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hummingbird flying towards water drops
CategoriesLifestyle,  Tiny Homes

Do What You Can

Earlier today we presented to hundreds at the Global Tiny House Conference. Our talk, “Macro Forces, Market Trends, and #WorkFromHomestead”, offered an overview of the factors motivating us to start and build Big Calm Tiny Homesteads and the importance of attracting likeminded people to its vision.

We looked at how negative macro forces like climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and widespread mental health woes are changing people’s behaviours. And we also looked at how positive market trends like the tiny house movement, the shift to remote work, a rural renaissance, and the rise of regenerative are emerging opportunities. These are all summarized in more detail here.

circular chart of macro forces and market trends for Big Calm investors

As the grandfather of permaculture, Bill Mollison, once said, “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”

One of permaculture’s other wise mantras: “Start where you are, do what you can, use what you have.” Which recalls the Story of the Hummingbird…

One day a devastating fire broke out in a forest – a huge woodlands area was suddenly engulfed by a raging wildfire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the edge of a stream, they turned to watch the fire. They felt discouraged and powerless.

 

They bemoaned the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire–except for one little hummingbird.

 

The littlest of creatures decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water and went directly into the forest and sprinkled them on the fire. Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again.

 

All the other animals watched in disbelief. Some even tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, “Don’t bother,it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can’t put out this fire.”

 

And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a mocking voice, “What do you think you are doing?”

 

And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, “I am doing what I can.”

And that’s what we’re doing; we’re doing what we can. To acknowledge the forces we can’t control and recognize the trends we can harness – to create something special by supporting people who are eco-minded, improving self-reliance and food security, building a collaborative/supportive local community, and have fun doing it!

Photo by Levi Jones on Unsplash

drawing a permaculture design blueprint
CategoriesLifestyle

Start Where You Are, Do What You Can, Use What You Have

I have been interested in permaculture for some time, recognizing its nature-guided, systemic approach to sustainable living as a set of principles I’d like to adopt.

Last month, I was thrilled to start Verge Permaculture’s online design course, where I first heard the maxim that serves as the title of this post (which, I should note, is unsolicited).

I am loving this course so far. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information, but I appreciate the simplicity, obviousness even, of the permaculture approach: let nature guide the design and development of a resilient, and ideally, regenerative system.

As one Verge instructor said: nature has been “designing itself” for more than four billion years. Who are we to assume to know better? We are fortunate that nature is antifragile, but it can only tolerate so much devastation.

It has become clear to me that humankind, generally speaking, has lost its respect for nature, to its own detriment. We have been focused on extracting from the earth as much as we can to sustain our unsustainable lifestyles, and we haven’t been giving back. And, it’s not just an error of omission – our extravagances have increasingly been wreaking havoc on the planet.

Climate change, pandemics, and politics aside, surely everyone knows that you can’t grow food in dirt. You need soil, a living ecosystem all its own, which the earth is losing at alarming rates. Take care of the earth, or count your numbered days.

This post was not intended to be doom and gloom, rather, hopeful in nature (pun intended). The Verge team, as well as its 300+ students, have given me hope. Permaculture can easily be practiced by anyone who is patient enough to observe and design based on natural ecosystems. When we take care of nature, we take care of ourselves.

When I get overwhelmed by how to design the perfect permaculture guild or rainwater harvesting system, I remember that permaculture is an iterative process, and to just start where I am, do what I can and use what I have.