Permaculture Green Warriors convince Ugandan villagers to build a vegetable garden near their water pump using the waste water to irrigate the garden and provide drinking water for their animals.
Noam Chomsky on John Dewey, interviewed May 28, 2003, Stony Brook University:
Interviewer: We only have just a minute left, unfortunately, but one of the quotes that you refer to is John Dewey in your miseducation book and I’ll just read it: “The ultimate aim of production is not production of goods, but the production of free human beings associated with one another on terms of equality.” Could you just maybe end with a few comments about that.
Chomsky: Well, John Dewey was the leading American social philosopher was also by our standards pretty radical. I mean, he, I think his position is correct that Bertrand Russell took very similar positions and yes a decent education ought to be creating free, independent, creative human beings. It doesn’t have to be developing them it has to be allowing them to follow those natural instincts; those are natural among children–the educational system has to beat it out of them and make them obedient and subordinate and so on. But a decent educational system would allow these natural aspects of human nature to flourish and encourage them. And it would be part of developing a free and democratic society of real participation. But of course that runs counter to elite interests. It’s worth remembering that the United States was not founded to be a democratic society and elites do not want it to be a democratic society. It’s supposed to be what political scientists sometimes call a “polyarchy,” a system basically of elite decision and public ratification. And if you had the kind of educational system that Dewey spent his life committed to, you wouldn’t be able to sustain that. People would become active, involved, engaged, and would try to create a truly functioning democratic society which would, as Dewey also pointed out, require an industrial democracy. That means democratizing production, commerce, and so on, which means eliminating the whole structure of capitalist hierarchy. His positions were, well, he’s very, uh, real “Mainstreeet America” but radical from the point of view of prevailing doctrine. And I think he’s quite right about that. In fact just to go to politics, Dewey also pointed out that until that’s done, unless that’s done, politics will remain what he called the shadow cast by business over society and the educational system will be a system of indoctrination and control. I was lucky as a kid to be sent to a Deweyite school it was quite, quite an exciting experience.
Interviewer: On that note we have to wrap up but thank you very much.[Applause]
Chomsky interviewed in 2003: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZFuOZ0yTNM&feature=player_embedded
Transcribed from video by David Hildebrand.
American Veterans go Green Warrior
The United States economy is still struggling and “jobs” are hard to find for the average person. Returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan discover they are competing for any meager employment opportunities with a growing legion of unemployed Americans . They are mostly offered jobs that are menial or low paying, the same types of jobs ex-convicts are offered when they leave jail. Thanks for putting your life on the line…now you can be a janitor!
If they have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and most of them have it in one form or other, they are given a variety of mind-altering drugs to numb their misery. One vet compared his bag of prescription pills to a bag of candies. Many vets attempt to get assistance from the myriad of Vet-help organizations only to find they are passed from program to program with no employment options. Most of these programs seem to be designed to keep the organization afloat, and don’t actually help the veterans into a real job. None of their military specialist skills are recognized outside the military and they find they are at the bottom of the skills heap … Slowly the vets lose hope and fall into a pit of despair .
One third of suicide attempts in the Oregon are a veteran . 18 veterans a day in the USA kill themselves…the numbers on veterans living on the streets, ending up in prison, addicted to drugs, in mental institutions and generally running off the rails is absolutely staggering not to mention the ripple effect to their families and communities. It seems more military veterans are killed by their own hand than the actual enemy in war. This tragedy is further compounded by the negative image promoted by the mainstream media…
Some months ago I was asked if I could help coach a bunch of American veterans into using permaculture practices to create sustainable livelihoods for themselves in their country. Could veterans heal themselves while healing the planet? Could veterans make a sustainable living growing food and planting food forests? Can former warriors become Green Warriors? Sure… why not?
Having trained ex-combatants, ex-child-soldiers and victims of war as well as having being a soldier myself I accepted the challenge and headed to Portland, Oregon from Hong Kong to facilitate an experiment. Permaculture can solve most of the problems of the world if applied in the right way. Hence the first “Boots to Roots” Permaculture Aid Field Craft Course began in August 2012
The Vashon Island ferry drops its ramp and 30 odd cars rumble out of the ship and we pedestrians are waved on by a guy in a clown suit, oops, I mean a high visibility safety suit. I see some definite hippy types heading to the popular island famous for its organic farms, alternative culture and interesting people. I’m looking forward to meeting the veterans, and spending 3 days on a retreat with them as a prelude to our permaculture experiment.
The vets pick me up in a small blue Hyundai. They’re not the manic, Rambo, thousand yard stare types I almost expected but well-mannered excited young people on a mission. Penny Dex, a former army pharmacy specialist, fills me in on what’s going to happen over the next few days as we pass through farms and villages on the way to the retreat . The first night at the retreat we have a guest speaker, Kia, from the largest organic farm on the island. They intensively farm 7 acres and supply several farmers markets on the island and in Seattle. She gives the vets an overview of the realities of organic market gardening. Behind the success of this farm is an innovative 72-year-old farmer-elder who calls the shots. He couldn’t make it to our retreat . He’s recovering from injuries after falling off his skateboard. (Wow!) That’s what elders are for, mentoring.
Over the 3 days we visit a few farms and markets and see permaculture in action . The days are sunny and warm. Our veterans get more enthusiastic about farming and the upcoming course. At night I hear the war stories as well as the stories of their post military treatment by the various support services. Why does their government continue to fund these services when they clearly do very little good for returned soldiers? Why are their many specialist skills unrecognized by the government? If this is the method one would use to create dissent and radicals among the hundred of thousands combat veterans. It seems to be working .
I’m in the car again heading to Portland, Oregon on a wide freeway. People appear to be driving huge vehicles with massive engines just to carry one person. A huge red pick-up truck a mile long cruises past with a small man driving … No wonder America needs so much fuel. Wray, my 26-year-old co-passenger, relates how he had PTSD on return from Iraq and the V.A gave him a mess of drugs that really screwed up his reality. Once he gave them up he was able to make up his mind that any healing he needed wasn’t going to come from the government that caused the problems in the first place. All our vets on the training have had similar experiences and are now open for something completely different.
Portland is a very funky city with many organic markets, organic supermarkets, organic coffee shops and restaurants. Permaculture has crept in between the cracks here and there is a strong green vibe to the city. It also has the most strip joints per capita I’m told. In the distance I can see snow capped mountains making a nice backdrop as we enter the city. Our first stop is “Hop-Inn”; one of the many microbreweries Portland is famous for. I’m threatened with death unless I consume many beers…I comply. Several types of beer appear in front of me. They love brewing with hops for sure and each beer was so bitter I could swear it was some form of malaria medicine. Yeeach! I eventually settle for a cherry cider.
Doug operates a crisis line for vets in trouble and according to Doug, there in no end of trouble a disgruntled vet can get into. On the veteran’s suicide hotline, Doug has heard it all… I wonder if there is a hotline Doug calls when he’s had enough. Doug has volunteered his land for our permaculture veteran rehab experiment. We immediately begin building a field school camp.
Thankfully I have the assistance on the training side from local permaculture specialist Deston Dennison Deston is an expert on all kinds of local fauna and flora and I might as well be on another planet coming from the tropics. Deston has a large capacity chainsaw and proceeds to cut the timber we will need for our 2-week course. He’s a handy guy to have as a co-trainer.
The camp kitchen is the first thing the team builds on the first day. Many people in the local community have donated tables, cooking gear, food, stoves, everything one could wish for in a camp kitchen . Several organic farms from the area have donated boxes of fresh vegetables and meat. I’m amazed what these veterans have sourced from their local community. The civilians have really stretched themselves to help these people, especially in these harsh economic times.
I get a donated tent and a couple of loan sleeping bags for my accommodation. Camping in the woods suits me just fine! I browse on the wild blackberries, blueberries, apples and raspberries in the bush.
The camp takes a day to rig and we start the course clearing blackberry prickles from and old fenced area we will convert into a garden. Soon we all look like we have been fighting wildcats as the thorny vines take their toll. Lots of cuts and scratches all round. No complaints. The vets have borrowed a truckload of tools from the local tool-bank. Blue skies and a gentle sun make the living conditions in the forest a pleasant experience. I snack on more wild black berries as well as blueberries I’d pay a fortune for in Australia. We work hands-on for 4 hours each morning in the garden and spend the afternoons in our outdoor classroom.
Deston has rabbits he’s bought as a food source and we devise some methods the veterans can use to butcher them without fear or pain for the animals. Several days into the training we decide rabbit meat would go well as the evening meal. We try the first method of slaughter. Deston screws a large red hook into a post. The idea is to quickly snap the rabbit’s neck using the hook. The rabbit is caught and the group watches as Deston holds the bunny up to the hook on the post. He pulls rapidly down to break the neck but the hook bends…the rabbit doesn’t enjoy this. Oh dear! We all cringe, as the death of the bunny takes longer than planned. Poor bugger! The hook method doesn’t get the best practice vote until we screw the hook deep into the post and try again. This time its fast and almost humane. I wouldn’t use the hook!
One vet has a simple method for a fast rabbit death. He has a very small pistol, a Saturday night special. Stroking the rabbit he sneaks the barrel of the pistol behind the bunny’s skull and pulls the trigger. For a small gun it make a deafening bang! The rabbit shakes a bit and falls dead. He never saw it coming. Definitely the way I’d like to be killed if I were a bunny.
My method is the “whip the head off with a machete” trick. Rabbit is stretched over a stump and WHAM! 9 seconds…Quick, but a bit messy. The vote for the quickest and most humane kill goes to “the pistol shot to the head trick”. No shortage of guns in America. Our team dines on roasted rabbit that night.
We dig several raised garden beds each day. The physical work makes the vets sweat. Many of the vets say they are sleeping well compared to the erratic sleep they get at their homes. We add composted cow manure and mulch the beds with straw or hay. Using the Fukuoka method we seed each bed with a variety of local vegetable seed . No hybrids here. We plant Chard, Collards, beets and many other vegetables that will handle the cool winter months in Oregon.
The vets cook their own lunch taking turns in the kitchen. After lunch we sit on our straw bales under the shade of a fir tree and go over the theory of why and what we did hands-on in the garden. Deston adds the local content giving lists of species needed in these American ecosystems.
I show the vets some films of Uganda with returning soldiers and what they have to experience after 25 years of living in the bush during a guerilla war. No support from the government and only the NGO’s to help if they are lucky. I explain they, the American veterans, are luckier than in most countries. At least they have their civilian population to support them. Here in the US veterans are overwhelmed with options to get funding, are they real options? I explain focusing on what they don’t have will blind them to what they do have. They have to use what resources they can get to set themselves up into sustainable livelihoods now. WAKE UP! The economy in the USA is still heading downwards. There aren’t any other real choices out there at the moment.
They must also have unity amongst themselves to achieve anything lasting . Working with their new skills to create sustainable farms and communities gives these guys a new “mission”, where they can still be warriors. I’ve seen this work many times in many countries for many wounded warriors. Evidence-based best practice. Nobody escapes a war without trauma.
At the end of 2 weeks we have built a fair sized garden, which we estimate will feed a large extended family daily for all meals. We have a fish-boned pattern with a log herb spiral as the fish’s head. Doug has almost single handedly dug a fishpond. We have restored a bunch of blueberry shrubs. A rabbit hutch compost system is also added. We have a trellis that extends in a curved arc on a raised bed planted with cucumber . We call it “Spiderman” due to the amount of string we wove through the sticks. The hands-on is finished and now its time for the final exercise…
Designing a farm looks easy when students can draw a 2 dimensional plan. To really drive home design, its best when they must instead construct a 3-D model . The model gives the students the understanding how elements are inter-related and where they best serve the system and are to be placed accordingly.
The Veterans model is a futuristic version of Doug’s property and everybody has a hand in its design. Taking turns each of the students gets the floor to explain how the design works. We have a multifunction barn that will house the workers, a pig tractor system, a poultry tractor system, accommodation and vegetable cropping systems as well as the farm’s 100 year old apple trees restored to a productive state. I press them to work out how this farm can make them a living. How will it pay? I make them phase the design so they can show what steps they will take first to make this design a reality.
The course ends with me handing out certificates with handshakes and smiles all round. It’s time to pack up the camp, and prepare for an exit.
I say goodbye to my new friends and watch Portland slip away out the window of the Amtrak . We speed through farms, forests, cities and along the coast…beautiful America. Too bad it’s going down the g urgler!
The Canadians are friendly at the border control and give me a big smile, as I’m welcomed to their country. I think back on my 3 week experience and silently wish my veterans the best of luck…they are going to need it very soon!
Music and video composition by Mike Walgrave
Clive Hamilton, public intellectual and author of ‘Requiem for a Species’, speaks about how dire the future looks and how little time we have to act on climate. He reflects on our strange obsessions, our hubris, and our penchant for avoiding the facts about climate change.
A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle For a Living Planet
A FIERCE GREEN FIRE: The Battle For a Living Planet is the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement — grassroots and global activism spanning fifty years from conservation to climate change. From halting dams in the Grand Canyon to battling 20,000 tons of toxic waste at Love Canal; from Greenpeace saving the whales to Chico Mendes and the rubbertappers saving the Amazon; from climate change to the promise of transforming our civilization, the film tells vivid stories about people fighting — and succeeding — against enormous odds.
See http://green.onevillage.tv/?p=163 — this short film by John Harrison shows how Irno Pretto Farm in Brazil was transformed by introducing the Integrated Farming and Waste Management System (IFWMS) developed by George Chan of the ZERI Foundation (www.zeri.org). Productivity and biodiversity were increased while generating energy, reducing waste and eliminating pollution.
Laura Flanders sat down with professor and author Noam Chomsky, to discuss his latest publication, OCCUPY, OWS, anarchism, racism, corporate power and cooperative potential. Recorded 4/24/12 at MIT for Free Speech TV.
Noam Chomsky has not just been watching the Occupy movement. A veteran of the civil rights, anti-war, and anti-intervention movements of the 1960s through the 1980s, he’s given lectures at Occupy Boston and talked with occupiers across the US. His new book, Occupy, published in the Occupied Media Pamphlet Series by Zuccotti Park Press brings together several of those lectures, a speech on “occupying foreign policy” and a brief tribute to his friend and co-agitator Howard Zinn.
From his speeches, and in this conversation, it’s clear that the emeritus MIT professor and author is as impressed by the spontaneous, cooperative communities some Occupy encampments created, as he is by the movement’s political impact.
We’re a nation whose leaders are pursuing policies that amount to economic “suicide” Chomsky says. But there are glimmers of possibility – in worker co-operatives, and other spaces where people get a taste of a different way of living.
We talked in his office, for Free Speech TV. on April 24.
Source: Freespeech TV
Happy International Permaculture Day 2012! www.permacultureday.info
International Permaculture Day – is a day where a range of Permaculture events occur across Australia and around the globe. All activities are held on Sunday May 6 unless specified otherwise.
All of us would acknowledge our own work as modest; it is the totality of such modest work that is impressive. Great changes are taking place. Why not join us in the making of a better future.
Ingenio Patet Campus. The field lies open to the intellect.
2 May 2012