So to backtrack a bit, I was keen to visit a long planned sustainability model, the Permaculture Institute on Orcas Island, Washington. Chris was also interested in coming and accompanied me. After some last minute money changing since the ferry only took American dollars, and Viera going twice through customs since after the first time she somehow exited the area while looking for a washroom, we were on our way. The ferry was beautiful - big open spaces and woodwork, and the scenery on the ride was also spectacular. The Permaculture Insitute was inspiring. It was described by many as a paradise. There are thousands of plant species there. The people working there don't just plant them, don't even just know the basic soil types, amount of water, etc. required, but actually have a relationship to the plants that goes beyond the basic knowledge above. A lot of the plants are just on the edge of being able to live in that climate, and the Bullocks Brothers keep pushing those edges and find ways to grow more and different species.
There were 3 interns currently there, definitely down from their summer numbers of 20 or more. We were able to help out planting some unusual trees and greatly enjoyed inoculating some shitake mushroom. I also gained an idea of what permaculture is, which I had only a vague notion of before. I learned that it is more than just an agricultural method, but an approach to community, culture, and a way of life itself. Some of its basic tenets include mimicking nature, with several things able to accomplish the same purpose, and one thing serving several purposes. So to heat up water for a shower you could use a rocket stove or the sauna stove. This creates resiliency, since if one thing breaks down there is always another that can take its place.
We returned to Victoria to meet with the group, but found only Justin there. Viera spent a day taking advantage of the last day of free health care by getting a medical check up, and saying goodbye to Justin. The next day she headed out to meet the group in Port Angeles, but they had already gone ahead to Quilcene. Pretty much ever since then, she has been riding a day behind the others. After a very cold night camping out in rain and snow, I headed to Olympia. I stayed there to replace my back wheel and do some other bike repairs. I was also able to visit Lincoln School, a very progressive place with a HUGE school garden with chickens, where schoolwork involves weighing vegetables, calculating yields, getting dirty, and having fun outdoors! There were even chickens there! Compost was derived from the school cafeteria. I visited some other sustainable initiatives around town, and stayed with warmshowers hosts who had bicycle toured the world for 3 years!! Very inspiring :)
After Olympia it was a few days to Eugene. Here I've been staying in an amazing collective and sustainable house, meeting other cyclists and bicycle advocates, visiting houses that have converted their front and back yards to permaculture, and learning about neighborhood programs and community initiatives.
This post is getting long but I hope to write again soon with all the things I am learning! The Pacific Northwest is a very progressive place when it comes to sustainability and there is a lot happening here.