Bill is a fifth generation Idahoan who has worked as a field archaeologist and cultural anthropologist in both North Idaho and Panama. During his time in Panama he did research among the Emberá people in eastern Panama, spent many years working for the Department of Defense specialized in mapping and geospatial technology applications in defense and intelligence. He was also a program manager for the United Nations REDD (Reduction in Emissions, Degradation and Deforestation) program in collaboration with the Panamanian Ministry of the Environment and a Commissioner with the Panamanian Ministry of Tourism for sustainable heritage and eco-tourism. For the last three plus years, Bill has been the Director, Technology for Bonner County Government. Bill and his wife Susan, also an archeologist, journalist, editor and anthropologist, alternate between their country homesteads in Panama and Sagle, Idaho where they maintain subsistence gardens and orchards.
In Latin America a number of cultures still practice traditional subsistence horticulture. The Emberá of eastern Panama are one of these small-scale, egalitarian, lowland tropical rain forest cultures that not only practice traditional horticulture but speak their native language, hunt, gather and fish from the rain forest and still practice their traditional beliefs in spirits and practice associated rituals. They have an encyclopedic knowledge of plants and an extensive ethnobotany that includes the use of entheogenic plants. Many of their subsistence agricultural concepts are in congruence with the ideas of Permaculture. This talk explores this convergence and how a traditional belief system or cosmology may inspire our understanding and relationship to our natural, cultural, geological and geographical landscapes. This understanding manifests itself as an integrated systems of complex, interacting relationships that build on the knowledge, practice and spirit of traditional cultures. This undeniable heritage energizes our commitment to sustainable living, energy efficiency and belief in the resilience and intentionality of the spirit of living systems.