Volunteers help build a chicken coop at Felder Farm in Little Rock, AR
The idea of crops mobs has been getting some press lately (most notably in the NY Times). The idea is pretty simple: landless farmers, gardeners, and wannabe farmers get together and mob a farm helping weed, prepare soil, build farm structures and do other labor intensive farming work.
Gather some friends, advertise it on Facebook, and get your hands dirty helping a small farm grow good, sustainable food.
According to a story in the NYTimes, vegetable gardens at workplaces are making a comeback.
As companies have less to spend on raises, health benefits and passes to the water park, a fashionable new perk is emerging: all the carrots and zucchini employees can grow.
Carved from rolling green office park turf or tucked into containers on rooftops and converted smoking areas, these corporate plots of dirt spring from growing attention to sustainability and a rising interest in gardening. But they also reflect an economy that calls for creative ways to build workers’ morale and health.
Photo from Flickr/Mike Mertz (Creative Commons)
Heifer Tanzania Communications Coordinator Richard Bugaisa contributed to this story.
Passing on the Gift doesn’t just happen in the villages where Heifer works around the world. It’s an idea that also inspires Heifer staff to give of themselves whether it be in time, talent or a physical gift.
The staff of Heifer Tanzania recently marked Pass on the Gift month in their own unique way.
Over the past few years news of albino killings in east Africa made its way to the United States. The killings and mutilations were particularly bad in Tanzania and prompted the government there to ban traditional healers who use albino organs for medicinal purposes. (The New York Times has two good articles on the topic. Read about the increase in killing here or the ban on traditional healers here.)
In support of the government’s measures to stop the killings, the Heifer Tanzania staff provided educational materials and protective gear to about 56 albino students at the Mukidoma Secondary School in Usa River.
Heifer Tanzania Country Director Peter Mwakabwale presents a cap to Neema
Moses, a standard 3 student at the Mukidoma school
Heifer Tanzania Communications Coordinator Richard Bugaisa wrote, “Apart from supporting the government’s call to protect albinos, Heifer International Tanzania realized that, since the outbreak of merciless killings, people with albinism especially children have not been able to attend school in fear of their lives.”
During the Pass on the Gift ceremony, Heifer Tanzania Country Director Peter Mwakabwale told the students, “Heifer Tanzania understands that education is the key to success and you have been missing this great opportunity; we assure you that Heifer Tanzania will give you full support during your studies.”
Both institutions agreed that this would be the beginning of a strong relationship. Heifer Tanzania also plans to continue to pass on their gifts to the albino community in the coming years to help end the traditional beliefs about albino people.
Photo by Flickr/Michael Caven
The NYTimes has a piece on the business of Earth Day. What began 40 years ago, largely as a protest against the lack of corporate and governmental responsibility toward the environment, has now become a marketing opportunity. You know, green is the new black, buy a stuffed penguin to save the polar ice caps, etc., etc. But does this new-found corporate conscience do any good or is it all just “green-washing”?
“… To many pioneers of the environmental movement, eco-consumerism, creeping for decades, is intensely frustrating and detracts from Earth Day’s original purpose.
‘This ridiculous perverted marketing has cheapened the concept of what is really green,’ said Denis Hayes, who was national coordinator of the first Earth Day and is returning to organize this year’s activities in Washington. ‘It is tragic.’ …”
Has the environmental movement, as all movements eventually do, run its course now that it has been co-opted by corporate America? Or maybe this is free-market environmentalism. Can we really buy our way to environmental health?
Bono had a great op-ed in Saturday’s New York Times introducing us to some of the most important players in African development–business people, artists and activist who are working toward a new kind of hope.
Toward the end of the piece Bono begins to wonder if the idea of aid for Africa is outdated with so many indigenous leaders.
Aid, it’s clear, is still part of the picture. It’s crucial, if you have H.I.V. and are fighting for your life, or if you are a mother wondering why you can’t protect your child against killers with unpronounceable names or if you are a farmer who knows that new seed varietals will mean you have produce that you can take to market in drought or flood. But not the old, dumb, only-game-in-town aid — smart aid that aims to put itself out of business in a generation or two. “Make aid history” is the objective. It always was. Because when we end aid, it’ll mean that extreme poverty is history. But until that glorious day, smart aid can be a reforming tool,demanding accountability and transparency, rewarding measurable results, reinforcing the rule of law, but never imagining for a second that it’s a substitute for trade, investment or self-determination.
Refering to Mo Ibrahim, an innovative leader fighting corruption in Africa, Bono concludes:
I for one want to live to see Mo Ibrahim’s throw-down prediction about Ghana come true. “Yes, guys,” he said, “Ghana needs support in the coming years, but in the not-too-distant future it can be giving aid, not receiving it; and you, Mr. Bono, can just go there on your holidays.”
This sentiment is exactly what we are working for at Heifer. Already, in communities from Sierra Leone to Cameroon, Mo Ibrahim’s prediction is coming true. Through Heifer’s model of Pass on the Gift development recipients are becoming donors, year after year. With a rising generation of leaders and donors an end to aid is on the horizon–soon we will have only the exchanging of gifts.