Tuesday, March 26, 2013

PDC Homework - 1.2 Ethics

How does each ethic apply to you? What more can you do in developing these ideas in your home, work, and community?
As we are Muslim, and believe Islam is a way of life, not just a religion, the ethics of Permaculture are an intrinsic part of our belief/way of life. All of humanity was created from one couple, Adam and Hawaa (Eve). Adam was created from the Earth, and as such, when we care for the Earth, we are caring for ourselves. We came from the Earth and will return to the Earth. What better way to honour our Lord and ancestors than to care for our origin. Without knowledge and caring for of our origin, we cannot have a future. 

Care of the Earth – The ethic of care of the Earth coincides with our religious beliefs. In Islam we are taught that humanity is the vicegerent of Allah (God) and as such, great responsibility comes with this great honour. We only have one Earth, and if we do not care for it, we are committing genocide. We must begin on the individual level, and let the practices spiral-out to the local community, county, state, nation, and global spheres. Our neighbor should be viewed as the 40 houses in front of, behind of, and to the left and right of us. When we get to know all of these people, and they do the same…change will replicate itself.
We look at care of the Earth from layered perspectives. We consider nurturing and replenishing the earth through effective Permaculture techniques, such as composting, mulching, harmonious planting, swales, and encouraging compatible grazing and fertilizing. We also consider caring for the Earth in the materials we use, make, and buy. For example, in not purchasing harmful detergents, synthetic materials, plastics, and chemicals, we stop the cycle of poisoning the Earth. In growing soap nut trees, we provide natural cleaners for body, clothing, and house that have no negative effect on the Earth. At the same time, the tree generates oxygen, provides shade, and adds to the beneficial diversity of plant life.  Caring for the Earth extends to using tools and machinery that neither pollutes from its raw materials, in its manufacture, from its use, or from its disposal at the end of its useful life.

Care of People – In addition, Allah (God) says in the Quran: O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah (God) is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah (God) has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). 

What can be more righteous or honourable than caring for humanity? To care for the Earth, in itself cares for the people on the Earth. In growing organic foods, we no longer poison mankind. In growing diversely and establishing food forests, we feed ourselves and others. In teaching care of the Earth, as well as showing respect and consideration for others’ needs, we propagate a culture of peace and harmony.

Give away surplus – We have purchased 51 acres in Roy, New Mexico. The population of the village is 234. With only one grocery store, and 24.3% of the population living in poverty, we intend to have “Friday Food Fairs”, to give away surplus and host tours of our farm. We do not believe the surplus is limited to food, but includes knowledge. We plan to share our surplus of knowledge as well. By sharing with our neighbors, we hope to build the bonds of community and improve the quality of living of the people.

Life Ethic
We value the fact that everything has a place on this earth and has a right to be here. Each and every component, from the tiniest insect to the greatest beast is part of the perfect balance of nature. 

Reduce Consumerism
Islam prohibits wasteful spending, accumulation of unnecessary things, and focus or priority on worldly things.  “The Story of Stuff” helped us see a bigger picture regarding consumerism. We have, over  the past ten years, made numerous changes to our lifestyle and shopping habits. Practically, we never buy new unless absolutely necessary. For clothing, we considered various options, but found that being in Freecycle groups, checking Craig’s List, and buying from second hand and consignment shops has served our family perfectly for almost all our clothing needs. When we find new/nearly new Birkenstocks, Born shoes, and UGG slippers for $1.00 at the Goodwill, we cannot imagine spending $60 upwards for a new pair! In fact, the quality of our clothing improved greatly because we found far more expensive clothing given away and being sold for 75 cents a piece than we would have considered buying. We can be selective, choosing only natural fibres, to ensure that they will go back to the earth after their usefulness is exhausted. We have gone back to cloth: hankies, napkins, tablecloths, cleaning cloths, sanitary pads, toilet cloths, and reusing old clothes and socks for cleaning, making rag rugs, dolly clothes, and other crafts.  We make from scratch, including our own shampoo, household cleansers, and deodorant. We use fruit crates for storage, reuse whatever we can, and constantly seek ways to take care of our needs through natural means such as growing medicinal and soapnut trees, bamboo for its wide variety of uses, etc. Our goal is to live off the land, enjoying what it produces and what those in our immediate area produce, and being satisfied with that, rather than always seeking more. 

Co-operation rather than Competition
We are striving to live in harmony with the earth, tuning ourselves into its symbiotic nature, its built-in survival and regeneration abilities. We look at how we can work with the earth, with our surrounding rather than disturbing and destroying them. For example, we currently live in Saudi Arabia, where our climate is extremely hot and arid. We have three date palm trees and several henna bushes planted on a small patch in our courtyard area. The ground was dry, parched, and needed extensive watering for any effect on the plants. However, we bought straw bales and spread a thick layer over the ground to give cover and retain the moisture. It has made a huge difference, meaning we water just once a week and harvest a beautiful date crop and thriving bushes.  As the straw breaks down, it composts benefiting the earth below even further and adding to its regeneration.  We also housed chickens on that patch, with a thick straw bed underfoot. They can make natural nests in it, whatever scraps (rinds, vegetable scraps that were not eaten, etc.) can be turned over in it to compost along with their manure, and it becomes more and more attractive to insects that they can feed on.

The land we bought has traditionally been used as grazing land for cattle. It is all grassland, with very slightly rolling hills. We plan to look at what is growing there, along with the grass, and see how we can incorporate food forests, trees and shrubs for shade, natural fencing, in harmony with what is already there. We understand that building our house on an elevated part of the land will ensure run-off and give the best exposure for passive solar design. In addition, taking advantage of the fact that the land is at a notable drop from the road, we can direct it through swales to irrigate the land and fill the seasonal lake bed. One of the biggest things we look forward to learning during this course is how to make the most of our surroundings through co-operation and harmonious existence.

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