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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 43
July 11th,  2011
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend,
"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes" *~ William Gibson

We've had some amazingly stellar successes, and some heartbreakingly dismal failures in our Internship Training Program. Some people have come to our land, lived with us for weeks or months, and left with their aquaponics knowledge to go out into the world and make a huge difference using Aquaponics as their vehicle. These people will always be members of our "Farmily"; they love and support us in more ways than I can count, and they are welcome back any time for as long as they care to stay. These generous people forgive us for our faults, are accepting and compassionate toward us, and that is deeply appreciated. They take responsibility for their experience and for what happens to them in their lives; they consider their time with us some of the most valuable time they've spent. I usually place the credit for the fact they had a wonderful time here with them, rather than anything I did or didn't do while they were here.

Others have come here who turned out not to be a good match for us;  who were somehow disappointed by us or unfulfilled in some way out of being here, and felt they did not get the treatment they believed they deserved. A few of this very small group have left here filled with moral indignation, self-righteous anger, judgment, and recrimination. Instead of communicating their needs (as they agreed to do in the written Intern Agreement before they even arrived here), they decided to dwell on our differences and difficulties rather than our similarities and solutions to our group problems. The question I ask when there is conflict or difficulty is always: "would you rather be right, or would you rather be loved?". Sadly, a couple of those people left here determined to destroy us, saying that we are evil and must be stopped from harming others in the way they feel we harmed them. These people use the Internet as their forum.

Now, you know what's happening when someone says "I saw it on the Internet", and totally believes "it" even though they haven't done any other research nor investigation into the actual event and circumstances around it. People can and do put anything on the Internet with very little consequence, and with little or no reference to the truth. Fortunately this is a free country, and people are allowed to believe whatever they want to believe. However (as we've heard before): "I believe in your right to swing your fist, and also believe it ends where my nose begins".

We have never felt the need to respond to these people or their online attacks. This is the only public response I will make to these people, and after publishing this response in our Newsletter, it will be put on our web page.

The funny thing is that there were other interns here having a great time in our Farmily (under the same exact same circumstances) at the same time these disgruntled interns were here in their misery. Who was right? Unlike the people who had a wonderful experience here (whom I think had a great time because of their own attitudes), I tend to think that I was responsible for the people who were not happy; there was always something different I should have said or done. For the most part these people are quite content to place the blame for their poor experience with me, and to represent to the world that they are my victims, as though I were an evil person, "out to get them".

In the field of psychology known as Attribution Theory (the study of human characteristics and attributes), there is something known as the "Fundamental Attribution Error", or FAE, which simply says that I have a tendency to assign a label to another person based upon their actions, a label which may or may not be true; but I never assign that label to myself, even when I am performing the same action. In other words, if someone else cuts me off in traffic, they're rude and insensitive (and I may assign a label to them that is far more rude and unfeeling, such as the one William Gibson uses, in the quote above!), but if I cut someone else off in traffic, it's justified, because I am in a hurry. Human beings use this form of rationalizing our own behavior many times in a day, and the dehumanization that results is the source of great pain and even violence between individuals and groups. Assigned to a large enough group, and combined with passionate nationalism, the FAE can even contribute terribly to the horrors committed in wartime.

There is deep power in being able to see another person, and to try - even for a moment - to imagine the world from that person's perspective and point of view. This is the structure of compassion. I once had someone I considered to be very wise tell me that I should "seek to understand rather than to be understood". I have always remembered those words, and have remained committed to actions consistent with understanding others. Sometimes I am not successful, but that commitment has served me well in dealing with the pain of a failed intern. People come to us with all levels of personal development, and some have not even begun the process of working on their own personal issues. When I bump into another's unconsciously held belief structure (or "issues"), I bear the burden of either shining a light into the darkness or remaining silent about what is obvious to me. Shining a light, no matter how gently, makes some people incredibly angry and upset, and that upset sometimes translates into them acting out against me in very interesting and creative ways.

Metaphorically speaking, we all exist inside a box of our own making. The boundaries of the box are given by my limiting beliefs, my judgments, my unresolved issues from my childhood (usually involving the "holy trinity" of Me, Mom, and Dad). The amazing thing is, the instructions on how to get out of our boxes are written on the outside, clearly seen by almost everyone but the person stuck in the box! And if you read them off to then, more often than not, they will hate you for it! It takes a huge human being to realize that there are people out there who love me enough to read off the instructions to me, and who hold neither judgment nor rancor against me.

Thanks to the people who love us and support us (by far the majority), we can take in stride the people who don't "get us", and who sit in deep and unrelenting judgment of us. Their small number may be vocal, and it makes me very sad that some of them have made it quite important in their lives to try to hurt us; people who "if they can't get justice, will settle for revenge" (these actual words came from a man who came here without an invitation - because he refused to stop smoking, who paid nothing whatsoever to be here, and was even given a free Commercial Aquaponics DIY package ($995 worth) before he left. He swore to destroy us, he was so upset and angry; at this point he was asked to leave our property immediately!). What a sad, small thing to have your life be about!

I have found that people are always really talking about themselves: a person who rants about someone else's dishonesty has issues of their own in that area'; a person who raves about how someone else treats people poorly often behaves in that very manner. In psychology, this is known as projection, and ordinary humans often indulge in this behavior. It takes a big person to realize that people are always doing the best job they know how to do, with the resources and tools at their disposal at the time. The same wise woman who told me to seek to understand rather than to be understood also once told me that the structure of happiness was to want for my enemies what I most want for myself. And that advice has stood me well in the face of the attacks leveled against me in my life, from people who have yet to learn that the greatest revenge of all is complete indifference.

I would like to extend my love and thanks to all the people who have come here to give part of their lives to our vision. My deep apologies to those who have left here disappointed in some way. I am sorry for my shortcomings, and any area I did not treat you the way you believe you deserve to be treated. To those who love us, and support us, an even deeper thanks, for keeping us on track, connected to our vision, and playing a big game. These people assure me that only people who play a small, safe game have no enemies, and that any one committed to changing the world for the better will have people who do not support them, and are not able to remain compassionate and connected with them. To those of you who love us and support us, thank you. It means the world to me. To the few who do not, my desire is you find a meaningful, constructive path that fulfills you and makes you whole. Blessings to you all.




Next week: "Cheap Fish Food is NOT Cheap!" (We're REALLY going to cover this next week, we decided to do this week's newsletter about something that's been on our minds lately).

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Free Farm Tours
Aquaponics tour at the Friendly farm!

We hold a free workshop on our farm the FIRST Saturday of every month,  focused on growing food with aquaponics and permaculture.  Click here for information. See you there!

If you are a school, a non-profit organization, an organization working with the poor, Native Hawaiians, or ex-inmates, or if you are a church, we will hold a free farm tour for you anytime. You DO need to email us first to schedule, or we might be out on errands!


3-1/2 pound kalo (taro root) grown in a 2" net pot (little bump at bottom)


4-month old prawn (macrobrachium rosenbergii) grown in hydroponics troughs of our aquaponics systems

Special Offer! Sign up for our October 2011 Hawaii Commercial Aquaponics Training OR our September 2011 Florida Commercial Aquaponics Training now, and we will email you our Micro System package so you can begin studying aquaponics! ($99.95 value)

Sign up for Hawaii and Florida Commercial Aquaponics Training

In The Farmily
We have a stellar new intern from central California, named John Jones, who comes to us from the construction trade. John was a General Contractor, and after seeing his entire livelihood dry up to nothing since 2008, he came to us looking for an entirely new career. As in Hawaii, California has about 90% unemployment in the construction trades, and many of these skilled, intelligent, hard-working people are facing very hard times. We are blessed to have John; he's a fun and happy guy, and wonderfully "low-maintenance", which we appreciate deeply. 

Like so many others in this new world in which we find ourselves, John has the flexibility and desire to learn a new trade. He has chosen Aquaponics as his vehicle to make a difference in the world, and brings a formidable skill set to his new career. It is a delight to have someone here who knows how to use tools, and who has such a deep desire to drink up every last bit of what we have to share! THANK YOU, John!

Tomorrow, we have a reality TV film crew coming, to interview us. The show is about Americans who have re-invented themselves since the global financial melt down of 2008. They somehow found out about us, and we'll tell them about John. I am glad he is here, as he is a perfect example of someone who is in the middle of just such a reinvention. Next week, we'll let you know how it goes with the film crew!


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