Global Diversity Foundation

GDF has a dual mission. Through our regional programmes, we support indigenous peoples' and local communities' efforts to protect their biocultural diversity, and peacefully achieve just and autonomous decision-making regarding their territories, resources and futures. In collaboration with diverse institutions, we provide support for communities to elaborate their own research, development and advocacy programmes. Areas of specific focus depend on community interests, although they tend to be community access to lands and resources, community-led conservation, advocacy and campaigning for social and environmental justice, the continuity of ethnobiological and biocultural knowledge...
Jun 7, 2016

GDF's New Ethnobotanical Permaculture Garden for Dar Taliba: From Planning to First Harvest

GDF
GDF's new garden at Dar Taliba ready for planting

A lot has happened at Dar Taliba during the past three months. 

This past January, Global Diversity Foundation broke ground for the ethnobotanical and permaculture garden after a meticulous design process that brought together the expertise of a local permaculture consultancy and the input of local community stakeholders, including the girls residing at Dar Taliba.

GDF prides itself on adopting a participatory approach that values and applies the traditional ecological knowledge and know-how of the communities it is working with while introducing new ways of doing things to complement customary and local methods in a changing world. Introducing permaculture to the Ourika Valley through an educational ethnobotanical garden is an instance of such a multifaceted approach.

Drawing from the patterns observed in natural ecosystems, permaculture seeks to make agriculture a sustainable practice that is permanently in dialogue with its socio-ecological surroundings.

The first step in implementing the permaculture ethnobotanical garden at Dar Taliba was to collect pertinent quantitative and qualitative data. We started by interviewing Abdelmalek, a native of the Ourika valley and head gardener at Dar Taliba, about the site’s history, the soil’s nature, any microclimates within the parcel and the region’s weather patterns. Then we surveyed the 1100 m² parcel in order to understand its topography. Using laser level measurements, our permaculture collaborators determined that the plot of land 'showed a slight convex promontory profile and curved contour lines' with a very slight downward slope along the south to north axis. These naturally occurring contour lines became an integral part of the design plan and served as a framework for the cultivation beds and other elements, including the compost area and greenhouse.

Surveying the parcel also shed light on water circulation within the plot and informed our decision to place the garden’s composting area at the parcel’s highest point in order to allow for any nutrients trickling from the compost piles to be absorbed by the plants grown downstream.

The next phase in the process was to mark the parcel and start the compost heaps. Our anaerobic compost pile was made using manure, straw and plenty of water. Using manure as fertilizer is very common practice in the Ourika valley yet composting is not and it was with great interest that Abdelmalek and other gardeners and day laborers working on the garden learned about the method with the intention to recreate it for their own vegetable patches. It was particularly exciting to see local community members’ interest piqued by the composting process because one of GDF’s hopes in planting the edible ethnobotanical garden at Dar Taliba is for it to not only serve as an educational tool for the girls residing at the boarding house but also as a demonstration site that the community at large can learn from.

With the compost launched, we proceeded to landscape the parcel’s cultivation beds and build the greenhouse. We built the structure’s frame using eucalyptus poles purchased from a local wood seller and had a local metal smith make the door and window frames. We then used agricultural plastic to insulate the greenhouse and we recycled wooden pallets into potting tables. The greenhouse was also retrofitted to harvest rainfall by using a conduit to channel water from its roof to a barrel refurbished with a faucet. Through introducing simple strategies like rainwater harvesting to the gardens at Dar Taliba and thereby the Ourika Valley, GDF seeks to equip the local community with tools to mitigate the impact of climate change in an area already affected by water scarcity.

The plant nursery, cultivation beds and compost were ready just in time for the sowing season and we have since planted beets, onions, radishes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, pumpkins, corn, and alfalfa among other things.

Before the school year’s end, GDF organized a workshop for the girls residing at Dar Taliba with the help of our permaculture collaborator. During this workshop, the girls were invited to harvest the ripe produce from the garden and water the plants while learning about mulching, composting, nitrogen fixing plants and the benefits of polyculture farming.

We hope to install a sustainable water supply over the summertime, and have the gardens ready for the next school year.

Plan of GDF
Plan of GDF's new garden at Dar Taliba
Abdelmalek and our permaculture collaborator
Abdelmalek and our permaculture collaborator
Terracing the parcel according to its topography
Terracing the parcel according to its topography
The greenhouse while under construction
The greenhouse while under construction
Dar Taliba residents pleased with their harvest
Dar Taliba residents pleased with their harvest
The girls and our collaborator during the workshop
The girls and our collaborator during the workshop
Group photo from GDF
Group photo from GDF's workshop at Dar Taliba

Links:

Apr 5, 2016

Participatory video: a gateway for communities to tell their story

Learning about camera handling and sound checks
Learning about camera handling and sound checks

In our previous update, we wrote about plans to publish a booklet on the oral histories of Ulu Papar. Plans and progress continues: translating interviews to enable the production of a multilingual publication (quite possibly into four languages: Dusun, Japanese, Malay and English), designing the booklet and complementary posters as well as discussing with local KadazanDusun language experts to engage in a collaboration to ensure language accuracy of these publications. 

Let us take a step back and look at the skill set needed to reach this point. In particular, that of one specific tool: participatory video. Participatory Video (PV) is described as “a set of techniques to involve a group or community in shaping and creating their own film as it enables a group or community to take action to solve their own problems and also to communicate their needs and ideas to decision-makers and/or other groups and communities” (see here). It is through the use of this very tool that indigenous researchers in Ulu Papar and Bundu Tuhan have unearthed, documented and showcased stories of their livelihoods and culture, through interviews with community elders.

Participatory video, locally more commonly known by the generic term 'community filmmaking', has become a popular method to engage communities in conservation efforts particularly among local research teams in Bundu Tuhan and Ulu Papar. Being trained in PV has enabled these two communities to collaborate in applied research initiatives, attaining insight into their interconnectedness with their traditional territories and then using their filmmaking skills to showcase their stories. Several short films were developed, including a three-part documentary-style series showcasing the Buayan-Kionop communities’ connection with their land and resources, the issues that threaten their access to these resources and potential solutions that balance the conservation agenda of protected areas with the sustainability of community livelihoods. The indigenous Dusun in Bundu Tuhan produced a film about their cultural and traditional heritage to ‘encourage everyone living in this generation to work together and begin taking the steps needed to conserve and protect the heritage of our ancestors, especially our culture and our traditions.’

In 2011 and 2012, community researchers from Ulu Papar were invited to pass on their knowledge in filmmaking through peer-to-peer sharing and learning sessions held as part of the SUARA community filmmaking programme, an important component of the Borneo Eco Film Festival. Through the sessions, they reached out to indigenous and local communities from around Sabah, encouraging them to discover the power of storytelling and filmmaking. We are truly inspired that participatory video is a concept that continues to grow in Sabah, catalysed by the annual Film Festival's spotlight on community filmmaking. 

Photo by Inanc Tekguc (BEFF, 2011)

Links:

Apr 4, 2016

Reflecting on the first Latin American Regional Socio-Environmental Leadership Academy

Visit to the Angostura Community
Visit to the Angostura Community

Several months have passed since we convened the first Latin American Regional Socio-Environmental Leadership Academy (ALLSA) in Dominican Republic, from November 13 to 22, 2015. When I remember that gathering, I get goosebumps. With the passage of time, the dust that was stirred up has started to settle and now, in the awakening of another Canadian spring, I have the opportunity to reflect on the experience of ALLSA. My intention is that these words serve as thanks to everyone who made this experience possible, including our GlobalGiving supporters.

In 2014, four Global Environments Summer Academy alumni were moved by their experience. Conscious of the need to transform socio-environmental pedagogies and paradigms at a glocal level, we became engaged in organizing a regional academy in Latin America. Antonia, Yolanda, Daniel and I wanted to help young Latin American researchers and practitioners collectively explore transformative environmental learning and our relationships with biocultural landscapes. We aspired to create a dynamic co-learning space and process that would catalyze young leaders' capacity to act and inspire more people to work toward the great social and environmental transformation, from small communities to international fora. We imagined a bioculturally focused, post-disciplinary event that would not privilege any single epistemology.

35 participants and facilitators from 13 countries gathered in the beautiful natural landscape of Jarabacoa in a co-learning space empowering young socio-environmental leaders to act and inspire! Here is what some of them had to say:

“The dynamic at ALLSA was extraordinary, it had something that many academic spaces still struggle to create: a collective spirit. (…) We had spaces to re-connect with nature with closed eyes, to find ourselves through ecopsychology in the contemplation of nature and education, to be frustrated, to race against time trying to share readings and prepare presentations, to philosophize with hermeneutic practices to discuss a text and generate reflection and discussion, to learn different strategies and policies through play (…). If something was missing from this space, it was time. The days felt too short to bring this process to a close, to laugh, to listen to each other, and maybe to sleep.” Merelyn, Perú.

“The co-learning methodologies used surprised some and helped some of us to learn by leaving our comfort zones. At ALLSA, I have been able to leave my comfort zone as never before. I’ve come to understand that the abysses between science, leadership and philosophy are not as deep as I had previously thought (…) I feel committed and empowered.” Antonio, El Salvador.

“I take from the ALLSA experience a little piece of Latin America, happy to find that from the south to the very north there are people who believe that change is possible in the world, and that we are not only fighting to achieve a state of harmony between people and Nature, but rather understanding that we are part of her and that we must not think of her as separate.” Patricia, Paraguay.

I believe that one of the keys of the success of ALLSA was the diversity of countries of origin, gender, communities, indigenous and local perspectives as well as the diversity of personal and professional experiences that were represented in the group. Another driving force was our mentors, experts both at regional and global levels who facilitated co-learning in different spaces through experiential workshops, discussion circles, research cafes and field trips. It is clear to me that the experiences, reflections, unanswered questions, and aspirations were different for each of us. But I also know that no one was left indifferent.

Please take time to read my full report on the Global Environments Network website.

Ana Elia

Full captions:

Visit to the Angostura community, where they have constructed a series of mini hydropower plants to support themselves as well as a visitors centre with accommodation. (Credit: Felipe)

L-R: Andres, Daniella, Antonio, Bladimil (and at back Alfonso). Daniella shows how her discussion tool or game named  Peruvian Food Chain Jenga works. She invented this fun methodology to facilitate reflections and conversations around the connections that exist within a complex system. (Credit: Felipe)

Allsa members engaged in a personal visioning exercise guided by Daniel and based on Joanna Macy's Work that Reconnects. (Credit: Ana Elia)

ALLSA participant Daniela leads creative prelude
ALLSA participant Daniela leads creative prelude
Personal visioning exercise
Personal visioning exercise

Links:

 
   

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