segunda-feira, 3 de agosto de 2009
Everything Gardens. We Garden. Let's Garden!
Pitch presentation given at the Social Innovation Exchange Summer School - Lisbon, July 15-17, 2009
I would like to put up a radical proposal for discussion. It draws on a holistic vision of the Earth and Earthlings in the future and addresses all the problems and needs we face today, peeling back all the politics and dialectics and embracing the simple bottom line. This vision has been around for quite some time, but it needs reminding until enough people subscribe to it.
The bottom line in any ecosystem, and therefore also these highly sophisticated and artificial looking ecosystems that we like to call society, is FOOD.
NO FOOD, GAME OVER.
It so happens that food is precisely the human and non-human animal need that has been most effectively catered out into the hands of powerful global oligopolies in the private sector and turned into a highly industrialised, highly polluting, not to mention toxic or even infectious, economic activity. Food is out of our control and out of control and now either stuffs us or starves us, to paraphrase Raj Patel, the researcher and author-activist. He claims that obesity and starvation are consequences of the same corrupt food system. While there is enough staple food produced to feed the world twice over, it doesn't get to all people and when it does, it has lost its nutritional value. Food production has very little to do with farmers anymore, and its producers couldn't care less about the land or even humans, let alone non-human animals. For most kids in the North, food is from Nestlé, Unilever or any of the large retail chains that have supplanted the local food communities.
It wasn't always like that. This happened in the last 60 years or so. There are still people alive today who know what farming is about. Our civilisation is intimately linked to farming, in fact we owe civilisation to farming. The city we are in today, Lisbon, has some of the best soil in the country below its concrete. The early settlers of Lisbon didn't think "great place for a view from the castle", they reckoned "here we can eat plenty".
I believe we are all still farmers, we have just forgotten how to. A true farmer knows the Earth can give us all we need, provided he or she takes care of the Earth.
This is exactly what we stopped doing!
So here's my proposal: to add Permaculture to the field of social innovation as one of the most useful tools to reorganise and empower our communities, since it draws on the best of methods to be found in social innovation: open source methodology, self governance, autonomy, self production, self training, D-I-Y, critical thinking, transparency, tolerance, collaboration and creativity. Let's train people to become farmers again.
A farmer in the broadest sense is a producer, a gardener, a craftsman/woman, a forester, a tailor, a cook, a herder, a beekeeper, a healer, a carpenter, even an engineer or an architect. A farmer knows how to take care of his or her needs, those of the Earth and those of his or her community.
To become farmers again, there's no need for a massive exodus to the countryside.. It is to take one step back and two steps forward. To merge the best of all that we have learned and of all that we have forgotten.
If people learn how to farm again, in this broad sense that I described, together we can heal not only the damaged ecosystems that we live in but also the social systems.
To terminate on a light note and invite you to the discussion, I quote one of the beautifully simple design principles from Permaculture: