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Let me introduce you to John D. Liu

I recently sent a letter to someone I admire and respect as a leader in the global earth repair/ecological restoration movement and felt the need to introduce others to John D. Liu as well. MP

Hello John D. Liu

I am a fan of yours. A mutual friend gave me your email address.

I am about to launch an Earth Repair Institute with the aim to be an international hub website for ecological restoration information.

Also I would like to start a Research, Training and Innovation Center for Ecological Restoration. Please send me information pertinent to this.

You are a very busy man but I hope that we can find time to assist each other’s efforts in the years ahead.

The most important writing I’d like you to look at is my global carbon sequestration article. It outlines the world effort needed with numbers of workers and budgets. Here is a link.

Towards a greener, happier world

Michael Pilarski, Friends of the Trees Society

PS. I have written a number of publications and would be happy to send you copies via postal mail if you sent an address.

Restoration Forestry: An International Guide to Sustainable Forestry Practices. 592 pages, 2004. Kivaki Press.

Third World Resource Guide, 1993, Friends of the Trees Society.
Resources for people working on sustainability in the global South. I wish I had titled it the Two-Thirds World

International Green Front Report, 1988. Friends of the Trees Society. An overview of the earth repair movement at the time.

PPS. I just wrote an introduction to you for my readers which will go on my blog.

Let me introduce you to John D. Liu

John D. Liu is one of the world’s most far-thinking and eloquent spokesperson for global earth repair.  John D. Liu is an American filmmaker who has lived in China for 30 years. He travels widely and works with universities and governments in the Netherlands and other countries.

Everyone should watch his video documentary Green Gold. Liu combines permaculture and ecological restoration in this international documentary showing that large-scale restoration is possible. Filmed in China, Ethiopia, Jordan and elsewhere, it has been watched by millions of people. The Rwanda government is taking his advice which has initiated positive changes for millions of smallholder farmers. At the Lima Climate talks in December 2014, Liu hosted the “Growing Collective Consciousness from the Voices for the Climate” with Tiahoge Ruge of Mexico. This was the alternative, civil-society voice of the grass-roots climate change movement as compared to the official government negotiating.

Below are links to John D. Liu’s Facebook page and some recent writings. Anyone interested in earth repair/ecological restoration would do well to listen to Liu’s train of thought.

I give this glowing recommendation as someone who has been researching and championing earth repair since the 1970s. John D. Liu reminds me of Richard St. Barbe Baker, who was the world’s most indefatiguable spokesperson for global reforestation from the 1920s until he died in 1982. St. Barbe Baker was known as the “Man of the Trees” and he founded an international organization called Men of the Trees. St. Barbe Baker inspired me to start Friends of the Trees Society in 1978.  John D. Liu may not start any international organization but he is an ipso facto spokesperson for the earth repair movement of today. The movement is large and growing as the threats to our dearly beloved planet’s ecosystems are becoming ever clearer and more dire.  I intend to write lots more on earth repair topics throughout 2015, so I hope you will stay tuned to my writings as well as to Liu’s. 

“In Rwanda, the initial impetus for the assessment came from the ambitious commitment, announced by the Government of Rwanda in 2011, to implement forest landscape restoration countrywide by 2035. The main aim of the assessment was therefore to guide the scaling up of Rwanda’s restoration efforts.”

“This trip to Rwanda has reinforced the need and the readiness for Research, Training and Innovation Centers for Ecological Restoration. These centers can function to bring large numbers of people to immediately engage in mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

There is a tendency for knowledgeable consultants, academics and policy makers to talk to each other about how serious climate change is and what to do about it. Gradually it is becoming clear that the real heroes in combating climate change are the small holder farmers and landless people who make their living on common lands. Either they will be engaged in large-scale restoration of Earth's natural ecosystems or civilization as we know it will fail.” John D. Liu

If you want to find papers, films, interviews, presentations and audio recordings about John D. Liu's thoughts on ecological restoration, economy and various other subjects you can find a plethora of collected materials at the following link:

video stories about ecosystem restoration

I hope everyone will watch the What if we change? film and pass it on!

Mediterranean climate permaculture guild (Facebook Page)

Research, Training and Innovation Centers for Ecological Restoration

Facebook page
Set up by John D. Liu. I see a lot of permaculturists posting here.

Here are some excerpts from an article by John D. Liu after his participation at the Lima Climate talks in December 2014.
Growing Collective Consciousness from the Voices for the Climate
John D. Liu,

“Needless to say a managed transition of global human society and economy to a more fair and flourishing one is vastly preferable to continuing on a suicide course. Fortunately, the people who joined in the conversations called “Growing Collective Consciousness from the Voices for the Climate” that I co-hosted with Tiahoge Ruge of Mexico, showed that many people from all walks of life and diverse cultures are able and willing to embrace transformational change.
Many people now realize that there is simply no way to avoid massively transforming our lifestyles. We need to process that this requires us to step into the unknown. In going “where no man has gone before”, we need to use all of our intelligence, all of our imagination, all of our compassion and all of the wisdom that has accrued to humanity throughout our history.

We could naturalize the economy.
By telling the truth about the value of nature we would have to recognize some challenging facts about our current monetary system and our current definition of wealth. We would need to understand that we have inverted the economy by valuing as the basis of our currencies and economies, derivatives that are extracted and fashioned from functional ecological systems. We need to understand that the Earth’s Natural Systems are vastly more valuable than the derivatives. We need to acknowledge that the only way the existing system can work is to simply disappear all the negative outcomes by calling climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty, disparity, pollution, and war, externalities. If we had not removed these from the balance sheet the economy would have been below zero from day one. We need to admit that the current economic model simply cannot work because at its heart is a fundamental mistake.
Remarkably, by correcting this mistake and valuing natural systems higher than products and services derived from them, we have the answer. With a monetary system based on ecological function, growth would not include waste and pollution but would make the ecology and the economy consistently more resilient. In this way we can have both growth and ecological functionality. Instead of creating a perverse incentive to degrade the ecosystems we can reward those who conserve, protect and restore ecological systems. This is a profound change. By valuing life higher than material things we are coming much closer to the spiritual teachings of all of the world’s great religions. This understanding is the next level of evolution for human consciousness. But it is not simply a profound philosophical understanding, it is a practical way forward to rebalance the climate, to create meaningful employment, to fairly distribute affluence and create an abundant and sustainable human civilization.

Functional Ecosystems as the Engine of the Green Economy.
Article by John D. Liu. One of the cutting edge thinkers in envisioning a green economy.
“We know that the Earth’s naturally functioning ecosystems are the basis of life on Earth, providing air, water, soil fertility, raw materials and energy. It is also clear that the global economy does not recognize that the production and consumption of all goods and services depends entirely on the ongoing functionality of these ecosystems, and, as a result, fails to value it correctly. This is not surprising for a system that was founded on feudal privilege, military force, colonization and slavery.”

Spokane, The Edible City: Proposal by Michael Pilarski, Friends of the Trees Society

(Version # 1, February 16, 2015)


20 years ago, they hadn’t even come up with the idea of American Tree Cities. Now, the US has more tree cities then you can shake a stick at.  Spokane is one of them.  I predict that one of the next things coming is the American Edible City.  You have to meet certain criteria to get your city declared one.  They will include things like food forests on public land, useful street tree programs, community gardens, yard farms, and city rules/regulations that promote edible plantings & urban food production rather than discourage them.


I have long thought that most of Spokane’s food needs could be met within the footprint of Spokane County.  Spokane is blessed with a soil base that most places in the world would be envious of.  Depending on exposure and topography, Spokane is reliably a zone 5 growing season with some bits that are zone 4 and some bits that are zone 6, particularly in the urban heat island.  So the range of useful plants that could be grown in Spokane is easily over 3,000 species.  As of February 16 there were over 1800 crops in the crops list I am currently compiling for the Inland Northwest.


The world has a very large urban farming movement going on, though the US is generally lagging behind on this. Spokane is a busy place with several urban and peri-urban farming projects going like Project Hope's Riverfront Farm, the Spokane Edible Tree Project, the Local Inland Northwest Cooperative (LINC Foods), several projects in the Vinegar Flats agricultural zone within city limits and neighborhood farmers' markets along with new ordinances easing restrictions on growing and selling food, and livestock, in the city. The urban farming movement is largest in Africa and Asia.  Here in North America, Vancouver BC is one of the leaders.  There are many websites and networks devoted to this already which one can readily find with google searches. A related initiative is the city food security councils which have sprung up in North America over the last 10 years.  Spokane's recently-formed Food Policy Council is a good example of this trend. Toronto, Ontario had one of the earliest models. A search of the websites of the existing food security councils or food policy councils would reveal a lot of ideas to build on.  


What percentage of Spokane had farmable soil when the pioneers first showed up?


What roles did the Spokane tribe play in creating and maintaining the ecosystems the settlers observed when they first showed up?  In a way we could ask, what % of the land were the Indians farming. All of their root digging areas were managed farmland with perennial root crops. Many berry patches were also maintained.


Indigenous land management was quickly overshadowed by the conversion of a lot of Spokane county to farmland.  What % of the cities and counties land mass has been under cultivation at one time? What % is today? What has been lost of that food production land base?  A lot of it is now in housing.  The real estate occupied by yards in Spokane county is a huge area.  The % of yard space in food gardens, fruit trees and other productive crops is low.  The % in lawn is large. The % in ornamental plantings is large. 


If 50% of the Spokane county’s yard land base was in food and useful plant production that would be a huge production and might actually produce more food than Spokane county can use. There is a potential here for export income as well. We are talking here about a wide range of crops, not just food crops. Local production of a wide range of needs, i.e. import substitution.


What are some feasible goals to set in terms of turning Spokane into the Edible City? 

* Get a better handle on the current situation.

* Double the current food gardening area for a start, then double that.

* Increase funding for public food forests.

* Study Seattle’s laws on gardening in parking strips (the area between curb and sidewalk) and Seattle’s parking strip garden contest.

* Test parking strips and yards in high traffic areas to determine what areas have too high a level of contaminants to safely food garden. A Seattle study was done to determine the situation in Seattle. One staff person did most of the work. Use this study to help design one for Spokane.

* Set up a re-coding task force to make policy and code change recommendations to city government. Portland, Oregon is a prime example for this.

* Assist the development of seed swaps and seed libraries.

* Encourage plant breeding to produce varieties especially adapted to Spokane conditions. 

* Encourage the development of plant nurseries, seed businesses, garden installation firms, yard farming cooperatives, and so forth.

* Encourage the development of native plant nurseries, volunteer earth repair initiatives and ecological restoration companies and cooperatives. Encourage native plantings in yards and public areas. Work with the Washington Native Plant Society and local environmental groups.

* Determine the status of polluted land in the county and what can be done to regenerate/remediate those sites?  How can they be brought back into production? What non-ingestible crops can be grown on land while the contaminants are at too high a level for edible crops?

* Assist the development of municipal and neighborhood composting facilities and local composting businesses, coupled with worm farms. Research, trial and develop compost biomass energy facilities as invented by Jean Pain in France.

* Research and do education on how such a program would improve pollinator habitat, bird habitat, and local biodiversity in general.

* Develop printed material and websites which carry information on useful plants, fragrant plants, colorful plants, edible ornamentals (called edimentals), fruits, berries, fiber crops, etc etc. What is currently available from County Extension, etc and what holes need to be filled? Fund Mike Hagar’s plant data base project.

* Inventory city, county, state and federal land in Spokane county and assess which plots are feasible to rent out for small-scale farming. ¼ acre to 2-acre range. Set up programs.

* Set up a study group to assess how much of Spokane’s fertilizer needs could be met with in-county resources? This includes the residential kitchen compost stream, the yard waste stream, city parks organic stream, agriculture crop wastes, ramial chipped wood, Jean Pain compost systems, plain cardboard, and farm crops grown as mulch/fertilizer to be sold to meet local urban demand. 

* Research the current laws on chickens and domestic livestock in the city and county. What can be done to encourage more chickens, and livestock?  How can feed needs be met with local agriculture? 

* Set up commercial kitchens, freezer-lockers and root cellar lockers to assist citizens to put food up for the winter.  Research the custom canneries which were so prevalent in Washington state in the mid-1900s. I worked at one of the last remaining custom canneries in the state in 1972-1974, the Toppenish Custom Cannery.  A recent outstanding model is the Tacoma Food Banks custom cannery. * Encourage businesses that retrofit pantries and root cellars into existing residences.

* Set up a program to encourage and fund greenhouses, solar add-ons, and all sizes of hoop houses. The NRCS high tunnel funding program is a current example.

* Research and promulgate low-water use irrigation, rain fed gardening, roof-top water collection, capturing parking lot and street runoff. In other words how to we avoid over-taxing the city water system. How to best to use the water supply that falls on Spokane as rain, snow, hoarfrost and dew.

* Research and implement curb cutting to capture street runoff in swales and gardens. Seattle and Tucson have programs.

* Sponsor lots of workshops on wild edibles and medicinals and the uses of weeds.

* Have weed control efforts be linked up with uses for the weeds removed. 


If all these ideas listed here (and more like them) were pursued vigorously a lot could be accomplished in the first five years, 2015-2020. This would lay the groundwork for even greater expansion in the following five years. 2021-2025.


The end result would be a largely, food self-reliant county and a healthier food supply. A huge number of new jobs and economic enterprises, higher employment (at meaningful work), a robust cycling of these dollars in the local economy, less crime and violence, healthier people, reduced health-care costs and suffering, a more stable economy, a more beautiful and interesting landscape, and an all-around, higher quality of life.


We will have a sign-up list for an Edible Spokane study group at the February 20 workshop 1000 Crops for Northwest Growers in Spokane. 


The urban farming guys have some good videos. https://theurbanfarmingguys.com/

Farmin’ in the Hood 2.









A Dream Report: The night of February 2/3, 2015

Significantly, I had just slept in my yurt for the first time in a long time. As I sat there in my simple bed I could see, feel and hear the great outdoors through the canvas walls.  I could hear the wind and the beating of the rain on the roof above my head.  I could hear the crackle of the fire in the wood stove and feel its radiant heat. I had turned off the electricity in the yurt and there were no lights, refridgerators, water heaters, handheld telephone station emitters, computer modems or modern heating systems going. It was so peaceful! I felt like a Mongolian nomad coming back to their yurt in the wilds after being boxed up in houses for a long period of time. I gave a big sigh of relief and wished that this was available to everyone who wished it or needed it from time to time. 
Here is a quote by one of the nature spirits in Verena Stael von Holstein’s books of fairy communications, set in Germany.   
“Next door we have the marsh. The “One from the Marsh” rules there. Nature-beings from Hamburg, such as tree beings, come to him. They come here as sick, tired, exhausted and despairing elemental beings. And that’s because humans don’t notice them and humans don’t cultivate any contact with them. “ Life is hard for tree beings and nature spirits in today’s cities.
Humans need these kinds of retreat places in nature just as these trees do.  People need to leave the crowded, stressful cities to go to the woods/natural surroundings at times to recuperate and recharge so they can go back to their city duties. People especially need this who serve in hospitals, nursing homes, caregiving, social work, with mentally ill, physically disabled, etc. 
At any rate I was happy to be in my yurt as I went to sleep. One of the blankets covering me was an old, handmade camel-hair blanket. I don’t know if that blanket had something to do with the dream. 
In the dream I was the head auctioneer for an auction of hand-made crafts. It wasn’t set in a square box building. It was set in something like an Indian longhouse made of wood. It had a big area for the guests who were mainly sitting cross-legged on the floor/ground. It looked like mostly men, a lot of whom looked like they would be comfortable at a mountain-man rendezvous or primitive skills gathering. The auction items were many and varied. Tanned skins were prominent, as were fiber goods, hanks of cordage, baskets (some of the shellacked red), bone buttons, woodwork, shellwork, etc. The items had practical uses but they were all beautiful works of art suitable for museum pieces or art galleries. Most items were worth hundreds of dollars each and some even thousands of dollars.  A lot of money was going to change hands tonight. I was watching one vendor lay out a large spread of animal skins and another vendor who had just finished his layout came to me and said “I’ll be back for the start of the auction at 9:00 pm”. The auction was scheduled to start at 8:00 pm.  I looked up at the clock and it was 8:15 pm. Sizing up the situation I realized he was right and we wouldn’t get started till 9:00 pm.  The auction was going to go well into the night.
…at this point I awoke. I got up and made notes before going back to sleep and other dreams.