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Episode 009: Questioning Existing Systems with Sebastian Gartner

Uncategorized Nov 05, 2019

The Merit of Questions

In Episode 009 of the Seeds of Tao Podcast, Josh interviews Sebastian, a permie living an amazing life in a Tanzania Jungle.  He and his wife have a beautiful food forest and desire to create positive change in the environment around them. He sent Josh a YouTube video where he gives us a tour of a small part of their land at it's something many permies would be jealous of, including me. In the episode, Sebastian talks about questioning systems we take for granted, and finding a better solution, especially in the case of sewage and humanure. 

Here, we’re going to explore the need for more questions to be asked so that we can make better progress towards a sustainable, and even regenerative lifestyle. 


Questions for Progress


Throughout time, the famous historical figures we see oftentimes created positive change by starting with a question.


Can we grow food better?


How can we come together to make change?


Is there a better system than an outhouse?


How do we feed many people in a small area?


How can we create our own energy?


Is there a way to have better transportation?


The questions are endless…


But what they did was inspire an expansion of thought so that people dared to dream, they dared to create a solution that wasn’t there before.


Out of these primordial juices permaculture was created, as with other new ideas and technologies. This is how we continue to progress - we continue to ask questions.

Questions for the World

As permies, we have a wonderful perspective of the world around us, and a knowledge that can be applied in specific ways to seriously change the world around us. And yet, if we stay with the mindset that we only need to take care of ourselves, we are doing the world a disservice. 


Sebastian raises his question in terms of sewage, is there a better way? And through research and testing he discovered there is - humanure! And yet this same question has been raised by many around the world. Much of the world’s population is plagued with terrible sewage situations, inviting disease and death. First world countries have a hard time truly appreciating how lucky they are to have modern sewage systems and are unaware that thousands of people around the world are dying because of improper sewage management. 

Current Questions

Bill Gates and his foundation have been trying to tackle this problem in Africa. Bill realized the situation, and started traveling the globe to find a solution, but he targeted new technology and engineering to solve this problem. The countries that need this help are impoverished, and can spend little if any money on putting a new system into place. Bill held contests, raised money, and conducted tests with top scientists in their fields and finally found a solution that is self-sustaining, and produces clean drinking water for the people. However, what they created was a huge machine that would inevitable break down, need fixing and require mechanical parts to be imported… So even though it’s self-sustaining in a fuel sense, it’s not anywhere near self-sustaining or regenerative in nature.


We watched the documentary Inside Bill’s Brain and were blown away at the amount of time, money, and other resources that were spent trying to solve a situation that, to us, was staring them right in the face. Remember in permaculture we believe that our problem is our solution. Not only are these people dealing with poor sanitation, but also a lack of food production, infertile soil, and poverty. Could permaculture principles help them?


Heck yes it could, but what other situations could permaculture help?

Global warming?






Waste processing?


Consumer goods?




Overfishing of the oceans?


You decide. Take what you know and dare to dream big. Ask the good questions, and build a community that can come together and solve the problems we are facing.


Where will you start?


Keep Growing!


 Previous Episode: Origins and Lessons from Strawbale Gardening with Joel Karsten


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