Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Hmong ethnobotany and conservation in Laos

A participatory ethnobotany study with indigenous Hmong elders on spiritual-cultural practices and livelihood uses of plants and their conservation suggests that the traditional cultural uses for plants may be a mechanism for the conservation of biodiversity in the rapidly deteriorating forests of Luang Prabang in the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

Hmong ethnobotany and conservation in Laos http://journals.sfu.ca/era/index.php/era/article/view/1017

Tshawb nrhiav nroj tsuag tau muaj kev koom tes nrog cov kws tshuaj ntsuab Hmoob nyob rau zos Long Lan, Xeev Luang prabang, Los Tsuas Teb chaws tau pib tshawb los rau ntawm lub xyoo 2012 thiab 2013. Nrhiav txog lub laj lim thiab tswv yim ntawm cov laus neeg nyob zos Long Lan thiab cov zos nyob ib puag ncig twb yog ib qhov sij hawm muaj txiaj ntsig tau paub txog txoj kev cai coj siv nroj tsuag thiab pov hwm nyob nrog lub neej. Tau paub txog ntawm 74 hom tau muaj 49 yam (nroj tsuag) twb tau muab sau zoo, qhov nov muaj 25 yam tshuaj ntsuab (17 yam yog cov muaj hnub nyooj ntev thiab 8 yam yog cov muaj hnub nyooj luv), 20 yam yog cov ua ntoo, 17 yam yog cov nroj, 10 yam yog cov hmab, thiab 2 yam yog suab. Muab xam tau pom txog nroj tsuag muaj txiaj ntsig zoo heev rau ntawm txoj kev siv yoom thiab pov hwm nyob nrog lub neej. Qhov tshawb rhiav no tau ceeb toom txog tias txoj kev siv yoom nroj tsuag raws li
txoj cai Hmoob coj yog ib txoj cai zoo rau ntawm kev pov hwm hav zoov hav tsuag rau qhov hav zoov niaj hnub no raug luaj ntov nyob rau xeev Luang prabang, los Tsuas Teb. 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014


Just back from Slow Food's Terra Madre in Torino, after the Organic World Congress in Istanbul, after the GlobE in Witzenhausen, after the Tropentag in Prague... phew! ...  All the work there is to do and all the inspiring people there are to do that work with!

Tom, Roberto, and Jim said it best "It's a sad and beautiful world".

Helping to settle back into Kleve, I listened to a teacher at the Insight Meditation Center open his talk with this poem 'Messenger' by Mary Oliver and wanted to share it again, even if you've read it a hundred times, enjoy it slowly and may it inspire gratitude as a central theme.

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 astonished.
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.

The teacher repeated that line again for emphasis "over and over, how it is that we live forever"

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Ultimate Organic Guide to Tomatoes

The Ultimate Organic Guide to Tomatoes describes how to grow tomatoes in your home garden using entirely organic methods. It will provide information useful for novice and experienced gardeners who want to quickly learn enough to grow a successful tomato in the next season.
Please support Tim's crowd funding campaign at Publishizer https://publishizer.com/ultimate-organic-guide-to-tomatoes/ additional information at http://ultimateorganicguides.com/
Tim's philosophy of organic growing
Growing your own organic food in your backyard is more than just an interesting hobby.
Growing your own organic food, and supporting local and organic growers, is a way of making an effective change towards a sustainable, poison free, biodiversity and carbon friendly society.
By supporting organic growers and growing your own, you are avoiding pesticides that consume energy and destroy biodiversity. Organic also takes carbon from the atmosphere and returns it to the soil. At least thirty percent of human carbon emissions come from some part of the food chain, including production, distribution and consumption. At the same time, you are avoiding toxic chemicals that may harm your own health, and choosing nutrient dense food.
Organic is a real part of the solution. It is something everyone can do. It is the obvious way to garden at home, where children, friends and pets roam.
Growing organic, buying organic, putting solar panels on your roof and voting for politicians that support local organic and solar options is a fundamental and easy way to be a responsible citizen in the carbon age.
Get in touch with your environment by producing some of your own food for yourself. There is no planet B, so make organic your plan A.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Voices of transition

Samura Torres Panorama

Today's WORLD FOOD DAY theme "Feeding the world, caring for the earth" is a great kickoff for the North American "grassroots" launch: From now on, you can screen this documentary wherever you want this powerful "seed-bomb" to spread the seeds of transition!

Carpe diem! You have the exclusive possibility to preview the film for free for 24 hours!
(password: WFD)
Find more info regarding the launch here:
* North American Film Launch *

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Planting to Resilience

Chelsea Green has been the go-to publisher for key permaculture books for thirty years . To help get you started, or expand your permaculture knowledge on this simple but revolutionary system  they have put a selection of their newest and best permaculture books on sale.
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Join them at Chelseagreen.com  
Permaculture Special:
Let nature do the heavy lifting!

Think that gardening and planting is only for the springtime? Well, autumn is the perfect time for those perennials and to begin planning a permaculture twist to next year's garden.

The concept of permaculture is simple – pay attention to natural systems and work with them to spend less effort, improve soil health and enjoy a bountiful harvest. In short, work with nature and let her do the heavy lifting!

Discount codes do not combine with other offers—books already on sale for example. Free shipping for orders $100 or more is applied after the discount is applied. (U.S. Orders Only). International orders can be placed by phone (802-295-6300) or email.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Faith and Science

A woman said to Ajahn Brahm that her Catholic faith was threatened when she looked out through a telescope and began to understand the vastness of the universe. She asked him, as a Buddhist teacher and a former member of the Cambridge astronomy society, to respond. he said "Madam, if you look back... through the fat end of the telescope and see who is watching then science becomes threatened." 

He said that great scientific findings are not understood but rather something that we just get used to. "All those big numbers and equations" and the vast vast distances of the universe are really lost on even the greatest scientists. We do not deeply understand it we just get used to it. He encouraged a spiritual approach to really understand. 

It is good to try and understand the vastness of the universe, "If you stop at a mystery and leave it as a mystery then you are coping out of the adventure of the mind which seeks for truth and knowledge." But he encouraged us to look to our human compassion and link these findings to human suffering, to suffering in the world. The answer for Ajahn Brah, and his encouragement to become a monk: 'watching the watcher'; looking through the 'fat end' of the telescope and seeing who was looking out. 

"Deeply in meditation" he said "you realize that that time and space is created by the watcher". Perception is reality. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Autobiography by Nanao Sakaki


Born of a humble & poor family,
Received minimum education,
Learnt how to live by himself at fourteen,
Survived storms, one after another.
Bullets, starvation & concrete wastelands.

A day's fare - a cup of brown rice, vegetables,
Small fish, a little water, & a lot of wind.
Delighted by children and women,
Sharing beads of sweat with farmers,
Fishermen, carpenters & blacksmiths,
Paying no attention to soap, shampoo,
Toilet paper & newspapers.

Now & again
Loves to suck the nectar of honeysuckle,
To flutter with dragonflies & butterflies,
To chatter with winter wrens,
To sing song with coyotes,
To swim with humpback whales,
And to hug a rock in which dinosaurs sleep.

Feels at home in Alaskan glaciers,
Mexican desert, virgin forest of Tanzania,
Valley of Danube, grasslands of Mongolia,
Vulcanoes in Hokkaido & Okinawan coral reeds.

And - one sunny summer morning
He will disappear on foot.
Leaving no shadow behind.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Love is the beginning of loneliness

A poem by Shuji Tereyama.

(The original kanji is included in the translation to make the wordplay apparent)

I wrote down the word tree (木)
but it looked so pitiful all alone
so I added another tree (木)
and the trees became a forest (林)
When I look at the word lonely (淋)
I know why the trees are crying (涙)
It's just because when love begins
loneliness comes in

Friday, 30 May 2014

Slow Science

When the Slow Movement started in 1989 with the creation of the Slow Food organization — to protest the opening of a McDonald's in Rome — its objectives were to promote quality over speed, to defend cultural diversity and to challenge the ever-increasing pace of our lives. Since then, the concept has spread and expanded to such fields as traveling, designing ... and science.
Worldcrunch.com / LE TEMPS

Slow science supporters criticize the pressure to publish as many studies as possible in scientific journals. Instead, they demand more time to carry out their research and publish their work says a 2010 one-page document entitled "The Slow Science Manifesto," published online by a group of anonymous Berlin-based researchers.
"We do need time to think," it reads. "We do need time to digest. We cannot continuously tell you what our science means, what it will be good for, because we simply don't know yet. Science needs time. Bear with us, while we think."
Isabelle Stengers, philosopher at the Free University of Brussels and co-author of the book Another Science is Possible! Manifesto for a Slowing Down of Sciences, explained at a recent lecture that the manifesto ideas are relatively simple. "But they offer the advantage of creating a consensus in which scientists who find their working conditions painful recognize themselves," she said. 
"The slowness demanded by supporters of slow science is also necessary to what I call 'friction' — that is to say, exchanges with other fields and, more generally, with society," Isabelle Stengers says. She says that researchers are increasingly cut off from the rest of the world, and they have become so ultra-specialized that there is now a lack of imagination.
"The golden age during which scientists could think at leisure, without worrying about anything other than their work has in fact never existed, because they always had to look for funding," sas Alain Kaufman, who leads the Science-Society Interface at the University of Lausanne. "So there's no point in being nostalgic. We must nonetheless denounce the speed pathologies and especially the tyranny of the impact factor."

Friday, 16 May 2014

Lettie G. Howard Sails Again

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On May 12th, the New York and New Jersey maritime community gathered at Pier 25 on the Hudson River to ceremonially re-launch the Sailing School Vessel Lettie G. Howard, introducing her in her new role as the flagship of the Port of New York and New Jersey.  Owned and operated by South Street Seaport Museum, Lettie is an 1893 Fredonia-model fishing schooner.  She serves as an education and training platform for students from across the New York and New Jersey region—beginning with the students of the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School on Governors Island and New Jersey's Marine Academy of Science and Technology at Sandy Hook.

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Students and teachers from Harbor School and representatives of the New York Harbor Foundation joined leaders and volunteers from the South Street Seaport Museum to re-introduce her as an active member of New York Harbor's education vessel fleet.  This new sail training program has been established through funding from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and a grant from the Schwab Charitable Fund made possible by the generosity of Wendy and Eric Schmidt. Lettie is key to the Port Authority's "Two States, One Port" campaign, also launched on Monday, which will promote local students' study of their home port through place-based maritime education. 

Public officials including Margaret Chin, City Councilwoman; Pat Foye, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Tom Pendleton, Deputy Executive Director for Career and Work Readiness of the Department of Education of New York City; Catherine McVay Hughes, Chair of Manhattan Community Board One; and Madelyn Wils, President and CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust joined Capt. Gordon Loebl, Commander, Sector New York, and Captain of the Port of New York and New Jersey, along with other officers from the U.S. Coast Guard and industry representatives to welcome Lettie back to active duty. Those who were present recognized the crucial role that Lettie will play in the life of the harbor.

Since Monday's launch, Lettie has rounded her final mark in her journey back to sailing readiness: We're pleased to announce that this past Wednesday, thanks to the hard work of students and Harbor School staff over the last few months, she completed all requirements for re-certification as a Sailing School Vessel and is therefore US Coast Guard approved to embark students on training voyages. 
"There's nothing 'replica' about this," said Capt. Aaron Singh, Lettie's captain and Director of Harbor School's Vessel Operations Career and Technical Education program.  Aboard Lettie, he emphasizes, young people are learning genuine and valuable maritime skills, as well as general seamanship-- and lessons of teamwork and leadership that can't be learned anywhere else.

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South Street Seaport Museum and Harbor School have long been partners-- indeed, Harbor School's first office was located in one of the Museum's buildings.  It is fitting that they should join together in this effort to get Lettie sailing again after four years' hiatus.  Along with the Harbor Foundation, which funds and manages programs for Harbor School students and works to extend Harbor School's ethic of maritime stewardship to the wider community, the South Street Seaport Museum and the school seek to restore the Harbor to its central place in the life of the city and the region. 

It is impossible to tell the story of New York City without telling the story of its Harbor and the men and women who have worked in the maritime industry; just as surely, it is impossible to imagine a resilient future for New York City and the metro region without a thriving port, a healthy harbor, and young people ready to take their place in the industry.  

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

"When corporations control seeds, they control life." Vandana Shiva

SumOfUs is a worldwide movement of people working together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable path for the global economy. I have been following them for years and engaging in a lot of 'desktop activism' with their network. Today I got this message about Monstanto's work in Canada and felt compelled to share it here. 

'About 15 thousand years ago, the world's first farmer had the idea of saving the seeds from one year's crop and planting them again next year. And that's how farmers did it for thousands of years after that.

Until Monsanto.

Today, Monsanto is claiming patent rights over seeds -- the fundamental source of all plant life -- so it can charge farmers royalties for doing what people have done for thousands of years.

It's already charging millions in illegal royalties in Brazil. It's suing farmers in the U.S. And in India it's jacked up the cost of seeds so much that it's contributing to an epidemic of suicides among bankrupt farmers.

The latest front in Monsanto's war on farmers is Canada, where a bill is flying through parliament to give corporate agribusiness long-term patent rights over seeds. And if it wins there, Monsanto will use trade agreements to force other countries to abide by these patent claims as well.'

I would urge you to get informed and take some kind of action. 

According to the laws of stupidology these lawmakers may well choose the worst possible bills. These governments really need our help in making good decisions.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Sharing Economy: Home Share Now

The Sharing Economy: Home Share Now
6:30 pm
Mager Hall, Aldo Leopold Room

Christina Goodwin '02, the Executive Director of Home Share Now, will be discussing how housing in Vermont presents us with challenges, changes, and choices.  

Come learn how Home Share Now has blown the traditional model of matching vulnerable seniors with financially insecure home seekers wide open to encourage the sharing of human and physical assets.  Benefits are individual, communal, and environmental and you can be a part of the transformation of shared housing.

Hope to see you there!


Sunday, 9 February 2014

What to Say?

The Anhaya Sutra categorizes what a buddha does not say:

1. Words known to be unfactual, un-true, unbeneficial, unendearing, and disagreeable to others.

2. Words known to be factual and true, yet unbeneficial, unendearing, and disagreeable to others.

3.  Words known to be factual, true, and beneficial, yet unendearing and disagreeable to others, because it is not yet the proper time to say them.

4. Words known to be unfactual, untrue, and unbeneficial, yet endearing and agreeable to others.

5. Words known to be factual and true but unbeneficial, yet endearing and agreeable to others.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Stinging Nettle

imagesIn November of 2013 I shared a questionnaire over various social networking sites with an image of Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) asking people to share any names of the plant and uses. 

imgres13 women with an average age of 36 and 14 men with an average age of 32 responded to the questionnaire. They were from Azerbaijan, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Hungary, and the United States. All but two of the respondents recognized the plant; they had 11 names and 63 uses for the plant altogether.  

Respondents knew it by the latin name Urtica or Urtica dioica, and the regional names Nettle, Nettles, Stinging Nettle, Ortie, Csalán, Brenessle, Brennennetle, Brenninetla, Brennnessel, and the nom personel: La "putain de sa mère ça pique cette merde".
Respondents self-categorized their uses for the plant according to the layout of the questionnaire: 25% Food, 25% Medicine, 15% Nature, 12% Soil, 8% Technical, 5% Ornamental, 3% Fertilizer. Respondents who chose the 'other' option also said that they use it for cosmetics, and that they write poetry about it, get meaning from it, have an enjoyable activity with it, have a social experience with it, get a good feeling from it. 

Respondents were also asked to clarify the use of the plant as food. Their recipes and ideas follow: 

"I eat it as a soup, salad, cook the late season tips into a mash and then make green balls to freeze and have healthy green stuff all winter." 

"Used for tea, kept as a frozen vegetable for soups in winter, steamed cooked with lamb, fermented as a kim-chi, generally used like spinach."

"I collect it for soups; use it with other leaves and cook it with an egg; use the leaves for tea; soak it in water as a plant feed."

"In a pie or in a soup. I also mixed it with the dough to make 'galettes'.  It's not enough by itself to give a lot of flavor so I mix it with other plants."

"I have had nettles both as tea and in soup, but only in France."

"In soup or tea."

"For cooking! It will be boiled and fried. after we eat with garlic-jogurt dressing."

"I harvest the tips of the plant. Cook it shortly in water. Strain the water out, and cut it very small. Then fry it in olive oil with salt and pepper." 

"Eat it with potatoes, rice etc."

"Tea. Spice." 

"Dry leaves as tea."

"Wilted. Sauteed. Supposedly good as a tea and for allergies."

"For soup mixed with dock plantain marjoram kale and pumpkin."

Representative Democracy

Reaching out for communication and representation I got another canned email response from my Senator. It is messages like these that make me lose faith in representative democracy. 

Essentially what these messages say is that she is in full support of whatever opinion it is that I have about the budget, military action, appropriations bill etc. If I am for it or against it she'll vote whichever way pleases her (ultimately, it seems, those who fund her campaigns). 

In the face of such ridiculousness and with the momentum and importance of the occupy movements I hope we are redefining democracy. We might be able to have a true democracy in these days of mass communication. Why not have the people vote directly on everything? Every little aspect of the country is important to someone and they can have their say in a forum. 

I think the current style of democracy is too 17th century, we've missed the spirit of it as it should evolve with the times and the attitudes of the people. 

For You O Democracy

by Walt Whitman
Come, I will make the continent indissoluble,
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever shone upon,
I will make divine magnetic lands,
                   With the love of comrades,
                      With the life-long love of comrades.

I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the rivers of America, and along the shores of the great lakes, and all over the prairies,
I will make inseparable cities with their arms about each other's necks,
                   By the love of comrades,
                      By the manly love of comrades.

For you these from me, O Democracy, to serve you ma femme!
For you, for you I am trilling these songs.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Roosevelt 1910, Paris

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly"

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Ahrtaler Köksje

Endlich ist es so weit: Das Ahrtaler Köksje wurde dank des unermüdlichen Einsatzes von Achim Ziss und Martin Fuchs im Dezember 2013 in die Arche des Geschmacksaufgenommen!

Das Ahrtaler Köksje gehört zu den in Deutschland selten gewordenen Trocken- oder 
Körnerbohnensorten. Im Gegensatz zu den meisten noch kultivierten Stangenbohnen werden solche Sorten nicht als grüne Hülse in Suppen, Salat oder als Einkochbohne verwendet, sondern ausschließlich getrocknet zur kräftigen Suppengrundlage genutzt. Im Kreis Ahrweiler sowie im Köln-Bonner Raum ist sie die einzige regional nachgewiesene Trockenbohne. Mehr dazu findet Ihr / finden Sie demnächst auf der slow food Deutschland Webseite.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

22ème Rencontre européenne des Partenariats locaux et solidaires producteurs consommateurs



You can do your part to help us promote CSA models all over the world; all it takes is a small donation.
Vous pouvez faire votre part pour nous aider à promouvoir les modèles de partenariats producteurs-consommateurs à travers le monde; cela ne demande qu'un petit don.

28 FEVRIER/2 MARS 2014

Appel à tous les représentants des initiatives de Partenariats locaux et solidaires (PLS, c'est-à-dire, entre autres, les AMAP en France, les GASAP en Belgique, les ACP en Suisse), et leurs réseaux régionaux, leurs réseaux nationaux et les autres mouvements assimilés de toute l'Europe! Désirez-vous prendre part à cette deuxième rencontre européenne sur les PLS et les systèmes émergents de distribution pour la Souveraineté alimentaire

Cette rencontre doit se tenir du 28 février au 2 mars à la Bergerie de Villarceaux, près de Paris (France).

Ses objectifs sont d'établir des relations qui durent entre les Partenariats locaux et solidaires de toute l'Europe, et de continuer à construire une vision commune pour le mouvement

Plus d'informations: 


Comment accéder à la Bergerie de Villarceaux

Inscription dès à présent, et jusqu'au 31 janvier 2014: http://www.attac.at/index.php?id=1505


Unable to make a living, rice cultivators are taking up other livelihoods to make ends meet.

From: Angela Erika Kubo at The Diplomat, December 29, 2013

Rice may be a staple in the Vietnamese diet, but the country may face a shortage of the crop as struggling farmers leave their jobs.

Some farmers, such as those in the Vietnam's Mekong Delta, have been illegally converting their paddies to shrimp farms. Others who come from families that have been cultivating rice for generations have chosen to leave agriculture altogether. Young farmers, in particular, have been flocking to cities to work better-paying factory jobs.

"When our children grew up, they rushed to the big city to work in industrial zones, where they earn double or triple what we make growing rice," said one 53-year-old farmer who plans on selling his land. "Costs such as seedlings and fertilizer are much higher than in the past and rice prices often fluctuate."

In 2013, 42,785 families left over 6,882 hectares of fields untouched, allowing them to be turned into football pitches for children or grazing areas for cattle herders. Moreover, 3,407 families returned over 433 hectares of land, according to official figures. Some farmers state that the income they receive from growing rice has shrunk. A few hundred square meters of land can only provide them $2.37 to $3.79 a month on average.

In recent years other major rice exporters such as India have managed to increase their exports while importing countries have increased their domestic output. As a result, Vietnamese farmers are facing increased competition and lower rice prices.

"In the beginning the land allowed us to feed the six people in the family and send the children to school," said Le Thi Thoi. "But now I have to return it since the income from growing rice is very low."

Although Vietnam is the largest rice exporter in the world, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development plans on converting 200,000 hectares of rice fields in order to grow more profitable crops such as maize or corn, hoping to attract farmers back to their land and improve their incomes. The move has won support from experts.

"Rice output may fall in the next few years because farmers will switch," Pham Dong Quang, deputy head of the Vietnamese government's crop-production department, told Bloomberg. "While the issue of boosting rural incomes has been addressed for some years, it's now become much more urgent amid the difficult economic situation and more competitive rice market."