Oases in the City: Looking to One Future

While deep in my research at the New York Public Library on a undisclosed topic, I recently came across the 1923 edition of New York Walk Book, a hiking guide for the metropolitan area. The book provides itineraries, guides, and maps for both urban flaneurs and nature lovers.  This wonderful volume inflamed my imagination.

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My Introduction to Permaculture

This past week, I attended a lecture on permaculture by Andrew Faust at the Brooklyn Brainery. Before I write about permaculture, indulge me as I describe the Brooklyn Brainery.

The Brainery is a fascinating place. Most nights, and sometimes twice per night, the Brainery offers classes and lectures for a low cost. The subjects range from the erudite to the outright obscure. Interested in home-brewing? There might be a class. Interested in contemporary Australian parliamentary politics? There might be a class. Interested in iconic perfume bottles? There might be class.

(Courtesy of Brooklyn Brainery)

At first blush, the Brainery seems to offer the over-educated, creative denizens of New York something new and quirky; however, the model is old and tested. Lectures were a popular mainstay of intellectual and public life of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most notably the Chautauqua movement. Aspiring citizens from all educational and economic segments of society attended such events to expand their minds, build an understanding of the arts, and learn about the world beyond their own tiny corners of America. Education and cultural enrichment were valued. A grasp of current affairs, scientific discoveries, and literature stood as a sign that one seriously embraced his (or her) role  as a responsible, respectable citizen of the republic. How much our society has changed. Continue reading