Permaculture proposals and tools for degrowth process in the fields of rural work and agriculture in Brazil

From the text: The defense rhetoric for unlimited economic growth uses as argument the need to create new jobs in order to increase life quality. We are in Brazil, the sixth world economy in 2011. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) celebrates the reduction of poverty in the country and thanks its “impressive economic growth” for that. A sixth of world ’ s population is undernourished, although the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) affirms that actual food production could easily feed all. We verify the same scenario in Brazil – one of the largest producers and exporters of food (grains, fruits and meat), one of greatest biodiversity and freshwater reserve of the planet has 6% of its population undernourished and 8,5% in extreme poverty. In terms of employment in rural areas, agribusiness employs in the country only 15% of the Economically Active Population (PEA), against the remaining 85% that works in family farming.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012. – no full paper available

Permaculture in Ethiopia – Community gardening, agriculture & climate adaption measures

Interview with Asmelash Dagne from the Solikon-Congress for Solidarity-based Economy and Transformation 2015 in Berlin.

From the program:
Small-holding farming and permaculture gardens have something in common: they provide their people with food and they are a self-providing or subsistance economy. Permaculture is also being used to mitigate the effects of climate change. It is helping farmers rejuvenating the soil and fight desertification.
In Ethiopia, the organisation “SMART” is teaching farmers permaculture and implements and operates a number of solar powered wells in rural Ethiopia. Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. SMART stands for Sustainable Management of Alternative and Renewable Technologies.

Asmelash Dagne is a techear and in charge of food production within the local Ethiopian NGO SMART. He is also a part of the movements Slow Food International and 10,000 Gardens in Africa.

Sustainable Communities of Practice and Ecovillages as Mediaton Tools for Degrowth Process

Poster by Mildred Gustack Delambre at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona with the title “Sustainable Communities of Practice and Ecovillages as Mediaton Tools for Degrowth Process”.

Is Sustainability Only for the Privileged?

On the Need for Collaboration Between Social Movements and Activisms. The article sheds the light on the fact that most of the people engaged in the international transition town movement are white educated middle class. It concludes that the integration of other perspectives through a facilitated “opening-up process” would make the transition town movement more inclusive.

Published on Degrowth.de on 23 May

13 Attitudes

A small booklet on 13 Attitudes of Permaculture. Text, quotes and illustrations.

Stricken im Weltraum und die globalen Krisen – der lokale Ansatz der Transition-Town-Bewegung

Protokoll des Workshops “Stricken im Weltraum und die globalen Krisen – der lokale Ansatz der Transition-Town-Bewegung” auf dem Attac-Kongress “Jenseits des Wachstums?!” in Berlin 2011.

Aus dem Programm: Nach einem kurzem Input zur Transition-Town-Bewegung und der Kiezwandler in SO36 geht es um die Frage: In welchem Zusammenhang stehen Peak-Oil, Postwachstum und globale Krisen mit dem Aufbau einer lokalen, nachhaltigen und gemeinschaftlichen Alltagskultur? Gestaltet wird der Workshop mit den Kommunikationsmethoden talk & listen, einer Zeitreise, in der es um Visionen des guten Lebens im Jahr 2036 und deren Relevanz für die Gegenwart geht, Diskussionen und Feedbackmöglichkeiten.

Terra Preta. Die schwarze Revolution aus dem Regenwald

Untertitel: Mit Klimagärtnern die Welt retten und gesunde Lebensmittel produzieren

Der Verlag: Terra Preta do Indio lautet der portugiesische Name für einen Stoff, dem man wundersame Eigenschaften zuschreibt. Die Presse überschlägt sich mit Berichten über das “Schwarze Gold”, die Wissenschaft glaubt mit der Schwarzerde aus dem Regenwald zwei der größten Menschheitsprobleme lösen zu können – den Klimawandel und die Hungerkrise. Das Gute daran: Jede(r) kann mithelfen, denn seit 2005 ist das Geheimnis um die Herstellung der Wundererde gelüftet – ein Geheimnis, welches mit dem Niedergang der einstmals blühenden Indianerkulturen Amazoniens verloren zu gehen schien. Die Rezeptur mutet dabei erstaunlich einfach an, denn mehr als Küchen- oder Gartenabfälle, Holzkohle und Regenwürmer sind nicht nötig – Terra Preta ist somit auf jedem Balkon und in jedem Kleingarten herstellbar.
Das Autorentrio Scheub, Pieplow und Schmidt hat sich auf Schatzsuche begeben und das Wissen um die fruchtbarste Erde der Welt in einem kundigen Führer zusammengetragen. Neben einer fundierten Gebrauchsanweisung zur Herstellung von Terra Preta und Biokohle (biochar) informiert das Handbuch über die Grundprinzipien von Klimafarming und Kreislaufwirtschaft. Es ist ein flammendes Plädoyer gegen Kunstdünger und Gentechnik und ein unerlässlicher Ratgeber für alle, denen gesunde Lebensmittel am Herzen liegen.

ISBN: 978-3-86581-407-4

Introducing Permaculture to Economic Ecosystems – the Integrative Analysis Method

Abstract: This paper explores new ways of applying ecological knowledge to solve economic problems in a manner that suits the complexity of society and environmental challenges. This is done by developing the integrative analysis method. The integrative analysis uses systems ecology in order to characterize economic systems with their energetic properties and model them as ecosystems. This makes it possible to assess them with the design principles of permaculture, a resourceful discipline of ecological engineering. Through a process that adopts the main characteristics of the “Soft Systems Methodology” incremental changes can be found to make economies increasingly resemble the natural functioning of healthy and stable ecosystems. This way the integrative analysis makes it possible to enhance economic strategies with integrated solutions for a widened problem scope. As a consequence, single problem interventions also address the far-reaching environmental and social challenges of declining resource and energy supply.

the potential of permaculture teachers as change agents for a sustainable modernity

Abstract: Subject of this paper is to analyse the potential of permaculture teachers as change agents for a sustainable modernity. The theoretical basis of the work is the change agent approach by KRISTOF (2010). Permaculture is presented as a sustainable design approach. The change agent approach is used as a framework. The methodology consists of qualitative interviews with teachers and students of permaculture. The survey was exploratory and semi-structured with the aid of a questionnaire. The evaluation of eleven qualitative interviews leads to the conclusion that the teachers meet the criteria of change agents in various ways. The lived culture of change makes permaculture special. Areas where permaculture comes to life in Germany are still scarce, but their visibility can be increased. Especially in connection with the community of permaculture, as a community of practice, the teachers have great potential to act as change agents for a sustainable modernity.

Discussion of the new Portuguese sustainability experiences

Abstract: The work aims to present the general aspects of a recently started postdoctoral research project at the Research Centre in Sociological and Organizational Sociology (SOCIUS) and the Centre for Social Studies (CES), Portugal. Some empirical data is from the research project Communication and Political Engagement with Environmental Issues – COMPOLIS (I am part of the project research team).

Money and Freedom in the view of Polanyis Great Transformation: Decommodification by constituting alternative monetary institutions

Abstract: This paper focuses, first, on successfully best-practice-cases of alternative monetary systems introduced by so called Transitions Initiatives; as well know as Transition Towns/Networks. Second, the paper is keen to highlight different possible features of alternative monetary constitutions to empower communities to emancipate individually and to organize collectively bottom-up a transition process towards a permacultural-circular-flow-economy. The third endeavor of this paper is to discuss the potential of a complementary monetary institutions established within social movements as mean to decommodificate resources, and to set up a self-organized new market mechanism coupled to the social needs of a free and pluralistic society and the reproductive bio-capacity of the nature. The paper considers the institution of money not only as mean of information to distribute and clear market produce efficiently, but also as mean of free political participations, mean of free social-bondings (e.g. in terms of ‚co-creation’) and eventually a mean of information with regard to free individual behavior as fundamental cultural driver to form new normative orders for conviviality (‚buen vivir‘).

Money and Freedom in the view of Polanyis Great Transformation: Decommodification by constituting alternative monetary systems

Abstract: The paper focuses first on successfully best-practice cases of alternative monetary systems introduced by so called Transitions Initiatives. Second, the paper is keen to assess different possible attributes of an alternative monetary constitution to empower communities to emancipate individually and organize collectively bottom-up a transition process towards a permacultural non-growth local economy (i.e. stationary economy in terms of Herman Daly). The third endeavor of this paper is to discuss the potential of a complementary monetary system within social movements as mean to decommodificate resources, and to set up a self-organized new market mechanism coupled to the social needs of a free and pluralistic society and the reproductive bio-capacity of the nature. The paper considers the institution of money not only as mean of information to distribute and clear market produce, but also as mean of political participation, mean of social bonding (e.g. in terms of collaborative-production) and eventually a mean of information with regard to individual behavior as cultural driver to form new normative orders for conviviality.

Bridging the gap of less sustainable lifestyles in society – members of permaculture coined communities and their role as change agents towards the Great Transition

Abstract: Main topic of this paper is to analyse the potential for members of communities which are coined by permaculture principles regarding their role as change agents towards the Great Transformation (WBGU, 2011). As basis framework provides the change agents theory by KRISTOF (2010). Permaculture is a holistic way to support nature’s flows and cycles with the aim to gain a yield from the abundance. The methodology consists of qualitative interviews with members of different German based initiatives such as eco-villages, transition town initiatives and the PermaKulturRaum which is a student project at the University of Göttingen. The applied survey is exploratory and semi-structured with the aid of a questionnaire. All three focus groups are hot spots for innovative ideas regarding sustainable lifestyles. First hints are very promising and leading to the impression that people involved with these groups meet the factors of being change agents to a high rate. Keywords: eco-villages, permaculture, transition towns, change agents, PermaKulturRaum