

The full-size map is available in .PDF format (96 kb), .PNG format (5.9 mb) and .VUE format (60 kb) — the .VUE has more information in it since many of the concept nodes have notes and hyplerlinks attached to them. To get VUE (free/libre/open software) for Linux, Mac, or Windows (or Java source code), go to the VUE website.

A few concepts that stand out to me:

  • “assessment for learning” instead of “assessment of learning” (here),
  • matrix thinking (crossing criteria with creations, explained here),
  • three types of portfolios: personal representation, teaching and learning, assessment and accreditation (here), and
  • organizations can have portfolios too (Wikipedia article).

I decided to post this map now because I think it might inform the conversation going on in the Open Governance and Learning course at Peer-to-Peer University.

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Cooperative Farming or Ag Libre

Rather than writing a new blog post, here’s an email I sent on December 28, 2010. Like most of what I post on this website, this post comes with a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license — meaning you can reuse it as long as you give me credit for my work and you share your creations with the same license. (At some point I might go full-commons on this and make it Public Domain — if you want me to, leave a comment saying so.)

Brian Bankston — Keyline Cowboy
Cliff Davis — Spiral Ridge Permaculture

course ideas

Brian and Cliff,

Here’s some thinking about what we might offer in a course. It’s a bit wild-dream-flavored at the moment, and the shape of the course is sort of geared towards launching a social movement, so some parts of this might be out of our reach at the moment or beyond the scope of this course. Anyhow, use whatever makes sense, this is a conversation.

yay! ~ Patrick

Cooperative Farming
Cooperate with the place you inhabit, including humans and the rest of the community of life.

How can a person cooperate with a place? Why would a person want to cooperate with a place? What’s a place?
Life happens in places, and those places are alive. Each human is part of the place they inhabit, and their primary relations are in that place. Each place is alive: birds, plants, water, humans, air, soil, sunlight, rodents, and more interact with each other to perform the cycles of life in a place.

Cooperate With Whom? Your Place, including:

– Self
– Family + Colleagues
– Friends + Neighbors
– Suppliers
– Clients
– Other Farms (coopetitors)
– Social Movements (Via Campesina, Real Food Challenge, Re-Mineralize the Earth, Transition Network, Sarvodaya Shramadana, Campesino a Campesino, permaculture, peer-to-peer, bioregionalism)
– Institutions, Corporations, Governments

The Rest of Life:
– The 4 ecosystem processes of Holistic Management:
– mineral cycle
– water cycle
– energy flow
– community dynamics
– the great spirit / god / the spirit in all life / the spirit of each life

Cooperate How? By…:
– anchoring in place, with bioregional worldview
– applying permaculture principles
– using Holistic Management
– composting!
– wise use of a Yeoman’s Plow with compost tea injection, following keyline design
– communicating compassionately
– engaging in flows (gifts and trades)
– sharing what I know about farming in this place:
– knowledge about how to farm, software, data about each farm, data about cash flow and business models, forms and procedures, etc.
– other folks who are sharing: CRAFT Farm Profiles; Open Source Ecology / Factor e Farm; Apios Institute forest garden wiki; Earth Action Mentor.
– continuing to work for liberation of all life — this means that cultural healing is necessary

– farmer is a role, I am a human (and some say I’m a spirit having a human experience… at any rate, right now I’m a human, I think).
– the universe is a single multiform event
– farming is an act of cooperation
– share like I mean it: accessibility for deaf, blind, illiterate, multi-lingual (not just English)

Other titles to consider:
– Freedom Farming / Liberty Farming: farming that respects the freedom of all life and encourages self-expression of all life.
– Ag-Libre / Open Farming: free/libre agriculture, this borrows ideals from the free/libre/open-source software movement — everything that can be shared is shared (knowledge about how to farm, software, data about each farm, data about cash flow and business models, forms and procedures, etc.)
– Compassionate Farming
– Multi-Farming: practice agriculture for many reasons, with many benefits. Instead of the conventional focus on maximum dollars, multi-farming produces a balance of materials and experiences that satisfy human needs by focusing on the health of the entire environment, the whole place.
– Integrative Farming: farming that integrates people into the place they inhabit.
– Farm Here Now: taking inspiration from Buddhist teachings, practice farming as a deep meditation and communion with the soil, the plants, the insects, and yourself.
– Place-based Farming: pay attention to where you are, and the place will guide you towards farming in a way that makes sense with that particular place its unique flow of life.
– Influence Farming: this comes from Dennis Limon’s Influence Gardening — farm by relating respectfully to the influences/spirits of the plants, the soil, the place. Listen to those influences for guidance in how to farm.
– Peer-to-Peer Farming: treat everyone and all life as peers, working with the commons, co-producing with my peers.

Flow of the Course

  1. Establish a frame to show how life is cooperation.
    1. show where competition, parasites, symbiosis, co-evolution fit into the picture.
    2. show film, “The Universe in 40 Leaps”.
  2. Show that life happens in place, and each place is alive.
    1. show that places relate with each other via cooperation.
  3. Life-dance is autopoiesis.
    1. help each holon express itself, become more itself.
    2. Joel Salatin: help the pig express its pigness.
    3. Navajo / Diné: may all beings live according to their nature.
  4. Responsibility rather than ownership.

Agreements of the Teachers / Facilitators

  • Welcome the phrase “I don’t know.” Do not pretend to know things we don’t.
  • Now: share our experiences.
    • Future: share this experience with others.
      • This means we talk about you (students), share stories of this place (your farms, where we do the course), and stay in touch. This means folks might start visiting you, wanting to learn from you.
      • Maybe we ask that you help teach another group, maybe teach a course, or mentor a course (inspired by Transition Network, Sarvodaya Shramadana, Campesino a Campesino)

Wild Dreams that this Course could embody



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Co-Library: Peer-to-Peer Lending

I measured my books a few months ago –with the books on shelves, I measured the length of each row of books, and I found that I have about 16 feet of books. Now, I’ve only read about 1/3 of these books. Maybe someone else in my neighborhood wants to read some of them — I have books that aren’t in any libraries in the US, and besides, it can be more convenient to get a book next door than going to the library. So, here’s the sketch:

• We open our personal libraries to neighbors / members.
• Each owner sets their own rules.
• Catalog is available online, by phone, and maybe in print at a nearby social hub (a store or a school).

Those are the basics. Possible names for this arrangement peer-to-peer lending, co-library, book trust network.

One idea: in a neighborhood with a community budget, that budget could buy books about community governance. Then the question is: Where does the book live? Who gets to keep what the community purchased? Idea: put it in the co-library catalogue with a note that group funds paid for the book, so it has particular lending rules.

I think there are other peer-lending sites, but I don’t know of any focused on books. Someday it could even hook into WorldCat, so I can see books available wherever I go. This could save money and build social relationships — instead of building a new building to house books, just leave them in our houses, and invite our neighbors to check them out.

Do you know of any instances of this already in action? What synergies could this enable? What ideas awaken in you as you read this?

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Real Learning Movement: Subsidiarity for Learning Systems

(draft 1 by Patrick Gibbs in February 2009 — may receive updates based on further thinking and feedback)

What transformation does the Real Learning Movement seek?
A shift in the ways we design systems to foster learning, and a shift in our conception of learning and the world (a shift in our worldview).

What is Real Learning?
Learning which truly nourishes learners, communities, and the earth.
Learning which truly nourishes learners and their communities, including the earth.

Why Real Learning?
Academia is urban. Academia has high barriers to entry, and low returns to the immediate community. Education is one of the most effective points of leverage in our society (get Amartya Sen source, maybe Development as Freedom). However, the “brain drain” has emptied rural communities in the US and around the world of their young people by drawing them to urban universities in the US and Western Europe, where many of them stay after dropping out or getting a degree.

Taking Back Learning, Taking Back Knowledge:
The Real Learning Movement is taking back the terrain of learning and the terrain of knowledge. We are creating systems for learning-where-people-are (learning-in-place), rather than removing learners from their context and their community.

Renewing the Purpose of Learning:
Transformative action is a primary goal of real learning, and is blatantly absent from the hours of drab classes and dry, impersonal papers of most of the current academy. As I live, I change, and my community changes, and I can be a catalyst of that change — our quality of self-creation is quite fantastic!

What’s subsidiarity and what can it contribute to these thoughts?
Subsidiarity is the principle of placing decision-making power as locally as possible to the effects of the decision. Subsidiarity applied to learning: promote learning that focuses on and changes situations as close as possible to the learner… encourage the flows of knowledge as high up as possible in the knowledge-shed.

A learning system designed with subsidiarity as a principle designs learning as close as possible to the situated learner (a situated learner is a person in community, in context, rather than a person removed from community, perhaps drawn into an age-homogenous university in a town more than walking distance from the person’s home). I write “design learning as close as possible,” but that’s not quite it. Real learning is learning that flows from passion-initiated and community-initiated actions. I design certain practices that enhance the ability of individuals and communities to document their experiences and draw reflections from themselves and each other and thus learn from their experiences. (So what is learning? I will answer that another time). In looking the system this way, I recognize valuable knowledge as locally as possible (rather than claiming that all valuable knowledge is held within the walls of academia). This is the subsidiarity of learning.

Recognizing the value of knowledge gained from experience.

Subsidiarity is sometimes seen as a principle for designing democratic systems [refer to some field of thought as a source]. Perhaps this means that systems of learning built from subsidiarity of…

Ah ha! The decision that is positioned as far upstream as possible in the knowledge-shed is the decision about “What sources shall I draw learning from? How will I decide the value of knowledge from different sources?” Perhaps this is the heart of democratic learning.

Sheds? What’s a knowledge-shed?
I have never heard anyone else use the term “knowledge-shed.” I begin my explanation with an description of “watershed” and “foodshed” since those are the concepts I build from to distinguish a “knowledge-shed.”

A watershed is a geographical area delineated by the flows of water through that area (watersheds are also called “water drainage basins”). High points in a landscape are “water divide lines,” and they are boundaries between watersheds. A foodshed is an area in which food flows from seed to field to table to compost (or to landfill) to field to fruit to mouth, and so on. To map my foodshed, I find out where my food was grown and where it went before it got to my mouth. An elaborate foodshed map might illustrate how food is distributed, who has access to food, what sources of fertilizer are used to grow food and where they come from, and who controls the finances of the food system at each step from seed to mouth.

A knowledge-shed map shows where knowledge is created, where it is acted on, and how it flows from creator to actor. In a vibrant knowledge-shed, the map shows much communication between creators and users of knowledge — even to the level of each person as a maker and user of knowledge. (For more on the self-creative quality of humans, see the book The ABCs of Political Economy. For more on maker/user distinctions, see the book The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology).

Mapping flows (sheds) to define bioregions/ecoregions:
When I map my foodshed and watershed and knowledge-shed and I lay those maps over each other, I begin to see patterns. With those patterns I can distinguish bioregions, also known as ecoregions.

We seem to have wondered from our initial topic…
No, we have not wandered away from the Real Learning Movement. When we reconceptualize learning as an activity of self-creation and transformation, we step towards our future of living consciously and intentionally as integrated members of the community of life (instead of the self-exile from that community that the dominator culture is founded on). Reintegration into the communities of life is a goal of the Real Learning Movement.

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Here’s the first draft of PermaLibre idea (to edit, download the VUE file):

About PermaLibre: The first version of the concept, design, and implementation came as a gift from Patrick Gibbs. Patrick realized that he wanted different work and he knew that he wanted to change the way that knowledge is produced, distributed, used, and re-produced. Why pay for books when the Internet exists?

Growing the Commons: When someone is commissioned by their community to create something, and the creator is paid, and the creation is released, we can get smarter together much faster. Why? The creator knows that they’ll be paid, so that’s calmer, and the community gets a creation that respects their freedom to use it and build new creations with it.

PermaLibre mindmap, 2010-11-30 draft

PermaLibre mindmap, 2010-11-30 draft

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I Want a Personal Visual Distributed Semantic Wiki

My thoughts while wandering the web and reading Why All Your Data Should Live in One Application by David Karger on the MIT Haystack blog… David looks at recently-created applications that show promise for handling personal notes as structured data with graceful interfaces. See his post if you want details, from here on it’s my response and ponderings and pining for dream software.

This seems done, and has been for a few years, by Tinderbox (Eastgate, Mark Bernstein), and explained in The Tinderbox Way. I haven’t used Tinderbox or read the book — I have read parts of the user manual and watched some of the demo videos, and it seems pretty powerful. And Eastgate (maybe it’s just Mark) have two other products that seem relevant that I haven’t investigated much: Storyspace (“a hypertext writing environment”) and Twig (“lightweight tool for capturing and cultivating your ideas”) — oh how I wish those were software libre.

Since I don’t have those apps, I’m thinking about the pieces I might use to build something similar:
Darcs for a distributed version control system = this is where files go.
GraphViz and/or VUE for vizualization = both seem lacking, maybe Exhibit would work better? Or Processing (perhaps via Processing.js).
– something that automatically generates a revision every time I edit (like TiddlyWiki)

What I’m aiming for is partly a distributed semantic wiki sort of a thing with Darcs-style revision control.
– Distributed (i.e. peer-to-peer, holographic, locally-stored) because I use my computer offline more than online. And I want something that runs gracefully on my laptop, and I think Concerto (the P2P-extended XWiki) might work or might be too resource intensive (and seems tricky to access).
– Semantic wiki because I want structured data that’s easy to restructure on the fly.
– A more graceful interface than Swooki — I do like the Dido interface in the 2 minutes I’ve looked at it. In this area and others, MindRaider may be the most promising single app I’ve found today — definitely worth looking at.
– For ongoing processing of data, something like Yahoo Pipes or DERI Pipes would be nice. They get at event-based triggers that are helpful in a personal knowledge management scheme.

Another way to look at it is to move beyond an app to my entire desktop (since that is the everything bucket by default), specifically a semantic desktop with well-done interface and easy visualization of data, so Nepomuk helps for the semantic part of that (what about the interface and data visualization?). Bouillon could be wonderfully useful if there were easily-accessible source code and a developer community. Maybe TiddlyWiki5 holds promise — it’ll be all HTML.

P.S.: I’d like this in a resource-efficient programming language, so that probably means low-level rather than Java or Ruby. Why? Because I think it’s possible to do most of what I need on a 10-year old computer, if the code is efficient. I’ll use high-level in the meantime, until I or someone else creates this as a bash script or writes it in assembly or some such.

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Stream Remediation 1

From 11:00-11:40 this morning (2010 July 6) I did my first session of stream remediation in the 5th Road valley that starts by Steve’s house. It’s the closest primary valley to my house. In 40 minutes I did 75 feet, which is about 2 feet (1.875 feet) per minute by one person. I measured my pace at about 3 feet and paced the rest of the valley — it measures about 450 feet to its junction with the main valley. (75 feet done + 450 feet below + 75 feet above = 600 feet) X (1/2 minute per foot per person) / (60 minutes per hour) = 5 hours, estimated work time for one person to do the whole primary valley (and I already did 40 minutes of that). There are eleven residents that might average 1.5 feet per minute, so together we can do 16.5 feet per minute = 990 feet per hour. We could do that valley in about 40 minutes.

Me building a one-rock-high dam in a stream bed.

Me building a one-rock-high dam in a stream bed.

Dry stream bed with rock dam and sticks I tossed in.

Dry stream bed with rock dam and sticks I tossed in. (5 ft. tape measure)

From the junction of the primary valley and the main valley, it’s about 450 feet upstream to the head of the main valley, which seems to be formed by the junction of two primary valleys (though I didn’t walk up them to find out if they really are primary valleys).

What I did:
I walked along the banks, about 30 feet on both side from the center. In my first pass I tossed rocks into the valley. Then I made non-buried one-rock check dams about every 15 feet. Then I made a second pass along the banks and tossed in sticks and logs ranging in diameter from 1/3 inch to 6 inches (that was the biggest present on these banks). I tossed the sticks and logs in at many angles, not just straight across the valley. There are leaf dams accumulated around sticks that are not perpendicular to the valley, so I figured the angle isn’t too important.

I took photos, with a tape measure in each photo.

I measured Steve’s house to get the square footage of his roof: 40 x 40 = 1600 sq ft footprint. With that and the appropriate formula, I could calculate the volume of water that the roof sheds per inch of rainfall. The primary valley starts about 20 feet from the house, and he has the gutter pipes aimed right at the middle of the valley, which is the most erosive position.

Steve's house

Steve's house, 40 ft by 40 ft roof = 1600 sq ft footprint.

Gutter draining into pipe.

Gutter draining into pipe.

Gutter pipe draining at head of primary valley.

Gutter pipe draining at head of primary valley. (tape measure 12 inches)

Head of the primary valley.

Head of the primary valley.

What I might do differently:

  • Halfway bury the first line of rocks in a check dam, as instructed by Kirk Gadzia in the Holistic Management session of the 2009 Carbon Farming Course. Intention: these would be more flood-resistant than loosely piled rocks.
  • Cut bamboo stakes 2 feet long, with a flat end and an angled end, and pound them into the valley in lines perpendicular to the valley every 15 feet. Intention: these would be more flood-resistant than loosely piled sticks, so could anchor debris and make dams. These might be more useful in the main valleys where erosion is much worse. These would be easiest to pound in when the ground is wet (it last rained about a week ago, so the ground is dry right now).
  • Carry paper and pen to note the location of each photo and the length of the tape measure in each photo.

Why I did this:
To stop erosion. To plant water, to plant soil. To decrease downstream water turbidity. To exercise outside in the morning, which I enjoy and makes the rest of my day more pleasant.

Eroded bank in the main valley -- about a 7-foot vertical erosion face. (tape measure 7 feet)

Erosion at the head of the main valley -- a 44-inch deep bowl braced by tree roots. (tape measure 44 inches = 3 ft 8 in.)

Erosion at the head of the main valley -- a 44-inch deep bowl braced by tree roots. (tape measure 44 inches = 3 ft 8 in.)

How we might do this Farm-wide:
Organize by neighborhood. Have one or two Farm-wide leaders, and a leader in each neighborhood. Each neighborhood signs up for a time (either do one week per neighborhood, or one day of the week per neighborhood). The Farm-wide leader is responsible for: investigating, developing, and sharing the technique and related knowledge; and documenting the work with photos and measurements. One knowledge spreading method is to have field days in each neighborhood: the residents of those valleys give a tour and answer questions from folks from other valleys (and the Farm-wide leader). We could do 90 minute work sessions, with 15 minutes prep and 15 minutes wrap up, for a total of 2 hours of attention. Do it in the morning or evening — probably fewer biting insects in the morning.

Bring in someone to speak about stream ecology, stream classification, geology, hydrology, and stream remediation. Perhaps there are State employees who offer such presentations without charge. Perhaps Wade would know, or Cynthia Rohrbach. Have a community dinner: screen “The Man Who Planted Trees” or “The Upward Spiral“, then do dinner (do not try to work through dinner), then a walk-around-to-different-info-and-creation-stations time (an after-dinner activity that’s not sitting still), then a presentation by the main speaker, then a conversation time.

Evidence that something similar works without immediate human action:

Branch that functions as dam for leaf pile.

One branch can effectively brace a leaf dam that slows water, and thus helps the soil stay in place instead of washing away and causing turbidity downstream.

4-inch rock bracing the branch in the photo above.

The branch (in photo above) that braces leaves is in turn braced by a small rock that's partially buried.

Following the example of how the forest heals itself, we can effectively speed that healing. Perhaps this is a step towards what my friend Connor Stedman means when he says humans might live as keystone species.

For more inspiration, see these two films, available online:

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