First a short disclaimer. This blog started out as a record, of sorts, of a permaculture adventure undertaken by both my partner, Emma, and I. Em has been instrumental in all aspects of the process – amazingly so – with the exception of this blog. The blog seems to be my baby, and I’m completely happy with this fact. However, some of Em’s friends and family may read this type of post, and wonder what it has to do with her – that’s assuming that anyone actually checks this site! Regardless of who reads it, I’ve decided to write the post below, and I’ll be writing more of this kind of post in the future. It is not representative of ‘where Emma is at’, but rather of ‘where I’m at’. There will still occasionally be an update of what’s happening with the physical stuff, but I now envision for the site more of the kind of content that appears below. The reason(s) for this should become clear if one reads on.
The decision to return to South Africa from my four+ years in the UK was made with the intention of creating a permaculture platform in order to show people an example of how it is possible to live sustainably, in a way that alleviates and combats the stresses and evils of capitalist consumerism (Oh boy, are you in for a fun read!!). The name, The Perspective Project, was an indication of the intent just mentioned, i.e. the perspective was specifically the kind of perspective associated with ‘alternative’ living in response to the profit-driven, materialist, myopic, destructive systems that have come to dominate the lives of the majority of people on our planet. Not exactly ‘light’ reading, but bare with me.
Twenty months later, the permaculture project has taken shape nicely, and has indeed (in my opinion) achieved the kinds of practical goals I originally hand in mind. To list a few of these:
– Use hardly any electricity
– Dispense of the luxuries of industrialised life where possible, in our case a fridge, an electric geyser/boiler, microwave and electric oven, television, washing machine, etc.
– Build habitable structures out of mostly recycled materials
– Turn as much ‘immediate’ space into food or tree producing areas
– Grow and eat many of our own veggies, keeping us healthy due to the therapy of hard outdoor work in the garden and the freshness of the food
– Waste as little as possible: food, water, humanure, throw-away packaging, etc.
However, I had not banked on the human factors, or rather the obstacles, we would encounter along this permaculture journey. We are successfully implementing the practical/physical steps we had in mind, but it seems that simply showing people a viable alternative is not enough to get them to make any actual changes in their own lives. Consider though that the project was aimed at showing an alternative model of living in order initiate a change of perspective in people, and ultimately in order to get them to make changes in their own lives and thereby help in matters of sustainably, which are in my opinion among the most important of matters seeing as generally the human race is actively engaged in setting the stage for its complete demise. If people get exposed to the project, and they do not make any changes in their own lives, then it seems that we are pissing into the wind – we’ll just get smelly.
Unless the whole concept of ‘the perspective project’ changes.
Such a conceptual change did indeed start occurring some time ago. It quickly became clear that many, many people with whom we interact are not willing to make the kinds of changes necessary in retaliation against the accelerating rape and pillaging of the resources of the planet so characteristic of consumer capitalism. I say ‘not willing’ in the face of the claim that people often make, i.e. they say that they are not able to make important changes. Rubbish! Everyone can make any change imaginable – people have done so everyday since people have existed, and continue to radically change their lives everyday, whether they want to or not! All it takes is a change of perspective… and herein lies the ‘redefinition’ of the perspective project I am here on about.
My transition from being in the box to radically out of the box, so to speak, did not occur because I encountered someone’s project that explicitly had the intention to do this or that. My transition occurred because of my exposure to a range of ideas facilitated by a plethora of ‘physical’ manifestations of ideas, as well as my exposure to abstract ideas. Nobody involved in the important projects or paradigms ever told me what to think, nor did I meet anyone disappointed by my lack of immediate acceptance of a new way of life or thinking (as opposed to the people I met and meet who endorsed and endorse the status-quo, who ironically seemed and still seem threatened by alternatives, regardless of the fact that many alternatives are working towards sustainability, while the status-quo is hell-bent on wiping itself out – which is more ‘threatening?!). On the contrary, I was on a journey of discovery – even if I didn’t know it at the time – that took twelve years to manifest physically as a permaculture project.
Recently I went on a Vipassana meditation retreat and, as one tends to do on these things, I looked inwards for a very long time. I came out a changed man, and I really encourage people to make the time to attend one of these retreats, regardless of the cost (I don’t mean the cost of the retreat – they work on a donation basis; I mean instead the cost to your holiday allocation for the year, distance to travel, inconvenience to your family, etc.) I had numerous realisations, one of which is that I am the only person I can change, that the journey of personal development I have been on for twelve years – and which will continue at what feels like an accelerated pace – is really what the perspective project is about. Sure, its main physical manifestation has been in the form of the permaculture project, but it is what it is, i.e. a physical manifestation. The immaterial, abstract, consciousness-focused aspect that inspired it also needs to be taken into consideration.
In the perspective project blog I will therefore continue to track what we are doing in order to live alternatively, freely, meaningfully, for ourselves, not for anyone else, though hopefully others will occasionally be inspired to implement what we have – the site has already been tracking such action, on and off, for a year and a half. But it will also begin to offer more content focused on ‘personal development’, or at least a process I consider to be developmental on a personal level, without caring too much what other people may think. This, I think, is one of the many keys to perspective: to consider what other people have to say and think, and to consider what they do based on what they say and think. If you can learn from this kind of theory-practice relationship, and apply the process to your own life, then all the better. I also envision article-style pieces on matters associated with perspective, which is similar to saying matters associated with consciousness and personal development. And then, who knows what else will be included into the mix as the personal developmental process continues.
If this blog is anything more than an isolated diary, i.e. if anybody else reads my rambling, then it is my hope that they too will look inwards, that they will look at how they live on a day to day basis, and then consider what ideas have led them to live as they do. Where do these ideas come from? Are they constituents of your level of consciousness because you actively sought them, or are they there because you passively imbibed them from television shows? How broad is your perspective on things? Can you look at what you do from only your point of view, or from differing points of view? What is the relationship between the theory in your mind, and the life practices you perpetuate? Are you even aware that your day-to-day habits are consequences of theories? – They all are. These are the kinds of questions I hope to be able to prioritise, directly at times and indirectly at others, occasionally from now on via this blog. They are all useful questions, and hopefully any potential readers will be left pondering how such questions can be useful in their own lives.