Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Financial Management, Food Shortages, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

The precariousness of the economy is becoming increasingly apparent to the masses. Indeed, every day more and more people are falling below the bread line, or are spending sleepless nights wondering how to extricate themselves from the situations they find themselves in. In some ways, this is good — being short-sighted creatures, we don’t seem to be able to conversate on issues, even if critically important, if we don’t realise their direct implications for ourselves personally. Actually, I somewhat take that back. We truly do, as a race, have a powerful capacity to empathise with others, despite not being in their shoes, but the system we’ve wrapped ourselves up in has separated us all out, disconnecting and isolating us from almost everyone but our closest friends and family, and, to a large extent, often even those. This atomisation, and the empathy-eradication program that accompanies it, means that broadscale collaborative discussion on the great need for a widespread socio-political-economic transitional overhaul will never get beyond niche blog posts and private conversations, unless more and more people start to feel the pinch and wake up.

We do seem to be, slowly, reaching this point.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Energy Systems, Society, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling.

My husband Tom and I live with my 11 year old son in a small Queenslander on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. Our property is 34 acres, which we have converted to a permaculture demonstration site. We now run permaculture and self-reliance courses on the property.

Geese and chickens in the resource paddock, and goats on dam wall

Tom comes from a farming background. When he grew up there was no money or time (or a phone) to call someone when something broke down. So he learned from a very early age to fix things himself with whatever was available. He also learned that everything can become a resource, and knows what to look out for. A lot of people we know call us and ask us whether we would like something they are about to throw away. We hardly ever say no. Everything may have a use sometime.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

by Lester R. Brown , Earth Policy Institute

In their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, American architect William McDonough and German chemist Michael Braungart conclude that waste and pollution are to be avoided entirely. “Pollution,” says McDonough, “is a symbol of design failure.”

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Posted by & filed under Animal Forage, Biodiversity, Livestock, Working Animals.

Browsing (feeding on vegetation other than grasses) may be an important aspect of the equine diet that is often overlooked, yet it may play an important role in the digestive health and the natural behaviour of horses. Scientists at the University of New England (NSW, Australia) are embarking on a research project to improve our understanding of an area of equine nutrition that is largely unknown.

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Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, GMOs, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

MST: The Landless Workers Movement

Raj Patel has been tracking the pathologies of the global food system for many years.  An activist and academic who teaches at the UC Berkeley Center for African Studies, Patel has just published a second, updated edition of his 2008 book, Stuffed and Starved The Hidden Battle for the World Food System

The problem with the food system is not that we don’t produce enough calories to eradicate hunger, Patel notes.  It’s that the food system has its own priorities of institutional consolidation and profit, which means that more than one billion people in the world are malnourished and two billion are overweight – which is worse than when the first edition of Patel’s book came out. 

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Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Community Projects, Consumerism, Eco-Villages, Economics, Peak Oil, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

This is the fate of young people today: excluded, but forbidden to opt out.

by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.

Hounded by police and bailiffs, evicted wherever they stopped, they did not mean to settle here. They had walked out of London to occupy disused farmland on the Queen’s estates surrounding Windsor Castle. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that didn’t work out very well. But after several days of pursuit, they landed two fields away from the place where modern democracy is commonly supposed to have been born.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres.

This 13-day practical and demonstrative PDC will take place in Konso, south Ethiopia, from September 10th – 22nd 2012, at Strawberry Fields Eco Lodge. It will have a special focus on the application of permaculture to communities in the developing world. It will involve practical demonstrations both from Strawberry Fields’ own model permaculture site and from schools sites in the area which are participating in the Permaculture in Konso Schools Project. There will also be the chance to do field trips into other climate zones in the Ethiopian highlands.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Building, Community Projects, Land, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling.

Two hundred kilometers south of Addis we turn left at a little town called Achamo, and dive off the tarmac into a dusty, bumpy adventure somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the green rolling steppes of the south Ethiopian countryside. This is my first foray into Hadiyya country. We’ve just passed Siltie, my own tribe (by marriage). We’re en route into the deep south, but this little foray off the usual 14 hour slog down to Konso is going to be something different. The countryside is all populated. Open farmland, mostly beans and maize, dotted with little settlements. Donkeys, gangs of skinny cattle and groups of bearded men out on a Sunday morning stroll punctuate the forty minutes of grinding along the rough climes of the roadway, till we pull into the dusty market town of Bonosha. I call our contact, Tegene, and tell him we’ve arrived. He sends a couple of local lads to show us the way. They jump into the back of the car and direct us out of town. As it turns out, I’m off to do my very first commercial consultancy as a permaculturalist. It’s quite exciting really.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

The new Jordan Valley Permaculture Project (left foreground)
aka ‘Greening the Desert – the Sequel’, September 2011
Photo © Craig Mackintosh

Do you think it’s time to look at the world from a different perspective? Do you know what the problems facing humanity are but have no idea how and where and what to start with? Do you want to change your life to a more sustainable, self-sufficient and enjoyable experience?

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Consumerism.

The people cutting open bluefin tuna nets are heroes

by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.

One of the purposes of government is to protect public goods threatened by the self-interest of unscrupulous people or corporations. But what happens when governments fail? When they are either unwilling or unable to protect something valued by the many from the depredations of the few? What do you do, for example, to defend the bluefin tuna?

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Posted by & filed under Building, Community Projects, Land, Society, Urban Projects.

Why we need parks, streetlife, squares, markets, trails, community gardens and other hang-outs more than ever.

by Jay Walljasper, On the Commons

All photographs © Craig Mackintosh

It’s a dark and wintry night in Copenhagen, and the streets are bustling. The temperature stands above freezing, but winds blow hard enough to knock down a good share of the bicycles parked all around. Scandinavians are notorious for their stolid reserve, but it’s all smiles and animated conversation here as people of many ages and affiliations stroll through the city center on a Thursday evening.

A knot of teenage boys, each outfitted with a slice of pizza, swagger down the main pedestrian street. Older women discreetly inspect shop windows for the coming spring fashions. An accomplished balalaika player draws a small crowd in a square as he jams with a very amateur guitarist. Earnest young people collect money for UNICEF relief efforts. Two African men pass by, pushing a piano. Candlelit restaurants and cafes beckon everyone inside.

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