ORIENTED TO LIFE
OUT OF THE INDUSTRIAL BOX — INTO THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels
— Albert Einstein
We just launched the site on 18 June and are still working out all the details of the design and structure, but we wanted to forge ahead with content without delay. Moving into a new website is like moving into a new house—everything isn’t unpacked yet, but you can live there while you set everything up and decorate it nicely. That’s what we’re doing here. Living here while settling in.
Welcome to my new website. It says that this website is by Debra & Larry Redalia, but you might know me as Debra Lynn Dadd.
For more than forty years I’ve been recommending nontoxic products. Now I’m taking that work a step further by stepping out of industrial consumerism into Life. And exploring how we might live in daily life if our goal is to sustain Life, rather than buy as many products (nontoxic or otherwise) as we possibly can.
I’ll still be writing about nontoxic products, but these products meet a new standard of nontoxic that we’re calling “lifely” because they come from Life and are made with hands. But more than that, we’ll be talking about the very foundations of Life itself and how we can think as Life thinks and create as Life creates as we go about our daily lives.
Coming soon this space will have a blog with many posts that explore different aspects of orienting our individual lives to the greater Life. Today we’ll just start with an introduction to consumerism and industrialism so we better understand where we are starting from.
Please sign up for our newsletter to join us on our adventure as we leap out of the industrial world and into the circle of Life, Debra & Larry
While walking down the street in downtown Portland on our recent road trip, Larry and I were delighted to find full size wild animals on the sidewalks beside us. We loved feeling the presence of the ecosystem right in the city.
Later we learned we had encountered a series of ten trough-style fountains that contained twenty-five life size bronze sculptures of Pacific Northwest animals, designed by American artist Georgia Gerber. They were installed in 1986 as part of the dwontown renovations that included constructions of a light rail system.
The artist describe the series Animals in Pools as “art for the people,” designed in a way that encourages interactivity and “[brings] a bit of Pacific Northwestern wildlife to downtown in a fun and unexpected way”.
Upon coming home from our road trip, we found our lettuce barrel was full of vibrant lettuce.
I was delighted to see this because I had been harvesting lettuce daily before we left by cutting leaves with gardening scissors rather than pulling out the entire lettuce plant as I had done in years past.
By using this “cut-and-come-again” method of harvesting, more leaves continue to grow and continue to grow, giving an abundant yield from one plant.
I wanted to tell you about this, not only as a gardening tip, but as a basic lifely principle. When we take resources in such a way as they can continue to grow and produce, then we sustain the availability of those resources. When we harvest in a way that eliminates the resource altogether, that’s the end of it.
This applies to lettuce and forests, and even money. Even relationships. Thoughtful harvest keeps life growing.
While in Portland last week, Larry and I stayed in the wonderful Hotel Deluxe. Not only was it a beautifully renovated hotel from 1912, with the greatest service ever, but they also have beehives on their roof and sell the honey to hotel guests. Well, how could we not come home with two jars?
The hotel is part of a local program called Bee Local which produces and sources artisan honey using sustainable techniques and promotes community involvement and education.
“Bee Local is committed to producing exceptional honey that is sustainably harvested, never heated, treated, blended, or ultra-filtered. Each honey variety offers a distinct and complex flavor profile that reflects the flora, fauna, and forage of its region and is traceable from hive to jar. ”
My honey from the hotel is Portland Farmland. [if you want to try a taste of Portland, purchase a jar here]
This year Independence Day means more to us than celebrating the independence of the United States from the tyrannies of the rulers of Great Britain. In a very individual way we are celebrating our independence from industrialization with our Lifely blog.
This morning I realized that in all the years I’ve celebrated Independence Day, I had never looked up the meaning of the word “independence.” It was one of those words I thought I knew the meaning of, but actually, it turns out that I didn’t fully understand it at all.
According to the dictionary, to be independent is
* to be free from outside control
* to not depend on another’s authority
* to not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence.
Stated in a more positive way, to be independent is to have the desire and ability to live from one’s own authority, and be responsible for one’s own individual decisions, livelihood and life. This doesn’t mean standing alone, because at the same time we are also interdependent with everyone and everything that contributes to our lives, including people, organizations and the environment, so independence means taking responsibility for their wellbeing too.
We love the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Note that the very first unalienable Right is LIFE.
Our pursuit of life—not just having bodies that are barely alive, but living vibrant, dynamic lives in spirit, mind, and healthy bodies while participating in the whole of Life—is not only our birthright but is the very foundation of our country.
Citizens of the colonies wanted the freedom to make their own decisions about their own lives and their own country. And so we have Independence Day.
To us, Independence Day is about remembering our freedoms and rights, being aware of who and what may be limiting them, and being diligent about protecting these rights. And not just for us here in the United States, but for everyone in the world.
Today we live in a world ruled by industrialization, which expects us to allow multinational corporations to provide for our daily needs instead of us using our own skills, creativity and resources to provide for ourselves in our own ecosystems. For us, eating food from a can tainted with pesticides instead of our organic tomatoes grown in our backyard is not our idea of independence.
Having begun this blog, on this Independence Day we are celebrating our stand for independence and freedom to live oriented to Life.
Some years ago, while Larry and I were driving to Miami to the International Mango Festival, I was reminded of a trip we took a few years earlier to the Florida Keys, for we traveled the same route. We were living in Florida at the time and very much enjoyed exploring that tropical environment.
In Key Largo, we stayed in a cottage on a private beach, with a little cove of shallow water, The water was as warm as a bathtub and perfectly calm.
Just before dusk, we went snorkeling and then decided to lie in the water and watch the stars come out. The water was just the right depth that we could lie on the bottom and have the water completely cover our bodies, but not our faces.
As we laid there in the quiet twilight, covered with water, a motorboat with a water skier suddenly passed by. Though the boat was a good 100 yards away, the noise broke our reverie. The large wake produced by the boat raced into our little cove, disrupting the serenity of the moment.
I didn’t like it. And my next thought was, “The fish didn’t like it either!” And probably the sponges and the seaweed and the little crabs and all the other sea creatures were annoyed as well.
How different are the effects of engines on the aquatic environment, from the slow glide of a swimmer or a kayak!
Experiencing the disruption of modern technology while being fully immersed in the ecosystem made me more aware of how our human actions might be experienced by other species.
We’ve been gardening in half-barrels last year and this year because there are many gophers where we currently live and they eat almost anything planted in the ground.
These barrels are working just wonderfully. Placed on cinderblocks for drainage, they come to just the right height for harvesting without bending over too far.
In addition to being useful, efficient, and attractive, they also are a perfect example of a lifely law: use materials that are close at hand, in your immediate area. And another lifely law: use everything as many times and in as many different ways as you can before you recycle it.
Well, these half barrels qualify for both these laws. We live in the world-famous Napa-Sonoma-Mendocino wine country, so these discarded wine barrels were literally from wineries right down the road. They are good, solid oak that will last many years, and we’re putting them to a second use. And they are beautful. These are stained purple on the inside from red wine.
We could have purchased them from our local old-fashioned hardware store (and we have) for $39 a piece, or $29 on sale. We paid $20 each for these, delivered to our garden.
I love that the discards of a local winery become planters in the gardens of their community.
A perfect example of getting what one needs without using the industrial or consumer loop.
This is what happens when you get out in your community and keep your eyes open to see what’s there. 🙂
Image Credit: Procession of the Birds, a print by Share LaPierre, published as a notecard by the Americn Association of Uiversity Women (AAUW).
A few days after my birthday I received a lovely handwritten note from my stepmother, on this beautiful card. I smiled when I saw that her choice of card embodied the spirit of my new lifely work, even though she didn’t know I had made the transition.
When today it’s easier and faster and more common to send a written communication via email, I love receiving these notes from her on beautiful cards. Because it’s person and human and real and loving.
Receiving the card itself was a gift for me. Though the image was printed and not first hand, the handwriting was direct from the sender and filled with her love.
Even though it is now out of fashion, I keep note cards on hand too, to continue this gracious tradition.
Since I mentioned the word “permaculture” in a post about the film The Biggest Little Farm , I thought I should explain permaculture in my own words, from our lifely viewpoint, and in my own experience.
Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments. The principles of the system, well applied, absolutely will restore soil, produce food, and restore habitat and the principles are good to know.
Rather than make yet another page about permaculture principles, I’m going to send you to the Permaculture Design Principles website, where they have a wheel of the twelve basic principles. Click on each icon to open a page about each one.
The history of permaculture begins in Australia in the 1970s. The concept was first defined in the book Permaculture One, by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, published in 1978.
By the 1990s, permaculture had come to the USA. I was one of the co-founders of the Bay Area Permaculture Group, the first permaculture group in the San Francisco Bay Area. I don’t recall how I found out about permaculture or met others who were interested, but I did and we started the group and began to study permaculture together. While being a permaculture designer wasn’t my calling, I still today use permaculture design principles today in my garden and in my life.
Last week Larry and I went to see the new movie The Biggest Little Farm, on the recommendation of a friend.
Go see it. It’s the very definition of lifely.
A couple wants to create a farm that does traditional farming. But they have no money and no experience.
They tell their friends, an investor shows up, they buy 200 acres of an old farm with soil that has been destroyed by agribusiness farming methods. They hire a consultant who shows them how to bring the land back to life (it’s all permaculture, but this is never mentioned in the film).
They have their ups and downs, but in the end, after seven years, their farm is stable, lush, and productive. All by applying principles of life.
And this is exactly why I’m writing this blog. Life renews and heals, given the chance, when we work with life principles instead of going along with industrial consumerism.
Go see this film. Tell others about it. It’s an inspiration. It’s playing now at a theater near you.
See more about the farm at Apricot Lane Farms.
I want to give you an example of what we are talking about when we say we are choosing Life over being industrial consumers.
Here is a corner of our garden where we planted heirloom tomato seedlings from the farmer’s market and raspberry canes donated by Larry’s sister, which were excess shoots that had come up aroound a single raspberry cane I had given her last year as a gift.
So we could have gone to the store and purchased an industrial-made metal tomato cage, but we didn’t. We did purchase some bamboo sticks (which we could have harvested from our own yard had we thought of this in advance enough to grow them) and lashed together our own tomato cages.
Not only are they made from an abundantly renewable material, the material is also biodegradable. And the style goes well in the garden, And we had comradery while building them by hand together as a creative project.
By the way, those half barrels are reclaimed from local wineries, giving the wood another use before it biodegrades.
Many choices like this are not difficult> They are fun to do, inexpensive, and not industrial. The hardest part is making the decision to live lifely, maybe learning some new skills, and getting used to not buying everything at the store.