Garden Center Beauties. Sailing. June 23rd. 2016

“Permaculture is REVOLUTION disguised as gardening.” – Mike Feingold

Last week in our Garden Center Beauties post we brought you a little more of our convoluted story but used three of the permaculture principles to explain what goes on in our lives. This week we will do more of the same. So let’s get to it!

There are a couple of things to consider before diving face first into a bowl of ice cold water. 1. Expect to get wet. Your face will become submerged in the cold water almost completely or depending on your tolerance it could be just the tip of your nose. Either way something is bound to get wet. 2. The other thing you could easily expect would be an instant shock! Especially, if there is ice in the bowl of water. In a lot of ways you could talk your way out of face planting into the cold water and honestly, that would be a reasonable idea. Totally understandable. Cold water can really be a shocker!!

There is always an instant result when you put your mind to something that requires instant gratification such as coolin’ your face off when it’s over heated from the sun. Not that I have ever experienced my face over heating but you get my drift. I have experienced freezing cold water of the northern parts of the Pacific Ocean which brought my heart beat from resting to roughly 300 beats a minute! Freak, that was cold. Cold enough to send shock waves through my entire body. Too bad there was no way to bottle all that energy I felt afterwards.

Catch and Store Energy

One of the best parts of my life so far has been my 12 year stint as Assistant and Head Coach of our local High School Sailing Team. As a young adult I really didn’t try to know it all … in fact I knew very, very little about the sport. I knew even less when the kids would talk about the things they were learning in school.

I’m one of those kinda people that will talk about pretty much anything with anyone. Instant friend maker. Instant conversationalist. So the kids knew they could come to me with anything. I don’t like talkin’ politics but I will throw in my thoughts when they are worthy of supporting such conversations. Literally, we would talk about everything. We had lots of time in a van, suburban or whatever we could rent, borrow or steal for the long weekend regatta trips.

I gotta tell you when you have an open door policy as a coach when it comes to conversation, you really can’t raise your eyebrows at what comes out of teenage mouths.

One road trip one of my sailors pops out with an idea that could save the entire world on electricity bills. Knowing this sailor girl was at best, most of the time, off-the-wall and a brunette airhead I had to turn Tech Nine down to hear the newest technological advancement that could eventually save the entiiiiire world the hassle of paying electricity bills. At this juncture of our relationship this girl did not impress upon me that she was about to broadcast one of the most insightful, well thought out strategies to ever hit the airwaves of the inside of the rig.

Speaking of catching and storing energy her brilliant plan was based off energy that was generated while people rode stationary bicycles.

Except for this one twist …

She laid it out for us. It was amazingly thought out.


She had just learned in school or from the Internet surfing she wasnt supposed to be doing in class that at every second of everyday there was a fixed number of people having sex throughout the world. Forgive me, I will not go into full detail as eloquently as she did but I will give you the cliff notes. There was a way that these people could be hooked up to electrodes that would collect the energy and friction created while the action of sex was taking place and at the point of orgasim and that as she says “explosive burst of mass energy released could light up a chandelier over the dining room table up to a certain number of hours.”

Ok. I know what you maybe thinking and your right, there are so many things we could raise an eyebrow on and look at her like; WHAT!? But you can’t argue the point that she had a valid source of energy that could be contained and somehow stored. Hopefully, while there isn’t a dinner party going on just below the bedroom. Awkward!

Just goes to show you that no matter how old you are you are still not prepared to learn from the youngest of minds. God love that girl even if she was the only girl I ever saw run her body straight into the back of a moving Volvo that was passing in front of her.

Talk about a revolution in storing energy! She has my vote!

Produce No Waste

One of the achievements that our – at the time – small district of sailing teams became proud of was eliminating the waste at each and every district regatta. Each team that hosted the district was responsible for putting us up in houses, gym floors or some sorta safe place at night to sleep. Trust me on this … there were some schetchy places but they always made sure we had some pretty awesome meals. You see, we live in the Pacific Northwest, home of a Starbucks on every corner. ( at least three within one block ) so if you are at all familiar with the area and its food then you can understand that we ate well. At times I noticed a competition going amongst the  parent volunteers as to who served what at the last “two regattas” and how they could “improve” ( more like impress the next weekend ). I never interrupted these conversations because it’s never a good idea to challenge or change the minds of the people who are about to feed you incredible meals for about $15. a day. I would sit back idly and drool.

Oh yeah, back to producing no waste. Lunches went from buffet style, deck out your own sandwiches to bring your own lunch. Well, the bring your own lunch didn’t last long and the buffet came back but dressed out a little different. All snacks and lunch foods were crammed into a brown paper lunch sack that was labeled with your name and then tossed into a recycled Apple box from the grocery store that has a big sign along the side with our team name on it all packaging was recyclable so at the end of the day the hosting team parents gathered up the boxes and recycled everything the next day. There was still one thing that was causing so much trash.

When the hosting team is dealing with anywhere between 10 – 15 team with anywhere between 4 -30 sailors on any given weekend this kinda crowd can make a huge ecological mess. Since we live in the Northwest this was clearly not an option. So the food part was under control the only thing left to deal with was those pesky plastic water bottles that the kids figured out how to fill with air and launch the lids out as far as they could on the body of water we were sailing on. Not only did the kids figure out how to make shooting weapons out of them but those bottles littered up docks and we’re constantly floating.

Crazy smart minds went into action.

No more water bottle that were pre-packaged. Yikes. It was a very difficult transition for high school sailors to go from the instant gratification of grabbing a water bottle chuggin’ its contents and then tossin’ the bottle on the docks between races. Let alone try to remember to 1. Bring their own water bottles from home to fill at the newly placed water receptacles and 2. Remember where they left in on the dock or which boat the just rotated out of the try and retrieve their lost water bottles. It took some time. They figured it out.

It finally happened. We cut back on our carbon foot print as a sailing district and produced a much smaller run to the trash then in previous years and in the meantime taught the kids multiple valuable lessons like thinking ahead, new ways to attach your water bottle to the lifejacket, and of course producing little to no waste.

Design from Patterns to Details

It’s interesting watching sailors, other sailing teams and other coaches over the years. Clearly each team was different, each team had their own attitudes and each team had their own way of doing things like loading boats. When I studied each team I could see that most attitudes and patterns of doing things trickled right on down from their coach. Now, I understand no one is perfect but let me tell you this … you could have fooled me by some of the conversations and actions I could over hear on the docks. Intense competition at times can bring out some of the most interesting body language and heated discussions. So what I started to see was sailors picking up on the vibes of their coaches.

Talk about designing a winning streak kinda attitude or the worlds perfect storm. One of the best des icons I made during the first year of being Head Coach was to steer clear of the coaches that weighted their sailors down with extreme pressure, plus I steered clear of putting extreme pressure on my sailors at regattas. I hated the sinking feelings it left me when driving home in a van that was deadly silent.

Designing a better way of coaching that allowed the sailors on our team the do the best they could on regatta days and allowed other teams members a safe place to vent was one of the best details. Glad to say it worked. Glad to say I gained so many awesome humans in my life because of the simple fact that it is much easier to instruct with love rather than intense pressure.

When walking into a situation you know nothing about or dunking your face in cold water where you at least have some expectation of a result or learning to electrify the world with sex just know that the principles of permaculture can be found in life along with your own garden space. They can show up when you least expect them and out of the mouths of babes.

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