Tuesday, 13 October 2015

La Via Campesina "Together we can cool the planet!" October 16

La Via Campesina calls for International Day of Action for Peoples' Food Sovereignty as the world marks World Food Day on the 16th October,
(Watch the trailer of the video "Together we can cool the planet!" to be launched this October 16) http://tv.viacampesina.org/Together-we-can-cool-the-planet?lang=en

La Via Campesina calls its members and allies, and civil society organizations to mobilize and organize actions on October 16th, the International Day of Action for Peoples' Food Sovereignty and against transnational corporations (TNCs). The current climate, hunger and migrant and refugee crises affecting millions of peasants, small farmers, families, especially women and youth show that corporate solutions are false and won't yield human dignity.

La Via Campsina calls for a radical transformation towards a fair and decent food system for all - through wider adoption of agroecology and the construction of people's food sovereignty - a system change that recognizes peoples' needs, accords dignity and respects nature.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Peasants’ movement in United Nations Human Rights Council

On the afternoon of October 1st 2015 the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution that the open-ended intergovernmental working group, with the mandate to negotiate, finalize and submit to the Human Rights Council a draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.

The resolution was presented by the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba and South Africa and sponsored among others by Switzerland, Brazil, Eritrea and Argentina, in a joint effort from all regions to support this decisive step. In the final vote, the US government was the only one to vote against. The governments of Europe have abstained from voting and have continued with the same bloc-voting position as in June 2014, in the vote on resolution 26/26. In total, 31 countries voted in favor, 15 abstained, and only one voted against.*

La Via Campesina, an international movement which brings together more than 180 organizations from around the world and that represents approximately 200 million peasants, has together with FIAN and CETIM, taken a historic momentum to this process by positioning for the first time within a UN mechanism, a project intended to fill the gaps in human rights legislation of the rural population and rural fishing communities, nomadic peoples, pastoralists, rural workers, landless, rural women and indigenous peoples. The current draft statement submitted by the government of Bolivia in Geneva in February 2015 during the last working group, advocates for a universal charter containing a set of rights in order to improve the conditions of those who live in rural areas and produce 80% of the food in the world.

In the days before the vote, leaders from all continents were present in Geneva in order to alert governments about the growing conditions of exclusion, land grabbing, repression and criminalization faced by peasants' organizations and the devastating effects of agrochemicals on the health of rural and peasant population. Meanwhile, national organizations supported the work done in Geneva by carrying out lobbying activities in the capitals.

La Via Campesina and alliances redouble efforts to demonstrate that there is no North-South division in the violations of the rights of the peasants' population against the reluctance of many northern states to accept the need for such a statement. La Via Campesina advocates for a model of peasant agriculture in both the North and the Global South based on agroecology and equal relations between peasants.

The UN will continue the process for the next two years.

* Results of the vote on the resolution

In favor (31): Algeria, Botswana, Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, China, India,Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Vietnam, Argentina,Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, El Salvador, Paraguay, Venezuela, Russia / Votes abstention (15): France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom, Macedonia, Montenegro, Latvia, Estonia, Albania, Mexico, Qatar, Japan, Korea / negative Feedback(1): United States

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Exploring Agroecology


"We see Agroecology as a key form of resistance to an economic system that puts profit before life. […] Our diverse forms of smallholder food production based on Agroecology generate local knowledge, promote social justice, nurture identity and culture, and strengthen the economic viability of rural areas. As smallholders, we defend our dignity when we choose to produce in an agroecological way."  

– Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology, 2015

A movement is growing. While agroecology has been practiced for millennia in diverse places around the world, today we are witnessing the mobilisation of transnational social movements to build, defend and strengthen agroecology as the pathway towards a more just, sustainable and viable food and agriculture system.

These social movements claim agroecology as a bottom up movement and practice that needs to be supported, rather than led, by science and policy. From this perspective, agroecology is inseparable from food sovereignty: the right of citizens to control food policy and practice.

"There is no food sovereignty without agroecology. And certainly, agroecology will not last without a food sovereignty policy that backs it up."  

– Ibrahima Coulibaly, CNOP (Coordination Nationale des Organisations Paysannes du Mali), from Mali

The Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience of Coventry University and ILEIA, the Centre for Learning on Sustainable Agriculture have produced a new publication and video explore the meaning and politics of agroecology from social movement perspectives. It explores agroecology through the perspectives of food producers involved in the food sovereignty movement. Food producers say in their own words why agroecology is a key pathway towards better food systems and food sovereignty.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Nyéléni Newsletter

The new Nyéléni Newsletter www.nyeleni.org on 'Food Justice and Food Sovereignty in the United States', the radical roots of which are deep in the movement for black liberation.

Food Sovereignty emerged as La ViaCampesina's bold response to the "free trade" regimes destroying livelihoods around the world. It's been taken up widely by communities around the World and reflects the deep resistance of people's historical struggles against exploitation, oppression, and colonization.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

La Via Campesina call to action for COP21 in Paris.


This from La Via Campesina:


When it comes to food, agriculture, and rural livelihoods, peasant agriculture and local food systems have proven themselves capable of feeding people for centuries. According to the UN Environment Programme, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, FAO and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, small farmers today still produce up to 80% of the food in non-industrialized countries (where the majority of the world's people live). That is why we in La Vía Campesina declare once again that Food Sovereignty – based on peasant agroecology, traditional knowledge, selecting, saving and sharing local adoptive seeds, and control over our lands, biodiversity, waters, and territories – is a true, viable, and just solution to a global climate crisis. To implement Food Sovereignty, we need justice – social, economic, political, and climate justice.

In the run-up to COP21 – scheduled for 30 November to 11 December in Paris, France – La Vía Campesina, representing some 200 million farmers in over 150 peasant organizations, calls on governments to prioritize people's needs over corporate interests and agree to real climate solutions – including peasant-based food systems that cool the planet – when they meet at COP21. Our solutions are real solutions, and should be prioritized by the UN. To ensure our voice is heard, we will be mobilized alongside millions of migrants, farmers, workers, women, young people, students, and climate justice activists expected on the streets of Paris.

We call on all social movements, people's organizations, civil society and activists from all over the world to mobilize in the context of COP21, to come to Paris in great number and also in a decentralized way in order to advance our proposals and show our opposition to the false solutions TNCs have inserted into the UNFCCC. Governments and delegations have dragged their feet for way too long, and must now meet the needs and expectations of the world's people. Now is the time for true solutions, and for Food Sovereignty.

Key Dates to Remember :

[November 28th/29th] Initial Mass Mobilizations for Climate Justice;

[November 29th] Descentralized Global Mobilizations for Climate Justice ;

[December 5/6th] Global Village / Popular Alternatives Fair;

[December 9th] "Peasant Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Day";

[December 12th] "Last Word" Mass Mobilizations for Climate Justice.

FOOD SOVEREIGNTY IS A TRUE SOLUTION TO THE GLOBAL CLIMATE CRISIS

PEASANT AGROECOLOGY FEEDS THE WORLD AND COOLS THE EARTH

CLIMATE JUSTICE INCLUDES MIGRANTS, YOUTH AND WOMEN

Sunday, 21 June 2015

A Barn That No Longer Stands

I heard from 'This American Life' host Ira Glass that the US government stopped keeping statistics on number of people living on farms in 1993. He said that the number was so small (less than 1 percent) that it didn't really make sense to keep track of it anymore.

However, the USDA Economics, Statistics and Market Information System (ESMIS), a collaboration between  Cornell University and of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been keeping track. They offers us a lot of paperwork with a lot of numbers buried in confusing text and all in a completely unusable format. It is precisely what Hans Rosling is always on about. 

Anyone who cares to take the time to find some statistics on farming demographics in the US can look to ESMIS to find the data. I've just taken a little time to look through the statistics and see what they have to say about the number of farms and farm area. It turns out that the total number of farms has been pretty steady since a big jump back in 2007. According to the statistics the US went from 2,088,790 farms to 2,204,950 that year. 

That same 2007 jump in the number of farms also corresponds to a big drop (yes drop) in the average farm size.

Props to the Greenhorns and the Young Organics and the Slow Food movers and shakers. They are really doing it.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Vietnamese indigenous peoples' song about herbalism

From a manuscript I am working on with indigenous peoples' of North Vietnam:

Bài hát của các Già làng về n ghề t​huốc nam

Nếu bạn là ​bạn của ​cây thuốc
Hãy ​truyền lại từ thế hệ này sang thế hệ sau
Những ​con ​người có trái tim nhân hậu
Họ sẽ trở thành những ​người ​th​ầy thuốc nam
Mọi người đang mong chờ được chữa lành mọi vết thương

Elders song about herbalism 

If you are herbal friends 
Passed down from generation to generation 
Kind hearted 
Kind person to become a herbalist 
People are waiting to be healed 

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Tragedy as a Source of Strength



vols

"Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength. No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful the experience, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster." 
—H.H. Dalai Lama
Just reading the latest call from the Charter for Compassion in response to the situation in Nepal, for those crossing into Europe, and Baltimore's Freddy Gray. Charter for Compassion's message is that all of these tragedies call out for compassion and compassionate action.
As the Dalai Lama reminds us, we must have hope, but our real hope exists in the action we bring to tragedy. 
Console! 
Love! 
I turn to Walt Whitman, as ever, for inspiration and insight on this path of compassion:
"I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person." And: "Pointing to another world will never stop vice among us; shedding light over this world can alone help us." 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Happiness Poem

Here is a poem I am working on, inspired by dharma talks and long days of looking at data. It is called 'Happiness'

The plasticity of the brain
Retracting and building neural connections
makes common tasks easier

Therefore, practice happy common tasks
Rejoice at the lovely,
praise friendliness,
Laugh and dance and hold babies
The neural pathways to happiness become superhighways

The backward-lighthouse-beam of information gathered by the eye
Offers billions of bits of information a second
Processed and transformed to serotonin and a smile
To be driven directly to the heart

Ever increasing with light and love

Gratefulness
the very neuro-biophysical process itself
destruction and construction
Beijing meets manhattan: the roadmap of a swelling frontal lobe
Medulla oblongata now small country lanes,
little footpaths through a garden

Brain and heart and dancing laughing body
Joyful
Molded by the patterns and tasks of a joyful life

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Monday, 20 April 2015

A taste of mountains

The wild edible plant of Indian Himlayan Region –Jakhiya or Cleome viscosa is found in tropics throughout the world and is used in traditional medicine in many parts of India and outside. Almost all the parts of the plant are used for treating diseases. The spices grow in the wild or in fallow land of the region. The Indo-Mongoloid Bhotia tribe of Garhwal has traditionally collected it from Alpine and dry temperate forests but also cultivate it in low altitudes.

As Shalini Dhyani writes in a recent article on the plant, "After having satisfied my taste buds with a variety of spicy and not-so-spicy foods, I can say that Garhwali food is undeniably tasty." But it is not easy to get, to taste has to plan a trip to Uttarakhand and look for home-stay options rather than commercial establishments.

A 1999 study by R K Maikhuri of Almora-based G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, published in the journal of Economic Botany on the agro-ecological significance of jakhiya says it is not a commercial crop because most of it is consumed locally. People collect the seeds and gift them to their kin living in areas where jakhiya does not grow. As the unique tang and essence of jakhiya has gained popularity, the demand for its seeds has increased in the region.

According to an article published in the International Journal of Research in Pharmacy and Chemistry, the high protein, amino acid, and mineral content of this plant can make it a crop of high economic importance. Another recent publication in the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology says Cleome viscos can be considered an efficient source of biodiesel. Oil of the plant has all the properties which jatropha and pongamia have. A plant to watch out for both in terms of potential for sustainable economic development and in the struggle for indigenous peoples rights and food sovereignty.

Shalini Dhyani's full article at http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/taste-mountains

Sunday, 19 April 2015

CURLS Summer School 2015

Towards Organic Asia the School for Wellbeing are planning and coordinating the Chula Right Livelihood Summer School (CURLs)
CURLS 2015 takes place from July 24 – August 7 2015 in both urban and rural areas of Thailand. Its theme is ACTION RESEARCH: EMPOWERING 'RIGHT LIVELIHOOD', including the topics of Urban – rural dynamics, food sovereignty and a new world economy in the making; agroecology; seeds autonomy of farmers; food cultures; traditional-indigenous wisdom; cosmovisions. 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

When Death Comes – A Poem by Mary Oliver

On my way back from Uganda now after a fantastic and very hot time. It was also a serious struggle with tropical intestinal parasites and a boda-boda (motorcycle) accident - wherein I somehow forgot my Aikido roll, which had saved me in past accidents, and landed poorly on my elbow. - The german doctors have me patched up now but all of this leads me to the clear realization that this body is impermanent. 

I am therefore revisiting one of Mary Oliver's poems that used to be pinned to my dorm room door at Sterling College in Vermont.  

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Friday, 3 April 2015

Reverse Linguistic Imperialism (or) Nature Poems

Animists perceive and talk about the natural world in a profoundly different way than most and thus include nature in their moral community. They do not consider nature to be 'natural resources' to be used and exploited but rather as relatives and ancestors. This animist way of relating to nature may offer important keys to a sustainable future for humans.

In 'YES! Magazine' Robin Wall Kimmerer points out that in her native Anishinaabe language beings other than humans are not referred to as 'it'. She has an excellent point that if we were instead to use more intimate language for the natural world we could begin to transform our relationship with nature. Kimmerer suggests that we develop a pronoun in English as "...a kind of reverse linguistic imperialism, a shift in worldview".

She goes on to suggest that we use 'ki' as a personal pronoun for non-human lifeforms and 'kin' for the plural. It reminds me of the feminist book "Cunt" by Inga Muscio. In it Muscio made the argument that non-gendered people should be called 'Zi'. In 1999 when I first read Muscio's work I was at a small college on Mount Desert Island with very open minded group of young people and we used 'Zi' with our non-gendered classmates. However, the pronoun never stuck in the vocabulary and was very awkward to use anywhere outside of campus. Genderless people continue to search for a pronoun and the commensurate respect and love of the dominant community as does the natural world.

As Gary Snyder says "most kids are natural animists". I know that is it is true for me. As a boy I spent much of my time in the forests and oceans of the Maine coast observing and learning the patterns of the natural world through all the seasons. I also find that it is true for many ecologists and poets, evidence of which is found throughout their writings, as in Alan Watts' translation of Basho's famous frog haiku:

The old pond,
A frog jumps in:
Plop!

I suggest that we look back to the Transcendentalist and beat writers, our own linguistic and poetic ancestors, and their translations of mountain poets of Asia, for some less gawky ways of honoring nature in the English language. Snyder himself often referred to the plants and animals as 'grandfather' and 'grandmother' which is how this gets translated to me in the field when working with animist teachers.

Here's a poem by Gary Snyder that lends itself to this animistic child-like curiosity called 'They're Listening'

As the crickets' soft, autumn hum
is to us
so are we to the trees
as are they
to the rocks and the hills.

Read Robin Wall Kimmerer's piece in YES! Magazine:

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/together-with-earth/alternative-grammar-a-new-language-of-kinship?utm_source=YTW&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=20150403

Monday, 23 March 2015

New Peoples' Declaration on Agroecology

From Zimbabwe, 18th of March 2015
Agroecology is political; it requires us to challenge and transform structures of power in society. We need to put the control of seeds, biodiversity, land and territories, waters, knowledge, culture and the commons in the hands of the peoples who feed the world," according to the declaration of the International Forum of Agroecology.
More than 200 people took part in the forum, held in Nyéléni, Mali, from February 23 to 27, representing organizations of peasants, indigenous people, agricultural workers, artisanal fisherfolks, and nomadic pastoralists, as well as consumers and other urban people. They met to develop joint strategies to promote agroecology and defend it from corporate co-optation.
The declaration, available in EnglishSpanish and French, calls for an immediate transformation based on truly agroecological food production by peasants, artisanal fishers, urban farmers etc. "Agroecology was always essential to humanity, because it builds autonomy for the food producers and provides a strong base for food sovereignty," says the document.
The participants warn that "agroecology is at a crossroads." They note that "many multilateral institutions, governments, universities and research centers, some NGOs, corporations and others, [have] finally recognized  agroecology. "But, they continue, "they have tried to redefine it as a narrow set of technologies, to offer some tools that appear to ease the sustainability crisis of industrial food production, while the existing structures of power remain unchallenged."
They call this the "co-optation of agroecology to fine-tune the industrial food system, while paying lip service to the environmental discourse", and note that this has various names, including "climate smart agriculture", "sustainable-" or "ecological-intensification", industrial monoculture production of "organic" food, etc.  For them, "these are not agroecology: we reject them, and we will fight to expose and block this insidious appropriation of agroecology."
In the declaration they go on to say that: "The real solutions to the crises of the climate, malnutrition, etc., will not come from conforming to the industrial model. We musttransform it and build our own local food systems that create new rural-urban links, based on truly agroecological food production by peasants, artisanal fishers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, urban farmers, etc.  We cannot allow agroecology to be a tool of the industrial food production model: we see it as the essential alternative to that model, and as the means of transforming how we produce and consume food into something better for humanity and our Mother Earth."
According to Andrea Ferrante, from the Italian Association of Biological Farmers (AIAB) and La Via Campesina, the answer to feeding the world lies with agroecology. "We want a model that is based on our knowledge, our way of living, not on petrol and fake answers from the industrial world. We are looking at the future of our children," he said.
Participants of the forum worked out a strategy plan with nine main targets and several sub-goals to support the political, social and economic issues of food producers. The action plan clearly places women at the centre, as fighting gender-based inequality is essential for agroecology. For Maria Noel, from Movimiento Agroecológico de America Latina y el Caribe(MAELA) agroecology has been practiced for centuries and it represents more than just a system of production. "It was a way of being, a way of life that respects the environment, provides a livelihood and income to the majority of food producers and in which women have always played great role," she said.
The action plan also includes the building of local economies, sharing knowledge and building alliances between diverse constituencies.
These constituencies claim their legitimacy to lead it into the future, as "policy makers cannot move forward on agroecology without us. They must respect and support our agroecological processes rather than continuing to support the forces that destroy us". They also call on peoples to join them in the collective task of jointly constructing agroecology as part of popular struggles to build a better world, a world based on mutual respect, social justice, equity, solidarity and harmony with our Mother Earth.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Stories

I rarely go back to the US but when I do it's often the case that I can't follow the conversations people are having around me because they are about television. Reading Wendell Berry's latest work for The Atlantic I found an eloquent description of my unprocessed response to that awkward social situation.

Reading his work I realize that the disinterest I have for TV and pop culture stems from a deep rooted existential lack that I feel for the modern developed world. As he says in his article "When people begin to replace stories from local memory with stories from television screens, another vital part of life is lost."

Being lucky enough to live in a relatively in-tact rural community while growing up Wendell Berry still got to know the importance of story, which has shaped how he sees the world. "I have my own memories of the survival in a small rural community of its own stories. By telling and retelling those stories, people told themselves who they were, where they were, and what they had done. They thus maintained in ordinary conversation their own living history."

Have we sold our meaning as people and communities? Now we welcome our collective meaning to be designed by TV producers and advertising agencies.

Perhaps it is time to welcome local story back into our lives.

Read Wendell Berry's latest work for The Atlantic:

http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2015/03/farmland-without-farmers/388282/

Thursday, 19 February 2015

URGENCI Teikei 43

Urgenci will have the 6th symposium November 19th to the 21st in China's Sichuan, Anhui, and Zhejiang provinces. Dr. Shi Yan, initiator of CSAs in China and Vice-President of URGENCI, is organizing this event in conjunction with both Tsinghua and Renmin universities, under the guidance and support of the municipal government of Shunyi District and the URGENCI network.

This will be an important event for farmers movements and for more cooperation between small scale farmers, activists, governments, and researchers. - 
www.urgenci.net;  Twitter : @urgenci1 


INTERNATIONAL NETWORK URGENCI

TEIKEI NEWSLETTER
Download Teikei, the CSA Movement's newsletter, as a pdf document, and print it at home! Just follow the link given on the right hand side.
The issue number 43 is also available as a pdf.
  
http://www.urgenci.net/en-gb/content/teikei-43-february-2015

TEIKEI 43 提 携





Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Kitchen God Day (or) Why Vietnamese food is so good

Today, 23rd day of the 12th month of Lunar Year of the Horse, is the Vietnamese 'Kitchen God Day' Ngày Ông Công Ông Táo. Ông Công Ông Táo represents an important remnant of the once strongly animist culture of Vietnam.

The Kitchen God is the most important of the many domestic Gods that protect the health of the family. On this day, just before the Lunar New Year, he returns to Heaven with his chariot of golden carps, to report the culinary activities of every household over the past year to the 'Jade Emperor' Ngọc Hoàng. The Jade Emperor either rewards or punishes the family based on this yearly report.

On this day each family worships Ông Công Ông Táo and holds a special ceremony to see him off to Heaven. For most Vietnamese, both at home and abroad, the watchful eye of Ông Công Ông Táo is part of what helps to maintain the delicious traditional diet.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

How to facilitate a vision workshop

I found this in a document about food sovereignty called 'How to facilitate a vision workshop'. It is from a piece by Trevor Hancock in the Healthcare Forum Journal, 1993.

We tried it in two villages in Uganda and it was genius. Take 7 people from the large group and bring them to the center and give them all paper and markers and ask them to take the journey described below and then draw (don't write words but draw) their vision.

Next time you have a 15-minute break, try this exercise:

Find a quiet place, take a moment to relax, close your eyes, and take a journey into the future:
It is the year 2024 and you are hovering in a balloon above your own community. During the past 20 years, it has transformed itself into an ideally healthy community. Imagine yourself floating down to the center of this place, where you climb out of the balloon and move around the community.

Take your time as you go into and out of stores ... workplaces ... streets ... parks … .neighborhoods ... houses ... healthcare and educational settings. In what way are the places you visit and the people you see healthy? What makes them healthy? Notice the colors and shapes and textures around you.

What sounds do you hear? What smells do you notice? Pay attention to how people move from place to place. Observe the settings where ill people receive care and the places where people learn. Take the time to experience this community at different times of day and night. At different seasons.

Try to imagine yourself as an elderly person living in this environment ... as a child ... as a woman ... as a man ... as a disabled person. Now spend a few minutes revisiting places you have seen that struck you most forcibly or that you liked the best, then re-enter the balloon, ascend back into the sky, and return to the present.


Saturday, 10 January 2015

THE LAND; Now distributed by the Greenhorns

Good news for farmers in the US who miss the old ZINE information culture for radical farmers. The Greenhorns will now be the distributors of England's, farmer-made, 'The Land' Magazine in the US.




MANIFESTO (from THE LAND)
Demands to "make poverty history", and the responses from those in power, revolve around money: less debt, freer and fairer trade, more aid. Rarely will you hear someone with access to a microphone mouth the word "land".

That is because economists define wealth and justice in terms of access to the market. Politicians echo the economists because the more dependent that people become upon the market, the more securely they can be roped into the fiscal and political hierarchy. Access to land is not simply a threat to land-owning élites — it is a threat to the religion of unlimited economic growth and the power structure that depends upon it.

The market (however attractive it may appear) is built on promises: the only source of wealth is the earth. Anyone who has land has access to energy, water, nourishment, shelter, healing, wisdom, ancestors and a grave. Ivan Illich spoke of "a society of convivial tools that allows men to achieve purposes with energy fully under their control". The ultimate convivial tool, the mother of all the others, is the earth.

Yet the earth is more than a tool cupboard, for although the earth gives, it dictates its terms; and its terms alter from place to place. So it is that agriculture begets human culture; and cultural diversity, like biological diversity, flowers in obedience to the conditions that the earth imposes. The first and inevitable effect of the global market is to uproot and destroy land-based human cultures. The final and inevitable achievement of a rootless global market will be to destroy itself.

In a shrunken world, taxed to keep the wheels of industry accelerating, land and its resources are increasingly contested. Six billion people compete to acquire land for a variety of conflicting uses: land for food, for water, for energy, for timber, for carbon sinks, for housing, for wildlife, for recreation, for investment. The politics of land — who owns it, who controls it and who has access to it — are more important than ever, though you might not think so from a superficial reading of government policy and the media. The purpose of this magazine is to focus attention back onto the politics of land.

Rome fell; the Soviet Empire collapsed; the stars and stripes are fading in the west. Nothing is forever in history, except geography. Capitalism is a confidence trick, a dazzling edifice built on paper promises. It may stand longer than some of us anticipate, but when it crumbles, the land will remain.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

More than science; Excerpt from an Essay on Human Ecology

Paraphrased from Ethan Niederer's Essay on Human Ecology, College of the Atlantic 2003.

Human ecology is the cataphatic, love mystic saying "this, this, this" and "yes, yes".
Human ecology's primary direction comes from its practitioners. With great stock in and passion for the work they feel is profound and important. 
Human ecology sees that the world is beautiful. Human ecologist work to be awake to it and to be in fully in it; to disregard the apophatic, neti neti "not this, not this" in favor of positive action, to honor and enjoy the sweetness of this life.