Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Village Development.

This article is not just a call for a support, it is also a message of gratitude to all of you who shared your stories on this website and gave us inspiration to move forward and aim towards the creation of a more human world.

Before I get to the main point of this article, I would like to tell you about our beginnings. It all started when a bunch of friends who share a common vision for a world in which humans live in harmony with nature decided to get together and make their vision come to life. We formally joined an organization called The Green Ark. It was exactly five years ago when we decided that we wanted to do something more, to transform our revolt into organized action which would be useful for our community. However, our beginnings were not all that glamorous. Back then, our knowledge of the permaculture ethics and principles came solely from reading books and watching videos like The Global Gardener series, Establishing a Food Forest, etc. And since none of us had taken a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course, we were a bit apprehensive, but very excited at the same time, when we embarked on our first project – to start an urban garden.

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Community Projects, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Soil Rehabilitation, Water Conservation, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

I was recently invited to contribute to a concept paper (2.2mb PDF) authored and edited by Willem Ferwerda.

Mr. Ferwerda, a tropical ecologist, was director of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) National Committee of The Netherlands from 2000 until March 2012. In his new role Ferwerda will support the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) in making businesses and investors work for ecosystem restoration and management. As Chair of the Board of Patrons he will be actively involved in rolling out Leaders for Nature internationally.

This paper was compiled to serve as:

A plea for the establishment of an international mechanism that actively creates collaborative Ecosystem Restoration Partnerships between businesses, investors, business schools, civil society organizations, farmers and local people, that international restoration targets will be reached, investments will be returned, and practical lessons are learned by working together.

One of the many contributors to this paper is Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Quoting his statements from the paper’s introduction:

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Posted by & filed under GMOs.

by Safe Food Foundation

Following a truck fire and spill on 9 August 2011 of 15 tonnes of GM canola in the middle of a self declared GM-free zone in Williams, Western Australia, the Safe Food Foundation has retained Slater & Gordon lawyers to provide legal advice and support to local GM-free grain growers near the site.

The Safe Food Foundation has also offered to provide free GM test kits to local GM-free grain growers who want to test their crops this coming harvest. Scott Kinnear, Director of the Safe Food Foundation said, “This spill highlights the complex network of legal responsibilities that need to be unravelled and understood given the introduction of GM canola into WA, Victoria and NSW. It also highlights that the issue is between GM and GM-free and not just organic versus GM as has been portrayed by some commentators.

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Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, People Systems, Society.

One aspect of human culture that seems irresistible to the ancient status-seeking part of our brain is the development of hierarchies. The encoding of personal status and power into social structures is evident in the tribes and troops of all the great apes, but human beings have gone much further. We built an entire globe-spanning civilization on the foundation of hierarchy.

One inevitable effect of social hierarchies (in fact the effect that made our global civilization possible) is the consolidation of power. As new power comes into a hierarchic social system it flows preferentially to the top. As the system develops, even the small amount of power available to those at the bottom of the social pyramid is removed and ends up concentrated at the top in a power elite. This becomes a positive feedback loop: the more power is consolidated at the top, the easier the consolidation becomes.

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Posted by & filed under Biological Cleaning, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Storm Water, Water Conservation, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting.

Free Water is a semi-finalist in the $200,000 FOCUS FORWARD Filmmaker Competition and is in the running to become the $100,000 Grand Prize Winner. It could also be named an Audience Favorite if it’s among the ten that receives the most votes. If you love it, vote for it. Click on the VOTE button in the top right corner of the video player. Note that voting may not be available on all mobile platforms, and browser cookies must be enabled to vote.

Discover how to sustainably harvest 100,000 gallons of rainwater per year in your own back yard, by visiting Brad Landcaster in an urban desert as he reduces environmental and financial costs and produces free resources.

Please check out and vote for this great short video on the potential of planting the rain. If it wins, water harvesting will get a lot of great exposure, and we’ll have the opportunity to make a longer, more comprehensive video.

To cast your vote for this video, simply hover your mouse over the video, and you’ll find the ‘Vote’ button is the bottommost of the five icons on the right side.

Posted by & filed under Bird Life, Plant Systems.

by Zaia Kendall, PRI Sunshine Coast

Using a safe deterrent for bush turkeys…

A good friend of mine had a problem with a bush turkey (also called scrub turkeys, bush chooks and I am sure a number of other names not suitable for publication…). The bush turkey had decided to make a nest very close to his home, and he was not happy about that at all. After shooing the turkey away numerous times, whereupon it, of course, returned every time, he pondered the problem….

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Education Centres.

Editor’s Note: Regular readers will have appreciated Alex McCausland’s regular and comprehensive reports from precariously positioned Ethiopia, and the great work he and his team have been doing on the ground. If you want to learn practical permaculture and gain real-world permaculture aid work experience in a location rich in agricultural history, then please consider taking Alex’s next PDC, to be held in southern Ethiopia between December 10 — 22, 2012. Your tuition fees directly support this important educational aid work.

This month we’ve been very busy in south Ethiopia. Konso, where we are based, lies just south of a dividing line between two great weather systems, one which affects the Ethiopian highlands to the north and has a unimodal annual rainfall pattern with rains falling July-September, and the other with a bimodal rainfall affecting the southern lowlands down into Kenya. The “long rains” in Konso are usually March-May and the “short rains”, known locally as hagaya (or belg in Amharic) are usually September-October. Basically, this means that it has just now been the planting season in Konso. We have had a mad planting bonanza to get about 2500 trees into the ground on our own demonstration site at Strawberry Fields Eco-Lodge. We’ve been ably assisted with this undertaking by our current intern, Sabrina Faubert, a recent graduate from the US who’s staying with us for five months and helping with the various different projects we have going on. Sabrina is going to write up a report of her own on her activities and experiences with Strawberry Fields, which will hopefully be posted on this blog shortly.

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Posted by & filed under Economics, Food Shortages.

There are 154 million reasons why speculation via the commodity markets needs to be stopped – and stopped fast.

154 million, as I’m sure you know, is the number of people in poorer developing countries who were reportedly driven further into poverty as a result of speculation- induced food price hikes in 2007-08, or who became malnourished as a result.(1)

Previous speakers have explained why speculation – not food shortages – was responsible for the food crisis that resulted. I have been asked to explore some of the possible measures that might be taken to curb such speculation.

I’d like to start with some major inroads that have already been made in the United States, due in large part to the work of a very broad coalition of farm groups, unions, faith groups, environmentalists and development groups, and then to look at some of the deeper structural changes that peoples movements around the world are already struggling for and to which we might lend our solidarity.

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Posted by & filed under Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society.

Pachamama (Mother Earth)

Under the presidency of Evo Morales, Bolivia has taken a leadership role in the global climate change negotiations. It did so most recently at the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún, but also hosted the World People’s Conference on Climate Change (WPCCC) in Cochabamba in April 2010 and spoke out against the Copenhagen Accord at the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference. Among the ideas underpinning Bolivia’s principled position — pushing for the most ambitious agreement to tackle climate change and defend “mother earth” (or Pachamama) — is that of vivir bien or “living well”.

Vivir bien is an evolving concept emanating from Latin America’s indigenous peoples. The term translates as sumaq kawsay and suma qamaña in Quechua and Aymara, the two main indigenous languages of the Andes. It brings some common notions from a variety of indigenous peoples, both from the Andean highlands and the Amazon jungle.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, GMOs, Health & Disease, Society.

Editor’s Note: Last week I posted We Don’t Want to Know, sharing the rather glum news that Californians had, somewhat inexplicably, voted against their own interests — deciding they didn’t actually care to have the right to know what they were eating. By all appearances, Proposition 37 was won by the corporates. However, since then we’ve learned that there may be more to this than meets the eye. Jon Rappoport, a 74-year old Californian who has been an investigative journalist for the last 30 years, also felt the results were rather inexplicable, and decided to take a closer look. Read on to find out why I think Californians might not be as daft as we were, last week, led to believe…. I also hope Californians will jump up and down about this issue — as they should be hopping mad…. At time of writing this, the Yes to 37 campaign is only half a million votes behind, and it appears there are at least 3.3 million votes still uncounted…. In short, we have hope yet — but we need to watch this very closely, and do what we can to ensure all votes are properly counted!

Did Prop 37 Really Lose or Was it Vote Fraud? (November 8, 2012)

On election night, not long after the polls closed in California, the announcement came out: Prop 37 was losing. A little while later, it was all over. 37 had gone down to defeat.

But is that the whole story? No.

As of 2:30PM today, Thursday, November 8th, two days after the election, many votes in California remain uncounted.

I tried to find out how many.

It turns out that the Secretary of State of CA, responsible for elections in the state, doesn’t know.

I was told all counties in California have been asked, not ordered, to report in with those figures. It’s voluntary.

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