Kauai Blog Post #6 – 11-13-13 Human Design

It’s raining hard, while I’m dry and comfy in my Ark Hale  (hale is the Hawaiian word for house; a friend says my shelter feels like an ark).. I’m appreciating the whole process that took place in order for this final product to be completed for me to live in.

I look around at the this structure I designed and constructed and think about myself as a designer. In my bio I describe myself as a scientist, teacher and designer.  When I think about it, though I’ve always been a designer.  Science with all of my possessions from “sciere” – to know) is an aspect of design – “observe and interact” (Holmgren’s first permaculture design principal). As a teacher I learned to design experiences for desired learning outcomes. I’ve heard it said that being designers may be what distinguishes humans from other animals.

It feels like i’ve been living here for a very long time, although it’s only been 2 ½ months since I came to this land in Killauea. Since I last wrote I’ve moved out of my backpacking tent into my charming (to me, anyway) shelter – complete with a kitchen, bedroom, storage for all of my possessions, workshop and entertaining room. My construction materials were pallets and salvaged lumber; purchased items came from one “synchronic” garage sale venture plus a few thrift stores trips. In addition, our new start-up community has a drinking water catchment system and a temporary commons structure (with a kitchen, tool and soil amendment storage, and guest bed). I’ve begun planting my garden, and I help out in the main market garden part of the farm. I feel very grounded now that I’ve begun planting my own garden in my own “Zone 1” (close to my dwelling). Getting my shelter built was survival, but getting my hands and nursery plants into the soil of my own garden was thrival. Having my own garden makes me feel even more rooted to this beautiful land.

I’m living a healthy life. The fruits I eat are mainly papayas, bananas, jakfruit, star fruit, avocados, mangos, coconuts and citrus. I also have delicious veggies from our market garden – mostly raw but also including greens that have to be cooked to be edible, like the Tahitian Taro leaves and asparagus-like stems. I keep a never-ending kim chi going from cabbage, tatsoi, root veggies, garlic chives, Hawaiian hot peppers, Thai ginger, tumeric, string beans, and various other greens.

My weekly kim chi. Cabbage, asian greens, daikon radish, Hawaiian hot peppers, tumeric, and ginger.  I keep it low on salt but high enough to promote lactofermentation process.

My weekly kim chi. Cabbage, asian greens, daikon radish, Hawaiian hot peppers, tumeric, and ginger. I keep it low on salt but high enough to promote lactofermentation process.

Chuck massaging chi

Since my earlier experience trying to live entirely raw, I’ve include a daily cooked starch – taro (sometimes poi), sweet potatoes, dasheen (similar to taro), breadfruit, cassava, and plantain bananas. But I also have a bag of brown rice left over from when I was at Hedda’s that I’m eating until it’s gone. My eventual goal is to eat entirely from what I’m growing on the land, but in this “transition” I supplement with some purchased lentils, nutritional yeast, shoyu, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I’m starting a two gallon batch of banana vinegar which will take six weeks. I helped our neighboring community with the honey harvest, which provided me with honey for my salad dressings. I regularly save jakfruit seeds to sprout for several days and boil to become a large nut that tastes like a cross between garbanzo beans and chestnuts. I make a humus from it or mix them with my cooked starch foods.

The I would have only needed a few weeks to develop my own living and garden space.  However I created a challenge for myself (subconsciously) that made it take two months. Early one morning when I was still in camping mode, I crawled out of my little tent without being very “present”. I lost my balance, and stepped on the stub of a clump of Guinea grass that I had slashed down to create my camping spot. Guinea grass is a tall (six to eight feet) thick, clumpy grass that is almost bamboo-like at its thickest part near the base. I stepped on the equivalent of a machete-sharpened punji stick, driving it into the soft part of my foot, just between my toughened toe pad and main sole.

The puncture didn’t really feel too serious at first.  It seemed to be a small wound, and it didn’t feel like there were any woody pieces left when I cleaned it. I had planned on meeting my friend at Secret’s Beach at 7:00 am where he was completing a fasting retreat. Three days before, he had invited me to meet him to swim with the dolphins at the time they usually came into the bay to cavort. I also planned to bring a couple of empty 5-gallon plastic water containers to the delicious spring at Secret’s instead of going to town to purchase drinking water. So I looked at my foot, and even though it hurt,  I decided to continue with my plans. I drove the two miles to the trailhead and walked the steep half mile trail down to the beach. I likely had plenty of endorphins coursing through my veins.  At the beach I went for a swim. But the place I chose had an undertow that immediately pulled my feet out from under me.  I literally fought for my life to keep from being pounded and drowned by the powerful surf. They say if you get into a rip tide you’re not supposed to fight it, but just let it take you out and then swim horizontally to the current. But the turbulent sea trapped me where waves were breaking and my concern was getting enough air while I swam with all my strength (I hadn’t bothered to bring my flippers) for the shore. Finally I pulled myself up the steep beach with my fingernails and panted for air. I realized this wasn’t exactly the right day for me to be swimming with dolphins.  In fact they never did appear that morning – probably sensing how out of alignment I was.  By that time the signs were clear to me. The trip back with 40 lbs of spring water in my backpack back up the steep rocky trail (barefoot), clinched it for me.  My foot was in intense pain by the time I returned home.

Not a good start for paying attention to my body and healing myself. The next month was an opportunity (perhaps the first in many years that I created for myself), to slow down and be a human being, rather than the human doing that I felt myself to be most of my 61 years on the planet. I had recently had a bout with leg injuries – two seemingly small wounds that became infected and eventually necessitated antibiotics to reverse the swollen infection. I did not want a repeat of that experience, and this wound was potentially much more severe, as I realized when I returned back to my campsite. Perhaps there wasn’t actually some woody shard in the deep part of the foot, but the pain that I now felt (the endorphins must have worn off by now), was so intense that I knew there was deep tissue damage – also indicted by the internal bleeding visible throughout my toe now.  The pounding I had given my feet might have been the reason, a consequence of me stubbornly holding to my plan of going to the beach to swim with my friend and fetch spring water.

Coincidentally, my apprentice who had worked with me previously, came by to visit. He was temporarily staying at Hedda’s to help out in the gardens until returning to his home on the Mainland,   He too had injured his foot and was trying to heal an infected wound. His injury was now a couple weeks old and not responding to his hot epsom salt baths, so he was going to the doctor to get a prescription for antibiotics. He talked with my friend about the question of taking antibiotics or not. My friend shared his experiences healing himself. He ostensibly broke all the rules, being a fruitarian, because everyone “knew” that sugar in the diet was the worst thing for fighting infections. The bacteria supposedly thrive on the sugar,. According to my friend, however, the culprit was eating fat with sugar. When he had a severe injury he would “dry fast” for three days  (no food or water), and rest and meditate. After he would resume his fruit diet, he would refrain from avocados or coconuts – his primary sources of fat. That, he felt, was the compounding problem of eating sugar in the diet – the fat created hormonal signals that changed the body’s metabolism such that it favored the pathogens over the immune system. This discussion about my apprentice’s question of taking antibiotics convinced me to commit myself to heal myself without antibiotics. I could always choose to take the drugs if my condition worsened. I even had some with me for emergency purposes that would start me off until I could obtain a prescription for a full course of drugs to knock out the infection. I know that infections are prevalent in the tropics, and the more I could build up my own immunity without antibiotics, the healthier I would be.

I was still living in my tent, and had been designing and planning my shelter construction. But I put all projects on hold, fasted for the first 24 hours (but drank water), and rested and meditated and visualized my foot healed and whole again. I had been using my rocket mass stove to cook my food, but I went out and purchased a cheap propane stove and some epsom salts to do hot soaks throughout the day. I had to stay in my friend’s shelter during the day during rains, and would lie in the shade of his now maturing Food Grove since my own campsite was baking in the hot sun during the day with only the impenetrable Guinea grass next to my camp for a minimal amount of shade. Creating my own shelter had been a priority so that I would have my own space to hang out and wouldn’t have to be in my neighbor’s area interfering with his solitude throughout the day. But letting go and acceptance of what is, seemed to be the first challenge for me. As I learned much later when I began the study of Human Design, my chart called for times when, as my friend and master Human Design teacher – Genoa, said: “you get knocked on your face in the mud, with a large bootprint in the middle of your back, giving yourself the opportunity to realign yourself with Universe”. Apparently, this episode was something that I had created for myself as another “F.O.G.” (freaking opportunity for growth).

It was weeks of resting –  much of it lying horizontal with my leg elevated – before I could begin to do anything which involved walking around much. It did eventually heal completely, and it and my theory about immunity seems to hold true, so far. I’ve had many cuts and scrapes since and never seen any sign of infection.

One week after my initial injuryl

One week after my initial injuryl

Two months after injury, infection healed.

Two months after injury, infection healed.


While resting, I spent time designing my shelter, my garden and other projects.   I designed a simple water catchment system for harvesting rainwater for drinking so we wouldn’t have to purchase purified water. I’ve always enjoyed designing things, and I can do my drawings on a simple computer graphics program so they are easily revised as my design evolves.

I also developed a plot plan of our seven-acre farm site. I used aerial images along with some online topo maps to create the base map.  The land I live on has great potential, with interesting topography for ponds, water features, aquaculture terraces and diverse uses. It will need tramping the land to fill in the details and get actual measurements. But it’s part of my modus operandus to create whole-systems designs and visualize intentions as part of the way that I influence reality.

I believe we all can influence our reality by our thoughts and intentions and words. When a person says “I sure hope I don’t get cancer”, and obsesses about not getting cancer – their focus on illness may draw in cancer to them (of course I don’t have evidence for that – but it is my belief). My young friend here is drawn to change the words he uses so as to speak in the positive, rather than the negative. “I am perfect health “, instead of “I don’t want sickness”. It’s actually an evolution of language that’s part of the evolution of human evolution to a more positive, love-based world to transcend the fear and dominator based language that we speak.  People use “politically correct’ words more now – why not use words that create the reality of our highest joy?

Part of my interest in design comes from the value I see in articulating intentions to manifest the design product into reality. Design it and it will be built.  When I healed enough to go back to begin my shelter. construction, my original design was changed multiple times by the time it was done. Living in it unfinished, enabled me to learn and modify accordingly as I saw where the rain came in and how the sloped site affected the sidewall tarps, etc. That’s typical for my design work – it’s a continually adapting process. As a designer, I appreciate the value in creating a future vision.  But I also believe designing for the future must be “pono” (Hawaiian for balance) with being in the present. As the expression goes: “ready, fire, aim.” Having that adaptability creates a better outcome.  I also like to integrate feedback along the way from others who work with me on projects. Often the most creative designs come from my apprentices who contribute different perspectives to the design process. Their minds are untainted by years of experience and provide amazing creativity when they are in a setting that encourages their input.

I slowly started work on my shelter, putting up the guava posts and harvesting bamboo. As my foot healed more, the construction went faster, and I moved in while I observed and modified my design until my Ark was completed.


Shelter sketch made prior to construction. Design changed a lot afterwards.

Shelter sketch made prior to construction. Design changed a lot afterwards.

Latest computer graphic, done after modifying design from my experience living in it.

Latest computer graphic, done after modifying design from my experience living in it.

First two guava poles set. Shelter is in front of my original camping spot.

First two guava poles set. Shelter is in front of my original camping spot.

Bamboo harvest from near Hanalei. I used green bamboo - not a heavy wall variety because it's a temporary structure with cheap tarps.

Tying the roof structure with nylon rope. The roof design uses reciprocal diagonals, similar to the way teepee poles function.

Tying the roof structure with nylon rope. The roof design uses reciprocal diagonals, similar to the way teepee poles function.

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Sitting area in front of kitchen counter (pallet construction) and tent platform (for mosquito-free sleeping). Mosquitoes not bad, usually. But it only takes one to ruin your sleep.

Sitting area in front of kitchen counter (pallet construction) and tent platform (for mosquito-free sleeping). Mosquitoes not bad, usually. But it only takes one to ruin your sleep.

 Side view prior to side tarp installation.East and west sides are open because rain comes from north east.

East and west sides are open because rain comes from north east.

After my Ark was habitable, we started a simple drinking water catchment project.  It was time to quit buying 10 gallons of water every 5 days.  We wanted something clean and I found two sheets of recycled $5/sheet,  3′ X 6′ tempered glass.  That would provide around 30 gallons/week, based  on our average rainfall here. Calculations are part of design to predict the output, before I  go out and locate or purchase glass.  Now that it’s built, we’re filling our five gallon bucket by morning when there is 1/2” of rain measured in our farm precipitation gauge.  So we’re getting all the delicious rainwater that we need.

Sketch with calculations so I knew the right size for our water needs before I looked for recycled glass.

Sketch with calculations so I knew the right size for our water needs before I looked for recycled glass.

Computer version with sink.  We ended up just putting a 5 gallon bucket there, and pouring it through a funnel and screen filter into our water containers for drinking.

Computer version with sink. We ended up just putting a 5 gallon bucket there, and pouring it through a funnel and screen filter into our water containers for drinking.


Catchment

My garden design was based around banana culture.  Bananas are heavy feeders, and will convert any mulch or compost they are fed, into bananas as their “feed-back” (they bear only nine months after planting). The grasses that take up salt from the ocean winds are an excellent source of nutrients for the bananas. They are themselves a great mulch plant for feeding fruit trees, as they are cut down for harvesting banana racks. The banana circle with compost in the middle is a classic permaculture design element.

Two banana circles planted around large compost piles, with a third compost pile awaiting more bananas to be planted around it. Bananas are heavy feeders and love any compostable wastes.

Two banana circles on our farm - planted around large compost piles, with a third compost pile awaiting more bananas to be planted around it. Bananas are heavy feeders and love any compostable wastes.

They are also a great plant for starting out a food grove because they yield fruit in nine months and built so much fertility. Over time they can be phased out as slower growing fruit trees grow up to become the overstory. Papayas are also fruit trees that produce in nine months, so they are useful to interplant among the bananas until the large fruit trees shade them out.

I designed my garden with a large center area that I want to remain sunny enough to grow annual and perennial vegetables, so I chose dwarf bananas. I selected seven different varieties of dwarf bananas that I will obtain from keikis (“babies’) of our neighboring Kauai Food Forest (I’m on the Garden Steward team there). My dwarf bananas will be at seven points of an octagon with the sun-loving vegetables inside the mandala garden. I with my hair becoming more salt than salt-and-pepper, will play the role of Snow White, in my Seven Dwarves Garden. The garden is still a work in progress.

Garden original sketch.

Garden original sketch.

Computer drawing of garden. Actual garden changed to large inner keyhole bed in middle instead of this elongated trench.

Computer drawing of garden. Actual garden changed to large inner keyhole bed in middle instead of this elongated trench.


Before shelter was built I used a scythe to clear the field to design the garden.

Before shelter was built I used a scythe (lying down in middle of image) to clear the field to design the garden.

Seven Dwarves Garden is started. One dwarf banana in left is planted, and inner keyhole bed is half planted.

Seven Dwarves Garden is started. One dwarf banana in left is planted, and inner keyhole bed is half planted.
Valerie (a type of delicious dwarf banana).,my first banana planting.

Valerie (a type of delicious dwarf banana).,my first banana planting.

Center keyhole garden for annual veggies and perennial tarot for greens. Bottom half is terraced and recently seeded.

Center keyhole garden for annual veggies and perennial tarot for greens. Bottom half is terraced and recently seeded.

An asparagus "diaper" planted to catch the runoff coming downhill from the main garden, with a taro "bib" above it.  Both terraces have vetiver grass (with deep roots) planted to hold the soil. Comfrey is planted for mulch above the asparagus.

An asparagus “diaper” planted to catch the runoff coming downhill from the main garden, with a taro “bib” above it. Both terraces have vetiver grass (with deep roots) planted to hold the soil. Comfrey is planted for mulch above the asparagus.

I’m still offering my services for permaculture design consultations, and just completed a recent preliminary Phase I design for someone who was referred to me by a mutual friend.  It felt good to be sharing my professional level of design work to help someone else manifest their dreams of living on land around aesthetically designed, healthy and productive plantings.

In my blogs I generally write about my human doings and philosophies, and I don’t generally blog about my personal feelings. I have a lot of feelings about my family and friends and community that I’ve left behind thousands of miles away. I’ve left  many beautiful people who were a big part of my life. My life partner of 35 years, Judy; my two beautiful adult daughters Lia and Lili and their partners. My two blossoming teenage granddaughters Kenzie and Chloey; my Dream Group that has been meeting bimonthly for more than twenty years; my neighborhood homies/wine-group/fellow community gardeners of twenty-eight years; the soul brothers in my Men’s Group; my extended community on and near Bainbridge Island; and I’m much further away from all my relatives on the Mainland.  These partings affect me greatly and are a huge part of my life challenge.

I think about those that I’m far away from often, even though I’ve chosen to live here because it feels like it’s right for me at this time in my life. I am still feeling the joy of living here in a very powerful way constantly as well. It’s been the most difficult decision of my life to leave that part of my life behind and be so far away. I want all those whom I’ve abandoned to know that I still love you all very much, even though I made this choice in my life. I realize that in many ways the simplicity that I’ve chosen is an easier path than all the responsibilities of living in my old world. Although I’ve talked with friends and relatives who can’t imagine how I could be happy and thriving living outdoors with only a tarp between me and the rain that’s now pounding down on my faithful Ark – working hard doing “manual labor” to create the infrastructure and grow the food that will sustain me here. Simplicity is a large part of my personal bliss, however. I know I tend to write in my blogs “all about Chuck”, but I want to also acknowledge all of these other important people – part of the reason that I write my blog is to share my life with you all, and I care very much about you now, and will always love and cherish my connections with you all.

Another design experience has also become part of my life recently.  Months ago before I came here, my current young land partner shared his interest in “Human Design”. Recently I’ve attended a couple of gatherings for people interested in Human Design to listen to one of the world experts who also happens to live in Kilauea.  Human Design (http://humandesignamerica.com/ ) is a system that was developed in the last three decades by an individual who ostensibly channelled information in some way. It derives from astrology, the I-Ching, and the Cabala. It’s dependent, similar to Astrology, on birth date and time, but goes into far greater detail about each individual than Astrology does.

My Human Design chart. Available for free, but the interpretation is more complex.

My Human Design chart. Available for free, but the interpretation is more complex.


I’ve only scratched the surface of Human Design, but from what I’ve learned about my own Human Design, it makes a lot of sense.  For example, at the surface level, I am a Projector in the Human Design system. My “strategy” is to “wait to be invited”.  Now let’s see.. when did I push something that was not the result of a true invitation? The last place where I was living, perhaps? Without being fully invited by my previous land benafactor, I made assumptions and in her  absence went full steam ahead in my own directions. When a person is invited, they can be appreciated for their true gifts.  I’m trying to look at my life in that way more now that I can learn from my Human Design what is more likely to work well for me, and what are the ways that I can make decisions that will really benefit me and connect me with my higher self. The system is not a prescriptive behavior plan, but just another way of understanding more about oneself in our life journey. The system also seems to have a value for looking at relationships among people. We can see how to better get along with others based on how our charts fit together. It’s actually being used by some corporate businesses to look at their working teams and how they can be designed more efficiently. For me it’s another form of self-reflection that is valuable in my aspirations to evolve and fulfill my human potential. That goal of wanting to fulfill my potential is also described in my unique Human Design. Our Human Designs are said to operate to guide our cars ((our bodies) through life regardless of whether we are aware or not. But for me, it feels easier to be unattached to the bumps in the road along the way by having a sense of the larger picture of what really matters. Perhaps that is why I enjoy being a designer, as well.  As an astrologer friend of mine says, “change is unavoidable, suffering is optional”.

Chuck cutting cabbage

Bios Design
design bylili estin