I first learned about permaculture in 2005. I was living in San Antonio, enjoying my life, not really thinking much about the future, until a ghastly vision of an epic collapse got me to thinking about the vulnerability of modern civilization. My internet query happened to lead me to a book called Final Empire, from which I learned about such things as permaculture and ecovillages. I knew immediately that these were key concepts, but it wasn’t until three years later that I actually felt like I was ready to begin my own journey towards practicing permaculture and working towards changes in human society.
Three years later, back in San Antonio again, I planned my journey up to the Northwest, where I knew I’d find what I was seeking. I lived with my mom, worked in restaurants, saved money, and did all sorts of research on the web. I watched all the permaculture videos I could find, and I searched for permaculture classes, groups, or projects in the San Antonio area. At that time, I found nothing. Even though permaculture was four decades old, it still hadn’t worked its way into mainstream, middle America.
My, how that has changed. Even a few years after that I was visiting San Antonio, and I just happened to search for San Antonio permaculture again, finding several groups and organizations had formed. This was very encouraging.
I went back to the San Antonio area last June, concluding my North America Tour in Texas and staying with family. I didn’t really have a whole lot of time to around and do journalism, but I did make it out to a number of really neat projects around the city.
The first was a place called Renewable Republic, where the Conscious Resistance Tour organized an event. The Conscious Resistance Tour, creation of Derrick Broze, has been going around the country promoting the ideas of agorism, voluntaryism, and permaculture. I happened to be at the very first event of their tour, in Derrick’s hometown of Houston, just two days before. I was glad to get the chance to hang out some more, and thrilled to see such a vibrant urban permaculture homestead right near downtown San Antonio.
I was also delighted to find out that my friend Harold would be attending, and it was great reconnecting with him. We worked together in a restaurant during the time I was working to move to Oregon. My restraint from the temptations of the world and my growing interest in the spiritual element of reality impacted him, and when he had an awakening of his own a few years later, he got my number from my mom and called me up. We’ve stayed in touch ever since, though it had been five years since we’d last hung out.
We were given a very informative tour by Lorie, who owns the Renewable Republic project with her partner Skeets. They have done some really amazing work, transforming an old run down city lot into a flourishing garden with ducks, chicken, fish, fruit trees, and more. They also run an intentional community of sorts, renting out spaces in the buildings to people who run small businesses.
I took a good amount of video on the tour, which I am in the process of compiling into a short piece that will give you a good look at the land and some of what they’ve done there. They have a lot of things going on, including a business installing solar electric systems for people. Our journey to the roof, where a wide array of panels soaks up the power of the sun, made for a memorable finale to the tour.
After our tour of the land, the Conscious Resistance event began, following much the same format as in Houston. Miriam led a meditation, Johnny and Jeffer did a tag team talk about how they got into agorism and creating a freedom cell, and then Derrick spoke about his journey into activism.
I got to know quite a few new people, including Nadia, who is very involved in the San Antonio permaculture scene.
She told me about several projects that I might check out, and she also clued me in to the rift that was beginning to take place in the Austin Permaculture scene, regarding decentralized, custom made permaculture vs. one size fits all programs that are easier to explain, market, and get funding for from mainstream organizations.
I definitely wanted to learn more about this, and I exchanged info with her, hoping to get together again sometime before I left town.
During another conversation I found out about a senator based out of San Antonio named Jose Hernandez who was hard at work lobbying to get cannabis legalized in Texas. The guy who told me about this knew him personally, and he gave me the man’s direct phone line, saying he was very approachable. I really wanted to call him and set up an interview to talk about legalization in Texas, but alas, that never happened. Still, it’s good to know that some people are hard at work within the system, fighting the entrenched powers that think it’s okay to lock people in cages for having plants.
This time I was able to stay for the music afterwards, which was probably the most fun part of the whole evening. I don’t usually get too into heavy metal, but the guys sounded really good (Johnny and Jeffer being the front men of the band) and I could feel the spirit of the revolution in the powerful bass and screaming guitar licks.
When the night was winding down and the guys were packing up their trailer, there was talk of going to a taco shop somewhere. I had hardly eaten that night, so I was all in, but after much confusion and delay (the tour vehicle had a dead battery and it too us a while to get a jump lined up), I ended up getting lost trying to find the taco place, so I just went home.
Home at the time was my dad’s house, up in New Braunfels. My parents and sister all live in New Braunfels and San Antonio, so my stay was for close to a month. I definitely planned to come back to San Antonio and see some of the projects I had learned about that night. But that would be another story, for another time.