Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Self-sufficiency is Freedom

I watched Derrick Jensen's talk on his book Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization.

It was fascinating. In the talk, he outlines the basic premises of his book, and he discusses why he discusses each of these things. He says he bashes everyone, every convention, every ideal, every idealogy - nothing is sacred, really, except the land on which we live. He said that one hasn't truly lived until one is chased by an angry mob of Buddhist passivists bent on violence.

His ending point was that we need to do something - that the time for passive inaction has passed and those of us who are aware need to do something. He says that the something will be different for different people, and not only do we need to allow these different responses, but we also need to accept that even the most radical responses are a necessary part of our necessary transition.

I can't say that I disagree with what he says, and while I know there are certain things I won't be doing, there's also a lot I can do ... and am doing.

Today, Deus Ex Machina showed me a link to this amazing project that related (in my, perhaps warped and crazy mind) to one of the points that Jensen made in his talk. He says, as our civilization continues its slide, most of the poor are going to be in a very bad situation. The rural poor will probably survive like the rural poor always have and do, but the urban poor - well, I won't repeat his exact word, but he says he liked that word, and it was interesting because it carried such a twisted double meaning: serving both as a word to state one's desire to engage in physical intimacy, but also to do great violence.

The reason, Jensen says, that the urban poor will be in such a difficult situation has to do with the fact that every thing they need to survive must be imported, bought and paid for. The fact is that a lot of urban poor already have difficulty for this very reason (anyone read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn). For the rural poor, there is an opportunity, at least, to grow food somewhere.

The project, called Freight Farms has the goal of changing the plight of the urban poor by offering them a way to grow their own food in portable units - old shipping containers in this case. Each unit would house a hydroponic garden, which would allow produce to be grown year-round, even in parts of the country (and world) where year round gardening isn't an option.

I'm fascinated with any project that brings more edibles to the urban landscape, and I am looking forward to seeing the first prototype of the Freight Farm.

Derrick Jensen may be right that our current civilization and those who run it won't "go gentle into that good night", and I believe he's also correct that we all need to be doing something - teaching or "rage"ing against - not the dying light, but the continued exploitation of the rest of the populace by a powerful minority.

I read a quote today, in of all places, the Coffee News that said: Power is the feedom people have within limits; strength is the freedom people have without limits. Power will always be restricted to a relatively small number of selected people. Anyone can be strong (James Carse).

If power is synonymous with control, we don't have to allow a small elite to have power (or control) over us. We can be strong ... and free ..., but, if Derrick Jensen is to be believed, getting to that point from where we are now - in our cushy little happy places - will be a struggle.

Projects like Frieght Farm could help us get there. If we take away the urban poor's dependence on Monsanto-raised-produce-in-a-field-somewhere-out-there-and-trucked-to-the-city, and allow them to produce their own, we wrest some little bit of power from the grasp of the few ... and we make the many a bit more self-sufficient, which is synonymous with "free."

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