SoulFire Farm is awesome! they are a force!
One thing they are doing is giving people a chance to grieve intergenerational wounds about this stuff.
Leah told an amazing story about a foster kid who touched the earth with his bare feet--he was autistic, and had never spoken, and he started talking again. He talked about his gramma, how he remembered her showing him her garden when he was little, how much he missed his gramma. Everyone started balling and talking about their grandmothers. She is a person who's willing to give people space to grieve, to go through that kind of process, as well as doing the working, the celebrating, hte partying. It's all part of it. I may have some of the details of the story wrong.
Leah's also the person I learned about the theft of Blacks' agricultural land from. It's some really high statistic of people who were driven off their land.
Also, one of the most essential permaculture tools in the toolkit of the Big Black Book is worker-owner coops. And they were, to my understanding, created by Blacks in the US (and perhaps independently invented by kibbutzniks too and other places). This may not be what people first think of when they say the word "permaculture" but it most certainly is permaculture principles in action. A single entity serving multiple functions, shifting the dynamic toward people-care instead of profit-care.
I would love to see an anonymous poll on permies to allow persons of color to indicate this. I don't know how that would work exactly, but I think it could be done. Maybe just showing a percentage of all registered users? of all users active within the past X months? a randomized survey sent out to all subscribers to the daily-ish?
At the risk of offending someone, I would also say that Blacks in particular in America have been the innovators of a vast amount of culture and of memes and often occupy a kind of pedestal (for better or worse). In music, poetry, sports, film, literature, theatre, and other fields the contributions have been visible and widely celebrated. There have been less visible contributions of equal or greater real significance too, but the flashy ones have grabbed a lot of attention. George Washington Carver I'd count as a permaculturist, even if he predated the term and was more focused on breeding, his approach was very much in line with the essence of permaculture. There is something about the history of this country that has a good percentage of its general population focused on "Black cool."
So, if a Black superstar permaculturist felt comfortable enough starting a youtube channel and went viral, it could become a fad almost overnight. This might not be that helpful to the cause of permanence, but it might be somewhat, might open the door to a new idea for many. I guess the hole in that idea is that permaculture is actually not all that flashy--it's about boring stuff like efficiency, saving resources, not being wasteful...but you can hype it up too, yes? "I raised x,000,000 lbs of food on a piece of land the size of my foot, and here's how."
One of the obstacles to this is climate. In North America you can't say "here's this really great technique my ancestors in Ghana used." (OK, I'll keep that one in mind for when I move to Florida.) And I get if as a person of color you don't want to go on the air and rave about hugelkultur or even Masanobu Fukuoka--you want to be able to talk about people who share a history with you. You can use the principles, but then that becomes more abstract, it's not easy to popularize a principle. So I think that is a factor in how things stand--and I don't have an answer to that. I support persons of Southern hemisphere/equatorial ancestry in doing whatever they consider right--whether using Northern people's' growing techniques and plant palettes or returning to their ancestral lands or some other possibilities I'm not aware of. Not for me to say. I don't support anyone in saying "I need a job and someone else to grow my food for me for all time, because money is the only reality in my world for all time." Just because it's self-inconsistent. But it's not my place to say what the answers are.
To S. Bengi's point about the fear of rural areas, that one I especially don't have an answer for. It's sad to hear about this from the POC folks in my community. What can I say? Other than, Come on, humans, we can do better than this! For persons of color considering starting a rural homestead, I would hope you'd take all the precautions you can. I think not ALL rural areas in the US are that way, in fact most are not, but all it takes is one bad apple. Still, the city isn't treating anyone that well either. It seems like something that would be helpful would be supporting safety in numbers. There's a POC community in rural upstate NY near to SoulFire that has gotten started recently, looks like they have strong support from Soulfire and I hope they are thriving. (intentional community is another thorny challenge in itself...)
There is at least the indoor stuff: heating yourself, not the room; a certain amount of indoor gardening; drying your clothes on a rack indoors instead of the dryer, etc..
Geoff Lawton's question "Where are the Latino permaculturists?" is also coming to mind. And why don't more people ask that question? why aren't more Indians getting back to permaculture?
This post has gotten long and I have more thoughts but I'll leave it there for now.
Kerry Rodgers wrote:
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