A Start of a Hello

Goodbye class! And hello, a permaculturist lifestyle.

Beyond Sustainability: The Methodology and Practices of Permaculture made me think a lot about the way we lived, the things we value, and what we can change. After taking this class, I feel a lot more educated about the broad topics that exist within the permaculturist world, and because I know they exist, I can now look more into them and try to improve the way I live, for the sake of myself, my great grand-children, and the planet.

The twelve permaculture principles listed in Holmgren’s book were all integrated within the course through different trips and some principles were clearly everywhere, especially Observe and Interact.

I think this class is a great kickstart to introduce students to a new living style that will ultimately bring benefits to the future. One thing I would change, if I could and it doesn’t cause too much discontent in others, is to have to class more often! It’s a great stress reliever and we learned a lot of things about living in a way that is more mindful of the environment and efficient systems. Also in our era, one environment-related class like this should be one of the requirements to graduate.

I would also elect to search for an internship, but it might not end up being exactly an internship. Many internships I found were only for students already in the pharmacy program and a lot of people I talked to (professors, advisors, other pre-pharmacy students) advised me to apply to become a pharmacy technician. I will continue looking for more opportunities throughout the school year for more pharmacy related things and also try to apply for positions as pharmacy technician. Thank you, professor, for all your hard work in teaching us and helping us with our futures! I am really glad I took this course.

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Outside of Class Activity

During one of the weekends I went home, I helped out (a little) at my uncle’s farm.

I helped feed the chickens and put a new small chicken into the coop. There was one rooster that picked fights and bullied all the hens, and there was one hen and one other rooster who fought back.  I ended up sitting there talking to them (but mostly myself) for about an hour while my uncle gave his Siberian Husky a bath and prepared food for the children inside.

When I walked inside, I saw that my younger cousin owned some electronics but rarely touched them. Instead he asked us to go outside and shoot with him. I didn’t exactly know what he meant but then he pulled out a bow and arrow and a BB gun. I realized his lifestyle was a lot different from mine, and a whole lot more active. There was a lot of space to run and put targets and cans to shoot at, and meanwhile he told me a story about how his dad was practicing shooting in the barn with a real gun and his little sister walked in and almost got shot. It sounded so unreal to me, mostly because in my life, I don’t think I have ever seen a real gun in action. He asked me to try shooting the gun and I held it with one hand and he exclaimed, “Ohohoho, look at you, one hand already!” And I didn’t understand at all, but he explained, “You have to hold it with two to stabilize it, unless I guess, you’re pro with one hand.” I remembered that I learned that before but I didn’t recall that fact when I had to put it into practice. He then talked fondly about running around the farm and catching fireflies during most nights in the summer.

Later, they ate small heads of corn and offered me one. It wasn’t nearly as sweet as the ones we find in the grocery store but it tasted more . . . real? Or natural? I’m not sure how to describe it. It seemed like they did not depend on grocery stores for their main source of vegetables or fruit, and even though I had my laptop with me, I didn’t feel like opening it up on the farm. Perhaps it was the atmosphere or because no one else used their electronics during the day, even though they did have them. I had a lot of time to be bored, without the hustle of information from the social media and the Internet.

We went outside to pull some weeds in the fields but ended up trying to get cars to honk. We got about thirty of them to honk. My cousin Andrea also saw her teacher walk past and back to where she came from, and past again, and back again, in that span of three hours. Her tire broke and she was getting one of her relatives nearby to help her get a new one and replace it.

So even though it wasn’t exactly an outside of class activity, I think I learned a lot from spending the whole day at my uncle’s farm. His lifestyle was completely different to the lifestyle I had. I live a sedentary one but my sister is very active and she agreed that it still was a whole lot different. She said that living at a farm seems like it would give her a lot more street smarts and a lot more interaction with how nature works. Life felt a little more simple during our day at the farm, a little more productive, and a little easier to handle.

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More Greenery (Op-ed)

I believe that gardens should be a more widespread thing. Roof gardens, backyard gardens, anywhere. Gardens are necessary because they provide many benefits–such as reducing carbon dioxide in the air, providing healthy, accessible food, and it lets you save money.

Wherever there is free space, we need gardens because the amount of carbon we humans put out is too much for the plants in the world to absorb alone. They need support from even more plants. These plants should be encourage by humans, who have cut down countless trees to make room for ourselves. To give back, even if the original actions were made long before we were born, we should plant things again. The place should be as green as it was when the humans were not there.

In the Permaculture Class at U-M, we learned that the forest used to cover the entirety of Michigan. When people came to settle in Michigan, many of these forests were cut, but now it is making its way back up to the original percentage of land coverage. However, just making it to the original is not sufficient because we have been burning many fossil fuels. This releases more carbon dioxide into the air than before, when the forests covered the entirety of Michigan. So we definitely need more greenery in the world to bring the carbon dioxide to a normal level. 

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Carbon Footprint

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Wow, it takes 4.1 planets to support my lifestyle! It’s really surprising because it seems like we go through life day to day easily. We don’t often have to worry about running out of food in the market or running out of electricity, and we are not strained too much to have the basics of living. But the strain put on the planet is a completely different story!

There are a lot of things I can do to decrease this strain, such as use less electricity and growing my own food. Maybe using the car a little less or just walking that extra mile.

I think it was good for me to do this because it made me realize how one person can have a large impact on the world and changing the little things really do matter.

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Waste Journal

Thursday

  • snicker doodle box (recycle)
  • q-tip x 4
  • chicken biscuits box (recycle)
  • gum wrappers and gum x 3
  • toilet paper
  • apple core

Friday

  • paper towel x 2
  • noodle package (recycle)
  • tissue x 16
  • toilet paper
  • gum wrappers and gum x 2
  • gum wrapper x 6
  • apple core
  • q-tips x 2
  • candy wrapper
  • paper cup
  • pipe cleaner
  • lots of dust and hair (from the vacuum)
  • plastic ziplock bag (recycle)
  • sticky notes x 5
  • leaves of paper x 14 (recycle)
  • empty milk carton (recycle)
  • tea bag
  • fabric softener sheet
  • package boxes x 2

Saturday

  • paper towel
  • toilet paper x 3

The general trend I’ve observed is that the more I’m outside of my dorm room, the less waste I tend to directly create. Perhaps it’s because I am always snacking when I’m at my dorm. It was interesting though, because I ended up wasting less than I thought I would (except on Friday when I cleaned the room)! Perhaps I missed some things and left stuff laying around instead of throwing it out right away. On Saturday, I was out of my dorm for almost the whole day and avoided creating too much waste so that I did not have to find a trashcan nearby. But I may have also missed recording some waste because I did not always have my notepad with me. I could change my snacking habits or snack in more environmentally friendly ways to reduce some of this waste.

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Farmer’s Market

I met two stand owners at the Kerrytown Farmer’s Market~

Walking through the market was nice and relaxing! The bustle of people there reminded me of the farmer’s market back at home, and it was a great trip to get off campus and see people other than the students and professors on campus.

The first one was Debbie Marx, who made all the jewelry herself! I asked her where she found her materials and she said that she’s had a fascination with gems ever since she was five so that’s when she started collecting beautiful stones. She goes to gem shows, and buys them from places, and finds them, and basically gets her materials from anywhere–there is no specific one place.

She gave me a sheet with a short autobiography to make my assignment easier and she told me that all students get a dollar off whatever they buy! Wow! Overall, speaking to her was a fun experience and she was a really friendly person.

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The second one seemed to be in a rush because I did go to the market sort of late, but she sells purses and wallets that she had made herself. Her name is Diana and she gets her materials from distributors. She’s been doing this for 40 years! Holy cow!

I didn’t get to take a picture though, sadly, because she seemed so hurried and busy. Maybe next time.

I wish the Farmer’s Market was a little bit closer to campus; I love the atmosphere and definitely would visit more often!

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Compact Societies

Yesterday we learned about many helpful plants in the Arb. We only walked a distance of a few hundred meters or so, but there were so much to learn about the plants there.  The plants were so nearby–it seemed like everything that we needed was reachable in that small space.

This made me think of compact societies. I don’t know the real term for it, but I’m saying something like a small neighborhood–that has a grocery store, a farm, a drug store, a local doctor– with almost all they need within walking distance. From what I remember from history, this was how it was before there were cars.

Everything in the modern world is so separated. We might have to drive miles to reach the grocery store, drive some more to the gas station, and drive to a school far away. But what we saw in nature seemed so easily accessible. Perhaps we should design our living communities the same–as diverse and as close. Honestly, everything is within walking distance when we have time, but with the society we live in, it’s hard to control our allotment of time when so much is going on. But it’s easier for us to control space.

If everything was close by, and we lived in these compact places of needs, then people would walk more, and if they would walk more, they would be at least a little bit more fit. We would save fossil fuels, and also potentially save time!

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