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What do YOU want in the news about 'environment' or 'food production'?

 
Steven Kraft
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Hello all,

My cousin is a public radio reporter who regularly does pieces for NPR. Being one in the family who is heavily involved in land-based activities and 'the environment', he just wrote me an email asking this:

"Do you know of a big conflict happening among environmentalists or people interested in food production? Is there something that you wish had more news coverage?"

I have some ideas that I would like to share with him but also wanted to use this as an opportunity to get any ideas from all of you. This forum has a high concentration of people whose opinions I value, who might want the chance to have some input on what gets put out there for the public to hear.

Many thanks - I look forward to hearing what you all come up with.

_S
 
Isaac Hill
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Yes! It would be lovely if people know more about the embedded energy in monocultural food production and how ghastly inefficient it is. A great way to bring up the alternative... that is, perennial based polycultures.


It might be nice to also mention that perennial polycultures actually sequester a whole lot of carbon while monocultural industrial ag does quite the opposite...
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Perhaps something about lawn conversion. Converting lawns into food production resources for local communities. It's easy! When you figure in the cost of the mower, trimmer, fuel, time, emissions, parts and labour, a person (or landscaping company) could easily plant a food forest ONE TIME and eat for a lifetime. No more wasted weekends mowing and sweating. Just sitting in a shaded area eating from you own land.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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I second the comments about lawn conversion and polyculture.

Positive and creative ways to take control over your space and life seem to get more people listening than do the doomsday scenarios and 'this is going to kill' you speeches (even though they might be true).

I am actually surprised at the number of people that I work with who are interested in the salads, omelets and teas that I make with dandelions. Now they are re-thinking herbicide application so they can have dandelions! I'm thrilled!
 
John Polk
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I totally agree that it should highlight positive projects rather than taking on "The dangers of this..."

Negative messages leave a negative image in the mind, while positive messages tend to steer people into positive actions.
We already hear enough negativism on TV/radio.

Perhaps he could work on a series of programs which would help make people take helpful steps in their yards.
The messages should be about simple, easy to do projects that people might even try, without saying "Oh, that's too hard..."

The good folks here at permies.com could easily come up with enough good suggestions to allow him a whole years worth of weekly programs. Perhaps, if we can provide helpful links, it would ease his burden researching the programs.

 
Tyler Ludens
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I agree, something like "we hear all these negative things, here's something positive we can do."

I think too much negative information makes people feel helpless.
 
P Thickens
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Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
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There are some basic myths that most people believe about food production. It would be great to disprove them with facts.

1) Genetically Modified Organisms are the only reason we can feed this burgeoning human population.
** Nope, it's better techniques. GMOs aren't living up to their hype. See http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/science/failure-to-yield.html
2) Organic Farming cannot hope to feed the world.
** Nope, organic agriculture can most definitely do the job. Three times the job, actually. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070711134523.htm
3) Gardening is a pain the the tuckas, expensive, and not worth it.
** Not very hard to grow $700 rather quickly, actually. So yeah, totally worth it. See http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/Square-Foot-Gardening-Food.aspx
4) Agriculture is inimical to the environment.
** Nope, Permaculture can actually save the environment... while it provides food, housing and jobs to those who had none! See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55IFyVQn_Fc&list=UUHtQoet239-iKjAlPCVZfNw&index=4&feature=plcp
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'd like to see more about business oportunities in agriculture, food processing, recycling and green building. People are more likely to pay attention to ways that they could profit than to endless calls for government spending.

I think an awareness campaign regarding environmental laws which includes information on how to report violations would be popular. The radio show could offer a reward to the person who blows the loudest whistle. I'm sure an advertiser could be found who would love to attach their name to that prize. I plan to offer free bus trips to winners of such a contest in Victoria.
 
Tyler Ludens
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P Thickens wrote:
4) Agriculture is inimical to the environment.
** Nope, Permaculture can actually save the environment..


I (and some other folks) would argue that permaculture is NOT agriculture.

http://kennysideshow.blogspot.com/2008/05/agriculture-or-permaculture-why-words.html

toby hemenway - How Permaculture Can Save Humanity and the Earth, but Not Civilization http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nLKHYHmPbo
 
John Polk
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NPR broadcasts in most major population centers of the US. Therefore, regional topics would generally not work well.

Programs which receive a lot of positive listener feed-back are most likely to be continued.
A lot of negative feed-back could kill the program.
For example, a broadcast that hammered the GMO growers would likely get a lot of criticism in the grain belt.
Possibly enough to kill the program nationwide.

To get the most benefit from such a program, I think it is best to avoid stepping on too many toes.
 
Rufus Laggren
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I believe that question s/b "What permaculture topics and practices might Joe Office-Worker be interested in applying in his own life - and thus get involved and stay interested?"

> NPR broadcasts in most major population centers...

Remember to consider your audience and what you're trying to do with them. I guess that steps squarely on the face of "objective reporting", but that phrase is more myth than not. IMHO NPR audiences are not your average farmer or factory worker; they probably have little or no _direct_ knowledge or economic connection w/the land - viewing them as a whole. To be really simplistic, consider what well educated, well meaning (!) office workers can make of the program and content.

Gardening, home improvement" and cooking programs now or recently popular exemplify this. These don't generate huge paradigm shifts, but they do peek interest and develop some involvement with the physical building blocks of life w/in a normal person's reach - even if they bolster their interest at William Sonoma. And this can lead naturally to learning more.

Knowledge, at least to the extent it's helpful and useful, cannot be _given_ - it must be actively obtained. People who are able to or will use knowledge by and large get it for themselves. True, accurate, knowledge has very little role in influencing people. "Don't Think of an Elephant" by Lakoff in Berkeley describes the way humans "think" fairly clearly. There are many other interesting expositions of our decision making. Even blatant and admitted responsible self interest is only a minor trump for many people.

IOW to promote Permaculture: Describe and demonstrate... OFFER personally desirable and interesting connections to Permaculture. Not especially "knowledge".

Rufus
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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It would be really nice to do a series that focuses on a family's transition from "typical suburban lot" (grass and ornamental trees) which drains the bank with nothing productive to show for it. Going from that to a suburban homestead that works and provides for them on a daily basis.

I'd like to see a focus on the economics of such a transition.

For example: My family of four lives on one income and we live much better now than we did when we had two incomes. That extra fifty hours a week that I don't spend at a job, is much better spent on food production, home improvements, learning new skills, staying fit and raising two AWESOME little kids. Our lives are less stressful and we're much happier with how things are now.

I'm not even sure that most people know that you can grow your own food on a small suburban lot. They might be too busy with staying afloat that they have no time to learn. That was my case until I spent two years out of work due to injury. I spent all that time figuring out a way to not return to work. Three years later, we're making it work and loving it.
 
Marla Kacey
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Location: Wyoming Zone 4
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THAT'S inspiring, Craig! I listen to NPR ( or did until all the political stuff took over - my internal lie detector drives me bonkers ) and love hearing real stories about real people. Stories of how various people overcome seemingly devastating setbacks. Don't know your situation exactly, but losing a job due to injury would be extremely stressful and depressing to most people these days, because they probably don't know any other way to survive in this 'civilization' and economy.

The government makes such a big deal about unemployment - how about stories about other people adjusting favorably to being 'unemployed'? Most likely growing one's own food would be quite common. The 'victory garden' is now becoming the 'survival garden'.

 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Long story very short:

At age 27 I was injured on the job and lost most of the functions in my lower arms and hands. I needed 4 surgeries which took 2 years of recovery leaving me with some permanent damage. I've lost some of the fine motor movement in one arm which made returning to work impossible. In the recovery years I got married, and had a baby. Knowing that I had to find a way to support my family while coping with injury I began researching homesteading and cheap living. I have a good skill set and I learn very quickly. I always find a way to make things work.

My landlord at the time ended up in foreclosure so I had to move and was only given 60 days notice. Because I was home with my son all day while my wife worked, I decided to put all my effort into him and finding a proper home to live in for us. In those 60 days we found an old farmhouse with 7 acres of south facing slope 300 miles from where we were, secured financing, found employment for my wife (nurse), closed on the house and moved in. We made it in three days before a huge snowstorm covered the ground. We didn't have a way to move our stuff so we lived for 4 months with a portable crib, an inflatable mattress and a box full of dishes.

Once the snow cleared we moved the rest of our stuff and began "homesteading". We had another baby a year later and since then we've been working on food production, raising chickens, wild harvesting and living wise. We buy what we need (not what we want) and try to make due with less. So far it's working out really well. My kids are constantly learning new things about the natural world and they eat so well. Even though we've moved away from our extended family the move has made all the difference in our mental states. We're more confident in our skills and there's a lot of personal pride in doing things for ourselves. All in all, a great choice. I never really worry about too much anymore. Just get up, let the kids and chickens out and find a project for the day.

My wife makes the money and it's my job to make sure that every dollar is spent wisely or not at all.

There's always something leftover at the end of the month plus we're able to put some away for retirement and other investments. We're on track to pay the house off in 15 years instead of 30 as well.

I think the main thing to know is that you have to be willing to take the plunge and just go for it. AND>>> don't look back.
 
Allan Babb
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Location: Greater New Orleans, LA, USA
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I think an awareness campaign regarding environmental laws which includes information on how to report violations would be popular.


One of the largest groups of pollutants to our ecosystems(most notably water pollution..be it rivers, streams or the water table) is the home owner. Farmers pay a lot of money for chemical fertilizers and biocides, and they don't like throwing money down the drain(or stream as the case may be). They know how to keep all that money on their farm. Homeowners wanting that nice lawn, on the other hand, typically don't use the horticultural chemicals properly. Much of that weed and feed goes straight into our water supply. The only difference is that it is easier to blame the big and bad corporations than ourselves(and it's always good press to blame someone else for our troubles, right?).

Doing an expose on the regular home owner's contribution to the ecological disasters going on around us would be a good story, IMO. Many people would do more if they knew what they could do and what they shouldn't do. If only 10% of the people listening would stop going to war with nature in their own yard, then it would be worthwhile(you can even talk about the fiscal gains from this).

I like NPR, especially how they fess up to their mistakes. Though it may have a liberal bent, NPR at least seems to try to be two sided on issues. I'm not saying liberal is bad, I'm probably considered liberal by other people, but different view points are important.
 
Nick Garbarino
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Location: west central Florida
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Population.
 
R Scott
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Craig Dobbelyu wrote:AND>>> don't look back.


Only part of what you said I disagree with. Look back, remember the good and LEARN from the mistakes--but NO REGRETS!!

The rest is inspirational enough to be the whole piece for NPR.

 
Craig Dobbelyu
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R Scott wrote:
Craig Dobbelyu wrote:AND>>> don't look back.


Only part of what you said I disagree with. Look back, remember the good and LEARN from the mistakes--but NO REGRETS!!

The rest is inspirational enough to be the whole piece for NPR.



I guess what I meant by that is: Don't go back to the old way of life just because it's "easier". I made the commitment to make this work and have never given a second thought to going back to suburban, rental, consumerism. Don't get me wrong... I Have a LONG way to go but if I could get to 70% food and energy independence in the next 10 years I'll be satisfied.

I should also mention that just a month after we moved here, my Identity and SSN were stolen and my credit was DESTROYED. I've made all my progress using cash or trade. So in that sense there was no "back" to go back to.
 
P Thickens
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So did the piece go on the air yet??
 
Steven Kraft
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P Thickens wrote:So did the piece go on the air yet??


I just finally got in touch with him. Thank you all so much for your input. I will certainly let you know what comes of all of this. Let's hope people can hear something inspiring and affect some positive change out there.

Peace,

_S
 
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2017 Permaculture Design Course and Appropriate Technology Course at Wheaton Labs
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