白蛇寻仙手游官网首页 www.vocbn.icu Configuring Social Relations into Permaculture Design
臺灣樸門永續設計學會 創始首屆理事長 、現任第三屆常務監事 孟磊
by First Director, Taiwan Permaculture Insititute,
Current Standing Supervisor ,?Peter Morehead
Much of the work of permaculture designers heavily implicates social and cultural relations. This fact has recently hit home for me as I delve into the Amis culture of our land in Taidong. I am very interested in working with the Amis culture to develop and reinstitute permaculture solutions to current problems. I say “reinstitute,” because I firmly believe that a few centuries ago the Amis culture had already achieved a permaculture that respected the natural limitations of the land. This is reconfirmed when I see elders working across a diverse spectrum to harvest coastal seafood, mountain game, and agricultural crops. Much of this permaculture has been lost mainly due to introduction of institutionalized education, along with the deadly three: pesticides, alcohol, and high-speed roadways, which combined are responsible for killing at least one Amis elder per month. One of the herbicidal culprits is Paraquat, a poison responsible for hundreds of accidental deaths, suicides and illnesses annually in Japan, Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica and other nations around the globe.
Paraquat, an herbicide banned in Finland, Sweden and Austria due to its high toxicity to amphibians, aquatic animals and songbirds, is prevalent in Taiwan and widely used on a monthly basis to kill weeds. In many poor countries, Paraquat is also a cheap and common suicide potion for farmers who are deep into debt. Just last month one of my indigenous neighbors in Singchang drank a bottle of Paraquat to “solve” his debt problems. Luckily, a neighbor found him lying “stiff, puking, and with an evil look in his eyes” just in time to rush him to the hospital and pump his stomach of this deadly poison. Paraquat is a quaternary nitrogen herbicide widely used for broadleaf weed control. It is a quick-acting, nonselective compound that destroys green plant tissue on contact and by translocation within the plant. If swallowed, burning of the mouth and throat often occurs, followed by gastrointestinal tract irritation, resulting in abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other toxic effects include thirst, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, kidney failure, lung sores, and liver injury. Many cases of illness and/or death have been reported in humans.
These pesticide packages were strewn on my land giving an indication of some of the toxic warfare going on in my neighborhood. I’m learning that the only useful response is communication and gradual trust-building with neighbors.
In December 2008, I arrived at our land to find the borders recently sprayed with Paraquat, and our land itself plowed and packed into ruts that 8 months later still pond with water after a rain. The neighbor said he was doing us a service by tilling our land for free...
Despite the shortcomings of Paraquat and other herbicides, their use has become a part of the farming culture, even of indigenous peoples who definitely had other successful methods before this herbicide came along. One “Vagee” (elder) invited me to check out his organic vegetable patch, which I intend to do and include in a future article. Unfortunately, decades of government promotion of pesticides has changed all organic methods, and most Amis elders are convinced that using Paraquat and other herbicides is the way to farm. This is a strange environmental-cultural gap to bridge – trying to re-convince elders that their traditional way of farming is better for the environment and for their culture in the long-run. It is a tricky bridge to build, and there is much suspicion and disbelief to overcome. My first brash attempt attested to this: my first reaction was to get emotional and demand my neighbor to stop spraying Paraquat on my land. His first reaction set me in my place – a spit of betelnut blood on my boots. In the end, the farmer, an Amis elder, reacted defensively and negatively saying, “we’re all gonna die sometime anyway, so there’s nothing bad about pesticides.” The situation required me to overcome many emotional and cultural ruts and become more determined to find a culturally sensitive solution that all sides can accept.
My next step is to slow down on the emotional reaction and become more in tune with how my neighbors strive to make a living. I can’t expect them to stop their ways for me. I hope to tactfully spread more information on the detrimental impacts of Paraquat, but in the meantime, I will strive to be a good neighbor by cutting the weeds on our border by hand before my neighbor feels the need to spray. I will also invest in a gas-powered weed cutter to cut weeds on all the other lands bordering our property. Hopefully, this effort will prove effective, maybe not environmentally, but at least culturally. Like the organic grower Vagee said, “the most important thing that gets us through in the long run is good interpersonal relations – we have to be on good terms with our neighbors – otherwise what kind of life will we have?”
都市的文化矛盾 Cultural dilemmas back in the city
Coming back to Taipei from Taidong can be an intense cultural shock. Really two different countries altogether. The life of the city-dweller is territorially focused, and whatever goes on within the boundaries of the apartment walls has nothing to do with the larger culture (or so we lead ourselves to believe).
I feel the same way about my land, which I enter each time in awe as if it were a temple, but the problems of the city always draw me back to an environment that seems to be in even greater need of solutions…
An exemplary situation just now appeared before my eyes as I looked out my Taipei apartment window. It’s a good example that describes the cultural and physical complications involved in using permaculture principles to solve a relatively simple problem. The apartment on the top of the photo does its laundry on the balcony. Excess water from the washing machine spills off of the balcony onto the rooftops below and finally onto someone’s balcony down below. The person down below has issued a complaint and the neighborhood management association has arrived today to see what can be done. From a permaculture aspect, solutions are abound! How would you solve such a problem in your neighborhood?
若把問題看成正面的資源(樸門設計原則之一)，那麼辦法就多了。這項原則提醒我們，把多餘的東西視為物資。在這個例子裏，沒被善用的物資就是洗衣機所產生的灰水，那要怎麼利用呢? 注意看洗衣機下方的陽臺是閒置不用的，如果我們在這裏把水收集起來，就可以在這片空地上種很多菜。我們可以請樓上住戶買環保洗衣粉，而樓下原本沒用的水塔便可發揮灰水貯存和過濾的功能，做為澆菜水。多餘的水就從陽臺的排水管排出去。樓下住戶就不會再抗議了。他們和整棟公寓的人都可以享受到植物帶來的空氣冷卻效果，樓下住家也有菜可吃。樓下住戶改用環保洗衣粉之後，也會因為鄰居關係改善而受惠。There are many ways we can treat the problem as a solution (a permaculture principle). This principle reminds us to regard excesses as resources. In this case the greywater from the washing machine is an unused excess. How can we use it? Notice the unused balcony below the washing machine: if we just collect the water here, it could sustain an enormous amount of vegetation on the unused balcony. We could ask the upper apartment to use an environmentally-friendly detergent and we could reposition the unused water tank below to collect and filter excess water from the first roof for irrigation. Any excess water would go into the balcony’s existing drainage system. Residents on the lower floors would no longer complain about this problem. They and the entire neighborhood would benefit from the cooling provided by vegetation. The balcony owner would benefit from the production of useful plant species. After switching to environmentally friendly detergent, the laundry-doers would benefit by regaining peaceful association with neighbors. This is a good example of the intricate and integrated design required of permaculture designers, and attests to the fact that much of our work relies heavily on social relations. Communication skills are probably the most useful skills a permaculture designer could learn, and we can always use more communication professionals in the permaculture design field!
Note for better design: As a rule, it is NOT GOOD to store greywater, which can contain harmful microbes, but rather to immediately direct it into healthy soil. In the above situation, it would be safer and more sanitary to use the metal tank for rainwater only, and to redirect the laundry greywater into a smaller tank for immediate use on vegetables. Greywater contains many good nutrients that plants may not otherwise receive. It can be a helpful solution when there is no other source of water available.