Aug 31, 2009

Sustainable Aid and the Carbon Economy

Natural Building in a natural setting - Quail Springs Learning Oasis
> The course on Sustainable Aid for the 2/3rds World was an incredible experience for us. Held at the high desert Learning Oasis and Permaculture Farm, Quail Springs, the course brought together some pretty amazing folks, a multi cultural group with lots of experience with international travel and tons of passion for service.

Sustainable Aid Crew, ready to take on the challenges of our times!

Robyn Francis led our class through the processes for creating long lasting, and therefore truly sustainable projects in communities of high need. Her experience in the harsh conditions of the Australian Outback working with Aboriginals and 25 years of international travel working within communities, makes her a wealth of extremely valuable knowledge. She is also the founder of Permaculture Education and Djangbung Gardens. She is a true legend!

Jeremiah, Cuahtemoc, Marisha, and Loren focused on the design

Cat, Vinay, and Grant, observing the garden

Timelessly shaped earthen ovens

It was a perfect opportunity to reflect on our trip, and share our challenges and successes, and recieve guidance from a proffesional aid worker like Roybn and support from the group. It was a challenging and humbling experience, but left us better equipped with tools to put to practice.

Closing circle- speaking from the heart always brings us closer

We are back on the Gaviota Coast on the Orella Ranch. The ranch is in full swing, preparing for an upcoming series of workshops that offer to be the cutting edge in sustainability. The Carbon Economy Series (click to link to site) brings together an all-star line-up of farmers and thinkers to offer solutions to the various crisis that are unfolding across the planet.

Low-carbon building

The creation of a carbon economy may provide financial incentive for farms and businesses to offset their own and more carbon emissions. Click here to learn more and register

Natural Plastering by Aubrey and others

It is no doubt that our lives are intricately linked to the production of carbon dioxide (CO2), a potentially harmful greenhouse gas. Basically, our entire modern consumer culture is predicated on the indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels, one of the leading sources of CO2. Our water and food supply chains, the construction of our homes, and the jobs that pay for it all rely on cheap fuel to keep them running- and these systems have been designed around a continuous supply at affordable prices.


As some have stated: “The Party’s Over”. We are in the age of “Peak Oil” and “Global Warming”. Sounds like the solution is right there in the problem. We have realized that our planes, trains and automobiles may have given rise to the temperatures climbing at the poles, and tiny islands being covered by the ocean. Oil is being burned faster than it can be pulled out of the ground, and the prices are rising with the seas, and not much is being done about it.

What a better time than now to re-design our lives! It is it not necessary to produce harmful gasses into the atmosphere to provide our basic needs. We can also offset some of the impacts of our past actions by planting trees! Most trees take up an average of 1 tonne of CO2 in their lifetime. Most people need to plant around 7 trees per year to offset their CO2 use.

We planted the first trees in a series of plantings around our little compound to begin the process of offsetting our carbon use from our trip. Our rough calculation of our use (for the two of us traveling 10,000 miles in the cab-over for a year) is around 17 tonnes of CO2, that is around 8.5 tonnes each, or 60% less than the national average for USA of 20.4 tonnes. Click here to calculate your own footprint.

Billy-goat Holmes eyeing the trees Loren is going to plant

Giving little tree its first drink in solid ground

We estimate that we are already indirectly offsetting some of our CO2 emission through the programs we started on our trip. The Water bottle refill program alone could remove an estimated 100 bottles per week out of the waste stream. Over the 20-week tourist season, that is around 2000 bottles per year at each of the three stores who started the program, for a total of 6000 bottles per year. Each bottle generates 0.5 kg of CO2 in its production, for a total offset of 3000 kg, or 1.5 tonnes per year.

Loren ready to plant his trees at Orella Ranch. Olives, Cherimoyas, Mulberries...

We will plant at least 10 trees each over the next couple of months to offset our CO2 use for the trip. We are also planting our vegetable garden, which can also significantly offset a persons’ CO2 use. All of this helps reduce global climate change and support the Carbon Economy. Plus we will have the added benefit of eating the fresh fruit and veggies!

Orella Ranch Nursery

Green is good

We are currently developing a survey to ask you, our faithful readers, what you think is the most pressing need of the oceans and the people right now in history. We hope you will all participate, as this will help us to better understand peoples’ concerns, and therefore the projects that will most likely succeed with your help!

P.S. there's more!

We also highly recommend seeing the new movie "The Cove". It is currently playing at the Plaza de Oro (371 S. Hitchcock Ave)

Movie Trailer:
Save Japan Dolphins:
Earth Island Instititue:
Great interview on NPR about the film:

Also if you are in Oceanside tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 1st at 7pm

there is a Benefit Screening for the California Surf Museum of "The Women and the Waves"

at The Grace Theater (102 N. Freeman St.)

* On going Community Events in Carpinteria- Local Earth People is presenting Social projects, art, music, and surf movies at the Women's Club every Friday night in September.

contact: Jason Lesh at for more info

1 comment:

Holly Beck said...

looks great! i can't wait to go up and visit you!!!
: )