Thursday, August 19, 2010

followers are also leaders....

In the blogosphere most blogs have followers - call them what you will.

When a new follower clicks on I like to go visit and see what they are bringing to their realm.  Over and over again I am inspired and for so many different reasons. I had a sensationally busy June and July and that's when I had new followers coming along for the ride both here and at my other blog and was finding it hard to keep track.
Can I say welcome to all who have signed on.... its great to be part of a expanding dialogue.
Today there was a new blogger on board and I was so thrilled to see he had posted a story that I also discovered last week and had not yet got round to posting on. He has more than one blog and is doing the most fascinating projects. This one here: The artist as family links with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, as well as a residency in Newcastle previously and currently yet another engaging one.


Artist as Family has been working on a public food forest in Sydney. We proposed this project after being invited by the Museum of Contemporary Art to make a new work for the exhibition In the Balance: Art for a Changing World. We have been documenting the developments of our Food Forest here as it transitions from artist's concept to community asset. This blog will also link to like-minded activities, thinkers, communities and cooperatives around the world who are making intense, creative and joyous transitions to more ecologically embedded ways of living.

Enjoy life, get active, fight the private-capital-pollution ideology that has caused ecological crises!

The other blog which I discovered first is called  Permapoesis and links you to other projects by this industrious artist Patrick Jones. Of course I was immediately drawn to this image...

Twelve Russian scientists famously chose to starve to death rather than eat the unique collection of seeds and plants they were protecting for humanity during the 900-day siege of Leningrad in the second world war. But the world's first global seed bank now faces destruction once more, to make way for a private housing estate.
Read on here.

This was the same story I found at Civil Eats last week:

Development Threatens One of World’s Oldest Fruit Seed Collections

August 9th, 2010  By Paula Crossfield
As droughts threaten the wheat harvest in Russia, resulting in a ban on exportsthere this year that is driving up prices abroad, something entirely different now threatens one of the world’s most extensive collection of fruits and berries at the Pavlovsk Experimental Station, a seed bank 19 miles southeast of St. Petersburg: development.
Perhaps one of the oldest in the world, the seed bank was started 84 years ago by Nikolai Vavilov, who died of starvation in one of Joseph Stalin’s labor camps in 1943. His seed bank was famously guarded by 12 scientists who eventually starved to death during the 900-day Siege of Leningrad, despite the fact that they were surrounded by edible seeds. Now, a court will decide on Wednesday if the “priceless” collection of 4,000 varieties from all over the world–which includes 1,000 types of strawberries, and 100 varieties each of raspberries, gooseberries and cherries–will be handed over to the Russian Housing Development Foundation to be cleared for housing. READ MORE

An interesting thought from Patrick's blog by Jiddu Krishnamurti to leave you with:
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."


Nicola Moss said...

Hi Sophie,
Thanks for this fabulous post. The artist as family is a wonderful blog, full of inspiration, thanks for the link.

I have mixed feelings about seed banks, I see them as being a bit like zoos perhaps, a necessary evil? I feel seed would be much better perpetuated in the ground, grown each year, fresh seed collected each year and then sown again. Rather than only having varieties kept in jars for millenia. I understand this may be the only way to keep the heritage of diversity, but it's a shame we can't do that in a living cycle.

sophie munns said...

Hi Nicola,
Good to hear from you.
I urge you to read about the Russian Seed Bank. If you go to the Civil Eats "read more here" the article makes the point that unlike the Norwegian Seed Vault, MSB etc this Experimental Station 19 kms from the city is a "Field" seed bank - where all the seeds are regularly planted and saved. Currently tens of thousands of seeds are in the ground and scientists have argued it would take years for this to be moved without losing varieties.The reason for planned closure of this critical venture...housing development.It has come to the worlds attention and there is a global campaign to avoid the closure. Excellent links tell more!.

The fight to maintain our seed heritage is hugely complex because of global warming- the need to have a certain stable climate to ensure species survive and so on. Research is critical to better undertstand this. Botanical Gardens, Zoos etc may have started, in part, as colossal vanities for the housing of colonial exploits. However many have no doubt been transformed into serious research centres focusing on highly critical issues.

I think this story from Russia underlines the vulnerability of maintaining long term projects like this active kind of seed bank you speak of.. the whim of a govt or other bodies can irrevocably alter the future of such a venture. The fact it survived 900 days of Nazi occupation of Leningrad back in the early 1940's reminds us of the vulnerability of such programs.

Also having seen first hand the reality of attracting ongoing funding to Qld's Seed bank project with the MSB my question would be where would funds come from to manage the much more complex model of seed saving like this Russian model. What woudl it take for it to be identified as essential? Its become an intense political emergency in some places to have the right to save seeds... the poorest countries on the planet are dealing with this right now.

The MSB and Norwegian models for seed banking may strike many as highly problematic. What I have noticed though they are the one thing that has reached broader public consciousness of the critical problem with our planet's seed heritage.

Imagine if people of vision had chanelled their funds away from, say, purchase of a $200 million dollar Picasso painting for example and instead into setting up a foundation for a version of the Russian model! Many appear to direct their wealth to personal vanities and statements that run counter to what would benefit the planet or its population in any way.

Replicating the individual venture of saving seeds in our back yard to national and global models... now that would be something! Thanks for prompting this dailogue Nicola... we need vastly more community dialogue on this!!!

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