Monday, February 7, 2011

UPDATE: 2/4/2010
See the list. It's hard to know what people's circumstances are, and it's not the amount, it's the sacrifice involved in the giving, so I want to just toss a shout out to everyone for caring and being there. I know what some have been through and what their giving might mean, but some I don't know their circumsances, or don't know them at all. I don't want to assume giving is easy for any of you or in any way less generous or less of a sacrifice than anyone else's. We thank you.

I do want to say a special word of thanks to Tiffany, who lost her husband last year to a brain tumor. I've been there and done that. It can, depending on location, be a bit like having Alzheimer's, brain damage and cancer all at the same time. Tiffany, thank you for your strength of spirit and remaining a caring, giving, and hopeful person and friend.

UPDATE: 2/2/2010
Utilities paid!

UPDATE: 2/2/2010
You have collectively nearly doubled our first goal, which means we are (unofficially) making headway on our second goal, to pay the immediate need of back taxes and foreclosure. If I have understood the documents correctly, we should be able to keep foreclosure at bay a year if we can get that $3,800 or so paid.

I don't know what to say other than to keep repeating how overwhelmed, humbled and impressed we are with your response. I don't know if it's the human element (people care.. for us) you are responding to, or the people care element of our ability to pay it forward via both and providing the scholarships you've been promised, or if it's earth care you care about in supporting more permaculture training, gardening, and other workshops, or if it's the fair share you're responding to in simply sending us your surplus, or even tearing your cloak in half and giving us a the other half... but this is permaculture. As Larry Santoyo says, we don't *do* permaculture, we *use* permaculture in what we *do*.

There are 28 people using permaculture in what they *do* listed below. And now I'm tearing up... really... and it's all your fault.

I want you to know we're not just sitting on our butts waiting for help. I was out hustling avocado sales today, we'd already sold a piece of jewelry from my M-in-L, I'm looking into some, er, outside-the-box income generation, we've offered a half-interest in The Beastie (our F250 Diesel truck), and even have offered the house, itself, for sale on Craig's list. (An offer was made then revoked, actually.) Etc.

Perhaps most exciting, we're talking with two well-known permies about doing some training in Detroit, which is what this is all ultimately about, because one or two well-attended courses would make many things possible, but mostly would see us able to expand substantially on the scholarships you're all already setting in place.

You're all getting us further along than we are ourselves at the moment, however, so props to you for your generosity of spirit and material wealth. People care, sharing the surplus - big time.

We're in process of getting the money released to pay the utility bill. I'm trying to get some of it to also be able to install the Rocket Stove Mass Heater I've been wanting to do since we moved in. It will save maybe $1,000 over the next several months, maybe more, if I can get it installed. We need to do it very carefully because this is an old wood frame house. We'll let you know if that happens, or if we can scrounge up the parts. Kate Devlin has given me a couple sources for barrels, e.g.



While I was writing this, we met our goal! Rather, you did. Wow. I have to say I did not expect this response, at least not this fast. This was truly a "Hail Mary" pass. I'm blown away and would like to thank those who have responded to our request for support thus far.

Philip Chmiel
April Cavanaugh
Jeff Moore
Nancy Bowers
Jennifer Hartley
Anonymous (4)

Garden Permies
Bernard MacNamara
Steve Bean
Nicole Foss
Kris Kaul
Labib Nassim
Doug Myers
Gail Griffith
Cathy Strickland
Mark Dixon
Bruce Urner
Sherilyn Trego
Patricia Gozel
Peter Marschall
Tiffany Johnson-Sparks
Dave Jacke Anonymous(3)

Workshop Permies
Jeffrey Skeith

PDC Permies
Jackie Milijash
Stephen Kiluk

I now have to go check with the administrators at and see what this means in terms of access to funds and next steps. We've still got challenges to meet, and you've given me faith we can do that one way or another.

Below is what I wrote before I was aware we'd met our need for the utilities:

Our faith in community, friendship and the kindness of strangers has been restored by your kindness and generostiy. In less than 24 hours, we've reached a little over half of what we need to pay the power bill after recieving a shut off notice.

Many of you know our story, but some of you may not. It's simple, really. What follows is what we posted at

I, Killian, and my wife, Hyun Sook, and our son, Conor, were living in Korea, making a good living, saving money, going to Starbucks while the Earth warmed, prices rose, energy declined. We decided we needed to be part of the solutions, not the problems, so we sold everything, headed to the U.S., bought an old truck, and drove till it seemed right to stop. In Detroit. Being teachers, we wanted to teach, so we have started a program to teach people sustainable living skills, e.g., how to harvest and use water, build a rocket stove for heat and cooking, grow an organic, no-till garden... to live sustainably, thus have a degree of self-reliance and independence, but to do so as part of a community.

We've gone broke doing so, and a year-and-a-half later, our utilities are going to be shut off and our home is in foreclosure due to back taxes (taxes from before we bought the house.)

We need to keep the lights on and heat going: $961.68 due, $433.55 to avoid shut off. Property taxes are almost $9k with $3800 due in March to avoid foreclosure. If we can make it to Spring, we can start courses and selling our produce again.

Our project page is here, if you would like to help us reach out goal:

Our first goal is to keep the utiliies on. After that, we'll try to avoid foreclosure for back taxes and avoid shutting down the Permaculure and Resilience Initiative - Detroit. Returning to Korea is a very real option that we are having to prepare for. On paper, it would be a good choice. We could both get jobs, but we'd spend little time together as a family, would lose our home here and would still spend a minimum of two years just getting our heads back above water, then another couple saving up. Again. Four or five years to end up where we are now makes little sense. I believe it better to make this work. We can grow much, if not most, of our own food, capture rain water, and will slowly work to get our home to be energy neutral. We currently have most of the materials we need to build a straw bale greenhouse and would like to add a rocket stove mass heater for heating. Renewable electricity will have to wait a bit. We'll get greater efficiency closing the envelope on this drafty old house built in 1917.

However, if we can't figure out how to at least get to the spring or mid-summer so our gardens and training programs can begin to support us, we'll have to return to Korea this month. Our issue, no yours, but we're glad you're inerested enough to make it yours.

I go back and forth on whether we have failed, or are in process of failing. We came here to teach permaculure and have done that. There are a dozen or so new permaculturists in the world, and, the out-of-pocket costs for them on average have been 1/3 of typical costs. So, we've done what we set out to do... sort of... and succeeded in making it financial ly accessible. Several of our students have paid nothing out of pocket in lieu of work exchange, for example. This is gratifying. But, we've not been able to pay ourselves.

Why has it been so difficult to make such a good idea work? They range from simple naivete to failed partnerships and everything in between. That's a story for another day. I am planning to write that up soon. Perhaps if I wait long enough i will be a story of success, of a comeback!

So, if you think it worthwhile to help us keep doing this - after all, it always was a Robin Hood-esque business plan - please follow the link above or contact us abou investment or partnership. If you would prefer to invest or support our programs directly, please use the button at the above left. Investment opportunities are possible, and welcome. Our company is a Low-Income LLC, or L3C. The L3C must have as part of its bylaws and primary function a social good it is intended to support. The L3C was speccifically design to facilitate Program-related Giving via bypassing the need for special letters from the IRS, which can take months to get. More information is available here:

In line with the intent of the L3C statute, our purpose is to offer training in regerative design principles and green tehcnologies, i.e., permaculture, including natural building, DIY power generation and natural urban gardening/farming to individuals and groups that otherwise would not be exposed to such concepts and/or find them economically out of reach.

Cheers, and thank you, thank you, thank you.