Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Assets = greater financial resiliency

Definition of Asset building from guest speaker at today's class:
Asset building is the process by which individuals and families gain control of their existing resources, allowing them to build and leverage savings and develop tangible financial assets, leading to greater financial resiliency.
I like this definition. It works in all sorts of economic contexts, as much for a farm or shoeshine gear in the third world as for Individual Development Accounts in the first. Compare this to the definition of asset building offered by the Washington Asset Building Coalition:
Asset building is defined as “engaging in long-term saving and investment behavior as a means to increasing financial independence.”
According to Washington University:
Asset building refers to strategies that increase financial and tangible assets, such as savings, a home, and businesses of all kinds.
Also framed rather narrowly.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

From Gene Logsdon's "Living at Nature's Pace"

Jerome developed a formula for self-reliance in his community that his offspring and a a few of his neighbors followed: own a little farm for subsistence and stability, do your own building and repair, operate a small business, and work long hours. He'd get one after another of his own children started on this formula and then he'd step back...
This sounds like the integrated life. The question is: is it still a viable model? It sounds like a model that could survive anything. But if it is resilience perfected, where did all these small farms and businesses go?

This book, Living at Nature's Pace, is perhaps the book I would give to someone to inspire them toward the new farm revolution, which is really the old farm revolution with some new suggestions for economic survival. It does a great job of talking about agricultural policy in America, what traditional 120 acre family farms looked like and how they functioned, Amish farms and Amish economics, not to mention the best rendering of a barn-raising I've read. It also has a few good meditations on farm ecology. An excellent and inspiring read, although I'd say the required reading stops at the end of chapter 16.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Biodynamic Farms in Western Washington (videos)

S&S Homestead on Lopez Island:

Henning Sehmsdorf S & S Homestead from Candice Cosler on Vimeo.

Jubilee Farm in Carnation:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Organics in Thailand

Truth on the ground in Northern Thailand (post):
Since joining in 1999, she has now become the head of the Northern Organic Standard Association, which currently has over 20 member farms in the Chiang Mai region. She told me that only 0.2% of Thailand’s population currently knows and understands the dangers of chemical use. The foreign companies have inundated the radio stations, television, and newspapers with advertisements. According to Nang, they have manipulated governments to promote their poison, and now the soil fertility is decreased, the seed varieties have been lost, the farmers are broke, and the pests are everywhere. I admired her presence. She commanded respect and was definitely the matriarch of this farm. She spoke kindly and softly, “If we grow for the market, we need good yield and appearance to survive. This is why Thai farmers use so many chemicals. When you grow for yourself, you don’t need to use chemicals. If we use organic methods, we become friends with the environment and can survive together..."

I asked about organics here and why more farmers do not try it. Inquiring, “Do they sell for higher prices at the market? “ She replied, “The community here is not very supportive, but the NGO’s are. They help to teach farmers to grow organically, but they can’t compete with the advertising power of the chemical companies. Now the farmers have too much debt to try organics. They are scared and worried about low yields.”
And from this article on the Asok movement:
After a large economic collapse in Thailand six years ago, communities began hosting seminars on organic agriculture and self-reliance. Eventually, these were even funded by the government, in an effort to relieve the debt of poor farmers who had invested too heavily in chemicals and agricultural equipment. This is often felt to be a bit ironic, because it was the government, lobbied by companies, which promoted modern farming practices in the first place.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tribal Asset Development

A new thread: assets.

What is the difference between assets and capital? Nothing, according to Marieka, except perhaps that assets tend to refer to the less tangible of them.

From a publication on from the First Nations Development Institute, Native American Asset Watch: Rethinking Asset Building in Indian Country: