About Silvia, Permaculture, Reflections on an unsustainable world, Simply Living, Social Justice, Sustainable Living

Wendell Gee


This post is dedicated to Fabian Z., Marcela, Gabriel and Miguel because you still know who we were and have been fiercely loyal to that; Auntie Nora, uncle Hernan and mom Silvia for instigating in me the love for all Nature’s beings, the fight for what’s right and just and the complete disdain for what others have to say, you also taught me to fight for those who don’t have a voice, no matter whether we will even know them. To all my biology, geography and social sciences teachers for supporting my tomboy style and curiosity and showing me the extent of our beautiful world, and especially to my preschool teacher Maga, who discover I could read at age four even when nobody had taught me and who also taught me magician’s tricks from Nature.

Me and Maga

It is also dedicated to that old ombu tree of my childhood, to Pipa the female dog who dug holes in the earth with me, the eucalyptus forest and the daisies’ field; the old brick tower, house of thousand pigeons  where we fought so many battles aMe and my cousinsgainst the “evil ones” from our children’s stories (who then became real and took our childhood away from us); the mighty Paraná River where I discovered that solitude and sadness have a sweet face; to the resiliency, the music and the continuous struggle and incredible beauty of Argentinean landscapes and peoples.

Some R.E.M. fans say that Wendell Gee’s lyrics symbolize the moment when we become adults and decide (conscious or unconsciously) to “build a trunk of chicken wire” around our souls and hearts so we can fit into society, mainstream. This chicken wire then may turn as “lizard skin” (as in chameleons) and “climbs and sags” to become part of us…then what we used to be (Wendell Gees) disappears and is forgotten, and “there wasn’t even time to say good bye” to that child we once were.

This is how today started:

First, the day started overcast and then rained. This is something I have loved all my life: the smell of wet and freshness of rain falling over the earth.

Today is also the birthday of a great friend from my childhood: one of the few who shared that magical place (The I.N.T.A. in Buenos Aires) where we would spend the days in wood cabins and wood tables, where we would learn how to braid bracelets, work on leather and create batik T-shirts, walk into the eucalyptus forest or lie down in the daisies field after lunch. He is my witness that those days were real, he still remembers the old ombu tree where we would go and chat for hours.

the mighty ombu treeEl torreon

Yesterday I also spent some time readying about the DGR group  and their seemingly radical approaches to ecosystems’ collapse, social inequity and resources depletion (I need to clarify as I have said it here before: the word “resources” is abusive and is loaded with the sense of entitlement and the arrogance of humans who believe we are the only thing worth to save and all the rest in this planet are “resources” for us to use and abuse).

Then a friend from the transition initiative asked what are we really doing and whether our current actions are not too shallow in light of the magnitude and deepness of the predicaments we and other species are facing: are we doing enough for the Earth, the people and the future? Is what we are doing making any difference to anybody?

I also find myself missing somebody tremendously, including my own family, my roots and the child I used to be who would be absolutely clear about her values and choices when was 7, 10, 14 or even 18.

On the top of these experiences, I was asked to write a mini bio for the upcoming Permaculture course starting next Saturday at UBC-Farm: http://ubcfarm.ubc.ca/  and then at O.U.R. Ecovillage: http://ourecovillage.org/

All of this made me wonder who I am, really.

Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.”
~ Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

If I only used job titles, I have been many things in life:  from book-store clerk and Alliance Française assistant passing through travel agent and special needs educator, ICT teacher and projects’ coordinator, daycare owner, researcher, facilitator, eLearning designer, blogger, career counsellor…and I’m sure I’m leaving some “titles” behind.

But if I look deep down, I know I have always been more: always changing but always the same: while my interests and projects would change over time, the causes, things and people I am faithful to, haven’t gone that path.

Derrick Jensen, from “Deep Green Resistance” asks:  “Ninety percent of the large fish in the oceans are already gone. Where is your threshold for resistance? Is it 91 percent? 92? 93? 94? Would you wait till they had killed off 95 percent? 96? 97? 98? 99? How about 100 percent? Would you fight back then?”

And what is my threshold? What is yours? Where do we turn the page and say “enough!”? When do we start remembering where we come from and what we really are?

Once conform, once do what other people do because they do it, and a lethargy steals over all the finer nerves and faculties of the soul. She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous, and indifferent.”
~ Virginia Woolf

Me nine months old

By attempting this challenging Permaculture course and bio, I’m also trying to recover that child who used to build stick houses for the earth worms, there in Buenos Aires, under the old ombu tree.

“Wendell Gee” by R.E.M.

That’s when Wendell Gee
Takes a tug upon the string
That held the line of trees
Behind the house he lived in
He was reared to give respect
But somewhere down the line he chose
To whistle as the wind blows
And listen as the wind blows through the leaves

He had a dream one night
That the tree had lost its middle
So he built a trunk of chicken wire
To try and hold it up
But the wire, the wire turned to lizard skin
And when he climbed it sagged
There wasn’t even time to say
Goodbye to Wendell Gee
So whistle as the wind blows
And listen as the wind blows through the leaves

There wasn’t even time to say
Goodbye to Wendell Gee
So whistle as the wind blows
And listen as the wind blows through the leaves
If the wind were colors
And if the air could speak
Then whistle as the wind blows
And whistle as the wind blows through the leaves

R.E.M. “Wendell Gee”: http://youtu.be/bVI8S_2Ps_k

For us to maintain our way of living, we must tell lies to each other and especially to ourselves. The lies are necessary because, without them, many deplorable acts would become impossibilities.”
~ Derrick Jensen, The Culture of Make Believe