Other’s words


Did you know that the 15th of October was the International Day of Rural Women? To celebrate, I thought I would post some facts and figures provided by others about community empowerment when women own land.

Since 2008, the day has recognized “the contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty”.

Supporting women in rural areas has multiple social and economic benefits, including;

  • Women’s empowerment benefits not only women themselves, but also their families and communities.
  • Farm productivity increases when women have access to agricultural inputs and relevant knowledge.
  • Women are dynamic organizers and participants in grass-roots organizations, and are effective in promoting and sustaining local self-help initiatives.
  • Malnutrition and mortality among both boys and girls are reduced when girls obtain greater access to primary and secondary education.
  • There is a strong correlation between women’s literacy and lower HIV/AIDS infection rates.
  • Women have a strong track record as prudent savers and borrowers in microfinance programmes, using income to benefit the entire household.

“Investing” (note the economic bias in the language) contributes to food security because women work longer hours than men.

According to the World Bank, 75 per cent of the poor in developing countries live in rural areas.11 While women work the land, they often do not hold formal and clear land titles. Less than two per cent of land in the developing world is owned by women, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).12 A lack of rights over land makes women extremely vulnerable to eviction and negatively affects their economic options. (WomenWatch)

At a seminar last week in honour of the day, researchers spoke about gender and land acquisition in rural agricultural communities.

The researchers also found that although many women spoke of ‘owning land,’ they, in fact, did not have any real legal rights to it.  Many of the joint-ownership agreements between spouses only included the husbands’ name in paperwork or granted him priority over his wife when making financial decisions.  Even land inherited from the woman’s family was often signed over to the husband without her knowledge. And in many cases, the degree to which a wife had legal protection of land rights depended entirely on the type of marriage arrangement she had with her husband.

Even in a country like Australia, I would suspect that fewer women own land than men, but in India, 70% of the female workforce is engaged in agriculture yet only 10% of women farmers own land.

Despite this attention given to the situation of rural women, discrimination remains rampant, from access to education and health care, to access to and control over land and other productive resources, to opportunities for employment, income-generating activities, and participation in public life. The rights and priorities of rural women continue to be insufficiently addressed – a situation that the International Day of Rural Women will, it is hoped, contribute to remedying.

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I am reading a book from the library about a Collective based in Berkeley that was set-up in the 60’s. What is so extraordinary about The Cheese Board Collective is that they are still alive and well today.

Based on the kibbutz model, all the workers are paid equally. They have no hierarchy, and every member of the collective has equal power. Important business decisions are made by consensus.

As Olivia says in the book “I actually enjoy coming to work…I feel that I have a luxury of time that somebody earning six figures doesn’t have. Its very precious to me. Only in a place like this could I have that.”

This extraordinary worker-owned business grew organically, starting as a cheese shop. Soon they expanded to making their own bread, then started making pizzas in the 80’s. The pizza shop is actually run as an independent business alongside the original cheese and bread shop. Each day the collective makes a “Pizza of the Day” –

(Friday’s pizza (03.05.2010):

Asparagus, Shitake mushrooms, mozzarella and Montalban manchego cheese, garlic olive oil, fresh herbs.

Saturday’s pizza (03.06.2010):

Roma tomatoes, onions, mozzarella cheese, pinenuts, garlic olive oil, basil parmesan cheese.

Their website states that:

For tax and liability purposes it has been incorporated, with each collective member an equal shareholder and member of the board of directors. Upon joining each member is given ten shares worth $100/share. When a member leaves these shares are sold back to the corporation. All members are paid an equal hourly wage. Profits go to buy new equipment, raise wages, or are placed into our retirement fund. Moneys placed into this fund are distributed based on hours worked.

Pam: “Making food is both an art and a craft. To me, it’s life. My mom was a good cook. She had a wok in the fifties, a nice Jewish lady with a wok. I love shopping. I love to watch food grow. I love to play with it. I love eating.”

These workers feel that they are contributing to something important and nourishing of life. How satisfying.


Read more here: Science of 350350 Science

350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 390ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

There are three numbers you need to really understand global warming, 275, 390, and 350.

For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules per million other molecules in the atmosphere. 275 ppm CO2 is a useful amount—without some CO2 and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in our atmosphere, our planet would be too cold for humans to inhabit.

So we need some carbon in the atmosphere, but the question is how much?

Beginning in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal and gas and oil to produce energy and goods. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise, at first slowly and now more quickly. Many of the activities we do every day like turning the lights on, cooking food, or heating or cooling our homes rely on energy sources like coal and oil that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. We’re taking millions of years worth of carbon, stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere. By now—and this is the second number—the planet has 390 parts per million CO2 – and this number is rising by about 2 parts per million every year.

Scientists are now saying that’s too much – that number is higher than any time seen in the recorded history of our planet – and we’re already beginning to see disastrous impacts on people and places all over the world. Glaciers everywhere are melting and disappearing fast—and they are a source of drinking water for hundreds of millions of people. Mosquitoes, who like a warmer world, are spreading into lots of new places, and bringing malaria and dengue fever with them. Drought is becoming much more common, making food harder to grow in many places. Sea levels have begun to rise, and scientists warn that they could go up as much as several meters this century. If that happens, many of the world’s cities, island nations, and farmland will be underwater. The oceans are growing more acidic because of the CO2 they are absorbing, which makes it harder for animals like corals and clams to build and maintain their shells and skeletons. Coral reefs could start dissolving at an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 450-500 ppm. These impacts are combining to exacerbate conflicts and security issues in already resource-strapped regions.

(Text from the 350 website)

Invitation

Invitation

Dear World,

This is an invitation to help build a movement–to take one day and use it to stop the climate crisis.

On October 24, we will stand together as one planet and call for a fair global climate treaty. United by a common call to action, we’ll make it clear: the world needs an international plan that meets the latest science and gets us back to safety.

This movement has just begun, and it needs your help.

Here’s the plan: we’re asking you, and people in every country on earth, to organize an action in their community on October 24. There are no limits here–imagine bike rides, rallies, concerts, hikes, festivals, tree-plantings, protests, and more. Imagine your action linking up with thousands of others around the globe. Imagine the world waking up.

If we can pull it off, we’ll send a powerful message on October 24: the world needs the climate solutions that science and justice demand.

It’s often said that the only thing preventing us from tackling the climate crisis quickly and equitably is a lack of political will. Well, the only thing that can create that political will is a unified global movement–and no one is going to build that movement for us. It’s up to regular people all over the world. That’s you.

So register an event in your community for October 24, and then enlist the help of your friends. Get together with your co-workers or your local environmental group or human rights campaign, your church or synagogue or mosque or temple; enlist bike riders and local farmers and young people. All over the planet we’ll start to organize ourselves.

With your help, there will be an event at every iconic place on the planet on October 24—from America’s Great Lakes to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef–and also in all the places that matter to you in your daily lives: a beach or park or village green or town hall.

If there was ever a time for you to get involved, it’s right now. There are two reasons this year is so crucial.

The first reason is that the science of climate change is getting darker by the day. The Arctic is melting away with astonishing speed, decades ahead of schedule. Everything on the planet seems to be melting or burning, rising or parched.

And we now have a number to express our peril: 350.

NASA’s James Hansen and a team of other scientists recently published a series of papers showing that we need to cut the amount of carbon in the atmosphere from its current 387 parts per million to 350 or less if we wish to “maintain a planet similar to that on which civilization developed.”

No one knew that number a year ago—but now it’s clear that 350 might well be the most important number for the future of the planet, a north star to guide our efforts as we remake the world. If we can swiftly get the planet on track to get to 350, we can still avert the worst effects of climate change.

The second reason 2009 is so important is that the political opportunity to influence our governments has never been greater. The world’s leaders will meet in Copenhagen this December to craft a new global treaty on cutting carbon emissions.

If that meeting were held now, it would produce a treaty that would be woefully inadequate. In fact, it would lock us into a future where we’d never get back to 350 parts per million—where the rise of the sea would accelerate, where rainfall patterns would start to shift and deserts to grow. A future where first the poorest people, and then all of us, and then all the people that come after us, would find the only planet we have damaged and degraded.

October 24 comes six weeks before those crucial UN meetings in Copenhagen. If we all do our job, every nation will know the question they’ll be asked when they put forth a plan: will this get the planet back on the path to 350?

This will only work with the help of a global movement—and it’s starting to bubble up everywhere. Farmers in Cameroon, students in China, even World Cup skiers have already helped spread the word about 350. Churches have rung their bells 350 times; Buddhist monks have formed a huge 350 with their bodies against the backdrop of Himalayas. 350 translates across every boundary of language and culture. It’s clear and direct, cutting through the static and it lays down a firm scientific line.

On October 24, we’ll all stand behind 350–a universal symbol of climate safety and of the world we need to create. And at the end of the day, we’ll all upload photos from our events to the 350.org website and send these pictures around the world. This cascade of images will drive climate change into the public debate–and hold our leaders accountable to a unified global citizenry.

We need your help—the world is a big place and our team is small. Our crew at 350.org will do everything we can to support you, providing templates for banners and press releases, resources to spread the word, and tools to help you build a strong local climate action group. And our core team is always just a phone call or e-mail away if you need some support.

This is like a final exam for human beings. Can we muster the courage, the commitment, and the creativity to set this earth on a steady course before it’s too late? October 24 will be the joyful, powerful day when we prove it’s possible.

Please join us and register your local event today: http://www.350.org

Thanks,

Bill McKibben – Author and Activist- USA
Vandana Shiva – Physicist, Activist, Author – India
David Suzuki – Scientist, Author, Activist – Canada
Bianca Jagger – Chair of the World Future Council – UK
Tim Flannery – Scientist, Author, Explorer -Australia
Bittu Sahgal – Editor of Sanctuary magazine – India
Andrew Simmons – Environmental Advocate, St. Vincent & The Grenadines
Christine Loh – Environmental Advocate and Legislator – Hong Kong

View Actions at 350.org

Spiral image

Is this the future for Knowledge Management?

In 2025, every individual in every organization uses their own personal computer for both personal and work applications. Almost all information is Web-based, with organizations’ proprietary information only accessible through authorization software. E-mail has disappeared, replaced by a virtual presence application that includes instant messaging, screensharing, voice/videoconferencing, filesharing, calendaring, tasklists.

The KM department still manages the purchase of external information, though almost all information in 2025 is free; information producers have realized that their business model is to apply that information to specific customers’ business environment, in consulting assignments, rather than trying to sell publications. Most of the mainstream media were nationalized after they went bankrupt using their traditional business models, and now operate as public services.

Most of what the KM department does now is trying to facilitate more effective conversations among people within the organization and with people outside the organization, including customers. They facilitate many meetings that use the virtual presence application, especially those that involve more than five people. That facilitation includes organizing the meeting, distributing advance materials, facilitating the discussion (conflict resolution, staying on schedule etc.), and even recording, editing and publishing the meeting as appropriate. They run courses in effective conversation, meeting and presentation skills.

I am a great admirer of Dave Pollard’s thought provoking posts, so I really don’t have anything to add to this one.

Read Dave Pollard’s post

A fog of fear

The fog of fear

If we are coming to a crisis point on this planet, (and I believe that we are, but I also believe that crisis can be a catalyst for change), then reductive, linear ways of thinking are not going to deliver the transformation we need (Well, have they, yet?). For transformation on a planetary scale we may be required to create a bigger context than just you, just me, just your workplace.

A social network is non-linear. But is it an ecology?

The ‘ecologies’ of networks

Network Citizens (available as a pdf download from Demos) reports on the shift of power created by social networking and the rise of ‘network citizens’, who no longer respect hierarchical and bureaucratic structures.

The Network of Public Sector Communicators (NZ) blog has this to say about networks and public sector agencies:

Many public sector agencies view access to social networks, the likes of Facebook, Twitter and – incomprehensibly – LinkedIn, with what can only be described as either fear or deep suspicion. Some of them even go so far as to block access …As if, in the minds of the people that think blocking access to these sites will make people more productive (or protect them from themselves…), there is some sort of impermeable divide between what we do at work and who we are.

The message is clear. Understand the change that is happening inside your agencies. Ensure that you provide people the sorts of tools that will allow them to develop professionally and to invest and grow their social capital. Attempts to restrict the ability of your staff to build their networks (online or off) will only result in a disengaged workforce. (Networked Citizens)

Open sky?The future of Work Agenda Newsletter has hit my inbox, and Jim Ware and Charlie Grantham of the Work Design Collaborative have this to say re 2009:

The people of America are tired. Tired of being afraid; tired of checking under the bed every night for the boogeyman; and, yes, tired of being taken for granted while greed and hubris run rampant.

So we enter a new year with Hope (sometimes that’s all we have). In 2009 that’s hope for new leadership – leadership that is already being tested by the lesser angels.

So what does all this mean for the future of work? Our short answer is “A lot.” We think Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, said it best when he spoke recently about the events of the past few months, saying “Someone has hit the reset button. This is not a normal change in the business cycle.”

Read more of their article

Over at Do You Stand For Something, they speculate that 2009 is a turning point where:

we might expect to see the role of corporations in cause-related activities to be diminished as government and individual involvement increase in caring for communities.

My favourite predictions for the year come from the Future Exploration Blog. Their Trend Map is in downloadable pdf format. I’m always a sucker for pretty pictures!