It has taken our team three years to complete this text book. We have been working with our local high school and across our whole community to investigate how we can raise this essential issue in a meaningful and constructive way.
Permaculture gives us the statement, ‘the problem is the solution’ recognising that a problem is the inverse of its solution, problems are not unrelated but directly connected to their solution. Furthermore simply presenting dire predictions of a problem so huge humanity cannot face it achieves nothing but either continued denial or all out nihilism. Permaculture is a design process that is inclusive, works out from one’s own experience and helps build a co-ordinated and unified response.
Greta Thunberg began her activism at 15, starting alone yet within months creating a worldwide movement. We take our inspiration from her work, we challenge everyone who cares to set in motion their small and slow solutions and let’s see how it builds and where it takes us.
We are excited to be featured in the latest Permaculture Magazine (PM101) in a piece exploring our work in refugee settlements in Uganda last year. It was a huge experience for all of us involved. We trained 40 refugees in permaculture and then supported them over the following 6 month period to become teachers and leaders as each trainee was tasked to train 4 families from their own surrounding communities.
Here are the pioneers, those who are now on the front line of bringing permaculture into the community of Bidibidi refugee settlement and beyond. We are hoping we can find ways to continue to support them in this vital effort to combat poverty, deforestation and food insecurity by bringing design and purpose via permaculture to their communities.
The trainees, first generation permaculture team, Maaji and Bidibidi 2018:
(These stunning portraits were taken by Angharad Rees.)
Biodiversity in Wales has collapsed over the last 4 or 5 decades. This became blatantly clear on the publication of the State of Nature report in 2013. No-one articulated this more strongly than local Welsh naturalist Iolo Williams when he spoke at the Senedd in 2013:
In our response to the changing climate and the loss of biodiversity it is apparent we need new models and approaches. Ones that restore depleted soil carbon, reduce flooding and reverse erosion and that protect and enhances biodiversity.
Permaculture is a design approach that has nature at its heart and increasingly we have been applying these ideas to more and more challenging situations and at greater scale. Sector39 are currently building a coalition of partners to take on a 124 acre hill farm on the edge of the Berwyn mountains here in Wales with the specific aim of creating a model for regenerative farming that could perhaps lead the way in land reform and demonstrate how a diversity of incomes can lead to a diversity of biological life on the farm.
We have 25 years of housing co-operative experience and community building and this would give us the chance to couple this experience with large scale habitat restoration. We have 2 objectives; one, to establish a trust to purchase this unique farm and hold it in perpetuity, and two, that we can establish a land based community to live and take care of the land.
The Trust needs to secure £400,000 in investment to secure the land for the project itself to go ahead. We already have finance in place for the actual project itself. As a training and teaching organisation we don’t anticipate any problems recruiting members to the project or tenants for the farm and buildings.
This unique farm takes in a whole water system, several springs and 124 acres of land, not all of which has been ploughed and ‘improved’ with fertilisers and rye grasses. Rather than see it disappear under the uniformity of even more ‘sheep monoculture’ our vision is to take it in the other direction; finding economic and responsible ways to restore diversity and create new possibilities for farms on especially marginal and upland locations.
The urgency of the situation demands that we stand up and be counted. Our governments have failed us, they sign agreements, nod to the science but do nothing real in response. We have to make an intervention. Human society needs to be governed in line with the laws of ecology and society. Solving climate change means building a whole different type of society and that will only happen if we all take part. It is time for the lunatics to leave the asylum.
Extinction Rebellion is our best chance of bringing climate change into everyday language; it needs to be on everybody’s lips, we need to be talking about it every day.
The next two weeks of disruption in London aims to be the spark that lights the tinder. The public needs to seize the narrative away from this corporate catastrophe and together we can evolve a new society that restores diversity and abundance to the earth. We know how to do it. Permaculture, co-operation, organic, solar powered we have to accelerate to the only future that can sustain us.
We are not innocent bystanders, the general public has obligations, and if they are not performing their obligations then it is justifiable to disturb the population. Failing to enact their social obligations to maintain and sustain a democratic and civilised society is a dereliction of social duty. We are trying to mobilise the general public.
Roger Hallam, Extinction Rebellion
Extinction rebellion are asking three things:
1: Full disclosure of climate science, let’s talk realistically about this crisis we are in
2: Develop policies in line with science and the agreements we have made
3: Form General Citizens’ Assemblies to hold governments to account and to involve everyone in shaping a sustainable future.
Videos: Calls to Action and an extended interview with Roger Hallam of XR:
Extinction rebellion is here. The next 2 weeks are going to be a turning point in our collective history.
The dates for the first weekend is set for 16th and 17th of March and we will negotiate the remaining dates with the group on the first weekend.
Times: Saturday 9.30 – for 10.00 am start until 5.30 pm Sundays 9.30 – for 10.00 am start until 4.00 pm Meet at Dragons, for coffee from 9.30, Llanrhaeadr High Street or Llanrhaeadr Village Hall, Back Chapel street from 9.50
Lunch is bring and share + soup and sourdough provided by Sector39
This page will be updated with more course info when available.
Please consider making a donation to Aramadham Mutebi in support of this course. Rama is a PDC graduate in Uganda from 2017 and has made significant contributions to his community since. We really hope to support him to achieve very much more.
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 correspondent 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’.
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. It’s 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 through. 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 overthrow the status quo. The overthrow of Wall Street, of the Imperialism and the empowerment of all people to face our collective challenges together seems to be a common theme.
This Council in seeing Powys as the Green Heart of Wales;
1. Acknowledges the Climate Change Emergency and thus:
2. Asks the pension trustees to develop a strategy of divestment from fossil fuels
3. Supports the principles of Zero Carbon Britain and the work done by CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology)
4. Encourages the development of Hydrogen production and technologies in Powys utilising the clean environment, water and energy supply
5. Highlights that green technologies and the new economic opportunities as part of environmental sustainability should be a fundamental part of the Mid Wales Growth deal thus giving us a USP (Unique Selling Point)
6. That the authority should put in place a strategy for net zero carbon of its activities and develop best environmental practice in its buildings
7. That the authority should look at best practice from other authorities such as robinhoodenergy.co.uk with Nottinghamshire Council and theleccy.co.uk/about/ with Liverpool City Council, in not only developing local energy ownership and supply chains but also assisting tackling fuel poverty.
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?
The 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 subsidising 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.
There is much we don’t 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
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 week’s 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?
Will also be profoundly hit by transport costs. Ideas shared; can children educate their parents, it is after all their 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?
Powys has miles of roads, a dispersed population and is very vulnerable to climate or market disruptions. We need to think a lot more about transport. Can we go car free through sharing schemes, car clubs and community taxis. Electric bikes, what other alternatives are there?
Can we create a local currency, or several different types of ways to interact with local, esp. food economy. Social economy work can be rewarded with local currency.
Revolution is a strong word. It implies many things, most of them challenging but I use it deliberately, this my friends is a revolution, a seismic change is underway and we all need to get behind it. The more we take part the more we get to shape it and the corresponding outcomes.
One thing is for sure is that the immense challenges we face are not going to go away by us ignoring them.
Revolution? I am actually quoting Prince Charles of all people, not your textbook revolutionary, but those are the first words of his recent book “Harmony”.
“This is a call to revolution. The Earth is
under threat. It is losing its balance and we
humans are causing this to happen.”
Revolution is a strong word and I use it
deliberately. The many environmental and
social problems that loom large, cannot be
solved by the very approach that caused
them.” HRH Charles
I am no great royalist or in the habit of quoting their words but this statement cannot be overlooked. It is highly significant. Charles has been environmentally inclined his whole adult life and mainly laughed at in the tabloids for talking to plants or whatever, but it is undeniable that he has a deep understanding of the natural world and he is absolutely correct to raise the most urgent of concerns. Carrying on our current path will lead us to self destruction, a whole new way of thinking is required, tinkered at the edges, making eco bricks from plastic at best slows our demise by a moment or two, something much more fundamental is required of us all.
Don’t look to Government, this is beyond their remit, they care about GDP, banks and corporate access to minerals and markets, the change will come from the bottom up and we will have to drag our government kicking and screaming into the new paradigm. This we have to do and with some urgency too. 2019 is the tipping point year, we really have left this to the very last minute and it is going to take everyone to get us to where we need to be.
This is also no overnight event, this is a 30 year revolution we have before us, that is how long we have to de-carbonise our economy, maybe a lot less. To set a course to a sustainable future we must halve global emissions this decade, failing on that means we will have left it way too late to even have a chance. We have delayed and delayed, but the time for action really is upon us. 2019 is the year we set a course to a very different destination.
Please come along to find out more, meanwhile listen to this.
Alexandra Ocasio Cortez overturned a long standing incumbent to gain a seat in congress. At 29 she has a radical outlook for the future, her ambition is exciting. Radical, Bold. I want to hear a lot more of this kind of talk. I see her rapid rise in politics as a reflection of the changes coming.
You might wonder what we are proposing, what is the agenda, simply that we begin meaningful conversations across the community about the problems we face. Poverty, debt, a contracting economy, Brexit but the overarching issue is climate and that we have to halve our emissions and as rapidly as we can. I like the idea coming from Extinction Rebellion, that of forming peoples’ assemblies, we need to demand the government at every level do their job, they should be working for us and being held accountable by us much more. They are failing us as they are still subsidising oil companies, holding back renewable energy development while pushing for investment in fossil fuel extraction.. there is simply no excuse for this and we will have to hold them to account.