Throughout the week we have had the opportunity to talk many people with various living situations, some in close knit intentional communities and some living more individually. When examining the community vs. individual living through a capitalist lens, community living seems to be more of a burden than a blessing, as values like equity, unity and consensus lessen the individualist benefits of capitalism. When looking through a permaculture or subsistence living lens, the benefits of community living become immediately apparent; many hands do indeed may light(er) work. When you are trying to garden, raise or hunt animals, build, and make some money all at once, isolation and individual living are often an uphill battle. Therefor community living would seem like the obvious choice right?…maybe not. Although you have more hands to do work, how do you divide the work? Who does what? When do they do it? What goes where? What if I don’t like the job I’m given? You could have all these questions AND MORE if you live in an intentional community! Is it worth the trouble? Ultimately it’s up to your personal preference.


Living on Linnaea farm for a week gave me a sense of both the trials and triumphs of community living. From on onlookers perspective, the farm functions beautifully. The sheep, cows and chickens are happy, the people get fed amazingly and this place… this place is full of life and love – but it’s a lot of work. All decision making is done by consensus, which takes a long time and sometimes it seems as though not everyone is happy with the decisions that are being made. When talking to the members of the community I got the sense that there is a lot of give and take involved in living in this community.

From the conversations we have had with those living on the farm, I have extracted some guidelines for community living:

1.) Be open to change, accept that your specific image or outcome of a situation may not come into fruition.

2.) Don’t compromise too much, you run the risk of feeling you have no contribution to community decisions.

3.) Collaborate to create a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship.

4.) Take time away, spend time alone – re-balance.

5.) Recognize that you and those in your community share the same basic values- happiness, health, feeling valued, health for the earth and humans, sustainability and hope for a better future.

After a week at Linnaea I will have to say that I have shifted some of my personal views toward community living vs. individual living. It has helped me see the value and beauty in collaboration and what can be achieved when humans actively work together to create something beautiful.



this one is for you

It’s thursday- one, two, three, four days since our departure, and yet something still isn’t sitting right. It feels as though something is missing. For the first couple days I was under the impression that I was simply adjusting back to my home life, that my unrest was a combination of lack of sleep, jumping back into work too soon, re-entering the city and the sadness stemming from a great experience ending. But I still feel off. The feeling first solidified itself driving out of Campbell River and has stayed planted between my heart and my stomach ever since. Was it leaving Cortes? Saying goodbye to university life and undergrad? The end of an era and a great week? I’m sure it was a combination of all these things but they are not the cause of my dilemma.I have concluded that my ache was caused by all of you, and all of those who we met along the way.

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I don’t consider myself a people person, and honestly I often have a pretty bleak outlook when it comes to those  inhabiting this earth. I shy away from interaction if I can and prefer to remain in a bubble if at all possible. So naturally I began this field course with a similar outlook and vision as to how my week would unfold.  It’s amazing how often we imagine the outcomes of events in our heads and in doing so shape our actual experience of that event. Luckily in this case I was severely mistaken.

This one is for you.

In trying to describe the people I’ve met the words “fierce grace” continue to resonate in my mind. There is a ferocity at which everyone conducts their lives, but instead of anger it’s filled with intention,  truth and love (yeah this sounds mucho cheesy and I apologies). You are all fiercely leading inspired lives, which ever path you chose. This intention is powerful and it permie-ates (haha) outward, inevitably affecting those around you. I am under the impression that being in the presence of all of you for a week has seriously altered my perceptions and has inspired me in so many ways. And the beauty of it is that everyone one I met was inspiring in their own way. Be it Max with his tenacity, Tamara with her patience and love, Oliver with his ingenuity and never ending questioning, or
Mike and Hannah with their overflowing passion and willingness to share and all of you guys with the never ending list of inspiring qualities you posses; everyone inspired me. I am Inspired to become more inspired with life. To become invigorated by what I can and have accomplished.

Reflecting further on this feeling between my heart and stomach it seems as though fear is also contributing to my condition. A fear that stems from the loss of this new found invigoration and inspiration. That I will return to my old ways, which weren’t bad ways, but significantly less inspired ways. Ways in which I enter a situation apprehensive rather than open, expecting negatives instead of assuming positives.

So in saying all this I have consciously decided to remain inspired, and if that flame dies out, seek a method in which to reignite it. We are up against 1000 and 1 terrible things and need all the inspiration, good vibes, passion, grace, ingenuity and love we can get to win the battle for the earth both fiercely and gracefully.

Thank you Hannah, Mike, Kat, Tamara, Oliver, Adam, Kirsten, Jeff, Max, Sabina, David, Liz, Jodie, Brent, Rufus, Alanna, Paige, Nash, Julia, Torrey, Alex, Alex, Alex, Anna, Steph, Temily, Em, Matt, Varinda, Grant, Krystal, Fred, Sammy, Mike, Zach (and everyone else!)

… and oh yeah I drank that Kool-Aid.

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A ray of hope for Canadian solar

Wednesday was a day of adventuring. Mark Lombard, natural builder extraordinaire, gave us a tour of some of what Cortes has to offer in terms of sustainable natural building. We were taken to the Channel Rock an oceanfront property owned by the Pinchot family. The permaculture paradise was chalked full of all a permie needs to live a sustainable and wondrous life. However, what I was most excited about may seem to many like the most average and most common aspect of the site design. SOLAR POWER! The solar design itself was not the most exciting part, but speaking to Mark about the progression of solar in Canada is the BRIGHTEST! (haha).

In terms of government support for solar, Canada has fallen behind both Europe and the United Sates, where solar is heavily subsidized and an affordable option for many homes and businesses. In the US panels can be rented and the excess energy produced can be sold back to the grid at a higher price than the average. This model is slowly being adopted in Canada, but as opposed to renting, most homes purchase panels outright with the ability to sell the excess power back. This has become more viable due to a steep drop in price in recent years, approximately a drop of 50% in the past 5 years (which is great news!).


Another exciting solar power advancement is the creation of the power wall by Elon Musk (the Tesla guy), which eliminates the need for a battery room. This stylish little creation is as sleek as an apple product and equally as slim. This rechargeable lithium ion battery mounts on the wall and sits nicely next to the Tesla car you have in your garage… (kidding). The great thing about this wall is its totally affordable! These walls go for $3,000 USD and are produced in a (giga)factory which runs on power walls to create more power walls, how cool is that? If you want more information click here.

This type of innovation and progression makes me optimistic for the future, but still I wonder if it will be enough to curb our ever increasing fossil fuel needs. A girl can dream.


10 tasty life nuggets from Linnaea’s market gardener

IMG_1152It seems as though the most interesting advice has not arisen teaching permaculture principles directly, but rather through learning about the lives of those who practice it. One such person who offered us not only permaculture guidance, but life guidance was Adam, head gardener of the Linnaea market garden. Some of Adams advice is as follows:

1.) Those who do not recognize their past are doomed to repeat it.

2.) Dream big, how else will you achieve anything you want in life?

3.) Work and create with your hands, this creation will invigorate and inspire you to create more and work harder.

4.) Life is not perfect, you will never be perfectly happy but you can appreciate what you have and what you have achieved.

5.) Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself … ok that wasn’t Adam that was Baz Luhrmann in everybody’s free  (to wear sunscreen), but I’m sure Adam was getting at this.

6.) Observe your surroundings, you might learn something!

7.) Accessibility to the masses and the economic viability of environmental endeavors may be more important than radical environmental ideas when analyzing the efficacy of ideas and movements.

8.) Encourage the things you want in your life (or garden) while discouraging or repurposing the things you could do without (again, life or garden).

9.) Things change, embrace the change or continually fight the inevitable.

10.)  Try new things, don’t be afraid to experiment – making mistakes is how humans learn!

Some of these nuggets of advice directly apply to the practice of permaculture, while others indirectly. I particularly enjoyed Adams ability to admit fallibility in both permaculture practices and his own practices, which added a sense of realism while hearing him speak. It seems as though the individuals who are able to admit to their shortcomings are those who are constantly evolving and bettering both themselves and those around them. I continue to reflect on the words that Adam shared with us and their meaning for my life. Strong individuals like Adam inspire strength within myself and as well as fostering hope for a better future. It won’t be perfect, it will constantly change and evolve, but maybe – just maybe we can improve from our past and create a better future.


by Michelle Zimmer