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Pick Your Battle - (foraging as revolutionary self-help)'s video poster

This will fund a radical self-help book, harvesting efforts, my challenge to the logic of the system we're caught in, and provide fresh fruit. Read more

Portland, OR Nonfiction
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This project was successfully funded on July 14, 2010.

This will fund a radical self-help book, harvesting efforts, my challenge to the logic of the system we're caught in, and provide fresh fruit.

Portland, OR Nonfiction
Share this project

About this project

What is It?
"Pick Your Battle" is the title of a radical self-help book that starts off from where my more pessimistic and surreal effort at self-help "How to Cut Yourself to Pieces" left off. In a time of peak oil, peak population, and peak insanity just stepping outside and getting to know the plant life in your neighborhood represents a radical break.

Money raised for the "Pick Your Battle Project" will cover the writing, printing, promotion, and distribution of a book that will explain and explore urban gleaning, situationist theory, and unschooling while telling the story of my own and my family's attempt to revolutionize our everyday lives. It will support efforts to organize local foraging, community gardens, psychogeographic field trips, and a confrontation with the current system.

While writing the book I will also continue discussing permaculture and the radical politics on the Diet Soap podcast and give updates on my progress.

What I Need and What I'll Do
I am asking for $6000 to cover printing, postal, travel, organizing, and some living expenses while I write. The fruit trees will blossom and produce their goods throughout the summer, so from June to September I'll organize picking expeditions while simultaneously meeting up with others who want to put this project into the broader context of developing an inclusive and democratic food economy for Portland's various communities.

Chomsky for a Dollar
I am offering a PDF copy of my novelette "Noam Chomsky and the Time Box" to anyone who pledges a dollar or more to the Pick Your Battle project. The novelette is similar in spirit to the Pick Your Battle book. It is yet another attempt to wed radical critique to the imagination.

Daniel Coffeen, whose lectures on Rhetoric at UC Berkeley can be heard on iTunes U, commented on the story:
"I was afraid it was going to become didactic, but it never assumed that tone. It's got this impeccable feel to it. Just in tone there is resistance. The tone is engaged, open, and playful. I laughed out loud."

Listen to Me Talk
As this Kickstarter campaign has proceed I've discussed the project on podcasts and radio programs. You can listen online or on your MP3 player.

If Your Just Joining Us Podcast with host Jon Armstrong

The Next Step Podcast with host Jarett Sanchez.

Media Monarchy, with host James Evan Pilato

Shamanic Freedom Radio, with host Opaque Lens

Agroinnovations Podcast with host Frank Aragona

Black Light in the Attic with host Cody

Tuesday Morning After on KCUT Community Radio with host Ed Yersh

A Community of Backers
I've been excited by the many pledges and emails offering ideas and moral support. Here's an example:

Hi Doug,

I am especially excited about your "Pick Your Battle" project.

I have taken an interest in your Pick your Battle project because I am a biology instructor at El Paso Community College, and for a while I have had an idea to do some psychogeography and food forest projects with my students. The students I teach are so disconnected with the world of the "outside of buildings" that they have almost no experiential context to which they can tie the content that they learn in my biology classes.

I am keenly awaiting your book and I hope that your efforts have some foraging, psychogeography, and community building work out well. I will probably use some of what you are doing as a model of future projects with students.



I am primarily a fiction writer and I've always left my best ideas on the pages of magazines and books filled with made up stories. I've operated as though creativity was something separate from life. Dreams were relegated to the realm of art. To keep my fantasy life safely inside the box of commercial fiction, to deny the imagination, this was realistic.

With the zero years behind us we've all seen how destructive this realism can be. There are wars and occupations, there is economic collapse, a huge swath of the Pacific ocean has been polluted into a plastic soup, there is climate change, we're facing peak oil, and so I'm finished with the usual realism. I want to take something small and tangible, like a cherry from our backyard tree, or a fig from the tree around the block, and step forward into the impossible.

Using the harvesting of the fruit trees in my neighborhood as a jumping off point I hope to pick my battle, work with others, and create an ongoing community effort toward self-reliance, connection, and solidarity. I'd like to start a process of revolutionizing my every day life.

More concretely I plan on reaching out to pre-existing organizations such as the Portland Fruit Project, Urban Gleaners, Growing Gardens and others as I organize with neighbors to map out and harvest my immediate environment. Perhaps this will mean we simply split the spoils between the pickers at first, perhaps we will participate with pre-existing distribution networks, but the idea is to reach out to others and help spread abundance and self-sufficiency. I hope to participate in what I see as a free food movement where planting trees and gardens is integrated into what we do. I dream of smashing the industrial food system with locally produced free food.
In the meantime I'll start over on that radical self-help book. This time the self that is helped will be plural, a "we" instead of an "I".


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    19 backers

    Receive a copy of my newest Short Story "Noam Chomsky and the Time Box" as a pdf file.

  • You selected
    Pledge $9 or more

    3 backers

    Updated pledge level: All pledges of this much or more will now have access to the pdf of the book.

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    25 backers

    Same as above plus you'll receive emails on the project while I'm exploring Portland looking for fruit trees and people, travelogues, updates on podcasts relating to the project, plus digital photos of apples and pears.

  • You selected
    Pledge $15 or more

    22 backers

    Updated pledge level: All pledges of this much or more will now have access to an actual physical copy of the book, and it will be signed.

  • You selected
    Pledge $20 or more

    21 backers

    Same as $10 pledge plus a pdf copy of "Pick Your Battle" book.

  • You selected
    Pledge $35 or more

    38 backers

    Same as above plus a signed copy of the actual physical perfect bound book.

  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    7 backers

    Same as above plus a collection of CDs of related podcasts.

  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    6 backers

    Same as above plus some dried fruit shipped priority mail along with the book.

  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    3 backers

    Same as above and you'll be personally thanked in the acknowledgements of the book, you'll receive two signed copies of the book, and original artwork from me or a member of my family.

  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    0 backers

    Everything above plus a small basket of fruit delivered along with your books, a signed copy of my short story collection "Last Week's Apocalypse," and a signed copy of my novel "Billy Moon:1968" when it comes out from Tor next year.

  • You selected
    Pledge $5,000 or more

    0 backers

    You'll get the books, fruit, CDs, artwork, and I will fly anywhere within the United States to meet with you and present a talk about the Pick Your Battle project to you, your friends, and/or local organization.

Funding period

- (89 days)