Ted Howard: Permaculture Activist, Civilisation Critic, Supporter and Lover of Indigenous Wisdom and Biophilia
Ted is a peace and community activist, Permaculture designer and teacher that loves to grow ‘edible landscapes’ – He is truly an ecological visionary.
Ted is also ex-military (12 years in NZ Army Territorials) becoming a peace activist, especially campaigning against depleted uranium, where NZ troops were deployed. NZ Defence personnel today will be suffering health problems because of this. He has also completed a master’s paper in remote sensing (aerial and satellite photo mapping) to compliment his Degree in Geology and Geography.
Ted co-founded Transition Towns Nelson, but with the change of government from Labour to National, they lost their funding for employing a co-ordinator, and with the collapse of the price of oil, lost their impetus, and most members drifted away. The one thing that survives is the Permaculture in Nelson Group (PNG), that he still co-hosts.
Hosting the Nelson Peace Group during after hours – he also lead a book discussion group based on the books by Daniel Quinn: ‘Ishmael’, ‘My Ishmael’, ‘The Story of B’, ‘Beyond Civilisation’. This started a process of questioning the foundations of who he was and what culture he was living in.
His main focus now is Permaculture gardening/design during the week. He’s also studying part time as a student on National Certificate in Horticulture, level 4.
He is passionate about his gardening, but especially about building healthy living soil, such as biological farming and especially soil banking, including installing chook runs and small water harvesting projects.
He also follows a lot of writings and speeches by Guy McPhersonhttps://guymcpherson.com)( on abrupt climate change – by Derrick Jensen (http://www.derrickjensen.org) on bringing down “civilisation”, by Carolyn Baker ( https://carolynbaker.net) and Andrew Harvey (http://www.andrewharvey.net) on grief work, and Paul Levy (http://www.awakeninthedream.com) on the Greatest disease of our times: Wetiko = a collective psychosis.
Ted’s pretty sure we have entered a period of great change. He calls it The Great Unravelling. He hopes we can get to The Great Turning idea from Joanna Macy. (http://www.joannamacy.net) It’s very late in the game though, collapse of the biosphere is well underway. But he’s here for the natural communities and the rest of life, to make a difference with the time he has left, regardless of how short that is, or isn’t!
In this interview Ted, expresses condolences to Bill Mollison (https://www.permaculture.co.uk/news/14748871427497/bruce-charles-bill-mollison-1928-2016) who with David Holmgren (https://holmgren.com.au) initiated Permaculture
a system that encompasses not only agriculture, horticulture, architecture, and ecology, but also economic systems, land access strategies, and legal systems for businesses and communities. Bill Mollison, died this last week after initiating a revolution on how humans can survive with living on and with the land,
As an ex territorial soldier – he states that after 12 years of service he realised that even in NZ we live under a government of occupation on behalf of empire, it is about dividing and ruling the communities, it’s about opening the country up to rape, pillage and extraction – and this also includes the so called NZ defence forces.
Is not so much about defence of NZ – but actually an offensive tool of Empire – and NZ armed personnel have been used all around the world and are still being used as offensive weapons for Empire. With that realisation and start of the Gulf War in Iraq – Ted resigned and became a peace activist.
Stating that the modern industrial, intelligence, military, complex is completely insane and out of control – that it has been for sometime, but has been getting a lot worse.
Ted says he is so grateful that he has been given the opportunity to wake up to this and to take a stand even when his voice trembles and his knees quiver and say ‘this is not what we are here for.’ As an ex-soldier he stands and states – we can do this differently.
At a local level Ted has studied and found himself embedding himself in indigenous wisdom and realised that indigenous peoples are ‘an extension of their environment’ and that they are infused with the ecology that surround them. That, they are intimately connected with the seasons and know that the earth is their great sustainer. That the people of the first nations of North America took into the deepest of consideration the term ‘looking seven generations ahead’ to see that the environment could peacefully fulfil their needs whilst they revered and acknowledged the sacredness of life.
Though very, very late in the ‘game’, Ted says this is basically our only way forward, because to carry on the same habits that currently run our paradigm is in essence a race to the bottom.
There is a great unravelling happening all around us today as the biosphere can only absorb so much punishment before the tightly coupled ecological systems that so elegantly overlap and blend both up and down the vastness of the nature kingdom collapse.
Rural Maori that Ted knows have much respect from him, because they know how to live more sustainably and understand living within community most being connected by a marae, or meeting place. This will stem from their original belief systems.
Training as a permaculture, gardener-designer and aware of the radical things happening globally – his focus is very neighbourhood, at grass roots and what can be done locally as a humble yet stirring permaculture gardener. He finds deep satisfaction and huge relief in getting his hands dirty in the garden on a daily basis. Mainly helping out with friends, colleagues and clients to put in an edible landscape to help with biodiversity and raise as much awareness as possible. Maintaining that ‘civilisation’ (a swear word in Ted’s vernacular) is insanely unsustainable – and we could do it differently.
Meanwhile the indigenous methods have been quietly waiting for us to waken up to, as they have a lot of wisdom that could make a difference.
Education & Learning
One of the benefits of ‘being’ and doing gardening is that Ted, can download from the web, interviews on organic gardeners and biological farmers telling their story, some interviews even from GreenplanetFM.com – such as Graeme Sait and Dee Pigney that their knowing is so very inspiring. That he fires up and enthusiastically put his whole being into aligning with the garden and helping with the landscape. And on a lovely day it is a joy and a pleasure …
Ted talks about soil bacteria and that the micro-organisms that when our hands are in the soil they somehow communicate across our skin membrane and interact with the micro-organisms within us. And there is a sort of osmosis that occurs that affects our brain chemistry and we feel good.
This helps him deal with the grief of watching our ‘civilisation’ and biosphere unravelling – yet – this connection with the soil and his hands in the earth, helps him deal with the hurt and thus the soil heals him as well as grounds him. By finding joy in this whole process and he states – deep joy it’s so profound and this is what keeps him going – this is his juice – however, he does not know how long he can keep doing this? But he will continue until he is unable.
Challenges Surrounding Us
We talk about the huge change that is coming right now.
The 6TH Mass Extinction and we are in it right now!
200 plus species a day going to extinction – day after day after day – these are our kin – our cousins and we ignore this at great peril. And we do not know which of them at some stage in the radical interdependent interconnectedness of everything- is going to pull apart the web of life and impact us even more … So Ted does what he does – for them – doing his best for all the biota that live within our biosphere.
Asked by numerous people why he does not stand for local government – Ted states that if he did – it would only be for a platform – to rant. That he would state – from Derick Jensen’s book ‘End Game’ –‘that the needs of the natural community come before the needs of the economic system.”
So he is not about to be enter politics where he is up against the continuation of the same economic growth system based on money and export earnings, more housing sub-divisions and we will get more prosperous blah, blah etc. What he is – is an advocate for de-growth and smart decline. He is also an exponent for ‘growth of relationships’ – with each other and growth of relationships with everything within the ‘living community.’
He is for growth of recognising that we need to preserve, regenerate, revive and protect the natural environment – because without it we don’t have an economy!
Gift economy – Sharing
Having a garden or chickens you can gift your produce to friends and people – it’s a wonderful feeling to do, because you have put so much love and good vibes into growing lovely organic splendour. Ted is an urban chook farmer which he feeds fresh greens to like puha and dandelion and they go crazy over wanting to eat it – same for silver beet and spinach. Listen to this talk by Ted – about his chickens and the win, win, win situations he is involved in.
Globally much more food comes from small farmers. He mentions Vandana Shiva – who in many ways speaks for small farmers on many issues, especially the perils of GE & GMO’s and mentions that Agri business is not only very new but it is not as productive as small farmers globally.
Starting Anew and Being More Heart Centred.
Having academic degrees did not satisfy him s he has switched course and gone off on a different direction .
“A revolution can start in a garden” says Bill Mollison – “and can be disguised as gardening” – so by including local food sovereignty – this is quite revolutionary – but it can’t stop there it has to be a lot more revolutionary – Listen to this interview to Teds response to being engaged in sedition☺
He finds it a fascinating time to be alive – so much in flux With barter, green dollars, times banks – and the GIFT economy.
Transition Neighborhoods seem to be the way forward – cells communicating with cells and clusters of cells …
Communion With Nature
Are Humans biophobic? Why? We we need instead to be biophiliac’s, floating in biophilia –the love of nature – the joy of nature – the joy of nature with us and around us. We are an integrated part of the entire natural community. That natural community is not what we control – that natural community is our natural kin – is our family … listen for more to Ted on this interview.
Most indigenous peoples are unable to understand why it is taking us so long to work out that we are not separated from nature … they shrug their shoulders in disbelief.
Ted reckons that we will return to a light ecological foot print when our present economic system ‘drops out’ and by us then returning to total immersion in ecological communion with the land we can/may be able to draw from the earth for all our needs.
Separation and Disconnection & Why?
He ventures the statement that we are actually in a dark ages and that at present humanity is neck deep in a malaise of greed, avarice, consumption and competition. A predicament that the North America First Nation Peoples say – that we are afflicted by Wetico – ‘the disease of the civilised ones’ – better known in some circles as being taken over by a mind parasite – and our urgent need and task is to face this – and climb out of this pit.
Ted calls it “climb-out-ology” – time to climb out to a light ecological footprint.
Ted also embraces smart decline and de-growth rebuilding our local land bases – a re-naturing of areas of areas.
Time is of the Essence
And it is very, very late in the game! We may not pull it off – so be it – but he will continue unabated to his last breath.
Maori Understanding of Nature.
He is doing a lot for all those creatures and kin who are going extinct every day, by working with the ecology and talking to people of his concerns.
Ted, encourages us to go and listen to local Maori – and their communities as they are less individualistic and more community players. They having a reverence of nature and invoke their gods when cutting a tree down or going fishing.
What To Do?
Plan A – continuance is unsustainable
Plan B – Big Green Party vision – renewable energy – smart cars etc – Ted doesn’t believe it will succeed – being not sustainable. Still based on industrialism and the extractive economy
Plan C – Energy descent and earth stewardship – David Holmgren said that this was the way – but has canned it recently and now says we are going to do plan A (brown tech) until we can’t and then when it crashes we immediately go to .
Plan D – Which is ‘lifeboat communities.’
Ted feel that this is closer to the truth.
NZ is a potential lifeboat community – hence our influx of migrant population, from nearly every country including a vast number of races.
Our economy according to the spin of the National Government is a ‘rock star economy’ however Ted’s says it’s unsustainably on the rocks. As it is immigration that is artificially keeping NZ‘s balance of payments in the black and it’s take their money to pay for housing and infrastructure.
There are many environmental communities still going across the country and they are surviving – Ted posits the idea of a ‘network of resistance’ – that their love of community and nature brings them together.
There are wonderful people living out on the land across the whole country who love their land and their animals and have been doing wonderful work helping to preserve, protect, regenerate and defend it.
The biggest difference between those in the world today says Derek Jensen is ‘those that do something and those who do nothing’ – Find what you like to do your passion – what you love that supports local community and land base and go and do it – because that is the only future that Ted can see.
Plan C is what Ted thinks is best as the political process unravels.
We have to work in community – we cannot do it by oneself – in todays world self sufficiency and self reliance is virtually impossible – it is to hard and lonely Talk to any remnant indigenous peoples who have lived for thousands of years and they will say – “how long has it taken you to work that out?”
Indigenous peoples say that they do everything with the village as their prime consideration – also the tribe – it’s about the community about the neighbourhood- it has always been ‘the collective’ – this is why they have been this sustainable for this long.
Present Day 21st Century Culture
In our modern culture which is ‘hyper individuated’ – is narcissistic and is about ‘look at me, look at me, look at me’ … whose got the best toys? Whose got the biggest toys?Whose got the most toys? It’s gone insane – especially when we bother to look up and look around we see we are pulling the whole biosphere down, by pulling the rug out from under it by all – by our unconscious actions of material extraction and consumption.
Now ask the question. Where is your water coming from – where is your food coming from?
The message from the Hopi Elders the 11th hour – we are in it and it is closing on 12 o’clock – It’s come together time, know your community, know your garden. Hopi Prophecy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koyaanisqatsi
Ted is hopeful of the Joanna Macy (http://www.joannamacy.net) concept of ‘the great turning’ is going to come – but we cannot have ‘a great turning’ until we have done an unravelling says Ted – in this way of living – this incredible toxic hubris that keeps us trapped into thinking that this is the way humans are supposed to live.
And it is killing us (look at the cancers stats) it’s killing the community and it’s killing our planet at a rate never seen before. So the need to do it differently or we won’t be here.
In 1980 our planet population was 4 billion today it is 7.5 billion – we are locked into a growth fetish.
Hitting limits to growth.
Listen to Ted by downloading.
The change of the ages is happening right here right now!
Global Conflict & War
As an ex military man the interview: Covers the Middle East – Syria, Ukraine & Russia and the proxy wars going on …
Plus NZ’s involvement with the Waihopai ‘Five Eyes’ spy base and satellite download and upload system – we are now a target – and most probably a target of a Russian Intercontinental ballistic missile that has an enormous payload and capacity to obliterate a vast area – not far at all from where Ted lives in Nelson and everyday he lives in a state of grace.
How can we evolve the organism that is ‘the human race’ to break out of the paradigm that we have made a habit of staying in – covering the 100th monkey phenomenon as a metaphor of shaping our evolution on a ‘collective and very rapid scale.’
We humans are it – time has basically run out …
Are you a Shambhala warrior that Joanna Macy talks about – there will be4come a time of great darkness that will then bring forth the emergence from all nations the Rainbow Warriors the Shamballah warriors – and their 2 weapons are … insight and the radical interconnectedness and interdependence of everything – and compassion
Time to talk truth to power to speak from the heart and the soul
That the indigenous people say today to we civilised people today is for us to decolonise our hearts and minds and look around and see that we can do this differently. This is what drives Ted.
This interview continues to cover:
Gaia that our planet is a super organism that we can align with and tune into.
Seeing the sacred in nature.
To all our relations.
Woodwide web – Tree roots connecting with many other trees.
James Camerons Movie Avatar – where on the moon Pandora all the biota can connect into a greater reality – animals, trees and the indigenous Na’vi.
This connection allows a Na’vi to sense the energetic and kinetic signals broadcast by creatures, plants and even the moon itself.
Connection – the dance of life and with nature – being in a state of love and joy and whenever we can – having gratitude and being thankful for nature and that which supports us. This is what Ted exemplifies and surrenders into.
A exceptionally stimulating interview.