(Words) from my Mango Hut
by Dave Ashworth
August 26, 2011
I. Whatevahs (Wh)
Wh 1. “Reading List”
These are materials I consult often or have read recently that give some idea of where I am coming from on the issues of the environment.
1. Book of essays by Wendell Berry, A Continuous Harmony: Essays Cultural & Agricultural. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1972 See the Wikipedia article about him.
Sometimes I think I would rather just paste the entire book into the website and let it speak for me.
2. The appendix to a book, by C.A. Bowers, Perspectives on the Ideas of Gregory Bateson, Ecological Intelligence, and Educational Reforms. Eco-Justice Press. , LLC. Kindle Edition
Of prime interest here is
Chapter Nine, Revitalizing the Ecological Intelligence of Andean Amazonian Communities: The Way Back to Respect by Jorge Ishizawa and Grimaldo Rengifo
This is a UN supported revitalization of native Peruvian agriculture that was ignored by the Spaniards and succeeding generations who imported European farming methods and totally ignored the ways that the indigenous populations raised produce in the mountainous areas. It has some implications for Hawaii, since most Hawaiian native food is nutritious and favored by many, yet in scarce supply (try to buy fresh poi and you will see what I mean). Any revival of agriculture and fishing could benefit from reading about the Peruvians’ experiences.
3. Website of W.S. Merwin Conservancy on Maui. Includes FANTASTIC recordings of birds in the wilds of his sanctuary.
Wh .2 A Poem
A Seed Pod (by yours truly)
(I am NOT trying to compete with my immediate predecessor above!)
A seed pod opens.
The seeds might become a bush.
They can also end up in the stomach of an animal.
Mother bush sways gently in the wind,
— The way bushes smile.
And drops more pods.
II. “Down to business”
Reading of the life of W. Berry as a farmer and reflecting on my own childhood growing up in a farm community, I wonder what the new population of farming people will be like. What will be their motivations? Profit? Employment? These seem to be the prime motivators today. In the past, farmers grew food etc. for themselves and sold produce to their community. In the present “agribusiness” context, the methods and goals of farming are far different, since they aim to supply vast amounts of foods to customers all over the world, and they for the most part follow the “man conquers nature” mindset that nature is here for people to profit from and benefit from, without any regard for the plants and animals, as well as the minerals that provide humans with their needs.
In his essay, “Discipline and Hope” in the book referred to above (p.157), he states the climax of his essay very simply:
What I have been preparing at such length to say is that there is only one value: the life and health of the world.
He elaborates briefly:
If there is only one value, it follows that conflicts of value are illusory, based on perceptual error. Amoral, practical, spiritual, esthetic, economic, and ecological values are all concerned ultimately with the same question of life and health.
Upon reading this, I thought of Noah and the Ark in the Old Testament, and how, after rescuing all species from the Great Flood, God gave him the tools for farming, once the floodwaters subsided, and afterwards all plants and animals flourished.
I am not a religious person, but I enjoyed, through reading Berry’s essays, rediscovering an ancient person who undertook to set the world aright after the deluge.
Berry raises the fundamental value – to do our best to ensure that all of Nature survives. We can do that only through respect for ALL life, not by manipulating it for our own selfish purposes.
Hence it is encouraging to see that here in Hawaii, we are beginning to revive farming, both through the training of new farmers (as we shall hear at the coming Gaia Pacific meeting), as well as making agricultural land more available e.g. on the Big Island – (in the Star Bulletin-Advertiser 8/18/11). Also the New York Times has an Opinion article in the August 16 issue on new farmers and farms developing in the Eastern states.
I hope that all these efforts will proceed with depth of concern for Berry’s “value,” that we will attempt to revitalize as much as is feasible production of foodstuffs for the local community as well as for external sale, and that we can learn to respect and promote the agricultural wisdom from our native Polynesian predecessors in these areas.
Here is a picture I was lucky enough to take without any intrusive poles or wires.
Ho’opili, five years ago. Between Waipahu and Makakilo.