Thursday, 20 May 2010

Ethnobotany in Greenland and Iceland

I am planning a trip across the North Atlantic this summer to do an ethnobotanical survey of small scale permaculture and organic farms who are preserving and utilizing native biodiversity in small island communities.

I have been in touch with a number of people around the area who continue to tell me that traveling by boat cannot be done in that area. They also say that there are no farms or forests.

Well, I see this as a research and investigative challenge.

by Shel Silverstein

Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me --
Anything can happen, child
ANYTHING can be.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

What Are People For?

For the last few weeks I have been reading and re-reading a 2000 collection of essays by Wendell Berry titled: What are People For?;  I read it to visitors who come for the coffee and wild food; I read it between classes and chapters of Fukuoka and Rushdie; I cannot stop reading.

Wendell Berry is an extremely well spoken and pissed off farmer living in rural Kentucky and writing about the state of things from the small scale farmer's perspective.  In this book he addresses everything from the industrialization of sex to the agricultural policies in the US which have driven migration of rural people to urban areas. He shows a number of fantastic examples of what a good life looks like and he questions some of our deep seated assumptions about life in the 21st century.

Reading this work I find myself drawn to the fields and the woods. I spend more time planting and harvesting than I do reading or preparing for classes.

Several of Wendell Berry's essays are available to read online from North Glen. The good people at Powell's Books In Portland Oregon have written a synopsis of the work and have copies available.The reviews are a fun read here too. Interscience has posted a brief response to the title essay What Are People For?Brtom has some links and an interesting response to Wendell Berry's controversial article 'Why I am not going to by a Computer'. Berry's follow up to this essay is Sales Resistance.

Shirley Nicklin's award winning photo Maturity and a poem by Wendell Berry.