Monday, September 13, 2010

Conflict Composting: Microbes

In composting our conflict we looked at the refuse, elements of water and air and now the microbes necessary for the composting process. There are three types of microbes that operate in a compost pile at three different temperature ranges. There are those who can operate in the cold and those that operate when the compost pile reaches beyond 110 degrees. The hungriest microbes operate best in 70-90 degrees.  Warm weather composting is the quickest and most effective way to remake the plant refuse into soil-building and strengthening fertilizer.

Microbes are the microscopic miracles that turn a pile of stinking manure and rotting vegetable matter into life giving soil. Like humans and animals these little life forms need air and water as well as food to survive. It is their work at digestion that makes the compost a truly soil enriching

Microbes are analogous in our conflict composting to the spiritual miracles of life that turn our piles of painful memory into something that enriches our lives and others. A warm, aerated and watered soul provides the best conditions for quickly composting the refuse of conflict. The energy that moves the soul to transformation is somewhat of a mystery but we know its work by the results. We have seen many who, having gone through some fire of violence, trauma or loss, bloom into rich inspiration. Time is the ally of the microbes, the mystery of transformation and thus we have hope because we see that is possible to transcend the present stinky mess we have been given.

I hope this series of conflict composting has helped you to think about what needs to be composted in your own situation.


  1. I have used your compost image ever since I interviewed you.

    I was just thinking that when the compost is too hot it slows down the process. In the same way in a human conflict when the anger or conflict continues it slows the process of healing. Getting some distance often cools the heat of the conflict to a point where we have better vision of what could change the situation. In the hot Australian sun, I often put a wet layer of newspaper over my compost to cool the process. That also helps keep the moisture in the mix.

  2. Hum, thats an interesting idea. As I understand it there are microbes that work at high temperature but they need enough air and moisture. The point is to find ways to support the hot microbes even in the heat of the pile. What that heat does is destroy the seeds in the pile that will grow weeds.

    Perhaps that is a bit like escalating the conflict in order to surface the issues. But I think you have a good point, what do we do to manage the pile in the place we have so that composting is most effective.