One slow step at a time

Arkansas Living Treasures

Following a link from Fine Woodworking I came across an inspiring collection of videos featuring a group of traditional craftspeople who live in the US state of Arkansas.

The state has sponsored the production of a movie series featuring each craftsman talking about their work and practising in their studios.

Something that stands out is the advanced age of some of the artists who are still practising. Chair maker Dallas Bump is 94 and fiddle maker Violet Hensley was still making well into her 90’s.

Other artists that particularly interested me were

The award of “Living Treasure” echos the Japanese tradition of designating important figures in the crafts and arts as Living National Treasures. Several other countries have also adopted the nomination including Australia, although the Aus list is short on crafts people, favouring sports people, politicians, actors, writers and business magnates. Craft Australia has created its own Living Treasures list, adding one person each year since 2005.

A recent reminder of the strong Australian links with Japanese ceramics occurred with the visit of Euan Craig to give a very successful workshop at the National Arts Centre in Sydney. In the 90’s Euan was an apprentice of the Japanese National Living Treasure Tatsuzo Shimaoka.

Bookmarks for December 15th through January 7th

These are my links for December 15th through January 7th:

  • Fukushima Crisis Goes Global - Gloomy assessment of the Fukishima cleanup operation and a valuable reminder of how under prepared the world really is for nuclear power.

  • The Tale of the Hammer - If you have ever wondered about the Japanese name for hammer, here is a fascinating exploration, complete with ghosts and tricky foxes.

  • Permaculture Tools - home - A new collection of Permaculture resources that looks promising.

Bookmarks for October 13th through December 8th

These are my links for October 13th through December 8th:

Bookmarks for September 18th through October 9th

These are my links for September 18th through October 9th:

  • Rewild the Child - Reading this I realise how lucky I was to grow up where children roamed about freely and at a time when there was still plenty of nature to be found not far from the back door.

  • The Internet Is a Surveillance State - “Maintaining privacy on the Internet is nearly impossible. If you forget even once to enable your protections, or click on the wrong link, or type the wrong thing, you’ve permanently attached your name to whatever anonymous service you’re using.”

  • Top 10 Excuses Why We’re Still Addicted to Supermarkets - I am against much of the damage wrought by supermarkets, yet I am guilty of many of these excuses from time to time. Good reminder to stay vigilant.

Bookmarks for August 19th through August 28th

These are my links for August 19th through August 28th:

Permaculture Online Course update

In a previous post I wrote about the positive experience we were having taking part in Geoff Lawton’s Online Permaculture course. Having completed all the online lessons and the quiz we are now working on the practical assignment which is due by the end of August.

The course continues to stimulate us and our enthusiasm for the material remains strong. Even on evenings when we were tired from a busy day the prospect of some “Geoff time” was appealing and we had little trouble keeping up the momentum and staying more or less in line with the proposed course outline.

The course is well structured and its clear that Geoff has given it many times. His great depth of experience serves to ground the potentially abstract materials and to “keep it real”1. For me the only time this focus was lost was in the final section “Creating an Alternative Society”. Geoff still had plenty of relevant experience to relate however the videos for this section felt looser and had a more rambling character than the bulk of the course. For students at the end of an intense two weeks this is probably a relief as Geoff kicks back and the amount of material being relayed eases off.

Random notes

  • As we start on the practical exercise, studying maps and design options on paper and then taking that onto a plot of land has been revealing and exciting

  • We didn’t make extensive use of the forums however whenever we had a question we could usually find someone else had already asked it. My wife and I watched all the video’s together and effectively formed a small team, this was very valuable as we continued to discuss the course content beyond the time spent “in lectures”.

  • The regular uploads of videos with answers to participants questions are excellent and provided an opportunity for him to reinforce core concepts

  • The course included a DVD set with all of the lectures plus the full set of DVD’s previously created by Geoff. So far we have watched a few of these and I can see they will be a very valuable resource

  • While being very positive about the online course, I can see that the regular on the ground practical work integrated into the learning experience of an onsite course along with a gifted teacher and located at a well developed demonstration site would have many benefits. The quality of the teacher, the depth of their experience and their ability to communicate this would be a key factor in deciding which course to take

  • Key learning - the mainframe design. The course has transformed the way we view landscape and has us spotting dam sites and swale opportunities everywhere. Walking around the site we are using for our practical assignment, a place we had visited many times before, revealed a completely new landscape potential to us. Geoff says the course will permanently change the way you view the world and I believe he is right.

  1. Another great benefit is that the course text, Bill Mollisons’ Permaculture Designers Guide which I had previously found heavy going, has undergone a sort of decoding and now reveals itself as and incredible useful manual which supports the course content with additional depth and paths to study.

Bookmarks for August 6th through August 7th

These are my links for August 6th through August 7th: