Monday, 19 December 2016

Haeckel's Tree of Life

In 1866 in Berlin, in his attempt to visualize the difficult concepts of phylogenetic relationships, but also likely inspired by many religious and philosophical traditions, the German zoologist Haeckel drew his biological theory as a tree of life. This ended up supporting many of the ideas of Charles Darwin and laying the foundation for modern ecology and ecosystem studies. 150 years later we have so much technology to assist but rarely demonstrate our ideas as clearly or beautifully in science.

It strikes that this image is something that we might be equally likely to see on the walls of a herbal medicine ayurvedic healer as in a biotechnology lab. More artful than the modern stick-figure phylogenetic trees of genetic sciences, yet more structured and logical than information we might find in the sacred world trees of many of the world's religions.

Árbol de la vida según Haeckel, E. H. P. A. (1866). Generelle Morphologie der Organismen : allgemeine Grundzüge der organischen Formen-Wissenschaft, mechanisch begründet durch die von C. Darwin reformirte Decendenz-Theorie. Berlin.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Slow Food Manifesto

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie - Bob Dylan 1963

When yer head gets twisted and yer mind grows numb
When you think you're too old, too young, too smart or too dumb
When yer laggin' behind an' losin' yer pace
In a slow-motion crawl of life's busy race
No matter what yer doing if you start givin' up
If the wine don't come to the top of yer cup
If the wind's got you sideways with with one hand holdin' on
And the other starts slipping and the feeling is gone
And yer train engine fire needs a new spark to catch it
And the wood's easy findin' but yer lazy to fetch it
And yer sidewalk starts curlin' and the street gets too long
And you start walkin' backwards though you know its wrong
And lonesome comes up as down goes the day
And tomorrow's mornin' seems so far away
And you feel the reins from yer pony are slippin'
And yer rope is a-slidin' 'cause yer hands are a-drippin'
And yer sun-decked desert and evergreen valleys
Turn to broken down slums and trash-can alleys
And yer sky cries water and yer drain pipe's a-pourin'
And the lightnin's a-flashing and the thunder's a-crashin'
And the windows are rattlin' and breakin' and the roof tops a-shakin'
And yer whole world's a-slammin' and bangin'
And yer minutes of sun turn to hours of storm
And to yourself you sometimes say
"I never knew it was gonna be this way
Why didn't they tell me the day I was born"
And you start gettin' chills and yer jumping from sweat
And you're lookin' for somethin' you ain't quite found yet
And yer knee-deep in the dark water with yer hands in the air
And the whole world's a-watchin' with a window peek stare
And yer good gal leaves and she's long gone a-flying
And yer heart feels sick like fish when they're fryin'
And yer jackhammer falls from yer hand to yer feet
And you need it badly but it lays on the street
And yer bell's bangin' loudly but you can't hear its beat
And you think yer ears might a been hurt
Or yer eyes've turned filthy from the sight-blindin' dirt
And you figured you failed in yesterdays rush
When you were faked out an' fooled white facing a four flush
And all the time you were holdin' three queens
And it's makin you mad, it's makin' you mean
Like in the middle of Life magazine
Bouncin' around a pinball machine
And there's something on yer mind you wanna be saying
That somebody someplace oughta be hearin'
But it's trapped on yer tongue and sealed in yer head
And it bothers you badly when your layin' in bed
And no matter how you try you just can't say it
And yer scared to yer soul you just might forget it
And yer eyes get swimmy from the tears in yer head
And yer pillows of feathers turn to blankets of lead
And the lion's mouth opens and yer staring at his teeth
And his jaws start closin with you underneath
And yer flat on your belly with yer hands tied behind
And you wish you'd never taken that last detour sign
And you say to yourself just what am I doin'
On this road I'm walkin', on this trail I'm turnin'
On this curve I'm hanging
On this pathway I'm strolling, in the space I'm taking
In this air I'm inhaling
Am I mixed up too much, am I mixed up too hard
Why am I walking, where am I running
What am I saying, what am I knowing
On this guitar I'm playing, on this banjo I'm frailin'
On this mandolin I'm strummin', in the song I'm singin'
In the tune I'm hummin', in the words I'm writin'
In the words that I'm thinkin'
In this ocean of hours I'm all the time drinkin'
Who am I helping, what am I breaking
What am I giving, what am I taking
But you try with your whole soul best
Never to think these thoughts and never to let
Them kind of thoughts gain ground
Or make yer heart pound
But then again you know why they're around
Just waiting for a chance to slip and drop down
"Cause sometimes you hear'em when the night times comes creeping
And you fear that they might catch you a-sleeping
And you jump from yer bed, from yer last chapter of dreamin'
And you can't remember for the best of yer thinking
If that was you in the dream that was screaming
And you know that it's something special you're needin'
And you know that there's no drug that'll do for the healin'
And no liquor in the land to stop yer brain from bleeding
And you need something special
Yeah, you need something special all right
You need a fast flyin' train on a tornado track
To shoot you someplace and shoot you back
You need a cyclone wind on a stream engine howler
That's been banging and booming and blowing forever
That knows yer troubles a hundred times over
You need a Greyhound bus that don't bar no race
That won't laugh at yer looks
Your voice or your face
And by any number of bets in the book
Will be rollin' long after the bubblegum craze
You need something to open up a new door
To show you something you seen before
But overlooked a hundred times or more
You need something to open your eyes
You need something to make it known
That it's you and no one else that owns
That spot that yer standing, that space that you're sitting
That the world ain't got you beat
That it ain't got you licked
It can't get you crazy no matter how many
Times you might get kicked
You need something special all right
You need something special to give you hope
But hope's just a word
That maybe you said or maybe you heard
On some windy corner 'round a wide-angled curve

But that's what you need man, and you need it bad
And yer trouble is you know it too good
"Cause you look an' you start getting the chills

"Cause you can't find it on a dollar bill
And it ain't on Macy's window sill
And it ain't on no rich kid's road map
And it ain't in no fat kid's fraternity house
And it ain't made in no Hollywood wheat germ
And it ain't on that dimlit stage
With that half-wit comedian on it
Ranting and raving and taking yer money
And you thinks it's funny
No you can't find it in no night club or no yacht club
And it ain't in the seats of a supper club
And sure as hell you're bound to tell
That no matter how hard you rub
You just ain't a-gonna find it on yer ticket stub
No, and it ain't in the rumors people're tellin' you
And it ain't in the pimple-lotion people are sellin' you
And it ain't in no cardboard-box house
Or down any movie star's blouse
And you can't find it on the golf course
And Uncle Remus can't tell you and neither can Santa Claus
And it ain't in the cream puff hair-do or cotton candy clothes
And it ain't in the dime store dummies or bubblegum goons
And it ain't in the marshmallow noises of the chocolate cake voices
That come knockin' and tappin' in Christmas wrappin'
Sayin' ain't I pretty and ain't I cute and look at my skin
Look at my skin shine, look at my skin glow
Look at my skin laugh, look at my skin cry
When you can't even sense if they got any insides
These people so pretty in their ribbons and bows
No you'll not now or no other day
Find it on the doorsteps made out-a paper mache
And inside it the people made of molasses
That every other day buy a new pair of sunglasses
And it ain't in the fifty-star generals and flipped-out phonies
Who'd turn yuh in for a tenth of a penny
Who breathe and burp and bend and crack
And before you can count from one to ten
Do it all over again but this time behind yer back
My friend
The ones that wheel and deal and whirl and twirl
And play games with each other in their sand-box world
And you can't find it either in the no-talent fools
That run around gallant
And make all rules for the ones that got talent
And it ain't in the ones that ain't got any talent but think they do
And think they're foolin' you
The ones who jump on the wagon
Just for a while 'cause they know it's in style
To get their kicks, get out of it quick
And make all kinds of money and chicks

And you yell to yourself and you throw down yer hat
Sayin', "Christ do I gotta be like that
Ain't there no one here that knows where I'm at
Ain't there no one here that knows how I feel
Good God Almighty

No but that ain't yer game, it ain't even yer race
You can't hear yer name, you can't see yer face
You gotta look some other place
And where do you look for this hope that yer seekin'
Where do you look for this lamp that's a-burnin'
Where do you look for this oil well gushin'
Where do you look for this candle that's glowin'
Where do you look for this hope that you know is there
And out there somewhere
And your feet can only walk down two kinds of roads
Your eyes can only look through two kinds of windows
Your nose can only smell two kinds of hallways
You can touch and twist
And turn two kinds of doorknobs
You can either go to the church of your choice
Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
You'll find God in the church of your choice
You'll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital

And though it's only my opinion
I may be right or wrong
You'll find them both
In the Grand Canyon
At sundown

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Society of Ethnobiology Stands with Standing Rock

The Society of Ethnobiology Board recently agreed to rename and repurpose our standing Ethics Committee to the Ethics and Advocacy Committee.  Prior to that the Board agreed to write a disseminate a position statement on the murder of Berta Caceres and incarceration of Gustavo Castro Soto in Honduras.  We recognized the need to address our membership about the mission and values of our Society in the wake of the 2016 US national elections.
Today we write you about the historical events unfolding in North Dakota near and on the Standing Rock Sioux (Dakota) Indian reservation.  SoE has members actively involved in research and advocacy present in the standoff between those protecting the land and water of the Missouri River and its adjacent tribal, private, and federal land and the those working for the Dakota Access Pipeline (including state and local law enforcement) owned by Energy Transfer Partners LP (75%) and Phillips 66 (25%).
This Society has a long relationship of researchers, professors, and government employees working at the interface between people and the environment, with North America as a center of our membership, scholarly activity, and conferences.  Many of us have worked with tribal communities in the US, Mexico, Canada, and other nations. Who are we? We are the archaeologists, ethnographers, historians, ethnobiologists, linguists, ethnoecologists, ecologists, and geologists who have documented the pre-history and history of indigenous people around the world and especially in North America, and some of us currently work with tribal communities on collaborative research and applied projects.
For us to witness the corporate and governmental violation of treaties, federal laws, federal government to tribal government trust obligations, and now human rights, we cannot and will not as an organization stand silently in the shadows hoping this conflict will resolve itself.  We strongly condemn the Dakota Access Pipeline's use of private and local law enforcement to squelch the First Amendment Rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of people peaceably assembling.  The use of militarized law enforcement against unarmed citizens of the United States has drawn criticism nationally and across the world, including from the United Nations.  We have Society members present at the protest camps, and some of our members have friends and family members that have been violently attacked by law enforcement.
We call upon the members of our Society to speak up for the communities that have worked with us and have depended upon our voices to tell the history and science of the land, water, plant, animals and people. Many of us have the professional tools to document what is happening in North Dakota and we encourage scientific investigations and scholarly activities that document and publish what is happening in North Dakota as the intersection of people and the environment comes to a violent clash.  With the US Army Corps of Engineers calling for the December 5, 2016 closure of the Water Protectors Camps on lands ceased by the Corps and under their ownership, we fear more violence will be unleashed from heavily armed law enforcement upon unarmed but undeterred tribal and non-tribal citizens.
For ways you can personally voice your concerns, please visit the following links:
#NoDAPL Solidarity
Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline Petition
Seven Things You Can Do to Help the Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters
For ways you can directly support the tribal communities and their supporters, please visit the following links:
Sacred Stone Camp Facebook Page
#NoDAPL Solidarity
Stand With Standing Rock Oceti Sakowin
GoFundMe Sacred Stone Camp
For updates and news about this issue, please visit:
Native News
#NoDAPL Solidarity Updates

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Sunday writing in Uganda

Writing on a Sunday in Uganda and feeling grateful. The umbrella canopy of a Terminalia is outstretched above my incessant typing. My manuscript and the African sun are separated by the glowing green, red and yellow leaves.

The news of a far away post-truth America, shafts of sunlight, and the big woody leaves of the Terminalia fall like books from library shelves and interrupt my writing.

Crying neighborhood babies, laughing drunkards, birdsong of many bird species, loud streets of marching bands, church music, motorcycles and horns interrupt my writing. I welcome all the interruption. Interruption belongs in the writing. My feeling is that it is a kind of celebration of wildness this morning, to allow interruption, chaos and reality to dance together while I am writing. Birds and babies and presidents will continue as I write. I let them.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Religious freedom for the Oceti Sakowin

#nodapl, #indigenousrising

Spiritual Leaders of the Oceti Sakowin Invoke American Indian Religious Freedom Act
Cannon Ball, ND - On November 15th Spiritual Leaders of the Oceti Sakowin, otherwise known as the Seven Council Fires evoked Executive Order 13007, American Indian Religious Freedom Act to conduct a ceremony near the drilling pad Dakota Access is building to drill under the Missouri River. The elders traveled by boat from the Cannon Ball marina to the site and upon arrival erected a Tipi. While the Elders and Tribe were given permission to practice ceremony by the Army Corps, Dakota Access security still showed up to harass and question the elders. Dakota Access also filmed the ceremony from a distance, which violates the Executive Order. 
Chief Arvol Lookinghorse, the Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, and Spiritual Leader for the Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota, Faith Spotted Eagle, Nakota, and Kevin Dear of the Six Nations were among the elders who led the ceremony. 
"Today we lit the sacred fire to pray for the water and to pray for unity across the nation. Today we honor our past and present for future generations. In addition, we prayed for the protection of our sacred sites, which there are thousands, along the Missouri River," said Arvol Looking Horse. 
Days before the ceremony took place, tribal headsmen scouted the area and identified sacred sites in this location that is between the drilling pad and the Missouri River. 
Photos by Josue Rivas

Agroecology exchange in Uganda


May 2016 in a landmark meeting over 70 individuals, who share decades of hard work and activism on agroecology, came together to discuss factors for successful amplification of agroecology. Looking at the spread of agroecology as something different from traditional 'scaling up', they identified key lessons from their work.
The four day Agroecology Learning Exchange took place in Uganda and was organised by the AgroEcology Fund and the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa in May 2016. ILEIA facilitated the event, and also compiled the rich insights of the meeting in a new report: Agroecology Learning Exchange (PDF)

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

"Nothing about us without us" La Via Campesina at the Farmers' Rights Global Consultation

A delegation comprising peasants, women and men, indigenous people and youth from various regions of the world will represent La Via Campesina at the Farmers' Rights Global Consultation, to be held between 27-30 of September in Bali, organized by the Government of Indonesia with support from The Government of Norway and The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).  

The delegation of rural peasants and indigenous people representing La Via Campesina will be calling upon the Treaty and the contracting parties (governments) to recognize and implement peasants' rights and to reject the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) legislations and patent laws that endanger food sovereignty.

The selected seeds kept by peasants in their fields are one of the irreplaceable pillars of food production. Peasants all over the world have been aware of this throughout the centuries. It is one of the most universal and basic understandings that all peasants share. Except in those cases where they have suffered external aggressions or extreme circumstances, almost all peasant communities know how to save, store and share seeds. Millions of families and farming communities have worked to create hundreds of crops and thousands of varieties of these crops. The regular exchange of seeds among communities and peoples has allowed crops to adapt to different conditions, climates and topographies. This is what has allowed farming to spread and grow and feed the world with a diversified diet.

Therefore, peasants' unconditional and unrestricted access to a diverse range of peasant seeds and their right to keep, use, exchange and sell farm seeds is the first condition necessary for feeding the world. In defense of the peasant-seed systems, at the consultation, La Via Campesina delegation will speak for the right to protect traditional and modern peasant knowhow and defend it from the assault of IPR laws.The delegation will also emphasise that the peasant participation in decision making must not be reduced to the inclusion of a few organisations who bow to pressure from the industry and accept decisions already made. Furthermore, participation must not also not be reduced to just big landholders, but must include women, indigenous people, landless peasants, landless agricultural workers, fisherfolk and pastoralists.