Eco-Villages

Global EcoVillage Network

Baltic EcoVillage Network

EcoVillageRoad.eu – an EU-govt-aided initiative

Some manuals written by the Baltic EcoVillagers about their experiences, methods (energy conservation/technology, farming, construction etc.)

About the project

Project “Ecovillages for sustainable rural development”

Idea
Nowadays people start thinking about changing their living habits towards being more socially, economically and ecologically responsible. One of the possible ways to do this is proposed by Ecovillage movement. Ecovillage principles aim to combine social–cultural environment with a low–impact way of living. Choosing to live in the ecovillage is choosing an alternative way to the individualistic, materialistic and consumer-oriented lifestyle.

Aim
Project aims at fostering ecovillages development as more sustainable way of living in rural areas of the Baltic Sea Region

Duration and budget
Project is implemented from 2010 to 2013. It is working under “Baltic Sea Region programme 2007-2013” and has total budget of 1.333.426 EUR, funded by European Union as well as contributed by project partners.

Main outputs
• 3 manuals based on case studies, covering guidelines for:
– Eco-settling practices;
– Environmentally – friendly technologies;
– Community living and social development in ecovillages.
• An ecovillage socio-economic sustainability assessment on-line tool;
• Recommendations for decision makers concerning ecovillages proper development;
• Ecovillage road for the Baltic Sea Region including ecovillages which are ready to introduce tourists into ecovillage life as well as pursue internship programs.

Partnership
5 partners from different Baltic Sea Region countries are implementing the project. Project also has 10 associated partners.

Lead partner
Lithuanian Institute of Agrarian Economics, www.laei.lt

Project partners
MTT Agrifood Research Finland, www.mtt.fi
Latvian State Institute of Agrarian Economics, www.lvaei.lv
The West Pomeranian Business School, www.zpsb.szczecin.pl
Suderbyn cooperative society, www.suderbyn.se

Associated project partners
ZEGG , www.zegg.de
GEN Europe, www.gen-europe.org
GEN Finland, www.rihmasto.fi/skey
Centre for Independent Social Research, www.cisr.u
St.Petersburg Forest Technical Academy, www.ftacademy.ru
Permaculture in Sweden, www.permaculture.se
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, www.slu.se
Ekoboforeningen Njord, www.ekobogotland.se
Ecohome, www.ecohome-ngo.by
Council of the Baltic Sea States, CBSS Baltic 21 Unit, www.cbss.lt

Ash Comments:  I am currently mulling over ideas around the notion of what I am now calling ‘Village Farms.’ There are single-family farms, small scale farms, agribusiness farms. This idea is simple: a working farm or farms around which are developed a residential population, varied in age and livelihood, which both enjoys living in a rural, farm atmosphere and also supports the farm operation by purchasing its produce, helping at harvest times, and some of them have independent secondary production operations (like cheese-making, bakery etc.), whilst many do not do farm-related work at all, rather are doctors, lawyers, consultants, drive to work at nearby town or whatever. There could also be financial anchors such as a retirement home which has both residents on fixed income and also hires staff from the village and elsewhere.

Rather than being organised mainly around a philosophy or political cause (environmentalism, a particular religion etc.) this idea is very simple and secular: it is simply a population clustered around a working farm operation. In this way, it is hoped that more people can make a go of it in rural areas, which is not currently the case due to an almost complete abnegation of rural society by current governments throughout the developed world, who have basically ceded the most important policy decisions (how we live, our economic system etc.) to multinational corporations who in turn have foisted agribusiness on all of us using corporate ‘supermarket’ distribution points (aka ‘Big Box Store model’) which drive out local operations and turn small towns everywhere into dying wastelands which young people can’t wait to leave, meaning there is no generational continuity and therefore really only 3 classes: the chronically poor and usually unemployed; the employed but really just working to afford a basic lifestyle and with no generational continuityin terms of place or family fortune; the rich, many of whom also have no continuity, but some of whom – the super-rich – do. It’s not a very advanced system, unless if you count the raw numbers involved which indeed are greater than at any time in known history.

I am thinking of trying to mount a web-based drive to raise money to make in-depth studies of the bad effects of the Big Box model, but more importantly to analyse various hierarchical/organisational models for such a village, finding success and failure examples in places like the EcoVillage initiative highlighted above. Also maybe raise funds via IndieGogo or other methods to pay for studies from cyber-bases analysis services to project ideal population numbers in various climate zones (how many villagers per X-sized farm), also research the legal and funding issues, and also maybe come up with a plan to start 5 model Village Farms in Cape Breton, which plan including

a) how to fund them

b) how to organise them both in terms of project development and subsequent actual ongoing living management

c) how to actualize them

d) how to maintain ongoing interest and networks so that lessons are learned and more such Village Farms can be facilitated – if they prove worthy – in a wide range of terrain and jurisdictions throughout the world.

Ambitious? Yes, I guess. But really this is a one-step-first approach which mainly involves chewing over this idea and seeing if there is an affordable way to come up with a plan for how to go forward with 1-5 Village Farms on Cape Breton Island. That hardly qualifies as hugely ambitious.

A correlated idea is to launch a global ‘Think Tank for the 99%’, i.e. a cyber-funded Think Tank that tackles issues like this Village Farm example, both in terms of funding but also in terms of participation, in that they vote with their dollars as to what to study next. There could be many other topics (Common Law, organic farming methods in colder climates, various small business model templates to help people with start-ups, a research operation that takes peoples business ideas and spits out a comprehensive business plan for them (often the main stumbling block for startups) along with a funding initiative from within the 99% Think Tank community). Now this is ambitous and probably too hard to put into practice, but with all the automation possible nowadays, who knows. If I have time and ongoing interest, would like to look into this sort of thing further if for no other reason than the market numbers have been falling of late in Sydney (both during but also before the bad weather) and it is getting harder and harder to survive here in this situation with deteriorating economy and declining population. A recent Commission reported that this sort of thing is probably going to happen throughout Nova Scotia (not just the rural areas as has been the case for decades, and with urban Sydney the past 20 years), in which case things are going to get tough. And since the Commission did not look favourably on small business inititiatives (if I understood the 120 page report recommendations correctly), rather big business solutions (chiding us for not being Big Business friendly), and since big business has no real reason for being here really, I am not holding my breath that they will do anything substantive.

There is a chance they will allow the Ports Sydney PanamaxPlus container initiative to go forward, but with Chinese shipments down steeply this year, it could be one of those things that gets put on hold for 5-10 years – a very short time globally, but a long time for a local region in systemic crisis.

Meanwhile, although I have no doubt that it will never happen, also I have no doubt that if it did many of the world’s problems today would be solved by: simply banning agribusiness operations and making all farms authentically organic. This would bring rural to urban population ratios back into line (with more people living on or near farms than in cities), end chronic unemployment (and bad minimum wage for corporations employment) and generally promote a saner, healthier society and culture, which in turn would naturally revive a people and economy less beholden to corporate banking and other related cartels (energy, medicine, science, education etc.). It could work, although realistically speaking as we all know, it is highly unlikely.

Still, it says something about the current state of our societies in the developed and developing world that a high probability of success initiative seems so hopelessly out of the question. Indian farmers have been fighting back. And winning yield-per-acre prizes across the board using small-scale, non-agribusiness-input methods. Hopefully more people around the world, like the ecovillagers at top of this page, will make further progress.

 

Let us hope and pray they, and we, can do so.

 

 

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Global Risk Assessment of GMO’s – paper

http://www.naturalnews.com/044409_GMOs_global_ecocide_precautionary_principle.html#

The paper: http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/pp2.pdf

Excerpt: “In a new study, which is still in draft form, this professor of risk engineering from New York University uses statistical analysis to make the case that GMOs, by their very nature, will disrupt the ecosystems of this planet in ways that mankind is only just beginning to comprehend. Because they represent a systemic risk rather than a localized one — GM traits are known to spread unconstrained throughout the environment — GMOs will eventually breach the so-called “ecocide barrier,” leading to catastrophic ecosystem failure.

“There are mathematical limitations to predictability in a complex system, ‘in the wild,’ which is why focusing on the difference between local (or isolated) and systemic threats is a central aspect of our warnings,” Taleb is quoted as saying by Fool.com, noting that it’s essentially impossible to contain the inevitable spread of GMO traits far and wide.

“The [precautionary principle] is not there to make life comfortable, rather to avoid a certain class of what is called in probability and insurance ‘ruin’ problems,” write Taleb and his colleagues in their paper. “For nature, the ‘ruin’ is ecocide: an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet.”

GMOs are not ‘scientific,’ and nearly every argument used in their defense is flawed

Besides using math and risk-based analysis to show that GMOs simply cannot coexist with nature as is commonly claimed — GMOs will eventually contaminate the natural world around them — Taleb also deconstructs many of the “arguments” used by GMO advocates to defend the commercial use of untested transgenic materials, including the oft-repeated lie that GMOs are no different than natural organisms.

“Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs fall squarely under [the precautionary principle]… because of their systemic risk on the system,” explains Taleb. “Top-down modifications to the system (through GMOs) are categorically and statistically different from bottom up ones (regular farming, progressive tinkering with crops, etc.).”

“There is no comparison between the tinkering of selective breeding and the top-down engineering of taking a gene from an organism and putting it into another. Saying that such a product is natural misses the statistical process by which things become ‘natural.'”

Taleb also draws attention to the deceitful strategies of biotechnology companies in trying to legitimize the continued use of GMOs through fear. Claiming that famine, starvation and widespread crop failures will occur if we all fail to adopt GMOs is no different than playing Russian roulette in order to get out of poverty, claims Taleb — such an approach is hardly scientific or logically sound, and yet these and other tactics are the basis of the pro-GMO agenda.”

Ash Comment: it continues to amaze me how arrogant all these large businesses are, and also how little they seem to care for the lovely world we all live in. They are what are called ‘asuras’ in the buddhist six realm cosmology, people aspiring to be gods living a life of perfect ease, delight, unbroken happiness, stress free etc. but not being so, hence they are involved in perpetual achievement struggles, either clambering over those below in order to get to the top, or pulling down those they see as higher up, they are continuously and forever paranoid, greedy, selfish and essentially humourless – unless laughing at another’s misfortune or lack of asura skills. So although their goal is peace and stillness, their means to achieving that goal perpetually engenders the opposite – strife and stress.

GMO’s, quite simply, should be banned. Monoculture and agribusiness farming should be banned. As organised societies with governments for which ultimately we are responsible – not matter the system – we should do better at preventing this asura mentalility from dominating our cultures and ruining our beautiful world. They are heartless and do not deserve the degree of influence and control our complacent naivity has been affording them this past century or so.

Will it ever end? I keep hoping that young people all over the world will rise up and overthrow the old order we have given them. Peacefully if possible, of course, but thoroughly and without compromise. Maybe if more of us prayed for that every day, it was magically unfold.

Well, I for one will start praying every day, and maybe soon will offer such a prayer here on the blog….

After GMO: Synthetic Biology – a ‘new industrial revolution’ on the way

http://www.oldthinkernews.com/2014/03/new-form-of-gmo-sneaking-into-food-supply-this-year/

All DNA is made of the same four chemicals in no end of different combinations and series: Synthetic Biology 1Then you make synthetic, Man-Made DNA based on that coded design:

synthetic man-made DNAfrom the article:

“New Form of GMO Sneaking Into Food Supply This Year

Old-Thinker News | March 17, 2014

By Daniel Taylor

Within 50 years we could have more life forms invented in a lab than we have ever identified in nature.” – Fidelity Investments

This year [Evolva] will release a product that has been created by genetically modified yeast that converts sugars to vanillin. It will be the first major synthetic-biology food additive to hit supermarkets.” – Nature.com

A Switzerland based company called Evolva has developed a synthetic vanilla that is set to be released in 2014. The vanilla is created using a process of genetic engineering called synthetic biology.

Synthetic biology, according to a 2005 European Commission paper is “…the engineering of biology… the synthesis of complex, biologically based (or inspired) systems which display functions that do not exist in nature.” Unlike the older science of splicing genes from different species together, synthetic biology is seeking to create whole new organisms that do not exist on earth.

Evolva’s synthetic vanilla is created by inserting computer coded DNA into yeast. This new method of genetic engineering is called “natural” by Evolva.

Environmental organizations like Friends of the Earth have recognized the potential danger posed by synthetic biology. In its Synthetic Biology Vanillin fact sheet, FoE points out the distinct lack of oversight regarding the health impact of ingesting these engineered ingredients. The organization has launched a campaign called No Synbio Vanilla to tell ice cream makers Haagen Dazs, Dreyers, Baskin Robbins and others not to use synthetic biology vanilla.

Foods that have been genetically modified in the “traditional” method have been linked to sterility in hamsters. The dramatic rise in food allergies has also been speculated to be linked to GMO foods. What health impacts will emerge after eating foods with synthetic DNA that our environment and our bodies have never before encountered?

The Big Picture

Synthetic biology goes well beyond engineering our food. Geneticist Craig Venter is a pioneer in the field of synthetic biology. In 2010 the media hailed his team’s success in creating “the first self-replicating species we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer.”

Currently, companies cannot patent naturally occuring DNA. Synthetic biology will allow syn-bio companies a loophole through patent laws. “One could theoretically upload a DNA sequence onto a computer, “print out” an exact copy of that DNA sequence, and patent the synthetic DNA sequence as an invention,” Gene Watch reports.

Google founder Larry Page met with Craig Venter in California at the Edge billionaires meeting in 2010. Also present were representatives from the State department, Bill Gates, Anne Wojcicki, Bill Joy and dozens of other tech company CEO’s and scientists.

The Edge Billionaire meetings have discussed the future of genetic engineering, biocomputation and re-designing humanity in a transhumanist era. Physicist Freeman Dyson described the individuals leading this group as having god-like power to create entirely new species on earth in a “New Age of Wonder”. He describes them as:

“…a new generation of artists, writing genomes as fluently as Blake and Byron wrote verses, might create an abundance of new flowers and fruit and trees and birds to enrich the ecology of our planet.”

In the societal divide that will inevitably ensue over the development of these technologies, Fred Charles Ikle, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy under President Reagan, sees a possibility of “Annihilation from Within.” “The prospect is that in the decades ahead, biotechnology – together with other sciences – may fundamentally change the human species and thus pose an elemental threat to democracy, the world order, and indeed to all civilizations,” writes Ikle.

The technological elite are engaged in a mission to attain full spectrum dominance over life and its complex processes, and in the process re-write the genetic code of the planet.”

From a conference in the video clip:

“We are here to announce the first synthetic cell.”

[Comments:]   If they could first fix the damage done to the soil, plant, insect, fungal and animal species wreaked by modern industry including the overly-simplistic and short-sighted agro-business (aka ‘maximise yield, deplete the nutrients, kill the soil’) model, then maybe they could approach technology like this rather than just ploughing ahead with the next damaging thing just because it is new, it is fancy and it can make a large corporation and their owners (the same cartels which own most of the world’s major businesses and governments) richer.

When is this all going to stop?

When enough of us choose to live differently. Easier said than done, but more of us need to try before it is too late. I hope young people growing up today wake up and have the courage to do something about all this because otherwise the world their children and grandchildren live in will be almost devoid of access to any true nature, and therefore true beauty, true sanity, true simplicity.

Private Life of Plants

tune into the plant kingdom by watching David Attenborough’s marvellous ‘Private Life of Plants.’ Lots of loverly time-lapse pictures of which below a still screenshot.

https://archive.org/details/ThePrivateLifeOfPlants_581

Flower1I am reading some of Michael Pollan’s book, including last week ‘Botany of Desire’ in which he tries to advocate a little on the world from the point of view of the plant kingdom. The article in the New Yorker Mag. which I linked a few weeks ago is better in that regard.

But these time-lapse photos are simply amazing. The Buddhist Dzogchen masters have it aright: space and consciousness/awareness/intelligence are inseparable (as confirmed by the Quantum Crowd decades ago), albeit different forms reflect that intelligence in different ways, and intelligence should not be confused with a self or ego. But that’s not the topic of this little post, nor of this little blog!

Enjoy the Plants!

Small Scale Organic Farming is best way to feed the world

Last year on this blog I put up a page with lots of information about bokashi, a natural method of fertilization which has been widely adopted in several Asian agricultural zones, and also mentioned the new RSI (?) methods of rice and grain growing that have been winning the yield-per-acre wars. The following article links to several studies endorsed by relatively mainstream sources indicating that contrary to all the propaganda which most people have swallowed, organic farming is simply more efficient, not only more sustainable (which in itself is a long-term requisite for any sort of authentic efficiency) but higher yielding. What has to go, though, is huge monoculture fields serviced by enormous single-crop-at-a-time harvesting and other machines, and a return to a more labour-intensive and locally diverse method of managing farms.

http://naturalsociety.com/new-un-report-small-scale-organic-way-feed-world/

organic green 263x164 New UN Report: Small Scale Organic is the Only Way to Feed the World

We are all aware at this point that we need to transform the way we think about farming. Our food system is broken, and the same paradigm that created its systemic problems will not fix them. According to a new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), small scale, organic farming can create strong local food systems – the only viable, sustainable way to feed the word.

Sixty experts from around the world weighed in on the problem in Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before it is Too Late, which includes a commentary from IATP. Within its pages were a detailed look at more sustainable agriculture, better research, re-allocation of land use, reform of global trade rules and climate change.

The report calls for ‘ecological intensification,’ or a shift from conventional mono-culture planting to independent, small-scale production and permaculture, which can create a mosaic of sustainable regenerative systems which can feed all of us.

In an article previously featured at Natural Society, Russians Prove Small Scale Organic CAN Feed the World, this suggestion by the UN has already been put into place. Small scale gardens and farms helped feed Russia even through a collapsing economy. Many of the key indicators in the report are the types of transformative action agriculture has already undergone in places like this small town in the UK, and despite government agencies forcing people to dig up their well-established organic gardens grown on their own properties.

The UNCTAD report the following as needs to transform our food supply:

  • Increase soil carbon content and better integration between crop and livestock production
  • Increase incorporation of agroforestry and wild vegetation
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions of livestock production
  • Reduce GHGs through sustainable peatland, forest, and grassland management
  • Optimize organic and inorganic fertilizer use, including through closed nutrient cycles in agriculture
  • Reduce waste throughout food chains
  • Change dietary patterns toward climate-friendly food consumption
  • Reform the international trade regime for food and agriculture

Notice that nowhere in the report does it suggest the reduction of herbicide and pesticides or GMO foods. Instead, while offering some sound advice, it also focuses on trade negotiations with the WTO and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). While these agreements undermined locally-based food trade, and they should be reconsidered, it does not address the support of Big Ag instead of the local farmer – in the US and elsewhere.

Fortunately, the report does not support the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is really just another way to monopolize the food supply like Monsanto’s attempt to monopolize seed.

Another report issued in 2007 by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) with a similar list of international experts came to similar conclusions. The report stated that ‘business as usual was not an option,’ and policy transformation must take place ‘before it is too late.’