Wednesday, September 18, 2013
It is so inspiring to learn how hundreds of community initiatives and experiments for social and environmental sustainability are being carried out today by many people and activists around the world. It is important to learn not only about this, but also about the many projects that support and advance people’s rights and humane and ethical development, meaning not oppressive and destructive to humans and nature. I think working or being involved with this can be very empowering knowing your every step is an important phase not only for your personal growth but also for others as well. Having initiatives like this is the most visible and realistic of all ideals we have. For decades, successful partnership of honest NGO’s and sincere individuals/community, committed to actualize the project and see it’s ‘fruit’ all through the years, thrived and spread through many generations. Alliances like these serve as a model community or program for the people to explore many possibilities of acting in many choices (unlike in the mainstream that is very limited to voting, paying taxes and dealing with petty crimes) for the things essential to our individual and collective well-being. Some examples here are community gardens, CSA’s, low-cost housing, alternative energy, natural housing, permaculture farms/sites, free schools, community centers, etc. Anyway, here are some interesting websites to look if you want to learn about some of the projects that I'm telling here.
THE TRANSITION NETWORK
As part of the SG vision, we are trying to connect globally especially to those who are doing these kinds of project in order to: further possibilities of communal transition, expand the horizon of our place in the global natural system, increase the chance or opportunity of getting financial support, help others get more perspectives regarding organic gardening, community initiatives, and environmental sustainability, encourage more volunteers and promote the vision to a wider arena, strengthen the capacity by getting more allies in combating global scarcity and socio-political crises, learn many different methods of organic gardening, alternative energy, and community improvement, and help establish a global community that will dismantle the concept of national borders. So up to this moment, our group is still looking for ways to continue the social center/community library project as we see that it is one of the most effective ways to connect to people. In addition, as we still don’t have a final area suited for long-term community gardening project so what we are doing basically is preparing ourselves and learning many different aspects regarding these initiatives. Again, aside from teaching ourselves, we also educate others about important issues such as food, land, community, human rights, and other things related to our vision.
Speaking of food, one of our programs is to spread awareness and start a campaign against GMO and the companies that perpetrate this kind of hazardous biotech invention. One of the most popular of this is Monsanto, the giant transnational biotech company that is undeniably responsible for many atrocities happening around the world since almost the beginning of industrial revolution. This company is one of the biggest producers of chemicals (such as Round Up, etc.) and other synthetic pesticides that destroyed many farm lands around the world. Not only this, Monsanto also helped in the production of DDT and other poisonous pesticides used in the war on Vietnam in the 60’s. Up to now, with their bio-engineering, genetic experiments and political influence, Monsanto is still ruthlessly committing ecological and biological terrorism all over the globe. The company that is rampantly abusing farmers and perpetuating violence against nature is also the company that is influencing policies and laws regarding agriculture and food production. To give you more ideas and options on how to help, please check these links:
MILLIONS AGAINST MONSATO
COMMUNITY LIBRARY AND INFORMATION CAMPAIGNS
So as a response to this problem, our group is committed to initiate public awareness about this issue. We produced informational videos, posters, and text in local dialects. Every now and then, we organize film screening, discussions and leafleting regarding this issue because we strongly believe that it is very important to educate the public first about this ‘crisis’ for them to take action sincerely. Last May in this year, we organized a public demonstration against Monsanto and GMO and although there were not so many people who participated, it was a successful action in terms of spreading public awareness.
In connection to this campaign, we are also currently doing a school to school awareness exhibition. In this, we exhibit posters and artworks that depict issues about GMO/biotech, health, organic gardening, natural lifestyle, and community actions. This month-long school to school program is entitled: Sustainable Social Paradigm: Organic Gardening, Natural Health, and Intentional Communities. Along with photo exhibition, we do film screening and discussion to educate the students and teachers about these matters. As a result, we got connected to the teachers that are also into these kinds of interest and plan to work together in the future. As part of their ‘Sustainable School’ initiative, they want to incorporate some of their strategies to our programs since they are closely related.
ABOUT THE GARDEN...
Regarding our garden, we will put here some photos we’ve taken some months ago. Obviously, sharing garden here in Bread Homes is almost coming to an end since there is not enough community support and the land in the area is very poor. As you can see, we can plant some things but it doesn’t produce enough that is at least fair to the effort we are giving. The solution is to find another area especially permanent so that it will be assuring for all the people who want to get involved.
Anyway, thanks to our new friend Clarke, he sometimes helps us in our projects and it is quite inspiring to learn about his visions and ideals too. We enjoy being with his company so much since he is one of the few people here in Bread Homes that think about things essential to community.
Bread Homes Volunteer Action Day and Ecological Camping
Last August 8, Organic Minds organized a community gathering and volunteer day to get help from volunteers and friends. It was also a great opportunity to evaluate some of our projects. It was also a half-day event of book and poster covering, film viewing and musical performances. Participants contributed to the event and brought food for everybody. It was a great day since many of our friends came to enjoy the day and share different things. On August 31, together with other members of CGINET (Common Ground Initiative Network), we helped organized an ecological awareness camp some kilometers away from the city.
With almost fifty participants, students and out-of-school youth, the event ran smoothly for two days full of meaningful workshops and discussions about the various projects of the network including the Sharing Garden, KU Free School, Food Freedom, Organic Minds Community Library and others. Not only about the projects but it was also a perfect opportunity to educate the community (mostly youth that are protecting the Davao City watershed area in Tawan-tawan, Calinan) about other important issues related to the environmental and social problems we all are facing.
That area is the only community who refused to use the non-organic method of farming since companies like DOLE entered this area. It was amazing to learn about the effort that this community does to protect their environment and also the ideas some of the young children has regarding the situation of their natural habitat.
During the evening of that camp, we exchanged presentations that made the night very exciting and unforgettable. Some performed their traditional dances and their own musical compositions that tell about living and working for the natural world. On the second day, they brought us to the nearby river where we enjoyed swimming and hiking. As a result also, we exchanged contacts to plan the next actions.
So to update you about the garden again, we are very sad to tell you that there is a very serious problem right now. First is that the former caretaker of the area wants to use half of the area again (after we installed fences!) and has burned huge part of the garden as his method of getting rid of the grasses. Before that, he sprayed Round Up without our consent; he did this during our camping activity so we obviously didn’t have the chance to say no. This man is known in the community of Bread Village as a greedy and selfish idiot who sometimes harvest other people’s fruits. When we arrived from the camping, we were surprised and disappointed with the news.
After few days, he burned the area and now, he doesn’t want us to plant on that area anymore! As we are having an argument, he threatened me stay off of that part or else he will hurt me. To prevent things from getting worst, I left him screaming in frustration and anger. As what we’ve thought before, this will be very problematic since we don’t have a tangible support from other people and also from the owners.
We used to send them (the owners) emails and updates about the project but up to now we don’t get any response that would at least encourage us to continue using that area. Well, as for Organic Minds, this will not stop us from continuing our plans since we can do this in other area. Hopefully next year, we can finally get a financial support that would enable us to get a permanent land so that this dream of having a successful community garden project will happen.