Scattering Seeds

“To be actively mobilizing toward setting up what might be called ‘seed’ communities is the really significant action. If people don’t actually get out of the money economy to a significant degree, if they don’t create a new land based culture that aids the earth, all the other political and environmental efforts will ultimately be meaningless.”— William Kötke, The Final Empire: The Collapse of Civilization and the Seed of the Future, 1993.

acorns_150x101.jpgIt dawned on me that “seed communities” are exactly what we’ve been documenting in our Peak Moment Conversations over the past two years. The individuals, families, and small groups we’ve met are working towards “local self-reliant living” in a pretty amazing variety of ways. Perhaps not yet as “seed communities” but as “seed initiatives.” And like seeds, they’re experiments. Some grow, some don’t. And everything in between. That’s how evolution works — lots of experiments, many of which “fail.” But they pave the way for the “successes,” the survivors.

We will need as many seed experiments in local self-reliant living as possible. For resilience. For more options. We need to follow indigenous wisdom, where they plant multiple crop varieties like Peru’s hundreds of native potatoes. So when the drought comes one year, some varieties survive. When a particular bug comes another year, some varieties survive. And the people live. Especially with the uncertainties of climate chaos, this resilience and local adaptability will be all the more needed.

And we need varieties of seed experiments in a multitude of arenas: food, water, transport, energy, shelter, clothing, tools, healthcare, economics, governance, waste, manufacturing, our individual psyches, our social networks — the list is endless. So here’s a sampler of some favorite Peak Moment Conversations you might enjoy watching or hearing.

Food. In summer-fall 2006 when we climbed into our Vanagon and taped Peak Moment Conversations in about 21 communities along the west coast, we met folks in every community focused on food production. Judy Alexander asked “How Much Food Can I Grow Around My House?” (#87). Her answer: over 60 varieties of plants, honeybees, chickens, and using a innovative homegrown rainwater catchment drip irrigation system.

Transportation. Sally Lovell’s enthusiasm in Go Electric: Bike Commuting Made Easy” (#40) is complete with show-and-tell, but I got the thrill of riding Scott Walker’s converted e-bike in “Making Way for Bikes” (#88). Get a tour of Otmar Ebenhoech’s electric vehicle conversion in “Return of the Electric Car” (#52).

Community Models. The conversation garnering the most comments on YouTube is “Learning from Cuba’s Response to Peak Oil” (#27) with Megan Quinn of Community Solutions, who visited Cuba to help videotape the documentary “The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.” This excellent film provides a glimpse what our post-petroleum future might be like — or not.

Perspectives. We consider Richard Heinberg to be one of the most knowledgeable, credible and accessible big-picture thinkers of our time. “Peak Oil, Peak Coal, and Beyond” (#63) is a preview of his new book, Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century Of Declines. Gutsy Richard Katz and Dennis Brumm face “The Elephant in the Peak Oil Living Room” (#60) by daring to talk about a taboo topic.

Shelter. In “Practical Tools to Grow an Intentional Community,” (#83) Diana Leafe Christian draws on her two decades as Communities Magazine editor to illuminate what makes for a successful intentional community. Take a mini-tour with Chris Stafford of “A Cutting-Edge Architect’s Eco-Friendly Home” (#86), especially his ingenious culvert rainwater collectors.

Soul Food. Ecotherapist Linda Buzzell-Saltzman helps many clients by having them reconnect with nature, while Larry Saltzman creates a Santa Barbara backyard food forest in “Reconnecting with Our Roots – Food for Body and Soul” (#96). Joanna Gabriel asks, “Who Am I? In a Post-Petroleum World” (#45).

Along with this inaugural entry in Janaia’s Journal, you’ll find these programs are at Peak Moment Conversations (link at top of this page).

Join the discussion. Comment on the videos. If you’re up to something interesting or have ideas for a future Peak Moment show, contact me at janaia (at) Let’s fertilize and propagate all these “seed experiments”!


  1. Patricia Parcells says:

    I just followed the link in transportation, because I recognized my neighbor Otmar’s name. How cool is this?! And what a small world we live in! I wonder whether electric vehicles count on World Car-Free Day?

    But in response to the journal entry — my first thought was actually about all the literal seed experiments happening in the Willamette Valley, where there are a number of plant breeders working on producing all sorts of locally adapted food plants, and how some of them are encouraging local gardeners to experiment with breeding themselves. Or just to save seeds and allow your favorite variety to adapt to your microclimate. And people like us, who selectively ignore the advice of the local extension service and grow those sweet potatoes that “you can’t grow here”!

    I’m having a really good time wandering through your conversations and picking up ideas that we can try.


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