Bare Bones Bology 363 – Community Revisited I

“Community” is a term that we fling around, along with “educating women” and “compassion,” and “overpopulation” — growth or degrowth — and “patriotism,” “rule of law,” as though any one of these social “solutions” might save us from our own excess.


Community is not so simple as that. Neither are any of those other world views, but I want to talk about community, because each world view gives rise to communities, each of which rallies around the flag of a common world view.


A community is a system. A naturally evolved system (each community, of course, being uniquely individual in some ways, and similar to all such systems in other ways). Community is probably our best answer to most of our biggest problems, but it is not a simple answer to anything.


Please read that sentence again and do not accuse me of “dumping on” anything. I do not adhere to the corposystem ethic that tells us that it is necessary to “win” anything (thus creating losers) in order to accomplish our goals. What I want is that we should consider ALL the parameters, especially the down side of everything we choose to do, so that we have a likelihood of long-term success.


This is why I spend so much of my activism energy in pointing out downsides. I hope to help save the communities that I think have the most power to carry us    successfully over this final threshold of human survival on the Living Earth. That is a definition of wise compassion. Wise, nonviolent compassion toward all of humanity. Mostly, humanity is merely offended by my compassionate efforts. However, that is not my problem. I do as I say, which is to give at least as much attention to the downsides of our actions as to the up sides. I do not lie about factual reality.


So, in my opinion, community is the most important special quality of humankind, after our super brain and our ability to share information. Humankind is characterized by its need for community, and I think it is instinctive, that is inherited in the DNA, a physical need, and so it is well worth discussing the upsides and the downsides of community itself, as a universal factual reality.


Speaking up-side and down-side, both together, what do we know about communities as naturally evolved systems? Naturally evolved, complex adaptive systems.


A system is a group of things (nodes), connected by processes/actions/energy/information that I will refer to as links. The links connect the nodes, and all work together to generate and sustain some special quality that has value to their environment. The basic function of a naturally evolved system is to sustain itself.


Importantly, we find that there is generally no center to a system. Often or usually there is a core of dense interactions, surrounded by a “halo” of peripheral interactions (Seth Lloyd –, but not one specific central node (thing). This means there usually is nobody to blame when the system goes off balance or when it cannot sustain its balance among the other systems. This is frustrating, because there is no individual entity that can “fix” it for us. We must take care of ourselves, together, collaboratively, and in my opinion that is the function of our communities, and one way our communities do this for us is to conform themselves to the reality of Life as it is on Earth at any given time and place.


If we humans have a problem (indeed we do) then it is very important that we analyze the underlying flow of information that informs and sustains the system. If the “problem” has a center or if it does not have a center, that makes a difference in how we respond to the problem. A systemic problem, for example might be a failure of communication within the system or between systems.


Instead of a center, or a neat hierarchy, systems, at least naturally evolved systems – we can think of the internet as an example — they have millions of links and nodes, all joined in intricate self-sustaining patterns by information that flows between and among them in the form of behaviors (including rules of operation), processes and sustaining interactions between themselves and their environments.


We who are focused on the common welfare, we who have a deep desire to bring healing to others, we often jump on one or other bandwagon/worldview, system of perceiving the world, such as those mentioned above (compassion, war, community, population, etc.) each of which consists of a system – a world view that is supported by its catchy memes. We believe in the systems because they represent our worldviews and we express them using appropriate memes, because the memes also make good sense. They do. The memes are logical within, and reinforce, the world view of the systems they represent, in the same way that a flag, or a protest sign, represents its accompanying world view.


The logic within the world views of activists working around each of these focused systems (compassion, Christianity, Islamic or Christian fundamentalism, technology), the logic does make good common sense within the system, and that logic expresses itself, in part, in memes. Thus each meme carries with it the world view from which it grew, and the logic is clear to the people who were raised in that system. When we share the memes among ourselves, we don’t have to think. Not about what the words actually say or imply in our time and place. What we do think about is the reality of the things we care about. And we can feel good about ourselves among our companions, all of whom understand the things we care about.

For all these reasons, memes are very useful for building community around conditions as they were, and they are more or less biologically designed to do just that. However, conditions are not always as they were. The difficulty arises when the conditions of our environment change. Then we must call upon our special human brain – the analytical part of it – for some deep thinking about the things we care about. Otherwise, the memes, flags and worldviews of the past may not lead us toward a positive future. Positive in this context refers to behaviors that are beneficial to us.


For example, the concept of growth, and in fact our entire political system, were built in a time of plenty when there were plenty of resources to accomplish the growth. This is no longer true. The Earth can no long supply resources for human growth without damaging its resource base, with the result that now, when we try to grow, the only way to do it is by “eating the seed corn.” Perhaps we can think of our current problems as though the Earth were trying to rid itself of the communities of belief that are no longer positively contributing to the whole and replace them with other human or nonhuman communities that can contribute to the welfare of the Life of Earth.

All human communities have their bases in historic and biological facts. Facts are, by definition, realities that humans cannot change.


We cannot just decide one day that we don’t like the community we are in and change the facts around to make it different. We might move to a different community, or do something that changes ourselves, but we can’t change facts, neither facts of history nor the laws of physics, mathematics and biology. Our effort to eliminate what was and “start over again” to make it better, can’t possibly work effectively in the short term, because all those thousands and millions of links and nodes that have already evolved – they all work together to sustain the system as it is now, or was yesterday.


Communities evolve, like any naturally evolved system, from the causes and effects of whatever happened before, and the natural laws that generate and maintain all naturally evolving systems. Systems can be modified, but they only “start over” after the crash, and even then, the crash itself becomes a factual part of the history of that community that cannot be changed.   A negative fact.


And yet, nearly every human community is trying to grow a future for the children and grandchildren “unto the seventh (or seven hundredth) generation to come.” (Oren Lyons


That task requires more than a bandwagon and a catchy meme. It requires deep consideration of the facts that we cannot change, and a broad understanding of what we can change, and especially it requires a mature analysis of the potential down side as well as the up side of whatever we do to bring about the change.


In a system, because it is a system:

  1. Everything is connected to everything else (more or less strongly). Every “thing” is a node, or a connecting-place in the system. Your computer, for example, can be thought of as a node in the internet.


A community is also a system. You are a node, a connecting place, within your community(s). You are linked to the other parts of your community by information transfer. Information is transferred by words, images, stories, body language, and also by all of our behaviors including the tools we use, processes, smells and all the things that we do.


  1. Every communication (transfer of information) is a link between your computer and (more or less) every other node in the internet.


All of your behaviors (etc.) are links between you and the other systems and nodes in your enviroment. Your environment consists of other systems and nodes.


  1. Every communication that impacts the system has both good and bad results. Every good communication from your computer is bad for some node(s) out in cyberspace.


To quote Joseph Campbell, “everything we do is bad for somebody.” (Campbell, Joseph and Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, PBS, DVD)


Every good deed that we do also has also a downside. Every glass is BOTH half full AND half empty, and if we ignore the empty half, either half, we are asking for trouble, because the more we understand the consequences of our behaviors, the better able we are to survive.


Survival must be one of the major functions of community, or we humans would not always find a way to band together in naturally evolved communities that help us to survive. Culture. Common values for the common welfare. Cultures of fear, cultures of hatred, cultures of compassion. These arise from the facts of life: 1 -The facts that are studied by physicists, mathematicians and biologists that determine how energy and the transfer of information drive community; and 2 – the facts of history. Facts that we cannot change. Facts to which we must adapt or die.

For humans, our cultures, our communities, our religions, our stories, are the memory-base of our facts of Life. We are designed to physically implant these cultural memories into the nodes and links (neurons and synapses and neurotransmitters) of our brains (Eagleman, 2015), and they stay there, or not, depending on our lifetime experiences, until we raise up our babies whose blank little brains (blank except for their genetic legacy of instincts) incorporate the same information and carry it on to the following generation.


When our environments change dramatically, we experience culture shock, and whether this is a good or a bad experience, it takes about a year to begin successfully to adjust our worldview and our behaviors (rearrange the links) to the new environmental realities. A year to inscribe a new logic into our brains so that we can operate with a degree of comfort in the new or changed environment. Physically inscribe it into the links and nodes of our brains.


Our environment molds us metaphorically like the proverbial lump of clay, or the blank slate. We start out with essentially only instincts, implanted by our common human physical evolution. We end up with opinions, woven inseparably among the instincts and directing our behaviors, which are our links with our environments. Our environments are physically, literally the other half of what we are. Both our birthright world view and its continuing change throughout our lives.


And our culture of fear, or hate, or compassion – or a wisdom that recognizes the reality of all these things – that fact-based history is passed on to the next generation, automatically, by the system that is us, it grows and is maintained within our communities, within the whole of Life.


And our worldview determines our behaviors, and our behaviors are the links between ourselves and the other naturally evolved systems of Life.


Our ideal communities consist of people who have the same cultural stories as each other.

These are the stories that explain the logic of our environment(s). Stories of fear, stories of hatred, stories of compassion. If I had such a community, it would understand me, help to generate my belief systems, empower my view of good and evil and my self-image, and support me to the grave.


The fact that you and I do not have those things is nobody’s fault, and we can be immensely grateful to the people who can see these gaps in our lives and try to fill them. The fact that they cannot fully succeed, that nearly all of us will lack the ideal community, is nobody’s fault. It is a function of our style and time in Life, that we live in a time of rapid change that is the physical and biological result primarily of five or six (more or less) millennia of human overpopulation that has unbalanced us and the millions, probably billions of other systems that make up the Life of Earth, and the fact that we chose to respond to the warnings given to us by the various biological Limiting Factors that stood in the way of our further overgrowth by trying to dominate our own other half, our environment, rather than align our communities with it.


And so we have been at war with ourselves for all these millennia, and that cannot go on forever, because once we choose war we have rejected the other possibility, which is collaborative, win-win relationships.


Now is the time that we must choose again, and our choices now are neither romantic nor desirable.


We can not change our instincts, but we can change our opinions, and our opinions direct our behaviors, with which we communicate with our environments. We are capable of saving ourselves by changing ourselves, because our behaviors arise from our opinions and we are all capable of wisdom if that is the path we choose.


Change always generates crises, and in a time of crisis wise choices are even more important. We live in a very complex and rapidly changing environment. In times of rapid change, the environment (our other half) throws up multiple and variable new systems. This response to change is automatic; it always happens in times of overpopulation because it is part of the interacting natural laws that we cannot change.


You probably will not find this reality discussed in our media, but it is primarily for this reason, that overpopulation is a deep threat to the Life of the whole complex of systems that make up the Life of Earth.


That is how evolution works, automatically. It is one of the Laws of Life that we cannot change, and (for those who doubt) it is easy to see it happening in the human communities around us, composed as they are now of peoples whose stories (facts of history) are so different from each other.

How we choose to use these differences will determine the future of humans as components of the Life of Earth. Because the Life of Earth now is very different from even our parents’ time, our communities will have to change. What, then are our options?


  1. We cannot change the facts of Life. We can use the facts of Life to make tools and technologies that function in the real world, but we cannot use our tools and technologies to change the facts of Life because that is not what tools are able to do.


  1. We cannot change history. No matter how hard our would-be political conquerors try to manipulate the information that is available in the media – in our textbooks and our television – they cannot change the “story” of fear or hatred or compassion that is written in the synapses and neurons of humankind, in the form of our natal worldviews, by our personal biological history(s).
  2. We can no longer change our environments without destroying our environments by cutting the links that evolved, were created over billions of years, among and between our ancestors and their environments. Communications, remember, include all of our behaviors, and our technologies are our behaviors, amplified. We can no longer make positive changes in our environments in this way because we have surpassed all but the final Limiting Factor that could have prevented the ultimate systemic catastrophe.


To any naturally evolved system, the ultimate catastrophe is — the system crashes and starts again, the complex interactions among the nodes and links that held it together as a functioning whole are bent and broken and dissolved, and despite the lengths that a system will go to save itself, when it no longer can do so, the result is predictably a resounding crash and the naturally evolved system falls apart and starts over again from wherever it began the first time. The Life of Earth began with living cells.


The Life of Earth grew over the space of four or five billion years, more or less, from cells, by creating flexible links of energy and information within their abiotic environments. These links gave rise to new kinds of cells, communities of cells within their environments, and yet more intricate links of energy and information between and among biological communities (organisms, ecosystems and the like) within the environments which, by that time, consisted of both abiotic and biotic other systems. All are held together by a miracle of collaborative links and nodes that direct the flow of energy and information throughout the whole.


Now, today, the balance between us and the nodes and links of the living Earth (that is the balance between our needs and available resources that are provided by our environments) – now that balance is so near to the edge of crashing that anything we do – any behavior or communication of information between us and our environments – is likely to “tip the boat.” This    means our technologies can no longer save us. They certainly could tip us over the edge of system collapse, and this is already happening. That’s what climate change is about.   We try to save ourselves using our science and our technologies, but cannot save ourselves using tools unless we use the tools to conform ourselves to the science.   Tools cannot change facts of Life.


We can use the facts of Life to make tools and technologies that function in the real world, but we cannot use our tools and technologies to change the facts of Life.


There are no more Limiting Factors. We are on the threshold now of collapse.

What, then, what can we do to save our future unto the seventh generation?


What we can do is to stop trying to control the systems and facts of Life over which we do NOT have any real control, and begin to control ourselves in ways that are Life affirming. Generate win-win collaborations between ourselves and the reality of the Creation as it is now. That is, listen to, share, discuss, control and integrate our own world views so that our effort is not to get someone else to save us, nor to blame something for not saving us, nor to attack the systems that are our other half and are actually here to warn us of problems that are arising within and among the systems of Life — but our effort – our entire effort – is to use our knowledge of the facts of Life elucidated by our basic science and mathematics (not technology, which we now are using in an effort to dominate the indomitable), joined with our wisdom traditions that have grown up around the facts of History and humanity, to collaborate with the other systems of life in our communal desire to empower the future of humanity WITHIN the whole of Life of Earth.


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of

The podcast of this blog can be downloaded at:

© 2017, Lynn Lamoreux and Photos by Lynn

Bare Bones Biology 344 – Gold Stars and Good Jobs

Veterans’ day dance was special, at our village senior center, and then a few days later, special in a different way, was the open house at a native American tribal women’s center. There was a good deal of quiet pride, tinged with sadness, at both of these events. Not the shallow pride of ego, but pride of responsibilities fulfilled. Responsibilities to our children and to our children’s roots.


I remember the “everyone is a winner” phase in the classrooms of our lower grades. Our children are not so gullible; they know that nobody deserves a gold star every day.

And out on the field it was all about football, or baseball, or whatever was in season. Our kids are not so dumb as to believe that “everyone is a winner.”  All that did was make them dismiss “education” as of little value. Nobody can take pride or happiness in fake winners, fake success, fake happiness, nor from fake anything. Education has the potential to take us beyond that.

The affirmation of value arises from value affirmed – not value belittled. And value belittled cannot support the human longing that tells us, over and again, that we must be good for something. Something to do with our community. Something important that has to do with our children and our roots.

The Ayaa (grandmother) asked me about that. “What are your roots?” I said I have none. I have not even grandchildren.

My mother did not have her grand-mother; I did not have my grand-mother; today’s “successful” children were grand-mothered by the television.

But the Ayaa let me to understand that I am a grandmother nevertheless, and she invited me to come to the Ayaa-in, the circle of the grandmothers. And that’s what I saw in her, as in the veterans. Pride in their ongoing fulfillment of responsibility to the future of humankind.

My father was right, and Archie Goodwin, when he said that nothing makes him feel better than “doing a good job.” Doing a good job is its own reward if we make it so. A deep pride in a life well lived, even though it is accompanied by an infinite sadness in the knowledge that one person’s life cannot be enough, when the time comes, to help the beautiful system of Life, or even our local communities, when our population of billions comes to the point when the food is gone and the soil contaminated and none of the children or the veterans will care anymore about gold stars, and even the television will recognize that pretending we have a glass “half full” will not make us happy.

161117-tewa-asc_8444rls-copy-2Rather than dancing around inside the corposystem pretending to be “happy,” or trying to be “successful” (defined around profit) while the whole of humanity is ignoring a crisis beyond the limits of what we are willing to comprehend, beyond Hollywood, and even beyond Standing Rock, which is not Hollywood but real and important, if we were to open our eyes, we would see that we all have a job to do that is important and of essential value to all of human kind. And instead of doing it, as our ancestors have done, we are trying to create happiness out of tinsel and gold stars.

Maybe the answer lies in a deeper consideration of community. Not my community or your community, but community itself, as it relates to human individuals. Community over competition.  ( (

Maybe what we all seek can only be found wrapped in the wisdom of our communal Ayaa-in. Maybe if that is not available, if we no longer have human community, but only the corposystem God of domination, then maybe we should stop trying to reach for what is not available and isn’t even much fun.

Happiness by any definition is not an appropriate goal in a time of deep peril. It’s just corposystem propaganda designed to make us forget about doing our personal good job for the future of humanity.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:



Bare Bones Biology 300 – Responsibility

At the turn of the century, with the help and support of others in my communities, I finalized my scientific “life’s work,” a holistic description of a mammalian system, and preserved the mouse colony so that it would be available for others, and collaborated in the writing and publication of the book.


160219-Mountain-asc_2790s copyAnd then I stepped out into a strange new world, in which people for the most part seem not to like each other, nor to understand naturally evolved holistic systems, including collaborative human relationships aimed toward common goals.


Except for war. Of course that is why we enjoy war. It is our community. Our naturally evolved system, the corposystem, the worldwide corpo-political-social system. A world where people mostly enjoy hating each other and/or fighting and bullying, or fleeing the devastation. Where people believe that we can solve problems by pretending they do not exist or by blaming someone else, or by sacrificing ourselves to individual human goals that are impossible to achieve. 


So I spent about another decade, more or less, studying the genetics or rather the evolution of our human corposystem behaviors, while looking for a role I can play that conceivably might succeed and to help solve our human survival problem. Which of course is real, serious and imminent – and relates to natural law, so it does not respond to human bullying and does not care about our excuses, denial or reasons why we can’t do what is necessary and do-able.


160219-Mountain-asc_2764RLSs copyIt was obvious to me from day one of this century, when I stopped thinking about mice and turned my attention to people, that we humans are behaving, as a group, in a way that makes no sense within our environment, and we cannot survive outside our environment.   And I know WHY.


Because the other half of ourselves – individually, mentally and physically — IS our naturally evolved environmental systems, and we do not care about our environmental systems in the same way that we care about our physiological subsystems.


Even most or many scientists, activists and educators do not understand WHY our corposystem behaviors do not make good survival sense; therefore, for the most part, we all are doing more harm than good, no matter our intentions. We are working for growth, money and dominance, rather than survival. Nearly all of us. At this time in our development, that kind of behavior is counter-productive within the environmental systems of which we are a part.   It is my misfortunate that my life and career rather uniquely prepared me to be one of the knowledge-holders within our current social system, the corposystem.


M'Donna-IMG_20151003_125919151LSsAny knowledge-holder within a social group or species has a responsibility to make her knowledge available to the whole group, whether or not people want to hear about it, so this is my responsibility – it is our responsibility – it is what we must do, if we want to save our species:


1- We must take control over our population growth in some other way than requiring people to be born and then trying to reduce the population – and the problems caused by overpopulation — by killing people off. The killing is not a solution to anyone’s problems. We do have birth control. I know all the excuses; don’t bother to tell me; the universe does not care about excuses. The universe cares about HOW naturally evolved systems function together to survive.  We reduce the population or we die off as a species.


And while we are doing that, we can proceed to develop a human future that is sustainable.


2-   We all, and particularly the world of religion, need to understand how the living earth system was formed by evolution of increasingly complex naturally evolved, interacting systems, and incorporate this knowledge into the religions.


All religions focus on the same light, AS DOES SCIENCE, and it is time to begin acting as though the light is more important than our human wars/debates/dominance behaviors and rituals that do not relate to our current human environment. We can take a lesson from the responsible leadership of His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Not necessarily his Buddhism, but the wisdom of his leadership.


3-   We need to learn how to discuss problems and then discuss them. We ALL need to align our worldviews with factual reality as best we can. That does NOT and should not require either debate or silence. Debate is practice for war, and silence is abdication of our responsibilities to our others. Good outcomes of discussion require good research, good listening, and communal discussion of our current Limiting Factors within our naturally evolved Biosystem Environment. It’s not supposed to be easy, or fun, or happy-face — but it can be rewarding if our genuine goal is survival of our species rather than being better than other people and other species.


4- My personal responsibility is to keep myself healthy and solvent until I can make available a description of how naturally evolved systems function to maintain themselves, and propose one possible recipe for how we can, or could, align our worldviews with the factual reality of natural law by good research and communal discussion.


When this is done — then it will be up to all of you: heads or tails, do we want to grow a future, or just pretend to be happy trashing the future that my parents’ generation tried to give to us?


A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:




Lamoreux et al. 2010. The Colors of Mice: A model Genetic Network. Wiley-Blackwell.

The Dalai Lama. 2010. Toward a True Kinship of Faiths. Doubleday.






Bare Bones Biology 278 – Selling the Land

The national sport in the Brazos Valley of Texas seems to be the destruction of it’s own God-given heritage, including the fabulous richness of the natural prairies and the ancient oaks; the climate and the earth that nurtured both; and even the air our children must breath to stay alive, healthy and independent. These cannot ever re-new themselves without the ecosystem that nourished their creation, and we wipe them clean off the map overnight just because we can, we like the money, and it is fun. Much more fun than a careful consideration of the ethical, biological and medical heritage that we are now creating for our children.


I do not believe I was put on this earth to create money, but rather to help generate a healthy future for humankind. Not a future that consists of scrabbling o151019-Annex-ASC_9728RSsver every last dying remnant of our home on earth and our amazing history of accomplishments, but a future that builds on these to grow toward ever more humanity and beauty.


While some in this area of Texas are struggling to revive the razed, overgrazed, chemically sterilized lands in order to create edible forest gardens ( or beautiful places of meditation and contemplation, or a permaculture future capable of producing healthy food; and while master gardeners try to make lovely spaces out of little plots of clay on street corners; I have intentionally protected the innate value of this land for two decades – protected it from the woman who wanted to graze 8 horses on it, and from various building propositions — to the point where it is now ripe to mold to any of the above regenerative uses by selective pruning, selective addition of benches, niches, corners of native blossom like those yellow bushes that are blooming right now all around the area, and the fruits, vegetables and blossoms of winter, spring and even summer. To grow something worthwhile. Perhaps to grow enough organically produced fruits, vegetables and meat to keep a family all year round, while at the same time serving the needs of local birds and wildlife that regenerate the whole system. In addition, the property is surrounded and protected within an old growth that, once destroyed, will be gone forever.


The preferred industry option, of course, is to wipe out the rich potential of this property, as it has near the post office, overnight, and use it to build a bunch of sterile little cabins filled with people. This land cannot support 8 homes any more than it can support 8 horses, and the result will be more dependant people. People who will then have to depend on the same otxic industry for their welfare. We will not be growing healthy community – we will be creating ever more dependance.


And so, by protecting the Annex property, I have reduced the value of the land to something below the industry average. I say Hooray – I don’t want the toxic industry standard for this property that I have been nurturing and protecting for over two decades.


However, having just filled in more or less 15 pages of questions that are not relevant to the innate value of the Annex property, I now realize that it will be a rare realtor who can sell this place, or even see it, with grace and an eye to the future, because the future that most realtors envision (based on the questions I have answered) is a Vietnamese style scorched-earth nightmare.


I will be highly resistant to dickering for a sale of this property to anyone who has in mind the destruction of its special value in order to force it into a common mediocre toxic industry norm.


A person who buys this property because of its own innate value at least has the option to nurture both the dollar value of the land and its value to the community. That’s what we did with the studio, but of course the studio was a different piece of land with a different innate value. I remember you saw the value there. The clubhouse, also different, in the protected arm of the cemetery and in a backwater of its community, can probably take care of itself. The Annex is in danger of being killed outright, just as has been done to most of the magnificence that was the God-given legacy of Bryan/CS.


On the other hand, it seems to me that a creative use requires creative selling, and I would be happy to participate in an advertising campaign (using my blog and other methods) that would get the property into the hands of a young person or family who want to use it to grow health within the community. Also, I believe the property is worth $135 in the hands of a permaculturist or master gardener, and that kind of person would pay for the potential of this land. While at the same time those who cannot see past the dollar signs would be deterred. I would negotiate eagerly to help that person get the place — especially if they are a part of the coming boom in permaculture production for self and/or others, or someone who simply wants to develop a showplace natural property or wants a nice place to raise a family with pets, a garden, and a horse or two. I believe I’d start the campaign at the University organic farm, the Vet School, the rodeo group, the various places where horses are kept (feed stores) and the master gardeners.


I don’t have time to do a complete demo of what I’m talking about, but I can work on some promotions, if you have any additional ideas, and next time I’m here, if it isn’t sold, it will be spring and I will make a map of the property, make some trails through it, and consult with a master gardener to design a plot such as I am talking about. Today I have mowed what I can, including a new walking trail to the area where the pond should be, with perhaps a bench or a little gazebo on its bank, under a weeping willow tree, or nestled under the already-grown cedar, to sit in meditation or to watch the sunrise, or for a retreat with a good book or a good friend, during the heat of the day.


I also have some pictures of a place in NM that has been developed in the way I am talking about and is used for group retreats (as apparently is another place up the road, though I haven’t gone up to look at it).


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM in Bryan, TX.


A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:



One of the best and most accurate books I have ever read on ecology, permaculture, plant physiology and nurture.


Bare Bones Biology 122B – Human Hands

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that played on KEOS Radio, 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. The original audio podcast may be downloaded at:

In the current blog, the ending paragraphs have been updated and somewhat modified in honor of Earth Day.

120822-hand-asc_0018lss Hold up your hand flat open with your palm facing me. As though you were a policeman trying to stop an onrushing disaster.
Your four fingers and your thumb are all pointing in different directions.

Now let’s think of your four fingers and your thumb as problems or “actions” that you and other socially conscious people are promoting — spending your time, energy and money, using your life to benefit your family, the community and humankind in general. Every person using his/her best skills to address one or other of the major actions, trying to relieve the problems faced by humankind today.

Let’s say your first finger represents hunger, and all the people trying to reduce world hunger. The second finger can represent global warming. The third finger can represent conflict, for example war, politics, genocide, modern economics. And the fourth finger represents religion and spirituality. Your thumb represents overpopulation.

What I notice about this hand is that all five of the digits are pointing off toward different and separate goals. If you added together the five different problems, and the people who are working to address these problems. Well, they are not working together for a common goal – they are going off in five different directions. Often they fight or argue with each other or they simply ignore each other, rather than discussing common goals. For this reason the work of one group often cancels out the gains of one or more of the other groups.

For example, one group is working for compassion in the belief that a compassionate community will not fight. Another group tries to win because they believe that will solve all our problems. The climate change group, after a few hundred years of evidence, is finally beginning to recognize its problem is real and is trying to decide whether to adapt or deal with the root cause of climate change. The hunger group can’t possibly accomplish its goal in the face of climate change and excessive population growth. And the overpopulation group believes that no positive goals can be achieved by continuing the destructive path that caused these problems in the first place.

120822-hand-asc_0026lss We imagine if all the groups accomplished their goals they would all add up to a successful community. The reality, however, looks more like a mish-mash of confusing goals and conflicting interests. Efficient and effective problem solving does not jump out into the world in five different directions at once, with the different parts of itself fighting among themselves. Modern business practice has made many serious mistakes, but at least one good concept has come out of it, and that is goal setting. Good business defines its goals, sets its guidelines, and informs all parties involved.

Our basic human goal is to live in a community that is sustainable into the future. Surely it must be, and if it’s not we should ask each other why not, because we aren’t acting as though it were. We have all these five problems, and more, dashing off in all directions at the same time. Don’t you agree that we could organize ourselves in some way that would at least have a chance of growing a positive future? I think such a future is possible. If our primary goal really is the common welfare, then we can align our four fingers to represent of our commitment to the common goal of human sustainability on this earth, in good health, at least through the lifetimes of our grandchildren. If my genuine stated goal is the same as the stated goals of people working in different disciplines – then we will cease to be all working for different outcomes.

Next, we can recognize the physical facts: (1) that nobody can accomplish anything if there is not enough food for them to eat, (2) that all our food comes from the earth, and (3) the earth now has more people than it can feed. If you personally don’t believe these are real facts, then you, as we all do, have an obligation to the hungry humans in the world to fact-check our belief system.

120829-hand-asc_0296s So we then fold our thumb under at the roots of the four fingers, to represent represent the facts: (1) that overpopulation is at the root of all of the other problems. Yes we have had these problems in the past and we did not solve them before. Blame your heritage. Now is now and now we cannot solve them if a large part of the earth’s population is desperately struggling to make a living, and ; (2) therefore, that no other compassionate goal can be accomplished when there are more people than the earth can feed; and (3) therefore, the four other goals cannot be solved in the presence of overpopulation.

Therefore, if we genuinely want to accomplish our goals. If we want our behavior to reflect our commitment to the real goal, and regardless of our personal expertise or our primary interest — hunger, global warming, conflict resolution (community) or spirituality – then it is our obligation to spend a portion of our effort, every day, to help compassionately reverse human overpopulation, first informing ourselves about why it is a problem, and then addressing that problem as it relates to our own special skills and projects. I tend to judge people’s compassion by their behavior. When I see anyone brush off this obligation with a platitude or a blank look — we all do really know how important it is. Then I wonder why they don’t really want to know. Can it be they don’t want to help carry the burden of responsibility that goes with knowledge?

120822-hand-asc_0020ls And then – we all work together to accomplish both the root goal and the individual goals by enclosing all of life on earth within the fully informed, goal-oriented, responsible, compassionate hand of human kind.

And then we ask. (Everyone does.): “But it is such a big problem, what can I do?” The answer is –

1- Discuss the issues as a community. Sometimes I think many of us are pouting: “If I can’t have what I want, then I won’t talk about it at all.” This approach won’t work. Neither will war make things better, except temporarily for the profiteers. War is not discussion; debate is not discussion; passive-aggressive conflict in which neither side is willing to listen is not discussion. Anything that involves only two sides or a “winner” is not discussion. The goal of these discussions is not to “win” anything. The goal is to be prepared for what is going to happen.

We are letting the corposystem decide these issues for us. We are even letting our government and corporations decide what opinions we should have and what are the issues of our debates. Often we waste time arguing over who is to blame, instead of fixing things.

2-Educate yourself about how the ecosystem functions to maintain its balance and therefore its welfare and its life. The earth will not bow to human preferences; it is essential that we discuss ideas that will work within the natural laws that function to maintain Life. We are entering the biggest biological crisis in human history, and we are not giving it as much rational consideration as we would the purchase of a car. It’s time to get serious and work together to soften the blow for us all.

We are in a situation like an old-fashioned clock that doesn’t work properly because one of its wheels is missing. When we fail to discuss the issues with people who disagree with us, we cannot make wise decisions because part of the necessary information is missing from the discussion.

Because they hold half of the wisdom;
And we are making half of the mistakes.

If we want to “win” at the end, we must begin by discussing these issues with people who disagree with us.

To download the original podcast of this program go to:

Bare Bones Biology 143 – Education

Last week I introduced Stepháne Luchini, whose expertise is in communication techniques as they relate to community and justice. This week and next, I want to air a bit more from his commentary. Unfortunately I had to edit out some car noise, but I think the message is his, and I want to present his message because so many people ask me “what can we do?” or sometimes they tell me there is nothing we can do. My answer, for about the past three years, has been that we must discuss the issues together.

TarSandsHoustonASC_1752sIn fact, we now have factual data available to discuss, relative to our basic communal issues, and of course the purpose of discussion is to bring our opinions to the facts and to each other. If we only discuss with people who agree, that’s almost the same as not discussing, and it generally ends in a big session of “blame-placing” or “aint-it-awful,” or both, which can relieve our own sense of responsibility but does not result in improving the mental health of our communities. That’s one reason I was so interested in Stepháne’s comments about debate, dialog and community. Here’s Stepháne:

“You were interested in exploring the difference between debate and dialog. I think dialog is a conversation between two or more people. It’s one that facilitates people taking into consderation others. Debate’s a contest to see who can win over the other. I don’t think that really helps to facilitate consideration. I think it develops division, competition.”

“Dialog helps take into consideration all beings. I think to consider all beings, we have to consider who is going to be part of the dialog. I think dialog suggests that we have to think of who else will be part of the dialog and invite those others into the dialog. A specific example is if we say at a public meeting about what’s going to happen with water issues in the town of Silver City, who should be at that meeting? Who should we invite? Maybe it’s not that we should decide in a quiet back room of the corporation, Ok who do we want to talk with about water issues because we have a bias toward wanting to make some money. Or as it was in Bolivia, where people needed a new water system, and a US based corporation comes along and says we’ll put in a nice new water system. The people were really happy until they started to get these horrendous bills to charge them for water that was always free, and they revolted. That didn’t work out for that company apparently, because nobody paid.

”We have a system that perpetuates harm and hurts, I believe, with our criminal justice system right now, and I think a lot of people go into it with a feeling that they really want to fulfill the needs of justice. They feel tired, or discouraged, or know that it’s actually causing more harm, and are really seeking what better we can do. People who are district attorneys, people who are judges. So I think there’s room. I think people in criminal justice, professionals, many or most of them, if they saw a new way that could promote healing and true accountability, they would embrace it. My experience with restorative justice suggests that people in our community, if given an opportunity, would embrace an alternative way. I think people can take up dialog. I think we can take up dialog in our politics than our debate. I think we can do more with our efforts to promote community. I think people are ready for it.”

Lynn Lamoreux
Photos by Lynn

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that will playnext week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas.
Bare Bones Biology is a completely nonprofit project. The podcast can be downloaded at:

Recommended References:

Questions for discussion.
(1) What is the most important need in my community and who should be involved in a dialog about that issue.
(2) How does this need differ from the needs of the ecosystem? How do you know what the ecosystem needs? Which is more important and why?
For a free copy of the Bare Bones Biology Ecology energy handbook, go to the right side of my blog, under chapters. Be sure to let me know if it doesn’t work, or if you find something in the book with which you disagree.

Bare Bones Biology 142 – Community/Mediation

An excellent study of different sorts of communities was recently published by Jared Diamond, The World Until Yesterday, Viking Press. Diamond discussed different types of social organizations under various headings, including “peace and war.”

130106-TarSands-asc_1675LSs copyAdministering disputes, justice and peace is, of course, an essential community function. The power of community is based on the efforts of people acting together to accomplish the common goal. To do that, we must not prey upon each other, and we must find the most effective ways to administer justice and, if necessary, control individual behaviors that harm the community.

Our American rule of law seems to be based in a sort of dichotomous debate model, right or wrong, win or lose, power and weakness, and — let’s face it – it’s not working very well. There are several weaknesses in this model. Most obvious is that the basic power is administered via fear, rather than compassion, justice or fairness. Winning, that is beating up on other people, or fighting over anything, does not increase trust among the members of the community, and then the community tends to use compassion unwisely.

We delight in rescuing victims, but to rescue victims it’s necessary to generate victims in the first place. In our culture and in our media and our education system, we do not hear glory tales about preventing victimization. Lately there has been a move to prevent bullying, but of course we aren’t really serious about that. Our whole corposystem model is based in rewarding the biggest bully. Schoolchildren aren’t going to believe that it is not; and I don’t see anyone changing the model. Nor do I see anyone out there shouting the praises of the people who do prevent victims. For example, the gory evening TV programs, last time I looked, all were based in the glory of the gore. But there are people in our culture who are working hard to do just that – prevent victims – and they are using various methods that relate to various sorts of problems.

122212-Solstice-_2s copyProbably you have heard of the restorative justice model of conflict resolution. There are links on my blog. Last summer, when I was in Silver City, I had the good fortune to discuss the restorative justice model of conflict resolution with a leading practicioner, Stepháne Luchini:

“I’ve always been interested in peacemaking and social justice, and even now I’ve moved into criminal justice, as a mediator in the field of restorative justice. But my larger interest is in community and the work with restorative justice is based on dialogue. How can we bring people together who might be in pain where there’s been harm, where there’s anger, and how can we bring people together where they can feel safe where there’s hope of something changing, a transformation, and how can I as a facilitator help guide people through a dialogue process in rocky territory where it’s difficult and we want to avoid conflict and harm, and transform somehow our experience in the past that has been hurtful or where we have hurt someone, to a new experience – transform the relationships we have had between us and them, the good person and the bad person, into something where we recognize the real essence of who we are as human beings, that we all have a need for being safe, we all have a need for being cared for and recognized. That’s what I’ve enjoyed doing for the last decade now, the restorative justice work, because I see, after a couple hour meeting between victims and offenders how something can so dramatically change where there is healing where people who have hurt each other can now hug each other.”

Lynn Lamoreux
Photos by Lynn

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that will play
next week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. Bare Bones Biology is a completely
nonprofit project. The podcast can be downloaded at:

Recommended References:

Diamond, Jared. The World Until Yesterday, what can we learn from traditional societies? Viking Press, 2012

Bare Bones Biology 134 – Community and Ego

I had a dream last night about human ego, whatever that is, I will not try to define. In the dream, some guy was driving the bus and I was picking up the pieces. Literally, I mean, I was picking the pieces of newspaper and trash, old egg shells, gum and plastic wrappings — out from under the gas pedal — as they kept rolling back in there — while two other people sat behind, telling me what I was doing wrong, and the trash kept piling higher and deeper.

You will never guess what this dream was trying to tell me, because I didn’t until I started to write it down, and immediately came to mind my persistent question: “Why did The Creator give us our ego in the first place?” The thing causes so much pain and suffering to us and our communities, convincing us that our own belief system, our own need to be more right, is more real than reality. It isn’t, you know. Nobody is “right,” because nobody understands everything. And if we believe that our mind, emotions, intellect (reference), or our world view (reference), are more powerful than the biological reality. Well, that’s a pretty good definition of pain and suffering, now or later.

Pain is life enhancing. It guides our choice of behaviors so that we avoid drowning in the river when its currents are swirling in flood, or burning our little hands on the stove. Because we were formed within the biological community – our response to pain is biologically life enhancing.

To understand why we were given an ego is more difficult. What good is the blasted thing, if the use of it causes us emotional pain and suffering, but it doesn’t tell us what the danger is? Well, of course, that’s one function of community – to help us avoid emotional suffering by passing down the wisdom teachings of the ages. The harm caused by our ego-trips is well and often explained in all the wisdom teachings, and better behaviors described.

Maybe that’s what the ego is meant to do. Maybe our ego suffering is meant to enhance the welfare of the community by passing on some wisdom from now to benefit the future. I hope so, because our age is growing new problems faster than any before, and with these new problems, we must learn new lessons (or apply the old ones) about what not to do if we don’t want to suffer.

Our origins designed us genetically and behaviorally to live in a biosystem that functions to support life, but our human culture now has grown an artificial corposystem that functions to make money. And the power of this corposystem seems to lie mostly in our human ego needs.

So many people so filled with the fear of not being better than other people. Is that our ego? Why do we feel that we must be better than someone else? We can’t discuss the important issues, because someone might go into a one-up or one-down tizzy, or just turn their backs and walk away for fear that we might know something they don’t know. But isn’t that the point of discussion, that everyone knows more than only one? Don’t we WANT to deal with the problems? We keep saying that we do, and then the next thing you know we are debating irrelevant questions for no better reason than to satisfy our never-ending need to win. Even though the floods of climate change (climate change series Bare Bones Biology 092 through 100) are already tickling our toes – even though everyone really does know the end result of these ego trips, in our modern times, will be disaster.

So now my question is: how can we be aware of our ego, and all the negative, painful behaviors that it generates — how can we use that knowledge to grow a more positive, life-supporting human community?

Lynn Lamoreux
Photos by Lynn

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that will play next week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. Bare Bones Biology is a completely nonprofit project. The podcast can be downloaded at

Recommended Action/Question for Discussion: I’m tempted to suggest that you start an argument and consider what methods you use to win. And what are the results. But in fact I doubt that you need to know more about how to argue. So instead I suggest you find a person with whom to discuss an issue and see how long you can keep it going without either of you having an obvious emotional reaction (because this will be a serious subject.) Maybe you could try this one –
“In the United States, especially this year, any occasion when contraceptives and public policy overlap seems to be an excuse to fight about other issues.”

Bare Bones Biology 133B – World Community

Last week I described, in a very general way, how I imagine the human brain processes information. The primary take-away message is that our brains are not universal. We are one species out of billions that are required to operate the functions of the living earth — just as any one cell of our brain is only one out of billions that are required to operate our amazing human brain. Secondly, there are levels of function of the human brain that we do not control – they control us. They control the basic functions of our bodies, and the basic nature of our emotions.

However, we also have higher levels of function in our brains that can adapt to our environment in a conscious way. One of these qualities is how we are learning all the time. Another is our intellect, that we can use to evaluate ourselves and our surroundings. If we try, we can figure out the difference between our perceptions — that is what our reality feels like according to our world view – and what the world really is according to facts that we study in physics, chemistry and biology. For example, we can measure the speed of light using tools designed by our intellect, but according to our perceptions, we would not know about the speed of light. We wouldn’t know that light is energy. We wouldn’t understand energy and would not have learned how to control fire, for example, during the millennia of our origins.

In all those millenia, the problems we faced had to do with how to interact with an overwhelming environment. For example, I was very touched by the last story in the most recent National Geographic. It is the story of an interaction between today and a primitive tribal culture. I won’t tell you the end of the story, but for me it was a heart-wrenching illustration of the choices we must make if we are to survive within the requirements of our environment. (National Geographic, February, 2012, Cave People of Papua, New Guinea.)

Today, we no long live sheltered in the broad green arms of our ecological home. I think that’s one reason why we experience the levels of discomfort, dis-ease and discontent that we do in our culture, but that’s not something we can deal with now. We have already destroyed that long-distant Garden of Eden. We can’t go back and change the mistakes of yesterday. You younger folk don’t realize that yet probably, but it can be demonstrated using, that intellect of ours, that the earth has modified herself to our needs about as much as she can. Our choice now is whether to push the environment even more. If we do, it’s likely to change so much that it can no longer support our needs for air, water, shelter, earth and human companionship.

We can do this, I know our brain is capable of understanding the problems that we face, and we can join together communally to deal with them. However, we cannot face these challenges using only our inborn instincts. If we are to succeed, it will require our intellect in two ways. First, we must educate ourselves about the ecosystem, how it functions and what it needs from us in order to sustain itself; second we must use our intellect to grow a new culture, based in what we know about basic instincts, and on what previous cultures have taught us, and incorporating our scientific knowledge and changing our attitude toward technology.

We now must decide together whether we, as a culture of the world, want to continue using technology to dominate and to make money – or if we will choose to, find a better way, based on a better goal-set than winner/loser. We do know there are better and more satisfying ways for humans to live, and the first thing we need to understand — we are not God. We do not understand the infinite meaning of life, nor can we control it. Our need to control, our ego, our desire to grow life in our image, whether the image be evil or even if it is a good image – that is the source and cause of our man-made disasters.

Lynn Lamoreux
Photo by Lynn, Lucky B Bison

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that will play next week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. Bare Bones Biology is a completely nonprofit project. The podcast can be downloaded at

Recommended Action/Question for Discussion: Identify the source, and the path from source to table, of each item of food that is part of your Thanksgiving meal. In countries without a day of Thanksgiving (or with one), give thanks for your food at every meal and remember that it comes from the living earth. What, I wonder, is the difference between our living earth, and your God? Or mine?

Recommended References

Bare Bones Biology Ecology Handbook, free, no strings –
On the right side of the page click on the link under “Chapters” to download the PDF.

National Geographic, February, 2012, Cave People of Papua, New Guinea, by Mark Jenkins, Photos by Amy Toensing.

Bare Bones Biology 129 – Community III

Community is a big deal these days, and community building is a hot topic. So lots of people are out there building communities; but what I hear them talk about – do they really know what a community is? And if not. How can they build one? I don’t see communities; I see dollar signs and dominance relationships, and while I’m sure you can’t have a community with no source of support and no defined relationships – also I know that dollars and dominance are not enough for a sustainable community. You can build a “network” that way, but not a community.

That’s a problem for humans, because humans are a social species. We cannot fulfill our deepest, inherited needs without community, and how can you build something if you don’t know what it is?

The social sciences. and the dictionary. define community as a group of people. Different definitions talk about different sorts of groups, but basically, they say a community is a group of people. Oxford American Dictionary – “A body of people living in one place or district or country and considered as a whole.” Well, OK, if that’s their idea of a community, then there is no reason for community building. We already have several billions of people in various groups on earth. That should be enough people, and enough groups. Clearly we need a better idea of communities, or we wouldn’t keep trying to build them.

The problem seems to be that we all have different ideas, and we all keep doing more of whatever we were taught to do – or not do. That’s what got us here in the first place, and I’m fairly sure you can’t cure a problem by doing more and more of what caused the problem in the first place. I think there is a different word for that – addiction, I think if we had a real human community we probably wouldn’t need addictions for a substitute.

The biological definition of community is very different from the social sciences definition. Biologically, a group of any one species (such as a group of people), the biological word for that is not community – it is population. The population of humans in College Station. The population of goatweeds on my ranch. The population of a certain kind of mosquito in the Brazos Valley.

The biological definition of community is: “all the plants and other organisms that live in the same area and interact with one another.”

So biologically, a community is ALL the organisms. Because they all do interact with each other, either directly or indirectly. All the populations in the Brazos Valley. The population of goatweeds and of mosquitoes and of humans – all those populations of organism together form the community of the Brazos Valley, along with all the millions more populations of organisms. When I say millions, we must consider the good rich soil of the bottom-land and all the other places where there are – yes – millions of different kinds of micro-organisms contributing to Life, if we haven’t killed them off, and all the plants and all the insects, the spiders that used to live here and everything else that is alive. That is the biological definition of community.

So it seems that everyone who is using the word community is not talking about the same thing – but we all are right. Whenever everyone is right, and they are all using the same words to mean different things, that is a perfect setup for arguments. But why argue? We do want the same thing; we only need to know what it is.

I believe a human community is a group of people who interact with each other in emotional and social ways very much like the organisms of a biological community interact among themselves in biological ways. Why? The function of biological communities is to promote the welfare of Life Itself. The valid function of human communities is also to serve Life — so that Life may provide for us the earth, air, fire and water that we require to maintain our human communities.

By that definition, I see very few human communities in this country. And very little community building.

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that is playing
this week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. The podcast can be downloaded at

Tags: community_building, biology, addiction, population, social_sciences, social_species, networks, community

Recommended References:
Previous Bare Bones Biology in this series on community
Bare Bones Biology 127 – community
Bare Bones Biology 128 – community

Odum, Eugene P. Fundamentals of Ecology, any edition, the “bible” of ecology
Krebs, Charles. 2008. The Ecological World View. University of California Press