Sustainable Living: As seen by a man who cycled the world
Update: 2010-09. I was lucky enough to present my ideas on a sustainable world not once but TWICE. Unfortunately, since then, this great organization went into debt and dissolved. Fortunately, everyone was so committed they continue to follow their passion in creating an environmentally friendly world.
I am excited to participate in the Growing Power Conference this week along with a lot of amazing experts in their field. I am honored to speak about Sustainable living.
Breakout Session description: I bicycled around the world (4 years, 33,000 miles, 50 countries and 6 continents) searching for the meaning of life. I witnessed how cultures across the globe struggled to feed their families, frequently to the detriment of the environment. One example involves traveling through Zimbabwe during their political upheaval and seeing people literally starving, indeed starving myself, as the agriculture crashed bringing down the rest of their society with it. President Mugabe had stripped the white farmers of their land, giving it back to the black people who, unfortunately, had no knowledge of mass agriculture; in addition, they had also forgotten the traditional farming techniques of planting corn or raising chickens in their backyard in nearby countries like Tanzania. This experience really painted a vivid picture of how our American society is built on precarious, non-sustainable farming techniques that could quite literally crumble overnight if the oil spigot were turned off. I will also present everything you need to know to live a healthy and sustainable life in 4 words.
Below are some thoughts from Will Allen, son of a sharecropper, former professional basketball player, ex-corporate sales leader, and now farmer, has become recognized as among the preeminent thinkers of our time on agriculture and food policy. The founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc., a farm and community food center in Milwaukee:
In the fall of 2009, I was thinking about how we will grow the Good Food Revolution. I realized that we did not have all the players at the Good Food Table. Over the years, many people have been working hard on getting good food into our communities in many different ways, but all too often they were working only in their own sectors. I feel that for us to fundamentally change the food system, we must work together as a team. I have worked at, spoken at, participated in many gatherings and conferences over the years. At these conferences, it seemed there were never all the players needed, to know each other and eventually work together. This conference is my attempt, and Growing Power’s attempt, to bring to the table folks that have never worked together to build a new food system that works for everyone in every community. Some of these folks are farmers like myself, urban planners, government officials, financiers, corporate companies; teachers and university academics; doctors, dieticians and nutritionists; folks in the fitness field; people in renewable energy; aquaculturists, composters, recyclers and reusers; environmentalists including freshwater, wastewater and stormwater experts; brownfield specialists; and perhaps most importantly, youth, whose world will be shaped by what we do or not do, here and wherever we all return to. Over the next few days, working hard while eating some good local food from our local and regional producers, I hope that all of you will learn more, gain new partners, get inspired to go back to your communities and Grow the Good Food Revolution. Our ultimate goal is to make sure everyone, in all our communities, has access to healthy, safe, affordable and culturally appropriate food. Food is the one thing we all have in common. Building a Good Food system is the No. 1 thing that will lead us in building sustainable communities. This is really what social justice is about. ~ Will Allen
Will Allen and Ruby the Red Worm
Once again I was honored to present at the Growing Power International Urban & Small Farm Conference. Pictured here is Will Allen, one of Milwaukee’s most prominent citizens and the founder of Growing Power, one of the organizations that make Milwaukee one of the top 10 green cities in the nation. My book Ruby the Red Worm’s Dirty Job was inspired several years ago when I met will for the first time and toured Growing Power’s urban farm, which happens to be about a mile from where I lived as a child. I showed the book to Will. He said he “loved it”. He thanked me for the work that I am doing, and I could see that the book tugged his heartstrings and helped him see the tangible difference his own passion is making in the world.
Also pictured is Kate Krzysik who helped create the book project and bring Ruby to life at the Waukesha STEM Academy. Stay tuned for our next book “Walter the Water Drop” about water conservation. It will be a really exciting project as Kate’s vision keeps growing, so along with the book, the STEM Academy will be installing an aquaponics system in their school. Aquaponics is a sustainable food production system that combines a traditional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.