Saturday, March 6, 2010

Are Biofuels a Social Work Issue?

"The stage is now set for direct competition for grain between the 800 million people who own automobiles, and the world's 2 billion poorest people. The risk is that millions of those on the lower rungs of the global economic ladder will start falling off as rising food prices drop their consumption below the survival level."

From Lester Brown's report to the U.S. Congress on ethanol, in which the agricultural economist and founder of the Earth Policy Institute as well as the Worldwatch Institute warns of an impending famine as competition stiffens for food and fuel.

Sustainability is complicated.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Why am I so caught up in thinking about both farming/gardening and social work/public administration; about they inform each other?

I think it is because both have been corrupted by the application of industrial ways of thinking and managing.

The education system is a case in point, as is petrochemical-reliant agriculture. We have turned the ecologies of people and plants into fragmented worlds managed by myopic specialistists. We have ceased paying attention to details, to effect, and lost our ability to respond creatively and locally in an empowered, informed, and effective way. Our vision for how the world should be has become uncoupled from how the world is. We think too small in some ways, and too big in others. We need to focus, be real, pay attention, do what works. We need to take responsibility for our lives, our livelihoods, the country and the world we live in. We have to depend on our land so we care for our land. We have to depend on each other so we care for each other. We need to work on a scale that works.

Monday, March 1, 2010

"Resilience" according to Rob Hopkins

"I think in many ways the idea of resilience is a more useful concept than the idea of sustainability. The idea of resilience comes from the study of ecology, and it's really about how systems, settlements, withstand shock from the outside; when they encounter shock from the outside, that they don't just unravel and fall to pieces.

"[Resilience] is about building modularity into what we do; building surge breakers into how we organize the basic things that support us."

From this TED Talk.