Saturday, 30 July 2011

Atlantic Friends Gathering May 2011 -- Keith Helmuth

See Windhorse Farm website - more pictures
Over 60 Friends from the Atlantic region of Canada came together for their annual gathering at Windhorse Farm near Bridgewater Nova Scotia. Both the setting and the gathering theme focused our minds and spirits on the ever-present reality of the human-Earth relationship and the health of our social and economic relationship within this larger context.

Windhorse Farm combines a sustainably managed forestry operation with permaculture
gardening and natural building design projects. It is, in addition a Buddhist retreat centre. Our weekend theme was “ sustainability” with particular attention to food.

Geoff Tansey, a Friend from the UK and co-editor and primary author of the award winning book, QIAP's The Future Control of Food, provided a powerful view of what is happening with the world food situation. He outlined three potential futures which are yet to be determined: collapse and human catastrophe; corporate control aiming at the survival of the wealthy and write off of the poor; the development of a science led, community based, agro-ecological food system.

The five-acre garden of Windhorse Farm, which is a good example of what the third outcome looks like, was a five-minute walk from our meeting place, and we had an instructive tour. Likewise, our host provided a walking tour and a seminar on forest ecology and the woodlot management practices of the Farm. Additional seminars on building with material native to the environment and on how to grown shitake mushrooms were on the agenda. With time for small group discernment, worship sharing, and a generous helping of music-making and story-telling.

Tansey's co-author Tasmin Rajotte  in Jan 2011 attended the 13th Biennial Conference for the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) in Hyderabad, India. See its Commons Digest online. Key themes of the conference were climate change; forests; the impacts of external global forces such as the increasing privatization of land and resources; better recognition of the commons; and new business models for financing work. She held a pre-conference workshop on “Changing perspectives within policy processes” with John Powell of the Countryside and Community Research Institute at the University of Gloucester (UK): dealing with top down policy imposition, violent conflict over forests in Kenya; corrupt deals in Indonesian coastal communities and in the Forest Rights Act of India. 

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