the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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the open source ethos in agroecology

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Illustration by Freya Yost

The following paper, submitted to the Greenhorns by Freya Yost, Vice President of A Growing Culture, traces the building blocks of Agroecology (local knowledge, resilience, cultural traditions, working with nature) and analyzes them within the context of our current technological culture. This is a long but compelling piece, scholarly without being a sludge to read, accessible in tone and content, and we highly encourage everyone to read it. 

The basic premise is something that we know intuitively without necessarily having articulated it: that Agroecology is an inherently open source tradition whose knowledge and genetics have been co-opted, constrained, and privatized by for profit– to the great detriment of small farmers and ecological networks. The paper’s author casts our eyes simultaneously forward to the internet age and down to myccorrhizal networks to find hopeful models for creating egalitarian ways of producing and disseminating information to small farmers. The ultimate suggestion here– and it’s one of grave importance– is that those of us who are invested in the success of regenerative and sustainable growing ought also to be deeply committed to the overturning of proprietary development models and privatized knowledge systems. As the author writes:

All these dimensions make farming one of the most demanding and knowledge-intensive professions in the world. Sadly, because farmers are also some of the poorest people on Earth, lack of information can have devastating effects. Entire regions are vulnerable to being forced to adopt proprietary practices. Lack of information access puts farmers’ autonomy at risk. Open is not just an environmental issue, it is also a social justice issue.

The Open Source Ethos 

Open access is an ancient public good. 

Western discourse around open access has largely been restricted to academic, scholarly communications circles. In fact, many friends and colleagues have told me they first encountered open access when, after graduating from university, they were confronted with the fact they no longer had access to school databases; or when online article searches reached the dead-end prompt “click here to pay for access.”

The internet now provides a free platform for sharing knowledge. How is it possible—or even socially just—that so many of us can’t get access to scholarly research? Isn’t society propelled forward by access to the science, literature, and art of the world’s scholars? What if that research is publically funded? These are the primary concerns that drive the open access movement.

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it’s art, it’s recycle, it’s fuel, it’s interfaith, it’s awesome

We couldn’t help but wrap up this week with a little re-post of this incredibly inspiring and fun initiative coming of Amsterdam.

When you spend  a lot of your life in the country it’s easy to forget about all the cool things that people in cities get up to. And this here is great example of communities, professionals, artists, and academics coming together to solve a unique challenge together.

Alors,

From the blog:

Supernatural is an exhibition and community project developed by Pink Pony Express which worked with a muslim community in Amsterdam to convert leftover bread into cooking gas.

Kolenkit is a majority Muslim district in western Amsterdam with a large amount of waste bread. According to the Koran, bread is not allowed to be thrown away and must be given back the the earth, which has developed a problem with pests. Specialty bins were provided by the municipality to collect and dispose of unwanted bread in a manner that is compatible with Muslim teachings.

Per week there are about 200 loaves of bread thrown away by Muslim families in the Kolenkit. This could generate approximately 60,000 liters of biogas, One stovetop burner set on high uses approximately 1000 liters of biogas per hour. Thus, the bread from the Kolenkit could keep a stove top burning for 60 hours per week. – cyclifier.org

Well, you get the general sense of things. Head on over to their sites, blogs and what not to get more info.

Now we’re all thinking of different ways we can make biogas on the farm… it’d be a great addition to the composting toilet.

Some nice news to digest 🙂


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the land portal

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There is a wealth of information and data online about land governance. However, much of this content is fragmented and difficult to locate, and often it is not openly licensed to enable wide dissemination and reuse. Grassroots knowledge may be particularly hard to find, or may not be available online, and the data and information available is often not presented in ways that are accessible to grassroots communities, media and organizations. Bringing this information together in one place through the Land Portal, actively addressing gaps in the available information, and providing a range of ways for the information to be accessed and shared will increase the use and usefulness of the available information.

This will support more informed debates and policy making, and greater adoption and up scaling of best practices and promising innovations, leading to improve land governance practice. Through a focus on localization of content creation and use, the Land Portal will contribute to the cultivation of information and creation of interfaces and tools that help tip the balance of power towards the most marginalized and insecure, promoting greater social justice in land tenure practices.

The Portal allows for the collection, sourcing, and searching of otherwise fragmented and inaccessible data and information on land governance and land use from diverse sources, produced by governments, academia, international organizations, indigenous peoples and NGOs. Besides documenting land rights, the Portal also encourages social information exchange, debate and networking.