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web limits and world poverty
Yes the web has a limited market. and we won't reach people who are
really in need of solutions on sustainable production in third world countries
but we can reach the main causes of poverty in those nations.
We can reach the greatest consumers of world energy, the greatest
wasters of resources.
The third world actually give us more money than we give them
it is a simple sum. We lend them money, they pay it back with
We lend them money on projects that we decide they need - dams
that flood fertile regions, stop seasonal fish breeding areas and more.
Permaculture is a double-edged wedge.
I think sometimes it would be easier to work with those needy people
the rewards from happy well-fed children would be greater than
influencing people here to avoid disposable nappies, to look for
safe alternatives, to waste not and produce more.
The WWW offers an avenue if you have a home page. Then you don't have
the expense and work of publishing.
Problem is, most people - at least in Austraila - don't have access to
WWW or email even though the use of these media is growing fast. So,
the most accessible form of communication of locally relevant
information remains printed media in its various forms.
Until recently we published a permaculture journal for the Sydney
bioregion which carried useful, locally relevant information. This was
a successful media for the transmission of information.
We have found that printed matter is an accessible media for passing
on information in the Solomon Islands where we are involved in a
village agriculture project.
There, access to the internet is virtually zero - it is largely a
media restricted to people in affluent nations and of only marginal
accessibility to people in developing countries (ie four-fifths of
humanity). There's not only the issue of access in countries with poor
telecommunications facilities, there's the big issue of affordability
One media which has proven useful there is video. This gets around the
problem of illiteracy and there is often a video machine in many of
the villages and, of course, video's are portable.
I guess the strategy for maximun information penetration is to
simultaneously publish both in print and on the web.
I would be interested in finding out what you people at Urban Harvest
do and how you do it. Are you into urban agriculture? Urban
agriculture - in the form of community gardens and community supported
agriculture - is fairly new in Australia. In Sydney, we're involved in
a couple community gardens and train people in relevant skills and
assist with design.
We're also contacts for a community garden/ city farm network covering
most of the country. So, we're eager to learn what other groups are
PERMACULTURE EXTENSION SERVICES
Russ Grayson and Fiona Campbell
PO Box 446, Kogarah NSW 2217 AUSTRALIA
Phone 02-9588 6931 (IDD-61+2+9588 6931)
Fax 02 330 2611 (Mark fax: ATTN: RUSS GRAYSON - APACE)
Permaculture education, publishing, design.
NSW co-ordinator, Australian City Farms and Gardens Network.