Monday, August 30, 2010


Shortly after a meeting with a representative of KQRS, 93X and Love 105 about marketing, I met Nando Padros. He was taking a picture, as many do, of the Uptown mural outside our building at 2112 Hennepin, the old Hollywood Video building. Nando was on his bicycle, coming from Spain, via Africa, New York City and Canada, on his way to South America. 60,000 miles, in six and a half years.

"What made you decide to tour the world on a bicycle?"

"I was sick of all this," he said, as he gestured toward the chaos of traffic on Hennepin Ave.

"So are a lot of people."

He nods. "Life is a matter of feelings. Sometimes we only need the strength to make something happen no matter what. In my case it was to try to help, while finding some personal freedom from this bloody society."

He is smiling, friendly. The traffic next to us is relentless. Heat is radiating off the tar parking lot we are standing on. The sun is reflecting off his sunglasses.

"Four years on my bike in Africa. There are problems of course. You get sick, people point guns at you. But I'm a better man for it. I'm a better person than I was before I left. It was the best thing I ever did."

He leaned one way and the bike started to tip, loaded as it was with panniers front and back, bags of gear piled on a rack above the back tire, a bag hanging on the steering wheel. He has twice as much gear as I did on my ill-organized attempt to bike across the Northwest quarter of the United States two years ago. He's riding the same bike, "Halima", he started with in Spain. He continued...

"It gets lonely sometimes. But never so much as here in America. Africa, Asia, the Middle East, you don't have that, people are not so lonely. It is only in America, Canada and Europe where so many people are lonely. The richer the country, the more lonely the people."

He's off to Excelsior today. Four days in the Minneapolis/St Paul metro area, then west, toward Colorado. After that it's Central and South America. His progress can be tracked at Project Gambada,, where he is taking donations. As I understand it, part of his mission is to provide services to the world's poor. Make your own judgement as to whether he is worthy of your support.

"It is not easy, giving up the comfort to head into the unknown. But how interesting is sometimes getting lost, or not knowing what will happen next. I will tell you if you allow me, do not fear any dream. Dreams are made to make them happen, otherwise it doesn't make sense to dream. Just keep living like today will be the last day. Life is so short to have time to look back."

All smiles, handsome, tan and alive, is Nando Padros. Blessings, Brother.

And who knows. Maybe I'll meet you in my canoe somewhere near Tierra del Fuego.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Did I last blog on Tuesday? Wow. I worked approximately 60 hours Tuesday-Friday, probably another 12 today, another 12 tomorrow, likely continuing for the next week. It takes a bit of time, setting up a retail Halloween store in 8000 sq ft of space, in two weeks.

One of my tasks as Manager has been that of hiring staff. I put an ad on Craigslist and received a few hundred responses. I waded through those and called in about twenty people for interviews. Of those, I selected seven exceptionally talented individuals with impressive stories. They are helping with the inventory, data entry, stocking, etc.

One thing is clear, after wading through a few hundred emails asking for employment - writing is a skill few possess. I knew that, having worked as a Copy Writer at the Behemoth, where I spent a significant amount of time trying to ascertain the meaning of emails riddled with misspellings and grammatical mysteriousness, many of those emails criticizing me for not writing well. Readers of this blog may know that I am not always grammatically pristine. I do however re-read my entries and make appropriate changes. Emails I generally re-read three or four times. Writing is a clear reflection of oneself. One might think, if I am applying for a job I should spell every word correctly. I should eliminate words thadn do not belong (as a case in point). I disregarded any applicant no matter his or her skills and experience, if his or her email was a grammatical mess. One should know: good writing is more intuition than science. One gains such intuition by reading and writing, not by studying grammar.

That said, as many hours as I've worked this week - too much crappy food, too much alcohol, too little sleep - I'm finding it hard to write. I'm not a great speller anyway. This morning, I composed a three sentence email to a young woman I wanted to hire but didn't. I wanted to lift her up even as I was giving her bad news, but none of the words I wanted to use came out anything like they are; exceptional came out as acseptuall. I gave up after twenty minutes and just used words like good and great.

Written language is of course a rather recent development in the story of Hominid. We didn't write anything for the first seven million years or so, so it's no wonder that, after maybe eight thousand years, the talent is not yet innate. That, and the recent prevalence of digital et al. People, especially young people, aren't reading much anymore. Manga doesn't count. Nor does Twitter. Twit was synonymous with idiot, when I was a kid, which wasn't that long ago. Now it's a verb everybody got to do/be/does.

From the Copy Writers at Verizon Wireless - "A Bare Knuckled Bucket of Does."


Aside - there are is a strong undercurrent of fear out there. People without jobs or much for prospects. How am I going to pay the rent? What am I going to eat? I wanted to give work to just about everybody I brought in for an interview. The richest nation in the story of nations, and there aren't jobs for everybody who wants one? It's not like there isn't work that needs to be done. But hey, that's what we get, allowing a hierarchical social system that inversely concentrates the bulk of wealth at the heights of that social pyramid. Quite contemptible, really - but just business as usual.

More on that, with the next post. Time to get back to work. There's a chaotic abundance of merch to be entered, priced, stocked. Mirrors to hang, store layout concerns to be addressed. Claireaty to be manetained.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pear Tree

There is a pear tree in my neighborhood. It is the only edible fruit tree, other than the American plum on the boulevard across the street, within ten blocks of my house. I have been watching the tree, a twenty-five foot specimen growing straight up and loaded with fruit, in anticipation of asking the homeowners - if you don't gather the fruit may I? I'd like to can the pears for winter.

I've been optimistic, looking at the house, a white bread faux-Tudor with a manicured lawn, home to the sort of people who drive to the store to buy pears rather than pick them off their own tree.

Sometime this past week, someone cut off every branch below eight feet.

The madness of this cannot be overstated. Not only is it unhealthy for the tree to trim live branches in the middle of summer, there were probably 100 unripe but soon-to-be-ripe pears on those branches. What did they do with them? Stuff them in black plastic bags, set the bags in the alley? What, they couldn't wait until the pears were ripe, give them to a church or school or food shelf? Put a damn sign in the yard - free pears? Probably the jackass man-of-the-house was tired of having to mow around the drooping branches. If it was just about not wanting to clean up the fallen fruit, he would have likely cut the whole tree down.

I should have asked earlier about gathering the fruit. They might have left the pears until they were ripe. Still, cutting every reachable branch from a fruit tree? It simply never occurred to me that anyone could ever conceive of such a thing! Madness. Stark raving insanity; and yet, an oh-so-very mundane ho-hum middle-class American thing to do, by a consumer well trained. Shameful, really.

Telling this story to a friend, asking why we don't have fruit-bearing trees and shrubs all along the parkways, he said, "Well, nobody wants to look at homeless people gathering apples." Right, so we feed them the worst kind of unhealthy commercial food-product, and over-ripe, rotten, toxin laden, fossil fuel derived fruits and veggies from California and South America - even as we deprive everybody local of something fresh and wonderful. Indifferent to the long story of our species and the food shortages that have always been a part of that story, and will be again. It is madness. Stark raving insanity. Ho-hum, America.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Yesterday was my second (ever) attempt at canning tomatoes. The first was less than fully successful, two of the six jars failing to seal. That was in part the result of my not using the proper materials, namely, new caps. I had wanted to buy a set of new jars, but I was down to my last $14. I didn't want to spend $10 at once, when $14 might mean three or four visits to a wi-fi coffee shop. I did the canning at my sister's house. She had jars, and caps. It was only after I blanched and pealed the tomatoes that I realized the caps she gave me were used. I tried them, only to find the next morning that half the jars failed to seal. I bought new caps and re-attempted the process. One more jar sealed.

I had about as many tomatoes for the second round as the first, enough to fill two quart jars and four pints. This time I called a friend. He picked up my tomatoes, my laundry and myself in his near fully-automated mini-van, traveling by fossil fuels to his house about five miles away. He showed me around the house, the sound system of which is programmable from anywhere in the house, from either family vehicle, or from any of the family phones. Two years ago I was working at the world headquarters of the worlds largest electronic retailer. I've been out of the techno loop since. The tour of his house felt like a warp through two or three decades. I could write about the technology in greater detail, but by the time you read this my friend's system will probably be obsolete.

We canned the tomatoes on his driveway, while drinking Trappist beer from Belgium, speculating as to whether or not the Trappists are prone to chattiness once drunk on this spectacular substance.

Once canned (the tomatoes, not myself or my friend), I gave both quarts and all four pints to my friend, because he has a beautiful wife and two beautiful little girls. He and his wife objected, but I have on loan from them an ipod. I secured an agreement for another meal at some point in the not-so-distant future. The kids played in a small rubber pool while we adults ate grass fed burgers, and steamed veggies from my garden and Harmony CSA. After dinner I took video of parents and children playing in the pool.

The kids in bed, we ate homemade peach cobbler with a side wisp of port. My friend graciously opened a 12 year scotch, and the three of us sat on the porch contemplating the effect of sky gods on the culture, after which they asked about my love life. I answered.

My friend brought me home. In my driveway we had a long talk about awakening from the prism of our parent's perspectives. I assured my friend that he has broken through, that he is an excellent father, partner and friend. I didn't say there are so many more layers, culturally ingrained, deeply and unknowingly held attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that keep us from knowing who we truly are. A life long study.

We did both agree, there is nothing difficult about joy. The simple joy of playing with a child, of friendship, canning tomatoes on the driveway, drinking Trappist beer and 12 year scotch, for instance. The difficulty comes in opening to the possibility.

Friday, August 20, 2010


If you think the American standard of living is possible forever and always, or if you have come to realize our way of life is considerably more fragile than most people believe, I highly recommend John Michael Greer's blog, The Arch-Druid Report. There is no more insightful writer working in America on the end of Fossil Fuels, and what needs to be done to prepare for it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Job

Yesterday, I spent the late morning and all afternoon transferring 300 boxes of Halloween merchandise from a storage shed in Albertville, to the store in Minneapolis. There are now two small mountains of boxes on the show floor, waiting to be opened and stocked.

In the evening the two owners and I discussed the floor layout while eating BBQ and drinking beer. I put on a witch mask and danced for them.

We got drunk and discussed the pre-fab shelving that lines nearly every inch of wall in this 8000 sq ft, former Hollywood Video. We have little use for it. One of the owners talked about trying to sell it. I talked him out of it, suggesting instead we find someone willing to dismantle it and take it away for free - to be used again. They would make nice bookshelves.

We tried to move one. The whole thing fell apart, the shelves broken. It's a click and lock system something like what Ikea employs with their cabinetry and furniture (This is not an Ikea product, to be clear.) The steel locks inside the wood pulp shelves have ripped through the wood pulp and laminate. I tried pulling the shelves individually, from another rack. They wouldn't unlock. The three of us spent twenty minutes, trying to remove shelves. None of us could.

It became clear that there would be no removing these and moving them somewhere else. I had a brief moment of despair, looking at all those shelves, thinking about the trees that were ground up to make them, the toxic adhesives required to hold all that wood mash together, the laminate that is made out of...who knows what. Deeply sad, and angry, that such a thing as these shelves were ever made; an oh-so common example of our cultures indifference to the health of the Earth.

I said as much to the men with me, before I told them that as long as these shelves can't be moved we might as well have some fun destroying them. These guys are office guys, they haven't had an opportunity to do something like this since we were in college 16 years ago. Karate chop! and now the floor is littered in a ten foot deep ring out from the wall, in broken DVD display shelving.

There are beer cans in piles. Plates of BBQ. And the mountains of boxes.

I'm interviewing 10 potential employees in that space, starting hour. The one who isn't intimidated is the one we will most likely hire.

****On an unrelated not, again: I find it interesting that Google CEO Eric Schmidt is talking about us having to change our name and identity to escape our eternal Internet indiscretions, and that he wants Google to be our one-stop information channel for everything, but when I Google my name - William Hunter Duncan - this Google blog doesn't show up in the search results.****

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ramblings II

Riding my bike across Minneapolis to work, pondering the great mysteries of life, coming to the conclusion that its simply best to smile and be good to people, I come to the awkward intersection at 50th and Minnehaha Parkway. I and another man with two toy dogs are about to enter the crosswalk when a red extended cab pickup truck with a robust A on the side door, with three young men on the bench seat, pulling a compact skid loader on a trailer, rolls through the stop sign, parking the truck with the trailer hitch in the middle of the crosswalk.

I speculate to the man with the two toy dogs that the men in the cab must be doing work for the state. He suggests they are contractors, maybe working for the city. We wait for them to notice us, while they wait for an opening in the traffic on 50th.

Eventually they pull onto 50th, never actually aware we are here. We step into the crosswalk. A young woman in a black Corolla, who had been waiting behind the trailer, her elbow out the window, fingers twirling her dark hair, pulls into the crosswalk, oblivious. I stop. The man with the two toy dogs steps into the crosswalk, the woman in the corolla stops. He starts pounding on her hood with the palm of his hand, yelling, "Hello! Hello! This is a crosswalk. Hello! I'm a pedestrian and this is a crosswalk. Hello!" Clearly this man is not from around here. This is not proper Midwest passive/aggressive.

She looks at him not so much surprised or afraid that there is a man with two toy dogs pounding on her hood and yelling at her, but mostly vacant, even a little annoyed that she has been awakened from her neverland reverie.

We cross. On the other side of the street the man says, "Can you believe people?" The easiest thing to do would be to stoke his indignation. Instead, I say, "Oh, 95% of Minneapolitans are pretty good about yielding to pedestrians. We're all just a little distracted these days. Have a great week!" as I bicycle away. He yells, "be safe."

Ninety-five percent is probably a little generous, but he was angry and I wanted to diffuse that. I really don't have too many problems biking in this city. I did recently watch a middle-aged woman honk angrily at a man on a bike in a crosswalk, which she was trying to pass through, but that's no reason to condemn drivers et al.

Fact is, its easy to get lost in a motor vehicle. Climate controlled, personalized music, cell phones and reclining bucket seats. I'd rather face down a rhino than a driver in an SUV on his cell phone. As a bicyclist, I simply take it for granted that I am a small, mostly unprotected Homo sapien sapien in a world over-full with mechanical rhinos darting in every direction, and some of them are not going to be friendly.

Shortly after, I'm riding by Farmstead Park, thinking about checking in with the folks as Spyhouse Coffee to ask if I left my water bottle there, when I look down and there at the base of a tree is my water bottle.

****On a somewhat unrelated note, if you have time, google radio lab animal mind. If you listen to the program, pay special attention to the bookend animal stories in the front and back. Go ahead and skip through the blathering in between, especially the condescending scientist who talks about the great biodiversity of the Earth, and then acts as if whales, grizzlys and dogs are all the same.****

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I've been a bit dark lately. Contemplating the end of a relationship, the potential loss of my house, the end of cheap and abundant fossil fuels, 2012 and the spectre of rampant apocalyptic insanity. It gets to be a bit much. Exhausting. Lonely. And then...

A great gift! I've been hired to manage a Halloween store in Uptown. Seasonal work, of course, but it's good to be social again. To be invested with responsibility. One of those responsibilities is the task of hiring staff. See: Craigslist, Minneapolis-St Paul, Jobs, Customer Service, Halloween.

What a gift! Just when things started to get all existential and I began to wonder, again - What is the point? A few old friends step up and offer me a job that is almost guaranteed to be fun. Thank you, thank you, thank you, my friends, my Goddess, My God, the Divine.

Incidently, is there a muralist interested in an outdoor, semi-permanent stucco canvas, in a prominent location in Uptown? Also, an artist or plural interested in setting up the basement of our building as a halloween-themed destination site, haunted house or otherwise?

Planting late summer seed tonight: peas, spinach, cilantro, mustard greens, lettuce. I found a potato tuber growing above ground. Gathered about ten pounds of bread at the church give-away this morning. Time to start canning tomato. I'm drying plums in the sun. More sungold tomatoes from one plant than a man can eat. I need to do something with the eggplant, though I'm not sure what. Looking for neglected fruit trees, specifically apple and pear. I'll be making Frontenac wine soon. I'm revising my estimate of 50 pounds of storage beans to ten or fifteen pounds, but the potato estimate I'm raising, from 300 pounds to 500 pounds. Question is, where am I going to keep them?

And I suppose it's time to start thinking about a shower. Aside from a dip in Lake Nokomis during a twilight thunderstorm a few nights ago, while eating a pint of my favorite ice cream (hint, it's named after a musician I've never had much interest in), I haven't bathed since...well, I'm not quite sure. Two weeks? Biking ten miles a day on average, dancing every night for an hour or two. Either I don't smell much or people are overly polite. Running out of clean clothes, though.

It's a good thing I got this job, or I might have descended into defacto barbarism. I sometimes forget, I didn't choose to live off the grid. I love my little house but it has come to seem a burden, thinking about how much money would be required to prepare it for winter. Something smaller, modest, simple, is starting to sound attractive. Something shared.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


In early 2008 I read Joseph E. Lawrence's Apocalypse 2012. It was one of the reasons I became disillusioned with my service to the Behemoth. Reading it again, I am shocked by how much information I have simply forgotten, or subconsciously denied, and by how much more intuitive it seems to me now. Having read some of his source material, I'm finding myself unwilling to integrate it, on some levels, and hungry for it in other ways. While it adds up to a clear, glorious and profound vision of the dynamic inter-relatedness of the Galaxy, the Solar System and the Earth, it also speaks to the vulnerability of our species, which of course, runs wholly counter to the sense of control, constancy and dominance Civilization, it's Institutions and it's Citizens depend upon.

It seems the Solar System is passing through an interstellar energy cloud that is both distorting and energizing the Heliosphere, and all the terrestrial bodies in it. This, at the same time the Sun is entering into a Solar Maximum, a period of intense sun spot activity on an eleven year cycle. We know the Sun is capable of rendering the electrical grid of whole continents effectively useless and unrepairable, and nearly the whole of global communications silent and unrecoverable. That, and for some unknown reason, our magnetic shield, that magnetosphere of the Earth that protects Life from the harmful aspects of the Sun, is showing holes, as if it is short circuiting.

The last hundred and fifty years we have torn so many metals from the Earth, redistributing them across the globe, concentrating them in major cities, those constantly electrified, throbbing points of excess. And the streaming lines of metals in the air, on the ground and water. Perhaps all of it, slowing down, short-circuiting the great Dynamo, the spinning molten-iron center of the Earth, responsible for the charge that is our magnetosphere, weakening the charge, making us vulnerable.

And soon the Sun, perhaps already berserking, will come between the Earth and the great womb- like center of the Galaxy, the pulse from that center perhaps amplified by the Sun, perhaps amplifying the power of the Sun. We should all be living as if we may have to go underground for an extended period of time, at any time. But of course, we are not. Time may be ripening that possibility. A healing pulse for the Earth is not necessarily a healing pulse for the majority of Homo sapien sapien, though I'm hoping we are all suddenly awakened, at 11:11 Universal Time, 12/21/12, to the great inner workings of the Galaxy, our Solar System's place in it, and how fragile and yet protected the Earth is.

I expect it more likely, if there is an event, or a series of events, some great dragon-like fire from the sky or the bowels of the Earth, that much of Humanity will construe it as reason to annihilate the Other - whatever or whomever that Other may be. Do not be seduced by the purveyors of violence. They will be many, fundamentalists of Empirical, Religious and Market persuasions, and they will lead you to your destruction, when you might otherwise lead yourself on a path of healing.

The Earth, the Sun, the Center of the Galaxy - that great Trinity, though the same energy that flows through each flows through everything, including people. Rejoice! The Earth and all the Universe is pulsing with the energy of the Divine. Tap that energy, and be good to each other. Awaken. There is no greater purpose.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Sitting at my writing desk late last night, sweating in the trapped solar heat radiating from my house, gazing lethargically out the window, I saw what appeared to be an enormous spider, illuminated by the sodium arc streetlight above the asphalt intersection, gliding down an invisible line at an angle to the street.

I rushed outside, because there are no spiders native to this land as enormous as what I thought I saw, and because it was considerably cooler outside and any excuse to go outside is a good one. The air is stagnant, no breeze to cool the house.

I walked out into the intersection in aqua colored swim trunks and a white t-shirt, just as the seed had fallen to my knee height. Not a spider, but a tiny seed with delicate white feather-like strands extending outward in all directions in the shape of a ball. I dropped my hand below it palm up, wanting the seed to drift down into my hand.

Instead, the subtle air currents initiated by the movement of my hand pushed and pulled the ephemeral seed away from me, toward the center of the intersection. I stood there, in the street, illuminated by sodium arc, in the city, watching the seed travel further into the intersection and then up, caught in the radiant heat emanating upward from the asphalt, the white seed illuminated orange rising above my head, gaining speed, to the height of the lowest tree branches, within feet of the street light and then above it, into the darkness out of sight.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I recently heard you on Marketplace Money. With due respect to Tess Vigeland and Chris Farrell, I invite you to use that money to buy undeveloped acreage, with access to fresh water if possible, plant fruit and nut trees, a big garden, build a modest passive solar house off the grid with a large cistern and a root cellar. Raise chickens.

There is no more firm a foundation you could build for yourself or your child.

Monarch Sex

There are monarch butterflies all over my yard. Mine is the SE corner lot, and the boulevard is full of wildflowers. As are two flower beds in the yard. Of particular interest to the monarch are the blazing stars, of which I have three native varieties - meadow, prairie, dotted/rough - and the swamp milkweed, the common milkweed already having gone to seed. There is a large swamp milkweed outside the window to my writing desk. On it are three giant black hornets, more than an inch long. A "king of the insects" swoops in, lands on a hornet, the hornet flies to another flower and the monarch feasts.

Danaus plexippus. This is likely a third generation monarch, preparing to lay the eggs of the fourth generation. The first generation flew north from the Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve, a United Nations World Heritage Site in the Mexican states of Michoacan and Me'xico, in the central highlands. The fourth generation will fly back to the Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve, probably to the same tree the first generation over-wintered on, which was also the fourth generation monarch of the previous years generational cycle. The fourth/first generation will over-winter, hibernate on that tree with a few ten thousand others, amid a few hundred trees with a few ten thousand monarchs each. There are twelve such colonies in the central Mexican highlands, colonies that are protected from men with chainsaws, by men with guns.

I walk outside to watch the monarch. I count ten before I stop counting because I can't be sure if I'm counting more than one twice, they are fluttering from plant to plant so, from flower bed to flower bed. There is one fluttering here and there without landing on anything and then I realize, there is another monarch hanging underneath him. He is dipping and weaving, over the potatoes, through the corn, in and out the purple cone flower, over the house, brushing past the maple on the boulevard, back to the yard, up and down, again and again, propelling upward, giving way to gravity, for several minutes - while she is connected to him, hanging upside down, fully prone. I am exhilarated, watching them. Feeling a bit inadequate, really. What a ride! Who knew monarch sex could be so good?

Such is the effect of the Market, the power of Demand, that the monarch butterfly, one of the most cherished of North American species, must be protected by men with guns. If not for that protection, the monarch east of the Rockies, because they are so clustered through the winter, could go extinct in a single year, Demand being mostly indiscriminate and insatiable. The Market is the great hand of God, some say. Let the Market be, and all will be well, say the Market fundamentalists. If the Market were unchecked, there would be no monarch butterflies in my wildflower beds, or any other flower bed in North America, East of the Rockies. The men with chainsaws would have their way, and the forest that is the winter home for the fourth generation monarch that is also the first generation monarch for the next generational cycle would be lost.

What I wonder is, are the men with guns living in service to the monarch, in service to the Earth? Probably not. Most likely, they are in service to the UN, or the Mexican Government. I can not speak of the culture protecting those monarch colonies with any certainty, as I have not been among the people. I can only say what I know about men with guns in service to Government, of men with chainsaws in service to Corporations, sky gods or themselves, all of them more-or-less genuflecting before the Market, supplying Demand.

Having observed monarch sex, I am in service. If a man is to aspire to something, he need not be limited to the actions of his fellow men. It's best if he is open to the actions of species other than his own. Imperative, to be truthful. The actions of our fellow men are increasingly not for aspiring to, for those who aspire to balance, wholeness and healing. For those who want to feel awake and alive.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Revolutionaries. Must be willing to plant fruit trees. Must have a deep reverence for the Earth and all its creatures. Must not be afraid of dirt. Experience with compost and a willingness to tear up sod and plant veggies a positive. Those with skills and knowledge in construction, bridge building, glass making, pottery, metalworking, water collection and treatment, nuclear decommission, passive solar heating, animal husbandry, tool making, musical instrument making, hunting, fishing, textiles, cooking, plant propagation, windmills, herbs, medicinal plants, diesel engines, music, language and hydro-electric generation are encouraged to apply. Must be willing to pay attention to the cycles of the seasons, the cycles of the moon, and the importance of the sun. Must be willing to support people who have the skills listed above, who live in your community.

Must be willing to undermine one's acculturated assumptions about hierarchy, dominance, violence, resource exploitation, institutions, technology and infinite economic expansion. Must begin looking at Humanity from a species perspective, rather than the narrow labels of race, religion, nationality, etc. Must be willing to practice self-rule, and expect that of others. Must be willing to undo the ethic of every man for himself and the will to rule, inside oneself. Must be willing to consider that all the Universe is Divine, that you are a unique, astonishing and utterly beautiful manifestation of the Spirit, a Child of the Earth, Homo sapien sapien, Sacred.

If interested, offer yourself up in service to the Earth.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Crones

"Ok, time to end the pity party," says Val Kyrie. "It's not attractive."

"I know," because I do know, and I don't want to go there but it's damn hard, given my circumstances.

"I think you need to speak with the crones," suggests Val.

The crones are three old women I met while on a sacred task, at a sacred spring in the city in which I live. Protectors of that spring, I consult them when I need perspective, when I get mired in my own head. When they are willing to meet with me.

I'm meeting them today, a cool wet morning similar to that morning two years ago when I left this house for Val Kyrie and her children. They are waiting for me, the crones, already seated, three old women of three different races, each woman sitting in a separate limestone archway, in the four-square pump house surrounding the spring. I take a seat in the fourth archway. We are facing each other, our legs dangling down inside the concrete foundation, the spring emerging from under the concrete below us. The crones don't look very happy to see me.

"We've been reading your blog," says Alice.

"What's with the pity party?" asks Necily.

"Why so harsh?" adds Yemara.

There's never much idle talk when I meet with these three. Straight to the point. "I'm angry," I reply.

"So," says Necily.

"That's obvious," says Yemara. "Are you angry at the world or yourself?"

Alice - "Why do you suppose your anger is attractive to your readers?"

"Am I supposed to hide it?" I say. "Writers are supposed to be honest, aren't they?"

They just sit and stare, like they always do when I'm being petty and childish.

I continue. "Yeah, I'm angry, and yeah, I know there is no point in tearing down the system if I can't offer a more attractive alternative."

"You critique the system well," offers Alice.

"So what's the alternative?" asks Necily, ever direct and piercing.

"What do you have to say about the beauty and abundance of this Earth?" asks Yemara.

It's my turn to sit and stare.

Yemara continues, patiently, "What can you say about this spring?"

"What does it taste like?" asks Alice.

"It tastes like the city," I reply.

"Does it taste good?" asks Necily.

"No, it doesn't." I say.

This time, we all sit and stare.

"It's also the only potable fresh water for miles in any direction." I add.

"And why is that important?" Necily asks, her eyes narrowing.

"You know why." The three crones look at each other, then back at me.

"So what do you really think, William Hunter Duncan, about the culture in which you live?" from Alice, a challenge.

"I think fossil fuels are going to become scarce, fairly soon, and our species is not having an honest conversation about what that means for our standard of living; that we face a hideously violent, worldwide population contraction if we don't start questioning the ideas and social structure that have brought us to this point, especially if we don't start learning about food, fresh water, energy, technology and community. I also think the paradigm following the age of cheap and abundant fossil fuels can be a time of great healing, if we are willing to be honest about the story of this Earth and the story of our species, if we open up to the possibilities."

"So why not call for revolution?" asks Necily. All three women look at me, clear eyed and expectant.

"One, there is no appetite for revolution in America. Two, that's treason, with consequences. Three, most people think revolution requires violence, and I'm not interested in advocating violence. Fourth," I add, a little exasperated, "we are already in the midst of revolution, and hardly anybody wants to hear about it."

They sit and stare, as implacable as the breeze. Necily smiles.

"So why not call for revolution?" she asks.

Yemara and Alice laugh. Yemara asks, "How many readers do you have?"

It's my turn to laugh. "Counting you three, about six."

"Well, that's three people you might open up to the New Paradigm." says Alice. "Again, what do you have to say about beauty and abundance?"

"Where have you seen beauty lately? Where have you seen evidence of the Divine?" asks Yemara.

"Write about that," says Necily. "We know you can. Now, make yourself useful. Climb down there and fill an old woman's water bottle." I fill all their water bottles and carry the bottles to their crone car, a pristine baby blue Cadillac as old as I am. They glide onto the bench seat, all three women in the front.

"You are a builder, aren't you?" asks Yemara, from the driver's seat.

"I am."

Necily, closest to the passenger door, looks up at me, "So build something beautiful with your words."

Alice, from the center: "The culture is going to tear itself down; you don't need to help that happen. We need builders. Build."

The Cadillac fires and then they are gone, and I am alone in the city again.