Radical Social Movements and Gardening

Lily Elder, Student
Saturday, November 14, 2009

Permaculture, social movements, and capitalism.  The main focuses of this last week’s classes are some of the most important and most interrelated yet.
Now that I know the theories of permaculture such as creating an edible ecosystem, it seems everything we do here has to do with it.  Every time I walk past the garden or eat an apple from the orchard, I think about how we could incorporate more of the permaculture theories we studied in class into how we produce food and our lifestyle here in general.
Though the ideas of permaculture sounded a bit abstract to me when I first heard about them in Environmental Science class, I now find that permaculture is beginning to come second nature.  This became very apparent when I was planning my sustainability project and my mind immediately jumped to how we could incorporate permaculture into it.  Others in my group seemed to be thinking the same way and permaculture is now a large part of our project.
Two big areas of class that have a lot to do with each other right now are our study of social movements in Peace Studies and pretty much everything we have learned in Global Issues.  It seems that all the issues we have learned about could have social movements attached to them, trying to make things better.  The issue of capitalism and corporations seems to me an especially likely candidate for this sort of thing.  Even though we aren’t learning specifically how to go about starting a social movement, or even organizing a demonstration or some such thing, learning about the theory behind social movements and studying past social movements has given me ideas as to how people (me included) could work towards change in the system.  I find myself thinking in either of my classes how I could participate in demonstrations or do some sort of action on an issue I learned about in Global Issues and how I could apply a tactic I learned about in Peace Studies to the issue.
I don’t think social movements have to be public media sensations.  To me, permaculture and backyard gardening are social movements, and some of the most important.  They are simply movements to bring us back to the land and, in some cases, to boycott the corrupt and environmentally destructive industrial food system.  When we were brainstorming ways of publicizing our projects in Global Issues class, I was thinking about those less radical tactics could be publicized and promote the “gardening and permaculture movement”.

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