End of Empire

Chris Hedges is one of the foremost ‘public intellectuals’ in the USA. One of the clearest voices on the left and a harsh critic of US imperialism. Hedges takes a clear, uncompromising view of the reality that is confronting us.

He advises us to abandon hope, as that leads to disappointment and desolation, and to focus on what we can practically achieve and through that process find deep personal meaning in our engagement.

He references many key texts, and draws on his deep experience of 20 years as foreign corespondent for the New York Times before quitting his influential position as head of the middle east office over the NYT’s refusal to accurately convey the disaster that was the Iraq war. The interview is deeply revealing of how the state controls the narrative and also how journalism has been eroded to ‘court gossip’.

Keiser Report

Ex Wall Street bond trader, turned financial journalist presents a fresh perspective on economics and social change. This episode fits perfectly into the theme of climate emergency and collapse. Its a good watch and on topic, witty, acerbic, insightful and informed.

  • Are we living in an era of soft totalitarianism?
  • Will there be a Davos 2020?
  • ‘Bitcoin is the guillotine of the 21st century’

Thinking about the fragility and beauty of the natural world

We need to cultivate a culture of deep reverence for nature and be prepared to accept the lessons of our own observations. I added this as a counter balance to the other two videos.

However we see the times we are living though it seems to me it is this interaction between our economic world and the real ecology we are embedded in that we need to concentrate on fully as we are clearly getting this very wrong currently. The issue both of the first two videos addresses is the mechanism by which we can over throw the status quo. The over throw of Wall Street, of the Imperialism and the empowerment of all people to face our collective challenges together seems to be a common theme.

permaculture, climate change and community transition event in Llanfyllin
Join us on thursday evening to explore how these key issues impact on us at a community level

What does declaring ‘Climate Emergency’ mean?

Cornwall Council has declared a ‘climate emergency’.

The  authority says the declaration “recognises the climate change crisis and the need for urgent action”. It  follows  a motion debated at a full Council meeting today, where the Council called on Westminster to provide the powers and resources necessary to achieve the target for Cornwall to become carbon neutral by 2030 and committed to work with other Councils with similar ambitions.

The motion – ‘Urgency on Climate Change’ – was brought to Full Council by Councillor Dominic Fairman, local member for St Teath and St Breward, and seconded by Councillor Edwina Hannaford, the Council’s Cabinet portfolio holder for neighbourhoods.

The motion was amended by Councillor for Falmouth Smithick, Jayne Kirkham, to declare a climate emergency in line with the declarations of other local authorities.

Cllr Fairman said: “After a very lively debate a cross-party amendment was accepted which went even further than the original motion. If we are to avoid the worst-case scenarios, then the social change required will be deep.

  • Town by town and now whole counties are declaring a climate emergency, but what does that entail?
  • Should we all be pushing for similar action locally?

emergencyThe science is settled, yet we seem unable to collectively plot a course to a safe horizon. Global emissions are still rising, they are still drilling and even worse we are still subsidizing the costs of bringing fossil energy to market and putting obstacles in the way of renewable energy development and investment. This must change.

But we definitely know that continuing to work in the ways we have done until now is not just backfiring – it is holding the gun to our own heads. With this in mind, we can choose to explore how to evolve what we do, without any simple answers.

Prof Jem Bendal PhD

The Prof. in a recent paper of staggering implications argues convincingly that we have to consider three courses of action, immediately as carrying on as we are is counter-productive to our own survival.

In the paper Deep Adaptation we are urged to look at our lives under these 3 headings

  • Resilience asks us “how do we keep what we really want to keep?”

What are the valued norms and behaviours that human societies will wish to maintain as they seek to survive?

  • Relinquishment asks us “what do we need to let go of in order to not make matters worse?”

This involves people and communities letting go of certain assets, behaviours and beliefs where retaining them could make matters worse. Examples include withdrawing from coastlines, shutting down vulnerable industrial facilities, or giving up expectations for certain types of consumption.

  • Restoration asks us “what can we bring back to help us with the coming difficulties and tragedies?”

This involves people and communities rediscovering attitudes and approaches to life and organisation that our hydrocarbon-fuelled civilisation eroded. Examples include re-wilding landscapes, so they provide more ecological benefits and require less management, changing diets back to match the seasons, rediscovering non-electronically powered forms of play, and increased community-level productivity and support.

revolution permaculture
There is a different kind of revolution brewing, and much of it will entail a shift from us acting collectively as consumers to a role of producers

There is much we dont know

Equally there is much that we do, the inevitability of transition or total collapse and the need for urgency. Every prediction made using 1990’s climate modelling is being overshot by current reality, we are looking at very grim scenarios within all of our lifetimes.. the only way we can mitigate the crisis we face is to begin to frame our collective response. If it is a crisis of our own doing, then we need to call it a crisis and stop doing those things rapidly

 

Regular meetings

We will be meeting in the Cross Keys again next week, that is Thursday 31st January, Llanfyllin High Street. It is a free event, refreshments are served, donations to Cross Keys are welcome.  Doors open 7.00 pm formal business from 7.30.

In last weeks meeting we looked at issues around key topics.

  • Feedback points included the following

Land, farming, food

A profound shift is happening in farming, localised, seasonal, organic, diversity friendly and carbon negative. There was interest in generating dialogue with farmers to release more marginal plots to re-wilding and local food projects. Starting co-ops, supporting local groups, more allotments and better growing skills and local distribution

Church land? Other public spaces that could be re-wilded or made productive

Education

Will also be profoundly hit by transport costs. Ideas shared were can children educate their parents, it is after all there future that is being destroyed. The kind of jobs people are being prepared for will not exist, are we even creating the right skill set in pupils. Can we cope emotionally with the changes before us.

Food growing, processing storing and cooking. Can permaculture be part of education, and children more empowered to shape the school environment and hierarchy?

Un-schooling, can we bring people of different ages and backgrounds together to share life experiences and skills and find new ways of learning?

Transport

Powys has miles of roads, a dispersed population and is very vulnerable to cliamte or market disruptions. We need to think a lot more about transport. Car we go car free through sharing schemes, car clubs and community taxis. Electric bikes, what other alternatives are there?

Money

Can we create a local currency, or several different types of ways to interact with local, esp. food economy. Social ecoomy work can be rewarded with local currency.

 

Climate emergency – unveiling next steps of our response

Climate change, the science

In year one of the One School One Planet we screened this video at the school, as a baseline for understanding of climate science. Chaired by HRH Charles, introduced by David Attenborough and presented by Professor Johan Rokstrom it is an

‘invitation on a transformational journey’  Professor Johan Rokstrom

We have also invited our community to watch the ‘Overview Effect’ which documents the impact of viewing the Earth from space has had on many of the astronauts and space shuttle crew who have been in orbit.

Some Key Quotes from those who have viewed Earth from space

It is not just fixing an economic or a political system, but it our whole world view, our basic understanding of who we are that is at stake

A part of that is to come up with a new picture, a new story, a new way to approach this and to shift our behavior in a way that it leads to sustainable way instead of a destructive approach. Right now that seems very difficult to see how it is going to be, but we are going to have to work on it.

An a grand scale we are all basically living in this ecosystem called earth and everything that you do on side of the ecosystem affects the other side and that is a new way of living for most of humanity

Emergency is not too strong a word

Sadiq Khan has moved targets forward by 20 years to bring London to carbon neutral status by 2030 instead of 80%b reductions by 2050 as previously targeted

Link to the presentation we will be discussing and answering questions about on Thursday 20th Dec at the Cross Keys Llanfyllin high street

One School One Planet – Keys presentation 001

One School One Planet is a Sector39 led project over three years to find ways to link school curriculum, climate action and community development together, using permaculture. We feel you cant teaching about climate change and ecological problems without also responding to them. Showing how to respond the problem, whilst also exploring the nature of the problem itself.

Greta Thunberg COP24 from David Fopp on Vimeo.

Everyone should hear Greta thunberg’s speech at COP24.

Final preparations for the Permaculture Design Course!

The Permaculture Design Course is starting this week, and it doesn’t feel real. Even though the work we have been doing has been in preparation for the course and convergence it still feels like we are just going to keep on doing what we are doing. This week has been about preparations out of the garden; sorting beds for 50 people, cleaning the school and the site, washing everything in the rooms, ensuring there is enough water, fruit and other foods for the UK teams arrival and then welcoming the UK team onto site.

With Jagwe’s help we replaced the nursery bed shade, replacing the heavier more useful papyrus with reed matting which will provide a more even coverage over the nursery. We climbed up the rickety ladder that gets smaller and smaller as it goes up, and is balanced precariously against the nursery structure. Grace and I finished the job when Jagwe had left Sabina, fighting against ants that had moved into the reeds while they were being stored.

 

 

With some help from the students Grace has been working on removing the lemon growth from the orange trees in the food forest. The roots of the lemon tree is stronger than the orange and so the two are grafted together but without proper management the stronger lemon growth fights through the oranges. Jagwe observed that the trees were diseased which made us aware of how important it was for us to work on the trees.

The UK team have arrived with energy, ideas and projects of their own which is making everything seem so much busier around the site. Richie is working on 407 projects all at once, building a beehive is his own personal project which he is doing around all the other woodwork that has been needed doing for weeks. The library has been painted, creating a brilliant white wall to be projected onto during the course for the big presentations . Han and I are working on making signs to put up around the site helping the participants navigate the grounds as well as making the site seem like an event space rather than just a school site. Helen and Charles have been able to work together to make plans for the Convergence, it has been great to get the team together so people are no longer just familiar names and email addresses.

Dan has been working on making an estoufa finca (with Luigi’s help) which is a wood paralysis stove that burns from the top and cooks the wood below releasing the wood gasses and water vapour, little or no smoke is produced once it’s got going. When fully going it burns at 800 degrees c. Most people in Uganda live cooking on wood, the population is set to double in the next couple of decades and in the last couple of decades the forests have halves. Burning wood on the ground is at best 25% efficient and so there is a huge potential in exploring fuel efficient stoves.

A few days after the first load of UK team members the rest of the team arrived. Now as a complete team we can focus on the course in more detail, everyone is helping each other prepare lesson plans and presentations. If there’s anything that someone on the teaching team is unsure about with everyone who’s here, there will be someone who they can ask.

With more mouths to feed, we have had to change what we eat in order to be able to cater for so many people all at once. Aunty Agnes taught us how to make Chapattis which have been a staple ever since Richie perfected the art. Thankfully we collected enough avocados before the team arrived and so we aren’t missing our daily 3 avocado intake. It’s nice to share each meal with so many people, going from just the three of us who would eat together daily to more than five times that number now that the team has expanded. It’s a bigger affair with more people to get to know and more inspiring minds with a bigger range of conversations to be had. 

With participants arriving today and the course starting tomorrow everyone is working hard in the hot African sun trying to get themselves and the site ready. It’s very exciting how massive the course and convergence are to permaculture in East Africa. Hopefully this is just the beginning of something bigger than any of us can imagine.

Local to Global

team 39 portrait

team 39 portrait
Team Uganda: Nina Duckers, Angharad Rees and Grace Maycock with Richard Stephenson outside Dragons shop in Llanrhaeadr.

This month three ex Llanfyllin High School pupils will be heading to Sabina school in Uganda, where teachers and students alike are embracing permaculture as a tool to aid learning and to build a climate smart school.

Llanfyllin High School may not realize it, but three of their ex pupils are planning to work together on a ground breaking project at Sabina school in Uganda over the coming months. With a good 15 year age gap between the three, they did not know each other whilst at school, but there is enough in common to draw the three together and onto this project in post school years.

Their work is a testament to the ongoing work of the school and the wider community to develop and maintain these essential international links that both broaden all of our horizons and remind us of the interconnected nature of the modern world.

The opportunity has come about via a collaboration between locally based enterprise Sector39, Sabina school and Dolen Ffermio (Farming Link), also local and a charity with long-standing connections to the Llanfyllin High School. Dolen Ffermio go back to 1991 and began from the desire to link communities in the wider Llanfyllin area with communities in Uganda. The charity’s work now encompasses supporting orphan projects, facilitating links between schools and promoting environmental projects.

The seed has been sown

Mid-Wales based permaculture enterprise Sector39 have been expanding horizons by partnering with friends and colleagues both local and global. They had already started to work with Dolen Ffermio  developing permaculture education in Uganda before launching The One School One Planet project here  in Llanfyllin. This has drawn in and created links and partnerships between Wales and Africa, opening exciting new opportunities.

poster and ticket link WORLD BRIDGER
Event Poster and link to Eventbrite ticket window

  • Teachers and students alike are embracing permaculture at Sabina as a tool to aid learning and to build climate resilient food and energy systems for the school.
  • Llanfyllin high school has also been working with One School One Planet project over the last 18 months to explore how to better embrace the challenges of the 21st century.

More recently Sector39 have been approached by the Norwegian Refugee Council, requesting us to devise training packages for South Sudanese refugees entering Uganda from the North. Early surveys for this work will begin  in April, and one of the tasks for the three ex-pupils wil be to meet and interview some of the trainees, helping assess the imapct of the work.

So the connections grow! It will be fascinating to see what comes from it.