We have fun learning from each other

At the Village, we encourage intelligent, open interaction about things that matter in life.  We encourage a diversity of opinions, seasoned with a good measure of humility as we seek to learn from one another.  We have a private website called “friends of Sewanee Creek”  where Villagers, prospective villagers and other like-minded people exchange information on many topics and build relationships.  Here is a sampling of a recent exchange.
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Study Links GM Corn to Organ Damage
Not to jump on the food scare band wagon, but I coincidentally just ran across this article. It says studies are now linking Monsanto genetically modified corn to organ damage in rats (liver, kidney, heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells).
Naturally, Monsanto claims the studies are bogus. Given the pervasive use of GM seeds in the US, I suspect it will be a long time before conclusive evidence comes to light or anything major is done about it. I’m thinking how long did it take for tobacco usage to be effectively challenged?
Read the article in Food Safety News at http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/01/study-links-gm-corn-to-organ-damage/?CFID=1479691&CFTOKEN=49241182

Digging a little deeper on this site I also found an article reporting that Monsanto has withdrawn its application for approval of GM corn in Europe. http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2009/11/gm-corn-pulled-due-to-food-safety-concerns/

Right now I’m feeling good that we drink 100% chemical free water from the sky and have a freezer full of home grown GMO free corn.


Added By:   Grant Miller On Mon, 01/25/2010 04:49:23 am
Villager 1 – 01/25/2010 08:22:54 am
While I wouldn’t doubt that GM foods have their own problems, I also believe that humanity in general has chosen to go down food paths that are not appropriate to our body chemistry for millenia now.
In fact, all grains (corn, wheat, etc.) cause mild to severe inflammation in the bodies of ALL people. In other words, our bodies are not intended to consume grains in large quantities, let alone as dietary staples. In fact, there is a growing consensus that a grain based diet is the leading culprit behind heart disease and several common cancers.
This problem is magnified by various myths propagated within our culture. The idea that all fats are bad. The idea that body fat is caused by consuming animal fats. The idea that a vegetarian diet (which almost always includes grains) is healthier than a more primitive meat and *true* vegetable diet.
At the end of the day, once a society has sacrificed its allegiances to the alter of convenience and cheapness, its food supply is going to go to hell. GM foods are just one step along the path of a food supply that’s divorced from a natural and optimized state.

Grant Miller – 01/26/2010 11:03:22 am
Politics and Religion are the taboo subjects we are warned never to discuss openly. Ahhh, but then there’s food. Nothing strikes closer to the stomach or the taste buds.  So, I thought I would have a little fun with this one. Here’s my best shot for now.
I think it would be fun to hear your ideas about food in the form of a fun limerick.

“We are what we eat” they all say
and make such political hay.
We debate about diet
till we wish they’d be quiet
and leave us quite out of the fray

Some choose to only have meat
While others claim life’s staff is wheat.
Empty carbs make me draggy
my spare tire gets saggy
but then, without bread where will I put my butter?!!!

Now meat, when taken to excess
puts my bowels in utter distress
A constipated grouch,
I lie on the couch
But good meat is simply the best!

No dairy? that’s out of my loop
Ice Cream’s my favorite food group
But milk makes me swollen
down deep in my colon
with gas, but I’ll have one more scoop!

Then come the social elite
when choosing a diet to eat,
say, “let them eat cake”
Oh!, goodness sake
Few things are as good as a sweet.

Others say fruits, nuts and sprouts
will make you most healthy, no doubt
But, Some get quite edgy
while touting their veggies
and leaving the meats fully out

And when it comes down to fat,
I’ll testify, “that’s where it’s at.”
For if you want flavors
that everyone savors
Nothing even comes close to that.

But, as for me and my house,
we mostly just try not to grouse
at the food placed before us
cause Dad always warned us
to clean up our plates or get out.

So, after it’s all said and done
There are few foods I’m likely to shun.
Without rhyme or reason
In any old season,
Moderation is rule number one.

Except for Ice Cream, Butter, fat of all kinds, fresh home baked bread, fresh strawberries or raspberries or peaches right out of the garden, a thick, juicy grilled steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, buttered yams with brown sugar and pecans, corn pudding, fresh steamed, buttered broccoli or pretty much anything that makes my mouth feel exquisitely happy and reveals no immediately discernable cataclysmic side effects.       smile

Villager #2 – 01/26/2010 09:14:04 pm
..Love your poem, Grant. Right on!!

Friend #1 – 01/26/2010 10:13:03 pm
I am no expert, but I think we need to remember that almost all the food we eat today has been “genetically modified” in some way. Even non-hybrid seeds are the result of centuries of genetically crossing to emphasize desirable characteristics. One can argue that this is different than the modern GM process; but how much really?
And whether corn, wheat, rice, oats, rye, etc is best eaten fermented, I think there is much biased research out there to stake too much in it. You can find a study that supports just about any point of view.
Inuits can survive on mostly meat, fat, and fish. But, they have many many generations of adaptation. Not sure we could do the same. Does that really mean that grains are bad for us? Like so many foods today, perhaps grains are misunderstood. Perhaps it’s not the grain, but the refining that gives it less-desirable qualities. Breaking a grain apart, throwing away the germ, bran, or other components, destroys the complex interactive ‘wholeness.’
I’ve done research on raw milk. Milk has a bad reputation–many people are stricken with significant stomach ailments after consuming milk products. Raw milk is illegal to sell in most states. In some of those states, a person can arrange with a dairy farm to become a part owner of a cow (cow shares) and consume raw milk from ‘their’ cow. So what is wrong with raw milk? The US Government says it killed people and made many sick at the turn of the 20th Century. Further study, many years later, suggest that most if not all of these incidents were due to improperly stored raw milk. However, the ban on raw milk stands. So what is the big deal? Studies (yep, those darned studies) suggest that lactose intolerance and it’s accompaning stomach ailments in many people, comes from the pasteurization of milk; it kills the good bacteria that aid digestion;It breaks apart the whole, and destroys the interactive complexities. As with meat, if milk is not properly handled, it will make you sick, but most food is that way!
So perhaps the same type of issue exists with grains; breaking them down and refining them takes away the good compounds. Food is wonderfully complex. It’s probably why we can’t duplicate the health benefits of an apple, orange, or broccoli. There exist many supplements on the market, claiming to give the benefits, but they all seem to fall short; they can’t duplicate the complexity of the raw or whole food they derive from.

Grant Miller – 01/27/2010 06:47:15 am
I like your take on this, Clayton. One thing I know for sure is that I don’t know much. In my short life I couldn’t possibly count the number of fad diets, supposedly well-founded on studies, that were quickly superceded by an opposing view. That’s not to say that we should throw all the babies out with the bathwater. Rather, take a long-term, skeptical view. Live carefully, eating moderately, the foods you perceive to be natural, as the gifts from God that they are, and enjoying food to its fullest.
As we explore and test what works well for each of us, share it. I love xxxx‘s conviction about a diet that obviously works well for him and I am grateful to learn this perspective. I’m not quite ready to go there for my own reasons, some of which may be peculiar to my own body or belief systems. Yet, I am enriched to learn more of another perspective and encouraged to trust that more meat could be a healthy way to re-balance what I consume now. Thank you, xxxx, for having the courage to share your beliefs and experience with conviction, yet with the humility that accepts other’s experience and beliefs.

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If you like this kind of sharing with like-minded people, you can request an invitation to the Friends of Sewanee Creek at info@sewaneecreek.com.  Please note the reasons for your interest.

How One Top Executive Left the Rat Race for a Self-Sufficient Community in the Mountains

How One Top Executive..

How One Top Executive Left the Rat Race for a Self-Sufficient Community in the Mountains

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Sustainable Living Progress Report

Progress Update

OK, so I have been really bad about posting updates lately. That’s because I’ve been working hard on projects and I’m dog-tired at the end of each day.  The good news is that we’re moving forward with lots of cool stuff here.

Thanks to my wife, the greenhouse is planted and lots of little sprouts are poking their heads up. The weather has gotten warm enough to shut down the greenhouse furnace for now. Daytime temps are in the 70’s and greenhouse temp’s are in the 80’s and 90’s. We still need to install the shade cloth for the summer. Should be arriving this week.

We have engaged a land company on several projects. A huge track-hoe is now sitting on the property ready to begin work this week expanding the retention pond where we plan to raise cattails to be distilled for alcohol fuel and retain water for irrigation.

Chuck is making good progress on the wood gasifier that will also make fuel for the stationary generator installation. This green electricity generating system will also become an economic mainstay for producing a valuable product in the Village.  Chuck is part of the larger community web of folks dedicated to being self-sufficient. When you visit, you should make time to meet him. He’s an amazing resource and an amazing guy!

We have finished grading a large pad for a workshop / storage building. I’m excited about this prototype project because we will be using 40′ X 8′ shipping containers as the green building blocks. These large steel containers are built for ocean shipping conditions. Therefore, strong enough to handle hurricanes but inexpensive because there are millions of these things piled up at sea ports needing to be salvaged. I plan to face the sides of them with oak slab paneling – a FREE byproduct of local saw mills and insulate them with recycled insulation from the many commercial chicken houses that have closed near here. We will install roof trusses with a pitched steel roof and, once again install tanks to collect rainwater for irrigation. The shop will be heated in winter from the same outdoor wood furnace that will heat the greenhouse and two other homes. So, when we’re done, we’ll have a state-of-the-art green facility that costs not a lot more than our sweat equity and has an attractive, rustic look to boot.

Now for the part that really gets my creative juices going. We have purchased three of these containers – two for the shop and a third one that will be used to hosue the screen and backstage at the amphitheater. By this year’s third annual July 4th event we hope the amphitheater will be fully and permanently functional. The stage container will also house electronic sound equipment, a small kitchen and serve as a multipurpose community center.

My brother has been here for the past month working on his house and helping with all these projects. It’s great to have like-minded people who you love focused together on the same goals and having fun at it.

It seems that the worse the economy gets the better it is for the people in the Village.

We look forward to seeing all of you soon.

Yes, You Can … be free and independent… and we can help

A recent visitor shared with us his desire to make a break from dependence on an unstable world… quickly followed by a confession of fear of plunging into the unknown.  Is it just an illusion for old hippies who live in communes?

We took a walk past our thundering waterfall, then to our garden that provided about 80% of all our food last summer.  I showed him our newly planted orchard and  greenhouse that will easily quadruple our growing capacity and our 7,500 gallon cistern that provides water security.  I showed him several projects I’m working on to make us energy self-sufficient.  Then we talked numbers, how all of this plus our modest, sustainable home (built for less than $80 per square foot) were all completed at minimal cost and how being debt free and self-sustaining on our family plot of land has brought us such peace of mind.

Like most white collar workers from a corporate background, I lacked the backwoods skills necessary to be truly self-sustaining.  So, like most people, I was afraid of the unknown.  Was it really possible to live well outside the tenuous infrastructure that is crumbling around us?  Could I do it?  After two years of joyful work, learning and doing, I can answer unequivocally, YES !!!

Still dreaming but afraid to make the leap?  Our concept is of a community where intelligent people with a strong work ethic and family values independently own their own property but work and play together to build solid relationships on top of an unconquerable desire to be free and self-sufficient.

Having proved that it is possible, we’re here to help you achieve the same peace of mind.  Come take a look.  Like they say at Home Depot,

YOU CAN DO IT.  WE CAN HELP!

Top 9 Antidotes for hard times

While there is some really good news happening at grass-roots levels with thinking people, there is plenty to be concerned about and to prepare for. I always try to stay positive in my communications.  Sometimes, that is only possible because I’m feeling well prepared and getting more independent every day.

Prepared for what? Read the articles in the link below.
http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/BreakingNews.html

So, how have I prepared?  My private website, “the friends of Sewanee Creek” chronicles that preparation over the past two years. A long time ago, on our forum, I outlined what I consider to be the key elements of preparedness.

Recently I was told by a prospective Villager that what attracted him to the Village is our “authentic” marketing. I think anyone who visits and witnesses how we have focused our resources will plainly see that our interests are in sustainability over green window-dressing. That’s intentional.

We want neighbors who are intelligent, aware, resourceful and ready to contribute within a community that is ready to roll up their shirtsleeves and create real value – together. I don’t think that happens with slick marketing that glosses over the challenges with an appeal to a cushy, yuppie-luxury lifestyle. We have found from experience that our marketing message doesn’t appeal to the masses whose primary objective is ease and comfort and are in denial about what has already happened in our world. That’s a good thing.

Authentic? You bet. Here’s what my family have accomplished over the past two years:
I started with the absolute essentials to sustain life.
1. WATER:
Secured an independent and renewable water supply using rain water catchment.
2. FOOD:
Secured our independent year-round food supply. We set up an intensive garden, improved the soil, began organic composting, implemented a renewable, independent irrigation system, planted, worked and learned how. Built rabbit hutches and began raising rabbits. Bottom line, we raised about 80% of what we ate this summer in addition to canning and preserving a substantial amount for the winter. We are now completing a greenhouse, roughly twice the size of our garden. This winter, our objective is to learn how to raise all the food we need to sustain our family year round.
3. SHELTER:
Built a comfortable, sustainable home right-sized for our needs that incorporates passive solar heating, good insulation, multiple redundant heat sources and potable, independent water supply.
4. FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE:
Financially secured our home and personal land and all personal assets, free and clear of all debt.  Paid off all bank debt on personal property.
5. ENERGY / TRANSPORTATION
Secured renewable transportation. Purchased an all-electric plug-in vehicle that provides adequate transportation between our home and Tracy City.
6. ENERGY / HEAT & ELECTRICITY
Planning to build and implement low-cost renewable, energy solutions for home and greenhouse heat and electricity generation.
7. COMMUNITY / EXTENDED FAMILY:
Educated my extended family about impending failures of global finance, energy and food supply, social disintegration and opportunities of sustainable living. This resulted in a commitment to gathering of family and co-investment in renewable assets and permaculture living.
8. COMMUNITY / THE MOUNTAIN:
Developed relationships with resourceful people who live a sustainable life style in the larger community to provide opportunities for trade of skills, information and other critical resources.
9. COMMUNITY / THE VILLAGE:
Planned, developed and facilitated government planning approvals for the Village. Built key facilities to promote Villager interaction and appreciation of natural assets – the amphitheater, community garden and trails.

Reduced costs on property and slashed prices to attract the right kind of self-sufficient, independent and responsible people to our community at the lowest possible, sustainable cost.

My family and I are at peace with our preparedness and action plans for the future. It has taken more than two years of concentrated effort to achieve that. Most days if you visit, you will find my wife and I personally on the land working with our own hands, learning, building and growing. It’s a big change in lifestyle from that of a senior executive. It is not without its challenges, but we love it. We have a sense of personal connection and accomplishment with what we are building, not to mention the thrill of living in close connection with the beauty and rhythms of nature.

Are you comfortable about your future? If you are one of the intelligent, resourceful and aware people, not in denial, ready to go to work, aware that it will take time, work and the help of other like-minded people, but confident of your own ability and drive to live sustainably, please don’t delay another day. The time to prepare is now.

Having made the transition, having done it, we can confidently help you make the transition too.

Optimist’s view of Peak Oil – The new oil end game

One of the great advantages of living in an intentional community like the village is that you join with can-do people who, instead of just wringing their hands about world conditions, are actively engaged in solving problems. That’s a good feeling, you learn a lot and it’s fun.

Examples:
1. This summer, we lived about 80% on the food we grew in our garden and are planning to extend that winning streak through the winter with a green house.
2. We’re working on a green energy system that utilizes our unique local resources to power our home in the woods where wind and solar aren’t good options.
3. Our rain water collection system now gives us the option of living independent of public water. Our water is soft, pure without chemicals and free.

This week, confidence in our financial systems took a major hit with the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, AIG bailout, stock market roller coaster ride, etc.

Here is a TED talk that gives us lots of reasons for optimism about the potential for future world stability on many levels, including financial, ecological, social, and geo-political.
Take a look at this video for an injection of optimism.

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/amory_lovins_on_winning_the_oil_endgame.html

PS: For those of you who don’t have the capital to tackle the world’s large-scale problems, but are not satisfied with sitting at the sidelines, join us in the village. We’re working on personal sustainability with some very encouraging results.

SCCA Presentation – Self-Sufficient Communities and Personal Responsibility

Climate change and yes, drought are big issues here on the mountain as well as elsewhere through the South this summer.  What to do about it?  You could:
1.  Wring your hands
2.  Pray for rain
3.  Complain to the government about lack of planning
4.  Sue a neighboring community or State over water rights
5.  Take matters into your own hands and become self-sufficient.

My choices are #2 and #5.  I spoke to the South Cumberland Community Association on how individuals and communities can become water self-sustaining.  We are doing it with a 7,500 gallon rainwater catchment system.