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Think Globally, Act Globally

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  • Leland Lehrman <leland@33o.com>
    Bob, Emilia, Listmembers, I am thankful for the wise and experienced comments I am getting regarding my efforts to promote natural farming and permaculture (in
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 30, 2002
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      Bob, Emilia, Listmembers,

      I am thankful for the wise and experienced comments I am getting
      regarding my efforts to promote natural farming and permaculture (in
      particular where natural farming leaves off, as in irrigation design,
      home design, settlement and community design) in war-torn and famine-
      prone areas.

      It is true I am not a particularly experienced farmer, nor an
      experienced aid worker, but there has blossomed in me a strong voice
      and backbone for action.

      My experience breaking my back and recovering from drug abuse has
      given me empirical experience with healing, and so, with authority, I
      can say that healing of necessity requires the most attention in the
      areas of the most damage.

      Emilia's admonition to pay attention to one's own local environment
      is understood, but she also noted in one of her previous posts that
      she hopes we will all protest nuclear power as we do not want to all
      have radioactive natural gardens.

      Few people take seriously the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelations,
      Edgar Cayce, Nostradamus and others, and I admit I have only one ear
      cocked, but it is frightening how events seem to relentlessly grind
      in that direction.

      When my own world was turned completely upside down by my broken back
      and the two major surgeries that followed, major changes in my view
      of the importance of action followed.

      Not knowing how to resist the war-like policies of Western
      governments without getting destroyed by them, I kept quiet for years
      and mulled and thrashed it all out in my head and heart. But over
      time, and with the experience of personal physical healing vivid in
      my memory, I have come to realize that global healing requires the
      healing of the most damaged areas first. Failure to attend to them
      will result in increasing damage to the whole similar to cancer which
      spirals from one organ to another on the way to death.

      It is the obligation of the conscious to act upon the awareness they
      have. And so, despite my apparent inadequacy for the task, I will act
      nonetheless, secure and happy in the knowledge that there is no
      better thing I could be doing, from my point of view, for the health
      of the planet, the evolution of God, and the safety of future
      generations which include my wonderful and only one year old daughter.

      The organization I seek to build does not require that I be the lead
      designer of its policies. In fact, I will seek, among others,
      Masanobu Fukuoka and Bill Mollison's personal involvement. I am not
      daunted by the probability that such backing is unlikely in the short
      run. However, as Goethe said, there is power in commitment.

      There will be far more difficult criticisms of my efforts in the
      world at large and I appreciate the velvet glove I get here. Of those
      who do not receive serious criticism not much is expected.

      Finally, let me thank Bob again for his pointers to the leading
      organizations in the field, there is an excellent 1999 PDF on world
      agroecology available through the Cornell Program.

      http://ciifad.cornell.edu/documents/bellagioenglish.pdf

      It's 30 pages long and I am going through it slowly. It's conclusion
      is that world agriculture projects need to emphasize natural
      biological system farming along the same lines as Fukuoka describes.
      It is an exciting conclusion to come from a Rockefeller Foundation
      study and is likely to find its way into all of the major agriculture
      aid initiatives over time. Here's a description of the main agencies
      involved:

      "Miguel Altieri, from the Department of Environmental Science, Policy
      and Management at the University of California, Berkeley, and Norman
      Uphoff, director of the Cornell International Institute for Food,
      Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD), discussed with Robert Herdt,
      director of Agricultural Sciences for the Rockefeller Foundation, the
      value of conducting an assessment of "alternative" agricultural
      systems of production."

      "The World Bank's Rural Development Department provided a grant to
      cover the travel costs for some of the participants from developing
      countries. Several international organizations covered the travel
      costs for their staff: the Plant Protection Service of the U.N. Food
      and Agriculture Organization (FAO); the International Centre for
      Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF); the International Center for Living
      Aquatic Resource Management (ICLARM); the International Food Policy
      Research Institute (IFPRI); and Resources for the Future. CIIFAD
      covered the bal-ance of expenses and contributed the administrative
      support needed to organize the con-ference."

      Here's the conclusion of the report:

      "This proposed approach to agricultural
      development, while drawing on existing
      knowledge and experience within
      farming communities, is thoroughly forward-
      looking. The synergistic principles of
      agroecology will help to circumvent some
      of the constraints that result from approaches
      heavily dependent on capital,
      chemicals and machinery, by capitalizing
      as much as possible on the power of biology,
      which can come at relatively low cost.
      Formal education and literacy are important
      but not in themselves sufficient. We
      are talking about knowledge-intensive
      forms of agriculture that transform rural
      people from their historical subordinated
      roles as "hewers of wood and drawers of
      water." Three decades ago, when the Green
      Revolution was being launched, such high
      expectations for rural people were held by
      few persons outside of rural areas. It was
      considered that progressive change would
      not be initiated by farmers themselves. Yet
      the case studies presented at the conference
      give abundant evidence that the human capabilities
      available to be enlisted in a new
      kind of agricultural modernization have
      been underestimated and too narrowly
      conceived.

      The technologies of the post-Green
      Revolution era will still require extensive
      contributions from scientists. However,
      technological development will proceed
      more effectively by walking on the two "legs"
      of agroecology and participation. The first
      encompasses all resources and aspects of
      living systems, while the latter draws in a
      multiplicity of roles and talents, emphasizing
      those of farmers as co-generators as
      well as users of new technology."

      Happy New Year,

      Leland
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