It was not my first visit to Orlando. Back in the eighties, my parents took me to Disneyworld. I was young, but I have vivid memories of that visit. I was bored to death by the Hall of Presidents, I thought that the It’s a Small World Afterall ride was weird and lame, and I wished there were more exciting, like roller coasters.
Of course, for my tour this year,I had no intention of visiting Disneyworld. I had made arrangements to attend a meeting of Orlando Permaculture, who happened to be having their monthly meeting on the very day I planned to begin my tour. I stopped in Fort Meyers, Sarasota, and Tampa on my way up to Orlando, to add to my growing collection of Urban Photography. Anyone who has been following Permagora since the South America leg of World Tour 17 will know that I am fascinated with architecture, and I have a running project to compile cool photographs of the buildings, parks, and scenes from the streets from settlements of all kinds, from around the world. I’m at around 150 different cities/towns, at this point, and I’ll be adding quite a bit to that in the next few months, as I drive up the east coast and back down through the Midwest.
My time in Orlando was epic. I couldn’t think of a better way to start off my tour. even though I went through a moment of existential dread when I first arrived in town. It’s been many years since my days of vagabonding, and although I’ve got a car, camping gear, and a bank account full of money, I still felt a twinge of insecurity about showing up in a town where I knew nobody, and no place to stay for the night. I remember going through and getting over this insecurity back when I first struck out on my walks back in the day, but I’ve grown soft over the years, I guess. Having a loving wife, a soft bed, and a blessed life will do that to a man, I suppose.
It rained as I drove into Orlando, though it let up for my walk through downtown. It was evening, and by the time I got to the church where the permaculture meetup was to take place, it was dusk. I had no plans for after the meeting, and I could only hope that the path would be laid before me. Silly of me to worry, but I suppose I was also missing my family, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was really a good idea for me to be attempting this crazy five thousand mile journey all by myself, on a wing and a prayer that I would be able to develop an income from my writing.
By the end of the meeting, I was once again reminded that I was totally taken care of. How many cubits was I really hoping to add to my lifespan by worrying? Of course things were going to work out just fine.
The meeting was great. Close to forty people showed up, and that, I was told, was actually kind of a small crowd. Orlando Permaculture has a really active scene, with monthly meetings, workshops, classes, and other kinds of gatherings.
The sheer volume of awesome projects and efforts underway in Orlando have necessitated a shift in my approach to reporting on all that I’ve been seeing. I will continue to write blog style articles on all that I’m doing on this trip, but I will be putting detailed descriptions, interviews, and reports into separate articles. When my website is reorganized with more categorized sections, it will be easy to find different stories on different topics. That will be coming soon.
For now, I’ll just link to the articles, interviews videos about individual projects in these overview posts. I hope you’ll take the time to check them out. So many people in our world are taking bold steps to creating a better world, and I am honored to be crafting a career in finding those people and reporting on what they’ve got going. This is really exciting stuff. In spite of all the crap that’s going on, from wars and oppression to ecological destruction and consumerism, so many people are tuning in to higher wisdom and changing their lives for the better. It is so encouraging to see.
So back to my own personal drama: by the end of the meeting, I had many new friends, and a place to stay for the night. The gang at the Peanut Butter Palace, a suburban permaculture community, offered me place on one of their couches, which I gladly accepted. Connecting with the folks at that meeting and finding a place to stay really assuaged my unnecessary concerns about being all alone in a foreign place. My people are everywhere, and there is no patch of ground on this planet that is not my home.
I ended up staying an extra night, actually, so much did I find to do and see in Orlando. The Peanut Butter Palace is a really neat project, and it was only one of several in the area. I arrived after dark, so the next day I did a tour of their property and I was really impressed. They’ve really utilized the space they have well.
After doing a video tour of that project, I went back to the church where the meeting was held the night before, to talk with the pastor there about the exciting collaboration potential (and, thanks to her, reality) of collaboration between the church and permaculture. This is a story unto itself, and I made a few videos on this topic during my follow up visit to Audubon Park Covenant Church.
After that visit, I hung out with John Erik, who came all the way down from Saskatchewan to check out a scene where the church was collaborating with local permaculture people to bring care of creation into the religious conversation. We went to a botanical park called the Leu Gardens, which was just around the corner. It was beautiful!
Then we went out to another permaculture project at guy named Jeff's house, which was also in a suburban setting. After that, there was another monthly meeting of local activists and reformers, called a Hive Meeting. This is part of an initiative called Ideas For Us, which has lots of crossover participation from the Orlando Permaculture group. Details of all these projects can be found in the articles linked below.
I had such a good time connecting with all the folks in Orlando, and I was a little sad to have to leave so soon. I stayed one more night out at the Peanut Butter Palace, and then the next morning I had to hit the road. I was already a day behind my projected schedule on the second day of my tour. But I wouldn’t change a thing. It worked out fine, and my next appointment, in Savannah, Georgia, was flexible enough to receive me a day later than originally planned. Good thing, because I had a few more stops to make in Florida before that. After leaving Orlando, I went to St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, and then a brief walk through downtown Jacksonville.
The folks I met at Savannah Tribe intentional community were great, and I couldn’t believe how aligned we were in so many ways. That story, though, will have to wait until the next article. So stay tuned! This is really exciting stuff, and the journey has only begun!
(Stories to be posted soon!)
Peanut Butter Palace
Permaculture and the Church