The recent Latin American Permaculture Convergence (or CLAP ) was held from the 15th to the 21st of June in Varsana Ecovillage south of Bogota, Colombia. For five consecutive days the different open-air and indoor spaces of the host community hosted a buzzing 140 people from over 16 countries, who shared tools and strategies in the process incubating and birthing the Latin American Permaculture Network. Some of the countries present included Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Argentina, Germany, United States, and even Russia!
Although permaculture as such only arrived in Latin America 25 years ago when students of David Holmgren and Bill Mollison started disseminating its methods in Brazil and Argentina, many of the principles and tools of permaculture have been practiced here for a millennia. Today, permaculture has expanded all over the continent into what is nowadays a vast and diverse grid of projects ranging from family farms, educational initiatives and intentional communities to urban projects. Continue reading →
My time in Colombia was so full of amazing people and organizations that it didn’t leave me time to write as much as I would have liked. This roundup gives a little information about each of them, with hopes to come back to each of them with more information later.
Perhaps more than any country in Latin America, Colombia has suffered the pains born of a savagely unequal distribution of wealth and the gross distortions of humanity that can evolve such a system. Colombia is a land of extremes: beginning, as the entire story of Latin America does, with the Spanish conquest – but more recently, with La Violencia, the decade-long wave of violence unleashed by attempts at land reform in the 1940s and ’50s. This brutal backlash laid the groundwork for guerilla, military and paramilitary violence that wracked the country for four decades, laying the groundwork in turn for the narcotrafficking that accelerated the violence, until recently, to the point of paroxysm. Continue reading →
VALLE DE CAUCA, Colombia – When Alicia Calle, an environmental scientist with Yale’s Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative, first told me of El Hatico Nature Reserve, her face lit up for the first time since I’d met her an hour ago. We’d been talking about the state of the environment in Colombia, a subject with much to lament, given the spread of mining operations, cattle ranching, vast monocultures of sugarcane and African palm and coca, deforestation, water contamination, the same story throughout the Americas.
What is it that gives you hope, I asked her, as I do in every interview. It was then that she pulled out a booklet and started showing me photos of El Hatico.
“Let me be clear: I don’t like cattle farming; I think it’s created terrible environmental problems and social inequalities throughout its development in Latin America. But this is a place I’d really like you to see, a place that’s turned a major problem into a part of the solution.” Continue reading →