the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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community economies

The Community Economies Collective (CEC) and the Community Economies Research Network (CERN) are international collaborative networks of researchers who share an interest in theorizing, discussing, representing and ultimately enacting new visions of economy. By making multiple forms of economic life viable options for action, these diverse, engaged scholarly and activist efforts aim to open the economy to ethical debate and provide a space within which to explore different economic practices and pathways.

These projects grew out of J.K. Gibson-Graham’s feminist critique of political economy that focused upon the limiting effects of representing economies as dominantly capitalist. Central to the project is the idea that economies are always diverse and always in the process of becoming. CERN and CEC developed as ways of connecting and coordinating the work of researchers and activists who document and theorize the multiple ways in which people are making economies of difference and in the process realizing their interdependence with others.

Our work aims to

  • produce a more inclusive understanding of economy
  • highlight the extent and contribution of hidden and alternative economies
  • theorize economy and community as sites of becoming
  • build sustainable non-capitalist economic alternatives
  • foster ethical economic experimentation
  • engender collaborations between activists, academics and communities

To check out their awesome collection of publications (or their website) click HERE!

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virginia farmers share their stories

Earlier this year, The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition sat down with the owners of five farms across Virginia to talk with them about their enterprises. They asked them how they got started in farming, where they sell their products, how they handle their labor, and so much more! These conversations were recorded for the purpose of creating videos that will help you learn more about your fellow Virginia farmers while learning valuable information that may help you in your own enterprise. The five farms that will be featured in these videos include:

  • Bellair Farm (Charlottesville)
  • Porcello Farm (Charlottesville)
  • Agriberry Farm (Hanover)
  • Amy’s Garden (Charles City)
  • Browntown Farms (Warfield)

Over the next few months, The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition will be releasing a new video to our YouTube channel every week to share their stories with you.

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photosynq: open source platform for collaborative problem solving


“PhotosynQ is an open source software and sensor platform where communities can identify, research, and implement new methods to solve their local problems. Our initial focus is on agriculture, where we’re bringing together researchers, extension, crop consultants, and farmers to develop precision ag solutions in markets largely ignored by ‘big ag’ (small farms, niche crops, developing world markets, etc.). Examples include sensor-based methods for early identification of disease, mid-season prediction of yield, evaluating soil quality, and many others.

Our perspective is that sharing data simply isn’t enough – data quality is paramount to produce results that actually matter. Data must be collected using consistent methods, comparable devices, with strategies to identify outliers. Even with all that in place, the community has to have the skills to collect, analyze, and interpret the data correctly with minimal mistakes. At the same time, every project’s data needs are different – different methods, devices, methods of analysis, etc. While consistency and flexibility seem at odds, we’ve worked hard to make a platform in which they both exist, and scaling from new user to a developer is relatively easy. Unlike Xively or other streaming IoT data sites, we’re not trying to be the solution to every IoT problem. If you’re trying to track the temperature in your garage, we’re probably not what you’re looking for. If you’re trying to collaborate across a community, solve a complex problem, and develop a sensor-enabled solution… we’re worth checking out.

Go to for more. Hope to see you there!”

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eat less water; eat dry farmed grain


(excerpt from Eat Less Water chapter Wheat and Water)

December 31, 2011

I followed the rain clouds along the two-lane road leading to With the Grain farm. On a slope above the wheat fields was a small house, home to John DeRosier, his wife Leaf and teenage son Noah. Near the house stood a barn stripped of paint from decades of sun and rain. It was charming. John’s big dog, his only companion on most days, joined us.

Among the gentle slopes of Paso Robles, John’s farm is an anomaly. Lines of grapevines squeeze his farm from every direction. Neighboring vineyards rely on continuous sips from wells that act like big straws, slurping up water from the aquifer for irrigation. John’s well, dug 300 feet deep, maintains the same level as when it was drilled six decades earlier. Surrounding vineyards are drilling 1,000 feet beneath the surface to find water. Wells are being drilled deeper and deeper, a sign that water is being extracted faster than it is replenished.

The summers reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Rain was imminent on the spring day I visited, but this part of the valley receives an average of only six inches of water a year, mostly in the winter months. This is less rainfall than the desert city of Phoenix, Arizona. Rain-fed crops need annual rainfall of ten inches or more; and less, and ordinarily the wheat farmer must irrigate. A common choice is flood irrigation that turns rows of wheat into straight, shallow rivers. It’s the cheapest method of irrigation (as long as the price of water remains low), but it has the highest rate of water loss through runoff and evaporation.

“You don’t irrigate your crops even in the dry months?” I asked John.

read on here…

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we are all flint


The same forces that have made the Flint disaster possible are the same ones
that are bent on privatizing public water supplies and preventing a just
resolution to the growing world climate disaster.

The following is an excerpt from a Statement from SxSW Experiment about the water crisis in Flint, MI. The experiment is a powerful grassroots coalition of Latino, African American, and low income communities hailing from the American South and Southwest and working to incur racial and socio-economic justice in their regions and across the country. (Sidenote: Their website contains a wealth of amazing resources and information for social justice activism.)

Read the entirety of “We are All Flint” here.

There is another critical question: How do we address the infrastructure
crisis throughout the United States? As in Flint, this issue
disproportionately burdens communities of people of color and of
low-wealth. This is not simply a question of failure of public
investment. It reflects a deep structural problem that threatens to
create future public health disasters.

The deeper message of Flint goes beyond the dangers of human error or
even negligence, and beyond the actions of state governments that would
facilitate the impoverishment of our people. It is about a crisis in the
U.S. that threatens the lives and well-being of a growing majority of
the population.

The neoliberal model of development that underlies the strategic
political policies in Michigan that led to this crisis has as its
cornerstone the privatization of public resources and public services.
This model is supported by both major political parties and bankrolled
by those who have accumulated tremendous wealth at the direct expense of
people of color and of low-wealth.

It is a mode of development that is rooted in the systematic undermining
of the right to democratic participation by limiting the capacity of
local people to impact the formation and implementation of public policy
… whether in Flint, across the US, or in other parts of the world. The
same forces that have made the Flint disaster possible are the same ones
that are bent on privatizing public water supplies and preventing a just
resolution to the growing world climate disaster.

We stand in solidarity with the people of Flint, who are on the
frontlines of the struggle for democracy. We share their struggle for
democracy and for a transition to a just society that more fully values
human life and development.

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find a treasure trove of old maine seed catalogs online


Mary Pols, Jan. 17, 2016, Portland Press Herald

An amazing cache of old seed catalogs – many of them local, beautifully rendered and full of clues to vintage varieties and growing methods – is now digitized and available to anyone with Internet access. And if it weren’t for a Mainer, the collection might not even exist.

The Internet Archive is a nonprofit digital archive that houses an astonishing collection of material, all downloadable, from Grateful Dead bootlegs to Charlie Chaplin movies to random 20th century software programs. is like a flea market in the cloud, without price tags.

Among that ephemera is a treasure trove of more than 18,000 seed and nursery catalogs dating back to the 18th century, all digitized and uploaded by the National Agricultural Library over the last two years. Eventually, the entirety of the Henry G. Gilbert Nursery and Seed Trade Catalog Collection of more than 200,000 catalogs will be available for the public to browse electronically.

These catalogs, many of them beautifully illustrated, are more than just charming – they represent agricultural history. Their pages are littered with lost varieties and clues to how and what we grew in earlier centuries. They’ve always been available to the public, but until being digitized, that meant a trip to the fifth floor of the National Agricultural Library’s building in Beltsville, Maryland, where the originals are stored in an environment carefully controlled to high archival standards.

Now anyone with Internet access can see them. But if it weren’t for a Mainer born in Brunswick in 1878, this collection might not exist at all.

Continue reading HERE.

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pesticides show up in rainwater in four agricultural watersheds


Image from Wikipedia.

Read this 2008 study on the University of Nebraska’s Digital Commons. The study publishes research supported by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program done in 2003 and 2004, which found statistically significant levels of herbicides and insecticides in rainwater in Maryland, Indiana, Nebraska, and California. We’d like to know how these levels are changing over time as high pesticides continue to be sprayed around the country.