Category Archives: Call of the land

Our Main Chance: Agroecology

by Steven McFadden ~ 9.21.2022

The phrase main chance generally refers to the most advantageous prospect available, the opportunity for the greatest progress or gain in any given set of circumstances. I use the phrase now in regard to our tempestuous environmental, climatological, social, and spiritual circumstances.

In a historical context, playwright William Shakespeare employed the phrase main chance memorably in a speech by the Earl of Warwick in Henry VI, Part 2:

“There is a history in all men’s lives,
figuring the nature of the times deceased,
the which observed,
a man may prophesy, with a near aim,
of the main chance
of things as yet not come to life…”

With my nearest aim, I now prophesy for the future that our main chance would be wisely grasped in reference to collective ambitions that we must of necessity awaken in ourselves: ambitions for survival and well-being through climate chaos and more, for a clean Earth, for health, for respect, for purpose, for the next seven generations, for beauty, for spiritual maturity.

All of this is what farms are for, what they can be for if we set our minds and hearts to make it so. Farms and food are the key to our physical, moral, community, and spiritual survival and evolution. Our main chance to realize all of this lies in the realms of agroecology and deep agroecology.

For your consideration, here’s a sample of some memes I’ve been inspired to create by the main chance theme:

For the Beauty of the Earth and Our Lives.

Dear Readers,
Agroecology remains my passion. I continue to see it as our main chance to reckon with all of the global challenges now so fiercely active in environmental, social, and spiritual realms. Yet I’ve had little time over the last year to write directly on the subjects of our farms, our food, and our future.

For many months my work life has been focused solely on writing the biography of a visionary, native leader. There’s a bit more work to do on that project before it’s complete and I’m free to write again about deep agroecology.

In the meantime, as of July 2022, I’ve spruced up one of my older nonfiction books, Tales of the Whirling Rainbow. I’ve given it a new cover and new formatting. It’s the slimmest of volumes, but it still goes right to the heart of the matter of respecting each other and the natural world we share as the source of our lives. In that sense, it does explore the  wisdom themes that are at the heart of deep agroecology. Thus in right relationship among practice and theory, I offer this small treasure to readers for the beauty of the earth and of our lives.

The edition of the book now graced with a new cover and format is available at this Amazon link as either print or eBook format.

Here’s the text from the book’s back cover:

Tales of the Whirling Rainbow is a journalist’s account of some of the key myths and mysteries of the Americas, and an electrifying exploration of how those myths are resounding in real time.

Like an atom of gold, this wee book radiates deep beauty. It delivers authentic inspiration for our 21st Century souls.

Tales of the Whirling Rainbow conveys critical insights into core wisdom teachings at the heart of North America’s unfolding saga. Respect for these knowings is fundamental to our survival, and to our spiritual development.

As the Sun awakens and Earth changes intensify, our lives attain high velocity. At this time and in this manner, elders across The Americas informed the author, the human beings who are the different colors and faiths of the world will have opportunities to heal their web of relationships with each other, and with the natural world.

Code Red for Humanity, Code Green for Earth

by Steven McFadden
My primary work throughout the rest of 2021 is dedicated to researching and writing the biography of a man who was a kind, knowledgeable, and skillful leader for the Navajo people, as well as for people around the world. Having died in 2008, he left a legacy of insight into the well being of our earth, and indications for time-tested ways of supporting hózhó  – life in balance and beauty.

While at first a biography might appear to be a divergence from the topics of agroecology and deep agroecology, it’s actually related. Part of the biography, through the subject’s eyes, is an exploration of how we might reckon wisely with the catastrophes described in Code Red for Humanity, the alarming new UN report. In my view it’s the most critical report in history. The dire realities it spells out demand our global attention.

While I’m at work on the biography, I’ll continue to let people know about my book, Deep Agroecology, and to create occasional memes to call attention to the critical issues in the book, and the high, necessary vision it sets out.

Here’s a sample of the kinds of memes that I create from time to time, as the spirit moves me.

 

        ~ End ~

The roots of our human relationship with the land

Here’s a link to the full review of my book, Deep Agroecology.

An elevated perspective on farms, food, and our future: Deep Agroecology slideshow

by Steven McFadden

Thanks to an invitation from Ubiquity University, I had an opportunity to coalesce some thoughts about farms, food, and our future, and then to present them in a Zoom seminar this week,

Even without the soundtrack, the slides I used for the presentation tell the story with power and resonance. The slideshow, now freely  available via Youtube, takes less than four minutes.  I invite you to check it out.

Click here to watch the Deep Agroecology slide show on Youtube.

For just a moment, focus your attention on the abstract of this new paper from the FAO: “The impact of disasters and crises on agriculture and food security: 2021”

Colossal change is well underway locally and globally. If your eyes are open, then of course you see the forces and patterns of upheaval fully at work in uncountable ways. The paper cited below from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) sends this message resoundingly and with yet more data.

In response to the global reality we share, the challenge for all is to create and sustain life systems that not only survive the storm of changes, but also establish an array of models for stable, healthy, spiritually uplifted local and global cultures. Farms and food are the foundation of our relationship with Earth.

The ways we farm and the ways we eat will determine the destiny of life on Earth. That insight is what the pathways of agroecology recognize, and what they engage with manifold healthy environmental and social responses. My efforts through the book and the blog for Deep Agroecology are to help show these ways, and to suggest how they can be inspirited.

Abstract: “On top of a decade of exacerbated disaster loss, exceptional global heat, retreating ice and rising sea levels, humanity and our food security face a range of new and unprecedented hazards, such as megafires, extreme weather events, desert locust swarms of magnitudes previously unseen, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Agriculture underpins the livelihoods of over 2.5 billion people – most of them in low-income developing countries – and remains a key driver of development.

“At no other point in history has agriculture been faced with such an array of familiar and unfamiliar risks, interacting in a hyperconnected world and a precipitously changing landscape. And agriculture continues to absorb a disproportionate share of the damage and loss wrought by disasters. Their growing frequency and intensity, along with the systemic nature of risk, are upending people’s lives, devastating livelihoods, and jeopardizing our entire food system.

“This report makes a powerful case for investing in resilience and disaster risk reduction – especially data gathering and analysis for evidence informed action – to ensure agriculture’s crucial role in achieving the future we want.”

FAO. 2021. The impact of disasters and crises on agriculture and food security: 2021. Rome.
https://doi.org/10.4060/cb3673en

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A Vision for Nebraska: Build a Cornhuskers monument

My wife Elizabeth and I are on our way out of Nebraska, work having summoned us once again to the southwest. In parting from this stalwart state, I want to share a vision.

The Lincoln Journal-Star, the paper of record for the state’s capital city, recently published an article about the intention of some local developers to establish an “iconic” building in Lincoln’s Haymarket district. That article prompted me to recall an iconic vision I had nearly a decade ago when I first moved to this Cornhusker State.

At that time my office window had a direct view of the Nebraska State Capitol, a 400-foot tall building graced at the top with an iconic image of The Sower—a universal and greathearted figure hard at work, purposefully sowing seeds across the land that we might have the food and fiber that sustains us all.

The Sower is an indisputably handsome and worthy icon for an agrarian state. I was always inspired looking out my window and up at his powerful figure. But then I began to think: Nebraska is The Cornhusker State, not The Cornsower State. Where was a statue depicting The Huskers: the people who husked, or harvested, the crops rising from the seeds?

With memory of that vision activated, I wrote a “comment”—basically a digital letter to the editor—and posted my comment at the end of the Journal Star story.

Here’s an updated version of my comment:

“Here’s my idea for an icon they can put on the roof of the proposed Haymarket building: a monumental statue of The Huskers. By that I mean a 20-25 foot high sculpture in the style of The Sower, using similar materials.

“Sculpt The Huskers as a man, woman, daughter, and son working their way (husking) through a field of sculptural corn 20′ or more high. Build the monument so that the four figures are universal human beings (as The Sower appears to be) bringing in the goodness of what The Sower has sown. Build the monument so that it’s facing The Sower, and is a pubic attraction with its own access and egress, so as not to disturb the businesses in the building.

“A monument like that would bring honest pride, dignity, and joy for all Nebraskans (and visitors) as they might walk among the sculptured people and their giant sculptural corn field. The two monuments (Sower and Huskers) would tell children and adults in a glance the story of the plains and the grains and the people. Such an epic sculpture of The Huskers would express the heart of the state, and thus would be ICONIC indeed.

“I’ve always felt that such a monument would be fitting for the north end of Lincoln’s Centennial Mall, but the Haymarket would also be fitting in many ways.

“The Cornhuskers” monument could complete what might be thought of as a sculptural yin and yang, bringing a visual and energetic dynamic into perpetual play. The moral lesson would be both implicit and explicit: you reap what you sow.”

A monument for The Huskers in combination with The Sower would distinguish Nebraska in a way the Gateway Arch marks St. Louis, the Statue of Liberty accents New York, and the Golden Gate Bridge signifies San Francisco.

Ginawaydaganuc 2021: from UN Code Red to Deep Agroecology

by Steven McFadden
As yet another United Nations Code Red warning flashes around the world, I join with those who propose that ginawaydaganuc is an essential and realistic mind set, and who encourage general, wholehearted embrace of all that it denotes and connotes.

What in our vast, entangled cosmos is this thing called ginawaydaganuc? Suffice for the moment to say that it’s a word from one of the original languages of North America, Omàmiwininìmowin (Algonquin). That language has been extant on North America for many thousands of years–a vital vernacular. 

This Algonquin word is easier to say than you might at first imagine. It’s pronounced with a soft ‘g’: gee-na-way-dag-a-nook. Try speaking the word aloud phonetically, and experience how the sound feels in your head, heart, and soul. Ginawaydaganuc denotes the fundamental reality that we are all related–with each other, with the natural world, with the cosmos.

There’s more to say. But before contemplating the ramifications of ginawaydaganuc, take a moment to breathe, and to absorb the full impact of one of the latest Code Red warnings. This one comes from the UN’s 2020 report, The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene.

Unprecedented Moment of Human History

“We are at an unprecedented moment in the history of humankind and in the history of our planet,” the report says. Under relentless pressure from climate chaos, species loss, inequality, natural destruction, and COVID-19, our planetary and social warning lights are “flashing red”…

My complete blog post is live now at Mother Earth News.

Food, Farms, and Our Future – A video conversation about Deep Agroecology

My video conversation with Brooke Medicine Eagle about The Call of the Land and the accompanying slide show, is freely available now. To learn more about deep agroecology and the possibilities for our food and farms, follow this link.

As Climate Chaos intensifies, agroecology stands as an essential response

by Steven McFadden
Based on political talking points, many people kiss off the reality of climate change. They go on with their lives as if there is no threat to be concerned about at all.

But climate change (now more accurately spoken of as climate chaos) is severely real. with raging fires, roaring hurricanes, and parching drought, it’s impacting farms, food, and millions of lives. The population of environmental refugees is swelling around the globe. This is factual way beyond politics or propaganda.

A recent survey by Stanford University, however, found that when people are directly impacted by climate change, political divisions evaporate. The impacted people immediately begin to take the intensifying reality of climate change seriously. How could they do otherwise?

The USDA’s landmark report Climate Change, Global Food Security, and U.S. Food System concluded that climate change is going to impact global, regional, and local food security. It will drive an overall increase in food prices, and also disrupt food availability.

That’s a grim outlook. But the USDA report also states emphatically that adaptation can make a positive difference. That’s where households and communities of all sizes and constellations need to place their attention and their energy: effective adaptation. And that is one of the key reasons why I wrote Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future.

Climate chaos is here. It’s not coming at some future date. Embracing agroecological responses now, while it is possible, is wise, worthwhile, and essential.

Toward positive, proactive responses, I strongly recommend the new film Kiss the Ground. It’s available now on Netflix, and via DVD.