Saturday, April 26, 2008

Origin skills and technomad forest gathering in SD County: Fri May 9 - Mon May 12 and beyond

And I started yet another blog that's a bit more personal and adds the technomad element.

Here's a link to the details.

I'm happy to let anyone who wants to help the SD Origin Skills Community materialize to be a poster here!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Let's go to the forest on or before May 2.

I'm planning to be headed to the forest by May 2--with the plan of staying up to two weeks.

By forest, I'm thinking of going into Los Padres National Forest probably at Ojai. But I'm open to other forests too. Pine Creek Wilderness (within 100 mi of San Diego) is another one I've already been in.

The skills I'm thinking of working on: net-making, fire-making, and botanizing.

The other part of the trip for me is testing out some non-origin skills: seeing what the cellphone reception is, testing out a portable solar charger for recharging an old pda I have with ebooks on it + the cellphone.

The vision I'm testing/ further exploring is of living in the forest while still being contactable so that people can come visit and so that I could still accept occasional work--say with or other outdoor ed companies.

If you'd like to go, but will only stay for a weekend, I'll work with that! I don't want to be a hermit out there--I'd like set an example for wilderness living in community that others could follow and participate in without needing tons of $$ or land ownership.

So let me know if you're interested!



Friday, March 28, 2008

*Origin Skills* and their relationship to permaculture and nomadism

I announced SoCal Indigenous Living to the several SoCal permaculture guild lists--and got a great response from Warren at quailsprings. For the original announcement, see the bottom.

From: Warren Brush <w at>
Date: 28-mar-2008 6:13
Subject: Re: [Scpg] SoCal Indigenous Living

Hello Colin,
In response to your announcement, I disagree with you on your hypothesis that: "There's an audience for gathering to practice and share stone-age/primitive/indigenous skills. We see Quail Springs (a permaculture farm) offering workshops that fit in this category--and there seem to be many for whom gathering to practice stone-age skills and awareness is easier to get excited about than permaculture.
Partly this may be because the stone-age skills are portable while permaculture design is more meaningful when one has long-term control over some land.." Firstly, origin skills are not dead in the "stone age" yet live on today through many peoples and traditions because they have developed over thousands of years of people's relationship with the land. When you relegate it to the past you demean its spark of life that still feeds the world. Most people in times where they were intact with the land had very definitive caretaking roles with the wild lands that more often than not crossed over into cultivation of the forests for better hunting and foraging. This is where Permaculture draws much of its foundational root.

Being able to move was generally relegated to the young person needing to find who they were and where they are by defining those things outside of themselves to better be able to see the substance of who they are inside. When you look at the land, whether a hunter, planter, or casual are exerting a form of "control" over the land especially if you are working from ego rather than from divination. There was usually part of the tribe that was nomadic (ranging from one traditional hunting ground to another) and another that was sedentary cultivators and gatherers. In either case, there were long-term relationships with the same lands or as I hear it from you, "control," that allowed for enhancements to human and non-human life. It is well documented that land that is being care-taken by humans in a stewardship effort can be more vital in diversity, resilience and stability than lands without human intervention. This leads me to believe that humans have a purpose here on earth and it is wrapped into our ability as stewards of the lands through long term relationships.

I hope you are well and wrapped in the learning journey of life.


Warren Brush
Quail Springs Learning Oasis
Trees for Children
Mentoring for Peace

"May culture spring to life as we learn together how to know all that sustains us and to honor those things deeply"

On Mar 24, 2008, at 11:49 PM, Colin Leath wrote:

There's an audience for gathering to practice and share stone-age/primitive/indigenous skills. We see Quail Springs (a permaculture farm) offering workshops that fit in this category--and there seem to be many for whom gathering to practice stone-age skills and awareness is easier to get excited about than permaculture.

Partly this may be because the stone-age skills are portable while permaculture design is more meaningful when one has long-term control over some land.

Whatever the reason, to help communicate about SoCal stone-age skill-sharing events there is now
The SoCal Indigenous Living google group

Please announce any SoCal (SLO and south) skillshares there--

If there already are socal networks for this, please let me know.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Post-gathering links

There will be more--such as links to photos, and maybe someone will write more about it. But here's the update for now: It sounds like there will be a gathering in Rainbow two months from now, and possibly every two months thereafter, alternating with the gathering that Mike helps organize in Venice. Updates about that will probably be posted at
Also, Marc has already written up some of the plants we learned about at
If nothing else is posted here for a while, check SCIL!
peace -

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Last email before the 3/22-23 primitive skills gathering, I hope

It will be great to meet you all up in Rainbow on Saturday! Here are some last-minute things to think about:

Directions / Ride Shares / Blankets Needed / What do you want to have happen?
  • []
  • I set up a mini rideshare & needs board where you can post rides needed and offered and blankets needed and offered.
  • Ev Lu is looking for a ride from Sorrento Valley.
  • With all the drivers we have headed this way, if you get to downtown Fallbrook we can find someone to help you get the rest of the way.
  • The number of people and guests you all have rsvp'd for is great! You're all welcome.
  • Outside of any blankets we need to borrow and rides we need to share, generally plan to be self-sufficient--bring what you would want (food and equipment) if you were camping by yourself for a weekend.
  • What would you like to have happen as a result of the gathering? I put up a post to comment on if you want to share ideas ahead of time.
Organizing Ourselves

Maybe around 3 p.m. or so we can meet and do some brainstorming about what we'd like to have happen. We've got some practiced people coming who'd probably like to share skills. And even if none of us have experience doing something, we can still try it out.

So someone might facilitate an open space meeting where we schedule in different affinity groups, workshops, and sharing circles we'd like to meet in in the short time we have. These can be anything you can think of: "how to shit in the woods", "meditating outside", "wilderness food and water", for example. If you have an interest, you can write it on a small piece of paper, announce it before the group, see who else wants to meet on that topic (or a close variation), and then post it on a cardboard board with a rough schedule of time slots on it. As more affinity groups get announced and placed we can sort out any time conflicts that come up.

That's a basic idea of how we might organize ourselves a bit--we'll see how things go and what other ideas you have.

Lightly, Prepare

Let's not demand too much []

We'll have a composting toilet of some kind set up. You can also help fertilize the trees more directly if you'd prefer.

Shelter & Sleeping

The weather is looking good. It may be warmer than 50F Saturday night.

At least a few people mentioned wanting to borrow a tent and / or a sleeping bag. So:
  • Marc B offered to/will bring a 4-person tent that could be set up as a place to retreat to.
  • There's a big tent platform we can put a tarp over.
  • If you can bring extra blankets and warm clothes for the two or three who might want them, please do (and perhaps mention that you are bringing them).
  • However: most everyone will probably be happy (as long as they're warm enough) just sleeping on a tarp on top of some of the tall grass.
  • We also have a firepit to sleep near.
  • And it's possible someone might make a debris hut to stay warm in without needing any blankets or extra clothes!
  • The site is mostly steep hill, not a big grassy field. There's still plenty of room for sleeping places, but you'll get to hunt for them a bit if you don't want to be next to many others.
If you'd like to take some pictures, please do--I'd like to have more for the sdprim photo feed but I like not being the photographer. We'll ask and see if anyone does not want their picture taken. There are two somewhat serious photographers coming already from among []'s friends, but I never know who I'll manage to get photos from later.

You can meet some of the people who will probably be coming here and here.

This is it!

This is a great opportunity to spend some good time together and to dream up other great things to do. I find it is mostly in the canyons, forests, activist camps, and on the ecovillages and permaculture farms where wonderful connections are made because people are living together, generally in a great natural space. Otherwise our SoCal experience is just a short meeting here, a short meeting there, and lots of driving (or walking, bussing, biking) back and forth--in a paved and engine-dominated landscape.

So let's prepare the ground for some slower and deeper connections in the future. Maybe we can have some longer gatherings in smaller groups in nearby SoCal forests.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Details about the March 22-23 primitive skills gathering near Fallbrook

  • From noon on Saturday 3/22 until sometime on Sunday.
  • It is ok to come for only a few hours.
  • It is probably ok to come early (Friday) and stay late (Monday), especially if you're walking or taking transit.
  • Near Rainbow, CA, []
How to get there
  • RSVP for directions to colinleath at gmail dot com.
  • By foot: About a 3.5 hour walk (8 mi.) from Fallbrook, along roads with generally good shoulders.
  • By transit: From the Oceanside Transit Center, if you have photo ID for getting through Camp Pendleton, you can get to Fallbrook via the 397 North County Breeze bus. You can get to Oceanside by Coaster train from the south or Metrolink train from the north. In SD county, you can get a regional daypass for $5, which lets you get a $2 discount on the Coaster train fare (choose "transfer from transit").
  • By bicycle: If it helps, you can take a bike on the bus (there are two spaces on the rack), Coaster, and Metrolink.
  • By car: let's arrange carpooling--say where you'd want to ride from.
What we'll do
  • Shelter: At the least we'll be building a shelter from willow and vines or other natural cordage. The vine we were testing is Araujia sericifera (moth vine, bladderflower). The willow frame of one shelter is partly up. We'll need to thatch it--we can find or bring palm fronds, or bundle some grass, cattails, or reeds. We may make the bottom part of the walls more solid with cob.
  • Ceramics: We may also be able to make pit-fired pottery--but we didn't actually test this, so I don't know how good the clay is there.
  • Useful plant identification: We'll also collect wild edible plants--mallow, pigweed, filaree, nopales, prickly pears, domestic geranium (Pelargonium), nasturtium, yellow dock, fennel, watercress, dandelion, wild lettuce, mustard, etc.
  • Mycology: fluted black elfin saddle (Helvella lacunosa) was sighted, among others yet to be ID'd.
  • Twining: we may twine daylily fiber to make cordage & coil baskets.
  • Weaving panels using split Arundo donax (river cane).
  • Study--there are some books on indigenous shelter, bamboo, etc., as well as Permaculture, A Designers' Manual.
  • Stare at the fire.
  • Tell stories.
  • Plot, by the bye/ informally/ as it happens, so we can live lives that care for the earth and for each other.
  • Document? Maybe someone will take some photos!
  • Other good practices you want to share.
What to bring
  • Food--what you would like, & to share, & what you need to prepare it. We may have some local avocados, macadamia nuts, and citrus too.
  • Seeds, plants, yeasts, and other biomatter/seed-like things to exchange or give away.
  • Shelter for yourself sleeping outside appropriate to the weather. (Yes, tents are ok!)
  • Useful tools.
Who's coming?
  • Moms and kids!
  • People like us with our enthusiasms, bits of experience, and what we're curious about.
  • Maybe two alumni of Twisp (not sure if that's the right link) and Teaching Drum.
How many people will be there?
  • We're not trying to get a huge group of people to come--without advertising it alot, it sounded like we had about 10. We probably couldn't/wouldn't confirm the RSVPs of more than 25 or even more than 15. I'll check in [] when I get ten RSVPs and see if she wants to let any more come.
  • If this gathering fills up, subscribe to this blog & let us know your interest, so we can help (or help you) make more happen. Perhaps ideally we could all do this in small groups in or near our neighborhoods.
More questions?
  • Call [] or Colin at 619 582 7583.
  • Or comment here or send an email.
How much does it cost?

No fee for this, we're just asking that everyone come prepared to take care of themselves and be at ease with what happens or doesn't happen. That is, be o.k. with occupying yourselves if nothing that's going on works well for you--not likely, but who knows? And be ready to help & share & engage with others: if you see people who might like help, activity, or engagement, go for it.

This is low-key and informal. A lot of people might just want to find a quiet spot alone to rest and relax, or they might want to wander the hills--so we definitely don't have a schedule of things we're trying to get everyone to do together.

I suppose there could be some facilitation of introductions or group activities at some point--but if you're off daydreaming we probably wouldn't disturb you. And for helping make or gather food for meals, we'll probably be working together. But a good way to approach that is to be prepared to prepare food for yourselves, and then be open to working with others who might want to eat at the same time.

Likewise, if you see things that need doing (perhaps we don't have our bucket toilet/latrine set up yet?), help make it happen.

Why are you organizing this?


My interest in helping with this is to get more of us out camping together and practicing nature awarenss and earthcare skills. And I would love to see a San Diego County version of Wildroots or Quailsprings or even Earthaven happen here. Not to mention a San Diego-Tijuana Permaculture Gathering.

RSVP to colinleath at gmail dot com.

Add this event to your calendar

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The plan: March 22-23 gathering

So I've done a bit of due diligence.

The reason is we're organizing a gathering in Rainbow, CA (about 8 mi. east of Fallbrook, I think) where we will build a willow structure,
eat wild plants, make our own cordage, camp!, and do other good things.

We'll do this March 22-23.

We'd like those who want to help organize this (publicity, logistics, what else?) to contact

[stuff cut 2015-02-17]

I've been trying to say no more. Here's what I would not say: I am aware how unurban, undiverse, and car-trip generating this may end up being. It may not address any fundamental injustice. But I think we need it--it is about building the kind of creative, caring, earth-aware group that so many people in San Diego wish we had down here--that we envy (sort of) places such as Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Portland, Seattle, and so on, for having. I may have a [some feeling of lack] about never really connecting with the activist community down here that is behind activistsandiego, noborderscamp, sdindymedia, and so on. That's all.