||Summer Bulletin 2008
Vol. 24 No.2
In this era of ever impending crises, we are bombarded daily with news of crises that threaten our very existence: climate crisis, energy crisis, food crisis, water crisis, (to name just a few of the more harrowing ones). These crises were bearing down on us thirty-seven years ago when 250 of us landed here in southern Tennessee to build our community and in 1974 when Plenty was founded. It’s amazing to consider that, then as now, we knew the solutions and we had the knowledge and tools we needed. We knew we had to study, apply and teach the basic tenets of self-sufficiency: food sovereignty, energy and water conservation, peaceful conflict resolution and global tolerance and compassion. Since those heady days of yesteryear when all ideals and dreams seemed possible, even plausible, we have seen miracles and untold gallant efforts by individual and collective forces for the good, while still not achieving the planetary sea change we knew and know is needed. In many ways we, as a species, have slid backward.
The so-called green revolution and the insatiable appetites of the giants of agribusiness have concentrated the production of food into fewer and fewer hands with the result that the world's food is increasingly dependent upon self-perpetuating, expensive and unnatural technological fixes being brewed up in laboratories guarded by staffs of patent attorneys. Predictably, we are hearing from the corporate boardrooms and moneyed think tanks that we need yet another “Green Revolution” just like the last one, only bigger and more far reaching. Likewise, on the energy front, here comes the old nuclear power siren song. Astoundingly, nuclear power is now billed as a “green” solution to global warming. Becoming more dependent on big, centralized unreliable and dangerous energy generation is exactly the wrong direction. Back in the 1970s, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s own studies predicted tens of thousands of deaths from radiation-induced cancers from just the normal operations of nuclear power plants and the entire nuclear fuel cycle from mining to milling to transportation to waste storage etc. When I queried an NRC scientist about this fact at a meeting with NRC officials in Washington, DC in 1980, his response was “Don’t worry about those cancers because in twenty years when those cancers begin to show up, we’ll have a cure for cancer.” Add that one to the ever-expanding catalogue of myths supporting the belief that some new technology is going to appear just in time to get us out of the messes our lifestyle choices and abuse of the natural world have created.
Plenty is dedicated to promoting and supporting efforts to localize and decentralize energy and food production, sanitation and water management, primary health care and micro-economic development in impoverished communities. The same approach applies to disaster relief where volunteer and neighbor-to-neighbor responses are always necessary to fill in the gaps inevitably overlooked by governments and gigantic aid agencies. Plenty’s reach is not limited by its size or lack of wealth because there are tens of thousands of small NGOs and nonprofit organizations of like mind, shared heart and stubborn determination around the world. Let me add that we have the most incredible, diverse group of generous, loyal donors and supporters we could every hope for and for us, that’s plenty.
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