Paul expresses how since recording around 4 hours of updates in podcasts, it has freed up a lot of time for him. Jocelyn points out a new thread Paul will put out about the projects he needs done that he will pay money for.
They move on to the next big topic they want to cover in more detail, which is the concept that obligation is poison. Paul believes that for most people, if they have an obligation for any period of time, it eventually poisons the relationship with that obligation. Paul mentions how one could argue that the recent changes with ant village etc, are a definitive test to see who is merely a human being, or who is noble; ie. when awkward situations arise a person makes it better, (noble) vs taking the awkward situation and making it worse.
The mission with ant village and the recent changes is to “observe the poisoning and come up with a permaculture design that is aligned with human nature to minimize or mitigate the poison.” Paul brings up how there will be obligations so they need to design a system that embraces that. Jocelyn remembers the various systems they had tried to solve this problem but how many of them failed.
Paul tells the story of the road he shared with his neighbor when he lived on Mount Spokane. He struck a deal with his neighbor that Paul would buy a new tractor, shape the road and plow the snow and his neighbor would buy and put down the gravel. Paul kept up his end of the bargain but his neighbor did not, and eventually it poisoned the relationship between them since had an obligation to buy gravel.
Paul also talks about with the previous gapper program, he had an obligation to make a lot of money to pay for the food, utilities, fuel, repairs, the projects and people he hired. Over time this weighed on Paul and eventually got ‘poisoned’ due to the fact that the long term plan wasn’t realized as they had initially imagined possible, and yet they were still paying out a lot more than what they were getting back in other ways in return.
The other side of this is the gapper side – which is that they are obligation to put in 35 hours of work, and over time, they became poisoned as well, because they end up having to do work they hadn’t planned on (repairs, cleaning, etc). Paul brings up the pig-bucket problem, and how they are looking for people to be at Wheaton Labs long-term. Jocelyn points out that in other farms they have Woofers that come in for the growing season, but it’s on a much smaller scale than the 200+ people that had been there so they have less problems.
Paul tells the story of a guy who had initially set out to stay at Wheaton Labs forever, and so Paul purchased him an expensive smart phone and a 2 year plan, so he could be reachable, and have access to the internet. Paul asked in return for a picture a day posted out at permies. Paul had thought it was stacking functions, since he is getting the guy’s help on the land and pictures. The pictures ended up being infrequent, averaging on about one picture a month. Paul feels the phone became a poison, and the person eventually left, leaving Paul with the bill.
Paul expresses that he himself has his own obligation is poison issues, and has to be careful with what he takes on so that he doesn’t fall into the same trap himself. Paul and Jocelyn discuss more of the details of the cell phone situation, and how it could have been different had the “obligation is poison” not come into play.
They move on to discuss their experience hiring and feeding people from craigslist as general labourers, to help finish Wofati 0.7 and preparing for a workshop. After an incident where one worker who had a lot of experience revealed how much he was being paid, others felt it was unfair and demanded more money while throwing everyone else under the bus for it. This resulted in them all being fired and Paul expresses they wouldn’t hire from craigslist again.
Next, they cover breakfast with spiderman, which was a situation where during breakfast a person complained that Paul needed to stop being so negative with his opinions. Paul makes the point that while that is valid, he views the breakfast table can be a space to hash out various aspects of whats happening at that moment and any problems that come along with that.
Jocelyn brings up how there were many aspects of ‘poison’ that had built up for Paul by that point, and she felt that the person who complained about Paul’s rant, didn’t see the full picture of what was going on since Paul would get more ‘ranty’ in a negative way since there was already so much built up poison. Paul agreed that he was bringing negativity and felt that needed to change. He explains why he dubbed this issue breakfast with spiderman.
They wrap up speaking about negativity, and how easily it spreads, and the podcast continues on in part 3.
Credit: Vida Norris
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