Archive | Interview

Samuel Alexander interviews David Holmgren

Get yourself comfortable and settle in for a thorough look at David Holmgren’s latest thinking on the prospects for our future. In this interview Samuel Alexander of the Simplicity Collective poses written questions which David addresses over an epic 90 minutes.

For the last few months (and before) David has been absorbed in writing a new book, so there may be hints of some of the book’s contents in the interview. David’s thinking is informed by his daily work in the garden, even while keeping the water up to the food production system, the complex ideas are forming, being reorganised and constantly critiqued. The book is about retrofitting society for a quite different world. It elaborates and extends David’s 2015 Aussie Street Presentation, and Retrofitting The Suburbs essay .

The Aussie St story that traces four adjacent suburban houses and their inhabitants from the “1950s Golden Age of Suburbia” to the “Second Great Depression of 2020” has been particularly powerful at engaging with Australians who live in or grew up in suburbia. The new book will build on this and take  a wider perspective.

David will be launching “RetroSuburbia; a downshifters guide to a resilient future” in the new year with a website to match Retrosuburbia.com so watch out for the website going live, a book launch close to you, and associated workshops all over Melbourne.

 

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the war on Monsanto

The seeds of life are not what they once were
Mother Nature and God don’t own them anymore

So belts out the veteran singer songwriter Neil Young with Promise of the Real on their title track from his latest album, The Monsanto years. What is the old protest rocker raging about? Monsanto and the war on weeds.

What are the weeds? According to the National Invasive Species Council of the USA weeds are “an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” Spearheaded by good intentioned nativists, the war is declared all over the world, on weeds. But are we as qualified as mother nature or god to decide what plants should grow, while others are declared noxious and exterminated?

Assuming that we have a moral authority to pick and choose the arrangement of nature, can we the humans really ‘eradicate’ the invasive aliens? What with? Gallons of glyphosate? Is killing the plants with glyphosate more harmful than  any harm ‘weeds’ do to us? And who makes glyphosate? According to the article Andrew Cockburn wrote for Harper’s magazine, “last year, the federal government (of the US) spent more than $2 billion to fight the alien invasion, up to half of which was budgeted for glyphosate and other poisons.”

shop_beyond_the_war_800sIntriguing stuff. All these questions were recently discussed on Australia’s ABC radio’s Late Night Live program. Taking part in discussion was Andrew Cockburn and David Holmgren.

Environmentalists used to fight against chain saws, bulldozers and poisons. Now they’re fighting ‘invasive’ species of plants and animals – with the help of chain saws, bulldozers and poisons. Who benefits? Mainly the company that was once their sworn enemy – Monsanto.

You can hear the program on ABC‘s website. Cockburn’s poignant piece on Harper’s magazine.

Holmgren’s articles and other writings on weeds are found here, especially recommended for reading are foreword to Beyond the WAR on invasive species by Tao Orion and Weeds or wild nature.

Neil Young also has made a mini doco on the story of Michael White vs Monsanto, Seeding Fear.

 

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