Andrew Faust of the Center for BioRegional Living shared with us an exciting array of new perspectives during his time here at DX. He came here to collaborate with NYC choreographer Jill Sigman during her recent residency housed within the DX Green Choreographer’s Initiative.
To start, he provided us with a survey of human evolution commencing with the big bang. From there he demonstrated how empirical evidence and research illustrate the direct relationship between human evolution and the state of the planet. This is the crux of his work in permaculture: design which maintains a natural and healthy relationship with the environment.
Our present society is drastically more complex than it was when humans originally evolved. These days, technology and design battle the earth to win resources for the sake of human comfort. Andrew argues that living sustainably does not mean sacrificing comfort. His work studies the environment and integrates the goals/needs of humans into the existing rhythm of nature. At the heart of it, permaculture designs are unique to the aspects of the particular place. Rather than drafting a plan and forcing the land to fit specific parameters, Andrew identifies a plan that maximizes what is already there. His process capitalizes on low tech solutions. Rather than manufacturing new energy efficient machines for things like heat, the design of a building can use the ever-present and free energy from the sun. Native vegetation can help moderate the temperature of living spaces with little to know maintenance.
Faust left us with an extensive reading list for those interested in learning more about evolution, permaculture, sustainable food, holistic health, and design. Happy learning!
“Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we knew. “
“A biologist shows the influence of wild species on our well-being and the world and how nature still clings to us—and always will.”
“Somewhere in Africa, more than a million years ago, a line of apes began to rear their young differently than their Great Ape ancestors. From this new form of care came new ways of engaging and understanding each other. How such singular human capacities evolved, and how they have kept us alive for thousands of generations, is the mystery revealed in this bold and wide-ranging new vision of human emotional evolution.”
Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham
“In Catching Fire, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham argues that our evolutionary success is the result of cooking. Once our hominid ancestors began cooking, the human digestive tract shrank and the brain grew; and pair bonding, marriage, the household, and even the sexual division of labor emerged. A pathbreaking theory of human evolution, Catching Fire will fascinate anyone interested in our ancient origins or our modern eating habits. “
“Nearly 90% of American adults suffer from back pain, and the number continues to climb. Why does this condition affect so many people in the industrialized world, while in some countries only 5% of adults report back pain? In a quest to find the root cause of back pain, Esther Gokhale studied at the Aplomb Institute in Paris and traveled to parts of the world where back pain is virtually unknown. Her research took her to remote Burkina Faso, rural Portugal, and fishing villages in Brazil.
What she learned in each of these places has changed the lives of thousands of people. Preserved in the movements of weavers, millers, and farmers in more traditional societies is ancient body wisdom that prevents pain and enhances health. For the first time, these insights have been brought together in a step-by-step guide designed to help those suffering from back pain re-educate their bodies and regain the posture for which our bodies evolved.”