Andhra Pradesh is home to a diversity of exquisite handloom weaves renowned for their craftsmanship and aesthetic appeal. However, this beauty is hardly reflected in the lives of weavers, where motifs of distress and deprivation are dominant. Though they toil from dawn to dusk enmeshing warp with weft, the lives of these skilled artisans are in perpetual crisis. To address this grim scenario, the Malkha initiative is making a modest attempt to relocate the chain of cotton handloom production back within the rural economy. By placing all components of textile production in the hands of weavers and artisans, the intervention seeks to make them autonomous owners of their means of livelihood.
Malkha, a neologism that conjoins the words Malmal and Khadi, is the brand name of natural-dyed handloom cloth produced by the Decentralised Cotton Yarn Trust in Andhra Pradesh. The distinctive feature of Malkha fabric is that, unlike other handloom interventions which use yarn manufactured by large-scale spinning mills, Malkha’s yarn is manufactured in the villages themselves using special machines designed for small-scale handloom production. Thus, the Malkha process seeks to obviate the capital and resource intensive components in the conventional chain of the industrial manufacture of cotton cloth, thereby shrinking the overall ecological footprint. Fundamentally, it attempts to rescue cotton yarn and textile production from the monoculture of industrial textile manufacture, and reestablish it within the rural economy, to empower weavers and artisans through stable livelihoods. Read more
In Bastar, Chhattisgarh, whatever development projects and schemes are prepared and implemented by the government there is no substitute for the availability of proximate forests. The majority of people require firewood to cook; seasonal foods such as mushrooms and fish are collected without cost; wood for construction is a regular requirement. When people do not have their own forest they have no option but to stray into their neighboursʼ forests. Much of the tension between adivasi villages in Bastar and elsewhere can be reduced to the fact of “strangers” exploiting a patch of forest conserved by the people of one or two villages. The increasing pressure on resources alters the dynamics and the relations between people. Usually, good forest patches are the result of an intact traditional system of forest use, often combined with a person or a community that is conscious of the circumstances and makes an effort.
A man, Damodar, had the idea of bringing together the people of all the villages that came into his villageʼs forests. Over months he prepared the ground for such a meeting. He started by first taking the youth of the village to visit – in twos and threes – each village to explain to the people what the planned meeting was about. Each village was asked to discuss and think about its specific problems and select representatives to come and voice them in the larger meeting. These initial interactions, started by Damodar through local youth, went on for about two months.
The first big meeting was held in Badla Kot in March 2013, and was attended by about 200 people and hosted by Damodar. Each village representative got a chance to speak, there were some informal group discussions, and one could feel that it was an issue that evoked emotions. Some decisions have been made: all the sacred groves in the villages will be restored; there will be large scale planting of native trees; each village will raise and protect its plants. Saplings of useful and native species are to be made available locally as well as from a nursery run by the Legal Environmental Action Forum (LEAF) that has a centre in Jagdalpur. Read more
This paper examines and analyses the organization and functioning of subaltern peasant sanghams (grassroot associations of the poor) and their place-based as well as network-based strategies in building autonomous local communities that challenge the consequences of neoliberal globalization in general and the commodification of agriculture and food in particular. The major objective of the counter- hegemonic organizational strategies is to build self-protective and subsistence communities, to mend the metabolic rift between nature and society, and to re-reconstruct social fabric within communities. The question remains is whether place-based autonomous communities can sustain in an increasingly globalizing world. To better understand these political dynamics, I use Karl Polanyi’s concept of ‘double movement’ and examine the making of a double movement in Indian agriculture and its socio-political and ecological implications for the Indian peasantry. I use the organizational strategies and activities of the Deccan Development Society, a prominent non-governmental organization that has been working in Medak district for more than two decades, as an illustrative case study. Read more
From an economy addicted to coal and nuclear energy, Germany is fast transforming into one driven by renewables. Its aim is to demonstrate to the world that growth and decarbonisation can go hand in hand. People in Germany are pooling in money and setting up wind farms, especially in the windswept north, or solar panels and selling electricity to utilities because the government guarantees them premium tariffs for 20 years.More than half the renewable energy capacity in Germany is today installed and owned by individuals and farmersʼ cooperatives, not big power companies. Close to 1.3 million households are producing energy using solar photovoltaic panels. In the south, where the sun is relatively stronger, the state of Bavaria alone has more installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity than the US. Germany is expanding its renewable energy capacity at a staggering pace. In wind installation capacity it now beats all countries other than China and the US. Germany, the most populous country of the European Union, is carrying out the biggest and the fastest transformation in the world from coal and nuclear energy to clean energy. The official word for this transition is “energiewende”, which in English means energy transition. It is the buzzword in the country… Read more
An unemployed man, a retired pharmacist and an upholsterer took their stations, behind tables covered in red gingham. Screwdrivers and sewing machines stood at the ready. Coffee, tea and cookies circulated. Hilij Held, a neighbor, wheeled in a zebra-striped suitcase and extracted a well-used iron. “It doesn’t work anymore,” she said. “No steam.” Ms. Held had come to the right place. At Amsterdam’s first Repair Cafe, an event originally held in a theater’s foyer, then in a rented room in a former hotel and now in a community center a couple of times a month, people can bring in whatever they want to have repaired, at no cost, by volunteers who just like to fix things.
Conceived of as a way to help people reduce waste, the Repair Cafe concept has taken off since its debut two and a half years ago. The Repair Cafe Foundation has raised about $525,000 through a grant from the Dutch government, support from foundations and small donations, all of which pay for staffing, marketing and even a Repair Cafe bus. Thirty groups have started Repair Cafes across the Netherlands, where neighbors pool their skills and labor for a few hours a month to mend holey clothing and revivify old coffee makers, broken lamps, vacuum cleaners and toasters, as well as at least one electric organ, a washing machine and an orange juice press… Read more
Rights of Nature is the recognition and honoring that Nature has rights. It is the recognition that our ecosystems – including trees, oceans, animals, mountains – have rights just as human beings have rights. Rights of Nature is about balancing what is good for human beings against what is good for other species, what is good for the planet as a world. It is the holistic recognition that all life, all ecosystems on our planet are deeply intertwined. Rather than treating nature as property under the law, rights of nature acknowledges that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles. And we – the people – have the legal authority and responsibility to enforce these rights on behalf of ecosystems. The ecosystem itself can be named as the defendant.
Nonetheless, for millennia legal systems around the world have treated land and nature as “property”. Laws and contracts are written to protect the property rights of individuals, corporations and other legal entities. As such environmental protection laws actually legalize environmental harm by regulating how much pollution or destruction of nature can occur within the law. Under such law, nature and all of its non-human elements have no standing. By recognizing rights of nature in their legislation, countries like Ecuador and Bolivia are basing their environmental protection systems on the premise that nature has inalienable rights, just as humans do. This premise is a radical but natural departure from the assumption that nature is property under the law. (Source: Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature)
> Ecuador’s Constitution (EN)
> Bolivia’s Law of Mother Earth (ES)
> Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth (EN)
> Ecuador’s submission to Rio+20 (ES)
> Bolivia’s submission to Rio+20 (ES)
The Longo Mai movement is a group of agricultural cooperatives with a basic grass-roots, alternative, rural, laic and sustainable ideology. It has its origins in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France. Young people from the “generation 68″ founded the first settlement in 1973 in France (“Longo maï” in Provençal means “may it last long”). They focused on living together, based on self-administration and agricultural self-sufficiency. In addition, they initiated many social projects.
Longo-mai today has changed and grown – the political context and reality of our time too – to imagine that the problems present in our society can be resolved or answered by similar social and economic experiments alone is surely not a realistic consideration. The character and spirit of Longo mai however offers us a tangible vision and outlook to a possible, different and responsible, ecological and economical sustainable, democratic, fair society. In front of increasing major economic, social and environmental degradation, violence, repression and control by the State and Police, in front of major centralization of powers in a hand of few oligarchs and special interest groups, in front of a growing general disorientation and precarious work-relationships as unemployment, the search for alternative solutions in Society is unavoidable and necessary.
One of the many objectives and aims of Longo-mai is and always has been the agricultural reform. The source of its engagements lies in the concrete activities of various co-operatives and in the local and regional collaboration with similar group of interest and organizations as the trial to bring this work into a wider, national and international context. The publication of books, articles and press via a newspaper called European Citzienship Forum (EuropaeischerBuergerForum) along with the political engagement and regular meetings with other organization as Via Campesina certainly represents a great step forward and hope towards a truly sustainable, democratic and peaceful civil society.
Read more about Longo Mai in Austria
Read more about Longo Mai in Costa Rica