Category Archives: development

Fresh Produce in the South Bronx by Ownership Societies (Not the Bush Kind)

This is Professor Dennis Derryck of the New School in NY, as profiled in this very good NY Times article from Tuesday (“For a Healthier South Bronx, a Farm of Their Own“). At the very least, it highlights the power, the empowering sense inherent to feeling ownership of the means of one’s life, whether that means the building one lives in, the land where one’s food is grown, or the means of production (as we build the global ubuntu step by step). When the people find opportunities to feel in true fundamental control of their livelihood, social space, the streets, and their economic structures, conditions inevitably improve where they live. The bourgeois class has a sense of stability where it dwells in comparison to us proletarians precisely due to the security of control. By control I don’t mean dominion and domination. By control I mean being able to act the agent who defines and arranges one’s means and chances of survival, for better or worse. To be impoverished and disempowered is to be deprived of this sense of control, which at the psycho-social level initiates destructive forms of desperation within environments that are materially, dietarily, educationally, and judicially impoverished.

It’s no accident that the South Bronx, Central Brooklyn, Newark, Detroit, West and South Philly, and on and on are what they are, disparaged at leisure by the white supremacist establishmentarian mainstream zeitgeist. A friend of mine who used to live in the South Bronx constantly referred to it as a reservation, depressing to just live there amidst its oppressed ambiance. People are disfranchised and pushed into disowning any sense of fundamental ownership of their circumstances – as immigrants, as refugees, as oppressed peoples.

The human project at hand for we of the reservations and slums of the world is to claim our lives, claim our lands, our social spaces, our food sources, as our own. It may seem that the very notion of self-actualization is made foreign to us within the anti-human, anti-African, anti-Latino, anti-Indigenous, anti-freedom education system – corporate training camps and prison seeding centers. But this is why we must un-school into the mindset that, as Nas said, the world is yours.

The world is yours.

The world is yours.

Whose world is this?

A revolutionary assertion indeed. From another reservation called Queensbridge, Nas in the simplest terms told us to claim our world boldly. Claim the land, including every NYCHA project and every street and household and body deemed rejected and flotsam by the likes of the NY Times.

I’m often anxious when I read the NY Times and they talk about us. This past Saturday they ran a showcase of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the heart of Afro-Caribbean BK and where my heart lives. Whenever they do shit like that it’s like they’re claiming space to push out poor people and bring on the hipsters, bluppies and yuppies and their damn coffee shops. The Real Estate section is often a lens to the newest front-lines of gentrification. With critical eyes we must stare down attempts to get us to disown our lives, land and liberty further.

It’s war out here. While Prof. Dennis Derryck’s work is not pure non-monetized socialistic exchange, it is proper for the world we live in, and for the South Bronx. As a black man and homebody to the Harlem/ So. Bronx world, his practice is relevant, buying farmland collectively on behalf of his community, in partnership with farmers upstate, to bring the freshest food to this utterly neglected and poisoned community.

He is claiming the resources that we need on behalf of the people.

To me he is already winning on behalf of all of us.

We only begin to win when we claim ownership over our minds, bodies, lives, homes, communities, and planet, the type of ownership that places us in full responsibility to realize human potential as fully as possible. It is by owning the land for the people that the people may consume actual food in greater quantity and quality. See how this works?

Whose world is this?

The world is yours.

The world is yours, fool!

Let us join the battle.

——-

Blog written while listening to “Walk Alone” (and some other tracks) from How I Got Over by The Roots.

West Africa’s “slow-motion” famine

This is why Pan-Africanism or African Internationalism is the answer. And I don’t mean at the level of the institution of the nation state, as I’m an anti-fascist anarcho-syndicalist and ubuntuist (all useless labels). I’m talking about at the level of the grassroots in a situation where borders are erased and collective well-being is recognized as crucial for the prosperity of Africa. Africans in the regions of Niger or Chad don’t have to find themselves trapped inside those map boxes as food runs out in those countries over climatic and geological time and in the very near future and present. As climate changes, landlocked Sahel countries, whose existence was precarious to begin with, will only get drier, more arid and less agriculturally productive. It is all but inevitable, thanks to the profligate pollution of the stubborn West+China and their erstwhile refusal to arrive at a climate deal that would cap carbon levels in the atmosphere at 350 parts per billion, a threshold beyond which would essentially broil Africa in the long run. When, over the course of the coming months, years and decades, Sahel countries realize even more desperate climatic circumstances that are irreversible short of the construction of the great “Green Wall” of Africa which, given African corruption, will probably never happen, where will its people go if they are prevented from moving freely across borders? Will they be expected to starve into extinction due to the accident of their geographies of birth? That is why borders must be erased in Africa, borders imposed by imperialists at a conference in Germany 125 years ago at which not a single African was present.

Climate change is going to dry and fry the already delicate ecosystems of the Sahel especially, while rainfall may increase in other ecosystems. The same is true for dry savannah regions in other parts of the tropics/ third world such as parts of Mexico, Southwest Africa, India, the Middle East, and even some parts of the Mekong River delta in Southeast Asia which is reporting record drought and low river depth (to the point of unnavigability) this year. Each consecutive month this year since February has been the warmest on record.

Pastoralism is also a huge, HUGE part of the problem. I’m not a cultural relativist about this, in fact I’m not a cultural relativist about anything and I criticize everything that doesn’t work and is stupid, even if people have been doing it for centuries. It’s gotta go! Having animals browse the land and eat off every last speck of vegetation, only to slaughter and eat them, and then ask what happened to the arable land, is the mark of woefully uneducated and ignorant people. Education is the answer here, to demonstrate in no uncertain terms how destructive and unsustainable pastoralism is. This will prevent the inevitable and often violent conflicts that so frequently occur at the meeting of pastoralist nomad and settled agriculturalist (i.e. Darfur, Chad, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, etc.). So does this mean I am guilty of privileging the permanently settled farmer of vegetables, produce, fruits and so on? Hell yes! Especially when incorporating the best practices of sustainable, organic, high-yield agronomy and agroforestry. In the Americas, in countries like Brazil, we already know how rapidly we are losing the Amazon rain forest to giant cattle ranches that supply burgers to America and its fattening waistline. This is why veganism is part of the solution for humanity, considering how much more we can feed ourselves eating vegetables grown on the land instead of waiting for other non-human animals to eat them before slaughtering them mercilessly and consuming the most unhealthy products known to the human palate.

Will Africans use this opportunity, at the grassroots civil society level, to overturn centuries of top-down tyranny, capitalist division, unsustainable pastoralism, irrational meat prestige, and export-oriented cash-crop production to realize a borderless and human society of cooperation, collectivism, sustainability and food security first? Will the world? Humans have a lot of work to do on this planet, as we may be either its most inventive beings or its most destructive, selfish and irresponsible children.

The Prototype

Time is limited, when considering the atrocious nature of the stewardship we as a species perform on this planet. Planet Earth. None like it in the cosmos. The one and only. We may now be finding ‘super-earths’ out in the local arm of this spiral galaxy, but we ain’t going anywhere near them for centuries, nor will we be terraforming the Moon or colonizing Mars any time in our great grandchildren’s day. This is the only world that can host our species and every other creature and being on its little surface. It would seem that humanity can be said to be damn near its biggest bane: massive destruction of habitats and land, spillage of toxic hydrocarbons previously locked in the bowels of the crust, destructive conflicts that destroy human societies, habits of consumption that pollute and shorten human lives and the life of our environment all the same, mass extinctions of flora and fauna forever. It would seem that we as a species, after tens of thousands of years of behavioral modernity, have yet to deal with the fundamental problems and contradictions of the human condition and the sustainability of our home planet for all life. And yet we think ourselves the most sophisticated of the great apes.

I have yet to answer many such questions as an individual. I have made some introductory moves. I try to admit my ignorance every time it comes up. All I want to do is learn and practice methods and behaviors that collectively benefit us all and maintain joy and wellness with the most balance across our ecosystems. Cities, suburbs, forests, mountains, deserts and oceans alike are ecosystems, environments, habitats for multitudes of species, plant and animal. What are the best practices, technologies and attitudes, suitable to our budgets and environments, that can begin to address the fundamental contradictions of humanity’s most needlessly negative impacts on Earth and other people and creatures? I am just starting to take an inventory as applies to myself, a wishlist if you will.

I am nothing but a writer, a starving artist at the moment. Incomeless until (hopefully) I finish this first novel in a few weeks (and inevitably return to the workforce). And in all likelihood I’ll go back to being a student for the umpteenth time in the near future, further rendering me a person of leanest means. But I do try to dream.

I dream that I could afford a long-tail utility bike with mad racks (ala Big Dummy) and top-notch components and completely eliminate not only the very limited driving I do, but also cut out a lot of train riding and rely all but completely on my own body for transportation. I’ve been salivating over making this transition in transportation complete for a very long time now.

I dream of living in a community far denser than where I am, where community in itself is a concept pregnant with significance and actualization. A suburb like mine severely lacks this, and it is all the more isolating when the prevailing values of consumerism and material excess have long been rejected vigorously in my personal chamber. A community with more thoughtful people of color, not only the conforming ones hard-wired to their bad and destructive habits.

I dream of establishing and practicing even more meaningful relationships with a wider body of truly like-minded and like-practicing people. Why not? I’m not trying to convert anyone to how I do things. But after just about eleven years of veganism, I’m still the only vegetarian I actually know personally.

I dream of pushing the younger generations, or at least those with an open mind, toward engaging the world. Engaging the world includes hiking its lengths everyday with eyes fresh open. Engaging the world includes talking with others meaningfully, constructively, humorously. Not destructively. Not in the most shallow and empty ways. Engaging the world includes challenging oneself in this world. Engaging the world means actualizing oneself fully, given one’s sincerest aspirations, like Che Guevara. Engaging the world means recognizing ourselves in other people and respecting everyone and the diversity of identities they carry with the fullness, transcending the limiting, bigoted, intolerant, and ignorant impulses pushed by societies and traditions no thoughtful and humane person should practice if humanity is what they value. Engaging the world means recognizing one’s unity with all that is in this world, and seeing the oceans, the mountains, the cities, other people, as like an extension of one’s own body.

We don’t own the world. Even our bodies are not just some gift we have the reasoning to claim fully and exclusively – all the food we’ve digested, the seed and egg of our parents, the passage of time and accumulation of experience, they compose what we think we can call a “self.” We don’t have dominion over things. We can at best constructively participate in the process of nature and society on this wonderful planet.

Constructive engagement – perhaps that is what I most dream to do.

With our bodies, exercising daily and eating only the best food to the extent that we no longer feel hungry.

Then, fighting so others do not have to suffer hunger.

Then, fighting so that we and ourselves do not have to suffer ignorance.

Then, fighting so our planet does not have to suffer the results of our human excess.

Then, dancing with each other and ourselves in the celebration of being born not on Mars nor Venus, but beautiful and brilliant planet Earth, the one and only.

Or we can do these all at once.

I am trying my best to execute the practice of constructive engagement. I am only a beginner so bear with me. I hope others can check this same idea and give it a try, see if it works, and if not, offer constructive criticism.

Small steps with a small axe. At least we humans can try that. Else, well, time is limited on planet Earth, the one and only, and the same goes for our one life.

No Dollar Value on the Black Lands


I saw this post on Treehugger.com about a pitch by the Cameroonian government to lease some of the pristine rain forest (NgoylaMintom) of that country to the highest bidder, whether conservationists or loggers. No one has yet taken up this seven-year-old offer, and the treehugger.com mentality is to encourage some wealthy Western conservationist to rent the forest before it’s too late and the loggers come through.

My view is that there should be no leasing of such precious lands in the first place. Why must the concept of property and title infect everything and every society? It is a toxic and vomitacious mentality, to sell everything of value to whomever in the world can pay. A serious Afrikan government wouldn’t even think to sell such precious forests to any international bidder. The fleecing of Afrika must stop somewhere. Our deepest natural heritage is our tropical rain forest, whose herbal and medicinal secrets, sanctity, animal habitat, and limitless beauty should bear no price tag, and shouldn’t even suggest to some men the idea of selling it.

Profit motive must die. Capitalism must die. Private property must die. Individualism and greed must die. The idea of selling out the habitats of the planet must die.

I don’t want to see the NgoylaMintom rain forest sold to anybody, conservationists or loggers, poachers or game haciendas. The NgoylaMintom rain forest belongs to all living beings, and all Afrikans. The trees and animals and flora and fauna have a dignity all their own that we as humans must be able to respect. The natural gifts of the rain forest, in herbs, fruits, medicinal botanicals, and so on, should be explored and received delicately and with immense gratitude.

As much as Afrika’s tropical rain forest ecosystems have been reduced and decimated over the past several decades, can’t we as Afrikans now finally see the fruit of such destructiveness and haphazard, unscrupulous sale of our own natural heritage to the looters of the world?

NgoylaMintom, and all the other great tropical forests, mangroves, and other natural areas of the Congo-Basin and West Afrika, should be allowed their full dignity and spared from the capitalism and rapacity of men who would put up such land for sale, irrespective of the cost to land and the environment, indeed the entire global ecosystem of all Earthbound things.

NgoylaMintom doesn’t need to be signed off to some white liberal conservationist from Liverpool or Berkeley. And she mustn’t be signed off to some logger from Calgary. She must simply be left in peace, her beauty and bounty to be shared modestly and graciously with human beings on her own terms.

Long live NgoylaMintom and all unspoiled natural places all over our precious planet!!

Raw Veganism in Afrika – Could be Ideal (?)

master13_1.jpgI think that the ecological and economic reasons for raw veganism, or even conventional veganism, make it one of the best diets for Afrikans on the continent. Most Afrikans have other ideas, and Afrika might be the continent with the least vegetarians, or at least the fewest conscious vegetarians. A lot of Afrikans see meat as a prestige. It was isolating being vegan in Afrika, and it made me think a lot about how I could spread vegetarianism there, even though I usually never operated as a vegan evangelist before. The sorts of classes I took in Ghana, on sustainable agriculture, women and development, and traditional medicine, all helped confirm for me that we need a vegan movement in Sub-Saharan Afrika. I feel we need to grow all sorts of great tropical fruits and vegetables for ourselves, and eat them. We must move away from cash-crop economies which leave us dependent on the West, and make us import their rotten meat, their subsidized rice, and so on.

 

It is winter in New York, my first winter in two years since last winter I was in Ghana. I have the profound sense of not only missing Afrika, but feeling like I really belong there. I find myself sunbathing almost religiously in this wintertime, since as a very very dark-skinned Afrikan I am supposed to be getting the amount of sunlight I would be getting in the tropics to generate the right amount of Vitamin D. I think I am doing well here because I just sit in the sun whenever it is sunny; I’m sitting in the sun right now. I LOVE THE SUN. I like hot weather. I like keeping my skin melanin-stimulated, dark, black, no matter what time of year or what weather. Raw veganism, fitness, and health all require maad sunlight and fresh air, especially for Afrikans.

 

If I was in Afrika right now, I would be eating maad mangos, Afrikan avocados (whose taste I didn’t allow myself to get used to as I am so accustomed to Mexican/ Californian avocados), maad greens, tomatoes, papayas, guavas, bananas, all the great tropical fruits. Maybe a few raw cashews or raw groundnuts. It would be so easy, as it’s all in the market and is maad affordable, at least to someone who has Western currency.

 

As Afrika moves towards holistic and self-contained economic and health development, perhaps we could begin to grow more of the superfoods of Asia and elsewhere in our vast, rich soils. We could start cultivating durians, certain types of berries, herbs, nuts and seeds. It would be sweet.

 

The practice of pastoralism, the grazing of cattle, sheep, etc., is scientifically proven to be an unsustainable way of life compared to settled agriculture, as the browsers eat away the grasses and help expand the Sahara and other deserts. The consumption of meat is scientifically proven to be able to feed far, far fewer humans than mass vegetarianism would. It consumes far, far more water resources, land, food even, to produce meat than to produce veggies. Our starvation could be stemmed with a lot more veganism, and a lot more macrobiotic, self-sufficient, self-feeding agriculture.

 

And tropical fruits are some of the most heavily relied on ones by raw vegans and fruitarians. Being actually in the tropics would mean easy access to, and ability to grow, our favorite foods.

 

If I return to Afrika, or move there (or to the Caribbean), I would get land and grow maad tropical fruits and veggies, keep the soil well nourished, make babies with a raw-vegan Afrikan beauty queen, practice and teach fitness and martial arts, eat raw vegan stuff, and live a long life as a revolutionary Afrikan renaissance man. I’d learn an Afrikan language, I’d be maad healthy, build an all-Afrikan bicycle factory powered by wind and solar, spread African Internationalism and socialism, etc. But that’s just crazy dreaming. Afrika is grossly underdeveloped and neo-colonized, though we must stand and fight.

 

I visited an organic farm in Aburi, Ghana (north of Accra) where the old Afrikan genius there practices sustainable agroforestry. He plants trees. He plants all sorts of fruits, greens, yams, etc. all around them. He was maad inspiring. The photo above is from his land, the photo below of his contact info. I could do that. I could live like that. We all could. “Make the world a garden…”

 

How I wonder. 

 

 master15.jpg