Who is Responsible for This?

1103151351aEarthStar is the work of Brendan McNamara, father of three and relentless future-dweller. Brendan was raised without computers for most of his childhood, by a single naturalist mom and all her family of friends. He grew up in San Luis Obispo County on the coast of central California, once called “Middle Earth” of CA for having been a catch-all of the eco-and-new-age-minded idealists out of the 60’s and 70’s. There in those various circles he was brought up learning to do things like design websites, build sweat lodges out of fresh willow and take plankton surveys off the coast. Brendan was steeped in Native ceremonial community, Unity consciousness, Sufi and Pagan mysticism, naturalist watershed and stream groups, tree planting parties, and social communes – and has a visceral passion where it comes to humanity’s stewardship of Planet Earth. He spent much of his childhood drawing future cities powered by solar panels and Tesla coils, building forts and talking to owls in the back woods, and trying to stash toads in his mom’s car when they went to the land. He sees science, communication and love as essential tools that need to all work together if we are to overcome these planetary crises and see our society through to another age of the Earth.

Brendan sees Nature as a data bank with its wifi and virtual interfaces reaching into our minds – and feels that the time is now to do everything in our power to tap that knowledge and save our species. He is keenly interested in biomimicry, the science of studying natural forms to accomplish goals for humankind. Now that we’ve officially entered the Anthropocene, a human-modified climate and biome on the Earth, Brendan sees it as our mutual responsibility to accept this challenge to adapt our civilization to be softer around its edges, to learn from the extant technologies of Nature itself and adapt society to become a powerhouse of responsible planetary stewardship.

Brendan has been building computers and websites since the age of 12. He trained early in computer repair, website development, and graphic design in high school and college. Just out of high school, Brendan got a job at one of the biggest names of the IT Service Industry – Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” – where initial excitement gave way to disgust, upon witnessing the business practices on the inside. People were being given the run-around on purpose – charged through the nose for services to install expensive software that they could have gotten for free – and our young aspiring technician was told to keep valuable software that would have kept customers from having to come back a secret for “job security”. So he quit, and decided to use his skills and code of ethics to start a new kind of tech company, one that puts the customer’s needs first, profit be damned, in the hopes of reversing this disturbing big-box “service” trend and actually keeping people safe and productive. He hopes to unite geeks around the country under an ethical standard – to deliver the utmost in service, no holds barred, for a price that leaves the customer satisfied.

From 2009 to 2011, Brendan worked as the shed assistant for Nash’s Organic Produce, one of the largest and most well-established organic tilth farms in Washington State – and still operates there as their go-to techie. In his full-time employment there, he helped connect the dots between the food coming out of the field and the people consuming it in markets and restaurants all over Washington. Helping manage these connections gave Brendan valuable experience and perspective.

In 2011, Brendan started work for InnoTech Summit as the chief webmaster and digital marketing manager, helping manage a whole team of interns and professionals from halfway around the world (the start-up was in London, UK). He helped keep this emerging technology hub’s website up for two annual events, and was trained by Google specialists to run a hangout-on-air virtual conversation between Silicon Valley, London, and Silicon Beach (Santa Monica). In this talk, Boris Johnson (then and now Mayor of London) discussed the practical approaches to launching London as a major tech start-up hot spot. Since then, the London Stock Exchange has opened up a new branch in the high-tech sector. Though working on InnoTech was a peak of his technological career, and he mastered this digital seance of destiny from the harborfront view of Bloomberg Network’s San Francisco studio, he was struck by the apparent emptiness and falsehood of the style of economy this kind of development represented. Regarding how his work connected with the state of the World at large, many of his core concerns regarding environmental stewardship and social justice were not being addressed by working in the world of high-tech-and-finance. He now knows for sure that the only long-term solution is a holistic one; with this in mind, he created EarthStar as a catch-all for his various tangents of work, life, and thought. He hopes it evolves past him and becomes a living intelligent work of many talents and voices, related to our core dream – fix our issues, as a planet, together, and thrive.

Brendan McNamara currently lives on an off-grid communal society in the Olympic Mountains, powered by solar panels and heated by wood sustainably harvested from the 120 acres of large-growth fir rainforest surrounding them. He helps manage the gardening grounds and looks forward to total food security and self-subsistence. He mostly helps with driving community members to their lives in town, home-schooling his kids, fixing computers and consulting with retired residents of Sequim on technology. Brendan has a nervous tick where it comes to “calling out” electric zero-emission vehicles on the road, even interrupting conversation mid stream. He hopes to try again to run his bi-weekly Farmer’s Market booth in Port Angeles in 2016, this time with a solar-powered Nissan Leaf. On a good day, he gets a chance to take underwater pictures of newts, harvest his flax seeds, separate some lettuce, find new ways to harvest usable energy in the backyard, and write his thoughts down here on EarthStar.