We, meaning human beings, will create the world we want for our great grandchildren by individual Agents of Habitat learning to form new relationships with the living things around them.
That is how we will start the next age of existence on the planet. We will end the age in which humans separated themselves from natural things and begin the age in which humans embrace their place within the nature of things.
10,000 years ago or so some humans began to farm.
In this transition we came to believe that we were separate from the rest of the world. We walled ourselves into our cities and became civilized. Out there, beyond the walls, was the wild, uncivilized wilderness. It is this setting ourselves apart that prevents the flows from cycling back on themselves at the scale of soils and neighborhoods. We all know the evidence enshrined in the failed civilizations that are our heritage.
There are still some peoples who rely on their habitat for a livelihood and understand how flows cycle back on themselves. Some of these still maintain complex interactions among the plants, animals and fungi of their place. They act as a keystone species that supports a complexity of interactions. These can be an example for an Agent of Habitat. However, it is not a return to a simpler life that we seek . . . even if that were possible.
There is 10,000 years of knowledge
that humans have developed over this period that we held ourselves apart from nature. Perhaps it was necessary to go through the period of separation in order to learn what we needed to know. We now realize that we are interdependent with the flow of nutrients. The story of carbon adventures shows how we can build resources into the habitat. It will take applying accumulated human knowledge in a new way. But we now have the tools to take living systems to whole new levels.
As we have discussed in Discretionary Time and Money, becoming a keystone species (forming the new relationships that will make us a keystone species) will not be based on monetary transactions. The market is not suited to tap into the human and biological potential at the scale of soils and neighborhoods. Instead, humans becoming a keystone species of a vibrant planetary ecosystem will occur through individual humans choosing to become an Agent of Habitat and creating welcoming places where they live.
We might draw a contrast between say a Master of Business Administration and an Agent of Habitat. The goal of the MBA is to maximize product and minimize costs. The goal of the AoH is to attract as much participation as possible and produce as many different products as possible. Those who pursue an MBA are in competition with all other MBAs for a limited number of jobs. They may take on substantial student debt in the process. Those who pursue becoming an AoH are open to all forms of cooperation and the more success they have cycling resources locally the less money they need. There are hundreds of millions of people exploring ways to increase profitability in the market place and all ideas have been explored. Becoming an AoH opens the door to whole new realms of experience.
Being an agent for our habitat is the great undertaking of our time.
There is no money in being an Agent of Habitat. That does not mean that there is no value. Many people work “service jobs” while they invest in what they really want to do. There are also some of those MBAs working service jobs because there are not enough jobs available in their specialty. Even if you have a lucrative position in the market being an Agent of Habitat, with your discretionary time and money, can benefit you as an individual and through your business.
The essence of being an Agent of Habitat is making connections (interacting) with the individuals of the many species of your place. Aside from investing in the capacity to provide for yourself, and reducing the amount of money you need, this kind of networking is the best way to find opportunities for paid positions. This is not altruism. The first goal is to provide for your needs as an individual. Without that nothing else is possible. However, in being an AoH, you will get a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging that you cannot get through a dead end job in the market.
When we reach out to another human to help in this work, they will be seeing the world from one of three levels of concern.
Many of our siblings have serious concerns about how they will meet their needs as an individual. They will be willing to enter into new interactions when that results in fulfilling an individual need. Many of our siblings are working with existing organizations because of the needs that organization fulfills for them. Every individual can belong to multiple organizations and if we ask them to join a new one, it has to provide a better way to obtain what they need. There are others who have realized the failures of our separate organizations. These are your natural allies. They may be focused on a particular failure and may not have realized that it is up to us to change the pattern but they are looking for ways to end the separation.
So where do I start?
Reach out to other change seekers in your place. Permaculture groups, transition groups, environmental groups, social justice groups . . . anyone who is interested in systemic change in the world. You have the key to solving the problems that concern these groups.
Be aware of organizational imperatives. Organizations are groups of individuals . . . super organisms. When humans form an organization we create a new set of needs. These are the things the organization needs to continue in existence. Organizations are a middle pattern within habitat and bigger and often stronger than individuals. Organizations exist because they provide something of value to individuals but, if the needs of the organization conflict with the needs of the habitat, the organization can be dissolved. Dissolution is possible if the individuals who make up the organization can find a better place to fit.
When we interfere with the cycling of carbon by simplifying the system . . . we create waste . . . we begin losing carbon out of the system . . . the system runs down and the activity of simplification can be said to be “unsustainable”.
The opposite is also true. When our choices add to the complexity of the system . . . and more carbon begins to cycle within the system . . . resources begin to build up and there are more places for more individuals of the many species to participate. That makes our place more welcoming . . . more beautiful.
Bee safe neighborhoods, gardening teams and plant propagation cooperatives are ways to get people involved in creating new relationships with other living things. Deep mulch gardening and integrated closed loop production systems are techniques for producing food for the human participants at a scale that cycles carbon locally. These are the programs developed through the Living Systems Institute so far. They are all based on the realization that each of us, every living thing, is a temporary pattern in the flow of nutrients through the ecosystem of our place. We have only scratched the surface of what is possible.
Future Agents of Habitat will appear as wizards
to those of us just at the beginning of this new age . . . and we need all the help we can get to make that happen.