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GSR Newsletter Issue No. 3 - May 2013


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GSR's May 2013 Newsletter Issue No.23. It covers the latest major events and themes that shape the organization's activities and policies. Also featuring Christopher Danch's (GSR's CLO) article.

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GSR Newsletter Issue No. 3 - May 2013

  1. 1. GSRs Newsletter is a collection of news, reflections, innovations and ideas that our team hasfound important enough to write down and share with you. We hope youll be as excited as weare with all the latest developments around the world and what it means for us all.GSR NewsletterIssue No.3May 2013Working Towards a Global Transition: APersonal JourneyGuest Author, Christopher DanchAt the Starting LineI am the Chief Legal Officer for Green Self Reliance, Inc. I came to this positionnot as an attorney, but as Director of Development of a company, Eco Ranchos,Inc., which was formed to promote the large-scale development of complexagricultural systems, which we refer to as agroforestry. We wanted to changeagriculture from the prevailing destructive, unsustainable industrial mode to onethat is resilient and restorative. It has taken me many years to come to thispoint.Almost twenty years ago, I had a full-time practice, which while very varied,focused for much of the time on civillitigation and business law. For aperiod of time, about five years, thebulk of my work was representing realestate developers, particularly of thatblight upon the landscape known thesuburban subdivision. As an aside,during that time I used to muse that allthe large subdivision projects werenamed for the very thing they destroyed. Deer Ridge Estates made damn surethat no deer remained in the area and Oak Mountain Estates effectivelyeradicated the healthy oak-montane ecosystem that had stood and weatheredmany a millennia.During the first fifteen or so yearsof my practice, I made good money,dutifully put my children throughprivate school, had, metaphoricallyspeaking, the white picket fencehome, and did “charitable” work inmy spare time in the discharge ofmy civic duties. I was, in the eyes ofWestern society, successful andcomfortably conforming,masquerading as the AmericanDream. However, as I will furtherdescribe in future articles, uneasiness began to creep in and my life began tochange. I always had a serious lay interest in science, which in my early adultyears naturally migrated to the emerging field of environmental science. Whatbegan in those early years as a simply progression of my intellectual curiositybecame an all-consuming journey toward a greater understanding of the whole.And while that understanding will never be complete, I believe I have arrived at aplace where I can put what understanding I have into action. The model created
  2. 2. by Green Self Reliance, which I joined in 2009, is the best vehicle I have seen tomanifest this intention.On the dark side, I have sacrificed any notion of financial security, strained myfamily tremendously, financially, emotionally and philosophically, particularly mywonderful wife, and have had, as the philosopher says, many dark nights of thesoul. I am both excited by the possibilities, and thoroughly daunted andhumbled by the challenges we collectively face. My chaotic work life these pasteighteen years, have been, to say the least, a magical mystery tour. As I sit heretyping this, I can’t get the Talking Heads’ song, “Once in a Lifetime” out of myhead, and David Brynes’ disturbing refrain, “How did I get here?”So, I hope you will join me in future articles in this series as I recount the manyblurred and sometime plodding, sometimes freefalling, steps along this journey.Maybe some of you will see parallels to your own experience andtransformation. Maybe some of you will be inspired to start the journey.Fundamentally, it is no small matter to know that you are not alone. Thedominant cultural story, and its authors, agents, promoters, passive participantsand prognosticators, are very good at marginalizing and isolating those with adifferent, even if compelling, story.This attempt is very new to me. Until now, I would never have presumed thatwhat I have experienced and learned along this path would be of any interest orhelp to anyone. Maybe I was correct in this view. But, it is, I suppose, just the nextnecessary step of this journey.What is Good Health Care?There has been a lot ofchatter recently amongstseveral media outlets abouthow several Sub-Saharancountries are going to failthe 2015 UN MillenniumDevelopment benchmarkgoal for expanded healthcare in rural areas. Thisproblem entails not onlygetting vaccines and medicalsupplies out there in thecountryside, but alsoeducation about preventative measures such as sanitation and balancednourishment.GSR believes that if the UNDP adopted three key GSR methods, they wouldsucceed on achieving more impact. These methods are:1. Develop close local partnerships and get an understanding of localconditions (both about the people and resources)2. Establish health care programs in the context of an overall developmentprogram (what is the use of expensive medical care delivery systems if thevillage people must ingest contaminated food and water, or if they are allmalnourished?)3. Focus on sanitation and nutrition before allocating millions of dollars toexpensive medical treatment facilities and programs (simple sawdusttoilets and biodigesters cost next to nothing)Establishing a close local partnership is essential for gaining the cooperation oflocal communities. GSR has demonstrated that local leaders actively enforcedstrict sanitation standards once they discussed problems they were facing withGSR team members. By dumping all human waste into bio-digesters, the highlydangerous pathogens are broken down in the high heat inside the biodigester,methane gas for cooking is generated, and after 21 days in the biodigester, theremaining organic matter can be safely used as fertilizer. Getting local people tobuild sawdust toilets, biodigesters and refrain from defecating in the fields ornear water sources cost next to nothing but reduce as much as 90% of thediseases. Add to this proper nutrition and almost 95% of disease is eradicated.
  3. 3. Small scale anti malarial businesses flourish because local entrepreneurs make aliving by producing anti-fly and antimosquito products such as cow dungincense cones (burning these cones is anatural mosquito and fly repellant).This is drastically cheaper and highlyeffective way to reallocate the UNDPresources on more preventativemeasures. They would see within ashort span of time dramaticimprovements in rural communities.GSR feels that a vocational educationprogram on health is a vital part of training for rural smallholder farmers. This isbecause good health does not only mean a long life, it means more opportunityto work on the field and increase the overall quality of living. In GSR villageprojects, health care will not only include the introduction of inexpensive sewagesystems other preventative measures, but an overall waste management systemthat is environmentally conscious and works in tandem with conservation aswell. If we separate health from other concerns, such as economical andeducation development, there is a risk that a mismatch of resources will occur asseemingly differing goals will clash for the allocation of capital. GSR’s approachto health care is therefore both preventative and holistic to our overall goals ofrural development.Africa’s Rising Green EconomySouth Africa is determined to become aleader on the African continent via rapiddevelopment of their economy. Onestrategy that the government has takenis a commitment of funds to thedevelopment of their “Green EnergyEconomy”. In addition to topenvironmental ranking amongst the G-20 members as of 2013, South Africahopes to attract a lot for business to thecountry and provide its people with sustainable energy for future development.This phenomenon has not been only limited to South Africa as other Africannations such as Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda (to name a few) are staking theirlot with the emerging green economy. GSR ponders why there has been such asudden spike of interest in green energy amongst developing nations, especiallysince most green technologies are still quite expensive and have not yet gainedenough economic impact in most of the developed nations.The answer isn’t clear about the why, butthe results are promising. First, thisdevelopment amounts to the birth of anentirely new sector of the Africaneconomy. This new green energy sectoris capable of generating new jobs inmany of the other existing sectors.Second, the African nations can finally layclaim to be on the cutting edge ofinnovation and technology after trailingbehind developed nations for so manydecades. Third, there is more foreign interest and investment in the Africannations that actively promulgate the Green Energy Economy. Fourth, it simplymakes more economic and environmental sense to adapt a green economy at anearlier stage of industrialization, thus avoiding unnecessary pollution and wasteof resources.The major advantage that GSR sees indeveloping a green economy in Africa isthat green energy sources are generallythe most easy to decentralize. This givesrural communities an edge over majorurban centers. Previously, the only realavenues of energy generation werehydroelectric plants, coal burning plants,and other fossil fuels that on top of theirnegative environmental impact, were alsohighly capital intensive, and required centralized systems. This meant that nopower was available for small scale industries in the remote villages. With the
  4. 4. development of green energy, it is possible to fuel steady growth in rural areas.GSR hopes that the “Green Energy Economy” can make its way out from thecities and into the countryside where most of the continent’s population stillreside in rural communities. Agriculture is still a very important sector of theAfrican economy and any green energy program that accounts this factor will bebest suited to boost the prosperity of the respective economies.Mobile Phones and Rural BankingA recent phenomenon in rural development hasintroduced programs that take advantage of thelatest in mobile phone technology to makebanking services available to previously off-of-the-grid rural communities. This is extremelyhelpful to remote rural communities where cellphone use is becoming commonplace. Farmerscan get paid for their crops by direct depositsand access these funds through their cell phone.Small rural businesses can ease their cash flow problems in the same manner.Smallholder farmers gain more insights about weather and price trends forvarious crops. Low cost farmer information services, which have sprung up allover India, will soon be commonplace throughout Africa.GSR has begun discussions about possible collaboration inGSR projects in Africa with SmartMoney, an organization ona mission to provide rural African poor with a new way tohandle money that so that it is not as easily stolen, lost, orotherwise displaced from the hands of those who need it themost. This frees rural farmers from constraints thatnormally withheld them from getting the most value fortheir production.This new wave has proved to be so dynamic that manyAfrican state governments around the globe are treatingmobiles as a form of rural development. The mobilephenomenon doesn’t just stop with rural farmers. In orderto power these devices in remote areas, specialized newgreen energy sources such as low capital intensive wind andsolar power plants are being constructed everyday tosupport this mobile wave. GSR feels greatly inspired by thisinnovative adaptation of old technology and we could seeunfold the rise of an entire green economic sector in Africabased on the rural mobile revolution.Follow on Twitter Friend on Facebook Connect on LinkedInCopyright © 2013 Green Self Reliance, Inc., All rights reserved.Visit our website: emailing address is:||