Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Forest of a Million Trees

Here's a music-video I made from a song I wrote called  "Forest of a Million Trees". If each of us acts in ways to care for each other, and the Earth, our collective action can make a huge difference. Llyn

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Eating Less Meat Could Double the World's Food Supply

Harvest from the Sharing Gardens
"An infographic illustrated by grocery delivery program Door To Door Organics, found that Americans eat at least 12 ounces of meat per day, almost 50 per cent more than the recommend daily amount. Producing meat not only requires space and resources to raise animals, but a lot of water to grow crops. In fact, a study from 2011 found that eating less meat could double the world's food supply."
 To read the full post on Huffington Post - Canada, follow this LINK - Vegetarian Diet: Scientists Predict The World's Population Will Become Vegetarian By 2050

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sharing Gardens Around the World

Sharing Gardens are growing -- around the world!
Sometimes Chris and I feel our faith weakening. We witness the enormity of the world's problems and wonder how our little project can even begin to make a difference. But then we'll hear of others who are implementing similar projects in other parts of the country, or around the world, and our spirits are lifted. This post features two of the many projects we've heard of in recent times. We hope their stories will lift your spirits as well.

Back around the New Year of 2012 we received a beautiful email from a young man in the Philippines, named Rey Mendoza. He had seen our Peak Moment video interview (LINK) and was inspired by our project. Faced with many similar challenges to those we experience here in the U.S., such as toxic agri-business farming practices, poor nutrition choices amongst people who just don't know any better, and a feeling of disconnect--a loss of community, Rey decided to start a Sharing Garden.

The joys of gardening start young.
Our email conversations have been rich in content and the teaching/learning goes both ways. We have sent along encouragement and tips on how to develop himself as a leader and teacher, and he has been educating us about his country. Once a lush and varied landscape of tropical fruits, now the most fertile lands have been cleared and planted with crops of bananas, pineapples and other high-demand fruits that are exported to feed people in wealthier countries. Because the farmers use modern practices of farming that use lots of chemicals, and don't replace the organic matter that comes with constant harvesting, their soil is being depleted and the ground-water polluted. Many Filipino farmers have been sold on the idea of chemical farming which, in the first few years, yields a surplus of produce. What they were never told is that their crops then become dependent on the chemicals and, after a few years, their yields steadily decline. They must apply more and more expensive chemicals and they get fewer and fewer returns for their money. Even though the majority of Filipino bananas go to Japan, this story is repeated in any tropical country that exports its fruit to America. This is why it is so important for consumers in America to insist on, and only buy, organic produce. Not only will we be eating healthier ourselves (without chemical residues in our food) but we will have a positive impact in the countries where the food is grown for export.
Bread Homes Sharing Gardens involves many children.
Though English is his second language, Rey writes beautifully. It is inspiring to read of his persistence in bringing his vision for a garden and community-center to life. Here is a link to his blog: Bread Home Sharing Gardens
Bread Home Sharing Gardens is a volunteer-run community gardening project in Davao City, Philippines open to people of all ages which practices and promotes an organic model of producing food and medicine. It also aims to educate and inspire others while building a community based on caring and empathy that will uphold the principle of sharing not only food and resources but also skills, knowledge, and other important things in life.
Back in January, when we first "met" Rey, we sent him a box of seeds. We researched the vegetables that we grow here that would also grow in his climate and shared extensively from our seed-bank. Most of the seeds we sent were ones we'd saved ourselves. We encouraged him to reach out to his community, as we have, to find materials and tools he could divert from the waste-stream. It was eye-opening to realize that, as an island, and with many people living in poverty, there really isn't much of a waste-stream. Everything that can be re-used, is re-used. For this reason we would like to appeal to the circle of people who read these posts. If you feel moved to support this worthy and inspiring project, we ask you to send a donation to us and we will forward it all to Rey and the Bread Homes Sharing Gardens.

Potatoes given out at San Francisco's Free Farm Stand
Closer to home, in the heart of San Francisco we have an example of a "Sharing"-type garden and gleaning project that thrives in an urban setting. The Free Farm and Free Farm Stand are the projects of a man who goes by the name of Tree. Tree was inspired by the "Diggers" in the Haight Ashbury District of San Francisco back in the 60's and 70's. The Diggers were known for giving away free food on the streets. They opened "stores" which simply gave away their stock: food, clothing and household items. Their clinics provided free medical care and the Diggers also helped people  who were in need of transportation and temporary living-shelter. The original Diggers were a group of displaced farmers in England during the mid-1600's who attempted to reclaim the Commons (land not owned by private individuals) to give access to food and housing to the poor of England. (LINK to Wiki article on the Diggers.)

The Free Farm is a garden started on land loaned by St. Paulus Church in San Francisco. Volunteers grow and harvest the produce while learning organic gardening techniques; much as we do at the Monroe Sharing Gardens. The food that is harvested, along with surplus from the local farmer's markets and produce gleaned in the city and from surrounding farms, is all brought to a public park and distributed weekly, free of charge, to any who come. In a recent email, Tree wrote to us, "Our project is similar to yours in that I am really trying to do more than just give free food away...I am trying to create a network of neighbors growing food and sharing their surplus with those in need."

San Fran's Free Farm Stand gives away food gleaned and grown in the Bay Area.
The Free Farm has been given notice that they may need to relocate from their current site. Here is a video from two women, Tash and Anna (students of the Academy of Art University) who have  been making a documentary, over a number of months, about the Free Farm. Tree said (on his own site) "I am posting it here because it is really great and it gets our philosophy down pat! The two women have an ending to the video which is what they thought "a call to action" should be. I think it is a bit premature as we actually have two to three years before we may have to move. The property we are on is owned by St. Paulus Church who is generously allowing us to grow food here to give away and we are a resurrection of their church that was here and burned down in 1995." Much could happen before the moving deadline arrives, so the urgency expressed in the video may be premature. But, if you live in the Bay Area - The Free Farm and Free Farm Stand could always use more volunteers.  Here is a LINK to the video. A LINK to the Free Farm blog and a LINK to the Free Farm Stand blog.

Monroe Sharing Garden - July 6, 2012
These projects are just two of the many we have heard of cropping up. It seems that people around the world are seeing the importance of learning to grow food without the use of harmful chemicals and are yearning for a connection with their neighbors. The urge to be generous towards those who are in need is one that needs cultivation wherever it springs up. It is good to know that these projects are taking root in cities, in rural areas and in other parts of the world as well.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
Here are links to other posts we've previously written about garden-sharing projects:

The Generous Garden Project in South Carolina, USA
Todmorden, England - a whole village working towards food self-sufficiency.

Yes we can grow celery here. Monroe, Oregon 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Radical Sharing - a conversation

By Llyn Peabody

A few days ago, Chris and I attended a conference entitled "Community and Bioregional Resilience" sponsored by the Co-Intelligence Institute. The conference was organized in the manner of open space technology. This meant that, whoever had a passion for their topic, they could host a discussion on it and others who shared that passion could join in. The topic we presented on was
"Radical Sharing" --  a system of distributing goods and services that allows for the free flow of the wealth of the community so that all members are able to get their needs met, and no individuals amass more than their share. 
It is based on the idea of "giving without thought of receiving." In this, it goes far beyond buying and selling, barter or accounting of any kind. What follows is a summary of the notes we took during our session and some relevant links for people who wish to pursue these topics further.

Radical Sharing as an expression of spiritual truths:
Radical Sharing is based on the metaphysical belief that we are "all one". This is true for the human family, as well as our place within the natural environment that sustains us. When we feel safe to feel this deep oneness, we are more inclined to act altruistically because we realize that when we "give", we are giving to our selves.

What we focus on expands and the 'outer' reflects the 'inner': As we focus on an inner awareness of our oneness with each other, this naturally shows up in the world "outside" of us. External experiences of this "oneness" reinforce the inner consciousness. This is why it is so important to couple our inner-practice of cultivating a sense of oneness, with actual experiences of it in our day to day encounters.

Most of us are fighting the system with one hand and feeding it with the other. Until we have viable models for alternatives, we will probably just keep on doing what we've always done. The silver lining in the dire world-circumstances in which we find ourselves is that we may finally have motivation strong enough to catalyze us into making the radical changes needed to bridge into a world that works for all.

What follows are several examples of projects that are on the ground, or will be shortly, that are providing people access to the joys of sharing.

Kindista Kindista is a new kind of social network - like Facebook, that facilitates the Gift Economy. People record when they have "gifted" someone and others can track the flow of generosity within their own social circles and beyond. Kindista is based upon the idea that being witnessed, and experiencing others' gratitude are important parts of keeping the gifting-flow alive and thriving. Eamon Walker - a software designer, is using his talents to create this custom social network as the "off-the-shelf" programs had limitations that needed to be transcended.As of this writing, Kindista has not yet been launched but you can register your email and be informed when the project is ready for participation.

Designing for Generosity In this Tedx Talk, Nipun Mehta speaks simply and eloquently about the inherent goodness in people and the joyous feelings of satisfaction that come through giving generously without thought of receiving.  When you watch this video, it is not so difficult to imagine a world transformed through simple acts of kindness.

ServiceSpace: ServiceSpace is an all volunteer-run organization that leverages technology to inspire greater volunteerism. It's a space to explore our own relationship with service and our interconnection with the rest of the world. ServiceSpace allows our inherent generosity to blossom out into small acts of service for the community around us. It's a space to learn how outer change is closely tied to our own inner transformation. It's about changing ourselves, to change the world. There are many aspects to ServiceSpace. Two of our favorites are: Daily Good - a daily or weekly newsletter delivered to your email inbox that features articles and links to sites focused on all the amazing 'good' being done in the world; a healthy balance to all the "negative" news that so dominates the media. We also enjoy KarmaTube that lists hundreds of videos that also focus on a positive, inspirational theme and showcase "feel-good" projects around the world. You can sign up to have their featured video emailed to you each week.

Sharing Gardens - Most people are familiar with the typical model of community gardening: multiple, separate plots, rented by individual gardeners or families,  in which each person grows and harvests their own produce. In a Sharing Garden, the crops are grown collectively. The funds, materials, and the water are donated, and participants come together one to three times a week to grow the food. Everyone shares in the harvest, the joys of learning to grow food together, and a genuine sense of community through joining in this meaningful activity.  The extensive surplus is donated to people in need (through food banks and other charities.) No one is ever charged money for the food that is grown. 
Sharing Gardens create meaningful activity that builds true bonds of family/neighborhood that can be drawn on in times of strife. They provide a perfect medium for us to look at our fears about sharing and to move through them. Click on the link to learn about this grass-roots project entering its fourth year in Alpine/Monroe, Oregon.

Full Circle Family Here you will find a vision for a Radical Sharing community based on the principle and practice of "giving without thought of receiving". Members hold all things in common and care for each other and the Earth-community through acts of service because they believe that all people are members of one human family and that the solutions to the world's many woes come through taking our place as members in the larger family of the natural world.

Here are some random comments and observations on Radical Sharing and the Gift Economy that were raised during our OpenSpace conversation. We offer them without comment, as seeds to further exploration:
  • Giving precipitates receiving/nature abhors a vacuum.
  • Gandhi quote, “There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” For a comprehensive list of other great Gandhi quotes, click here.
  • Altruism is inherent in human nature.
  • A true gift is one that fulfills an actual "want" or "need". How many of us have received gifts that were based, not on what would fulfill us but as an expression primarily of the giver's values and agenda. 
  • People are often afraid to say "no"; money becomes a tool for blocking intimacy. It is easier to say, "I don't have the money," than to say, "I don't want what you are offering."
  • When people's social needs are not being met, they try to fill with material goods.
  • For a deep look at the fractional reserve banking system, it's history and how it works - important to be educated about the forces working towards a consolidation of wealth and power. Link to "Money Masters" - the video 
  • Instead of focusing on what you're not getting (victim consciousness), shift to "What can I give?" An under-employed member of our conversation felt depressed until he realized that he had more time for giving/volunteering. On a national level - underemployed youth (30% unemployed) and others - tremendous untapped energy to put toward common good. The Civilian Conservation Corp serves as a strong previous example - but now it's time to move beyond government as catalyst/solution.
  • Organs work together in a body - not bartering for a deal (I'll pump your blood if you filter/clean it. As we take our place in the larger community of the natural world we will naturally find a balance of giving/receiving.
  • We have lost the sense that we are everything. Most acquisition comes out of the desire to re-find our connection with the natural world.
  • Earth is our mother - We would never think of owning different parts of our mother's body (I get the thumb, you get the arms). So too, the Earth is our body - as we come to feel and know this at a deep level, laws protecting rainforests, wetlands, air etc will no longer be necessary as we do not need laws to prevent people from destroying their own lungs, heart and digestive systems...(or do we?)
  • Animals/plants all give and receive without accounting
  • Here is a Link to a post by a friend, Kim, who also attended the openSpace conference. It's called "Baby Steps into the Gift Economy". He shares some important insights.
  • Here is a link to an amazing movie called "I Am". It is one of the few that, in addition to looking squarely at the challenges we are facing, offers plausible, scientifically and spiritually-based solutions. One of the concepts it introduces is a definition of insanity: "anyone owning more than they need."

"Even after all this time
the sun never says to the earth, "You owe Me."
Look what happens with a love like that,
It lights up the Whole Sky.
-Hafiz (a Persian poet of the 1300's)