Horticulturist, Landscaper, Greywater Installations, Arborist, Permaculture, Consultant, Woodworker, Irrigation System Designer
David’s warning : “Warning! The ideas I represent here are my perspective from my experience and training. I hope it opens up something (proverbial) you haven’t heard before, and I hope to have my perspective opened up a little more, too, there’s a lot more I don’t know than I do know – that’s for sure!”
Pro Planet People: Who are you and what do you do, where do you do it, how do you do it?
David: Right now I work at Portland General Electric as a Landscape Services Specialist (in Portland, Oregon). Working at the public electricity utility, literally supporting the grid, is somewhere I never thought I’d be considering my past experience is San Jose and Santa Barbara (both in California). My roots are in food and permaculture, I got my horticulture degree and journeyman experience in Santa Barbara working on farms and installing food forests, sustainable landscapes, and low-tech greywater systems. In San Jose I was lucky to find a project manager position that took it to the next level, where we were installing hi-tech greywater systems, and landscape installations that allowed me apply my breadth of design, woodworking, and irrigation experience (utilized a lot of up cycled materials).
PPP: What would you would like people to know about in terms of sustainability, permaculture, water management, energy or whatever topic you would like to show/teach?
David: I think what I’ve learned more about anything related to our food systems, water systems, and how we build lies in the people. Permaculture is a tool on the tool belt, one that will need to be picked up by civil engineers, architects, doctors, lawyers, applied physicists, and the like. I find a group within permaculture that is too dogmatic, over simplifies, and perhaps alienates groups of people with whom they don’t agree with. We have to include all perspectives. The scale of change we need is on the scale of cities, not your grandfather’s 100 acre farm you turned into an amazing food forest. Permaculture to me is a compilation of ideas that creates a guide to holistic design, it’s just incomplete.
We need influencers, organizers, and decision makers who are highly trained and skilled to buy-in, and we also need Permaculturists to open up and create bridges and connections that influences change on large scales.
PPP: What is your favorite project that you want to share that you had a hand in?
David: My favorite project I worked on was a two acre restoration in Government Camp, Oregon at the base of Mt. Hood. It was a large underground power line job where PGE didn’t follow permit requirements and caused more damage to the slope than agreed to with the National Forest Service. I was tasked to restore the summertime mountainside/ winter ski slope. Working with the National Forest Service, local municipality, several contract workers, engineers, and wildlife biologists, I learned how much work and effort is actually going into doing things right. I was so impressed by the emotion, fervor, and care that’s put into the stewardship of land by the Forest Service.
We were required to use all organic certified weed-free materials (compost/erosion mitigation materials), and seed that was sourced locally to preserve the native flora genetics. That’s just the way it should be! And nobody needed to call it permaculture or sustainable, it’s just the right thing to do. The folks who caused the damage -hard nosed and highly skilled construction muscle-, simply need the perspective permaculture and sustainability has to offer, which wildlife biologists, foresters, and landscape dudes like me get in school, but from an academic angle, which has limitations, as does permaculture.
PPP: What is your philosophy on life with reference to the interconnectedness of nature, humans and the creatures?
David: All one or none man. We are living the same stories that have been told for the last 2,000 years, we just have a different set of tools and problems du jour. More than ever our tools have created a gap between our connection with our environment,
we have a solvable design flaw.
PPP: The Future! Can you paint a picture of the future if we all worked together using permaculture, sustainability, regenerative practices, etc.?
David: There’s only ever right now, and right now we’re not working together. We need another social revolution and it needs to address real human connection, emotional intelligence, listening, holding ourselves and others accountable, individuality and the idea of persons, and we need to keep advancing the front line of the social movements bubbling up all over the world. We won’t be able to get anything done if we can’t work together, and without ego. When people work together, the resulting future will be the product of their ideas and motivation.
PPP: Give some advice for people on how to get started, why you got started, reflect on how your personal experiences got you where you are today.
David: Get yourself educated! Permaculture classes and certification courses are great, how are you going to apply it? Do you want to be a leader?- probably you should take some business management classes, contract and business law classes, and public speaking classes at your local college. Do you want to be a plant person?- probably you should take some biology, botany, and agriculture classes. Hell, get a degree. Even if you don’t believe in everything you learn, perhaps even hate the institution that’s teaching it to you, you’ll gain two things. One, tacit knowledge and the skill of learning, and two, access to jobs and industries where you can infiltrate and implement your ideas. It’s going to take several generations of work, don’t expect things to change in your lifetime, be a vector for change.
PPP: List your top people worldwide that have inspired you. Share some books and/or websites you think people should check out and why they should (if you want to say why).
Katherine Anderson – Island Seed and Feed (Santa Barbara), Masters Degree in Bioarchaelogy – Farmer and a mentor to me.
Matt Buckmaster – Island Seed and Feed (Santa Barbara), Organic/Permaculture Nursery Owner – Amazing human
Raeanne Napoleon – Santa Barbara City College – Chemistry Professor – Badass social rights activist and mom, gave me a huge break.
Joel Salatin, Soren Wiuff, John Kempf, Brent Preston
The Living Fields – Our Agricultural Heritage by Jack R Harlan (Some botany/biology 101 helps make this more digestable)
Mendel in the Kitchen by Nina Fedoroff (Learn something about GMOs, GMO + Permaculture is waiting to happen, I’m excited about that. This is a biased book, a bias I can mostly get behind with what I’ve also learned in college… Google how to get DNA out of strawberries – it’s pretty easy and you can do it with over the counter stuff)
I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi (Are you debt free? We can’t take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves. Do you know what the difference between a mutual fund and index fund? We’re going to need millions of dollars of investment into regenerative systems, not thousands to a kickstarter)
Time and Free Will – Henri Bergson (Get away from that vertical thinking man, it’s all on a spectrum)
Don’t trust anything you read on the internet, verify everything from a book.
PPP: Where are you now and what resources locally would you like to share with others?
David: I’m in a place now where I spent the last year taking care of me, setting up me. I work for the electric utility, it keeps your laptop charged, and I can implement holistic design into my work at an established corporation as vector for change. I want to be in a place next year where I am sharing what I have with others, whether it’s my skill in regards to plants/design/construction, or it’s my skill in managing projects, people, organizational structures. Living in a suburban environment, how can I generate the most out of the small footprint I have with the least input in a way people of all walks can see it and want to replicate it at their house, become more resilient and reduce the demand on our food system.
PPP: Thank you!
Portland, Oregon, United States
Check out his Pro Planet People Profile