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.
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
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 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.
June to November have been a momentous time for our training teams here in Western Nile. In just 6 months we have been tasked with the challenge of introducing permaculture methods in this untamed region where refugees greatly outnumber the indigenous population.
In partnership with Norwegian Refugee Agency Sector39 has led a 6 month training program for refugees and host community members. Many of the trainees are not experienced farmers or gardeners, more typically cattle herders and grazers. Here in Western Nile they have been given a plot of land and challenged to supplement their basic food aid with what they can grow in kitchen gardens, using organic and permaculture approaches
This is a 15 minute narrated slideshow with thoughts about the final phase of the project with thoughts on how it can be best continued. (below)
Interviews and testimonies
This first interview is with NRC translator and host community member Julius, he has fully involved himself in the project although he wasn’t present at the initial training. He makes some very perceptive observations about the impact of the project and has taken on many of the ideas and insights himself as he can observe them working effectively.
Audio testimony from a Maaji 3 team member
Zone 4 BidiBidi have the aspiration of securing a 2 acre plot to develop a permaculture enterprise and demonstration center. The map below is the product of group discussion and consultation over several days. We have already worked together to create a small training plot right next to the church we have been using as a classroom.
We would hope very much to have the opportunity to support these pioneers over the establishment phases of this project.
The permaculture team members Maaji settlement
Slides of the Maaji team design presentation
Permaculture Training Centre Maaji
This audio track is a presentation from the members design team which focused on building and the carpentry skills as an enterprise within training centre sketched above.
Fuel Efficient Stove project
This slideshow and narration explores progress developing and promoting fuel efficient stoves with the community members.
Proposal: This project would benefit from support for a minimum of two years.
– ambition is to establish a permaculture training centre which will transition into a stakeholder owned and managed fully independent enterprise.
– exploring a training and Enterprise development model that can be self replicating and able to generate much of the resource need to sustain from within its own internal economy.
The vision is to work closely with the members from the training to create a new and wholly refugee (stakeholder) owned enterprise that will serve as a permaculture training and demonstration hub for the region. It would incubate several related enterprises that initially would be the service providers for the training centre.
Building livelihood, enterprise and food security is the aim and to create a thriving learning hub at the centre of this new emerging community. We envisage the centre acting as a hub for training and outreach across the Western Nile region, developing many of the resources and skills needed to create a shift in the prevailing methodology for food and livelihood security.
The Sector39 team decided to hold a small networking meeting to develop Uganda networks and were graciously offered to host the meeting at St Augustine’s International University, by Prof. of agriculture Charles Ssekyewa. The Sector39 team consisting of Helen, Gerald, Ali, Steve and Grace organised the event and around 20 people turned up, students, lecturers and people from other organisations that work in the regenerative/permaculture sector.The meeting began at 2pm with Steve Jones opening with thoughts on permaculture work in UK, specifically food waste composting and linking that to horticulture training and community development in Wales.
Permaculture in development presentation This was followed by a presentation on the work of Sector 39 in conjunction with NRC on permaculture with refugees from South Sudan and host Ugandan communities. We developed a ten day training programme which was delivered to 40 people from the refugee and host community, who will in turn become advocates and trainers for their peers. The intention is to reach a further 200 people through a trainer of trainers programme.
The floor was then open for attendees to talk about their own projects. We heard from Eustace Sajjabi from AFIRD (Agency for Integrated) Rural Development and Kiyimba Mugagga, from SCOPE (Schools and Colleges Permaculture Programme) Uganda. They spoke about their work in permaculture in schools and the work of creating school gardens and food forests to provide nutrition and knowledge to pupils and teachers. They also spoke of the need to bring permaculture into the curriculum of schools across the whole of Uganda, following in the examples of the work in the Zimbabwe schools curriculum.We had associates from Kulika Uganda, Magdelene Amujal and Harriet Ndagire. Kulika is an organisation working with small scale farmers to promote ecological and organic farming systems. They have a permaculture demo site in their offices in Kampala and are looking towards teaching more about permaculture to their farmers. Rogers Wasibi came from Mbale to represent The Mount Elgon Coffee and Honey Cooperative. They have been working with the Size of Wales project to diversify the local community into agroforestry and reforestation projects in the hilly areas of Mount Elgon, where there is a large coffee growing industry. Prices of coffee can fluctuate massively leaving people economically exposed. Coffee is an understory shrub so can work well in conjunction with other trees. Rogers is interested in learning more about permaculture and how it can help his cooperative of honey and coffee producers. We heard from Gerald Jagwe and Hellen Aanyuaujo about their work on developing the first East African Permaculture Association. They are beginning to focus on creating regional hubs that can be representatives of all areas across Uganda. They are in the early stages of formation, but it’s an exciting and inspiring idea to network permaculture graduates and teachers across Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. We also heard from Prof. Charles Ssekyewa about the development of the new agriculture department at St Augustine’s University and their interest in organic systems and permaculture. There is a hope from Charles that this meeting won’t be the last and that this could be the beginning of a regular yearly meet up. We heard from Benoit Musabyimana from BAC AGRITECH Ltd, a company in Rwanda. He is looking to begin organic waste recycling/composting centre in Kigali, using the compost to promote organic agriculture to local farmers. We had around 6 agriculture students from the University that were interested in finding out more about permaculture. Michael Kanaabi, from NACRRI (National crops resources and research institute) talked about the need for more research on permaculture farming to create quantitative data on permaculture for small/large scale farmers. There were also ideas floated around that would make use of students looking for research projects that could help create that much needed hard data and evidence of the benefits of permaculture systems.There was also a note that there was a lack of examples of larger scale (10/20 acres) permaculture projects. We thank everyone for attending and a big thanks to Dr. Elizabeth Westaway for promoting this meeting on social media. We really hope to continue this next year and to build on ideas together in the future.
Here are some photos from our last week’s work in Uganda at Maaji refugee settlement area. These farmers were new to permaculture back in June, but by September they had created these and many more examples of working with nature.
The Permaculture design certificate course is 80 hours of intensive study, practicals, demonstrations, site visits and group work that serves as a foundation in permaculture design. It is an essential, energising and life changing course for most participants.
Sector39 have been delivering these courses since 2006 reaching 100’s of people and in many locations and venues. The most tried and trusted format for this course is the two week residential course, that literally immerses participants in the permaculture ideas and practices and is designed to create a personal shift from ideas to action. I always like to say permaculture is much more something you do than something to talk about and the whole purpose of the course is to create a momentum or tipping point that propels people from aspirations of change to really making that happen.
However, for many two weeks is a prohibitively long time to take time out from work/ life commitments and increasingly it is hard for our facilitation team to commit in advance with many other commitments competing for attention. I have been thinking hard about how to get around this and to make the courses accessible to all, as well as wondering how to make the most of the great facilities and working permaculture projects and examples we have in our area here in Mid Wales.
4 Part rolling PDC:
The idea is to plan a rolling on-going course, spread over 4 long weekends a year that can serve as a refresher, an introduction or form part of a full PDC process. Sessions will run from Friday to Monday with a weekend in the middle that is open to all comers and will be themed around site visits, demonstrations and practical work as well as slots for people to present on their own projects, develop ideas and recruit participants.
A typical weekend might look like this:
Friday: 10.00 am to 6.00 pm. PDC sessions covering core syllabus areas working towards the certificate.
Friday evening, all Saturday – up til Sunday 4.00 pm: Permaculture action weekend. Open to all, past graduates and potential future participants.
Participants can therefore join at any stage of the course and those completing all 4 units will be awarded their Permaculture Design Certificate.
We are very keen to receive feedback and interests regarding this new proposed programme. Please get in touch