Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 11, No. 5, May 2015
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Blueprint for Change Part 3:
Food Autonomy Through Perennial System Design

Carlos Cuellar Brown

This article is based on the
Full Insight, 18 March 2015

Blueprint for Change is an essay divided in 7 parts about how we can create a wiser, healthier and wholesome future. This is Part 3.


The illusory notion that you can buy cheap and abundant products shipped from over seas and supplied all year round from all parts of the world is no longer sustainable. The most empowering tool for humanity is the possibility to grow and supply food for all people locally in their own communities and bio-regions. The inexpensive and smarter regional bio markets will relegate transatlantic global food cartels useless.

One way of achieving food autonomy is by implementing solution based design science and principals to local production of perennial crops. This can be done at any level, from the household to the city-state. Perennial design is intrinsically very efficient and robust, self-regulating and self-perpetuating. Perennial systems harvest regional diversity and advantages, like a healthy edible forest, it generates high yields and abundance with very little maintenance.

A host of permaculture design principles are in place and operating within very small perimeters, for people in the block radius of community gardens cropping out in many suburbs and cities, with the local farms that supply our farmers markets and CSA’s. In these systems the connections between town, cities and the surrounding land creates local consumers for local products. We will see a return of farm families, local business and bio-communities. In a sense the modern urban culture will re-encounter its agrarian roots but with a whole new vision, implemented on tar roofs, empty lots, back yards, front yards, suburban farm plots, on the side of buildings and urban water ways. Creating a long-term economy rather than a crop year economy, instead of shortening payoff we will bank on the chestnut trees that feed our grandchildren in the local edible forest economies. We will also be reunited with the perennial knowledge of our ancestors as hunter-gatherers and their relationship with land and soil (Berry, 2012). Agro forestry, edible forestry, permaculture, city horticulture, hydroponics, vertical gardens and aquaculture are just but a few of these design tools. Unlike the monoculture farming of big agro, these systems thrive with pest resistant bioregional varieties and heir-looms and are designed based on natural system productivity.

The idea of perennial self-reliant bioregions and local remedial actions designed for permanence has been around since Bill Mollision coined the term permaculture back in the early 1970’s. It includes: Forest economies, edible landscapes, permanent pastures, horticulture, productive self-preserving water systems and non-tillage agriculture (Mollison, 1997). Permaculture models and mimics patterns and relationships found in nature that are high yielding and abundant in food, fiber and energy for local needs (Holmgren, 2002). The organizing framework for a new economic vision is plotted out in the proposed permaculture design system flower fractal proposed by Holmgren. Useful design systems function in many domains and knit together diversity of ideas, skills and solutions. These design systems also identify and evaluate biophysical limitations often improving the conditions for the environment.

As of December of 2014 the worldwide permaculture networks reports 1718 registered permaculture projects (“Worldwide Permaculture Projects,” 2014). The progressive implementation of system design principles in every city and region, will give humankind a head start back to food autonomy and economic self-reliance, reuniting the family and our neighbors, rescuing the gift economy and our environment. System design principals are also applicable to our inter-personal, economic, social and political reorganization, and like in nature they will continue to change and evolve (Holmgren, 2002). Grounding us as we take care of our primal needs, food autonomy will restore our affectionate networks, building local relationships with neighbors and family; involving regular socially rewarding participatory contributions that are meaningful and purposeful. Instead of working for a living, we will find joy and gratitude in community sharing, maintaining and managing the gift of perennial agriculture and local market abundance. With the permaculture principals and methods we can achieve yields eight times what the Department of Agriculture says its possible per square foot (Eisenstein, 2012).

In such high yield abundance systems we can feed the world population for generations.






1: Food Storage unit by creative design studio Friday Project can help.

Based on the principles of the food guide pyramid, the unit dedicates more space to what we should eat more of and less to other products. According to the studio, it is a way to provide ‘an educational system for our diet’, showing us the food we have in our homes and encouraging us to combine ingredients in a more healthy way.

2: The Thought For Food collective dinners challenges its guests to forage for their own dinner ingredients.


Carlos Cuellar Brown is a New York City time-based artist and essayist who has written on media art, social theory and metaphysics. He is currently a columnist for Second Sight Magazine out of the Netherlands and blogs here.

Blueprint for Change Part 4:
Regional Currency and Banking

Carlos Cuellar Brown

This article is based on the
Full Insight, 13 April 2015

Blueprint for Change is an essay divided in 7 parts about how we can create a wiser, healthier and wholesome future. This is Part 4.


The way we think about money is also changing. In this transformation, fractional reserve banking, compound interest and money out of debt will loose hegemony to a diversified money system that will have a panoply of currency innovation and credit systems. Just like mono crop agriculture, monopoly of the monetary system inherently lacks stability collapsing repeatedly and focusing disproportionately on infinite growth economies, and not on developing human equity and steady state environmental stewardship. Our solutions for the financial challenges of the future are emerging out of regional and community market systems and private initiative, not from the well regulated central governments. As multiple currencies grow and co-exist, regional financing will become independent of the predatory fractional reserve banking infinite money creation scheme. Financial monocultures in all their right gave us the Industrial Age; however monocultures have bread financial instability and need to be complemented with information age monetary solutions that diversify the means of exchange and value. Simultaneously we will develop regional and local economies where we can spend and invest alternative currencies; this monetary autonomy will free us from the global financial predation of the money powers and the inflationary monster built into it.

The internet and the digital age are showing us new models of market coordination and local exchange, with peer to peer, business to business and a plethora of complementary currencies and credit systems such as: Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), Community Exchange Systems, P2P Crypto Currency, Voucher Currency, Hours Systems, Mutual Credit Systems, Time Bank Systems, Community Barter Systems, Consumer Commerce Circuits (C3) and others (Eisenstein, 2011).

Good examples are the regional lending banks that offer zero interest loans. This kind of negative interest rate banking percolates back to community and incentivizes individuals and businesses whom spend rather than hoard money for the future. The Egyptians had a negative interest system with a corn standard called the “ostraka”. The ostraka was a commodity-backed currency represented as a shard of pottery with a date on it. This date stood for the day a deposit of grain entered the storehouse. This means of exchange had a parking fee as grain decomposed and accumulated a maintenance cost. This negative interest made for much circulation and investment in the prosperous fertile Nile economy. It was not until the roman invasion that positive interest charges on metal based coinage with the face of the central authority replaced the corn standard and institutionalized the money powers (Hallsmith and Lietaer, 2013).

Demurrage or parking fee banking has been employed successfully several times in history; the best-known example was instituted in the town of Worgl, Austria, in 1932.  Demurrage frees up the money supply and stimulates sharing not competition, conservation not consumption and it treats money like everything else, subject to natural cyclic processes of renewal and decay (“Demurrage,” 2015).

Another proven interest free economic model that has been successful is the Swiss WIR which has been around since the 1930’s. This mutual credit system produces 2 billion WIR annually for some 62,000 business in a sort of credit clearing house trade network that has revitalized the Swiss economy (Anthony Migchels, 2012; Lieater, 2010).

Other successful monetary systems worth mentioning include the Bristol, the BerkShares, C3’s, and the Chiemgauer (“Complementary Currency Resource Center,” 2015). These tested money and credit solutions promote proximal social transactions where cooperation is high and reputation becomes a form of currency, reevaluating community and encouraging long term thinking, linking underutilized resources with unmet needs (Hallsmith and Lieater, 2013).

Money has become the usury god of shadows, where greed and competition become the means towards capital gains and short term profitable next quarter behavior.

Complementary currencies will change this mind set, broadening the way money is created, decentralizing it and encouraging people to buy local, incrementing regional business and self-employment. These new money systems will keep wealth and inherit value within communities. In these systems money is more of a means of exchange and less of a store of value. The new forms of storing wealth will include: Natural Capital, Zero Interest Loans, Natural Ecosystems, Bio-Diversity, Community Infrastructure, Permaculture, Art and Science, Knowledge and Technology.


Every year, during the Glasgow Open House art festival, artists transform their bedrooms, hallways and sitting rooms into mini galleries, inviting members of the public to come inside and explore art in a very different setting.


JSF is a non-stock, non-profit organization and the social arm of the Teresian Association in the Philippines, aiming to serve as an alternative marketplace and marketing center for farmers, cooperatives, local government units and people’s.


The Social Impact Lab, is designed to facilitate collaboration and incubate ideas. Many social businesses and enterprises earned their spurs here and through its scholarship programme. The draw is obvious: it is a community, or a dreamer madhouse where you can “work with other crazy people who actually believe you can make money changing the world”, says George Tarne, CEO of Soulbottles, a company producing stylish and carbon-neutral water bottles.


Carlos Cuellar Brown is a New York City time-based artist and essayist who has written on media art, social theory and metaphysics. He is currently a columnist for Second Sight Magazine out of the Netherlands and blogs here.

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