Nature and Environment
News about the health and beauty of the natural world that sustains us.

Critical Survival Tools for Severe Weather Events

More than ever before, people's lives are being impacted by extreme weather events. There is a ton of information out there on what to do but it seems like no matter how much we preach preparedness, the average person just doesn't seem to think it is going to happen to them. This article will introduce you to a few of the most basic "must haves" for any emergency situation from simple power outages to severe weather events which can include hurricanes, tornados, flood, windstorms, snow and ice storms, earthquakes, and wildfires.

When the power goes out it can affect more than your electricity. You can also lose access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities. No worries, that can all be dealt with. The checklist for emergency preparedness can be as long as you want to make it but for the purpose of this article I will only focus on a few of the basics to help you get started.

If you should be impacted by an extreme weather event one of three things will happen. You will either evacuate, go to a shelter, or stay home and ride it out. That choice will be influenced by the local authorities and/or your own personal circumstances.


BACKPACK KITS - (also known and "Grab and Go" kits). Backpacks will have a small amount of food and water, blankets, emergency lighting, water purification tablets, first aid kit, matches, radio, a few small tools, and even a small tent. Most of these kits are designed for 3 days but to extend that all you have to do is add more food, water, and sanitation supplies to your kits. There are a few different manufacturers but the kits are all basically the same. Most come in 1 to 4 person capacities. There are group kits available as well.

This is an excellent choice for evacuation or even going to a shelter. If you have to evacuate, you may not know how far you will get or where you will stay when you get there. If you have to go to a shelter this kit will give you the reassurance that your minimum needs will be met without relying on others.
You can purchase these kits from on line dealers. You might also find them at Walmart, Costco, or the Red Cross. If you need advice I would recommend you contact an online dealer who will be more familiar with the products and what you will need. You should be able to meet your needs for less than $100.00 for a family of 4. You can also make your own.


HONEY BUCKET KITS - The honey bucket kit would be more suited to someone who has chosen to stay home even without public services such as power, water, and a toilet. This kit is similar to the backpack kits in that it will have the same food and water, blankets, small tools, first aid kits and other items (no tent) but will also include sanitation items for the honey bucket like extra liners, chemical disinfectant, and wipes. The same dealers who sell the backpack kits will also sell honey bucket kits. Most of these kits will sell for less than $100.00 for a family of 4. You can make these yourself but the toilet seat that comes with the honey bucket is handy.


DRINKING WATER - Drinking water is always the No. 1 issue in an emergency. You can't survive without it. Again, no problem, there are many options for you to choose from to provide yourself with clean water from dubious sources. Berkey water purifiers and Seychelle water filters are two of the more well known brands. There are numerous others as well from gravity purifiers to hand held bottles to straws. In simple terms filters take out bacteria and purifiers take out bacteria, VOC's, and viruses. There are even filters available for radiological contaminated water.  If you are on the road you will probably only need a filter. If you are staying home and drinking from flood waters I would recommend a purifier. Do your research online to find the best purifier or filter to meet your needs. Search terms include, berkey, seychelle, gravity water filters, portable water filters. You can also check your local outdoor sports stores like Cabelas or REI. You should be able to meet your water needs for anywhere from $25.00 up to $150.00 for a top of the line purifier. Of course you can always store gallons of bottled water but the shelf life is limited, its environmentally unfriendly,  and it would be too bulky to carry with you if you leave your home.


FOOD - Emergency food comes in many forms. The three most popular are food bars loaded with calories and MRE (meals ready to eat) and freeze dried foods. Again, there are many competent online sources to research. Mayday food bars, Mountain House Meals, and Wise Foods are a few name brand emergency food suppliers. There are others as well. Food bars may last about 5 years, MRE's 5-7 years, and freeze dried food up to 25 years properly stored! You can just unwrap and eat a food bar. Most MRE's come with a chemical heater. You will need clean water and a heat source for freeze dried food. Some come with heat and water and some don't. Do your homework!

Emergency food is expensive and varies greatly depending on what you buy and the duration you prepare for. You can supplement your emergency food supplies with cheap canned food but if you do you will have to replace it every 2-5 years depending on the type of food.

72 Hour Main photo

There is enough information about emergency preparedness to fill many books. This article is intended to get you started with the barest minimum needs to survive on your own until the storm passes and you can access better facilities and supplies or until help arrives. Too many times we have seen people on tv, desperate for rescue after just one day because they didn't even have drinking water, let alone food or sanitary facilities. Do yourself a favor and secure an emergency pack or honey bucket kit, a water purifier/filter, and enough food to last from a few days to a couple of weeks. Don't depend on the government or anyone else to come to your rescue right away. You need to help yourself and be ready.

My next article will describe the steps I took to address modern record storms while building my own home.

Be prepared and stay safe.

Ed and Laurie Essex live in the Okanogan Highlands of Eastern Washington State where they live off grid and run their websites Good Ideas For Life and Off Grid Works.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

What is Earth Law and Why Does it Matter?

Archipelago Volcanic Mountain At Sea

When I first learned about Earth Law Center (ELC), I visited my dad shortly thereafter and had a bit of trouble explaining to my dad what exactly ELC did. Nature having rights didn’t make much sense to him, a retired NASA engineer — he likes facts and figures best. So, I gave him a hypothetical example.

As a kid, I remember having to hold my breath every time we drove by Onondaga Lake because all the chemicals dumped into the lake made it stink. It got so bad that fishing was banned in 1972. Local activists have since persuaded County and State governments to ban chemical and waste discharge -with the Lake being made a Superfund site in 1994. Clean up has progressed so well that 56 species of fish now live in the Lake (compared to 8 species in the 1970’s).

Me: So if Onondaga Lake had legal rights, none of the chemical and waste dumps could have happened.

Dad: Why?

Me: Dumping chemicals in the Lake would have been like dumping waste into your house.

Dad: Oh you mean they could have sued the dumpers? Or actually no one would dump waste into my house to begin with because they know they’d get into trouble.

Me: Yep, that’s exactly right.

Dad: Oh, that’s not a bad idea then.

So what is earth law exactly? Earth law, including rights of nature, builds on a long history of indigenous perspectives which: embrace nature, live within nature, and instead of holding themselves above nature — honor nature’s rules and ways of supporting life on earth as part of the cosmic order.

Moving beyond the human-centric point of view, earth law puts earth at the center — with all inhabitants of earth being considered, and seen as interconnected (including humans).

It means countries (like Ecuador and Bolivia) can amend their constitutions to recognize rights of nature. Then people like Richard Wheeler and Eleanor Huddle could sue on behalf of a river (the Vilcambamba in Ecuador) and have the court rule in favor of nature, citing the amended Constitution. It means rivers like the Whanganui (New Zealand), the Ganges and Yamuna (India) and the Atrato (Colombia) can now do the same since all were recognized as having legal rights in 2017.

Why does it matter? Current environmental protection can’t keep up with the pace of environmental destruction. Earth law paves a path to connect many different groups and interests working to protect nature, unifies activists and advocates towards a common tangible goal, and gives nature the same rights that corporations and humans have.

Earth law matters, because we need to halt and reverse the havoc we’ve wreaked on the planet. Earth Law provides a conceptual framework to help catalyze a global movement so we can protect and restore nature for future generations. Nature is the one thing we truly can’t live without.

Want to join the movement? Follow and share the news. Volunteer with a Rights of Nature organization near you. Donate and support specific legal initiatives that will secure rights of nature for oceans, lakes, rivers, coastal regions and municipalities. Email or visit us at to find which of our latest initiatives most engages you.

Photo by Yann Arthus Bertrand

Darlene May Lee is Executive Director of Earth Law Center, which works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. She works to build a force of advocates for nature's rights at the local, state, national, and international levels. Connect with Earth Law Center on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

The Compost Pile Prayer

The Compost Pile Prayer 


Eternity in common parlance is either an infinite or an indeterminately long period of time. In classical philosophy, however, eternity is defined as what exists outside time.

Compost: The Key to Living Soil

Composting is the process by which raw organic materials are transformed, primarily by bacteria and fungi, into a stable, nutrient-rich substance known as “humus”. Humus is chemically complex, spongy, porous, and retains a high concentration of essential nutrients that are readily accessible to the roots of plants. Humus occurs naturally when plant and animal remains in marshes, forests, and grasslands break down over the span of centuries.

Humans can hasten this process by constructing piles of various organic materials, and providing adequate moisture and aeration. Replenishing our soils with mature compost (i.e. humus) is the best way of building long-term soil fertility and ensuring an abundant harvest.

Compost improves virtually all physical, chemical, and biological conditions of the soil. High-quality compost helps create healthy, living soil teeming with earthworms, microbes and a vast array of available nutrients that produce robust plants resistant to pests and diseases.

Compost-created humus provides plant roots with the proper combination of nutrients without overwhelming them with any particular one; something that frequently occurs with soluble chemical fertilizers. Compost also contains essential trace minerals that plants need. And it is an excellent way of recycling organic materials.

The ‘Cosmic Christ’

The Essence of the Cosmic Christ is simply the regenerative and reconciling aspect of the force of pure Being and the Soul Essence within each one of us. Hence in itself, it represents the unfolding energy of wholeness in human nature.

What do we mean by an individualized expression of the Cosmic Christ? The answer is simply that it represents an enlightened and self-realized expression of pure Being. However, such a level of enlightenment can only manifest in a purified and well-prepared vehicle, in which consciousness is awakened fully.

By “purified vehicle”, we mean the purified physical, psychic, and spiritual bodies in which the energy and characteristics of the Force of the Cosmic Christ become apparent. This Christic Force is an active and universal power house that functions through "human vehicles" forever. Hence, nothing gets lost, and the vehicle and characteristics of a Christ figure still continue functioning through all enlightened and realized human beings — the same principle is applied to all enlightened beings.

The Compost Pile Prayer

( i )

the eternal pile
soil in meta-cycle
deleted then replenished
piled then spread
soul nutrients cooked - pulled and extended
re-birthed in seeds
consumed by humans and animals
in One Nature Spirit forever


Go South: Hands in the dirt
Look East: Face in the rain
Move North: Shovel in the Snow
Run West: Crops in the Sun

( ii )

we are the soil
we are the seeds
we are the teeth and bones
we are the compost
we are the harvest end and beginning

Willi Paul is Principal of Willi Paul Studio and founder-publisher of MagazineHe contributes interviewsarticlesnew myths and workshops in the sustainability, permaculture, transition, sacred nature, new alchemy and mythology spaces. Connect with him on FacebookLinkedIn and, and read all Willi’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Get Food Smart TN Launched at TRC

Get Food Smart TN logo 

There was lots of excitement last week at the 28th Annual Tennessee Recycling Coalition Conference in Franklin, Tennessee. The theme, “Recycling Comes Full Circle”, was shown in the panels, breakout sessions, pre-conference workshop, and programs unveiled. Of the many things, the Office of Sustainable Practices (OSP) presented food waste as a problem, but one that we can all work together to overcome.

The conference started with a canning workshop, put together by Brook Powell, along with Jenny Jackson with Wilson County Co-Op, and Pamela Sites with Rutherford County Extension Service. The pre-conference workshop on reducing food waste and preserving food was held Sunday, August 13, 2017. It was a “hands on” workshop, where attendees learned time honored practices on how to can and freeze foods and then took home their canned and freezer goods. Squash pickles were prepared and canned and strawberries were prepared for freezing.

Canning and freezing books were also given to attendees so they could repeat the process at home. It was an informative and fun workshop, and a great way to meet other conference attendees. It also set the tone of the conference for people on how we are treating food.

OSP also made an exciting announcement at the luncheon on Monday, August 22nd, unveiling a new program, Get Food Smart TN. This is a statewide initiative with the mission to “promote using food wisely and enhancing the sustainability of Tennessee’s food resources.” Director Lori Munkeboe and Creative Services Consultant Ashley Cabrera with OSP presented the program, unveiled the logo, mission statement, and temporary webpage and discussed the work it took to launch the program. It has taken the hard work and partnership of OSP, Policy and Planning, and many others to make Get Food Smart possible.

In hopes of bringing the program to its full potential, OSP asked the audience at the conference to take a survey on how the Get Food Smart TN Recognition Program should be structured and to take a personal pledge on reducing food waste in their own homes.

We ask the same of you as well! We would like everyone’s input, since this is not just OSP’s program, but everyone’s program. Please take a few minutes to take our survey and personal pledge to Get Food Smart!

For more information and to see the support the program has received, go to and like us on Facebook (@getfoodsmarttn).

GFS TN presentation 6

Workshop 32

Workshop 30

Workshop 10

GFS TN presentation 3

GFS TN presentation 2

We ask the same of you as well! We would like everyone’s input, since this is not just OSP’s program, but everyone’s program. Please take a few minutes to take our survey and personal pledge to Get Food Smart!

For more information and to see the support the program has received, go to and like us on Facebook (@getfoodsmarttn).

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

An Ecotourism Mini-Stop in Ann Arbor, Michigan


Cheese at Zingerman’s Creamery

It’s not just about the vibrant, local, farm-to-table culinary scene, though plentiful food and drinks were the focus on my recent visit to Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Michigan. Sure, backpacks are everywhere, but in this case, they’re worn by students attending the University of Michigan and used to carry books and notepads around campus – not camping gear.

But with rolling farmlands an easy bicycle trip out of town, the Huron River meandering through downtown, the 700-acre University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, and a vibrant arts scene, these can beckon an ecotraveler who doesn’t require wilderness to be in nature. With all the tree-lined streets and green spaces, Ann Arbor justly earns its moniker as “tree town”. And for many ecotravelers, cultural attractions and activities are as important as natural ones.

Get Active Outdoors

The Argo Canoe Livery will happily put you in a canoe, kayak or inner tubes on the Huron River, perhaps to shoot the Argo Cascades on a run between Argo to Gallup Park. Or stay dry and hike through the acres of gardens and natural preserves of the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. Be advised, strolling through the “Diag” on the main campus, or through the magnificent Law Quad, may make some pine nostalgically for campus life.

You don’t have to go far out of town (less than 20 miles) to get to the 11,000-acre Pinckney Recreation Area, with miles of mountain bike or horseback trails, hiking trails, plentiful lakes to fish, rustic cabins to rent or remote primitive camping sites in the backcountry to pitch a tent.  You can event stay in a yurt. If that’s not enough, cross over to the adjacent 20,000-acre Waterloo Recreation Area, largest state park in lower Michigan.

You can even exercise as you pedal and drink. Have a laugh, share some cheer, and zig-zag through the streets with High Five Pedal Tours while the sound of music festively plays from the speakers on the bar-on-wheels vehicle. One bell, pedal; two pedals, stop. Leave the driving to the guide, who steers you where you want to go. Local beers, wines or coffee from local roasters are often featured, along with customized tours that can include special stops at some of the many bookstores in town.

Savor Farm to Table Feasts

As I wrote earlier, where Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti most reflect the essence of ecotourism is in the communities’ approach to farm-to-table cuisine. The cornucopia of flavors served up at the many restaurants are as diverse as the cultivars of tomatoes you might find at the farmers’ market. The restaurants seem to satisfy every ethnic food craving, from Korean to Turkish.

Forget that this four-season climate includes lots of cold and snow.  There are serious foodies here, probably more on a first name basis with their farmers than they are with their doctors. The Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market in Kerrytown is year round (and outside) every Saturday morning, where you can elbow alongside chefs who pick up their ingredients for the week. From small batch, cottage food products to whatever is at peak ripeness, in abundance. In early June, that can mean nettles, bouquets of peonies, radish and lettuce, and strawberries -- even tomatoes from farmers who know how to fool nature with their hot-house hoop greenhouses. Every day of the week you can pick up local produce, eggs, meats, baked goods, dairy and artisan products from over 140 local farms that supply the Argus Farm Stop, where the producers set the prices!

Be Artistic

Traditional arts are, in fact, mingled in with the culinary arts.  In Ann Arbor, trying your hand as an artist is easy at the Yourist Gallery and Studio where you can take pottery classes taught by local artists.

“I started the studio with me wanting to make pots,” explains owner and artist Kay Yourist. “Then I started teaching. It’s helped me to develop as an artist.” Her gallery offers monthly classes where you throw a pot and get to keep the finished piece, too. Appointments can also be made for individual workshops, again, with a piece you create included. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that there’s a group of annual art fairs that are so large that they spread out along numerous streets throughout the city to accommodate the more than 1,000 exhibitors; the combined event featuring four art fairs attracts over a half a million attendees.

Reflecting the vibrant culinary scene, cooking classes abound.  You can learn the finer points of making cheeses from chief cheese maker and a managing partner of Zingerman’s Creamery, Aubrey Thomason. “What we make are lactic processed cheeses,” Thomason explains to our small group as we watch her work her magic making mozzarella. “They’re soft fresh cheeses or mold ripened cheeses.” After the class, our group had a chance to try nearly twenty varieties of the cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses they’ve built quite a following for, each made in small batches with traditional methods. Or head over to Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars for one of their hands-on cooking classes.

The music scene is thriving, too.  For near daily live bluegrass and folk music in an intimate setting, I headed to The Ark where Mark Lavengood Bluegrass Bonanza plucked, strummed and sung a near perfect ending to the day.

Shop Local

When it comes to picking up a little gift, Ann Arbor has a buy local, buy Michigan spin. The VinBar features a great selection of Michigan wines from Black Star Farms, Good Harbor Vineyards and Mawby. The Kerrytown Market & Shops offers yarns at Spun and unique oils and vinegars at Fustini’s. Just up the street, enjoy a cup of tea or partake in a full tea service from among the world’s best teas at the Tea Haus; let them guide your journey and explore teas from black to green to oolong to white. Of course, leave plenty of time to taste your way through Zingerman’s Delicatessen with their spectacular selection of breads, olive oils, cheeses and meats.

Sleep in Green Lodging

Ann Arbor has a few eco-lodging options. The Sheraton Ann Arbor is a TripAdvisor Silver Green Leader, with four EV charging stations, low flow showers, sinks and toilets in every room, and widespread use of energy efficient lighting. Guests can even op out of having their room cleaned during their stay and receive a Make a Green Choice voucher for food or beverages as thanks for doing so each night.

The Burnt Toast Inn, with eight rooms split between two properties, offer seasonal, mostly organic breakfasts featuring local foods from Crust Bakery, Calder’s Dairy and The Grainery. There’s an AirBnB option that will allow you to see what living in a net zero energy and net zero water home is all about (if you don’t already do so). The Grocoff’s energy-efficient renovation of a 1901 Victorian family home features an 8.1 kW PV array, Geothermal heating and cooling, EV chargers and sustainable landscaping.

John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are regular speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. As a writer and photographer, Ivanko contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, “9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living”. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine. Read all of John's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

A Conversation with Permaculturist and Mythologist Willi Paul

Willi Paul Interview 

 What have you been building for 7 years?

The website Metaphors abound: Social template; a spiritual reservoir; a cocoon. A source book of eco-alchemy and new archetypes. Questions. Tons of questions. Perhaps an extended family? The new mythology.

Your work with sound is weird. What is the goal?

Shake up reality and make text poetry audio and frantic. I like the joist from a sound sample to a new metaphor and message. I deploy sounds to penetrate and explore the fuzzy under belly between our conscious and the subconscious. Sounds empower and entwine the emerging archetypes of our time. Sound forces are largely misunderstood and under-utilized in our post-radio, pre-packaged file streaming Sonos.

Why do you insist on calling this the "Chaos Era?"

What would you call it? The rich eat, the poor are starving; the military boys can't wait to drop their expensive bombs on North Korea; there is a cartoon President in the White House. Do you believe in climate change (yet)? Here come the hurricanes. There goes your shoreline.

Do you think people really want to know about the new mythology! Do you think that they really understand the old one?

I admit that this program of mine is a tough sell at times. My holistic, post-Campbellian connections and permaculture / transition / Nature integrations are complex. Given that many of the old guard mythologists are happy to stick with the old myths, and their colleagues, discussion and change are slow to come.

What makes mythology so important? Why not just answer one of those State Farm interview emails and sell insurance?

We need to co-write new universal family rituals, eco-traditions and urban stories that teach us new values and ways to live together. Part of the warning for the Chaos Era is that we do not have these new myths and we are drowning in corporate taglines, silly songs from Nashville and Napa yoga vacations.

Your distaste for super heroes and the endless stream of "mythic cartoons" from a re-tread-heavy Hollywood is a key theme in your new mythology. Why?

The super-powered struggles from the Superman and Wonder Woman commercial entertainment sector just do not rise to the level of mythic teaching. Too much tits and ass, too many profit-based sequels; far too little imagination and global relevance.

Why is the community now a better hero force than the individual?

In a word, corruption. Money and frame have crumpled the individual to posters and talk shows, all for profit. I say we by-pass the movie stars and lieutenant generals and empower the whole neighborhood or town to be the example. Really, what do we have to lose?

How can you claim that permaculture is about farming with Nature and then catapult it to a higher consciousness with new symbols, archetypes and traditions?

I love a good paradox. I mean that the promise of permaculture lies in with its agricultural mandate but in its community focus and new values. Both are only projections at present and will require a huge change in planetary consciousness.

How much Nature are you actually experiencing each day? Is the landscaping regime in front of your condo building fulfilling this need?

I trek into the trees in the hills above my town everyday with my headphones. We cruise the local reservoir on weekends. I am on Mother Nature's side. She weaves her songs of whale love and mountain glow in web sites and coffee table picture books. I collect images and save them for my work. But do I take Nature for granted now? Good question.

Burlingame? Do you actually practice what you preach in your town? What problems and solutions have you worked on there in the name of "localization?"

I came to the Peninsula from Oakland. Two very different psyches; worlds. I think it's easy to criticize a place like Burlingame with its rampant commercialism, bi-polar shopping districts, and lack of diversity, to name a few complaints. I just weighed in on the Broadway Ave. re-design squabble on and I have called-out the City on several pedestrian issues and the investigated the pending California Ave roundabout project. Burlingame is not destined to be a permaculture oasis.

How are you like your father?

He instilled his integrity and common-sense motto in me early and supported my Eagle Scout experience. He was always supportive in my manic-depressive years, never giving up on me. My father and I love Nature and traveling. To this day, I have a buck in my wallet, per his charge. We both love to smile and say hello to strangers and neighbors alike!

You were raised in the Episcopal pew then migrated to the Quakers post-collage. What did you learn from both?

I learned how to get through a boring and unenlightening routine at Church and to enjoy just the opposite at the Friend's Meeting House!

Another idea that you are developing is "Perm-Tech." What is the product, the message, the solution, the vision?

This is a new hybrid concept of mine. I understand that permaculture has tools (i.e. - rakes to bulldozers) but could benefit from a melding of green tech, regenerative agriculture and Nature design. Enter Sun2Soil, a nutria-membrane that I am testing for local community gardens and food forests. Perm-Tech brings in more hands and ideas through appropriate technologies. This is one dream of mine.

You are willing to try new things and fail. How do you look at risk? Outcomes?

Because I have a wondrous tool set and global communication platform in, I often throw ideas against the "iWall" and see who comes 'round. I value risk, evaluation and failure very much - both are ingrained in my experiences and values.

How can you tell if something is sacred? Can you share it?

I look for others to show this quality; this is primary. Sacred relates to trust. I know that Nature is sacred and that it can be shared with others. I want some part of my work in mythology to be sacred to the world community.

If social media is less about community building and more about pornography and sales data and venting, why do you do it so much?

Social media certainly feeds my ego and fantasies for change at times and offers a cursory level of status and teaching. Often the combination of "Facebook and G+" seem to be a pretend community.

Basically, you believe that Capitalism is sending the earth and its "customers" to a horrible death if left unchallenged. Can permaculture help prevent the pending global crash?

I see permaculture as a promising but fractured, top-down movement with little taste for hard-core politics or rebellion. As always, key changes ahead will be value-based and spiritual. Are the survivalists on the right course? Best take care of your family and neighbors first and plant a garden, quick.

Willi Paul is Principal of Willi Paul Studio and founder-publisher of MagazineHe contributes interviewsarticlesnew myths and workshops in the sustainability, permaculture, transition, sacred nature, new alchemy and mythology spaces. Connect with him on FacebookLinkedIn and Read all of Willi’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Seeds on Ice: Svalgard Global Seed Vault and Saving Honeybees


A few weeks ago I heard a wonderful interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross of National Public Radio. She interviewed Dr. Cary Fowler, who is known as the "father" of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. His vision to create a repository of seeds such that they could be preserved and routinely released and propagated to keep biodiversity alive, is legendary.

Interestingly, he mentioned that sometimes he receives hate mail and has had his life threatened as some folks think he might be trying to hoard the seeds. But he reiterates time and again, that the purpose of the seed vault is to preserve them and share them for now and future generations.

He also mentioned that he had received a snarky remark as it relates to pollinators. The person who contacted him said something along the lines, "why save the seeds without saving the pollinators first."

And Dr. Fowles responded by saying, "Well, I thought I would save that for you to do." And he is so right! Not any single individual can save the whole world. But individual peoples, can work together to create and save great things.

What I found even more interesting is that Dr. Fowles mentioned the bee genetic repository that is in the works by Dr. Steve Sheppard and Dr. Brandon Hopkins at Washington State University. Dr. Hopkins is the leading expert on cryopreservation of honey bee drone semen and his efforts will live beyond his own lifetime.

I am so very proud to know both Dr. Sheppard and Dr. Hopkins and to be working alongside them to help preserve, conserve and share healthy honey bee stock with American beekeepers and beyond.

As my research under their tutelage develops, I will keep ME News readers posted....though we are in a pollinator crisis, the future is hopeful. Here is a link to more info about the Seeds on Ice book by Dr. Cary Fowler. And here are some links to several articles and a slide show in which I share information about "Bees as Seeds"- which discusses the quest and process to find, select, and share quality honey bee stock lines that are naturally resistant to pests and diseases; and that are adaptable to varying climates.

Bees and the AgroEcosystem [PDF]

Gathering Liquid Starlight from Many Flowers

SeedBroadcast Journal

Melanie M. Kirby is a professional apiculturist, honeybee breeder and consilience researcher based in New Mexico. She considers herself to be a seed saver — with the bees as the seeds — by finding and sharing quality stock lines with beekeepers around the nation and globe. In her spare time, Melanie makes honey wine and exquisite medicinal hive products and beeswax arts. Connect with Melanie at Zia Queen Bees and Rocky Mountain Survivor Queen Bee Cooperative. Read all of Melanie’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.