Ecotopia Video

Vital Roots

In this video, I, Paul Lee, discuss the history and philosophy of herbs and herbal medicine at the Homeless Garden Project, in Santa Cruz, CA, Fall 0f 2009. This video was taken by my dear friend and videographer, Eric Thiermann.

Ecotopia writing

There Is a Garden in the Mind Reviewed by Publishers Weekly

Screen shot 2013-01-30 at 2.03.01 PMPublishers Weekly gave my new book,There Is a Garden in the Mind: A Memoir of Alan Chadwick and an Organic Movement in California, an appreciative review.

In 1967, author and educator Lee and amateur gardener Chadwick established the University of California, Santa Cruz, Chadwick Garden. Lee originated the idea for the garden, but Chadwick made the garden a reality and, to Lee, seemed to embody the vitality of the space. To many he became the “Pied Piper” of the organic movement in California. In what he describes as a philosophical memoir, Lee provides glimpses of Chadwick’s pedigree, temper, drive, and vision, but a fully realized portrait or biography never emerges. Instead Lee delivers a meditation that begins with Chadwick and explores the modern tension between positivist science and the integrity of organic nature. He laments that the more holistic, organic approach has been driven out of academia and contemporary culture by the quantitative analysis of the physical sciences. He traces the contributions and insights of Goethe, the philosophers Paul Tillich and Rudolf Steiner, ecologist Rachel Carson, and many others. The book is part philosophy, part personal meditation, and part tribute to a man who was a transformational figure in the organic movement that began from small seeds in California and has now reached a global community. (Mar.)

The book was reviewed on 01/21/2013.

The book will be available on March 15th and can be ordered now on Amazon. It’s published by North Atlantic Press (Random House, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-58394-559-9

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Homer’s Contribution to the Meaning of Truth


Written by Kurt Riezler, ca 1943

The Greeks called Homer wise, the wisest of all mortal men, and made his poems their only schoolbooks. It may be not unwise to ask the question, what kind of knowledge did the Greeks suppose Homer possessed-why was he called wise?

Of course, Homer occasionally inserts into his narrative sentences about life in general, man’s happiness and misery, good and evil, such sentences as we call wise. None of these sentences nor all together make Homer the wisest of all men. The question cannot be answered by referring to these sentences. His wisdom is far greater, but not so easy to extract. It is not at all presented as knowledge, doctrine, or advice. The presentation is much more efficient than sentences and advice can be. His wisdom permeates his poetry and is transmitted in visible images of human actions and passions. It is wholly inseparable from what we call the “beauty” of his poems. Homer’s wisdom and his greatness as a poet are indeed accounted for by the same reason. It is a kind of wisdom that is by no means Homer’s alone. Homer shares it with Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe but only with the greatest. But there the modest question concerning Homer’s wisdom transgresses its limits and grows into a philosophical problem of the first magnitude.

Since a poet’s greatness has to do with something we call “beauty” (in the sense of “quality” of a work of art), and since “wisdom” as a kind of “knowledge” refers to something we call “truth,” there seems to be a link between “beauty” and “truth.” But “beauty,” we are told, is a matter of appearances, senses, taste, and pleasure; “truth,” we learn, has to do with “facts,” propositions, and the syntactical rules of a calculus. I shall, however, not start from such words as beauty and truth, their meaning in a philosophical system or their possible interrelation. I shall inquire into the concrete case. It may be that the concrete case yields at least some suggestions that a philosopher concerned with the meaning of beauty and truth might be wise to consider.


A Moral Equivalent of War [Paul Lee]

By Paul Lee

Over one hundred years ago, William James delivered a lecture at Stanford University where he was a visiting professor. Not exactly a fish out of water he did not have a high opinion of his peers. This is what he says in a letter to a friend:

“The drawback is, of course, the great surrounding human vacuum—the historic silence fairly rings in your ears when you listen—and the social insipidity.”[1]

Stanford was not the Harvard of the West as far as he was concerned. The lecture should have been given at Harvard as it was one of the most famous James ever gave. The lecture came to be known as “The Moral Equivalent of War” when it was published in l910. In l906, the title was: “The Psychology of the War Spirit.” An earlier version was given at the Thirteenth Universal Peace Congress in l904.[2] An accompanying talk was entitled: “The Energies of Man.”

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Circle Trail

Santa Cruz Circle Trail Start anywhere for a virtual tour of the Circle Trail.

  1. Lighthouse Field State Beach
  2. The Homeless Garden Project
  3. Natural Bridges State Park
  4. Long Marine Lab
  5. Antonelli Pond
  6. Arroyo Seco Canyon
  7. University of California Arboretum
  8. The University of California Agro-ecology Farm
  9. The Chadwick Garden
  10. Pogonip
  11. The San Lorenzo River levee promenade
  12. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
  13. Municipal Wharf
  14. Natural History Museum
  15. Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor
  16. Arana Gulch
  17. DeLaveaga Park