The Emancipation of the Future
Remember when permaculture took root nearly a hundred years ago, back in 1978?
Ha! Wild how time flies, and ideas grow. Bill Mollison and David Holmgren would be proud papas, were they to see the world today. Their permababy has flourished into a permaworld! It took a while to really get anywhere, but after the Global Food Apartheid in the 2020s, there was no going back. Renegades like Ron Finley boiled down the heart of permaculture—creating your own system—into a simple action: grow your own food!
The Great Overhaul of 2032 sparked in the unlikeliest of places: the global epicentre of consumerism and capitalism and all things bejewelled and overwrought with superfluous superflua, where collagen-injected lips dripped with doubt and cops were questionable and anxious kids roved the streets in gun-toting gangs and all the famous people were forever unsure that they were “living the life.” The City of Angels, baby.
Forget the 45 minute drive to the nearest store with an organic tomato. After Ron took over the parkways in his neighbourhood and then the barren vacant lots in South Central Los Angeles (totalling the size of twenty Central Parks) with flowers and vegetables and fruiting banana trees, a seed was planted.
Toting pockets full of seeds and bags of soil in their backpacks, the revolutionaries of that time carried water bottles in their holsters while taking to the streets at night.
They were hungry, man.
First, it was the parkways on the sidewalks and tiny plots of dirt in random parts of the city. They upturned the earth with trowels and planted carrots and tomatoes and lettuce in fresh soil, giving it life with the water they carried. The t-shirts they wore read, NO DOUBT ACT OUT.
The City fought back with a vengeance. After all, those brown grass walkways and empty, neglected spaces of earth belonged to them. VEGETABLE PLANTING! They scoffed. DIRTY GARDENERS! CRIMINALS! CRIMINALS!
And they tried to take them to jail, but the guerrilla gardeners banded together and made a petition. The petition grew faster and bigger than their rogue carrots. People confined to their homes and their condos and high-rise shoeboxes voted for justice by planting pink flowers in recycled water bottles on their balconies.
Grape vines trawled over the railings. An old man with eczema duct-taped glass jars of aloe vera and succulents to his wheelchair. Then he built a tiny shelf structure that fitted to it and he lined them with little pots of seedlings, and he handed them out to kids in the street. I know because I was a kid then and I helped him hand them out. That old boy was my grandpa.
Eventually, the City budged. People called him Seedy Joe, and when he passed away his soul lived on in the huge tomato plants and the garlic and sunflowers that grew in the gardens of the kids who had grown up and continued the permarevolution.
It was the only thing that could come of the food shortages that started spreading across the globe, of the water drying up and the planet heating. We needed an overhaul. We needed to take back our power as a people.
So we planted our own food, and taught our own children, and made our own houses. Fresh food we could trade and share, real life lessons and physical wisdom our kids could apply practically, homes that we didn’t have to sell our souls to live in.
The floors in our home are moss, like the sidewalks in the neighbourhood. The high-rises downtown are a green checkerboard from a bird’s-eye-view (garden rooftops, each and every one!), and when one looks up at them from the street level, they are giant emerald columns of vines and climbers, studded with strawberries and Zéphirine roses, chard and beetroot.
We work in our gardens. We paint pictures and play music and nurture systems for our gardens to run themselves. We read, write, cook. We make wine from the grapes we grow. We do not pay taxes.