Monday, 27 June 2011

Rethinking Property

Above is a cartoon by Edward Linley about the imperialist and colonialist Cecil Rhodes. His vision for a world under British colonial rule has had serious and lasting implications on politics everywhere. His life offers a good example of how morality is missing from both education and visions for 'development' around the world. He was an extremely brilliant Oxford graduate who managed to cause a lot of suffering in his short life.

Today land grabbing, changes in uses of land and general misuse of land is begging attention to some basic fundamental questions about land ownership. To get deeper into this topic I am planning to join the "Re-thinking property. Towards a Well-being Society?" exchange platform from the 25th to the 27th of August in Bangkok.  

Talks are planned from many amazing people including:
Sulak Sivaraksa, Peace Activist
Dasho Karma Ura, Bhutan ("100% organic country"-movement)
Silke Helfrich, Commons Strategy Group, Germany
Takayoshi Kusago, Social Systems Design, Japan
Nicanor Perlas, Centre for Alternative Development Initiatives...

Learn more at the School for Wellbeing Studies and Research  

Here is 'Just Enough' by Nanao Sakaki, a short poem to drive home the notion of enough:

Soil for legs
Axe for hands
Flower for eyes
Bird for ears
Mushroom for nose
Smile for mouth
Songs for lungs
Sweat for skin
Wind for mind

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Ethnobiology and Conservation

Conservation through utilization. 

Work needs to be done that looks at ways to improve the relationship of people to nature through efficient and sustainable use of a diversity of species from native habitats. - I think of it as 'use it or lose it'. I also know that 'we will not fight for what we do not love' and that the cultural importance of native species has lead to much of the activism for environmental conservation. 

Work still needs to be done to find out how ethnobiology can best help with the maintenance of indigenous knowledge of native species, and what the challenges and benefits of this cooperation are. 

Here is a poem about work from Mary Oliver:

My work is loving the world.

Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Buffalo Urban Outdoor Education, Inc.

The Buffalo Urban Outdoor Education, Inc. (BUOE) is a small organization that makes a huge impact on the lives of low-income youth in Western New York.  It has recently been chosen as a semi-finalist in a local video contest hosted by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

The winner of the video contest will win a $10,000 unrestricted grant and the runner-up will win a $5,000 grant.  This funding could make a huge difference in BUOE's ability to serve WNY youth with extraordinary, on-water programming on Lake Erie.


To vote for the video, please click on the link below:

You may vote every day between June 13 - June 26.  VOTE TODAY!


The Greenhorns are a small radical group of young farmer activists. I first met the organizer of this group Severine v T Fleming at Slow Food's Terra Madre in Torino Italy a few years ago. 

Here is what the Greenhorns are about from Severine herself, the greenhorn in chief: 

"We produce events for young farmers and farm aspirants because we wish to support the boldness, the bravery of choosing agriculture as a career. We think that young farmers are particularly potent protagonists in the project of restoring our country-- they are powerful, but also vulnerable. Farming is hard, inadequately paid work. There are big risks, it is low status, it is a marginalizing activity.  These educational and celebrational events are our way of coming together and feeling our force." 

Here are some upcoming Greenhorns events: 

Rhode Island/ Newport+Providence Screenings - 6/17 and 6/18

Catskills NY/ Andes Hotel - 6/18

New York/ Clearwater Festival  - 6/18 and 6/19

Oakland Museum, Oakland CA - 6/19
"I Felt Oakland" in The Greenhorns SEED CIRCUS event series

North Country New York/ ESSEX Midsummer Grange Hall Mixer - 6/25

*For a copy of the press release, email*
Or find it on the Facebook event page

Thursday, 9 June 2011

IFOAM is NGO Coordinator of 64th UN DPI/NGO Conference to Be Held in Bonn from 3 to 5 September 2011: Sustainable Societies – Responsive Citizens

IFOAM is NGO Coordinator of 64th UN DPI/NGO Conference to Be Held in Bonn from 3 to 5 September 2011: Sustainable Societies – Responsive Citizens

The 64th Annual United Nations Conference of the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) will be held in Bonn from 3 to 5 September 2011. The German government, the City of Bonn, the NGO/DPI Executive Committee and UN Volunteers are organizing the conference.   The event is a strategic steppingstone for NGOs preparing for twenty-year review of the groundbreaking UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The outcomes of the DPI/NGO conference are expected to be integrated into future negotiations of the Rio+20 process taking place next year. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

September 24th 2011 is Moving Planet: "A Day to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels"

Hoping that this gets to someone who is inspired to make it happen. We'll be starting the bio-tours for the IFOAM OWC here in Namyangju. is a new kind of kind of "people powered movement" (PPM) that is made of communities in every corner of the planet. 350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Scientists measure carbon dioxide in "parts per million" (ppm), so 350ppm is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change.

Moving Planet is's next BIG global day of action, and it's happening on September 24th. They're calling it "A Day to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels", hundreds of events are already being planned--from big bike parades and marches with tens of thousands of people to smaller community education events. is now asking that people come together in communities around the world, and brainstorm ideas for a local Moving Planet event for September 24th.

Click here to start or join a Moving Planet Meetup today:

If you register your local meetup, they'll put it on the website so others can find it and make sure to follow up with you to make sure you have everything you need. They have materials to help you nail down a solid action plan for September 24th, including a guide to hosting a meetup, a "fill in the blanks" action worksheet, and an optional presentation you can give about campaign strategy.

You can grab all the materials you'll need to plan and host a successful meetup here:

With strong local teams and solid strategic plans, we'll be able to make September 24th a historic day in the journey to move beyond fossil fuels.
start a meetup in your community. is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis: online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries.  You can join on Facebook by becoming a fan of the page at and follow them on twitter by visiting

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Farmer is the One Who feeds Us All

Organic cucumbers from Spain are no longer considered the source of the E. coli outbreak but organic and small scale farmers are still under fire.

This is an issue which has far reaching effects. It is hurting small and large scale vegetable producers around the world. To make matters worse, now the latest news on the farm bill (I read it from the Young farmers) is that programs which are helping ecological and small scale farmers are going to be cut in the US setting the stage for fewer and bigger farms.

Getting Organized: If we work together we can build good soil and have healthy food. We've got to wrestle agriculture away from the fast moving venture capitalists who will leave us in a dustbowl to make a profit. 

Join your local organic association! 
Meet your farmer! 
Get some dirt under your fingernails! 

Here is a song from the US Civil War, or maybe the populist movements of the 1890s - first recorded by Fiddlin' John Carson in 1923 (I first heard Pete Seeger sing it at the Clearwater Festival back in 2003).


Oh the farmer comes to town
With his wagon broken down,
Oh the farmer is the man who feeds us all;
If we'd only look and see, well I think that we'd agree
That the farmer is the man who feeds us all.
The farmer is the man,
The farmer is the man.
Lives on credit 'til the fall,
Then they take him by the hand,
And they lead him from the land,
And the middleman's the one who gets it all.

When the lawyer stands around
While the butcher cuts a pound,
He forgets that it's the farmer feeds 'em all.
And the preacher and the cook
Go a-strollin' by the brook,
They forget that its the farmer feeds' em all.
The farmer is the man,
The farmer is the man.
Lives on credit 'til the fall,
With the interest rate so high, its a wonder he don't die,
And the middleman's the one who gets it all.

When the banker says he's broke,
And the merchant's up in smoke,
They forget that it's the farmer feeds 'em all.
If he'd only take a rest,
He could put 'em to the test,
Cause the farmer is the man who feeds 'em all.
The farmer is the man,
The farmer is the man.
Lives on credit 'til the fall,
His condition it's a sin,Cause his pants are gettin' thin,
We forgot that he's the one who feeds us all.