A Black Agriculture Secretary??

1910 was the peak year of land ownership for African Americans. Collectively, blacks own over 15 million acres of land of which  US-POLITICS/OBAMA218,000 black farmers are full or part owners. A steady decline of landownership begins after 1910.

[Click here to read The Federation of Southern Cooperatives timeline]

The idea of undoing the many years of backroom deals that robbed blacks of their land is not simply a notion of justice. It’s a matter of wholeness. Not just for African Americans… but for whites … and … for all of us.

Each year, singers like Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Kenny Chesney perform for white farmers (Farm Aid) who lost or are in danger of losing their land.  How much of that land was formerly held by black farmers is not the question. I mention them because during my trucking through the South I heard from blacks who used to pick cotton in some of those fields.

Apparently, in their opinion, when minimum wage came into law, many white farmers refused to pay blacks “that much money.” So they invested in huge combines, larger tractors and other farm equipment to replace the African Americans who historically worked the fields. Then when they discovered they were over invested couldn’t keep up the payments to the banks loans and subsequently… they either reached across the Mexican border and found even cheaper labor, or were too in dept, and lost the family farm. All those dollars spent on  mega-machinery in the effort to both make a profit and deny blacks from improving their economic lots appears to have created a karma that was inescapable. Then, like small-minded crooks, in efforts to make up for all the lost, each year more small black farmers were targeted for their lands, and huge, mega corporate farms were created … hurting the smaller white farmers even more.

[NOTE: Does volunteering their time and talents to raise money for Farm Aid make the afore mentioned recording artist racist? Not when the lineup also includes artists like Neil Young, and Dave Matthews, and Arlo Guthrie.]

The agenda to correct the wrongs done to black farmers is not a vendetta against white farmers … nor Hispanic nor Asian farmers. It’s more a matter of finally doing the right thing allowing the turning of the page so entire new chapters can be written.

The very idea that President-Elect Obama is considering a black man for the Secretary of Agriculture, is an awesome sign that America is emerging from the dark shadow of “Good ‘Ol Boy-ism” that has plagued its heart, stifled its creativity, and literally, driven the economy into the ground. (Any time the mega American automobile industry is on its back, gasping for what may be its last breath, YOU KNOW creativity and innovation left the room a very long time ago.)

John Boyd, isn’t just a black political token available to fill this very important position. Mr. Boyd has been an advocate for the fair treatment of black farmers for over three decades. He is credited with building up the National Black Farmers Association  (NBFA) to a membership of 94,000.

To read more on who he is and how he did all this, click here: (NBFA)


Vallejo Woman Saves Thousands In Georgia

Her father had been ill. She’d bought a house for him to live in here in laranablu1California. Then the downsizing began. The next purchase was an 800 sq ft 2 bedroom loft in the San Francisco Bay Area. But her desire to lower her over-head so that she could devote precious time to all the projects she dreamed of doing continued.  So eventually she sold every thing, bought 30 acres of RAW land in the deep south (Georgia—between Warner-Robbins and Macon) and in a few months ago, moved into an idea she calls an ecologically centered Convertible Community.

The World Help Training Center is currently working on residential housing and agricultural planning in advance of the 2009 spring planting season,” writes LaRahana Huges on the Intentional Community that already has 30 lots slotted for the next Katrina-like disaster. She and 9 other equity partners (each of them purchased $2500 of equity input) now live on the land, and are TOGETHER, pioneering a black Intentional Community that frees them from all the constraints modern urban living straps us with.

So now, she has “downsized” to the point of freedom. She has paid for the land she’s on. With the money added by the other equity partners, her ongoing living cost is about $100 a month. Did you get that? All she has to earn … is ONE HUNDRED (“100”) DOLLARS a month, plus food cost (until the land is producing this summer) and fuel to live. If you were LaRahana, and you’re a writer, artist, farmer … you would now have time and energy to work on the main dreams and pursuits you have in life.

But basic ongoing costs (for the land) $100….ONE HUNDREN DOLLARS. That alone is freeing. The equity contribution ensures we can install the complete infrastructure, wells, septic, power and provide food and living expense stipends for 6 months. After that…$100 is what i need to spend time earning. I have no water bill. I have no electric bill….My life changes when I can decide how to use all of my time for things that are vitally important to me, rather than chasing dollars for someone else to maintain an illusion that will never be satisfying. I don’t mean to get on a rant, but that to me is HUGE.

Freeing up my life so that I own it ALL, every hour of the day is like early retirement! And that is life changing. Being able to live doing the things I want to do, which happen to be growing stuff and planning stuff and writing stuff…..is the reality of my new adventurous life.

But the move is not without “pain.” She speaks about the pain of letting go of the old so that she can fully enjoy the new involves “pushing through the fear and the pain … which is really is a good thing! It’s critical to learn how to keep moving long until the clearing occurs. Being able to look back to tell others that to venture out and get on this road is a awesomely beautiful gift…to be able to tell them that there IS a clearing ahead is vital. It really does feel like pioneering, except its not uncharted land, but it is a new society emerging!”

So … there it is. LaRahana Huges, former Vallejo resident, is saving thousands in Southern Georgia. Thousands of dollars … and one day … thousands of people. Good on ya LaRahana Huges. Proud of that girl. Check out her Mission Statement. Who knows … you might even want to join them.

LaRahna’s Links

The Open Toolbox

The Mad Houser’s Group

Food Not Bombs

Other Links:
Hetep Land Project

Happier Abroad

The Blue Goose Community

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

Tribes is a short book that explodes with big ideas. Best selling author Seth Godin argues powerful and tribes-booklasting change can be best be created by a “tribe.” Godin’s premise is that top-down, un-yielding organizations led by CEO’s (or “Kings”) can be out-maneuvered by sleek, motivated little people connected together by an idea, a movement, or an improved product. Like-minded “smart innovators” can use tools like the Internet to quickly attract more like-minded people … if they act consistently and quickly. (For example look at the recent success of President-Elect Obama’s campaign. He sidetracked the big guys and unleashed the power of the powerless and, BaM! Change really did happen.)

The Civil Rights Movement illustrated how black and Working Class people can out-power a Super Power if given an idea they can believe in, and simple tools to take the ball and run with it themselves. But the 60s also showed us how entire movements can be killed when the single charismatic leader is shot down.

White supremacist groups also learned the same lessons when in the 80s, they created, “Cells” … small groups of people united under an idea and armed with simple doctrines, duplicated themselves all over the nation. Like bees in a hive, they needed no visible leader, counsel, or governing body to enlist members, raise money, buy property and equipment, and successfully market their ideas. Bad ideas maybe … but successful marketing.

Godin says that Tribes can be inside or outside a corporation, and almost everyone can be a leader. “Most people are kept from realizing their potential by fear of criticism and fear of being wrong.” (Sound familiar?) Like a school-yard bully delivering blows to the head of a squealing nerd, ideas and messages erupt from the pages, motivating the reader and stimulating change simultaneously. Any and everyone can be leaders in the tribe. The tribes success is its openness. I imagine there are potentially all shapes, sizes and types of tribes. Their effectiveness have already been shown. The entire top-down, un-yielding culture of the Pentagon was changed my one, low-level, powerless guy after 9/11.

  • The Green Movement is on the runway.
  • People are yearning to either start their own businesses.
  • Intentional Communities are springing up all over the world, contradicting modern alienation and creating safe places for people to live together while “watching each other’s backs.
  • Many of us want to move out to the country … are stopped by fears over how we’ll make a living and who’ll be our friends when we get there.

As a truck driver I’ve talked with people from The Carolinas to Yakima, Washington. Blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans … all yearning for something different. Many young people realize that chasing that same old-dried out carrot is futile and Baby Boomers are just plain tired of it. No, not everyone wants something different, but like Tribes states … you don’t NEED everybody. Just a few like-minded people to work with on the road to creating your happy destiny.

Visit Seth Godin online and find out about his books, download his free eBooks, and subscribe to his informative blogs. In short, join the community!