“How we stand with the weak is more important than how we sit with the strong.” This quote was part of the grand prize winning application for Abundant Earth’s inaugural Youth in Permaculture Prize, submitted by Millicent Anyango. This saying kept repeating in my mind the recently, as I watched the play “A Woman’s Place is in Her Home” at the Arcata Playhouse, nestled in the heart of the redwoods of Northern California.
The multi-act play took over a year to write, as interviews were conducted with homeless women in Humboldt County, California. Some of the women interviewed were also part of the play’s all-women cast. A multimedia presentation included poignant original songs sung with such talent that they could grace any stage with their passion. Sharing the emotional trials and tribulations and the dangers to their safety and wellbeing, the woman shed light on a dark world that most people never peak into, unless they too one day find themselves in such a desperate situation as to have nowhere to turn but the streets. Sadly, this fate can fall upon many of us at any time.
2018 marks the ten-year anniversary of the housing crisis in the United States, where the economic system was manipulated to greatly benefit the banks and the uber rich, at the enormous expense of the middle and lower class. Suddenly, millions lost their financial safetynet, almost overnight. Many could no longer meet the mortgage payments on their property. Entire retirement plans, security savings, and houses were lost in the financial collapse. The effects still ripple through society, and many people have had to turn to the streets as a place to try to rest their heads at night.
“All the world’s problems can be solved in a garden,” This quote by Bill Mollison, the co-founder of permaculture, also echoed in my mind, as I was moved to tears during the performance. People are living on the streets without a source of income or food – so instead, why don’t we create more urban food forests to provide free food? Let us create more sites like Dignity Village in Portland, Oregon, where the organization, City Repair, convinced the city to donate land, then worked with homeless people to build tiny-homes out of recycled material. This offered a safe place to live until the people were able to back on their feet. In Santa Cruz, California, The Homeless Garden Project trains people without homes to learn permaculture and other gardening techniques, providing job training and organic food to eat. The Green Team Farm in Salt Lake City, Utah, does this specifically with homeless women.
These are just a few examples of creative solutions to a global societal problem. If we were to apply the ethics and principles of permaculture, there would become clear solutions. If wealth and resources were more evenly distributed, if everyone had their fair share, then we could meet the basic human needs of all of the 8 billion of us inhabiting this bountiful planet.
This is the core belief that Abundant Earth Foundation was founded on: If we share our surplus, live governed by regenerative practices, and care for each other, we can all live lives that have a safetynet. This way if we stumble or fall, we bounce back to new heights.