Think Globally, Act Globally
- 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-
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.
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
"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
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,