the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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10 things to know about standing rock

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Thanks be to High Country News for this latest piece that brings us back to a much-needed review of the ins-and-outs of our representative federal form of government as they relate to the latest events at Standing Rock. Have you found yourself wondering over the past few months, how did we get here, why can this happen in our country, or, even, wait, what does usufructory mean? Then we can’t encourage you more to take five minutes to read “Back to Civics Class: 10 Things to Know About Standing Rock.”

This is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING. Just because it’s a well-worn cliched doesn’t make it any less true, friends, knowledge is power. Short, clear, and so freaking well-written, these ten points review historical moments including the Louisiana Purchase, relevant supreme court cases, and the current status of treaties with Native American nations.

For instance, point one: usufrcutory rights; it is an important legal construction that is currently so obscure in our collective consciousness that spellcheck reports that it is not a word. (Spoiler alert: usufructory rights have nothing to do with high fructose corn syrup and mean  the right of tribes to hunt, gather and fish in their “usual and accustomed places.)

As the culture-war rhetoric simmers with caustic venom on the Northern Plains, the results of the civics survey mentioned earlier are sobering. Is it not disquieting to learn that 70 percent of us lack a rudimentary understanding of the basic principles of federalism? At what point do we cease to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and become a nation of the blind leading the blind?


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can a farmland investment company help you get access to farmland?

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A new Report by the folks of Land for Good and the University of Vermont delves deep into the complicated terrain of Farmland Investment Models, aiming to provide farmers the nitty-gritty needed to evaluate whether or not a model like this could work for them.

While Farmland Investment models are diverse, the basic idea is as follows:
1. Farmer needs land but doesn’t have the money to buy it.
2. Farmer partners with Farmland Investment Company.
3. Farmland Investment Company buys the land and a) rents-to-own to the farmer, b) owns the land until easement funds become available and the farmer can use those to purchase the property, c) rents the land to Farmer as an incubator site.

Looking to explore this model more? The report is well-researched and farmer-oriented! Read the whole document here!


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this badass lady runs a cattle company and writes wonderful essays

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Every other Tuesday, High Country News‘s Laura Jean Schneider publishes a new essay on her experience as new cattle rancher in New Mexico. In her pieces, we’ve found the most compassionate and insightful commentary on the Malheur Occupation to date, well-articulated thoughts on “The Era of the Landless Agrarian,” and scores of compelling personal insights. Schneider and her husband are in the first year of managing their ranch, Triangle P Cattle Company.

Looking to catch up on the series?? Start right here with the first one.


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seven ways to be a better leader in systems change

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Oh man, we just love this: Seven Lessons for Leaders in Systems Change. Great for educators, activists, community leaders, farmers, and– generally– everyone who gives a damn.

Here’s a taste, but please click-through to read the full piece at at the Center for Ecoliteracy.

Lesson #1:  To promote systems change, foster community and cultivate networks.

Most of the qualities of a living system, notes Fritjof Capra, are aspects of a single fundamental network pattern: nature sustains life by creating and nurturing communities. Lasting change frequently requires a critical mass or density of interrelationships within a community. For instance, we’ve seen from research and our experience that curricular innovation at a school usually becomes sustainable only when at least a third of the faculty are engaged and committed.

“If nothing exists in isolation,” writes famed essayist Wendell Berry, “then all problems are circumstantial; no problem resides, or can be solved, in anybody’s department.” Even if problems defy solution by a single department, school districts are often structured so that responsibilities are assigned to isolated and unconnected divisions. Nutrition services may report to the business manager, while academic concerns lie within the domain of the director of curriculum. To achieve systems change, leaders must cross department boundaries and bring people addressing parts of the problem around the same table. For example, we’re currently coordinating a feasibility study with the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). It requires looking simultaneously at ten aspects of school food operations (from teaching and learning to finance and facilities) identified in our Rethinking School Lunch framework.

In the push to make decisions and produce results quickly, it’s easy to bypass people — often the very people, such as food service staff and custodians, who will have the task of implementing changes and whose cooperation is key to success. It’s necessary to keep asking: “Who’s being left out?” and “Who should be in the room?”


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Resources: recommended reading, viewing, listening and more

One of our goals is to provide young farmers, apprentices, and others with the resources necessary to begin farming or to expand their practice. We think that the knowledge of other Greenhorns will provide ballast and an ideal platform from which to share information. We aim to facilitate this information exchange through establishing a website as a framework for support through social networks, a comprehensive online reference manual of case studies, essays, and lists of recommended books and films.

Until this site is up and running, we will post various essays relating to themes important to The Greenhorns on pages of this blog. You can navigate via the links on the right under Essays and farther down under Recommended Online Films.

Essays on the blog so far include:

Reweaving the Fabric of Rural America: Food as a Common Thread by John Ikerd

The Story of Synthia: Craig Venter’s plan to build a synthetic life-form by ETC, art by Sig.

Please also see www.pixiepoppins.org, created several years ago by our director Severine von Tscharner Fleming as a resource hub for young agrarians.