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Wilfred Roe

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Recent posts by Wilfred Roe

Santa Barbara Permaculture Network Eco Hero Award
Honoring Visionary Mycologist Paul Stamets &
Award-winning Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg
Friday, June 17, 6:30-9pm, 2022
TICKETS $20, $40, & $100

Location: Lobero Theatre
33 E Canon Perdido St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Tickets on Sale Now: Lobero Ticket Office

More Info:

Please join Santa Barbara Permaculture Network as we celebrate our second annual Eco Hero Award honoring visionary mycologist Paul Stamets and award-winning cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg.

The Santa Barbara Permaculture Network Eco Hero Award honors those individuals who have committed themselves to work in service of the planet and its inhabitants for more than thirty years, with actual solutions and concrete ways forward that benefit many, often on a global scale, while demonstrating pathways forward for future generations.

Both Paul Stamets and Louie Schwartzberg will join us to receive the award, Paul live via Zoom, with Louie live in theater.  They will share their experiences—what inspired them, how they made their projects happen, and what challenges they faced along the way—with time for the audience to ask questions, especially encouraging youth attending to interact.

Film clips from their collaboration on joint projects, including the amazing Fantastic Fungi film will be shown, and also clips from Louie Schwartzberg’s most recent film, Gratitude Revealed will also be shared with the audience.  

A special treat following the event will be beautiful time-lapse MOVING ART photography of nature's splendor projected on the outdoor wall of the Lobero Theatre, which Louie Schwartzberg also shared with audiences at the Vatican in St. Peters Square in Rome in 2015.  All are welcome to attend.

Paul Stamets is a preeminent mycologist in the United States and an award-winning author, researcher, and renowned speaker, sharing with the public the unusual and profound connection between humans and mushrooms. He is an entrepreneur and founder of Fungi Perfecti, a family-owned, environmentally-friendly company, and has authored many books including, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Heal the World, and Fantastic Fungi, written in collaboration with the Fantastic Fungi film.

Louie Schwartzberg is an American director, producer, and cinematographer, recognized as a pioneer in high-end time-lapse cinematography, and visual artist known for breaking down barriers of perception and taking viewers on journeys of time and scale.  For more than forty years, with his studio Moving Art his passion has been telling stories through film that celebrate life and reveal the mysteries and wisdom of nature, most recently with the conscious shifting film Fantastic Fungi where once again he makes the invisible visible for his audiences.

The event takes place at the Lobero Theatre on Friday, June 17, from 6:30 pm – 9 pm, tickets on sale at the Lobero Ticket office (fees apply), 805-963-0761; (current COVID-19 mandates for public theaters are listed on the Lobero website).  For more information,;
A Community Event Hosted by Santa Barbara Permaculture Network

Cosponsors: Santa Barbara Permaculture Network, Blue Sky Biochar, Bamboo DNA, Teeccino, Community Environmental Council (CEC), SBCC Environmental Horticulture, Explore Ecology, Regenerative Landscape Alliance, Island Seed & Feed, Orella Ranch-Gaviota Givings, Santa Barbara Aquaponics, Sustainable World Radio, World Business Academy, The Optimist Daily, Quail Springs Permaculture, Hour Books, Mesa Harmony Garden, Wingnut Mushroom Farm, Rincon-Vitova Insectaries, Ojai Center for Regenerative Agriculture (CRA), and the Santa Barbara Independent.

3 months ago
Santa Barbara Permaculture Network  Presents
Beavers in the Landscape

Climate, Fire, Drought, Who do you call? Beavers!
Ecosystem Restoration Heroes

An Evening with Dr. Emily Fairfax
Thursday, November 11, 2021
5-8pm,  FREE
Farmer & the Cook Restaurant / Outdoor Patio
(Wood-fired Pizza available)
339 W. El Roblar Dr, Meiners Oaks CA (near Ojai)

Beaver dams are gaining popularity as a low-tech, low-cost strategy to build climate resiliency at the landscape scale.  Emily Fairfax

Join Santa Barbara Permaculture Network for an evening with Dr. Emily Fairfax, PhD. as she shares her research focused on beaver, a keystone species, that until very recently was a vastly underrated ecosystem restoration hero.

Passionate about science from a young age, Dr. Fairfax was happy when nature and science came together with her interest in beavers.  As a geoscientist who studies ecohydrology of wetlands and riparian areas, it was a perfect academic and vocational match.

Beavers are native to North America (Castor canadensis), in populations topping 600 million before trappers in the 1800’s decimated their numbers almost to extinction.  They were responsible for a landscape most early settlers and farmers took for granted--- deep soils built up over centuries--- in wetlands they created.  These wetlands then and now function as natural sponges trapping silt and water, which are excellent carbon sinks.    

With extended droughts and catastrophic fires plaguing California and the West in recent years, Dr. Fairfax began focusing her research on the impact of beaver on wildfires.  Squishy, wet landscapes simply don’t burn.  And where beaver are, with multiple dam and pond complexes, squishy land abounds.  These observations of the positive impact of beavers on wildfires prompted Dr. Fairfax to coin the phrase “Smokey the Beaver”.

Of course beavers and human settlements are often at odds.  But in communities like Martinez, CA, where a popular Beaver Festival takes place every year, they and others have demonstrated these conflicts can be managed with clever strategies, good for the beaver and the community.   And with these kind of beaver management strategies come interesting new jobs, especially good for our next young adult generation, many who yearn for positive livelihoods.  As a part of the evening event we will share the work of, Cooper Lienheart a recent engineering grad of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, who currently works as a SLO Beaver Brigade Restoration Specialist, and has decided to make beaver and wetland restoration his life work.  

Dr. Emily Fairfax is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Resource Management at California State University Channel Islands. Dr. Fairfax double majored in Chemistry and Physics as an undergraduate at Carleton College, later earning a PhD in Geological Sciences from the University of Colorado Boulder.  She uses a combination of remote sensing and field work to research how beaver activity can create drought and fire resistant patches in the landscape under a changing climate.

The event takes place on Thursday, November 11, 5-8pm, at the Farmer & the Cook Restaurant, outdoor patio, 339  W. El Roblar Dr, Meiners Oaks (near Ojai). Woodfired Pizza available for purchase.  For more info contact, 805-962-2571,

Hosted by Santa Barbara Permaculture Network
Co-sponsors: The Farmer & the Cook; San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, & Ojai Beaver Brigades

Read More, Additional Resources:

Dr. Emily Fairfax Research
Emily Fairfax: Smokey the Beaver: Beaver-dammed Riparian Corridors Stay Green During Wildfire Throughout the Western United States
Beavers and Wildfire: a stop-motion story by Emily Fairfax
Visiting a Beaver Lodge with Dr. Emily Fairfax, Upper Salinas River, Atascadero, CA
Beaver Institute/Articles Related to Beaver & Climate Change
California Beaver Summit 2021 Youtubes  
Managing Beaver Conflicts: SLO Beaver Brigade Shares Solutions
Beavers held the world - Conversation with Ben Goldfarb
Grey Owl's Speaking for the beavers
Large Beaver Pond Grand Tetons National Park
Interactive video/ Creation of a Beaver Ecosystem
San Luis Obispo Beaver Brigade
Santa Barbara Beaver Brigade
Ojai Beaver Brigade
10 months ago
Fantastic Fungi Santa Barbara Film Premiere  
One Night Only!


Sunday, November 24, 4pm (doors open at 3:30pm)

Marjorie Luke Theater
721 E. Cota St Santa Barbara CA 93103

Tickets $20 General, $15 Students

VIP After Party at Barbareño’s,
A one-of-a-kind fungi-centric after party
Join Louis Schwartzberg and local Santa Barbara cultivars, foragers, & educators on the Barbareno patio
7pm, Tickets $50
205 W. Canon Perdido, Santa Barbara, 93101

Tickets can be purchased in advance online for the film, and, or VIP After Party:

When so many are struggling for connection, inspiration, and hope, Fantastic Fungi brings us together as interconnected creators of our world.  

Fantastic Fungi is a consciousness-shifting film that takes the audience on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet.  Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil, and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offer us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges.

This stunning documentary explores the power, beauty, complexity, and importance of the often-overlooked fungi kingdom, offering solutions to some of the most pressing medical and environmental challenges we face.

Fantastic Fungi is being released in tandem with the book Fantastic Fungi: How Mushrooms Can Heal, Shift Consciousness, and Save the Planet. Edited by Paul Stamets.  The book will be on sale at the event.

Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer whose notable career spans more than four decades providing breathtaking imagery using his time-lapse, high-speed and macro cinematography techniques. Schwartzberg is a visual artist who breaks barriers, connects with audiences, and tells stories that celebrate life and reveal the mysteries and wisdom of nature, people, and places.

Louie’s theatrical releases include the 3D IMAX film Mysteries of the Unseen World with National Geographic, narrated by Forest Whitaker; the documentary, Wings of Life for Disneynature, narrated by Meryl Streep, and Americas Heart and Soul for Walt Disney Studios.

Community Cosponsors:   Santa Barbara Permaculture Network, Community Environmental Council (CEC),, Antioch University Santa Barbara, World Business Academy, SBCC Environmental Horticulture, Fairview Gardens, Explore Ecology, Blue Sky Biochar, Mesa Harmony Garden, Quail Springs Permaculture, Center for Regenerative Agriculture (CRA), Sweetwater Collaborative, Isla Vista Food Coop, Oasis Design, Santa Barbara Aquaponics, Sustainable World Radio, LoaCom, & Edible Santa Barbara Magazine

More Info:

Fantastic Fungi Trailer

Fantastic Fungi Santa Barbara Event Page:

Fantastic Fungi website:
2 years ago
Santa Barbara Permaculture Network Presents

Healing Earth
An Ecologist’s Journey of Innovation & Environmental Stewardship
Healing Earth: An Ecologist's Journey of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship
with Author & Ecologist John Todd

Friday Evening Talk & Book-Signing,
October 18, 6:30-8:30pm  2019
Admission $10 (pay at the door, or Eventbrite)

Saturday Workshop, October 19,  9:30am -12:30pm

Admission $30, Students Free (must preregister on Eventbrite)

Location: Antioch University Santa Barbara Community Hall
602 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Facebook Event Page

Short Video: What is a Living Machine? John Todd & Ecological Design

Read More…

The solutions for the future are going to depend entirely on us becoming intimately attuned to the natural world - John Todd

Please join Santa Barbara Permaculture Network on October 18th & 19th for an inspiring two day event with renowned ecologist John Todd, sharing his newly published book, Healing Earth, An Ecologist’s Journey of Innovation & Environmental Stewardship.

A stand-out from the sea of despairing messages about climate change, well-known sustainability elder John Todd has taught, mentored, and inspired such well-known names in the field as Janine Benyus, Bill McKibben, and Paul Hawken.

Best known for his Eco-Machines, greenhouses with tanks filled with a variety of plants and other living organisms capable of turning sewage and wastewater into pure drinking water, John Todd is an evolutionary biologist working in the general field of ecological design.  Ecological design uses sunlight, biodiversity and natural processes to create clean water with the byproducts of natural gases and biological material.

John Todd’s work has spanned nearly five decades demonstrating how nature is capable of cleaning up some of the most toxic messes modern technology and the industrial revolution has unleased on the planet.  From old textile mills on the East Coast of America still polluting rivers and waterways, to ongoing oil spills, to luxury resort hotels, high rises, and even cities needing to solve present day sewage and water issues, John Todd has offered pragmatic visions of hope with his revolutionary ecological designs.

Todd’s recently published book Healing Earth, An Ecologist’s Journey of Innovation & Environmental Stewardship, chronicles many examples of workable engineering solutions for environmental problems, such as healing the aftermath of mountain-top removal and valley-fill coal mining in Appalachia; using windmills and injections of bacteria to restore the health of a polluted New England pond; working with community members in a South African village to protect an important river; and concrete suggestions for solving as yet unresolved issues related to the climate crisis.

John Todd is a biologist and the founder and president of John Todd Ecological Design.  He holds degrees covering the fields of agriculture, parasitology, tropical medicine, fisheries and ethology. In addition to new paradigms in an academic setting, he is the founder and president of Ocean Arks International, a non-profit research and education organization and co-founder of New Alchemy Institute, a research center that has done pioneering investigation into organic agriculture, aquaculture and bioshelters. In 2008 he received the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award for the best idea and concept to help save the planet and humanity. In 2007 he was named one of the top 100 visionaries of the 20th century by Resurgence & Ecologist magazine, and in the “Genius Issue” of Esquire he was profiled as one of top 35 figures in “Inventing Modern America.”

The evening talk & book-signing takes place on Friday, October 18, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm, admission $10 (books available for purchase at the event).  A Saturday morning workshop follows on October 19, from 9:30-12:30pm, $30 (must preregister for workshop on Eventbrite, sign up early as the workshop will likely sell out). Both events take place at the Antioch University Santa Barbara Community Hall, 602 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. For more information contact:, 805-962-2571,

A Community Event Hosted by
Santa Barbara Permaculture Network

Part of the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network Civics 101 for Climate Change Series

Co-sponsors: Santa Barbara Permaculture Network, Antioch University, World Business Academy, Blue Sky Biochar, Teeccino, El Capitan Canyon Resort, Santa Barbara Aquaponics, Community Environmental Council, and the Santa Barbara Independent

Facebook Event Page

Learn More:

Saturday Morning Workshop Oct 19/Must Preregister on Eventbrite

NEW BOOK Healing Earth - An Ecologist’s Journey of Innovation & Environmental Stewardship

John Todd Ecological Design

Why Design Now: Eco-Machine at the Omega Center for Sustainable Living

Ocean Arks International

New Alchemy Institute & The Green Center

Ecological Design & Living Machines

Sustainable World Radio Interview with John Todd Episode 131

Eco-Machines/Living Machine examples: El Monte Sagrado Resort Taos, New Mexico; Eco Hood in Prescott, AZ

Kathe Seidel, German Botanist, first to incorporate vegetation into wastewater treatment wetlands in the 1950’s

2 years ago
The Soul of Soil and the Ecocity Future of Los Angeles -
Saturday July 14, 2018: a mini-conference at L.A. Eco-Village from 1pm to midnight.
Reservations required: or 213/738-1254
Here's what's happening, and who's talking about what. You're invited to join the conversation.  See more details below.

1 - 2pm:   Veggie potluck lunch and registration - Songs Yard.  Please bring your own non-throwaway eating ware to make this a zero waste event.

Gideon Sussman
2 - 3:30pm: Gideon Sussman, BuroHappold Lead Engineer for Songs Redevelopment Team- talks on  "What was Good for the Past May be Even Better for the Future."  - Songs Hall

3:30 - 3:45pm     Break
3:45 - 5:15pm                                                            
Kreigh Hampel, Recycling Coordinator, City of Burbank - talks on:

Kreigh Hampel
"How Mulch Good Can We Do? Satellite imaging,  microbial intelligence, the historic role of discarded nutrients, and a group exploration into the enormous potential for regenerative urban farming." - Songs Hall

5:15 - 7:00pm     Dinner - catered or bring our own - Songs Yard:  Evening Registration, Announcements, Intros and special  GUEST DINNER SPEAKERS.  

Richard Register 7:00 - 8:30pm
Richard Register - International Ecocity Visionary Revolutionary talks on "The LA Soil My Ecocity Ideas Grew Out Of - and Where They're Headed" - Songs Hall

8:30 - 8:45pm      Break

8:45 - 10:15pm   Christian Arnsperger, Economic

Christian Arnsperger
Anthropologist, University of Lausanne will talk about the "Permacircularity and Human Permaculture for a New L.A.: The Wisdom of Ecocity Fractals and the Cultivation of Urban Tribes"- Songs Yard

10:15 - 10:30pm  Break

10:30 - 11pm       Wrap-up panel and dialog with participants - Songs Yard

11pm - midnight Reading of "The Spirit of Bimini" - Late night snacks - Songs Yard
This event sponsored by CRSP in association with:
- Urban Soil-Tierra Urbana Limited Equity Housing Cooperative
- The Beverly/Vermont Community Land Trust
- Solidarity Research Center
- StreetsblogLA
-Santa Barbara Permaculture Network
Does your organizations or Agency want to be a co-sponsor to help spread the word?  Let us know, and we'll add you to this list: 213/738-1254 or
*Note that this may be the first of a series on "The Soul of Soil".  We have borrowed this theme name from the book of the same title by Joseph Smillie and Grace Gershuny  whom we hope to host at LAEV someday.


Saturday, July 14, 2018 from 1pm to midnight. Join us for any part of the day or evening as noted on the schedule above

3554 West First Street - Songs Hall and Yard. This is the new CRSP-oned property in the  North end of Los Angeles Eco-Village.   Enter on Bimini just south of W. First St.,  Los Angeles 90004

Reservations required: or 213/738-1254

Fees (sliding scale):
Afternoon sessions:  $10 - $25 or 4.5 TimeDollars to CRSP
Catered Dinner: $15 to $20 Cash or check to CRSP
Evening sessions:  $15 to $30 or 5 TimeDollars to CRSP
All sessions with dinner: $30 to $50 or 7 TimeDollars plus cash or check to CRSP for dinner.

Note: TimeDollars to CRSP ok for talks; cash or check to CRSP required for dinner.  TimeDollrs are only available to members of the ArroyoSeco Network of TimeBanks.

TRANSPORTATION: We urge you to walk, bike or use public transportation.  Check for bus/train schedules.  Bike parking along Songs Yard fence on Bimini.  Car parking - could be difficult.  Please carpool.
*Note that this may be the first of a series on "The Soul of Soil".  We have borrowed this theme name from the book of the same title by Joseph Smillie and Grace Gershuny  whom we hope to host at LAEV someday.
4 years ago
10th Annual Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap

Sunday, January 28, 2018
1:30-4:30pm, Free - Rain or Shine!

A celebration to bring seeds & people together


Trinity Gardens @ Trinity Lutheran Church, 909 North La Cumbre Road, Santa Barbara, CA

Join us for the 10th Annual Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap at a brand new location!  This year at the beautiful Trinity Gardens, with both indoor and outdoor space for lots of seed sharing activities, children welcome.  The event takes place on Sunday, January 28, from 1:30-4:30pm.

Hundreds attend every year, sharing seeds and knowledge with other backyard gardeners, plant lovers, beekeepers and farmers. Come be a part of this seed saving movement, making sure that locally adapted seed & plants are passed on to future generations.  Special speakers, children activities, & live music!  

Local groups will have plant and seed related exhibits.  Many sharing valuable seed saving techniques that encourage local gardeners to grow out and harvest some of their best seeds for future gardens and seed swaps, making us a truly food secure community.  Seed saving is a fun and easy way to connect to the circle of life.

Bring seeds, plants, cuttings, and garden knowledge to swap.

Don't have these?
Then come get seeds.
Seeds to sow.
Seeds to grow.
  Seeds to harvest.
Seeds to save and share next year.
Activities for all ages
Music that will have your toes tapping

Special Speakers throughout the day
A gathering of garden friends old and new.

A community program hosted by Santa Barbara Permaculture Network & Trinity Gardens;

Co-Sponsors: Island Seed & Feed, Botanical Interest Seeds, Santa Barbara Seed Savers Guild, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Renee’s Garden Seeds,
Healing Grounds Biodynamic Nursery, Santa Barbara Permaculture Network & Trinity Gardens

Event Facebook page (English & Spanish):

More Info:, (805) 962-2571

2018 Local Real Food Hero Award

Once again we will be honoring a Local Food & Plant Hero at the Seed Swap. This year the award goes to Jerry Sortomme, former Chair of the Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) Environmental Horticulture Department, whose love affair with plants has affected all who have met him, inspiring students of all ages for many decades.  His SBCC students, dubbed “Jerry’s kids” went on to careers in environmental science, horticulture, edible landscapes, sustainable design and other green professions.  Have you been to the SBCC Lifescape garden?  The La Huerta Historic Garden at the Old Mission?  Yup, those and more were inspired and launched by Jerry Sortomme.  Please join us in honoring this local food hero.

 Read More at:

4 years ago
9th Annual Santa Barbara
Community Seed Swap
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Santa Barbara Public Library, Faulkner Gallery
40 E Anapamu St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
11 AM - 3 PM, FREE

     Join us for an amazing free event as we celebrate the 9th Annual Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap.  Over 400 people attended last year, sharing seeds and knowledge with other backyard gardeners, plant lovers & farmers. Come be a part of this seed saving movement, making sure that locally adapted varieties of seed & plants are passed on to future generations.  Children welcome!

Bring seeds, plants, cuttings, and garden knowledge to swap.
Don't have these?
Then come get seeds.
Seeds to sow, Seeds to grow, Seeds to harvest.
Seeds to save and share next year.
Activities for all ages
Music that will have your toes tapping with Honey Suckle Possums
Special speakers throughout the day
A gathering of garden friends old and new.

A community program hosted by Santa Barbara Permaculture Network~
Co-Sponsors: Island Seed & Feed, Botanical Interest Seeds, Santa Barbara Seed Savers Guild,
Healing Grounds Nursery, & the  Santa Barbara Farmers Markets
Facebook page
More Info:, (805) 962-2571

Real Food Hero Award for 2017
At the 9th Annual Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap, once again we will present a Local Food Hero Award, this time the honor goes to Judy Sims.
Judy Sims contribution to local food systems is right at the very beginning, with the child!

An elementary school teacher who taught for many years at Monte Vista school, Judy Sims used her classroom to teach children about the environment through gardens, incorporating outdoor areas into all her teaching practices.  What kind of gardens?  Butterfly gardens, raised bed gardens,  and a remarkable half acre ethno botany garden & nature trail, that demonstrates the importance of California native plants.   Later, along with permaculture friends,  students & other community members, Judy in 2005 installed the very first Food Forest/Orchard Garden located at a Santa Barbara public school site.

Judy always had programs and projects in mind, not just for her own classroom & students, but for the entire school.  Judy and students began growing food from the gardens for a weekly farmers market, where parents shopped when picking up their kids after school.  Eventually, with funds raised from the farmers market, a salad bar lunch program was initiated into the school cafeteria, an award winning pilot project, that was later adopted district-wide.   A worm farm project Judy and students created diverted school food lunch waste from the trash, instead converting it into rich compost for the gardens.  

In time Judy retired from teaching, but never from gardening.   In 2009, she joined the  s’Cool Garden team at Santa Barbara City College Center for Sustainability as education coordinator, a part of the Orfalea Foundation School Food Initiative project, where over 25 local county schools were assisted in starting up and maintaining school gardens.

A longtime passionate community activist,  Judy has been a key participant in many local garden organizations and projects.   With typical creative energy, Judy helped create Trinity Gardens, Santa Barbara’s newest community garden.  Located on the grounds of Trinity Lutheran Church,  it is a unique community garden, where individuals can rent plots, but in addition, a large communal growing area exists with a farm manager, growing  fresh produce for food banks and other organizations who help with the needy.  She volunteers and developed the docent program for La Huerta Historic Gardens at the Old Mission, where early California Mission era plants are researched & grown .

Seed saving is a passion of Judy's, we are grateful for her participation every year with the Annual Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap, providing all the kids activities, and sharing seeds collected from her many garden sources.  In assisting the future for children and gardens, in 2015 Judy helped create the first Growing Edible Education Symposium.  

Gardeners, parents, kids, and community members salute Judy Sims, we thank her for her commitment and contribution to gardens, seed saving, and our Santa Barbara food system.  She has inspired young and old and in between for many decades.  

Past recipients for the Santa Barbara Local  Food Hero award  include Marshall Chrostowski (Pacifica Market Garden),  Lorenz Schaller(Kusa Seed Society), Matt Buckmaster (Island Seed & Feed),  and Oscar Carmona (Healing Grounds Nursery).

The Local Food Hero award is an international award developed by Vandana Shiva & the Navdanya Foundation to honor those involved in protecting seeds and contributing to a healthy sustainable food system.  More than 70% of the world’s food comes from small farms and gardens. In honoring Local Food Heroes, we are recognizing the real foundation of food security, and making a commitment to strengthen this foundation.

5 years ago
Why the Food Movement is Unstoppable
September 20, 2016 Commentaries, Environment, Health15 Comments
by Jonathan Latham, PhD
In 1381, for the first and only time, the dreaded Tower of London was captured from the King of England. The forces that seized it did not belong to a foreign power; nor were they rebellious workers – they were peasants who went on to behead the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop of Canterbury who were, after the king, the country’s leading figures. A tad more recently, in the U.S. presidential election of 1892 a radical populist movement campaigned for wealth redistribution and profound economic reform. The populists won five states. All of them were rural.

Descent from such rebels is typically claimed by unions and groups on the political left; but, over the long run of history, the most effective opponents of excessive wealth and privilege have not normally been city dwellers, workers or unions. Instead, they have usually been those with close links to food and the land, what we would now identify as the food movement.

jose bove, farmer and activist
Even today, in more than a few countries, food is the organising principle behind the main challengers of existing power structures. In El Salvador, the National Coordinator of its Organic Agriculture Movement is Miguel Ramirez who recently explained:

We say that every square meter of land that is worked with agro-ecology is a liberated square meter. We see it as a tool to transform farmers’ social and economic conditions. We see it as a tool of liberation from the unsustainable capitalist agricultural model that oppresses farmers.

The Salvadoran Organic Agriculture Movement wants much more than improved farming. It is seeking enhanced political rights, long term ecological sustainability, social equity, and popular health. Ramirez calls it “this titanic but beautiful struggle, to reclaim the lives of all Salvadorans“.

They may be small farmers, but they have a grand ambition that is even shared worldwide. But, how realistic is it? Could the food movement be the missing vehicle for transformative social change?

The question is timely. Not long ago, the New York Times asserted that the centre aisles of US supermarkets are being called “the morgue” because sales of junk food are crashing; meanwhile, an international consultant told Bloomberg magazine that “there’s complete paranoia“, at major food companies where the food movement is being taken very seriously.

The context of that paranoia is that food movements are rapidly growing social and political phenomena almost all over the world. In the US alone, there have been surges of interest in heirloom seeds, in craft beers, in traditional bread and baking, in the demand for city garden plots, in organic food, and in opposition to GMOs. Simultaneously, there has been a massive growth of interest in food on social media and the initiation or renewal of institutions such as SlowFood USA and the Grange movement, to name just a few.

Even at the normally much quieter farming end of the food value chain, agribusiness has had to resort to buying up “independent” academics and social media supporters to boost the case for GMOs and pesticides.

So whereas not so very long ago food, and even more so agriculture, were painfully unfashionable subjects, all of a sudden, individuals all over the globe have developed an often passionate interest in the products and processes of the food system.

If food regime change is in the air, the questions are: Why? Why now? And the big one: How far will it go?

The direction of the food movement

The answer to these questions comes into focus if we analyse the food movement from the perspective of five different “puzzle pieces”. If we do that we can see that there are profound reasons why the food movement is succeeding and growing.

This analysis suggests that the food movement, compared to other great social movements of the 20th Century (such as the labour, environment, civil rights, climate and feminist movements), has many of their strengths but not their weaknesses.

Further, the food movement is unexpectedly radical on account of having a distinct philosophy. This philosophy is fundamentally unique in human history and is the underlying explanation for the explosion of the food movement.

Like any significant novel philosophy, that of the food movement challenges the dominant thought patterns of its day and threatens the political and economic structures built on them. Specifically, the food movement’s philosophy exposes longstanding weaknesses in the ideas underpinning Western political establishments. In the simplest terms possible, the opposite of neoliberal ideology is not communism or socialism, it is the food movement.

The reason is that, unlike other systems of thought, food movement philosophy is based on a biological understanding of the world. While neoliberalism and socialism are ideologies, the food movement is concerned with erasing (at least so far as is possible) all ideologiesbecause all ideologies are, at bottom, impediments to an accurate understanding of the world and the universe.

By replacing them with an understanding based on pure biology, the food movement is therefore in a position to supply what our society lacks: mechanisms to align human needs with the needs of ecosystems and habitats.

The philosophy of the food movement even goes further, by recognising that our planetary problems and our social problems are really the same problem. The food movement therefore represents the beginnings of a historic ecological and social shift that will transform our relationships with each other and with the natural world.

1) The food movement is a leaderless movement

The first important piece of the food puzzle is to note that the food movement has no formal leaders. Its most famous members are individuals. Frances Moore Lappé, Joel Salatin, José Bové, Vandana Shiva, Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, Jamie Oliver, and many others, are leaders only in the sense of being thought-leaders. Unlike most leaders, including of the environment movement, or the labour movement, or the climate movement, they have all attained visibility through popular acclaim and respect for their personal deeds, their writings, or their insights. Not one of them leads in any of the conventional senses of setting goals, giving orders, deciding tactics, or standing for high office. They are neither bureaucrats nor power-brokers, but leaders in the Confucian sense of being examples and inspirations. It is a remarkable and unprecedented characteristic that the food movement is a social movement that is organic and anarchic. This not to argue it is unstructured, far from it. Rather, the food movement is self-organised. It is a food swarm and absence of formal leadership is not a sign of weakness but of strength.

2) The food movement is a grassroots movement

A second and complementary piece of the puzzle is that the food movement is far more inclusive than other social movements. It is composed of the urban and the rural, the rich and the poor, of amateurs and experts, of home cooks and celebrity chefs, farmers and gardeners, parents and writers, the employed and the unemployed. Essentially anyone, in any walk of life, can contribute, learn or benefit. Most do all three. Importantly too, just about any skill level or contribution can often be accommodated. To take just one example, in how many other social movements can a 14-year-old make an international splash?

This inclusiveness has various aspects that contribute significantly to its success. The first of these is that, unlike many protests, there is no upper limit to membership of the food movement. It is not defined in opposition to anything – it would include the whole world if it could – and so there is no essential sense in which it is exclusive. Exclusivity is often the Achilles heel of social movements, but though its opponents have tried to label it as elitist, for good reasons they have not succeeded. Granted, Prince Charles is a very enthusiastic member, but so too are rappers from Oakland, the landless peasant movement of Brazil, the instigators of the Mexican soda tax and the urban agriculture movements of Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland. Such groups are neither elite nor elitist. A better analysis would conclude that anyone can find space under its broad umbrella because the food movement does not discriminate on any grounds, least of all class. It is beyond grassroots. People see what they want in it because it is for everyone.

The second aspect of its inclusivity is that the food movement has barriers to entry that are low or non-existent. This is an important reason it has grown rapidly. These porous boundaries make the food movement unusually hard to define, however, leading some people to mistakenly conclude it is non-existent.

3) The food movement is international

A third unconventional attribute of the food movement is to be international and multilingual. In each locality it assumes different forms. The Campaign for Real Ale, Via Campesina, the Zapatistas, Slow Food and Europe’s anti-GMO movement are very different, but instead of competing or quarreling, there are remarkable overlaps of purpose and vision between the parts. This was on show at last winter’s British Oxford Real Farming Conference where food producers and good food advocates from all over the world shared stages and perspectives and the effect was to complement and inspire each other.

4) The food movement is low-budget

The fourth distinguishing characteristic of the food movement is that it has little money behind it. It might seem natural for “social movements” to be unfunded but it is in fact very rare. The climate movement has Tom Steyer, the Tea Party has the Koch brothers, Adolf Hitler’s car, chauffeur, private secretary, and of course his blackshirts, were funded by Fritz Thyssen, Henry Ford, and some of the wealthiest people in Germany. Even the labour and environment movements have dues or wealthy backers. The food movement therefore is highly unusual in owing little to philanthropic foundations or billionaire backers. Instead, it consists overwhelmingly of amateurs, individuals and small groups and whatever money they possess has followed and not led them. This is yet another powerful indication that the food movement is spontaneous, vigorous and internally driven.

5) A movement of many values

Most social movements are organised around core values: civil rights, social equality or respect for nature are common ones. What is unique about the food movement is that it has multiple values. They include human health concerns, animal welfare, agricultural sustainability, ecological sustainability, food justice and political empowerment, but even this list does not adequately capture the range of its concerns. It is a movement with many component parts.

Explaining the philosophy and synergy of the food movement

For an emergent social movement to have such unique and seemingly unconnected properties suggests the possibility of a deep explanation, and in fact there is one: the food movement embodies a profound philosophical shift.

The narrative dominating international food policy, especially post-1945, has been that food is a commodity (when it is not a weapon) and agriculture is a business. According to this narrative, neither have much to do with the environment or your health. This economic and depleted conceptualisation of food is an ideological extension of the current dominant Western philosophy, which is that of the European enlightenment. The chief character of this philosophy is to be atomistic and mechanistic, meaning that in the formal and official worlds of business, government, the law, education, etc., phenomena are presumed unconnected until proven otherwise, which usually means proven by science.

The evidence for this mindset is ubiquitous. The separation of government ministries: Health from Agriculture and both being distinct from Environment. The reduction of food to the status of an industrial raw material completely measurable by yield or profit is another. The same ideology also allows, in the United States, the agriculture “industry” to be exempt from most anti-pollution legislation, and doctors not to be educated in nutrition. The privileging of the health requirements and food needs of one species (humans) – and usually just a few of those – above that of all other organisms – is a fourth data point.

Citizens in “modern” nations are thus surrounded in everyday life by institutions and practices whose founding rationale is the ideology of disconnection. Thanks to our education, we come to see this state of mind as natural – even though it came into being quite recently – and also inevitable, even though until recently it was unique to Western society.

In contrast, the food movement believes in something very different, which can be summarised as follows: that the purpose of life is health and that the optimal and most just way to attain human health is to maximise the health of all organisms, with the most effective way to do that being through food.

This belief system is derived from practical experience. The food movement has internalised certain observations: the potential of compost to improve crop growth and soil function, the human health benefits of a varied diet, the successes of numerous farming systems in the absence of synthetic inputs, these are a few of those. It also has noted apparent powerful connections between health, agriculture, animal welfare and the environment. These connections allow for the existence of a virtuous circle in which the most ecologically healthy farms generate foods that are the healthiest and the tastiest. These farms are also the most productive. For US examples see here: and for an example from rice see here.

Except for the obviously subjective ones (like taste), there is nothing unscientific about these claims.

We are familiar with the neo-Darwinist narrative of life-as-competition, but this slugfest interpretation hides a bigger and more important truth about life: that before there can be competition, there must first be at least two organisms. Life can, and often does, exist without competition, but competition cannot exist without life. In other words, the neo-Darwinist vision is wrong in that it trivialises biology. Food philosophy replaces this view with the idea that life thrives in the presence of other life. There is perfectly good evidence for this – we know, for example, that all of the tens of millions of species on earth are interdependent. Not a single species could exist if the others were removed. For example, plants and algae excrete oxygen, which all animals need. Animals eat plants and algae, but excrete nitrogen and phosphorus, which all plants and algae need.

Similarly, at the level of individuals, if we can look past the standard mechanistic view of biology offered by celebrated scientists like neo-Darwinist Richard Dawkins, who famously called organisms “lumbering robots”, we can note that all biological organisms are in fact self-optimising and self-repairing systems. They therefore tend to maximise their own robustness and health unless, as unfortunately but commonly occurs, they are actively prevented from doing so (e.g. by a limited environment or a deficient diet).

So food philosophy envisions life in an entirely novel way. There is quite a difference between seeing nature, as the self-styled biological rationalists like to portray it, as robots slowly succumbing to the teeth and claws of vicious nature in comparison to the food view of primarily mutually beneficial interactions between vibrant and dynamic systems. The unfortunate truth for the supposed rationalists is that, as recent research into the microbiome is showing, the food philosophy view better fits the facts than does the neo-Darwinist one. Prisoners of their enlightenment ideology, the neo-Darwinists have turned the message of life on its head.

The origins of food philosophy

Food philosophy has three notable antecedents. One is philosopher Peter Singer’s famous anti-speciesist argument from his book Animal Liberation: that humans have a duty of care towards all animals, with the crucial difference being that the food movement extends Singer’s argument to all organisms, not just animals.

The second antecedent is Gaia theory which proposes that life forms create and enhance their own living conditions. The main difference being that food philosophy applies this thesis to every scale, notably to soils and to landscapes.

The third is Barry Commoner and his four laws of ecology. His second and third laws are consistent with food philosophy. However, Commoner’s First law: “Everything is connected to everything else”, needs modification. The reason is that all things are not connected equally – most connections occur primarily through food. Commoner’s fourth law, which states “There is no such thing as a free lunch”, is flatly contradicted by the virtuous circle of the food movement. All ecological systems generate synergies and synergies between organisms are free lunches; which is why, excepting occasional shocks like meteor impacts, species diversity and biological productivity on earth have continuously risen over aeons.

Like every philosophy, food philosophy implies practical consequences. It becomes the task of a food system, or any sub-part of it – such as a farm – to maximise the positive aspects of each component, so that the circle can become ever more virtuous. By the same token, the food movement believes in the existence of a downward spiral – biological impoverishments such as those that result in dust bowls. Such negative possibilities could be safely ignored were it not the case that many governments and certain businesses seem determined, even enthusiastic, to plunge headlong into them.

Food philosophy therefore represents a major split from post-enlightenment philosophy in its vision of life and biology – which for most practical purposes represents the universe we live in. In so doing it highlights how much the enlightenment was not so enlightened. Enlightenment philosophers used the foundational statement “I think therefore I am” as the justification for effectively disregarding all previous thought. They then adopted the premise that only the tools of logic and deductive reasoning could extend this thought and tell us how to achieve true knowledge and spend our time. But this core presumption was wrong. As the influential philosopher of science, Paul Feyerabend put it, enlightenment ideas are “philosophical tumours” that exemplify “the poverty of abstract philosophical reasoning”.

Food philosophy is thus in the pre-enlightenment tradition of principles deduced from real world experience. It doesn’t ask: what does rational thought reveal about how we should live. It asks: what does nature reveal about how we should live? This is why food philosophy is not a different ideology from neoliberalism or communism; rather, it is the absence of ideology. So while neoliberalism and communism and socialism are products of the enlightenment, food philosophy is not, because it gathers its evidence as directly as possible from the natural world.

To the extent it can be simplified, we might summarise food philosophy approximately as follows:

1) biological interactions allow synergisms of individual health and system productivity, which can be taken advantage of in good farming; and,

2) these biological interactions occur primarily through food, which represents the chemical energy running through the system.

This philosophy is significant in two ways. First, it explains, in general, the form, structure, and composition of the food movement.

Secondly, it predicts the likely impact of the food movement on the food system and society as a whole.

Implications of food philosophy for the food movement

The distinctive features of the food movement can be seen to stem from this philosophy.

The first feature explained by its philosophy is the self-organising and leaderless nature of the food movement. Its members act as if they were reading from an invisible script, which in a sense they are. It also goes far in explaining the lack of money. The philosophy generates values and values are often the most powerful long term motivator of human behaviour.

The attitudes of the food movement also reflect the philosophy. Since the philosophy (see points 1) and 2) above) is universal, constructive, inclusive, flexible, and non-violent, so is the movement.

To take a more detailed example, whereas people outside of the food movement (with their enlightenment hats on) tend to see the issues of human health, food quality, animal welfare, and ecological and agricultural sustainability as concerns to be solved separately (if at all), those inside food movement are likely to see them as connected and therefore insoluble except together.

As people begin to sees these issues as connected, those who enter the orbit of the food movement are likely to move deeper into it. Someone who begins by buying free range eggs, perhaps for reasons of ethics, moves on to keeping chickens and perhaps to sourcing other meats more ethically or more locally. People attracted to flavourful meat or produce are likely to expand their interests into animal welfare or become locavores, and so on. This is why the food movement is deepening and growing.

This same reasoning around the connectedness of food issues also creates an important presumption: that anyone who advances one of these goals automatically advances the rest. Consequently, alliances between individuals and between organisations are likely to form around the common goals, and so the food movement emerges as a synergy between issues formerly identified as distinct, channeling a vast reservoir of positive social energy in consistent directions.

These are explanations for formation and growth of the social movement, but the food movement does not exist for its own sake; like any social movement, it aspires to solve society-sized problems. When the food movement tackles an issue, the features noted above can become enormous assets.

There is usually no actual decision (because typically there is no leader), instead, the philosophy leads its members to use whatever resources are at hand in the most appropriate manner. They develop arguments, write letters, make calls, avoid products, share information, and so on, wherever they perceive the need or opportunity to be greatest, just as the workers of an ant or bee colony do whatever job appears in front of them without explicit orders. To the multinational corporations who are its targets, movement activity may feel like a piranha feeding frenzy. Blood is scented; arguments are sharpened; protests register on social media; more attackers arrive; the target howls; opportunistic journalists pile in; maybe some legislators too, until finally the target agrees to amend, label, or remove the offending product, ingredient or publication. These are food swarms, and they are what direct democracy looks like.

Following once again its own philosophy, food is also a guide to action. Using its enlightenment rationalisations, a government can instruct people, for example, that irradiated or GMO food is safe to eat. But it cannot make them eat it. Resistance based on food logic is always likely to beat enlightenment logic when the subject is food, because it is both rational and relatively easy for the people to both form their own opinions and spend their money elsewhere. The food system is perhaps the one domain where the people retain this power, certainly more than they do in any other domain of public life.

In consequence, time and again the arguments of the food movement: over GMO safety, the benefits of organic food, the dangers of antibiotics in animal farming, food additives, GMO labeling, and so forth, have gained traction out in the public domain (though not always yet in public policy). The combination of solid logic and practical power is hard to resist. Through its philosophy, therefore, the food movement is succeeding both in building itself and winning practical victories as it does so.

Thus one can begin to see how food issues are the organizing principle for a grand social movement. Indeed, the successes of the food movement are now sufficiently evident that major parts of the old environment movement, plus the health and wellness movements, and even parts of the labour movement, have begun to reframe their activities as coming from a food system perspective. Some have largely migrated into the food movement altogether. For example, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is much better known to the public and has been more successful through its food connections than through its union ones. To a significant degree, once separate social movements are converging to become branches of the food movement.

We can sum up this rather complex state of affairs by saying that food is a highly successful rallying point. It serves well because food is simultaneously a novel conceptual framing for much of human affairs that is strongly distinct from the standard enlightenment framings of economics and social Darwinism, but also because it acts as a potent organising principle for individuals to act around. Food succeeds as a conceptual framing because it is simultaneously anthropocentric and truthful, and it succeeds as an organising principle because food fruitfully highlights the practical biophysical linkages between issues. So while most frames are artificial mental constructs that have zero underlying biological or physical substance, the frame used by the food movement also precisely reflects the key biological reality that a universal daily requirement of all humanity, is food. Good food. And the same is true for other species. Thus, our good food also needs good food, and so on ad (almost) infinitum. Anyone who adopts that devastating logic has a huge advantage, not only in understanding how the world really works, but also in acting on that information.

How will the food movement impact society?

Ideas are the currency of power. Philosopher Peter Singer wrote the book Animal Liberation in 1975. It spawned the international animal rights movement and drove society-wide debates on the human usage of animals for research and in agriculture. Forty years later, the increasing popularity of veganism shows his ideas are still gathering momentum. Singer’s achievement was to show that enlightenment thinkers had attempted to rationalise – rather than ditch – the concept of human exceptionalism, which dated back at least to the Bible’s authorisation of Man’s dominion over the earth. At a stroke, Singer destroyed the arguments for treating animals badly and provided a perfect example of how enlightenment rationalisations have functioned to constrain modern thought, and most particularly the human potential to do good.

Because they go far beyond our treatment of sentient animals and extend to all organisms, the ideas of food philosophy are significantly more profound and far-reaching than those of Peter Singer. Food philosophy is an intellectual key to overthrowing mechanistic reductionist society. Much of standard economics, large parts of biology such as neo-Darwinism (selfish genes) and genetic determinism, reductionist biology and medicine, which at present are the centrepieces of Western education, will come to be seen in their proper light, which is as largely irrelevant to the functioning of whole systems. These are the “philosophical tumours” that stand in the way of human development. To the many individuals who suspect that enlightenment thought is the engine driving our societies over an ecological cliff, food philosophy offers the conceptual way out.

Enlightenment thought arose in tandem with industrialising societies. Enlightenment thinkers laid the groundwork for a meritocratic and commercial society to replace feudalism, but the grand irony is that they did not themselves gain acceptance solely on merit. Rather, they were selected for their usefulness. Their ideas justified the necessary concepts the new society came to rely on: mechanisation, individualism, and competition. Enlightenment philosophers were largely establishment figures giving form to establishment thought. Nowadays their ideas are used for preserving this order, but since the intellectual flaws of that understanding are increasingly manifesting as ecological crisis and social disorder, the same process is happening in reverse.

But the question has long been what will take their place? As I was completing this essay I consulted The History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell. Even in 1946, Russell saw that a satisfactory philosophical resolution to the problem of how to reconcile power and the benefits of social cohesion with individual liberty was yet to be reached. At the very end of introducing modern philosophy he writes that the scientific enterprise tips the balance towards power, but is itself “a form of madness” in that it prioritises means over ends. Without a philosophical antidote this imbalance will become “dangerous”. He concludes “To achieve this a new philosophy will be needed”.

Enlightenment ideas have been developing for almost 400 years. They are largely mistaken, but they were also mistaken when they were conceived. There are two good reasons why no overhaul took place, even at the heights of the social movements of the 1960s or the environment movement in the 1970s. The first is that no adequate philosophical replacement was available. The second is nakedly political. No political force or social movement was previously in place to force the issue. The food movement, however, fulfills both requirements, and so the pieces are finally in place for a peaceful social revolution of thought and action.

The final analysis

This essay has attempted to understand how and why a successful social movement can arise, and even be called a social movement, when it lacks essentially all of the traditional props and attributes of social movements – strong leadership, organisational structures, formal outreach programs, money, and so forth.

This analysis attributes the success of the food movement largely to factors internal to itself. Its members share an infectious vision which is constructive, convivial, classless, raceless, international, and which embraces the whole world. That vision rests on a novel and harmonious philosophy. It is also deeply realistic because it is biological in nature; so while the remainder of society is naively getting further out of touch with the natural world by adopting ever fancier communications devices, internet apps, high speed travel, Pokemon Go, and so forth, the food movement is busy getting in touch with that world and being successful in working with it.

One issue largely missing from this analysis, however, is the imperative of confronting climate change. The food movement did not come together to solve this issue. Nevertheless, many in the food movement believe it has the tools to largely solve the problem. The reasons are simple. First, perhaps as much as 50% of all greenhouse gas emissions result from the activities of the industrial food sector. Secondly, carbon can easily be removed from the air and stored in soil and in the process creating the type of soil actively desired by organic and agroecological farmers. These farmers are still developing their techniques for carbon sequestration, but anecdotal evidence suggests that soil sequestration can combine with food production to store many tons of carbon per acre per year. Thus, as two recent reports show, the food system desired by the food movement can make our atmospheric carbon problem manageable and perhaps solve it completely.

This information seems not to have penetrated the mainstream climate movement. Climate leaders seem to believe solutions must be technical or social: but windmills, solar power, electric cars, dams, divestment, infrastructure protests, etc., are largely symbolic actions. Unlike reducing demand for energy by reforming and localising the food system or storing carbon in living soils, such “solutions” do not necessarily reduce overall use of fossil fuels nor prevent the release of greenhouse gases from disturbed ecosystems. Worse, as resource-intensive ways of generating and storing energy, technofix solutions have many negative consequences of their own.

Hopefully sooner, rather than later, the well-meaning but misled climate movement will come to understand the (typically enlightenment) error of singling out specific forms of pollution (CO2 or methane) and join with the food liberation movement. If not, the food movement may solve climate change without them.

In the ultimate analysis, the growth of the food movement is the people’s response to the failing ideas of the enlightenment. It represents a tectonic realignment of the forces underlying our society and a clash of ideas more profound than anything seen since the collapse of feudalism and the emergence of the industrial revolution. The outcome of this clash will determine not only the future of our society, but also whether our descendents get to live on a planet recognisable to us today. The portents are excellent. The food movement is prevailing because it takes advantage of the synergies and potentials inherent in biological systems, whereas the ideas of the enlightenment ignore, deny, and suppress these potentialities. It will indeed be a beautiful struggle to turn these portents into reality.
5 years ago
Santa Barbara Permaculture Network presents:

Growing Nourishing & Just Relationships with Permaculture
Talk & Book Signing with Starhawk

Sunday, October 2, 7-9pm, 2016
Admission - $10/$5 students

Location: Santa Barbara City College Fe Bland Auditorium/BC Forum
SBCC West Campus, 800 Block Cliff Drive

Small groups of like-minded people can revitalize a town, plan our transition to a new, locally-focused economy and technology, and change the world. They can be exciting, nurturing, empowering places to be. And they can also founder on the rocks of conflict and poor communication.

Patrick Whitefield called permaculture "The art of designing beneficial relationships".  In this evening talk, Starhawk ( )  explores how permaculture principles and ethics­--along with insights from her many decades of experience in small groups of many kinds­--can help us navigate conflict, communicate more clearly, and create empowering groups and effective organizations.

With earlier books exploring earth-based spirituality, Starhawk later merged with permaculture, and began teaching Earth Activist Trainings in Northern California with permaculture teacher Penny Livingston and others.  In this way she brought a valuable contribution to permaculture---which values observation of nature before design above all things---by demonstrating how ritual, around the cycles and rhythms of the earth, can help hone our observation skills.

Starhawk is the author of 13 books, including, Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature;  The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups, and her latest novel, City of Refuge. A leading voice in the earth-based spirituality movement for many years, she is a permaculture designer and teacher and directs Earth Activist Training, teaching ecological design grounded in spirit and with a focus on organizing, activism and social permaculture.

The event takes place on Sunday, October 2, 2016, 7- 9pm, at the Santa Barbara City College Fe Bland Auditorium/BC Forum, SBCC West Campus, 800 Block Cliff Drive, 93109. Books will be available for purchase & signing by the author.  Admission $10 general/$5 students.  No reservations required. For more info contact 805-962-2571 .  See below for upcoming workshop intensive with Starhawk & Pandora Thomas.


SBCC Campus Map: (parking available on West Campus after 6pm)

Event Co-Sponsors:
Santa Barbara Permaculture Network, Quail Springs Permaculture, SBCC Environmental Horticulture Dept/Permaculture Design Course

More Info:

A short video of Starhawk talking about her upcoming Social Permaculture Course at Quail Springs!

SOCIAL PERMACULTURE INTENSIVE at Quail Springs Permaculture (near Ojai, CA)
with Pandora Thomas & Starhawk
SEPT. 28 – OCT. 2, 2016

Quail Springs Permaculture:
How can permaculture principles bring people together to co-create and empower one another to transform patterns of unjust power into healing, nurturing and inspirational collaborative experiences?

Starhawk's New Fiction Book:
"City of Refuge.The Sequel to The Fifth Sacred Thing City of Refuge" follows the struggles, the sacrifices, and the victories of the peaceful warriors from Califa as they endeavor to construct a haven in the parched and war-torn South lands. Can magic, healing and love overcome the violence of a cruel and despotic regime?
6 years ago