seekinghaven (seekinghaven) wrote,

Cultures of Place

I've been re-reading David Holmgren's Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability.  I recommend it highly.  The author, one of the co-originators of the permaculture concept, is a careful, deep thinker who has been putting the principles of permaculture to practical use for years.  What he has to say is very valuable.  His book is sometimes not an easy read, and could have used one more round of editing for style, clarity, and correction of a few grammatical errors and typos (lose the many unnecessary uses of "the", David!), but it is worth the effort.

I have just read the chapter on using and valuing diversity.  The author notes that the proliferation of our modern fossil fuel based industrial culture on a global basis has threatened local cultures, reducing global cultural diversity.  But as our modern industrial culture collapses and changes due to lessened availability of fossil fuels, far more local cultures will develop out of necessity, to enable human beings to meet our needs locally rather than relying upon a failing global marketplace. 

The local cultures that develop will be shaped by their place -- the land itself, the plants and animals that come to thrive there (both wild and domesticated), the history of the developing settlement, and the admixture of cultural heritages of the people living there.

Cultural diversity will once again gradually increase, as each local area (region, village, whatever) develops its own culture of place.  I am excited by the prospect of being a part of that process.  And I am moved to act to preserve much of value that might otherwise be lost -- especially knowledge we will need to survive the shake-down cruise of energy descent, a process that will still be underway after I am dead and gone.

It can be fun to imagine aspects of the local culture that might develop at and around Haven. 

Distinctive clothing comes to mind: knitted garments of soft, warm wools from Shannon's sheep and pygora goats, trims of Silver Fox and/or chocolate-colored Havana rabbit pelts, tough, brush-shedding garments of goatskins, perhaps rain- and snow-shedding fleeces...

We practice seasonal rites from the Wiccan Wheel of the Year.  I strongly suspect that Mother Berta will displace Santa Claus as the annual Yuletide intruder... er, I mean... Honored Guest!  Yeah!  She'll probably arrive in a goat-drawn cart.

Active Pagan spiritual practice is certain, at first, at least, for I am a Pagan High Priestess and a Pythia of Apollo. There will be a temple for Apollo on the grounds of Haven.  Soon I will be ritually invested as a Crone and Wise Woman of our community (finally! what a long peri-menopause!) -- at my 58th birthday this coming April. 

Between Scott's influence as a writer, and the rest of us being voracious readers, literacy, literature, and story-telling will be highly valued, as will learning.  Haven's Library will likely be a part of its soul.

Food, too!  Local foods are an important aspect of cultures of place.  We'll probably come up with a lot of recipes for rabbit meat. (I already have a good start there -- my family used to raise rabbits.)  I suspect that we'll pit-roast goats often enough that that custom may stick -- goat roasted that way is very, very good.  Whenever we slaughter animals for food, it will be done in a ritual manner that is as humane as possible, and fully honors the animal for its sacrifice that we may live.  I suspect and hope that such rituals will remain an important aspect of the culture Haven helps to build.

It is possible, even likely, that Haven may gain a bit of a reputation for its expertise in home generation of electricity, thanks to Lee's professional training and experience as an electrician, and his increasing study of the area -- not to mention the experience he will gain on site.  Maybe over time Haven's culture may include quality blacksmithing and knifemaking, again thanks to Lee.

Given that Scott, Lee and I are all experienced homebrewers, and we plan to keep bees, I expect we'll develop some meads, methaglyns, pyments and cysers that come to be associated with the place.

I hope to foster a tradition of neighborliness from early on -- we'll need it!

I wonder if we might develop a bit of a local bardic tradition, between Scott's wit and talent in written story-telling, my love of music, and Lee's talents in vocal presentation of tales.  Certainly if we manage to settle where we can maintain a connection with Alec and Kore, Alec's professional talents as a musician and bard should be influential.

Beyond such pleasant day-dreaming, another line of thought involves what a local culture of place will need to include, in order to be successful over time during energy descent. 

It will have to meets several needs, of course.  Cultural practices will need to preserve the fertility of the land, since that is essential to feeding us and our livestock, and providing for many other human needs.  That is just one example. 

One consideration that tugs at my imagination at this time is the matter of travel to meet human needs.  Depending upon the size of a local settlement, trade with other settlements will probably be necessary or at least desirable, to acquire items not readily available locally.  Some degree of travel and connection with other settlements may well be necessary to seek mates and avoid inbreeding.  Old traditions of the gathering of various clans for fairs in the summertime helped to meet these needs.

These are just a few thoughts for sharing.  It will be good to keep them in mind, and see how they change over time, as we endure the limbo of waiting to sell our house and find land, and even more so, as we slog through the work of building Haven. 
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