I am one of the founders of Sundog. I have spent most of my adult life defining the increasing problems of our society and looking for solutions. I saw Sundog as the ultimate attempt in my life to address many of the challenges we face. I don't see it as a failure. It was an epic learning adventure and I am coming out the experience as a much more insightful, confident and capable person then when I joined. Four years of planning and five years of on the ground permaculture immersion has prepared me to step back into the greater world with much more knowledge and experience to offer to the problem solving efforts we all face. Currently I have joined a household of former residents and supporters in Missoula with the intention of creating an urban market garden farm in the midst of suburbia. This adventure continues and I feel I have much more to offer now then I did at the beginning. In the end we have created a facility that is attracting people of like mind that will likely continue what we started in their own way. After a century of multiple loggings and cattle grazing we left our local 40 acre ecosystem in healthier, more resilient condition then we received it. I have seen what a small group of committed people can accomplish and I see that developing community in what ever definition you might choose is where the potential of a positive future lies.
As the red stain spreads across the hills around us we became aware of the infestation on our own land. It was an exponential explosion from one year to the next. The extent of the damage seemed hopeless.
We attained a fire mitigation grant for our forest urban interface home. We were able to hire a restoration forestry company, Watershed Consultants, to carefully identify and remove the brood trees that had spread across our 40 acres of 100 year old Ponderosa Pine forest.
The loggers took out trees as big as 36" dbh. Fortunately there is a small local mill, Finnish Lumber, five miles away that we were able to take two log truck loads to. For the price of a truck load of lumber from Home Resource, we have building material into the foreseeable future.
The result on the ground has been impressive. The remaining trees are still a forest. In some areas the firs and the larches will help restore a degree of species diversity. The big pines are still here but wider spaced. The thinning we did will help the remaining trees grow stronger through less competition for water. In short we have been working to make our small patch of forest healthier, more diverse, and more resistant to the beetles and hopefully to the other parasitic changes that climate change is handing our ecosystems.
The beetles are still here. I have identified more patches of infestation. The difference is that one guy with a chain saw can keep up with it from year to year. At least it gives me hope that I will still be able to walk through the cathedral like stands of old pines into the future.
If anyone is interested I have created a web page of our efforts.
For the first time I am wondering if it is even worth voting. I don't want the party of no in place again but the Dems did next to nothing with their majorities in both houses. Sure the health care and wall street bills got passed but they are so watered down they pass for little more than political window dressing. The Dems are running from their own accomplishments and the Repubs are not offering anything of substance to work through our collective problems short of more tax breaks and cuts to anything that would be of benefit to the average person.
I am feeling that we may need to pull into small localized citizen collectives in order to get anything done. The local food movement is an example of how we can support each other by supporting local businesses, farmers, and gardeners. I am not a libertarian but I can see a big advantage of organizing locally to support our local communities. It looks like we are seeing an economic and social Katrina hitting the whole country. The feds didn't do much to help then and it doesn't look like we can count on it now. We are on our own
Perhaps it would benefit you to get off the conspiracy theory web sites and away from Fox news and get out on the ground and see what is happening right here in Montana. If that is hard to do at least visit some of the science based sites that may give a little balance to your point of view.
I have lived here all my life and have watched the changes taking place. I am currently and acutely aware of the Mountain Pine Beetle outbreak that is killing our forests along the divide and is spreading west rapidly. These infestations have happened before but this is ten times worse than anything we have seen before. There is 70 thousand square miles of dying forest spreading from Mexico to Canada. The worst of it seems to be in British Columbia. Climate change is more pronounced the farther north you go and we are not much south of that.
The beetles evolved, (do you debunk evolution too?) at the end of the last ice age with these forests. They have been kept in check for 10,000 years by cold winters and frequent fires. They have a place in the ecosystem. It is to cull the weak and decadent trees from the forest to help ensure forest health. With the loss of cold winters and the suppression of fire over the last 100 years, the balance has collapsed. The forest themselves are waving a red flag and if you want to see this as the canary in the coal mine scenerio, this is a huge canary.
Watching environmental collapse, on the scale we are seeing it here in Montana, is a wake up call that demands urgent response from all of us in every way we can think of.
There is no time for ridiculous debate over something that is so in your face obvious. It is lead follow or get out of the way time.
I attended a "Care Givers Conference" recently at the Hilton in Missoula. I was curious but not really interested in becoming a "patient". After a life time of avoiding detection for an illegal habit, it was a bit unnerving to see large mason jars of sticky buds displayed openly on tables in the Hilton.
I support the use of Marijuana for medical reasons and also support full legalization. I would also like to see hemp as a cash crop resource. However, I see the exploitation of the new law for quick profit as a detriment to the true benefits of the herb. The rush to provide "care" resembles the gold rush. Get rich quick while the gettins good. The gold rushes left behind a wake of social and environmental damage.
The back-lash is already happening and regulation is coming. It would be a good thing for those who really believe in the benefits of the herb to be involved in writing those regs so as to keep the herb in the hands of the people and not big pharma.
Treat the medicine, your patients, and the law with respect.
The disappointment runs deep but it is nothing new. It seems we need to be looking at developing citizen initiative to make changes in ourselves and our communities from the ground up.
A group of us local people started working over five years ago of responding to the concepts of development we were seeing in Western Montana. We decided to throw together our collective resources and middle class wealth and learn to live differently. We chose the ecovillage movements model and bought 40 acres of forested land with a south facing ridge. We are in the beginning stages of the concept but we have worked hard at putting together a vision and mission and have started implementing the plan. Our long term goal is to build a "village" of super efficient but simple homes using local materials such as the beetle killed logs from the land and straw bale construction to build passive solar homes. We intend to catch all the water running off the roofs and reuse the gray water. We have built a greenhouse and started raised bed gardens with plans for much more.
We have done a pretty good job of defining the problems. We are now trying to find solutions. It is clear that it will be we the people, on the ground, looking for ways of living in harmony with each other and the changes we are seeing before it becomes a matter of survival.
We call our community Sundog Ecovillage.
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