Embers of Dead Empires

In response to violence inflicted by autocratic Russia upon its imperfect yet legitimate neighboring democracy of Ukraine, we yield to the distinguished voice of the Honorable Martin Kimani, UN Representative from the Republic of Kenya.

Every sentence vibrates with the sort of intelligence, diplomatic balance and wisdom sorely lacking over the past six months as wounds along the Russian & Ukrainian border have inflamed and festered.




And the glorious Boston Camerata makes the following offering, that we echo in thought and song:

As a fratricidal war begins in Eastern Europe, we return once again to the story of David and Absalom. In this stark, powerful setting by Boston’s William Billings (1746-1800) the immediate point of reference is America’s War of Independence. Both Billings’ music and the Biblical text, however, speak to the current dark moment. A special thought to those of us in our American musical community – and there are several – with family/ancestral roots in Ukraine and/or Russia.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           






An Alliance of Needs

Returning to our 2022 emphasis on listening carefully to those with experience in the design and skippering of lifeboats, we turn this week to a fascinating essay from  Isabelle Fremeaux and Jay Jordan, based on experiences inside the justly renowned “zone of defense” (ZAD) at Notre Flamme des Landes, rooted in “reviving the commons.”

Images are relayed from a ZAD blog, with captions added by DP.










In Response to Nature’s Riddles

Now comes author, deep ecologist and philosopher Eileen Crist with excerpts from a recent blog post, affiliated with her excellent journal, The Ecological Citizen.

Images are relayed from the website of artist Peter Hill, “a visual artist, a musician, a builder, a permaculture gardener, father of five fantastic children and captain of the local bush fire brigade.”











Entropies Ever Tangling

A core theme across a decade of DP has been, simply put, that the old paradigm of extractive, predatory and human supremacist capitalism has reached its terminal stage, with a new post-“ism” paradigm struggling to be born.

This year, we intend to place special focus on the countless local initiatives — new paradigm midwives — that are exploring more viable ways of being for human communities, living in harmony with nature and the land, free from toxic politics and strangling ideology.

This week, we visit Wild Altar Farmstead; excerpts from a recent newsletter, below.



On their website (farmstead store highly recommended!), Wild Altar founders Taylor and Jordan write:

Wild Altar Farmstead is nestled into the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Big Levels Conservation Area. We value our forest edge location which offers dynamic interaction between the wild and the cultivated.

We desire to understand and care for our landscape while harvesting its bounty to share with our community. Wild Altar emphasizes responsible and resilient practices such as no-till gardening, woodland restoration, and water conservation. We are growing into a deeper connection with place, and we deeply acknowledge the work of the indigenous stewards of this landscape. Their practices of interconnectedness inspire, motivate, and humble us.

We imagine a world where food guides us into a mutual relationship with place and community. Wild Altar is a dream of togetherness. We are working to build a physical space that facilitates vulnerability and openness to reconnect our rural area and to incubate a renewed understanding of rural-urban reliance.

To learn more about our current projects, including opportunities to share in the labor of the land, please get in touch. We offer design consultation to reinvigorate your yard or garden into an abundant system. Contact us for more information. thornypioneer@gmail.com




Beloved Mother

This week, we pause to commemorate the life of Buddhist monk, poet, writer and spiritual teacher Thích Nhat Hạnh (1926-2022).

Beginning in 1982, Hanh realized his dream of building a Beloved Community in Plum Village, France; creating a healthy, nourishing environment where resident monks and nuns practice the art of living in harmony with one another and with Mother Earth.

Below, one of his Love Letters to Mother Earth, Beloved Mother of All Things. Image relayed from the inspired/inspiring Plum Village website.






Like An Acid

Now come a few trenchant excerpts from a recent interview with Rob Wallace, an evolutionary biologist and public health phylogeographer presently visiting the Institute for Global Studies at the University of Minnesota.

He is author of Big Farms Make Big Flu and the soon to be published Revolution Space, both with Monthly Review Press. Wallace also co-authored Neoliberal Ebola: Modeling Disease Emergence from Finance to Forest and Farm, and Clear-Cutting Disease Control: Capital-Led Deforestation, Public Health Austerity, and Vector-Borne Infection. 

Images added by DP.











Just A Dark Hole

This week, marking the twentieth anniversary (!) of the “detention” facility at  Guantánamo Bay, we hear from former detainee Mansoor Adayfi and former chaplain James Yee, himself a victim of psychological “no touch” torture.

Excerpts from recent interviews below, with paintings by another detainee, Muhammad Ansi.







Next, we hear from James Yee himself:




Relayed from artfromguantanamo.com, we find the following bio for artist Muhammad Ansi:

Muhammad Ansi, originally from Yemen, was detained at Guantánamo for almost 15 years before being released to Oman in January 2017. He learned to paint and draw at Guantánamo, working mainly in landscapes and still life. His art often features cities seen from far away, paths without beginning or end, and empty boats adrift at sea. These images are most often imagined – based on photographs and scenes glimpsed in movies or on television, rather than directly observed by him, such as a depiction of the Titanic, remembered from being shown the movie during an interrogation.


Storm Warnings


We originally conceived DP as a five year research expedition. Five years then extended to ten. From here, we shall take the journey one year at a time, in search of viable bearings through increasingly threatening seas.

To summon the experience of the Titanic: in our considered view, it’s time to talk about lifeboats; that will be surely be one focus for 2022. On the “unsinkable” Titanic, lifeboats were an afterthought. Such hubris did not end well.

As always, we shall rely heavily on readers to alert us to both shoals and lighthouses. Onwards into the chop.


What We Look For

For our final navigational bearing in calendar year 2021, we offer a timeless passage from Thomas Berry’s Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community. Image added by DP.






Grateful, as always, for the countless kind, thoughtful and illuminating missives sent our way over the course of the year.

2022 promises to be yet another wild voyage through deep fog; we will do our utmost to float a few helpful buoys as we try to shed light on an increasingly opaque reality. Cheers and stiff drams of grog all around.


Lully, Lulla, Lullay