Planting the Seeds of Democratization

The Schumacher Center’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that the Center’s first Capital Campaign has reached the $150,000 mark in lead contributions and pledges towards its goal of $250,000. The funds have been used to retire debt on the library building and start a modest endowment fund, an important step for the organization’s future. We are now eager to complete the Campaign in order to undertake the building renovation work described in the attached Campaign brochure. Once construction is finished, the organization will have a beautiful and functional permanent home to continue its social and ecological innovation. Please help us reach our goal with a generous donation to the Capital Campaign.

By bringing a new perspective to the problem of globalization, Vandana Shiva’s recent Schumacher Lecture reinspired us in our work to strengthen regional economies. Vandana Shiva, an Indian physicist and environmental activist, drew an audience of over four hundred to her March 19th Great Barrington talk. She reminded us of Gandhi’s transformation of the spinning wheel into a symbol of economic freedom for India. At village meetings Gandhi would spin locally grown cotton on a lap top spinning wheel, encouraging his listeners to turn away from the fancy silks made in European industrial centers and instead to purchase the cotton khadi cloth woven by their neighbors. He helped establish a hank of homespun cotton as a measure of value—a local currency in villages across India.

Vandana Shiva is turning the seed into a symbol of the fight for cultural freedom—not only in India, but wherever she speaks. She questions how a seed can be commoditized when it carries in it the history of the earth, its seasons, and the farmers who worked the earth. How can it be patented by corporations? The seed, she argues, is rightly part of a common cultural inheritance; it does not belong in the economic sphere. In challenging the commercialization of the seed, she challenges the growing global economic system and the corporations that feed it. It is a fight for cultural identity, for diversity, for small communities. We were proud to host such a lioness.

Dr. Shiva’s message is closely linked to the Schumacher Center’s work on “the land question” which is at the heart of many social and ecological problems. The community land trust movement seeks to decommoditize land, securing private ownership of buildings on the land, but placing the land itself in a democratically structured regional land trust. The Center’s work with Indian Line Farm demonstrates how these principles can actually be applied (see March/April cover story of In Business magazine).

In other news, a nearly full house greeted speakers Jerry Mander, William Shambra, and Chellis Glendinning at the October 1999 Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures. The lectures will be available in pamphlet form by June. Hildegarde Hannum is working with each of the speakers on final editing. Please let us know if you would like an order form for the lectures.

The Twentieth Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures are scheduled for October 28th in Salisbury, Connecticut, with speakers David Korten and Andrew Kimbrell. Amory Lovins has accepted our invitation to speak at the Twenty-First Annual Lectures on October 27, 2001. Please note the dates in your calendar.

Bob Swann continues to improve at home following the October operation on his abdomen. With the apples, pears, and cherries visibly swelling around us on Jug End Mountain he is taking more short walks with his dog Raven, stopping to marvel at the peas and sunflowers in the garden. News reports of protest action on Vieques remind him of the weeks he spent in 1971 on the neighboring island of Culebra building a chapel to deter US Navy vessels from bombing Flamingo Beach. The Culebra story is just one of many recounted in his autobiography. He continues to add to the story and is appreciative of the many good wishes sent for his recovery.

The Schumacher Center Library grows and thrives thanks to the hard work of Heather Davidson and Karen Lyness and support from the Educational Foundation of America. Heather’s work experience in the archival library at Colby College has turned her into an exacting librarian, seeing through all the details of cataloguing and caring for the Schumacher collection. She views the Center’s website as an extension of the library, a tool for making resources efficiently available to researchers. She uses her excellent computer skills to keep the site updated and responds quickly to requests for information.

Karen recently graduated from Prescott College in Arizona. In addition to being a top-notch support person for both Heather and myself, she is a natural organizer and has already taken on the periodical collection, the pile of unfiled information on our Berkshire programs, and has begun updating the local currency files in anticipation of a new issue of Local Currency News.

The Library collection has never been in such fine shape. Won’t you help build the needed storage and work area with a donation to the Capital Campaign?