This documentary follows the struggle of a poor, primarily Latino community in South Central LA to save a huge community garden/farm–the largest urban farm in the U.S. It’s among the best food documentaries I’ve seen, because it doesn’t romanticize food and it gets at the deeper issues surrounding urban farming, including poverty, gentrification, racism, development, and subsistence. The farmers self-organized to save the farm and used court injunctions, public outreach, media campaigns, and direct action to defend the farm from destruction, after the owner decided he wanted to evict the farmers. It was never entirely clear what the land was going to be used for instead of a garden: a soccer field? An industrial development? In the end, it doesn’t matter: from the point of view of capital, anything is better than people using land for subsistence.
It came out in 2008 and is available as a DVD… or as a torrent, if you’re into that.
A documentary of the Oka crisis: one of the most significant conflicts between indigenous peoples and the Canadian state in recent history.
From the NFB website:
On a July day in 1990, a confrontation propelled Native issues in Kanehsatake and the village of Oka, Quebec, into the international spotlight. Director Alanis Obomsawin spent 78 nerve-wracking days and nights filming the armed stand-off between the Mohawks, the Quebec police and the Canadian army. This powerful documentary takes you right into the action of an age-old Aboriginal struggle. The result is a portrait of the people behind the barricades.
Peak Moment TV interviews three people (middle-aged white men) involved in a local investment network in Port Townsend, WA (Local Investing Opportunities Network). The network is basically just an email list-serv that connects investors with businesses/enterprises, with the help of a guy who knows securities laws; there is no formal structure (e.g. bank, non-profit, etc). They formalized a more informal investment network that already existed with the email list. Their goal is to keep money circulating locally, and investors are often ‘paid’ in dividends of products (e.g. cheese) rather than cash.
They discuss some technical details around investment, such as IRA (similar to RRSPs in Canada). They’ve had about 25 investing opportunities; half have been funded. About $500k has been invested locally so far. Challenges include getting the word out, having core volunteer organizers, leadership and expertise. It sounds like they aren’t allowed to give investment advice; so inexperienced investors need to draw on expertise from other investors, friends, and other sources of info. The interest rate ranges from 0-8.5%, with most rates between 5-8%, whereas commercial loans are often 10-12%. They also discuss how it helps make money something more public, rather than something that’s private and secret; it nurtures responsibility and accountability. They’re also working on a Local Investing Toolkit: www.confisco.com. They conclude by suggesting that this is one component of the ‘new economy’ that serves Main Street instead of Wall Street.
Permie Peter Bane discusses permaculture as a philosophy and form of knowledge that enables self-sufficiency. He suggests that permaculture has worked through grassroots education and self-education. Capitalism has hollowed out the home as a site of production, and permaculture aims to re-establish the home as an economic unit; it’s about returning to (or moving forward to) subsistence: the ability to derive food/heat/water/etc and relate to your neighbours. Permaculture can tap into biology in a more sophisticated way [than traditional peoples]. These are many old arts, he says, that have been “recollected” from traditional peoples and “our own” history, combined with modern science and engineering insights, and empirical work and experimentation.
Food and animals have been globalized, but it hasn’t been intentional. Permaculture wants to be more intentional about these combinations and find new plants/animals to exploit.
He discusses some basic permaculture strategies and the attempt to mimic forest ecosystems in our agriculture. He argues that contemporary agriculture is basically about cultivating domesticated weeds, which require constant disturbance. What’s needed is more perennial agriculture, less disturbance.
He suggests that moving to permaculture at a large scale would require lots more gardeners/farmers, and suggests that unemployed people (“surplus labour”) could be funnelled into farming. 1/6 or 1/7 people need to be farming/gardening so that the rest of us can eat.
More of us can implement permaculture now: “we” have plumbing, arable land, and can be gardening our landscapes to grow more food. He argues that we need more forests to capture carbon and prevent climate change from spiraling out of control. We still have access to fossil fuels now, and we should use it for strategic interventions: earthworks, ponds/lakes, sustainable buildings, renewable energy infrastructure (like greenhouses).
He spends the last 1/3 describing his own suburban farm and what they’ve been working on there.