Permaculture is about having a symbiotic relation with nature and we are dealing with human nature, so we have to design so that human nature brings forward the system. An ant village will be the way to achieve this. In designing these systems, we have to observe all possible design options to mitigate any problem and Paul is convinced convinced that the ant program will do that. This whole podcast is about community systems. Wheaton labs as an experimental site, is the best way to think of designs to solve community problems and make these systems function.
Paul hopes to come up with a design for a community, so that permaculture will become not a household word, but a community word. This way Paul hopes to help permaculture spread. Paul and Jocelyn start by talking about their feelings. Paul recognizes he is a difficult person to stay around and probably of the two hundred people that came to their place, about a hundred were happy to meet him at the beginning and then changed their minds quickly.
Paul talks about how his productivity has changed during twenty months. At the beginning he was very happy and was working hundred hours a week. But after eight months, he started to get burnt out and was productive for seventy hours a week. Twelve months in and he was down to fifty hours, fifteen months in and he went to see the doctor and that was when the magical words: you have to work less, slowed him down. But that is how he went from being from being a difficult guy to be around, to being even more difficult to be around. This had consequences on relationships that maybe could have evolved in other ways.
Paul gets back to the fact that things add up and in the end, even a little thing becomes enormous and you end up with a poisoned community. Paul recalls how it did get to a point when it wasn’t fun anymore, especially at meal times. That hampers velocity in achieving things that he thinks are important, and he again states that the ant village will be a solution. If you’re trying to do something and one of twelve people flakes out, it hurts the others and it takes some time to recover, but if four people flake out it’s a cluster-fuck and you have a real difficult time making plans. Soon, nothing functions anymore and you can’t feel the team.
Paul thinks it’s going to take him a year to recover from the past 20 months. Ant village will be one tenth of the effort of what all the other stuff took and one tenth of the money. Jocelyn says that for recovery, being alone for some time has been so good for them. Even though they have passed their time cleaning up what people should have cleaned and were paid to clean. They are doing a lot of healing. It’s not that they were injured, it’s just that day after day after day of being dirty-cup-CSI just adds up and you lose mind fertility.
Paul is still obsessed with moving the projects forward. And what they are putting up now is the easiest way to complete them. Jocelyn, trying to explain her feeling’s uses the example of the used of towel. She had to explain seventy times how towels are better to dry something, not to clean something that is dirty. If you have to explain it seventy times, it’s too much. Jocelyn knows her irritability was not how she normally is and it was not helping the work at Wheaton labs. Paul says he knows many people will think what idiots to let people not respect your belongings, but the goals seemed more important and more achievable by overlooking some flaws. As with everything though, even if there were excellent people, and excellent goals were achieved, when things go bad you remember the ones that go bad. Jocelyn says we both martyred ourselves for the community, this is what went wrong. The gapper project will not start again for a year, but it will be all different and they are not going to provide food and not going to have to work. Gappers will stay more time with ants and not with Paul and Jocelyn.
Credit: Lorenzo Costa