"i can dream"

Help fund "SEED: The Untold Story"!

In addition to trying to understand and grapple with the nuances of farm subsidies, ag. policy and the complex farm bill, I'm also beginning research on seed saving (i.e. networks, banks, growers) in my bioregion for my grad. thesis. So, of course, I was delighted to hear about this opportunity to help fund a really important documentary, "SEED: The Untold Story" through Collective Eye Films (the creators of "The Real Dirt on Farmer John" and "Queen of the Sun"). Take a look:

Seed is not just the source of life. It is the very foundation of our being. - Vandana Shiva 
SEED: The Untold Story is a new documentary film that will investigate the dramatic story of seeds, the basis of life on earth. For 12,000 years man has been nurturing and cultivating seeds to form the backbone of civilization. Now, 94% of our seed varieties have been lost and many more are nearing extinction.
SEED unveils a David and Goliath battle for the future of our seeds by examining how five chemical corporations have taken control of seeds through patents, copyrights and genetic modification. These companies are placing ownership on the seeds, literally stealing the genetic material from our ancestors who nurtured these seeds for thousands of years. As Vandana Shiva says “the threat to seed freedom impacts the very fabric of human life and life on the planet.” 
Entertaining and engaging, SEED follows heroes working tirelessly to preserve agricultural diversity as well as the rich knowledge held by indigenous cultures. These farmers, scientists, and seed collectors such as Gary Paul Nabhan, Bill McDorman, Vandana Shiva, Harald Hoven, Native American Emigdio Ballon and Winona LaDuke are the visionaries and caretakers of many of the world’s remaining seeds. On an absorbing journey following a diverse cast of characters, we will witness a brave new movement as these heroes struggle to create a vibrant web of biodiversity and resilience. 
SEED will reveal the awe, wonder and hidden beauty of seeds. It will ignite the imagination of audiences, inspiring them to be part of a new movement to help sustain seed diversity. We will unearth the resilience and power that all seeds have to sustain, enliven and enrich our humanity.
How amazing does this project sound?! Remember, Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing sort of fundraising medium; if the filmmakers don't reach their goal, the film will not be made. So, help these filmmakers with their project and get the message out there about the incredibly imperative need to save seeds, bring food sovereignty to the forefront and promote food and farm literacy!

Watch, share, and, ideally, donate, please!

Friends, family, farmers: Be a part of "The Lexicon of Sustainability"!

Introducing ... The Lexicon of Sustainability from the lexicon of sustainability on Vimeo.

So cool! The project covers important topics like food security, CSAs, farm-to-table initiatives, permaculture and veggie libel laws. Check out the official "The Lexicon of Sustainability" site and also look at Grist's coverage of the project.

Feel inspired? Add your thoughts to the Lexicon site and participate in this exciting movement.

Just Label It!: We have a right to know what's in our food!

From the Just Label It! campaign:
93% of Americans want the FDA to label genetically engineered foods. Watch the new video from Food, Inc. Filmmaker Robert Kenner to hear why we have the right to know what’s in our food. Will you join these individuals — and over half a million Americans — in contacting the FDA to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods?
Concerns? Inspired? Arm yourself with knowledge, improve your food literacy and sign the petition requiring the labeling of GE foods.

Have questions on GE foods? Post them here, and I'll do my best to answer you!

Must see: "The Economics of Happiness"

Weight loss, diet and exercise regime, a higher paying job...but is happiness on your list of resolutions this year? Are you happy and what really makes you happy? As you try to pinpoint the things that make you feel content, check out this amazing trailer for the documentary "The Economics of Happiness," with a full screening (**Free**) next week - Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, 2012:

From the project's site: 
The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, government and big business continue to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, all around the world people are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future. 
Both hard-hitting and inspiring, The Economics of Happiness demonstrates that millions of people across the world are engaged in building a better world – that small scale initiatives are happening on a large scale. The film shows that countless initiatives are united around a common cause: rebuilding more democratic, human scale, ecological and local economies – the foundation of an ‘economics of happiness’.
The film features a chorus of voices from six continents calling for systemic economic change, including David Korten, Bill McKibben, Vandana Shiva, Rob Hopkins, Richard, Heinberg, Juliet Schor, Michael Shuman, Helena Norberg-Hodge, and Samdhong Rinpoche - the Prime Minister of Tibet's government in exile.
A few years ago, I read the book, "The Real Wealth of Nations," by Riane Eisler and became so intrigued by her discussion on the happiness index and a caring economic system. This topic seems to be relevant in my own life, as I become engrained in local food initiatives and throw myself into the material for my master's degree in Sustainable Food Systems. A major point I've realized: localization, through the support of small business ventures (including small farms, eating locally, etc.) is a viable answer to many of our personal and economic woes. We need to feel empowered in the life we live and have more control over the inputs and outputs. (Another, somewhat related point: Cranky people don't eat enough vegetables, so that's why they're unhappy...)

Enough of my banter: Watch the trailer, spread the word and maybe view the documentary with friends next week!

The Unconsumption, Unprocessed Movement: A lesson in small + the initiatives carrying the torch

I've been giving this whole Occupy Wall Street thing some thinking, especially as a beginning farmer, someone who believes in the power of the local food movement and as a person who stands in solidarity with those everyday radicals: small producers and homemakers.

I've seen this image floating around and re-posted around the Facebook-sphere over the last few weeks. And, as of late (i.e. ever since the birth of modern partisan politics), small business owners and producers have been used as pawns by politicans in their platforms. Besides a photo-op and a well-placed anecdote in a public speech, no one really talks about the real significance behind these small businesses, because, well, it's revolutionary and, perhaps, even threatening to how we view our economy. Supporting small businesses, especially local artisanal producers, means reviving, rebuilding and supporting our rural economies and not relying on such abstract and inefficent concepts like "free market," "globalization" and other macro jargon that simply goes unquestioned. These recent protests are a wake-up call as a nation that these generally accepted theories aren't perfect, don't work and shouldn't be the norm! The scale of these long-held operations is astronomical, and as we see, things can be too big to fail.

Ok, so now that I've gone on what some people may see as a socialist rant, let's talk about solutions. One of the most powerful ways to avoid big business, big ag and whatever else gives you the corporate heebie-geebies is to go small!

If you really don't want to be part of the fledging and failed economic and social model, support your local businesses, food producers and community members. It's not a radical notion, as many people having been living this way for centuries. We've unfortunately cast aside these ideals in the name of convenience. Recently, however, we've seen a homesteading, self-sufficiency revival, closely associated with growing awareness of economic uncertainty AND people who begin to question how they want to live their lives, what we consider work and the distinctions between work and home. Yup, good ol' fashioned DIY can be a money saver, make us feel more productive, fulfilled and - *gasp* - make us happier! Happiness? In our jobs and lives? What a novel idea!

And, while I could bore you with the details of my own life (working on a farm, making almost everything from scratch and how rewarding it is, blah, blah, blah...sickening, right?!) and more of my opining, here are some incredibly cool initiatives to help you think bigger by living smaller and more simply:

Join the movement! Take the challenge!

  • October Unprocessed by Eating Rules: Ok, so, yes, I should have posted this sooner, but it's never too late to take the guidelines posted by creator Andrew Wilder in his month-long eating challenge to simplify and unclutter your diet. A month of unprocessed - and delicious - food. Can you do it? If not a month, try a week, a few weeks, etc. A day even; think about it: Thanksgiving Unprocessed? Sounds totally feasible and fun!

  • Unconsumption: A Tumblr log of all things for the forward-thinking un-consumer in all of us. Check it out for unique ways to rethink about the things in your life, new ways to repurpose and reuse them and feel inspired. What it means to the site's creators: 
Even the Unconsumption logo has a story!
Unconsumption means the accomplishment of properly recycling your old cellphone, rather than the guilt of letting it sit in a drawer. 
Unconsumption means the thrill of finding a new use for something that you were about to throw away.
Unconsumption means the pleasure of using a service like Freecycle (or Craigslist, Goodwill, or Salvation Army) to find a new home for the functioning DVD player you just replaced, rather than throwing it in the garbage. 
Unconsumption means enjoying the things you own to the fullest – not just at the moment of acquisition. 
Unconsumption means the pleasure of using a pair of sneakers until they are truly worn out – as opposed to the nagging feeling of defeat when they simply go out of style. 
Unconsumption means feeling good about the simple act of turning off the lights when you leave the room. 
Unconsumption is not about the rejection of things, or the demonization of things. It’s not a bunch of rules.
Unconsumption is an idea, a set of behaviors, a way of thinking about consumption itself from a new perspective.
Unconsumption is free.
  • Buy Handmade: If you've run out of creative steam, at least buy gifts and other items from local artisans. The products will certainly be original and you can feel good about supporting these artisans. Your local farmers' market is a great place to look as well as from those crafters listed on Etsy and Foodzie.
  • Root Simple: "Root Simple is about back to basics, DIY living, encompassing homegrown vegetables, chickens, herbs, hooch, bicycles, cultural alchemy, and common sense." In other words, a fantastic blog for newbie homesteaders. And, creators Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen are doing the DIY thing in the heart of Los Angeles, so no matter what your location, no excuses! You can homestead, too! I'm looking forward to reading their recent book "Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World" after hearing their interview on The Splendid Table:

The word "movement" can be a daunting term, and, too often, can loose steam after the next "it"-ideology comes along. But, this is something lasting. So, let's not call this homesteading/unconsumption/unprocessed thing a "movement" in hopes of making it sustainable. Let's think about it as a way to live healthier lives, consume less, cook and create more ourselves. In general, let's just try to live more simply, be and become better people, members of our community and stewards of the earth.