Saturday, May 19, 2007

Guerrilla Gardening: A Manualfesto

Our food system is dependent upon petroleum and corrupt subsidies that choke out small farmers around the world and enslave American farmers to corporate agribusiness. In such a background, growing a stalk of corn in a vacant lot is a revolutionary act. Guerrilla gardening mixes idealism and practicality: we feel the hope of life and beauty springing up from a trash heap, and see the real possibility of local food security in urban areas.

David Tracey gives an overview of techniques involved in guerrilla gardening, from organizing community gardens to making “seed projectiles” for planting on fenced-off lots. This is a wonderful book, full of stories and guidance.

Buy it, read it, do it, and fight for life against the cold cruelty of broken asphalt and property lines.

Related links:

Chickens In Your Backyard- Luttmann

When I first moved to Austin not too long ago, I was impressed by some of the unique features of the area. And the one that floored me the most was just how many people I met or heard about with chickens in their yard. My neighbors growing up had chickens, but I always thought of it as a country thing to do. I'm really impressed that people actually raise them in a moderate-sized city like Austin.
The Luttmanns have written a popular, accessible guide to raising chickens in a small backyard for folks thinking about producing their own eggs and/or meat.
The poultry industry is one of the most surreal and violent links in the industrial food chain. if you want to get away from that but still have a nice omelette on Sundays, or if you just want a closer connection to your food, this book may be for you. I do know that once you have a homegrown, organic egg, you'll never go back.

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Out of Business- Fiery

Many Monkeywrench patrons share the belief that corporate America has run amok, and is jeopardizing the environmental and economic health of communities around the country and world. We can respond to this in a number of ways- I personally suggest joining or supporting a union.

But sometimes a little direct action is appropriate, and this book is a great guide for fighting any corrupt business. The long list of tactics include organizing a boycott of their most profitable items/services, disinformation campaigns, and organizing pickets and protests. In fact this book features many far more interesting suggestions that I'm not going to write down. You'll just have to see for yourself.

I'm not officially suggesting any reader use the tactics recommended in this book. Some of them are of very questionable legality. But even if you don't do all of them, this is a compelling book. We tend to feel totally disempowered in American society today, that a few people don't stand a chance against the bureaucratic juggernauts of business and government. Dennis Fiery reminds us of the full range of what a pissed off citizen or worker can do to fight the powers-that-be. If you want to become a full-blown anti-business warrior, or just remind yourself that we're never really powerless, read this book.

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Organic Pest Control- Roberts

It's summer, and that means bugs, bugs, bugs. Tom Roberts offers a cheap and practical guide for dealing with pests in the home and garden. There are a range of methods here, from companion planting to homemade garlic sprays and ladybugs. He offers a list of common pests and general preventative techniques along with methods for handling acute infestations.

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How To Live Well Without Owning a Car- Balish

Chris Balish provides a wonderful, concise argument and guide for getting rid of your car and living car-free. His focus is on the personal savings you get when you stop paying for cars, maintenance and fuel. Chris began living car-free in St. Louis as an experiment, and was amazed to realize that he was saving $800 a month (no more auto insurance, no more car payments, no more maintenance, no more gas).
Balish goes on to give useful advice on detaching yourself from car culture, from tips on biking, public transit, and carpooling; to advice on consolidating errands, keeping well-groomed while biking to work, and managing car-free dating.
This is a great guide for someone looking for a clear, thorough guide to saving money and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

Related links:
-Austin Capital Metro (with trip planner)
-Austin bike lanes
-Yellow Bike Project