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more black people in US permaculture  RSS feed

 
master steward
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There have been about a dozen times that I was being interviewed and we are talking about hugelkultur or natural building or polyculture or something and then I am asked "why aren't there more black people in permaculture?"

Fuck if I know. 

So when I see black people keen on permaculture I ask.  And until today, the answer has always been "I dunno."

Today a new boot arrived for our bootcamp and I asked.  It led to conversation.  So I think I can now take a stab at answering.

I think most people come to permaculture from gardening or natural building. 

I think that if a person has not dabbled in gardening or natural building, and you say "free permaculture class tonight" they are not interested.  Kinda like the whole eco scale thing:  permaculture stuff will sound pretty crazy to people at level 0 or level 1.  You gotta get up to level 2 before permaculture even sounds like an interesting thing. 

So then came the idea of how do people get into gardening?  Are white people in the united states more likely to get into gardening? 

So this got me into the space of:  if we want EVERYBODY to be bonkers about permaculture, then it seems that the earliest steps would be to get everybody to try at least a little gardening.

The next suggestion came with the whole idea of "run away to the circus" might be getting replaced with "run away to some farm." 

So there is a whole lot of bits and bobs that came from all of this, and I think I am still pretty firmly in the space of "I have no fucking idea."  But at least we are moving into the space of plausible guesses.

.....    There is a woman out there named Pandora Thomas.  I have heard that she is super sharp and and powerfully keen on this topic.   As I have read some of her stuff about trying to connect the black community to permaculture, I keep wondering if she would reach more of the black community if she reached out to everybody, regardless of race.  Partly because I think the greater permaculture community needs more strong leaders and she appears to have what it takes.  And now I am curious about more details about what she is trying and what she finds is working.


I just wanted to write these bits down while they were fresh in my head.  I suspect others will have stuff to add?
 
pollinator
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I would have to say that most of my family is two generations away from being sharecroppers,and still struggling to establish themselves within the system,not looking to escape it.

I'm still trying to relearn what my grandparents knew in terms of self sufficiency.
They came North as refugees, political and economic,and their children became doctors, dentists,teachers,profesor, but most importantly educated and middle class.

In addition to that cultural orientation,there are the practical obstacles of resources.

I garden in my own front yard. Many Black people don't have any yard.
I cook from scratch. Many of us had two working parents who turned to packaged foods to get by.

I failed at college. I worked dead end retail until I got my act together and became a craftsman.
Even as a trained electrician I did not have the network to ensure work.
Lazy drunks kept their jobs as I was laid off.
All capitalism is crony capitalism.
But I do have my family,who had made it into the middle-class, and they support me.
Not everyone has this.

I gave finally landed a middle-class job with extreme stability and great benifits.
I'm 47.
I no longer believe  in the system.

As I write this I am reminded that there are parallel journeys in the Latin and white Appalachian communities,among others.
We are still struggling mightily to get into the system.

Success is more stuff,better stuff, and the path forward to more stuff to our children.
We have the same affliction as the white majority, but fewer of us have made it into the system proper to realize how much of a trap it is.

My failure to become successful in the system is why I turned to gardening.
Laid off again, and desprit to feel I was providing for my family, I remembered "helping" my grandfather in the garden.
I had land,  so that plus seed and labor meant I could at least try. I was hooked. I saw a way to be free from the system.


So,rambling over.
Black people need to see permaculture as gardening,and gardening as a way to be independently wealthy.
Along the way they will rediscover why wealth is important.
Wealth is freedom from want.
Permaculture is a way to that.

My daughter spent way too much if her own money on a raspberry start,because she saw it as a golden goose that would feed her deliciousness forever.

That is why I'm in this. Freedom from want for family.
A universal message.
 
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William Bronson wrote:

As I write this I am reminded that there are parallel journeys in the Latin and white Appalachian communities,among others..



Utube channel deep south homestead was talking about sweet potatos.  In the Appalachian community everyone grew sweet potatos. It had calories, it was sweet, it kept for dang near a year. It was great to keep their family full. When the community was coming online (work a job and buy stuff), people who still grew sweet potatos were looked down as poor folk. Why grow them, when you can just buy them? To this day, some people do not grow them because of that stigma.

I have no idea if this is pertinent to the discussion,  but if you really absorb those few lines......
 
master steward
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It might also be a urban vs. rural thing. I'm totally white, so PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong, but I think many of African decent live in the cities, as urban poor. My husband (also very white) grew up urban poor. He never had a garden. His parents never grew anything. He had NO IDEA that random plants were edible. His mom always told him that everything growing outside wasn't edible "Don't eat that!" His mom also grew up urban poor, and so she had no idea how to grow things or what was edible. Same story for his dad. Most of the food they ate was either fruit, or canned/processed.

He thought spinach was mush that came in a can. He didn't know they were leaves.

He put carrots in the silverware drawer because he had no idea how to store them.

I think for many urban poor, especially those who come from generations of urban poor, (which includes my husband and a lot of African Americans) the first step is not gardening, but teaching them what real food is. Helping them to know that they can eat weeds and how they can cook raw vegetables.

Once they have that background, then introduce gardening. And then permaculture.

But, they need that basic education that they and their parents probably didn't have, of what food is.

Once my husband realized that there were things he could eat outside, he was really REALLY excited. We were dating, and everywhere we went he asked me, "Can I eat that?" My mother gardened, so I knew a bit more than him, but we both had a lot to learn. He always had loved dandelions, but didn't know he could eat them! Realizing that there is FREE FOOD outside is really cool for both of us, but it was especially amazing for my husband who had been poor and hungry and even homeless.

Another aspect of permaculture that he's attracted to is Guerrilla Gardening. It's kind of a "stick it to the man" kind of empowerment that really appeals to him. It might appeal to many other oppressed people.

Church groups, social justice groups, etc, might be a great way to reach this demographic, too.
 
William Bronson
pollinator
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Nicole Alderman wrote:
I think for many urban poor, especially those who come from generations of urban poor, (which includes my husband and a lot of African Americans) the first step is not gardening, but teaching them what real food is.



Too true.
I've been to  local food banks where the produce goes unclaimed .
There was no limit-I took everything I could carry.
The other patrons asked me what I was going to do with carrots, turnips, greens and rubarbs.
I explained as best I could, but...

My sister teaches classes called " Cooking For the Family" .
Here clients are intercity poor of all races.
A charity sponsors classes on how  to cook from scratch.
The idea is to teach them to save money  and improve health through better eating.
I've taken her class, it's excellent.
But when she us dealing with folks who add cups of sugar to their pasta water, it's an uphill climb.
 
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I don't know either Paul.

Sometimes I think similar to what Brother Bronson said, or Ms Alderman.

Sometimes I think it's because the connection between restorative gardening being a solution for institutionalized racism is too abstract for some folk. (Gil Scott Heron puts it better in that song "Whitey on the Moon")

Sometimes I think;  well, Slave traders didn't go to Africa looking for people to lay railroad track, they were looking for people to cultivate the soil and harvest crops; and having a garden might bring up painful confrontations of that history for some. (And for me personally, and also how I got into permaculture, ways to heal too the cool relief of shade from the harsh light of realization that someone sees my brown skin not for its rich suppleness.)

Is there anything peculiar about Permaculture that specifically puts off any single Black Person, or is unattractive to the Black Experience in America?
Naah, unless someone is deep into it right now and tries to play the "but foreign white guys are evil" card.

Obviously this is all "in general" thinking. Which isn't particularly helpful. Looking back on my experience, it sounds similar to Brother Bronson's. My family, both my black side and my white side, are in the grind right now. Trying to catch up with the Jones.

*I just wanted to add one very specific thing; I was born in the United States to parents who for all intents and purposes trace their lineage from the dawn of time itself to the United States. I can't speak for any other black experience in the African Diaspora. I can only speak on what it's like to be interested in restorative gardening, while brown skinned and living in Berkshire County, Ma.
 
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A friend brought an old friend visiting from his home back in Cleveland by to see my place and talk permaculture. When I went to greet them and realized his friend was black, it occurred to me that in this embarrassingly white part of the country, this may be the first time my at the time two year old great pyrenees-akbash would meet a black man. A Wayans brothers' movie flashed before my eyes and I prayed that Wilson would not be a stereotypically racist white dog. Alas, he loved him like all other nice people, and we had a great conversation. He had run for Cleveland city council and seemed mainly interested in empowering and uplifting his community (regardless of race), and saw gardening and permaculture as a way to cultivate autonomy and self-determination. He said he didn't have much experience gardening or permaculture but he clearly "got it" on a intellectual and ethical level. It seems like so much of social justice work could be buoyed by the autonomy we get when supplying for our own basic needs. I work with a NW CA tribe currently and think many parallels exist between this community and what I saw in my inner city Seattle in high school, with a lot of positives coming out of or surviving the crucible of injustice in marginalized cultures. At the same time I just can't claim to know how it feels to be something other than a white male. It occurred to me as I am preparing for a cross country trip to see family that is stressing me out, being black in America might just feel like you are going through TSA security for your entire life. Damn that'd be a bunch of bullshit.
 
pollinator
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I agree with the OP's title statement, but it is, to my mind, perhaps an unnecessarily narrow focus. There are many non-black, non-white demographics whose plights overlap, and there are impoverished people of all descents, white people included, locked into cycles of poverty that, in my opinion, have at least been exacerbated by this push to discard things agricultural as backwards, in favour of urban living.

There is a stigma in some urban circles regarding rural life. Oh, city folk (I live in Toronto, I can talk) live for their cottages, if they can afford them, but if you live too far on the outskirts of town, watch out.

A friend of mine in high school, as white as a Canadian kid can get, who was a hockey player and a good (but sarcastic smartass) student, and whose dad was a lawyer, was called "farmer" because he lived a half-hour's train ride out of the city's core, in former farmland that had been developed. I'm not kidding. It was in the sort of fun teenage boys are fond of, but it's like he was a hick for living on the outskirts of the commutable GTA.

So while there might be descent-specific issues, I think perceived urban superiority is a cross-cultural barrier to the urban poor seeing growing food as a way to empowerment.

That said, I think what might be needed is an US-based show, in the reality TV or BBC gardens style, geared towards American black people and hosted by an enthusiastic, charismatic host or two (and it wouldn't hurt if one was a recognised cultural figure with an established following, and the other a permaculturalist, possibly like the woman Paul mentioned earlier, Pandora Thomas), who would travel to different permacultural operations, do interviews, and talk to people about how permaculture, in urban, suburban, and rural settings can be used to uplift and empower communities everywhere.

I wonder what Oprah's up to? Or Beyoncé?

Or perhaps a setup where a different black celebrity who would get involved with an existing permaculture project, or create a new one, possibly in an urban food desert, hosts each episode, keeping the format simple and open-ended, such that more could easily be added as momentum made the rock easier to push.

Mind you, I like the idea of a guerilla gardening segment each episode. Just a little "stick-it-to-the-man" in each episode. And between seed balls and guerilla grafting fruit wood onto ornamental city trees, I think there's a lot of scope for that sentiment.

Incidentally, I am suggesting a targeted audience (though Oprah would rock, and I'm not a fan, I like her, but I'm the wrong viewership demographic, I think), because I think, in the current cultural climate, that it is necessary to spread permaculture to people on the grassroots level as empowerment and food safety and security. I think getting more people into the creation of things, of life, from the work of their hands will empower them in a visceral way, in a way not easily conveyed in words, and perhaps one that will spread to other aspects of their lives.

I am not joking, or being facetious in any way. You've got Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart on a cooking show, and BBC and HGTV specials on people's extreme or extravagant or amazing homes and gardens and whatever else they can find six of, and they keep making the shows because they make money. We can harness that momentum for our cause

-CK
 
gardener
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I suspect that things are better for families that still have some connection to the South, whether it be land held there or relatives that are visited. I was at a farm in South Carolina back in the 90s, and black children from the north were visiting their grandfather who produced a wide array of food. Those kids participated and would  no doubt remember what quality meals tasted like.

When I was a kid in Southern Ontario Canada, some of the Amish families would have black children from the Detroit area stay with them for the summer. These kids learned about food production and they witnessed some of the most stable family situations imaginable. We just never heard of Amish people getting divorced.
...........
I spent a month in Kenya recently. The same divide between rural and urban has quickly developed there in just the last couple generations. Rural people and those in small villages produce almost everything that they eat. My girlfriend's grandmother is 98.  Two married couples in that village celebrated their 70th Anniversary last year. They eat a very traditional diet that contains meat, eggs and lots of fresh vegetables and fruit.

Many people in the city eat far too much starch, in the form of maize and rice, and they eat too much sugar.

In the city of Kisumu,  I was talking to a group of men in their 20s and 30s who were working on a building project. They were astounded to find that I am 53 years old. They thought I was in my 30s. There was a general consensus that they would probably live to 45 or 50 years old. Diabetes and other diet-related things have caused shocking health problems, particularly amongst urban men, who tend to drink more and overindulge in many unhealthy processed foods. All of them still had strong connections to their home villages, and they had all seen old people in those places. We spoke about the health benefits of the traditional diet, that has been abandoned, during their lunch break, when everyone except me had a Coke or power drink.

I took a long walk around one of the neighborhoods, very early in the morning, so that I could peek over the fences and see what people were growing. Many of these places had space to grow something, but there was nothing. In a place that gets consistent rain and has a 12-month growing season, many don't grow anything edible.

My girlfriend's aunt has a larger than average place that has a consistent water supply. She is considerably more wealthy than most and she grows nothing edible. It took a bit of careful questioning, for me to determine that it is considered low class to grow anything but ornamentals in her upscale neighborhood. Poor people in the city tend to live in tight quarters with a paved courtyard. Almost all of the green space is privately held by wealthier citizens who would rather grow palm trees and other ornamentals that boost their status, amongst others who consider gardening to be a low class activity.
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No food grown on this large property, her aunt's house
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Several garden plots at both the grandmother and uncle's place in the country. Chickens everywhere
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Her aunt is already older than the young men in the city expect to live. Look at those teeth. Healthy environment and food equals healthy people. The grandmother is 40 years older than her.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm not sure what I said, but it got them smiling. Usually something provocative, like show us some boob.

I witnessed this Rural - Urban divide everywhere in Kenya. Small villages contained fit looking people of a healthy weight. The cities contain people who look tired, with quite a few who are fat. Some children have hair that isn't quite the right color. Evidence of malnutrition. The rural kids who sold fruit and vegetables along the roadside, always looked fit and healthy.

The television promotes breakfast cereals, cornmeal, sugar and margarine. The ad for one prominent company says "making healthy children for 60 years". That's about how long this transition has taken and that company is one of the worst culprits.
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The grandmother's Place contains several other houses that are occupied by relatives and hired help. The grass is maintained quite short around the buildings, as a way of keeping snakes away. Cattle do all of the work
 
paul wheaton
master steward
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Maybe a good question is:  why do people even ask?  We are a group of people that are bonkers about permaculture.  If the person asking the question has observed that there appears to be not many black people involved in permaculture, then maybe we should ask a question "how do you know that?  What is your metric?  How do you measure interest in people eating apples?   Or in people who like to whittle?  Or gardening?" 

12.3% of americans are black.  3.6% of the people getting degrees in ag are black.  Those ag schools seem a bit short on interest from black people.  And ag schools have money and the means to measure.  Maybe the person asking the question would get better answers if they go and ask the ag schools.

Until then .... my guess is that about 4% of the people that have come here have been black.   So why is it 4% and not 12%?  My guess is that 4% of american gardeners are black.  Just a guess.
 
master steward
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paul wheaton wrote:Maybe a good question is:  why do people even ask? 




I suspect that the question is a stepping stone placed by the person asking the question, to illicit a certain response which will allow them to move on to suggest that there is some unfair discrimination that has lead to the numbers in the statistics being as they are.  But then again, some folks just might be curious. 

Why aren't there more X people in Y field of study?
I would imagine the factors involved are numerous and complex. Though I'll be the first to admit that I like a short and sweet answer, some things can't be boiled down to a soundbite.  That's the trouble with discourse in today's age.  There's too much info and not enough time. AND nobody has enough time to really dissect all of these complex questions, but we all still want an answer.  So we go with the quickest, most basic thing that we can come up with and we go with that.  Even if somebody put a ton of effort into writing a book completely devoted to answering that specific question, almost nobody would bother reading it. That's kind of how we operate now. 

Of course this is just my stupid opinion. 
 
Dale Hodgins
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I think it is a very legitimate question for the United States, where a large segment of the black population are people who could really improve their lives through the good food and financial savings of producing their own food. Think of it as an untapped market. A large group of people who aren't involved in something that others in similar financial circumstances often embrace.

There are most certainly reasons why these folks aren't involved in agriculture. So it's a matter of determining what the barriers are. Will Allen of Growing Power has done a lot of work in that regard and so has his daughter. They have made agriculture accessible to many urban poor.

I think sometimes many people on this site are concerned with becoming as rural as possible. Buying a place way out in the sticks seems to be a common goal. With millions of Americans living in cities, this would seem to be an important group to convert to sustainable agriculture. The American Rust Belt has many residential areas, where there are vacant lots available at nominal cost. The land is there and the people are there. It's a matter of putting them together and creating a culture where self-reliance in the food department is seen as a positive thing.

I think it's perfectly natural that slaves and sharecroppers would aspire to almost any profession outside of agriculture. Agriculture was not very empowering for them. Upwardly mobile families have a proud history of abandoning agriculture. But everything has changed so it's just a matter of the culture adapting to embrace the idea that there is nothing low or shameful about getting down in the dirt and producing your own food.
 
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I personally believe this comes down to the Urban vs Rural lifestyle.  I read somewhere that ~80% of whites live outside cities (subdivisions/neighborhoods/truly rural areas) while ~70% of Blacks and Latinos live within the Urban area.  I know it's been said by people above, but i think it comes down to generations of people living in cities where they're taught that the only safe food is what comes from your grocery store.

To Paul's numbers and mine kinda combined:
~325.7M People in the US
~42M Black people in the US
~60M people in rural america


This means that only about 12.6M Black people live in Rural/Suburban environments.

Here is where my math is less that perfect.  About 74% of the population describe their home location as Suburban or Rural.   21% of people described it as specifically Rural.  So this means that somewhere between 241M and 68M live in a place where they would have some land.  That's a really huge spread.  If we assume somewhere in between (lets say 100M for easier math) then ~12.6% of rural americans are black.

Personal Example:

My oldest daughter (legally step-daughter but i've raised her since she was ~6mos old) visits her biological father (Hispanic which for the topic might matter but imo it doesn't) in Virginia each summer.  They are a poorer more urbanized family.  While technically the own some land they do nothing with it.  90% of my daughter's meals while she is there are from fast food.  Her biological father cooks basically nothing.  My daughter has to force him to go to the store just to make sure she has fresh fruit to eat.  There is a noticeable difference in her health/weight in the 6weeks she spends with him.

As she has gotten older I have taught her to cook small things and introduced her to more veggies and fruits (though she is a very picky eater) and then she goes to his house and she's not allowed to cook.  It's a touch frustrating.  I think a lot of it has to do with his urban mindset.

I digress as i could probably talk about this off and on all day.


*disclaimer* all math and items here are simply google/research/my own opinions.

**Side note:  happy dance i got a Carolina Reaper plant last night for my garden**
 
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as someone that lived in a multi-generational intentional community that had a mennonite/nu-monasticism bent, we got asked the same question. We were also in chicago. Some people of color came to the meeting house (church) but actually in household or the common purse? none that were black and most people of color (latino, asian) were of a higher socio-economic status (went to college, grad school). We went to conferences and gatherings of other intentional communities and the same question was asked. where's the diversity?

I think people of lower socio-economic class have little exposure to things that take time and money to be involved in. who has time or space to garden when you are in a rental, take the bus to work, work for very little pay, and don't even have time to cook food let alone grow it. black people indeed cook of course, but growing it is even more involved. i don't know if it's been historically/culturally respected to go from working in an owner's field to working in...some other white guy's field. that's a big difference between latinos and african americans. many latinos work on farms and have ideas of going back to latin america to grow there own food despite their lower socio economic class.

i feel like black people are trying to live a life that the dominant culture can respect. and how they approach idealism or hope is through their current realities, non-opportunties, whatever their struggles are, etc. if you want to have respect, i think a lot of people look to the people around them to give them that through the other people's values. it takes a LOT of independence and idealism to wander into permaculture and find your own kind of value and then wonder if anyone else shares that, and i feel the communal aspect of the black community doesn't easily allow for such wild independence. i would guess that a black permie would come from a higher s/e class and probably has an education. (just like most other permies).

not saying someone couldn't break the mold, just unlikely.
 
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True progress in food production and in life requires 3 things:

1. Stability / Consistency
> You must be diligent and sow/harvest within the correct time frame.

2. Improvement
> Your soil must be cared for properly with water, organic matter / fertilizer, mulch, etc

3. Gratefulness
> You must be thankful for the planting area you do have and use it. If it is not enough... you will wait until you have "more" and that time may never come.


At a young age many minorities have these problems... this can be parental issues, other siblings, financial swings, relationship issues, culture swings, legal issues, etc.  If you have UPLIFTING UPS and DEPRESSING DOWNS on a regular basis you cannot develop a trust in the process and you will have a "lucky" or "gambler" outlook on life. Those not grateful for what they have will envy others who have more.. comparison is truly the thief of joy and mentally crippling.

I am in my early 30's now and my wife is just younger than I am, we have been together for 11 years. We both came from lower middle class families that were dysfunctional yet (1)STABLE and CONSISTENT. In my early 20's I listened to Tony Robbins and he honestly changed my life. To put it simply he teaches (2) "CANI" or "Constant And Never-ending Improvement". Progress takes exactly that... constant and never-ending improvement. I will not list my achievements as there are many others who are far better off than I but I will tell you we do not have day jobs and own all our properties and have never had any bank financing.

We are very (3) grateful for what we have and we do not need fancy cars, fancy homes or fancy clothes to prove our worth to others... we have had all those things and they do not bring happiness I assure you. Our pride is not injured by others opinions as we are very (3) grateful to be alive and given the opportunity to thrive.

Stability -> Improvement -> Gratefulness
Gratefulness -> Improvement -> Stability

If you are not grateful for what you have, you will make decisions that are likely to enslave you to another in the form of debt. If you are enslaved to another by debt it is difficult to make improvements and if you stumble just once, you can lose all stability and be forced to start again.

The cycle repeats...

This is not only for tangible real world assets but for your own mental fortitude.

-----

The majority of black culture in-particular lacks these 3 things... it is the culture of learned behavior in society that is the true issue here and not race... as we are all related and share common ancestry.
 
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I think all we can do is offer people "equality of opportunity"
if we are concerned about the lack of some section of the population in permaculture
demonstrate the value of permaculture to them
and let them make their own decision

here Val is doing a project right where the target audience lives


 
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Another aspect of permaculture that he's attracted to is Guerrilla Gardening. It's kind of a "stick it to the man" kind of empowerment that really appeals to him. It might appeal to many other oppressed people. 

favorite Ted Talks on the Subject
 
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There are some people who are doing everything Permaculture advocates, yet are uncomfortable with the word "permaculture", or the Permaculture Movement, or both.  I suspect there are black community leaders with this perspective who are doing a lot to reconnect people with land, healthy food, community, etc.

One such leader I happened across on the internet some months ago is Leah Penniman.  Her writing is challenging to me, as I don't have much exposure to Social Justice writing or work in my daily life.  Nevertheless, I think it is important to listen to many perspectives, especially from people doing good work. 

Here is a random selection of Leah Penniman's web presence:
* Her farm: Soul Fire Farm does CSA and education retreats.  Her writings also linked.  She has a book coming out later this year.
* A sample of her writing: After a Century In Decline, Black Farmers Are Back And On the Rise 
 
duane hennon
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go where the need and opportunity exists
there's more to permaculture than just urban farming (but that may get your foot in the door)




Scott Adams talks with the amazing Bill Pulte, founder of Blight Authority


https://www.theblightauthority.com/

The Blight Authority


 
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Funny thing about this whole post is that as I sit here in New Zealand reading it I have no idea of the skin colour or cultural/ethnic/racial background of any of the participants.  Is race really that much of a big deal? Can any of you know if my racial background is Maori, European, Chinese, Indian, or anything else, and would it make any difference to how you understood what I say if you did know? I think this question is more interesting than the point of the OP (no offence intended)!
 
pollinator
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There certainly remains a cultural bias against farming and anything agrarian in the African American community.  Regardless of the individual's socio-economic status, the larger Black community views gardening/farming/growing your own food as a "poor person's job", and that's just not something people want to be associated with. 

Think back 250 years, when Africans were brought to this country for agricultural labor.  The residue of that horrible period in history lives on.  Even post emancipation, agricultural work was share-cropping and landless poverty.  The ongoing legacy is that many African Americans associate anything having to do with growing food and tending the land something that they are thrilled to be free of.  White people never have had that association.  Even something as small as tending a flower garden or growing roses is seen as a white thing.  The great migration from the poor rural south to the industrial cities of the north (Chicago, Detroit, Akron, Gary, Pittsburg, etc.) in the 40's, 50's and 60's was a cultural statement: "We are leaving that life behind."

There is, however, a distinction to be made between the African American community and the Black community.  If you live in a place like Florida, where there are lots of Haitians, Cubans, Dominicans and others from the islands to the south, they do not call themselves African American, and see their culture as something distinct from the dominant AA community.  They are much more likely to keep a garden, cook with veggies they grow from seed, and see no dishonor in agricultural labor or in keeping a few chickens in a back-yard coop.
 
duane hennon
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how do outside "experts" work with communities?

1. find an local champion
2. start small
3. be patient





so whether it's water catchment systems, community gardens, housing, etc
the approach is the same
educate and build trust
and I would add - approach clients as equals


 
He loves you so much! And I'm baking the cake! I'm going to put this tiny ad in the cake:
Binge on 17 Seasons of Permaculture Design Monkeys!
http://permaculture-design-course.com
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