People Systems, Society — by Alice Gray May 24, 2013
State tractors ploughing in the barley crops of the Al Hawashleh tribe (our
hosts) outside Qasr A Sir in March of this year
Having recently finished teaching my third PDC course in the Bedouin village of Qasr A Sir in the Negev desert of Israel, I feel inspired to raise this controversial issue with the permaculture community. I would like to state from the outset that I do not have any clear answers, and intend this article as a discursive piece to inspire debate and reflection rather than a conclusive set of arguments.
The question is as old as ‘civilization’ itself, dating back to the dawn of agriculture in the Middle East around 10 000 years ago, and the great cultural transition that began then. It is the same question that permaculture seeks to answer, perhaps the single most important question facing humanity: how should we use the land? In short it is a question of culture and the clash of cultures, of narratives, possession, dispossession and dominance, of resource rights, of nomadic culture vs. sedentary culture; of hunter-gatherer lifestyles vs. pastoralist lifestyles vs. agrarian lifestyles. Perhaps the question is a little bit more complex than that in fact, and could be better framed as: how should we relate to cultures that have a different concept of land ownership and resource usage from our own? Living and working in the midst of a Bedouin village that is undergoing a forced transition from pastoralism to settled living within a modern industrialized state, this question cannot help but crop up.Comments (4)
Are repeated sightings of non-existent big cats evidence of a yearning for a wilder life?
An extract from Feral: searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding, by George Monbiot, published in the Guardian, 22nd May 2013.
The setting was unimprovable. Across the fields, Maiden Castle, a turretted fortress of living rock, clawed at the sky. Beyond it was the village of Wolf’s Castle – Casblaidd – distinguished as one of only twenty places in which Owain Glyndwr was born (he died in quite a few as well), and said to be the spot where the last wolf in Wales was killed. Below us a tangled willow carr smothered the valley.
“This gap in the hedge here: that could be where it came through. Then it came down the bank, sauntered across the road and disappeared into the scrub.”
I peered into the woods on the other side of the lane. The trees were hooded with ivy. Their mossy trunks sprawled over the ground, or leant on each other, dark-cowled, like drunken friars. Beneath them was an impenetrable thicket of brambles and ferns.
“You wouldn’t see him in there, would you?”
“You have no doubt about what it was?”
Michael Disney looked around and shrugged.
“It’s not an issue for me. I saw what I saw and that’s that. People can either believe it or not. I’m not trying to convince anyone.”Comments (0)
Economics, Society, peak oil — by George Monbiot May 18, 2013
When scholars sell out, the consequences are grave.
In 1927 the French philosopher Julien Benda published a piercing attack on the intellectuals of his day. They should, he argued in La Trahison des Clercs (the treason of the scholars) act as a check on popular passions(1). Civilisation, he claimed, is possible only if intellectuals stand in opposition to the demands of political “realism” by upholding universal principles. “Thanks to the scholars,” Benda maintained, “humanity did evil for two thousand years, but honoured good.” Europe might have been lying in the gutter, but it was looking at the stars.
But those ideals, he argued, had been lost. Europe was now lying in the gutter, looking in the gutter. The “immense majority” of intellectuals, artists and clergy had joined “the chorus of hatreds”: nationalism, racism, the worship of power and war. In doing so, they justified and magnified political passions. Across Europe, scholars on both the left and the right had become “ready to support in their own countries the most flagrant injustices”, to abandon universal principles in favour of national exceptionalism and to proclaim “the supreme morality of violence”. He quoted the French anarcho-syndicalist Georges Sorel, who eulogised “the superb blond beast wandering in search of prey and carnage”.Comments (0)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Economics, Society, Urban Projects, peak oil — by Andrew Willner May 9, 2013
We live in dangerous times, when economic collapse, climate chaos, and peak oil threaten the foundations of society, abundance, and all we hold dear. “Business as usual” will no longer suffice, because that way leads to certain pain, peril and impoverishment.
Unspeakable acts of violence like the slaughter at the Sandy Hook school or the Boston Marathon bombing; natural disasters like Katrina and Sandy; economic uncertainty; technical failure; “peak everything;” and climate change can offer opportunities for either despair and disengagement or innovative collaboration. In the aftermath of such disasters communities often experience a surge of purposefulness to deal with the crisis. As a result, there is a need for better understanding of the specific and general resilience of communities, ecosystems, organizations, and institutions to cope with change.Comments (0)
People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Stefan Boone May 7, 2013
The miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is. It’s that you can see the world as it isn’t. — Kathryn Schulz
Consumerism, Courses/Workshops, Education, Ethical Investment, Society, Village Development — by Kenton Zerbin May 4, 2013
All photos © Craig Mackintosh
In my previous article I stressed how there is no sounder thing to invest in than a) Yourself and B) Community.
In this article I want to share some of the simple ways one can invest in oneself. For some this may translate and lead to finding meaning, a career and community — after all what we are ultimately talking about here is finding connection. For some this will serve as one more swift kick in the butt to get out the door and be the change you want to see in the world. No matter who you are, I hope you find this hopeful, inspiring and informative.
Options for investing in yourself:Comments (3)
Economics, Society — by Aldo Leopold May 1, 2013
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948)
When god-like Odysseus returned from the wars in Troy, he hanged all on one rope a dozen slave-girls of his household whom he suspected of misbehavior during his absence. This hanging involved no question of propriety. The girls were property. The disposal of property was then, as now, a matter of expediency, not of right and wrong. Concepts of right and wrong were not lacking from Odysseus’ Greece: witness the fidelity of his wife through the long years before at last his black galleys clove the wine-dark seas for home. The ethical structure of that day covered wives, but had not yet been extended to human chattels. During the three thousand years which have since elapsed, ethical criteria have been extended to many fields of conduct, with corresponding shrinkages in those judged by expediency only.Comments (2)
Consumerism, Economics, Ethical Investment, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Kenton Zerbin April 29, 2013
Maximum security, maximum return. Who doesn’t want that? In a world of uncertainty and change, more than a few people are reconsidering where it is they want their money.
I grew up being encouraged to save and invest in savings. The two are not the same thing. To invest in savings is to invest in money itself. To put your money into money… such a strange idea. But in a civilization bent on growth, how can your money not grow as well? It really isn’t a bad idea if you have faith that growth never ends….Comments (4)
Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.Comments (2)
Consumerism, Society, peak oil — by Earth Policy Institute April 26, 2013
by Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute
Politicians, lobbyists, and tourists alike can ride bicycles along a specially marked lane between the White House and the U.S. Capitol, part of the 115 miles of bicycle lanes and paths that now crisscross Washington, DC. In Copenhagen, commuters can ride to work following a “green wave” of signal lights timed for bikers. Residents in China’s “happiest city,” Hangzhou, can move easily from public transit onto physically separated bike tracks that have been carved out of the vast majority of roadways. And on any given Sunday in Mexico City, some 15,000 cyclists join together on a circuit of major thoroughfares closed to motorized traffic. What is even more exciting is that in each of these locations, people can jump right into cycling without even owning a bicycle. Welcome to the era of the Bike Share.Comments (1)
The case for banning advertisements aimed at children is overwhelming.
How many people believe this makes the world a better place? A company called TenNine has hung advertising hoardings in the corridors and common rooms of 750 British schools(1). Among its clients are Nike, Adidas, Orange, Tesco and Unilever(2). It boasts that its “high impact platform delivers right to the heart of the 11-18 year old market.”(3)
Other firms are closing in. Boomerang Media, which represents Sega, Atari, Virgin, Umbro and others, has persuaded schools to distribute Revlon perfume samples to their pupils(4). This campaign, it says, “was effectively linked into their PSHE and PE classes”. PSHE means personal, social, health and economic education, or “learning to live life well”(5). How the disbursement of perfume by teachers helps children to keep fit and live well is a mystery I will leave you to ponder.Comments (1)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Society — by George Monbiot April 24, 2013
Devolving policy to “the market” doesn’t solve the problem of power. It makes it worse.
In other ages, states sought to seize as much power as they could. Today, the self-hating state renounces its powers. Governments anathematise governance. They declare their role redundant and illegitimate. They launch furious assaults upon their own branches, seeking wherever possible to lop them off.
This self-mutilation is a response to the fact that power has shifted. States now operate at the behest of others. Deregulation, privatisation, the shrinking of the scope, scale and spending of the state: these are now seen as the only legitimate policies. The corporations and billionaires to whom governments defer will have it no other way.Comments (4)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Marcin Gerwin April 18, 2013
The disappearing Amazon rainforest
Marcin Gerwin: You propose introducing a new international law of ecocide as an amendment to the Rome Statute. Ecocide is defined as “an extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.” Why do we need the new law to protect the planet? Aren’t current regulations enough?Comments (2)
Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Population, Society — by George Monbiot April 15, 2013
We have offshored both our consumption and our perceptions
Every society has topics it does not discuss. These are the issues which challenge its comfortable assumptions. They are the ones that remind us of mortality, which threaten the continuity we anticipate, which expose our various beliefs as irreconcilable.
Among them are the facts which sink the cosy assertion, that (in David Cameron’s words) “there need not be a tension between green and growth.”
At a reception in London recently I met an extremely rich woman, who lives, as most people with similar levels of wealth do, in an almost comically unsustainable fashion: jetting between various homes and resorts in one long turbo-charged holiday. When I told her what I did, she responded, “oh I agree, the environment is so important. I’m crazy about recycling.” But the real problem, she explained, was “people breeding too much”.Comments (5)