Wow, so I joined this class a bit late but I am so happy I joined when I did and was able to hear Colin Milang speak. The stories he told of his life and family heritage were deeply moving. I was almost brought to tears a number of times, but the thing that stuck with me most is his emphasis on how the farm he lived and worked on was ‘Life Giving’; what a beautiful and profound statement! The Earth sustains so much life and cares for us providing resources for shelter, nourishment, and a lifelong connection to the land that many of us take for granted these days. We can’t blame ourselves fully for our ignorance however, as there are external forces at work constantly putting us under pressure to compete and conform in a global market system.
The global market has turned traditional family farming practices into a mess basically, ancestral knowledge is no longer being passed down to future generations. We do not know how to sustain ourselves or grow our own produce. The beauty and variety of luscious, healthy, organic produce has been replaced by monocultures, nutrient-depleted soil and food as a commodity instead of a precious gift that has a much greater purpose than profit. It broke my heart to hear that the award-winning Milang farm was completely stripped down by corporate businesses that value money over health and well-being and did not even consider the memories and life-support ability a piece of land is able to provide to numerous generations.
I loved reading “Thinking Like an Island,” it really makes our understanding of the world more accessible in a way because we can consider how our actions have a direct impact on our environment and the many species inhabiting it. We all share this land, although it is vast we are all in it together and it is so easy to forget that sometimes. We remain trapped in the paradigm of development feeling like we need to produce more and more and consume endlessly, but there are natural limits, limited resources, limited clean air and water… harmful practices on one side of the earth could be a toxic death or a brother or sister elsewhere in the world. I heard a crude metaphor, but I liked it, “It’s like pissing into one end of the bathtub and expecting the pee not to reach you on your end.” HA. So true. On top of that, internal challenges face us daily, many of them brought on by the external forces bombarding us every day. Struggling to pay rent, provide enough food for the family, worrying about the quality of food now especially, we are all just zombies trying to participate in a system that is not natural to us.
This leads to illnesses such as depression, cancer from toxic overly-processed foods, and just a numbing of our natural spirits that no longer have a place to connect to because we are not at home in this society- we are taking for granted what we already have and always searching for the next best thing.. we need to make a shift back to an agrarian paradigm- this shift will HAVE to happen because development as it is currently defined is simply not sustainable and is providing us with unhealthy processed ‘goods’ simultaneously robbing us of the skills and knowledge we need to survive. I felt sad about the destruction of the Milang family farm, but when I saw a picture of his happy, beautiful children I was thankful that they had the chance to experience the many wonderful gifts, skills and resources a farm can provide. I remain optimistic for the future because seeing, reading, and absorbing everyone’s passion in the class keeps me uplifted and we have a home within in each other. &No obstacle is too great when we have mother nature to care for us.