Humans have a brief window of time in which to make some essential changes in how we work and live. Specifically, we need to be able to meet our core needs without relying upon a functioning industrial economy.
The Next Step Seminar brings together individuals who are seriously examining how to make changes in their lives that will allow them to meet all their Core Human Needs without depending on a functioning industrial economy.
The Next Step Seminar is a jumping-off point for people who want to take their concerns about global climate change and industrial civilization collapse to the next level with honest discussion, in-depth planning, and practical guidance on how to prepare for an uncertain future.
- providing for the Core Human Needs outside of a functioning industrial economy
- moving through the personal transition that this choice will entail with courage, empathy, awareness, and focus
- meeting the challenges we face in decoupling from the industrial economy in community with others who walk alongside us, who are making similar plans and facing similar decisions
- finding a new way of living with respect for the living planet and for future generations
The Next Step Seminar in Guatemala
We will convene in 2015 (dates to be announced) for a two-week seminar at Frutas del Mundo, a working off-grid farm and agricultural education center in Izabal, Guatemala. This seminar will be focused on the practical application of transitional lifestyle changes in a rustic setting.
Accommodations at Frutas del Mundo in March 2014 are comfortable but basic and designed to make it easy to connect with your fellow attendees as you settle into the natural rhythms of the farm. Your lodging will be in a two-story guesthouse featuring hammocks and thick foam pads in bunk beds or upon the wooden floor. There’s a composting toilet, a pila (a sink with running water and wash areas) and a shower. If you’d prefer to camp, you are welcome to bring a tent and pitch it in the grassy field adjacent to the guesthouse.
- introductions: who we are (facilitator and attendees), the questions we bring, the problems we may be trying to solve, and what we hope to gain from the seminar
- exploring the Core Human Needs (see below)
- integration, healing, & rest
Our final days together will allow us to rest up, reflect, and connect informally. You may choose to receive bodywork with Parama, a dream interpretation from John Seed Bearer, and/or a relaxing yoga class. John and Parama’s therapeutic services will be offered during the seminar on a gift economy basis.
The Core Human Needs
We are now faced with finding ways to meet our basic human needs even though we may no longer have a functioning and reliable industrial economy.
The seminar will delve into the core human needs:
- cultural memory
Guy McPherson has identified the five basic human needs as water, shelter, food, body temperature, and human community.
I have expanded “body temperature” to “fire” in contemplation of the roles that fire plays in addition to heating humans and their food and water. I have also included two more needs that emerge within human cultures once these cultures have advanced beyond meeting their survival needs:
- cultural memory
The babbling stream passing by the guesthouse where we convene at Frutas del Mundo, Guatemala, reminds us of the primacy of water: that flow that is essential for all life on our planet.
Dwight Carter will lead us on a hike that traces the water for our showers and our drinking water to its source, a year-round creek running through the hills above the farm that collects water from perennial springs and from rainfall.
Guy McPherson will present how water is collected on his homestead in rural New Mexico and how the diverse group of homesteaders living there work together to collect the water they need.
Our presenters will open up the conversation about providing for the water needs of a community. They will give us pointers as to how we can design our own water systems that will maintain our water flows with respect to our environment and our local ecosystems.
Food & Medicine
We will see how Food & Medicine are intimately connected on our plant and tree walk of the farm. Dwight and John will lead a tour of the many varieties of fruit growing on the farm as well as highly nutritious edible greens, such as chaya and moringa. We will get to sample interesting and exotic seasonal fruits straight from the tree such as the peanut butter fruit, miracle fruit, jackfruit, durian, araza, and others. There are many medicinal plants growing at the farm; we will learn to identify some of them and learn how they are used.
Then, we’ll take a tour of our solar fruit drying operation, complete with samples of what’s coming off the dryers that day, which could include bananas, mangoes, jackfruit, zapote, and other fruits in season.
This tour will lead us into a deeper conversation about food and medicine:
- How can and should we plan for our own resilience in terms of food and medicine?
- What kinds of food collection and storage techniques are working for us? What problems do we need to solve with our current systems?
- Do inputs from the likes of grocery stores and pharmacies help us — “buy us time” — as we learn to provide for all our nutritional and medicinal needs outside of that system?
- When — if ever — is it time to stop using mass-produced foods and medicines?
- Are there industrial economy dependencies in these areas that we simply cannot replace? Does anyone in the group have solutions to offer?
- When should we stockpile, when should we learn to do without, and when should we just “do nothing”?
- Can “technology save us” in terms of providing low-tech workarounds for industrial products and services, or is “technology can save us” truly a canard?
- How do traditional healing modalities enter into our plans?
Community (maintaining a resilient human community)
Transition is compelling many people to abandon old relationships and form new ones, and in some cases, to consider radical changes such as moving into different cultures, speaking new languages, or relocating far away from family and industrial-world resources.
We will explore the following questions:
- What changes might I need or want to make?
- How does the decision to make significant changes in my life impact me, my family, my resources, and my future?
- What does community mean to us in terms of transition away from dependence on the industrial culture?
We are going to take a walk into a nearby village where the villagers live and work without electricity, and in some cases, without sanitary facilities. We’ll look at the role that hygiene plays in controlling disease and how that system can break down to cause occasional illness among the villagers. We will pass by some local milpas (family cornfields) and examine the importance of the milpa for local food security. John and Parama will take us on a tour of a typical home in the village where we can discover how the villagers are keeping healthy and clean, how they cook using a traditional fogón and comal, and how the ongoing changes in the industrial economy impact even the people living here.
Guy McPherson will lead us in a discussion about human community by exploring what he has learned living within his community in southern New Mexico. This discussion will kick off our exploration of how the transition is changing our concept of community and what that means for each of us.
It’s important to consider where one’s building materials will come from and how to ensure that those resources are not depleted in the process of constructing one’s home and outbuildings.
We will hike up into the hills where the villagers collect both their firewood and the building materials for their homes. Along the way, we’ll travel through the last remaining patch of untouched forest in the area and see how even this one remaining wild sanctuary on the mountain is being encroached upon by the local residents. We will take a tour of an experimental reforestation program headed up by Dwight Carter in an attempt to renovate the effects of slash-and-burn agriculture and heal some of the damage the previous generations have done to denude swathes of hillside where, only fifty years ago, the hills were heavily forested and jaguars and tapirs roamed as howler monkeys kept the night alive with their resounding calls.
Dwight will share his insights into how to provide for our building needs sustainably through cultivating and harvesting local building materials.
Guy will share his own experiences learning how to build. Having started out with no building experience, Guy has now built several useful, functional structures that serve him well on his homestead.
Then, we will explore how you can take the next step in terms of providing for your shelter needs while reducing your dependence on the industrial economy. We will consider materials selection, planning and design, location, issues with land and soil, drainage, and other topics that you, other participants, and facilitators may wish to discuss to make sure that you are “covered.”
Fire (heating, cooking, sterilizing)
Fire is essential in the non-industrialized world for heating, cooking, sterilizing, making repairs, and many other daily uses. We will explore the importance of fire in a resilient lifestyle. We will look at how to design fire into your durable living situation, including
- bringing community together through a communal cooking area/fire ring
- firewood collection and storage
- planting trees and plants to provide for your firewood needs in the long term
Communication & Cultural Memory
We will explore how the transition will affect and change the ways in which we record, communicate, and pass along our collective wisdom and experience.
Seminar description by John Seed Bearer
Ready to register or learn more? Click here to take The Next Step.