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Paul Wheaton: Building A Better World In Your Backyard

Original Content
By Adam Taggart
Monday, August 19th, 2019

Paul Wheaton: Building A Better World In Your Backyard

Original Content
By Adam Taggart on
Monday, August 19th, 2019

The data is clear: humans are overtaxing the world’s ecosystems at an accelerating rate.

How can society wean itself away from its business-as-usual practices of natural resource extraction and depletion? What steps can we take to be agents of positive, regenerative change?

Paul Wheaton, proprietor of the websites and, has just published a Kickstarter-funded book replete with solutions that most of us can start implementing today. It’s titled: Building A Better World In Your Backyard (Instead Of Being Angry At Bad Guys)

In this week’s podcast, Paul provides a romp through a wide swath of the insights within his book, from rocket mass heaters to going ‘poo-less’ to hugelkultur — with a large side helping of his infectious humour.

His main point is that there is a TON each of us can do to reduce our impact on nature while boosting our quality of life, while having fun along the way.

There was a woman here recently who said, “Well, I want to be part of the community, but I can’t afford buying the land and getting started.” And so, then I said, “Well, but you can consider PEP.”

PEP stands for “Permaculture Experience according to Paul”. That would be me. I came up with the idea like four years ago. We’ve been fleshing it out, and now there’s a whole bunch of people that are getting certified for some of the smaller things and are working their way up. So, we’re just getting started on this.

Basically, the core of PEP is that there are these old people all over America–millions of them–sitting on 200 acres or more–and oftentimes, they have two houses on the property, they’ve got a damn fine truck and a damn fine tractor, and they’ve got like $90 to $100 grand in the bank, and they want to will it all to somebody. But they just need to have somebody worthy to will it to.

We’re trying to set up a program that’s totally free, so that way, you can build new experiences that would impress such a person into willing over these assets. You might think, “No one’s going to do that,” and it’s like, “Oh yeah, they will.” They hate their kids because their kids are going to just sell the land and pocket the money. But they think, “I put my life into this land, I want to see it continue on into the future being something farmesque. I don’t want my kids to just liquidate it. I want to see it move forward after I’m gone.” They so desperately want to find somebody who will continue caring for the land.

Let’s say there’s an 18-year-old and they’re contemplating going into college. How much debt do you take on to go to a public school these days? Something like $80 grand? It’s crazy. It’s like 10 or 20 times more than when I went to college.

Basically, they want to saddle you with $80 grand worth of debt. And then you’re stuck in the rat race. It takes 23 years on average to pay up your student loan. That’s amazing. Twenty-three years! When you’re 18 and you decide to go to college, then your commitment is greater than your lifespan to-date.

All right, so then what happens? Well for many, when you graduate, it turns out that you picked the wrong degree and no one wants to hire you–unless you get an MBA. But that’s two more years in school and a bigger ticket, too. But also, an MBA, that’s boring, man. That’s hard. You’ve got to stay awake in those classes.

Anyway, the key is like, alright, you’re 18 years old, you’ve added 23 years to that, now, you’ve got to finish paying off your house, and your car, and all these other debts you’ve accumulated–maybe you’ve got another ten years on that. So, what does that make you? If you add all that up, you’re 50-something years old. Now, you start looking at retirement. And what are you going to do when you retire? Maybe what you want to do is to get 200 acres with a house or two on it, et cetera, and retire living the permaculture lifestyle.

How about a shortcut? How about if you skip all that other stuff, you get PEP-board certified, it takes three years, and then you inherit 200 acres of land complete with the trucks and tractors, and whatever else–and a bit of coin–and you go right into the permaculture lifestyle? Ta-da!

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Paul Wheaton (86m:05s).

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