Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Stories from the permaculture frontier (book)

Permaculture Pioneers: Stories from the New Frontier

Permaculture Pioneers Cover
Permaculture Pioneers: Stories from the New Frontier, is a collection of stories about personal journeys into permaculture of some of our most important Australian pioneers. This book explores social and inner change for sustainability and charts a history of the first three decades of permaculture. 25 of Australia's leading permaculture practitioners have contributed their stories to this volume.

Permaculture annotated bibliography (online)

Permaculture annotated bibliography

A really nice online resource by permaculture designer and farmer Christopher Kelly-Bisson; a list of nearly 60 permaculture books, articles and chapters with great annotations including a summary and critical thoughts. The author does an amazing job of digesting an awful lot of reading into concise, clear summaries, setting a standard for me to aspire to with The Digest!

Digest reaches 2,000 page views a month!

Digest crosses the 2,000 mark!

For the first time, The Permaculture Research Digest has had 2,000 page views in a single month. Between 17th February and 17th March there were 2007 page views from 20 countries. The total number of page views since The Digest was launched in January 2013 has now exceeded 33,000. An average post gets around 45 views, with the current most popular post ('The 7 Best Permaculture Journals') having 318. About a third of page views come from the USA, a third from the UK, and a third from other countries. Why not celebrate this landmark achievement by sharing The Digest with a friend or colleague?

Community-led sustainability network for Europe (online)

Introducing The TESS Network
TESS (Towards European Societal Sustainability) is a European research project which aims to illustrate the role of community based initiatives in creating a sustainable, low-carbon Europe. It is supporting policy makers by contributing to a better understanding of how initiatives can become more successful. TESS is also helping initiatives to monitor and report on their environmental impacts, including carbon reduction. It aims to develop a measurement method, which is comparable across Europe.

Voices of food sovereignty (book)

Food Voices: Stories From the People Who Feed Us

This new book praises the farmers and fishermen trying to create a food system that values quality over quantity, and communities and the environment over the corporate bottom-line. Town-by-town, these front-line players are working to change how food is provided, processed and distributed. "Food Voices" introduces the concept of food sovereignty and highlights farmers and fishermen pursuing the local food movement with that framework. The stories of their struggles and triumphs are presented in a comprehensive book to strengthen and enhance the local food movement. Over 80 interviews collected from the United States, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil and Haiti indicate that food sovereignty is spontaneously growing stronger throughout the Americas. Thirty of those interviews are presented in "Food Voices."

Agroecology in action (report)

WhyHunger Launches New Agroecology Publication

WhyHunger is proud to release its first agroecology publication, “Agroecology: Putting Food Sovereignty into Action.” Agroecology is an agricultural method based on the traditional knowledge of those who cultivate the land and a way of life. We believe its practice is critical to addressing global hunger and increasing communities’ access to basic resources such as land, water and seeds. The publication is not a technical guide to agroecology, rather it shares the knowledge and perspectives of 10 social movement leaders that are working to “scale up” agroecology around the world. It also highlights the social, political, cultural, nutritional and spiritual meanings of agroecology from within communities that have been negatively impacted by the commodification of food.

Please support IPCUK scholarships

IPCUK Scholarships Crowdfunder

Help us build up a scholarship fund so that we can support permaculture practitioners from across the world - especially people from the Global South - to attend the international permaculture conference and convergence this September in London and Essex (IPCUK). Your donations will help bring representatives from across the world via a scholarship fund, and help make the event more accessible, diverse and inclusive. You can help to ensure that:
  • Their voices will be at the heart of discussions for the next phase of the international permaculture network.   
  • Their needs can be recognised and better supported now and in the future.
  • They will be able to access information and support, and share it with their communities when they get home.
  • They can share their experiences, skills and achievements with other participants at IPCUK.

Travelling permaculture library (online)

Travelling permaculture library created

The travelling permaculture library is a fascinating idea; get a book through the post, read the book, post it on to another reader. The initial offering of books is very small but if people donate more titles it will grow rapidly. Check out their offering and think about becoming a patron or a librarian.

Food sovereignty research film (film)

Coventry university researchers release multi-lingual film on DVD to influence transnational policy

A new film, Imagining Research for Food Sovereignty, highlights key moments in the process and outcomes of the St. Ulrich Workshop on Democratising Agricultural Research for Food Sovereignty and Peasant Agrarian Cultures. The Democratising Food and Agricultural Research initiative focuses on transformations needed for the democratic governance of food systems and more specifically on the potential role citizens can play in rethinking food and agricultural research for the public good. In September 2013, the partners of this initiative organised an international workshop to share lessons and reflections from Africa, Asia and Latin America with a wider community of European farmers, policy makers, and representatives of the donor community, bringing together 95 participants from a total of 17 countries.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Dynamic design for resilient landscapes (course)

Resilient Landscapes, Resilient Futures

The Digest doesn't normally promote courses, but this one is the first ever workshop of it's kind. It is at the cutting edge, starting to teach the material which the 'Resilience' researchers are researching.

The challenges for landscapes in our 21st century are complex, interwoven, and can feel overwhelming. Where do we even begin in such tangled situations of social and ecological difficulties? Dynamic Design is a process that addresses real-world complexity through its approach to landscape design. Combining regenerative sustainability frameworks (Holistic Management, Keyline® Design, Landscape Ecology, Agro-ecology, Permaculture Design, etc.) with important insights from Resilience-science, Complexity, and other ecological sciences, Dynamic Design boils down to a dynamic three-stage process for actively creating greater resilience of the evolving systems and landscapes we design, manage, and inhabit.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Live with less stuff! (on-line)

We have a problem with Stuff. We use too much, too much of it is toxic and we don’t share it very well. But that’s not the way things have to be. Together, we can build a society based on better not more, sharing not selfishness, community not division. The Story of Stuff Project’s journey began with a 20-minute online movie about the way we make, use and throw away all the Stuff in our lives. Five years and 40 million views later, we’re a Community of 750,000 changemakers worldwide, working to build a more healthy and just planet. We invite you to watch and share our movies, participate in our study programs and join our campaigns. Come on, let’s go!

UK food system fails the poor (report)

A Recipe for Inequality

The Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty has gathered evidence on how the UK’s food system serves those on low incomes. This interim report shows those on the lowest incomes are losing out from our food system. Food price rises have hit low-income households and now those on lower incomes spend a greater proportion of their budget on food. And while the proliferation of supermarkets has held food prices down, it has come at the cost of huge pressure on the food supply chain. Low pay and zero hour contracts are rife. The commission will present its final report later this year and recommend what politicians can do to fix Britain’s unequal and unsustainable food system.

Monday, 16 March 2015

PhD on permaculture in Malawi (on-line)

Doctoral Thesis on Permaculture in Malawi!

The study takes an in-depth look at Malawi’s agricultural history, exposes several drawbacks to current ‘conventional’ agriculture, highlights many benefits of practising Permaculture, and analyzes the challenges of expanding Permaculture in Malawi. The study is exciting and encouraging in many ways. First, there has been a glaring lack of academic research surrounding the use of Permaculture. Secondly, the findings  highlight the benefits Permaculture farmers are already experiencing. Interestingly, the research took place during an economically unstable period in Malawi, yet Permaculture farmers continued to express gains and benefits.

Friday, 6 March 2015

The future of the American automobile (dissertation)

The Road Ahead: American Automobility and the Politics of the Future

How does the US envision the future of automobility in the context of climate change and resource depletion? This dissertation examines texts produced by the US Department of Energy; the US Department of Transportation; and the writings of Transition US.  Automobility's dominance of the American imagination is being unsettled as discourse fragments into three narratives. One envisions technological acceleration into a future where climate change is manageable and where Americans remain highly mobile, autonomous, driver-consumers. One sees the future as an opportunity to repair the social and environmental damage wrought by 20th-century automobility by transforming the built environment to resemble the pre-automobile landscape. The third expects the inevitable end of the automobile age in the face of runaway climate change and peak oil. Each narrative derives from irreconcilable core assumptions about human nature and how much of the world is in human hands.

The future decline of cities (#journal)

Urbanisation: A brief episode in history

 This paper concerns the decline of cities over the coming decades. Taking the long view, the paper analyses the growth and fall of civilisations and their cities. The discussion then moves on to how modern civilisation came about, arriving in a state of ‘Possessive Individualism’ and our technology-dominated, consumerist world of megacities. The role played in this by fossil fuels is analysed and the way this could never have been sustained for long is made clear. The second half of the paper presents scenarios of the future, a return to  more localised economies organised as networks of villages. Agriculture and the use of local resources may once again characterise the way in which societies function. The paper discusses how this might unfold both logistically and in terms of people's consciousness.

Urban food growing as energising force (#journal)

Visioning a Sustainable Energy Future: The Case of Urban Food-Growing

This article outlines a future where society re-energizes itself, in the sense both of recapturing creative dynamism and of applying creativity to meeting physical energy needs. The article develops a case study of food, starting from the physical parameters of combating the entropy expressed in the loss of soil structure, and applies this to urban food-growing. Drawing upon ‘real utopias’ of existing practice, the author proposes a threefold categorization – subsistence plots, an urban forest, and an ultra-high productivity sector – and emphasizes the emergent properties of such a complex system characterized by the ‘free energy’ of societal self-organization.

Sustainabilty learning as craft (#journal)

What the willow teaches: Sustainability learning as craft

Whilst the importance of mainstreaming sustainability in higher education curricula is widely acknowledged, the challenge for educators at university level is to develop authority and confidence in an area dominated by limited knowledge and uncertainty. This article suggests that the most empowering and authentic response is to adopt an approach of shared learning. This is an approach to learning and teaching more familiar in areas of craft learning, characterised by apprenticeship and learning-by-doing. The author suggests that sustainability education is best undertaken within a community and in place, rather than abstractly and in the classroom.

Critiquing the concept of 'resilience' (#journal)

Resilience for Whom? Emerging Critical Geographies of Socio-ecological Resilience

Resilience has become a popular catchphrase used by governments, NGOs, community groups and activists all over the globe. Yet there remains confusion over what resilience is and the purpose it serves. Resilience can speak to a desire to respond to disruptions outside of the status quo. However, this usage shows a lack of consideration for power, agency and inequality. Criticism has also been raised regarding the use of resilience to justify projects informed by neoliberal ideologies that aim to decrease state involvement and restructure social services. Despite this, resilience is also being used by community and activist groups that aim to address local and global environmental and social issues. Thus the need has arisen to question what is being maintained, for whom and by whom, through these discourses of resilience.

Localising the economy in Totnes (dissertation)

Among the alternatives currently being suggested to economies focused on growth is a transition to localisation; smaller local economies, requiring less production and consumption. This dissertation focuses on attempts to implement localisation in the small market town of Totnes, in the United Kingdom. This town is the founding home of the Transition movement, a community activist organisation which promotes economic localisation as one route towards lowering carbon emissions and creating more resilient, self-reliant and environmentally sustainable communities. The localisation promoted by Transition has become a visible alternative economic option for the population in Totnes, and the economic practices which result are more intentionally, overtly and consciously socially embedded.

FAO Symposium on Agroecology (report)

Final Report for the International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition

FAO held the International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition at its headquarters in Rome on 18 and 19 September 2014 and a side-event during COAG on 30 September 2014. The Symposium was of a scientific and technical nature with a High Level Segment in the afternoon of the second day. Overall the Symposium can be considered a very successful event. Approximately 400 people from 61 different countries attended and an additional 186 people followed it through live streaming. General information and resources were also made available on website: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/afns/en. This report provides an overview of the Symposium and the COAG side-event.