Posts Tagged ‘programs’

Newsletters, 2011

Our Newsletters will begin in July, 2011.

With respect to our wild lands,  it will cover topics, such as Hunter Gatherers, Wilderness Survival, and Predator Prey Relationships, with emphasis on the role of wolves in healthy ecosystems. 

The environment takes in an even wider swath, so the Newsletter will also cover Cancer, Climate Change, Peak Oil, and Molecular Genetics, especially Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Anything that effects the health of the Earth is grist for our mill, and hopefully of interest to you. We will therefore upon occasion, wander farther afield if it seems relevant to your interests, to such topics as primitive skills, wilderness awareness, the evolution of man, and so on.



Please check the News category for the latest topics of interest

How To Go For A Walk In The Woods With Your Grandchild

Lanie and Ken's house in a typical Sandpoint winter



by Lanie johnson, M.A. and Ken Fischman, Ph.D>


            Discover how we as elders can teach our grandchildren to live in harmony with nature


1.  Gather together with brief self-intros.

2.  State Purpose.

3.  Warm-ups

4.  Awareness Walk

            A.  Superhearing

            B.  Expanded Vision

            C.  Meditation/inner stillness – wildlife observation

            D.  Foxwalk – respect the Earth

            E.   Blindfold walk

            F.  Stalking game – how close can you get to the deer?

5.  Just walk and enjoy – K and L point out natural things according

            present environment.

6.  Safety guidelines (*Tell someone where going *Lost-proofing*

            Weather-proofing*Poisonous plants)

7.  Elements of survival/demo

8.  Role of Elder (Ken's sheet)

            Story teller – story

9.  Plight of children + what we can do

            Book list

10. Return trip + Garbage bags


1.  Introductions:

            We are happy to see you here today! [Did anyone have trouble finding this location? - feedback will help us give better directions] Before we start out on our walk, we would like for all of us to know a little about each other, so lets form a circle, go around, and have everyone do a brief introduction – just your name, where your from, and if you have grandchildren, how many [,and their names].  I'll start …

            I'm Lanie, originally from Princeton, N.J.  I spent most of my adult life in NYC, but now live partly on Donnelly, ID and partly in our solar-powered truck camper.  I have one great-niece but no grandchildren, but I have done a lot of work with families and children so I feel as if I have quite a large number of grandchildren.


2.  Purpose

            To inspire people [seniors] to [take their rightful place in]save [saving]the Earth and their Grandchildren     

You say you can't walk very fast?  there's an advantage to that: if you walk more slowly, you'll see more and miss less. Younger people are always in a hurry to get from A to Z -  in so doing, they miss the alphabet in between.  One of the most important things you need to do in Nature, is to slow down. 

You say that you can't see as well as you used to?  You can actually use that to your advantage also, in heightening your other senses.  Ever close your eyes in order to hear better or feel something by touch?  And besides, we are going to show you a different kind of vision that's more appropriate to use in Nature, and you may be as good or better at it than a kid. etc.

          In The Woods  K.  "We are here today to give you some hints on how you can enjoy walking in the woods with your young grandchildren.  By the way, did you know that in traditional societies, it was the grandparents who brought up the children because their parents were busy hunting and gathering?  And. guess what?  The parents in our post-industrial society are again too busy to take care of their children – and may be that's part of the problem …"

4.  Awareness Walk

            In our society, we do everything high tech and sequential.  In the outdoors, we hike with clodhopper boots, carry our houses on our backs, and restrict ourselves to walking on trails.  We use pricy, space-age materials and technological gimmicks, and put synthetic chemicals on and into our bodies.  We focus straight ahead, with our goal being to get from place A to place Z as fast as possible.  The irony is that in doing so, we place a wall between ourselves and Nature, screening out the very things we came to appreciate and enjoy.  We are almost like the proverbial monkeys.  We see nothing, hear nothing, but boy do we chatter a lot! 

            Lanie and I have stood less than 50 feet off a trail many times, and watched hikers pass by entirely unaware of our presence.  In the first survival course we took, 50 presumably aware people walked down a trail entirely unaware that they had passed under one of our instructors perched on a tree limb 3 feet over their heads.  They had never looked up!

            Traditional people were silent, glided through the landscape, and were totally aware of everything around them.  Their next meal, and perhaps their very lives depended on it.  Today we will introduce you to some of these traditional skills and ways of being in Nature.  We cannot give you a thorough course in such a short time, but we hope to give you some experience of that wonderful way and to whet your appetite for more.  At the end of our walk, we will tell you of courses and books that can help you expand this experience.

            [One last thing before we begin.  It would be disingenuous not to tell you that we have some ulterior motives.  We are hoping that what you experience today will deepen your appreciation of the natural world and make you aware of the role you can play as the mature, wise guides of our society, and especially our children now desperately need.  Our society has wandered off the path of being in harmony with nature and our grandchildren will have to pay the price unless people like you can help them find their way back.]

            A.  Superhearing          


                                    – Have group stop, be silent, and listen for a


                                    – What do you hear? Anything that you did

                                                not hear previously?

                                    – Show SH tech.(turn into a deer, etc.) Try to

                                                hear again. what is the difference in

                                                louses, direction, etc.

                                    – Discuss uses


            Ask the group what and how they heard. (short discussion)  We will teach you a new, but ancient technique in which you turn yourself into a wild animal like a deer.  (Demo by cupped hands behind ears and turning torso from side to side to enhance loudness and determine direction of sound)  Ask Q's What do you hear now? How is it different?  (louder, sounds not previously heard, direction,  etc.)

   you can use SH to find your way out of the woods also.  You might be able to hear and locate the sounds of rivers or traffic, and head in that direction.  By the way, did you know that there is no place in this country that you can walk in a straight line for more than 75 miles without hitting a paved road?  Did you know that our National Forests are cris-crossed by thousands of miles of lumber roads?

            (Short discussion of Concentric Circles) You have created a disturbance among the nearer animals that spreads like the concentric circles a pebble dropped in a pond make. The animals near you make warning cries (or stop making sounds), and this change spreads to others farther away.  Your presence has now been detected far from you, and that is why although there is wildlife all around, you see so little of it.

            we will show you how to move silently in order to overcome the concentric circle problem

            B.  Expanded Vision


                                    -  Stop group again

                                    -  Lets try an Expt. with vision.  Explain purpose

                                    -  Describe method, e.g. arms extended, etc.

                                    –  Questions – How great an angle can you see at? 

                                                What are the differences from focused


                                    – Purpose:  e.g. Wild animals see this way. 

                                                Movement more important in woods

                                                than detail.

                                    – Try walking this way for a few minutes. Anecdote-

                                                walking w. a w.o. flashlight


            Lets stop for a moment.  I want to show you something about vision.  Spread out in a line, about 2 arm-lengths apart.  In our society we learn early to stay focused, both physically and metaphorically.  we use this type of vision for reading, close work, and nowadays for watching TV  and computer screens.  This Tunnel vision.  We never learn that there is another way of seeing – Wide-Angle or Expanded Vision. 

            Look straight ahead at some object.  Extend your arms sideways.  Now start wiggling your fingers while slowly bringing your arms forward until you become aware of your fingers.  Notice how wide your angle of vision has become.  You can see a lot more now.  In this mode, you become more aware of movement than detail.  This is how wild animals and those traditional people who hunt them see.  This why if you stand stock still and an animal like a deer or rabbit appears to look right at you, they usually do not spook.  They see vague forms, and you may look like a tree trunk to them.  But if you raise an arm, they are gone like a flash.  Just then you reminded them of a hunter with a rifle.  Who says animals can't think and learn?  Why do the deer go to the tops of the mountains during hunting season while lazy hunters look for them in the valleys?  I have seen the reverse – Elk hunters on their horses on top of the mountains, and when I drove down into the valley, there were the Elk, grazing peacefully right by the road!

            Try this.  Look at the landscape like a painting, and while walking through it, enlarge your field of vision to take in as much as possible.  You will become aware of movement, like animals do and have a fighting chance of seeing them before they see you.  [Lanie and I once tried expanded vision while canoeing down a eastern rive at the height of Autumn color.  It was relaxing, like a form of meditation.  This is how Monet must have seen!]  We will ask you later what your experience was.  Don't worry about stumbling. You will be surprised at how well you can feel the ground with your feet.

            Discussion of EV experience).  A word about vision at night.  Most people use flashlights at night, but they therefore see only what is in the flashlight beam and their vision never accommodates to the dark.  Try this.  Stand in the dark for 3-5 minutes needed to accommodate and you will be amazed at how much you can see.  Also, try looking at things out of the corner of you eye.  You see better that way at night because you have more rods than cones there, and they are more sensitive to dim light.


flashlight beam = good metaphor for tunnel vision!             

            E.  Blindfold Walk – To experience the landscape through senses other than vision.


                        – Set up prior to walk (previous day?) Need varied landscape, e.g. sun/shade, rough/smooth bark, damp/dry soil, vary height of rope, crawl/climb, hear dry leaves, wind, etc. (string leading away from main string to e.g. hole in tree) Knots in rope can alert class to important places.

                        -  Explain purpose of exercise, and how to proceed through course (e.g. stay on same side of rope. Do not run through course, etc.)

                        -  Blindfold each person, and L&K will alternately lead people through, one at a time, with sufficient distance between them.

                        -  Let them examine the course afterward in order to see what they experienced.

                        -  Discuss why experience was different w.o. vision.

            Someone once said that "vision leads the other senses".  We have become 80-90% visual beings, mainly because we neglect our other senses, like touch, smell, hearing.  They are still there for the most part, lying dormant like a sleeping animal, and all we need to do is to awaken and retrain them, like an athlete trains her muscles.  Children enjoy blindfold games immensely, and there are many blindfold games you can play with them.  One of our favorites is the Blindfold Drum game.  The children try to find their way through a woods to the drummer.  A variant is to have other blindfolded children around the drummer, who listen for and try to point out the children advancing on the drummer.  By the way, adults like these games too!




The Earth Is Our Home


What is Jack Staff's destination?

The End Of Oil


THE END OF OIL, AND THE RISE OF DENIAL (6/3/06, rev. 9/10/11)

Ken Fischman,Ph.D.,  Lanie Johnson, M.A.,  and the Ancient Pathways Players

Climbing Hubbert’s Peak

Back in 1956, an oil geologist, by the name of L. King Hubbert, published an article in which he predicted that oil production in the U.S would reach its peak between 1970 and 1972, and from then on would decrease every year.
Despite the fact that Hubbert was a respected scientist and that he presented solid evidence for his conclusions, he was derided, laughed at, or ignored by almost everyone in the oil industry.
In 1972, oil production in the U.S. peaked, and since then it has declined every year. That, and not oil industry greed, China’s new energy appetite, or rebellions in Libya, is the main reason why you are paying over $3.00/gallon for gasoline and our country is dependent on foreign oil.
By the way, my bill for heating and cooking with Propane went up 28% last winter. Did you know that natural gas production in the U.S. peaked way back in 1956, and has gone down every year since then?
Other scientists have improved L. King Hubbert’s fact gathering, formulas, and calculations, and have extended the methodology he successfully used to predict Peak Oil in the U.S. to computer simulations of world oil production.

They have concluded that world oil production will peak within a few years, or has already peaked. Kenneth Deffeyes is a Geologist from Princeton University, and is one of the leaders of the Peak Oil movement. He has calculated that world oil production reached its highest level in November, 2005. It is in the nature of the oil industry that we only learn about such events after they have happened.
Deffeyes, Colin Campbell, who is a Scottish geophysicist, energy investment banker Matthew Simmons, along with Roscoe Bartlett, who is a former engineer, and presently a Republican Congressman from Maryland, have been sounding the alarm. They have been derided, laughed at, or just plain ignored. It is only now, with the price of energy sky-rocketing, that they are getting any public attention at all.
If you remember your history, the Greek seer, Cassandra, made dire predictions about the fate of Greece. She was laughed at too. But, she had the last laugh. Classical Greece is gone. You can visit the ruins of the Acropolis in Athens, if you buy your airline tickets now while you can still afford them.

The End of Cheap Oil

Now, you may wonder, why am I talking about oil at a workshop on ancient skills and beliefs? It is because the impending loss of cheap oil is going to profoundly affect the way we and our children lead our lives.

[enter stage L -- a fairy, dressed in pink tutu, with a diamond tiara, and a wand with a star at its end – “she” is flippant and bubbly, and speaks in falsetto, kind of like Glenda the Good, from Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz]

“Hi, I’m the Tooth Fairy (TF) and I’ve come to tell you that there’s nothing to worry about. There’s plenty of oil left. All you have to do is look for it under your pillow!”

[KF] Hey, wait a minute! You’re interrupting a serious discussion. And you look ridiculous in that tutu. These people are here to learn important things that will affect their lives. Please do not interrupt us. [TF glares at K, petulantly, hands on hips ]

[KF] Now, where was I? Oh yes, even the phrase “oil production,” is misleading. Human beings have never produced even one drop of oil. It was all produced by Nature some 600 million years ago. More properly, we ought to call it “oil extraction.” The amount of oil available is, for all intents and purposes, finite (unless you want to wait around another 600 million years.) When it’s gone, it’s gone, and all the wishful thinking in the world won’t bring back a drop of it.
The fact is, that the world is rapidly running out of conventional oil, and this fact is absolutely critical because our contemporary, technological civilization is organized around and totally dependant on cheap oil. This situation is being compounded because every year America’s appetite for oil is increasing. China and India’s economies are growing at 10%/year and are they running around the world, trying to lock up all the existing and potential oil and natural gas sources they can get their hands on. When demand increases and supply goes down, the law of economics tells us that the price will increase. My truck camper makes about 9 miles/gal of gas. I ‘m thinking of trading it in for a Prius.

[TF] Oh, yoo–hoo! I have an easy solution. You know, when children lose a tooth, all they have to do is put it under the pillow, and the tooth fairy (that’s me!) will come in the middle of the night and replace it with a dollar bill. Now, all you have to do is place your empty gas tank under your pillow and the Tooth Fairy will fill it up with oil made from Canadian tar sands, or Pennsylvania coal, or Ethanol from corn – better yet, we can fill it with Abiotic oils from the bottom of the sea of which there’s an endless supply! Of (course) no one’s ever seen it, but I am sure it’s there because we need it!

[KF] Now look here, you demented elf! You are interrupting a serious discourse and making a farce out of this. Leave this room right now, or I’ll Canadian tar-sand and feather you! [TF exits in a huff, stage Rt.]

Say Goodbye To Cheap Oil

Thank goodness were rid of that ridiculous person. Magical thinking will not help us. This is a rational society. Only a few years ago, the price of oil was 35$ per gallon. Now it is over $80. I predict that the price of oil next summer will be over $100 per gallon, and that the price will go up every year from now on.
The high price of energy will profoundly change our lifestyles. The Global Economy, which is based on the ability to cheaply transport goods from one part of the world to another, will inevitably collapse. Economies will, of necessity, become localized, and we will have to depend on local food supplies.
Everyone knows. . .

[Oil Fairy] Hi there. I’m the Oil Fairy and I’ve come to tell you that there’s plenty of oil around the Caspian Sea. And, we know there’s lots of oil under the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge without having even drilled test wells there, or ……

[KF] Great! Another idiot! Look here! If they started exploring ANWAR tomorrow and found oil, which is not certain, it would take at least 10 years to locate, drill, and build a pipeline to carry the oil down to us. Furthermore, even the most optimistic estimate of how much oil there is under those herds of Caribou, would supply U.S. needs for only 3 to 6 months. But, it sure would make a lot of money for Exxon, BP, etc. And maybe they can get Halliburton to build the pipeline.

[OF] But all I have to do is wave my magic wand and. . .

[KF] There is no such thing as magic! You can’t make something from nothing. Why don’t you go away and stop bothering us with your wishful thinking? [TF stands petulantly, hands on hips, & glares at KF]
They have looked everywhere, and there are no hidden sources of oil. Not only that, but there is no adequate substitute for oil. You can’t stick a nuclear energy plant in your car and make it run, or put one in a Boeing 747 and make it fly either. Too heavy. You can convert coal to gas, but the more coal you dig, the more expensive it will be to get to, and how are you going to transport that heavy stuff from Pennsylvania to Florida? And up and up will go the costs.
As for corn-derived Ethanol, it is the latest fad of the technofixers. At least two studies have shown that more energy has to be put into the process than can be gotten out of it. Corn is a very energy- demanding crop. It will make a lot of money for agribusiness, but it is not the answer to our energy problems. Not only that, but every acre put into production of corn for Ethanol, is an acre taken out of the production of food in a country where the number of food-producing farms is shrinking every year. If our government is so worried out our dependency on foreign oil, how vulnerable will we feel when we become dependant on foreign-grown food?

What Is Oil Good For?

The first thing people think about when you mention oil is fuel – energy – energy to drive your car to work, to fly by plane to the West Coast in order to spend Thanksgiving with your far-flung family, energy to push that diesel locomotive up the track, bringing cheap stuff to Wal-Mart.
But energy needs are just the tip of the iceberg. Where do you think your anti-allergy pills come from? Your antibiotics? Most medications are synthesized from oil. By the way, what do you think is the most expensive kind of building to construct and maintain? (pause) Anyone?  No, it’s not the Pentagon. It’s your local hospital. By the square foot, by the little white pill, by the 2 million dollar MRI they just installed. A single Cancer treatment costs almost 10 thousand dollars. . . . . It is by far the most expensive structure around. What do you think will happen to your medical bills when oil hits $100/barrel? $200/barrel?

By the way, what do you think plastic is made from? Take a wild guess. …. Hey, Oil Fairy, do you know how much plastic there is in your house? your refrigerator? your automobile? I’ll bet even your magic wand is plastic.
Another question for you fairy! Do you like bananas in your cereal for breakfast? Now, don’t tell me you just wave your wand and make them appear! Do you know
where that banana came from?

[OF] Timorously – Ecuador?

[KF] How many bananas are you going to eat when the cost of transporting them from Ecuador doubles? triples? How much of the food that you buy in Safeway is grown within 100 miles of here? Very little, but food distribution patterns are going to have to change or we will not be able to feed over 320 million Americans. Bioregionalism anyone?

[OF} I think I’ll leave . The batteries in my magic wand seem to have run down. I wonder what batteries are made of? Goodbye.

[KF]  Good riddance! Whew! We are finally rid of her! Now, where was I? Oh yes,
Let’s talk more about food. After all, it is your ultimate energy supply. Is your food cheap? plentiful?. . . What is the fertilizer that makes that food grow made from? Anyone?….  How about the pesticides and herbicides that they use on farms? What are they made from? …. How much oil did they expend to manufacture that tractor, and the other mechanized equipment found on most farms today? And, how much energy is used to run them? How much fuel was expended to transport food from Imperial Valley, California to your dining room table last night?
How much plastic is there in your computer? And how much oil did they use to dig up, refine, and transport all those rare materials that give your hard disk that prodigious amount of memory the computer companies boast of?

The Technofixers

And that’s just the beginning. What about – - – - – - – - – - -

[Big rumpus –Technology Fairy enters – stage L]

[TF] Hi – I’m the Technology Fairy, and I’ve come to save you! Not to worry! I’ve got a technological fix for everything! Just look under your pillow!

(someone in audience shouts – “Hey “Techy,” you’re cute”)

[TF] I’m not only cute, I’m clever. Hey, do you know what we can do to squeeze more out of an oil field? I can drill on a slant to get oil from under nearby mountains or drill down a mile with offshore drilling rigs that are already a mile below the ocean surface.

[KF] (exasperatedly) It’s already been done, and you know what happened. Remember BP and the Gulf oil spill?

[TF] Oh – well, I can pump water into the wells to push up more oil.

[KF] Been there – done that. Do you wonder why the Saudis are doing it now? Can it be that their oil fields are drying up? It adds to the cost, and eventually it messes up the entire oil field.

[TF] Oh – well, I can explore other parts of the world, using high-tech equipment, and find loads of oil.

[KF] Until 2006 oil companies had been spending less money every year on oil exploration. Only now, with the price of oil soaring, has it become worthwhile for them to put money into exploration. The reason for that is that they have almost certainly already found all the great oil fields on Earth. There is no other place to look for large amounts of oil except the Arctic Ocean and the South China Sea, and that’s why China, Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam have recently been threatening each other over that area. I don’t think that superpowers fighting an oil war is going to help lower the cost of oil.

[TF, getting surly] Yeah, well how about all those hydrogen-driven cars? – clean, no pollution, free energy. yippee!

[KF] You know, it’s a funny thing. Nobody talks about where they’re going to get all those H2 atoms. You see, they’re going to pull them off of – guess what? ….  oil and natural gas. That’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul. You see, H2 cars are not energy sources. They are really just big batteries, and where is all that infrastructure to transport the H2 atoms to where they can be pumped into cars? It’s non-existent.

[TF] Boy, what a spoil-sport you are! Hey – they can get the H2s from water. Any school kid knows that! We’ve got plenty of water. All you have to do is stick a positive electrode in one end of a water tank and a negative one at the other – voila – (that’s a French word, you know!) you’ve got all the H2 atoms you want – just like we did in high school science class!

[KF] You forgot one little thing – the electric current to do the job. You will use more energy to liberate those H2 atoms than they will generate. That’s a good way to go broke -– energy-wise.

[TF] Well, what about all that Liquefied Natural Gas from Africa?

[KF] Listen, speaking of energy, you re wasting ours. What’s next? Are you going to invent a perpetual-motion machine? Get lost, will you! – First, they must transport the LNG at -260° F in tankers. Then, what do you do with it? They will need to build special ports to receive LNG, and special facilities to store and transport it throughout the United States. They will have to build an entirely new infrastructure throughout the country, and where will the trillions of dollars come from to build this in a country that is already in over $3 Trillion in debt? Do me a favor Technology Fairy. Get lost! Put an egg in your shoe and beat it!

[TF] Well, if that’s the way you feel about it, go drown in your misery. What a grouch! I have a million ideas of how to get more oil. What about all those Tar Sands in Canada? Maybe there’s some on Mars. There’ll always be a technological fix right around the corner. Off I go to find one. Don’t worry – be happy. La De Dah De Dah – – – – – – – – [exit stage R]

[KF] Well, I sure hope we’ve seen the last Fairy.

[voice from audience –“Don’t you bet on it”!]

[KF] The end of cheap oil will obviously have profound effects on our lives, both upon our economy and our social structure.

The Great Denial

There are two other things I would like you to think about coming out of this discussion – myths and psychology.
Most people do not think that our modern, technological, rational culture has any myths. Myths are for ancient Greeks with their Olympian Gods and for African witch doctors, and Siberian Shamans.
How many of you think that our culture has any myths? – – – – -
Good. We just talked extensively about two of them. Can you name them for me?
…. 1. The resources of the Universe are inexhaustible. i.e. the Horn of Plenty myth
2. There is a Technological Fix for everything.


Ancient Pathways Group

Ancient Pathways To A Sustainable Future is a group of Sandpoint people, who are interested in learning ancient skills, and who participate in  programs, projects, and field trips to enhance those skills.. We have studied: wilderness awareness, tracking, bowl burning, traditional story telling, brain tanning, and many other skills.