The Big Idea

In 2010, when I completed my permaculture design certification through Earth Activist Training, I had a general intention of remediating the issues on my property and sharing the amazing information I had learned…

How I was going to do that, however, was another question.

It’s taken five years, working as a copywriter for permaculturists and learning vicariously, observing my property and trying various small projects, hosting conversation circles and mini-workshops, before I could say with certainty that I held a dream: to turn the property into a demo site, a training ground where ecological issues common to the whole community could be addressed and the solutions shared.

Last year, 2015, I voiced that dream while taking The Money Course, and began the journey with a mini-permablitz led bypermaculture graduate student Marlo Weekley; consults with local practitioners Eric Kelly and Ulysses Archie; setting of priorities. Phase 1 of the land-healing process was self-evident: “partnering the water.” That is, coming to understand the seasonal wealth of water that crosses my land, and making the best possible use of it rather than shunting it off into the municipal system.

I’ll be doing that in 2016 by adding hugelkultur berms, rain gardens, and swales, sheet mulching to build the soil absorption rate, and tweaking the rain gardens I have. And along the way, connecting with speakers and hosting workshops….

Longer term: terracing the front hill to reduce erosion; hot and slow composting, vermiculture, raised-bed gardening, and incorporating elements of the Paradise Lot concepts for year-round food supply in suburban forest gardens.

And the beneficiaries? Aside from the neighbors, community members, and Baltimoreans who suffer from similar property woes (or share similar land-healing dreams)…aside from the overall benefit to our immediate ecosystem, the improved habitat for birds and small wildlife, and (incrementally) the impact on the global climate, there may also be a very direct and measurable downstream benefit.

On the main road less than a quarter-mile downhill from our neighborhood is a lower-income community, whose basement apartment have flooded frequently in the 40+ years I’ve lived in this part of town. If we, upstream, can reduce the runoff from our properties, I am guessing that life could become a great deal easier for those who have borne the brunt downstream.

For reasons both local and global, a dream worth pursuing!