Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Global Community Gardening Network - the idea

This mission is a difficult one for many people, myself included. Food is fundamentally essential for life, of course, so you would think we would think about it more. "We" being the part of the world that has arranged that we have plenty of food, we don't have to worry about it too much. So what do we need to do? And what about the rest of the world?

Where does our food come from?

But our sense of security about food is actually rather misleading, and the situation is much more precarious than we would like to imagine. Primarily, we are hugely dependent on fossil fuel energy to grow our abundance of food, process and package it, and ship it to our homes. We are also dependent on the willing cooperation of nature to continue allowing us to strip it of its minerals, washing them downstream to the ocean, adding an excess of nitrogen and other pollutants along the way. We are dependent on regular and clean water and predictable weather patterns to know when and how much we should plant and how much we can expect to harvest. All of these things that we depend on, and more, are coming loose at the seams, threatening to fall apart, and any one might not be so bad, but they depend on each other as well, and we are building to a crisis point where one system falling apart could lead to a cascade of several other systems falling apart. (image from Understanding Food, Water and the Energy Crisis)

Another thing to consider is that people have become very distant from the source of their food. It is often difficult to find the origin of any particular food we might buy in the grocery store. I just watched a news show about some famous British cook (whose name I forgot) going into US schools and showing kids a set of vegetables, and it was rather amusing how few they recognized.

Grow the source of your own food

So knowing all this, I have been pushing for growing more food locally myself, and helping many more people do the same, even if this goal is not aimed at growing all the food we need now in this way. I do have a small garden in my backyard, and I have gardened much more in the past. I will certainly continue gardening, and probably make time to do more each year. Sharing with our neighbors is also part of this process.

We each need to do at least this much. But how can we do much more than that? It is fine that we are dependent on others to do their part, to trust that they will do so. But how can we help many more people, to facilitate that they will find it easy enough to start doing what they can and actually follow through?

Interconnections, local and global

One answer, it seems, is fairly obvious. We have the enormous resource of the internet, the web in particular, to help us build connections online, to share what we know with others, and to listen and learn from them. This applies to food, and to so much more.

Food is a great place to start because, again, it is so fundamental to our survival, people know they need it, and it requires a modest amount of planning to make it happen. It is also difficult to get all the food, all the nutrition we need by our own direct efforts, and this can be viewed as an opportunity to foster community cooperation. We need each other to survive, at the very least on a local community scale.

But just as individuals depend on communities, our communities are not discrete entities, and all of us already have many connections to other individuals in other communities, and the boundaries between communities blur one to the next. This extends to our towns, regions, states, nations, and international communities.

So what's the big idea?

So the idea I am settling on is that we need a global service, a web site, or federation of coordinated sites, that will help everyone around the world build more of these community-level gardens. One reason for a global service is to promote networking and sharing of information on a wider scale even if we don't necessarily distribute as many physical resources globally. We have a lot to learn from each other since we are all humans with the same basic physical needs. We all have differences too, of course, and learning to appreciate those differences is one thing we all could use more of.

I don't think such a service exists yet, but I will of course investigate that first. Certainly there are global collaboration networks we can leverage as well, but this service will benefit from a few widgets targeted at the needs of community gardening, and the geographic-based networking. How this all comes out as an implementation is part of the challenge. Obviously this is a long-term project, but initiating it is the first step.

I'm not sure how this will turn out (that depends on what else is
happening and who gets involved in helping with this project), but I am
thinking about something that might be considered a cross between Ning
(for the social networking, groups, blogs, wikis, etc) and several
components that support Open
, map navigation, visualization, all with an emphasis on lots
of networking.

Community gardening sites, networks, directories, and articles

Here are a few related projects that I have found out about already (thanks to refs by others):

Urgent Evoke Projects
Elsewhere on the Web

Translation of "allotment gardens" into other languages

  • Czech: "Zahrádkářské kolonie"
  • Danish: "Kolonihave"
  • Dutch: "Volkstuin"
  • Finnish: "Siirtolapuutarha"
  • French: "Jardins familiaux", "Jardin communautaire"
  • German: "Kleingärten", "Schrebergärten" or "Kolonie" for the group and "Parzelle" or "Datsche" (mostly in former GDR) for the single, in former times also "Armengärten", "Sozialgärten", "Arbeitergärten", "Rotkreuzgärten", "Eisenbahnergärten" according to the concept of granting
  • Italian: "Orti Sociali"
  • Japanese: "クラインガルテン"
  • Norwegian: "Kolonihage" or "Parsellhage"
  • Polish: "Ogródki działkowe" ot colloquially "działki"
  • Portuguese: "Hortas comunitárias"
  • Russian: "Дача" ("dacha")
  • Spanish: "Huertas comunitarias"
  • Swedish: "Odlingslott", "Kolonilott", or "Koloniträdgård"
  • Swiss: "Familiengärten", "Jardins familiaux"
  • Welsh: "Rhandir" (plural rhandiroedd, rhandiredd or rhandirau)

Views: 167

Comment by Chelsea Howe on March 28, 2010 at 9:50pm
Wow! What a great aggregation of data! With so much information, it's wonderful to find a clear, concise, easy to read summary and overview of a specific problem - especially with so many tendrils out to other information nodes. Thank you Agent! Excellent job!
Comment by Patricio Buenrostro-Gilhuys on April 12, 2010 at 12:50am
Comment by Patricio Buenrostro-Gilhuys on April 12, 2010 at 12:50am
Comment by Zack Garton on April 12, 2010 at 1:35am
Jamie Oliver... Thats the name of the British fellow you were thinking of at the beginning of your post. He gives a great talk on TED about food security; references that Huntington W. VA. experiment that you're thinking of...

As to the post as a wh***.. Bravo! I'll be adding you to my friends, if thats alright, as I see we are of one mind =D. The 'Food Security' mission has become rather all-consuming (no pun intended) for me.. I've volunteered for the local Sustainable Food Center, volunteered to investigate food security in my city for a group writing a report for abovementioned SFC, organized a local 'dinner club' amongst my friends and such here in Austin (which I hope will spread =D ), and have started building hydroponic systems to grow delicious foodstuffs (apartment dweller)... Have also started doing a lot of looking into Permaculture and all manner and method of gardening/farming etc... If you're interested in any of that let me know =D I've come across some pretty cool stuff floating around out there on the web...
Comment by Daniel LaLiberte on April 12, 2010 at 2:50am
Thanks Patricio, I added a few more of your links.

Thanks Zack. I'll try to embed that video here. Sounds like you are rather productively consumed by the food security mission. The info you are finding would be perfect for the kind of network I am thinking we need. But at this time, I am most interested in the other networks, forums, directories, and articles focused on building the global community gardening network.
Comment by Nick Heyming on May 13, 2010 at 11:46pm
Really like your evokation, I'm trying to come up with a way to take information like what you've presented and create an interface that presents regionally appropriate links as well as globally relevant ones.

Care to collaborate?
Comment by Daniel LaLiberte on May 14, 2010 at 12:26am
Hi Nick, Glad you like my posting, which was as close to an evokation as I came, though I had plans for doing more. You may have noticed that my participation has tapered off. But, yes, I am interested in collaborating with you, though I expect I won't be able to do more than offer random ideas. Feel free to take charge and use me as much as you can. Good luck.
Comment by Nick Heyming on May 14, 2010 at 12:38am
Well, there is still plenty of room on the Gratitude Garden Evokation, which will have many of the elements of your post. We're organizing a skype conference call, probably for tomorrow. You interested?
Comment by Daniel LaLiberte on May 14, 2010 at 12:45am
Send me a message with the details of the call, and if I can participate, I will. Thanks.


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