The conference is presented by Black Urban Growers (BUGS), an alliance of predominately Black urban farmers and gardeners, food activists and allies united in rebuilding our community wealth and health by reconnecting to the land and our traditional roles as agriculturalists and environmental stewards.
Dr. White is Assistant Professor of Environmental Justicein the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and President of the Board of Directors of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.
Ben Burkett is President of the National Family Farm Coalition. Ben managed the Mississippi Indian Springs Farmers Cooperative Association for 16 years. He is a farmer and a community activist who represents NFFC on La Via Campesina Food Sovereignty Comission and is a board member of the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC). He has traveled to Senegal, South Africa, Kenya, Nicaragua, Lebanon, and Zimbabwe with FSC, exchanging knowledge and information with small-scale farmers. He in turn hosted West African honey, rice and vegetable producers who visited the United States to learn irrigation, marketing and packaging techniques from African American farmers.
Together, the conference should be extremely lively and informative. Remember, under the current plans, Americans are expected to one day pay up to 75% of their monthly earnings on food.
Many people give up their dreams for lack of knowledge. Not only is there money out there to assist you in learning how to farm, but there’s also grant money to train you how to operate (not buy) farm equipment, raise organic crops, and even buy seed and livestock. The average age of the American farmer is 55, but regardless of your age, new farmers are needed.
While traditional farming is labor intensive, there are many ways to enjoy growing food, experiencing the natural rhythms of the land, and the life cycle of healthy, well-cared for animals other than over-burdening yourself beyond your limits. I’m more of a “Large Gardener” than I am a farmer. I don’t have to “farm” for a living. I grow only what I want to grow. I enjoy the land and watching nature work her wonders. I enjoy raising chickens, and facing my fears around touching, and caring for livestock. A grand, empowering feeling comes over me when I sit in the seat of a John Deere tractor, raise the front bucket, and scoop up a load of fresh organic compost that I know is rich and healthy, and that will nourish healthy, large, great tasting vegetables.
So it’s wonderful to YouTube a SARE.org video and learn something new about plant production. SARE Grants come under USDA funding and are intended to fund innovative ideas that demonstrate new sustainable techniques that enrich the lives of farmers and the communities they live in. SARE assists with farmer development, education, and increased agriculture profits turning that otherwise would have ended up only as a forsaken dream.
When I listen to various “experts” discuss Geo-political economical future health, much of our problems as Americans and the problems throughout the world still comes down to the sad issue of Europe/European-Americans still want it all.
Nationalism throughout Chinese Diaspora (Southeast Asia included) and Japan fit neatly into the problem. It really looks like much of the problem would be solved if the greedy people at the top changed their racist, classist core believes and tactics, and actually set more people free to generate more business and wealth.
This may not happen until the United States begins to feel the stress it has been sheltered from. At that point:
“If everything is bad… the least bad will start to look really attractive.”
This means ideal goals NOW should be:
1.) For America to start truly giving good education to all of it’s citizens
2.) The U.S. propaganda machine needs to begin pulling people together instead of apart
3.) If money will go where toward resilience and away from emerging fragility, then it behooves us… the average Joe’s and Jane’s… to become more resilient by cutting overhead, bonding together in small groups (co-ops and intentional communities) that are designed to share wealth, create economic and mental stability.
4.) Perhaps more average and poor Americans need to begin thinking “globally” (in terms of who to do business with) and acting FAR MORE locally?
Okay, we’ve spent years discussing why the world is so fucked up. What is the nature of the fucked up-ness… it’s size and scope. After a while, it becomes counter-productive… an exercise in negativity. It deters us from the quality of life we can have, erodes the self-esteem and slowly opens us up to depressive mind states, or worst, nihilism. And this… is only one of many negative outcomes. Worst yet, we give energy to the Matrix we wish to extract ourselves from.
I’m so glad to occasionally stumble upon …. solutions!
Here’s an awesome video filled with thoughts on increasing the quality of your life through of all things… Permaculture.
We’ve been in Globalization for a while now, but the past five years have sealed it. When looking at all the stressors of urban life… too many rats packed into cages, meaningless competition, crime, racism, high cost of living, lousy availability of good food choices… it’s logical to look for other choices. Many African Americans have opted to move to the suburbs at almost alarming rates.
Suburbia is where whites fled to get away from blacks. Poverty has not only increased in urban America, but in Suburban America too. With it, alcoholism and drug abuse has increased in both. So why… WHY… move to suburbia? If you’re of a certain age demographic and your employment is tied to inner cities, then it’s a natural choice. But mainly people fear detaching from the nightlife and the familiarity of cities.
It’s past time to change.
Long term survival for blacks now looks best if you:
a.) Have your own piece of land (two or more acres)
b.) Own your own business
Who isn’t tired of the “looking for a job” game?
It’s time to explore MAKING a job. It’s said that “Every problem is an opportunity in work clothes.” Most people are conditioned to fall down on the sofa and cry about this or that problem… like complaining is going to fix anything. Most of the problems that face Black America are designed with the hope that we’ll give up… or worse… feed the very dysfunctional egos that created those problems. (I won’t get into “Power Addiction” and the inner void that fuels it right yet. But if you’re interested, YouTube Dr. Gabor Mate‘s video on Power Addiction.)
For the ordinary person, moving to an area where you can be near an urban center but replace the ills of “Suburbia” with the more natural, healthier choice of “Rural.” I’ve used, “www.city-data.com” for years. it’s one of many websites filled with demographics and information about practically any place you’re curious of moving to. Gone are the days when we could find the grass is greener. But what we now have is even better… all the tools laying around those over-grown properties you’ll need to create whatever NURTURING lifestyle you dream of. All it takes is curiosity…. everything else will flow out from that.
We entered the present “Transformational Era” five years ago. Massive change—Generation Flux. So in this vast interconnected global time, with over a billion Smart Phones, our body-minds are having difficulty keeping up with all the information and change. Robb Smith discusses the very near future complexities … who will win and who will fail.
1. We WILL be a single society of 7 Billion people
2. Three in Four adults currently feel overwhelmed with increasing demands
3. One in TWO adults will have a chronic disease within 7 years
4. With overload, simplicity will be a necessity to survive
5. Learn from the different perspectives instead of getting insulted”
6. There will need to be a shift from, “scared to sacred”
7. Exceptionalism is NOT the new average… you must be your unique self
8. CEOs have the lowest emotional literacy… this will be a “FAIL” by 2020
9. Those without empathy will experience increased mental, physical, and economic problems…
So what does ‘Transformational’ mean? It means to change the shape of. What’s changing? EVERYTHING.” ~Robb Smith