Your address will show here +12 34 56 78
Communication and Education, Courses and Events

This year, the Sunseed Community, nestled in the beautiful landscape of Los Molinos del Río Aguas in Almería, was privileged to advance our environmental and educational initiatives, thanks to the support from the EUTeens4Green Program. Our commitment to fostering sustainable living and environmental awareness was enriched through a series of thoughtfully planned activities.

The funding from EUTeens4Green was instrumental in enhancing our core projects, particularly two main events that drew significant attention and participation from the community and beyond. The first, an Art Residency named Germinar-t, brought together performers from across Europe to explore and express the environmental challenges specific to our region. This residency led into the second major event, the Festival del Agua, which has been a cornerstone in our efforts to advocate for water conservation and bring to light the pressing issue of the Ecocide of the Río Aguas. These events were not only about raising awareness but also about bringing people together to share in the experience of community, education, and activism.

In addition to these key projects, we also hosted a one-day visit from students of Almería University. This activity was an integral part of our journey with EUTeens4Green. It offered students a hands-on experience of sustainable living practices and sparked discussions on environmental preservation. This visit underscored the importance of connecting educational institutions with real-world environmental initiatives.

We extend our gratitude to the EUTeens4Green Program for their vital support over the past year. Their contribution has not only facilitated our larger events but has also underscored the value of each step we take towards our mission. The partnership with EUTeens4Green has been a key factor in our achievements, allowing us to reach wider audiences and deepen our community’s engagement with environmental issues.

As we celebrate this journey, we acknowledge the role of every project, big and small, in our ongoing efforts to promote a more sustainable and aware society. We look forward to continuing this work, inspired by the progress we’ve made and the support we’ve received. Here’s to a future where our community and our planet thrive together.


0

Communication and Education
As a community, we wanted to learn more about the local environmental and labour justice struggle surrounding el mar de plástico (the sea of plastic), referring to the agricultural system in/around Almería which results in a literal sea of greenhouses as far as the eye can see. 

This educational activity consisted of two parts:

Within the first week, we were informing ourselves about the sea of plastic – a local justice struggle on a human and environmental level in the region Almería  where Sunseed is based. The greenhouses in Almería, referred to as el mar de plástico (the sea of plastic), supply between 40-50% of all fruits and vegetables within the EU which equals 3.5 million tonnes of food annually. This comes with several environmental and human rights issues, such as plastic pollution, groundwater depletion, groundwater and soil pollution due to chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and the exploitation of (undocumented) migrant workers due to bad working conditions and low payment, qualifying as a slave labour conditions.

The week after, we went to El Ejido to talk to a representative from the Andalusian Workers Syndicate (SAT) who is supporting migrants in their struggle for humane working conditions. The objective of the syndicate is to stop exploitation of one human by another by trying to at least enforce the workers’ rights that are already there (but unfortunately don’t go far enough). Most greenhouses are close to the Almerían municipality of El Ejido.

Part 1: Info session within Sunseed

To gain a common level of understanding regarding the topic, we watched the following mini documentaries:
> Inside Europe’s BLACK HOLE: Almería  ‘s Sea of Plastic – YouTube
> 🍅 Veggiespiracy 🥦 Plastic Sea Almería   | 40.000 hectares of greenhouses | Louis De Jaeger – YouTube


After that we shared reflections about this topic in smaller groups and brainstormed questions we wanted to ask our contact the following week when going to El Ejido. We came up with questions regarding the following topics:

  • the worker’s situation in the greenhouses;
  • the production system and ownership of the greenhouses;
  • the legal situation surrounding this form of human and environmental exploitation;
  • resistance towards this exploitation;
  • water scarcity due to the industrialised food production in the greenhouses;
  • the role of the Andalusian Workers Syndicate (SAT);
  • the meaning of the greenhouses for Spain;
  • and finally the potential future of the greenhouses.
  •  

Part 2: Visiting SAT in El Ejido

Introduction of our SAT contact person
I am a rural (campesino) worker doing a regular job and besides that I also work for this syndicate outside of my working hours. I go as a representative for Almería   to different meetings for immigrant workers, telling what happens in Almería   to the outside world.

I am also part of another group called “Campesino”, that is a collective group of different syndicates that have a lot of meetings and often go to Brussels.  


What do you do within the syndicate?

Generally speaking, confront capitalism. We organise demonstrations and strikes. We try to help workers with their rights. I also work as Treasurer here.


How can you as a person and SAT in general help greenhouse workers?

We listen to the workers’ needs and problems and try to figure out how we can push the needs as a group. We try to find ways to pressure companies and the capitalistic system as a whole.


Generally speaking, what are the needs of the greenhouse workers?

The employers are often not following the law and pay less money than they should. They often do not pay enough, for extra hours and they do not give holidays. There is also sexual harassment happening, mostly towards women. Other problems are that many do not speak Spanish so we also offer Spanish lessons here. 


Have you been taking greenhouse companies to court?

Yes a lot! Thanks to our fight, companies now have to pay extra hours and vacations. There is now more control from the government and inspections are conducted.


What is an example of success that SAT had?

There are a lot of cases where SAT helped workers to receive their payments when employers refused to pay. For instance, there is the case of this worker who only earned 20 euros per day while working 14 hours per day from Monday to Sunday. He heard about the syndicate from a Moroccan friend and then SAT took this case to court and he was awarded 20.000 euros and he’s now in the process of getting that. So that is a success. But it’s also a success that many of the businesses here know about SAT. SAT has the recognition of fighting for the workers and that’s really important. It means the employers know that they can’t just do whatever they want, because they are being watched. Another fight I consider a success was attending a strike that was not organised by SAT but by other bigger syndicates (https://www.eldiario.es/andalucia/Almería  /envasadoras-manipulado-Almería  -conciliacion-huelga_1_6375400.html). SAT is quite small but when it came to the moment of getting to the streets, SAT was the first to show up there. 


How does SAT get funding?

Monetary aid mostly comes from Brussels, from the left wing parties and organisations. Also the yearly fee we get from workers covers some costs. SAT is one of the smallest syndicates in the area, getting funded by different programs but we still don’t have enough people to do all the work that would need to be done. Applying for more funding, e.g. from the EU, requires a lot of work, as granting institutions demand detailed documentation of SATs work. So this is difficult to achieve when already being understaffed.

 

Do you have to register as a member to get help from SAT? 

No, we try to help everyone and to listen to their needs. To get legal help though, you have to register so you can get a lawyer from us. 

 

How do you register as a SAT member?

You can only give your name. You can but do not have to show your passport or legal papers. And then you have to pay the yearly fee of 65 euros – it is the cheapest syndicate I know of.


How many members are registered?

It is hard to say as there are a lot of transient people from Africa that come and go. Many registered but then later we never heard from them again. But I would say about 4.000 people that are registered. Fixed members (affiliates) though I would say over 600 people.


How many greenhouse workers are there in this region at the moment?

It is hard to say as many are not registered, they have no papers and are “illegal” immigrants. Most of them also do not know about their rights. But roughly speaking about 300,000 workers in the province of Almería  . 

 

What are the demographics of the greenhouse workers?

The workers are mostly men. They’re trying to make a better life for their families who are back home. They’re mainly from Algeria and Morocco. More are beginning to come from Sub-saharan countries now. 

 

How can the undocumented/”illegal” workers get their needs met/get help?

We give counselling to them and try to legalise their status with an “Arriago” working visa. We try to get them legal papers that show that they live and work permanently in Spain.  After being in Spain for 2-3 years you can apply for a working and resident permit. It is not easy though to get this permit, a series of requirements have to be met. 

 

Do you have examples of companies using “illegal” workers?

On paper all looks good, but reality tells a different story, many are “illegal”. When we win a trial against companies, they have to admit they have used “illegal” workers. Most of the companies have got used to thinking that they can get away with this as there are so many “illegal” immigrants coming through all the time and it is easy to take advantage of them. 


What is at the root of the exploitation of workers?

The exploitation of workers in this sector is caused by big supermarket chains who put a lot of pressure on the farmers. They just don’t buy the tomatoes for the price the farmers would decide on. And following that a lot of price dumping is happening. The Situation in El Ejido is a structural issue, which needs to be solved somewhere else. El Ejido is just one example of what is created by capitalism. If the workers would get paid more fairly, and if the farmers would invest more in better work and food conditions in general, the prices of the exported products would increase. That would have a direct effect on the prices we pay in the supermarkets. And this could trigger an enormous inflation…


How do greenhouse workers find out about SAT?

Mostly they hear about us through other workers, through word of mouth. We also get recognition with our demonstrations, strikes and movement rallies. Some may also see, hear or read about our victories in trials we won against companies. Some may hear about us in the media and news. 

SAT is also active in St. Isidro, a region in the north of El Ejido characterised by its greenhouses. Here the structure of workers’ rights is better organised. Just the fact that the workers know more about the existence of SAT makes it easier to help and to be active. Also, workers bring a more politically-driven energy and attitude to the table which also makes it easier to get together and achieve progress.


Are the greenhouse inspections you mentioned only for companies that employ workers affiliated with SAT?

No, there are regular inspections of fieldworkers and also other parts of the company, to see if the requirements are met. This is not linked to SAT membership.

 

Is it the EU or the Spanish government doing the inspections?
The EU itself doesn’t really help, it is the Spanish government. It’s more on a country to country basis. 

 

Who owns the greenhouses?
They began as small single owner businesses and cooperatives, then big companies got interested. It was better organised before. Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto control the seeds used now, so it’s Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). Also foreign companies from the Netherlands, Germany and France are buying land to cultivate now. These big companies also denounce and serve lawsuits to smaller companies if they use non-GMO seeds. They control the laws and own the market. They can make laws which suit them and convince smaller growers they’ll get a better yield with GMOs. The suppliers have a series of requirements they have to meet to sell to supermarkets. They tell them what to do if there’s a plague or the plants get ill. You have to buy their products so you enter into their game and so they make you consume their products for life. If you don’t play their game, you don’t play! 

 

Is there anyone or any organisation here in the area interested in fighting against GMO? And are they getting any closer at getting their interest met?

There are some groups in Spain like Greenpeace, there might be more. The fact is that as a producer, as a farmer, you need a plague resistant plant in order to make money. Otherwise, your whole crops will die and you’ll get no benefit from that, you’ll lose money. Companies like Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto are tweaking and engineering this in order to make resistant plants and most of the time you will choose that because it’s a guarantee that you’re not going to lose money. To try to do the old fashioned organic way is just too risky for a farmer betting all his livelihood on getting a good crop. Also not everyone can “afford” to buy ecologically and as farmers have been using pesticides for years, it takes a big cultural shift to change this. The EU demands a certain quality of products but sometimes produce from Morocco slips in which has more chemicals in it and is cheaper. 

 

Do you think that Spain will eventually get laws that prohibit farmers from using their own seeds so that they will only be able to get seeds from private companies?

What is happening here in Almería  , Andalucia and Spain in general, is the fault of the pressure that is coming from the top of big supermarket chains that are pressing down from the top, demanding cheap food. There are farmers in small villages somewhere in Spain who do have their own seeds and crops, but the problem is that they’re not able to sell to the mass market like supermarket chains. All these stores that are selling according to EU regulations need traceability to the source, so the only way these farmers can sell their stuff is by local farmers markets which are very small scale. Or they already sell to specific restaurants in the area.

What happens with products from the greenhouses that cannot be sold?

The huerta de europa products sometimes get thrown away if they aren’t “perfect”. Sometimes the non-perfect products get pickled. Islamic and feminist groups also help the workers and especially the Islamic groups appeal to the Moroccan workers. SAT’s focus of supporting workers who have already been in Spain for quite some time to get them a permit to “legally” stay, is quite pioneering. The company I work for next to SAT is also taking part in an experiment that allows workers to take produce home if it’s surplus or not fit for sale. 

 

Who are the foremans in the greenhouses?

The foremans are usually Spanish, occasionally Romanian and they are very difficult to deal with. They abuse their power and lie. They are chivatos and negreros, the right hand men of the company owners and they think they’re above the law. They’re sometimes even worse than their own bosses/greenhouse owners.They are usually the main enemy because they are the ones who are stalling the fights. They are usually the ones who know things first because they’re the ones on the ground. The boss might go around every 3 or 4 hours, but the foremans are the ones working in the fields and sometimes they lie, and I have seen very unfair things happen because they’re friends with the bosses and the bosses will believe them without any proof. They’re traitors. 

 

How can Sunseed support the syndicate?

It’s basically about being more people for collective actions. When there are events we organise, then it’s good to have more people showing up with banners and making noise. That might do more damage to the business than a single legal action that the greenhouse owners can more easily hide. And if people on the streets can see this collective action then it has a lot of impact but also the fighting is nice. For people who are young, getting involved in these types of actions is very gratifying. Once I was hit by someone at a protest because I was protesting against the exploitation of this worker we already talked about (who was working from Monday to Sunday every week 14 hours per day while earning 20 euros per day). I’m not scared of going to actions like this and I can only laugh at the employer who is doing these horrible things to this worker and trying to scare me off with this act of violence. It’s important to get involved in these actions that have such practical outcomes. Since there are also illegal practices going on close to Sunseed, e.g. illegal wells for olive plantations. Sunseed could also take actions like this and the syndicate will be there to support these actions. 


What is the status quo of environmental movements in Spain/this area?

Movements of fighting for anything in general came way later to Spain than in other countries in Europe like France. And activism is arriving in Spain slowly, but not necessarily in a place like El Ejido, a little town, which is full of racism and sexism and generally also more reactionary. 


What’s the average age of people showing up to actions or demonstrations also regarding climate change?

I am the youngest worker in the syndicate. What could be the reason for that is that young people are less engaged in this topic. Maybe because on the left, there are also some horrible people who don’t change anything for the better and that we might need new associations to get real change. Generally, it seems like the majority of the people here in Almería   are not aware of the climate crises and rather want to make a lot of money. 

0

Organic Gardening, Volunteer Stories

Jessi joined Sunseed as an intern in the Organic Gardens team in the autumn of 2023. Here she shares a reflection on her time here in Los Molinos as part of the Sunseed community.

=======================

Hi, my name is Jessi, I’m 24 and studying environmental protection at the University of Applied Sciences Bingen, in Germany. Aspects of preserving our environment have become an integral part, not only of my education, but also of my everyday life. For me, sustainability is a very personal topic that always inspires me to reflect and think further. Especially when travelling and hiking, my curiosity leads me to get to know flora and fauna. This always motivates me to discover new approaches to thinking about environmental protection. That’s why I did an internship in the off-grid project called “Sunseed Desert Technology” in a Spanish arid zone near Almeria, where sustainability in all its facets is exemplified. Living here gives me the opportunity to grow beyond myself, try out new things, act sustainably and to actively engage in organic gardening. This internship also inspires me immensely to dedicate my future path to environmental issues.

organic gardens internship jessi story 2023
I liked my internship abroad very much and I felt very comfortable here. You can quickly reach your limits, especially in a constantly changing community of 10-22 people of different countries. In the beginning, it took me some time to figure out how to balance community life and taking enough time for myself. But eventually, I found a good combination and became more mindful regarding what my body and mind need each day. I am melancholic to leave this place because I have gained many valuable experiences at Sunseed.

internship in organic gardens sunseed ecovillage
If you would like to find out how you can join Sunseed as an intern, please send an email to education@sunseed.org.uk. Our departments include drylands management/ecosystem restoration, eco-maintenance, appropriate technologies, sustainable living, education and communication – we’d love to welcome you to our ever-changing community!

gardens internship at sunseed desert technology

0

Communication and Education
Education interns Kira Börner and Jana Westerhaus write about their educational activity regarding COP28 and the necessity of debt cancellation for the global South[1] as part of our fight for climate justice. 


What is the COP? 
COP stands for Conference of the Parties and includes countries that signed the original UN climate agreement in 1992, also known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The mission of the COP is to find collective solutions to stop global warming or at least limit temperature rise to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius. We started our educational activity with a short role play where we teamed up in pairs to investigate the achievements of the past most important COPs. Every duo got to research about one past COP and had to prepare a short pitch of why next year’s COP should take place in their country again.


Important COPs

UNFCC COP and Agenda21 in Rio de Janeiro (1992)
* Setting rights for the whole world for educational development
* First agreement on reducing emissions
* First agreement on protecting biodiversity
* Agreements on sustainable forest principles
* Agreements on fighting desertification

COP3 in Kyoto. (1997) Kyoto-Protocol
* Commitment of industrialized countries and economies in transition to limit and reduce (5,2% according to 1990) greenhouse gases and emissions in accordance with agreed individual targets until 2012. Agreement on flexible mechanisms – Joint-implementation – Clean Development – Emission Trade (ways of emission trades under different conditions)
* It works in terms of supporting more investment in projects abroad. The idea was that both parties would benefit from that. On one hand the receiving country takes advantage of, for example, given technologies and the money they would get for selling their emission rights. On the other hand, the investing country gains rights of emissions. (Mechanisms are concepts to support projects abroad. Through the emission trading, investing countries can count the emissions which have been cut in the receiving countries on their account. The Background: Reducing emissions where it is the cheapest, doesn’t matter where) (2005 the Kyoto-protocol started in its first period until 2012)

COP15 in Copenhagen (2009)
* High expectations on this one. Trying to extend Kyoto, the parties couldn’t agree, voluntary agreements.
* Global north agreed on mobilizing 100 billion dollars from 2020 every year to support the global south. Be aware of language here! Mobilizing!

COP18 in Doha (2012) and Kyoto II
* Tracking of achievements from Kyoto I
* Kyoto got extended until 2020 (US was never part of the agreement, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Russia quit the agreement (the biggest emitters; with the leftover parties in the agreement responsible for “just” 15% of the global emissions).

COP21 in Paris (2015)
* Kyoto-agreement is ending 2020.
* New climate agreement was arranged (Paris agreement)
* Including the 17 Development goals (Backbone for Paris agreement, common thread for 1,5°C limit)
* First international agreement for global north and global south including supporting each other in achieving the goals.
* Celebrated big in the world, but agreements were non-binding, with no consequences for not achieving…

COP27 Scharm el-Sheikh (Egypt 2022)
* Loss and damage fund was created (refers to the measures that we take to help a country to get back on its feet after being hit by a climate action).
* Stepstone in admitting that the countries that are suffering the most from climate change should get supported by everyone, because everyone and especially the global north has contributed the most to the climate crises.

After the pitches, we dived into the agenda items of this year’s COP28, held in Dubai. The following items are being discussed there: climate change mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage fund, fossil fuel phase out, and how to finance all the previous items. Additionally, we also talked about the controversy of holding the COP28 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the world’s top 10 oil producing nations that even now wants to increase its oil production. When it comes to the agenda item ‘loss and damage fund’, one has to know that 75% of the money that is supposed to help global South countries to deal with the climate crisis comes in the form of loans instead of grants. Moreover, the amount of money that is supposed to be paid (roughly 100 billion) is not even enough to cover all the costs related to the climate crisis. It’s estimated that by 2030, the global South will need around 350 billion US dollars every year to adapt to the climate crisis. Hence, global South countries have to pay for adapting to a crisis that they did not even cause themselves while global North countries and corporations continue to profit[2]. Due to that, the second half of our info session was about the necessity of debt cancellation for global South countries. 

COP28 discussion at sunseed desert technology education activity interns

What is debt? 
Every past culture had exchange going on, meaning that there is debt and credit: someone owes and someone else is owed. This process is underpinned by a sense of fairness and reciprocity and societies had mechanisms in place that would keep inequalities in check. When inequalities increased, debt forgiveness and redistribution of land were common actions to take; this was known, for example, as Jubilee in the Bible and also within many Jewish communities. At some point wealthy individuals began to demand interest when lending money, an extra amount of money for the service and risk of lending. There are two important differences to understand when it comes to the payment of interest: 1. Simple interest which is payment based on a percentage of the saved or borrowed amount and which stays the same over time. 2.  Compound interest which is not just based on the saved or borrowed amount, but also on the interest already earned so far. It’s “interest on interest” which is why a borrower can end up paying back way more than the initial loan, simply because the interest accumulates over time. 

How is debt linked to colonialism? 
It’s crucial to grasp that debt is all about power. Check out this video and document if you want to learn more about the interlinkages of debt and colonialism. The brief summary of it is that colonising nations benefited tremendously from exploiting peoples and nature in the global South and this exploitative system is still in place. Our global system is still organised along racist, colonial and capitalist lines and debt is just one of many tools used to maintain these structures. Former colonies were forced to compensate former colonisers for the ‘loss of their colonies’ after many global South countries gained independence. Additionally, many global South countries inherited debt accumulated by colonial powers during their time of rule and from dictators propped up by Western governments after the fight for independence. European powers transformed global South economies fit for export to feed the capitalist system in the West with cheap labour and resources. Many global South economies are still organised around this, making them very vulnerable to falling market prices. As stated by Jason Hickel in his book ‘The Divide – A brief guide to global inequalities and its solutions’ (2017), poverty gets created and doesn’t just exist in a vacuum. Hence, we need to understand why certain countries are rich and others are poor.

Oftentimes the dominant narrative is that the debt of global South countries is purely a technical/financial issue or that it would all be due to “corrupt” or “incompetent” governments. But this narrative completely erases the role that colonialism and capitalism had in indepting these countries and how, up to this day, many powerful actors use debt as a means to extract wealth and to exercise control. 

Who are the powerful actors that benefit from this debt system? 
Two of the most important institutions are the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Both were set up in 1944 to create a more stable global economic system after the Second World War. The purpose of the World Bank was to finance the reconstruction and development of war-torn Europe, hence, focusing more on the long-term development of countries. The IMF’s focus was rather on short-term crisis response by having its focus on financing state spending in countries that were experiencing economic turmoil. However, this focus shifted in the 1980s when the West discovered its power as creditors that would enable them to dictate economic policies that wouldn’t threaten their access to cheap labour and resources.

Many newly independent global South countries had presidents that wanted to protect their countries from external exploitative influences and started pursuing their own agendas to build thriving economies. As also mentioned by Hickel[3], during the period from the 1950-1970s, global South countries were flourishing and the divide between rich and poor countries was closing for the first time in history. This undermined profits of Western corporations and geopolitical interests of the global North, which is why the West overthrew and assassinated several democratically elected global South leaders to replace them with dictators, friendly to Western interests. When the price of goods crashed in the 1980s, several global South countries whose economies were still strongly focused on export due to previous times of colonialism, struggled repaying their loans. The West decided to repurpose the IMF as a global debt enforcer: the IMF would ‘support’ the global South in repaying their debt under a series of conditions known as “Structural Adjustment Programmes” (SAPs). SAPs consisted of austerity measures, privatisation and trade liberalisation.

These reforms were sold as enhancing the development of the global South, but they ended up being “the greatest single causes of poverty in the global South, after colonialism” (Hickel, ibid.). The World Bank began to require SAPs as well for all their development loans for global South governments, regardless of whether a country was indebted or not[4]. Lacking enough capital to make their countries prosper after being drained for centuries by colonial powers, many global South governments didn’t have much of a choice but to borrow money from the World Bank and the IMF. Both institutions have been and still are driven by US interests and remain global key decision makers that are dominated by global North powers.

Here a brief list of several ‘fun’ facts about both institutions:
* The voting power in both the World Bank and IMF is based on each member nation’s share of financial ownership and major decisions require a 85% majority vote. Guess who holds 16% of the shares in both institutions and therewith has de facto veto power? Right, the United States.
* Both institutions are headquartered in Washington D.C.
* There is the unspoken agreement that the president of the World Bank is always American whereas the IMF’s president is always European.
* Plus one should assume that the World Bank’s presidents are development experts since that’s supposedly the focus of this institution. But they all have/had links to the US government/army, Wall Street or other multinationals. Extra highlight: except one president, they were also all White men.


Over the last decade, more and more private creditors have entered the scene, such as banks, hedge funds and oil traders. Some of the famous ones are BlackRock, Vanguard and Vulture Funds. Around half of the global South debt is now in the hands of private lenders. So who owes whom? Looking at all these facts, it becomes clear that it is actually the global North that owes a debt to the global South for the exploitation and destruction of people and nature, plus the appropriation of our atmospheric commons by being responsible for most Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions that are causing climate breakdown. But so far the global North continues to ignore its historic responsibility and most climate crisis support comes (again) in the form of loans. Due to that debt cancellation is a crucial step in our fight for climate justice! 

The global South has been calling for a democratisation of the World Bank and the IMF for decades but keeps getting ignored. This video also features a ‘great’ example from just a few days ago, showing how the EU rejects a fair global financial tax regime. 

Debt for Climate 

That’s why we need a global movement, putting pressure on governments, private lenders, corporations and powerful institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF. Debt for Climate is doing exactly that – it’s a global grassroots movement initiated and led by the global South, building power from the bottom-up by uniting workers, Indigenous, feminist, faith, environmental, social and climate justice movements in the global North and South, to cancel the financial debt of the global South in order to enable a self-determined, just transition.

Here are some impressions from their past actions, so check them out:
–> Global Mobilization of Debt for Climate October 2023 – YouTube
–> Debt for Climate on X: “💥Our video from the last global action is out!💥 We continue to grow and are coming together again to step up the game this month! Join us to turn the tables on financial colonialism Feb 27th, and hold the global North accountable for its #ClimateDebt towards the global South! https://t.co/vTdKzsLm4E” / X (twitter.com)

 

__________________________________________________________________
[1] The terms global North and global South don’t refer to geographic locations of countries. Rather they encompass the relative power and wealth countries have in the world. Global North countries (such as the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Japan and many European countries) have power and wealth, while global South countries (including many formerly colonised countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia) have less power and wealth on a global scale. 
[2] An article about debt relief in relation to COP28: New push for debt relief to help developing world fund climate action | Climate finance | The Guardian 
[3] From the book The Divide – A brief guide to global inequalities and its solutions by Jason Hickel, 2017, p.22. 
[4] The IMF’s focus was on supposedly helping countries deal with over-indebtedness while the World Bank’s focus should have been to support the global South in their ‘development’.

0

Communication and Education

Education intern Jana Westerhaus writes about her research into the necessity of decolonial and anti-capitalist education at Sunseed. 
====

Why do we talk about decolonial and anti-capitalist education in Sunseed?

The Sunseed project was originally founded as a charity project from the UK. From the 1980s until the 2000s, the project intended to research appropriate technologies for life in semi-arid regions, and to then ‘export’ this knowledge to African countries such as Tanzania. When browsing through Sunseed’s archive and old newspaper articles, the featured discourse of that time is how ‘nice’ it had been of the mostly British volunteers to ‘sacrifice’ their comfortable way of living to a) come to Los Molinos to experiment with alternative forms of living in semi–arid regions; and to b) do ‘good’ for what was then called ‘Third World Countries’[1]. When starting my research about Sunseed’s history (building upon the work that has been done by previous Sunseeders to investigate the project’s coloniality), I couldn’t help but see White Saviourism[2] scream all over these newspaper articles. After several unsuccessful attempts to ‘export’ Sunseed knowledge to global South countries, the focus of the project shifted to its current vision of discovering how to live a healthy and ecologically responsible life working in harmony with nature, rather than continuing colonial continuities with its action by trying to ‘save’ people in the global South without even understanding the local context.

So why did I want to investigate Sunseed’s history and focus more on decolonial and anti-capitalist education during my time here if the focus of the project has shifted?

The reason for that is that even though officially times of colonisation are in the past, in reality, we are still reproducing colonial dependencies today. The global North is still appropriating people and nature in the global South to fuel economic growth, rather than meeting human needs and respecting planetary boundaries. Today’s climate and biodiversity crisis are just a continuation of colonial and capitalist appropriation. Global North countries are for instance responsible for 92% of overshoot emissions, meaning they are responsible for 92% of the damages caused by the climate crisis while only representing 19% of the global population[3].

To be able to better understand the multiple crises that we are currently living in, I recently gave an introductory workshop regarding the importance of decolonial and anti-capitalist education. Throughout history, many voices have been silenced and/or not been listened to, while at the same time, uncomfortable aspects of Western history are oftentimes deliberately downplayed or ignored. Our current economic system that relies on exploiting people and nature for profit is largely still unquestioned even though climate collapse is becoming more noticeable. The famous quote ‘It is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism’ seems to be more accurate than ever. 

Colonialism, referred to as belonging to a prior epoch in which European powers took control over countries and peoples in Africa, Asia and Latin America, encompasses much more than that. Ruling over land and people in the global South was based on a European worldview in which they placed themselves above other people, e.g. through racial hierarchies or “levels of civilization” which they themselves invented. This has resulted in great destruction, expulsions and genocide. Colonised peoples have resisted conquerors on all continents, yet to this day, colonialism continues to have repercussions on politics, society, interpersonal relationships, and individuals. 

To reflect on colonial narratives that we received throughout our lives, especially also within our countries’ respective educational systems, and to feature at least a minor fraction of voices that have been silenced for way too long, we did a game of quotes designed by glokal e.V. , a Berlin-based association for critical educational work and consulting. We tried to plot quotes from oftentimes silenced actors stemming from different time periods on a timeline. Thereby, realising how many stories have not been featured or downplayed within Western education and how patterns of coloniality are still present today even though a certain quote is already decades or even centuries old.


During our discussion and round of reflection, we realised how different these narratives are depending on whether someone grew up in the global North or South. One community member stressed that this marginalisation, oppression and exploitation wasn’t surprising or new for them since they are from a global South country that has been heavily influenced by outside Western interests, both during the colonial era but also during times of imperialism that followed thereafter and are still continuing to this day. Emphasising the need for building alliances and solidarity between global North and South inhabitants to unite forces in the struggle for an environmentally and socially just world, free from continued capitalist and colonial exploitation. If you’d like to play the game yourself, you can go to this page: https://www.connecting-the-dots.org/en/.

What’s next?
For my remaining time here at Sunseed, I’m planning on hosting a workshop regarding transformative initiatives, worldviews and practices different from capitalism which can also broadly be defined as a peoples’ pluriverse. Recognising the diversity of practices and views of people in regards to planetary wellbeing (including human wellbeing and reconciling with the fact that humans aren’t a separate part of nature). By respecting and nurturing the interconnectedness of all lives, these worldviews can serve as a powerful and inspiring source  of hope for creating and pushing for a world beyond capitalism and neocolonial appropriation.

In addition to that, together with another education intern, I will host two sessions regarding the sea of plastic – a local justice struggle, both on an environmental and human level. The greenhouses in Almeria, referred to as the sea of plastic, supply between 40-50% of all fruits and vegetables within the EU. This comes with several environmental and human rights issues, such as plastic pollution, groundwater depletion, groundwater and soil pollution due to chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and the exploitation of (undocumented) migrant workers due to bad working conditions and low payment, qualifying as a slave labour type condition. We will host one workshop to educate each other on the topic before going to visit a representative of the Andalusian Workers Syndicate the following week who is supporting migrants in their struggle for humane working conditions.  

[1] I’m not using the term ‘Third World Countries’ since this term stems from the Cold War era that was used to refer to former colonies that were seen as ‘underdeveloped’. Instead I’m using the terms global North and global South that focus on the hegemony of historical and present power of certain nations along political, economic, and social lines.

[2] I’m using the following definition of White Saviourism: symptoms of racism and white supremacy which places those in a position of privilege into the role of saviour over those who have been historically oppressed and exploited.

[3] From the book Less is More – How degrowth will save the world by Jason Hickel, 2021, p.115.

_________________________________________________________________

German version

Warum sprechen wir über dekoloniale und antikapitalistische Bildung in Sunseed?

Das Sunseed-Projekt wurde ursprünglich als Wohltätigkeitsprojekt aus Großbritannien gegründet. Von den 1980er bis in die 2000er Jahre zielte das Projekt darauf ab, geeignete Technologien für das Leben in semiariden Regionen zu erforschen und dieses Wissen dann in afrikanische Länder wie Tansania zu „exportieren“. Wenn man das Archiv von Sunseed und alte Zeitungsartikel durchstöbert, ist das Hauptnarrativ dieser Zeit die Frage, wie „nett“ es von den überwiegend britischen Freiwilligen gewesen ist, ihre komfortable Lebensweise zu „aufzugeben“, um a) nach Los Molinos zu kommen, um mit alternativen Lebensformen in semi-ariden Regionen zu experimentieren; und b) „Gutes“ zu tun, für „Länder der Dritten Welt“[1] wie sie damals hießen. Als ich mit meiner Recherche über die Geschichte von Sunseed begann (aufbauend auf der Arbeit früherer Sunseeder die die Kolonialität des Projekts erforscht haben), konnte ich nicht anders, als von all diesen Zeitungsartikeln Weißes Rettertum[2] (auf Englisch White Saviourism) schreien zu sehen. Nach mehreren erfolglosen Versuchen, Sunseed-Wissen in Länder des globalen Südens zu „exportieren“, verlagerte sich der Schwerpunkt des Projekts auf seine aktuelle Vision, herauszufinden, wie man ein gesundes und ökologisch verantwortungsvolles Leben im Einklang mit der Natur führen kann, anstatt mit seinem Handeln koloniale Kontinuitäten fortzusetzen, indem man versucht, die Menschen im globalen Süden zu „retten“, ohne den lokalen Kontext überhaupt zu verstehen.

 

Warum also wollte ich die Geschichte von Sunseed untersuchen und mich während meiner Zeit hier mehr auf dekoloniale und antikapitalistische Bildung konzentrieren, wenn sich der Schwerpunkt des Projekts doch geändert hat?

Der Grund dafür liegt darin, dass die Zeiten der Kolonialisierung zwar offiziell der Vergangenheit angehören, wir aber in Wirklichkeit auch heute noch koloniale Abhängigkeiten reproduzieren. Der globale Norden profitiert noch immer von der Ausbeutung von Menschen und Natur des globalen Südens, um das Wirtschaftswachstum voranzutreiben, anstatt menschliche Bedürfnisse zu befriedigen und planetare Grenzen zu respektieren. Die heutige Klima- und Biodiversitätskrise sind nur eine Fortsetzung der kolonialen und kapitalistischen Aneignung. Die Länder des globalen Nordens sind beispielsweise für 92% der überschüßigen Emissionen verantwortlich, was bedeutet, dass sie für 92% der durch die Klimakrise verursachten Schäden verantwortlich sind, während sie nur 19% der Weltbevölkerung repräsentieren[3].

Um die vielfältigen Krisen, in denen wir derzeit leben, besser verstehen zu können, habe ich kürzlich einen Einführungsworkshop zur Bedeutung dekolonialer und antikapitalistischer Bildung gegeben. Im Laufe der Geschichte wurden viele Stimmen zum Schweigen gebracht und/oder ihnen wurde kein Gehör geschenkt, während gleichzeitig unangenehme Aspekte der westlichen Geschichte oft absichtlich heruntergespielt oder ignoriert wurden und werden. Unser derzeitiges Wirtschaftssystem, das auf der Ausbeutung von Menschen und Natur aus Profitgründen basiert, ist weitgehend immer noch unhinterfragt, auch wenn der Klimakollaps immer deutlicher spürbar wird. Das berühmte Zitat „Es ist einfacher, sich das Ende der Welt vorzustellen als das Ende des Kapitalismus“ scheint zutreffender denn je zu sein.

Kolonialismus wird meistens einer früheren Epoche zugeschrieben, in der europäische Mächte die Kontrolle über Länder und Völker in Afrika, Asien und Lateinamerika übernahmen, aber der Begriff umfasst viel mehr als das. Die Herrschaft über Land und Menschen im globalen Süden basierte auf einer europäischen Weltanschauung, in der sie sich über andere Menschen stellten, z.B. durch Rassenhierarchien oder „Zivilisationsebenen“, die sie selbst erfunden haben. Die Folge waren große Zerstörungen, Vertreibungen und Völkermord. Kolonisierte Völker haben den Eroberern auf allen Kontinenten Widerstand geleistet, doch bis heute hat der Kolonialismus Auswirkungen auf Politik, Gesellschaft, zwischenmenschliche Beziehungen und Einzelpersonen.

Um über kolonial geprägte Diskurse nachzudenken, die wir im Laufe unseres Lebens gelernt haben, insbesondere auch in den jeweiligen Bildungssystemen unserer Länder, und um zumindest einen kleinen Teil der Stimmen hervorzuheben, die viel zu lange zum Schweigen gebracht wurden, haben wir ein von glokal e.V. entworfenes Zitatspiel gemacht. Glokal e.V. ist ein in Berlin ansässiger Verein für kritische Bildungsarbeit und Beratung. Wir haben versucht, Zitate von oftmals marginalisierten Personen aus verschiedenen Zeiträumen auf einer Zeitleiste darzustellen. Dabei wurde uns bewusst, wie viele Geschichten in der westlichen Bildung nicht thematisiert und/oder heruntergespielt wurden und wie Muster der Kolonialität auch heute noch vorhanden sind, obwohl manch ein Zitat bereits Jahrzehnte oder sogar Jahrhunderte alt war.
Während unserer Diskussion und Reflexionsrunde wurde uns klar, wie unterschiedlich diese geschichtlichen Erzählungen sind, je nachdem, ob jemand im globalen Norden oder Süden aufgewachsen ist. Ein Sunseeder betonte, dass diese Marginalisierung, Unterdrückung und Ausbeutung für diese Person weder überraschend noch neu sei, da sie aus einem Land des globalen Südens stamme, das sowohl während der Kolonialzeit als auch in den darauffolgenden Zeiten des Imperialismus stark von externen westlichen Interessen beeinflusst wurde und noch stets wird. Dies unterstreicht die Notwendigkeit, Bündnisse und Solidarität zwischen den Bewohnern des globalen Nordens und Südens aufzubauen, um die Kräfte im Kampf für eine ökologische und sozial gerechte Welt zu vereinen, frei von fortgesetzter kapitalistischer und kolonialer Ausbeutung. Wenn du das Spiel selbst spielen möchtest, dann kannst du diese Seite besuchen: https://www.connecting-the-dots.org/play-page/. 

 

Wie geht’s weiter?

Für meine verbleibende Zeit hier in Sunseed plane ich, einen Workshop über transformative Initiativen, Weltanschauungen und Praktiken zu veranstalten, die sich vom Kapitalismus unterscheiden. Dies wird oftmals auch als Pluriversum der Völker bezeichnet, welches die Anerkennung der Vielfalt der Praktiken und Ansichten der Menschen im Bezug auf das Wohlergehen des Planeten beinhaltet (einschließlich des menschlichen Wohlergehens und der Anerkennung der Tatsache, dass der Mensch kein separater Teil der Natur ist). Indem sie die Verbindung alles Lebens respektieren und fördern, können diese Weltanschauungen als kraftvolle und inspirierende Quelle der Hoffnung für die Schaffung und Förderung einer Welt jenseits von Kapitalismus und neokolonialer Aneignung dienen.

Darüber hinaus werde ich zusammen mit einer anderen Praktikantin im Bildungsbereich von Sunseed zwei Workshops zum Thema “Plastikmeer” veranstalten – ein lokaler Kampf um Gerechtigkeit, sowohl in Bezug auf die Umwelt als auch auf den Menschen. Die Gewächshäuser in Almeria, auch bekannt als das Plastikmeer, liefern zwischen 40 und 50% aller Obst- und Gemüsesorten in der EU. Damit verbunden sind mehrere Umwelt- und Menschenrechtsprobleme, wie z. B. enorme Mengen an Plastikmüll, Grundwasserknappheit, Grundwasser- und Bodenverschmutzung durch chemische Düngemittel und Pestizide sowie die Ausbeutung von (undokumentierten) Migranten, welche unter schlechten Arbeitsbedingungen und geringer Bezahlung leiden, sodass dieser Zustant auch als Sklavenarbeit definiert werden kann. Wir werden einen Workshop veranstalten, um innerhalb Sunseed über die Problematik und Komplexität dieses Themas aufzuklären, bevor wir in der folgenden Woche einen Vertreter des andalusischen Arbeitersyndikats besuchen, der Migranten in ihrem Kampf für menschenwürdige Arbeitsbedingungen unterstützt.

 

[1] Ich verwende nicht den Begriff „Länder der Dritten Welt“, da dieser Begriff aus der Zeit des Kalten Krieges stammt und sich auf ehemalige Kolonien bezog, die als „unterentwickelt“ galten. Stattdessen verwende ich die Begriffe „Globaler Norden“ und „Globaler Süden“, die sich auf die Hegemonie der historischen und gegenwärtigen Macht bestimmter Nationen entlang politischer, wirtschaftlicher und sozialer Grenzen konzentrieren.

[2] Ich verwende die folgende Definition von White Saviourism: Symptome von Rassismus und weißer Vorherrschaft, die diejenigen in einer privilegierten Position in die Rolle des Retters gegenüber denen versetzt, die in der Vergangenheit unterdrückt und ausgebeutet wurden.

[3] Aus dem Buch Weniger ist mehr – Wie Degrowth die Welt retten wird von Jason Hickel, 2021, S.115 (Englische Version).

 

0

Drylands Management, Sunseed Stories

To read the first installment of A Drylands Tale by former Drylands Coordinator Agata, go here. 

===

Near the ruined house across the Rio Aguas, where man no longer lives and the acequia (i.e., the aqueduct that brought water to the houses and gardens) has been destroyed, among the gypsum rocks there is a big, old, wise carob tree. Like every morning, on that spring day the bees from the hives of the large carob tree and the beautiful plants of Ephedra, Genista, Retama, Albaida and Ononis in its surroundings gathered under the tree’s canopy for the morning circle, and each of the older foraging bees offered the younger ones to join them in collecting nectar and pollen in different nearby lands.

That day sister bees Mel and Pam decided to propose something new to the others: cross the river to go see the flowers in the Arboretum, that strange garden full of unfamiliar trees planted by humans. None of the bees present had been there in a long time. The great carob tree that morning, listening to the conversation, awoke from its now almost perpetual state of semi-wakefulness. The old tree expressed its concern about Mel and Pam and possible unpredictable consequences of coming into contact with the foreign plants in the Arboretum. Some queen bees spoke out in support of the large carob tree. Mel and Pam, however, were extremely curious and courageous, and the words of the carob tree and the bees only served to increase their curiosity.

The two sister bees did not want to wait any longer, so they flew forward, soon encountering the thicket of reeds, tamarisk and white poplars of the river. Then, finally, among the lush vegetation, there was the water! The water that in spite of everything still flowed and still flows alive, fresh and clear in the gypsum valley, and gives life to an exuberant ecosystem all around. It nourishes and provides an ideal habitat for plants, algae and turtles, frogs and toads, snakes and small songbirds, all the insects, the goats and other small and large animals that quench their thirst there. 

Mel and Pam recalled the carob tree’s tale to all the animals that inhabited its roots, its wood, and its canopies: the river in days gone by carried much, much more water with it, so the oasis around it was even larger and more lush than what the bees saw today. They remembered his words, “All life existing here depends inextricably on the river; on this river that dangerously shrinks from year to year, but still, incomprehensibly and amazingly, survives.” 

Mel and Pam that morning enjoyed the coolness of the air and quenched their thirst by perching atop a tiny waterfall among the rocks.

Taking to the air again, the brave bees found themselves on the other bank in the blink of an eye. They could see the Arboretum perfectly now; it was just a little further up. The sister bees were enveloped in a wave of the most intense scent they had never smelled before. Their eyes sensed the strong attraction of the yellow flowers they saw from afar nestled in bright green foliage. Without realizing it, the bees flew up to the flowers, as if moved by an innate force. They could not believe their antennae: the Arboretum was a land full of trees they had never seen! And with even more wonder, the bees discovered that some of these trees carried an incredible amount of nectar! 

There were already hundreds of bees and other insects moving from flower to flower. A bee named Fil greeted them and told them that these were exotic legume trees planted by the men who had come from afar and settled in the village of “Los Molinos del Rio Aguas” in years past. Fil said this was the first year that the flower production was so abundant. There were still plenty of flowers available and Mel and Pam were welcome!

The two bees looked at each other wordlessly and in a state of ecstasy began to fill their little honeydew bags with nectar with their proboscises until, already in not even an hour there was no empty space left to fill!

Mel and Pam slowly made their way back, heavy with nectar as they were, and said to themselves, “Tomorrow we will bring all our hive mates and more! It will be a big party!” That evening Mel and Pam recounted the mind-blowing experience; their nectar loot made many other fellow foragers envious and even made some queen bees’ eyes sparkle. So the next morning when they proposed at the morning circle to return to the Arboretum many bees followed them. On the other hand, however, a good half of the community of bees and other pollinating insects were wary of the novelty and were worried to see so many bees abandoning the gathering in the small and fragrant shrubs, such as the thyme of the dry lands, to go to the unfamiliar plants of the Arboretum. These doubtful and wary insects therefore continued to forage in the surrounding arid lands.

That year honey production was so abundant that the bees no longer knew what to do with all the honey produced!

Soon in the following years, most of the pollinating insects in the lands around the village of Los Molinos “converted” to the nectar of the exotic trees of the Arboretum: the Acacia, the Prosopis, the Vachellia… From year to year, thanks to such insects, these trees dispersed huge quantities of seeds and dozens and dozens of seedlings emerged from the soil everywhere in and around the village in the arid lands.

The population of pollinators increased, but at the same time, these insects stopped pollinating the native shrubs in the drylands to concentrate their work on the miracle plants of the Arboretum. Thus while the exotic plants gained more and more land, the very numerous species of native plants gradually lost their ability to produce seeds and moreover sometimes found less water and nutrients available to them. So the native shrubs were more than once replaced by the new plants brought by humans.

Native plants have been adapting and evolving for centuries and centuries to these saline soils and subdesert climate, and their immense genetic diversity is an essential treasure for the health and balance of the river ecosystem and surrounding drylands, as it keeps populations of organisms that would otherwise become harmful in check. Many plants living around the river still ask many questions that remain to this day unanswered. 

During a hot August a couple of years after Mel and Pam’s discovery, an Oroval (Withania frutescens) born among the gypsum monoliths of the Nacimiento, where exotic plants have never yet arrived, thought aloud, “I wonder what is the potential capacity of these exotic trees to develop their population in these lands….” So he asked his neighbor, a very large Lentisco tree (Pistacia Lentiscus), “Do you think my friend that the riverbed will ever be occupied by these trees with the thick, thorny foliage that all the insects are talking about?” The thoughtful Lentisco did not find an answer and rather asked in turn “and even if they do spread, can these plants really harm the balance of the ecosystem? Can they reduce the existing biodiversity?” Most importantly, he wondered, “What would be the long-term consequences for the living organisms in these lands?” A small endemic shrub of Jarilla de Sorbas (Helianthemum alypoides), interested and alarmed by the conversation, intervened with a further question, “Besides, is the effect of these trees on the water cycle and soil erosion control really beneficial? In addition to the direct and beneficial effect on the water cycle of their roots and foliage, it must be considered that if they cause damage to the native plants this could seriously jeopardize the stability of the soils of this valley and the surrounding ones!!!” To conclude, an old snake passing by proclaimed hissing, “Tsssssss… What are you plants worrying about! Tsssssss… You can’t see the river from here, but I can! Tsssssss… Its disappearance seems more and more imminent to me! Now that should terrify you! Tsssssssss…”

That torrid August, the queen bees, under advice from the wise carob tree, called for a plenary meeting of all pollinating insects. The goal was to decide definitively and by consensus whether nectar from exotic plants was worth the (unquantifiable) risk of destroying the balance of the ecosystem. But the plenary did not work and became an endless debate. Positions are to this day conflicting: some insects say the benefits in the short term are more concrete than the unknown risks in the long term. In addition, some wasps ask, “But who are we to decide or attempt to control the fate of this community of living things? It’s not like it’s just us pollinating insects! Besides, it’s not like we are human beings!” The butterflies support the wasps and say, “We will deal with the problem when it manifests itself.” 

Other insects on the contrary want to stop pollinating exotic trees. They repeat, “Better to prevent now than to be in an ecological disaster later! By the time the problem is visible it will be too late and we won’t be able to do anything about it!”

In short, to date no one knows what the fate of this wonderful ecosystem will be. What will happen to the water? And what will be the fate of its so biodiverse community of living organisms?


=============

[ITA]

Secondo racconto delle terre di macchia mediterranea e delle terre gestite dall’uomo in Sunseed 

 Vicino alla casa diroccata al di là del Rio Aguas, dove ormai l’uomo non vive più e l’acequia (cioè l’acquedotto che portava l’acqua alle case e agli orti) è andata distrutta, tra le rocce di gesso c’è un grande, vecchio e sapiente carrubo. Come tutte le mattine, anche quel giorno di primavera le api degli alveari del grande carrubo e delle belle piante di Ephedra, Genista, Retama, Albaida e Ononis nei suoi dintorni si riunirono sotto le fronde dell’albero per il cerchio del mattino e ognuna delle api bottinatrici più anziane offrì alle altre più giovani di unirsi a loro per raccogliere nettare e polline in diverse terre vicine.

Quel giorno le api sorelle Mel e Pam decisero di proporre qualcosa di nuovo alle altre: oltrepassare il fiume per andare a vedere i fiori dell’Arboretum, quello strano giardino pieno di alberi sconosciuti piantati dagli umani. Nessuna delle api presenti era stata lì da tempo immemore. Il grande carrubo quella mattina ascoltando la conversazione si svegliò dal suo stato, ormai quasi perenne, di semi veglia. Il vecchio albero, manifestò la sua preoccupazione per Mel e Pam e per possibili conseguenze imprevedibili dell’entrare in contatto con le piante estranee dell’Arboretum. Alcune api regine si pronunciarono a supporto del grande carrubo. Mel e Pam però erano estremamente curiose e coraggiose e le parole del carrubo e delle api solo servirono ad aumentare la loro curiosità.

Le due api sorelle non avevano più voglia di aspettare, dunque si inoltrano in volo, incontrando ben presto la selva di canne, tamerici e pioppi bianchi del fiume. Poi, finalmente, tra la rigogliosa vegetazione, ecco l’acqua! L’acqua che nonostante tutto scorreva ancora e tuttora scorre viva, fresca e trasparente nella valle gessosa, e che dà vita ad un ecosistema esuberante tutto attorno. Essa nutre e fornisce un habitat ideale per le  piante, le alghe e le tartarughe, le rane e i rospi, i serpenti e i piccoli uccelli canterini, tutti gli insetti, le capre e gli altri piccoli e grandi animali che vi si dissetano.

Mel e Pam ricordarono il racconto dell’anziano carrubo a tutti gli animali che abitavano le sue radici, il suo legno e le sue chiome: il fiume nei tempi passati portava molta, molta più acqua con sé, perciò l’oasi attorno ad esso era ancora più grande e rigogliosa di quella che le api vedevano oggi. Ricordavano le sue parole: “Tutta la vita qui esistente dipende imprescindibilmente dal fiume; da questo fiume che pericolosamente si rimpicciolisce di anno in anno, ma che ancora, incomprensibilmente e stupefacentemente, sopravvive”.

Mel e Pam quella mattina godettero della frescura dell’aria e si dissetarono posandosi in cima ad una piccolissima cascata d’acqua tra le rocce.

Rimettendosi in volo le api coraggiose si ritrovarono sull’altra sponda in un batter d’occhio. Adesso lo vedevano perfettamente l’Arboretum, era giusto poco più su. Le api sorelle vennero avvolte da un’ondata di profumo intensissimo e mai sentito prima. I loro occhi percepivano l’attrazione forte dei fiori gialli che vedevano da lontano immersi in un fogliame verde vivo. Senza rendersene conto le api volarono sino ai fiori, come mosse da una forza innata. Non potevano credere alle loro antenne: l’Arboretum era una terra piena di alberi che non avevano mai visto! E con ancora più meraviglia le api scoprirono che alcuni di questi alberi portavano una quantità di nettare incredibile!

C’erano già centinaia di api e altri insetti che si muovevano di fiore in fiore. Un’ape di nome Fil le accolse e disse loro che si trattava di alberi esotici di leguminose, piantati dagli uomini arrivati da lontano che si erano installati nel villaggio di “Los Molinos del Rio Aguas” negli anni passati. Fil disse che questo era il primo anno che la produzione di fiori era così abbondante. C’erano ancora tantissimi fiori a disposizione e Mel e Pam erano le benvenute! Le due api si guardarono senza parole ed in uno stato di estasi iniziarono a riempire di nettare le loro piccole borse melarie con le loro proboscidi, fino a che, già in neanche un’ora non c’era più alcuno spazio vuoto da riempire!

Mel e Pam fecero lentamente ritorno, pesanti di nettare com’erano, e si dissero “domani porteremo tutte le nostre compagne di alveare e non solo! Sarà una grande festa!”. Quella sera Mel e Pam raccontarono l’esperienza strabiliante, il loro bottino di nettare fece invidia a molte altre compagne bottinatrici e fece brillare gli occhi anche ad alcune api regine. Così la mattina successiva quando al cerchio del mattino proposero di tornare all’Arboretum molte api le seguirono. D’altra parte, tuttavia, una buona metà della comunità delle api ed altri insetti impollinatori era diffidente davanti alla novità e si preoccupò nel vedere tante api abbandonare la raccolta negli arbusti piccoli e profumati, come il timo delle terre aride, per andare verso le piante sconosciute dell’Arboretum. Questi insetti dubbiosi e diffidenti dunque continuarono a bottinare nelle terre aride circostanti.

Quell’anno la produzione di miele fu talmente abbondante che le api non seppero più che fare di tutto il miele prodotto! Ben presto negli anni successivi gran parte degli insetti impollinatori delle terre attorno al villaggio di Los Molinos si “convertirono” al nettare degli alberi esotici dell’Arboretum: le Acacia, i Prosopis, le Vachellia… Di anno in anno, grazie a tali insetti, questi alberi dispersero grandissime quantità di semi e decine e decine di piantine emersero dal suolo ovunque nel villaggio e attorno, nelle terre aride.

La popolazione di impollinatori aumentò, ma allo stesso tempo, questi insetti smisero di impollinare gli arbusti nativi delle terre aride per concentrare il proprio lavoro sulle piante miracolose dell’Arboretum. Così mentre le piante esotiche guadagnavano sempre più terra, le numerosissime specie di piante native perdevano progressivamente la loro capacità di produrre semi e perdipiù a volte trovavano meno acqua e nutrienti a loro disposizione. Dunque gli arbusti nativi furono più volte sostituiti dalle nuove piante portate dagli esseri umani. 

Le piante native si sono evolute ed adattate per secoli e secoli a questi suoli salini e a questo clima subdesertico, e la loro immensa diversità genetica è un tesoro essenziale per la salute e l’equilibrio dell’ecosistema del fiume e delle terre aride circostanti, poiché tiene sotto controllo le popolazioni di organismi che altrimenti diventerebbero nocivi. Molte piante che vivono attorno al fiume si fanno ancora oggi tante domande che restano senza risposta. Durante un caldo Agosto di un paio di anni dopo la scoperta di Mel e Pam, un Oroval (Withania frutescens) nato tra i monoliti di gesso del Nacimiento, dove le piante esotiche non sono ancora mai arrivate, pensava ad alta voce: “Chissà qual è la capacità potenziale di questi alberi esotici di sviluppare la loro popolazione in queste terre…”. Quindi chiese al suo vicino, un grandissimo Lentisco (Pistacia lentiscus) “credi amico mio che il letto del fiume verrà mai occupato da questi alberi dalle chiome folte e spinose di cui tutti gli insetti parlano?”. Il Lentisco pensoso non trovò una risposta e anzi chiese a sua volta “e anche se si diffondessero, possono queste piante davvero danneggiare l’equilibrio dell’ecosistema? Possono ridurre la biodiversità esistente?” E soprattutto il lentisco si chiese “Quali sarebbero le conseguenze nel lungo termine per gli organismi viventi di queste terre?”. Un piccolo arbusto endemico di Jarilla de Sorbas (Helianthemum alypoides), interessato e allarmato dalla conversazione, intervenne con una ulteriore domanda: “E poi l’effetto di questi alberi sul ciclo dell’acqua e sul controllo dell’erosione del suolo è davvero positivo? Oltre all’effetto diretto e vantaggioso per il ciclo dell’acqua delle loro radici e chiome, bisogna considerare che se essi comporteranno danni alle piante native ciò potrebbe mettere seriamente a rischio la stabilità dei terreni di questa valle e di quelle circostanti!!”. Per finire un vecchio serpente che passava di là proferì sibilando: “Tsssssss… Ma di che vi preoccupate voi piante! Tsssssss… Voi non potete vedere il fiume da qui, ma io sì! Tsssssss… La sua scomparsa mi sembra sempre più imminente! Questo sì che dovrebbe terrorizzarvi! Tsssssssssssss…” 

Quell’agosto torrido le api regine, sotto consiglio del saggio carrubo, convocarono una riunione plenaria di tutti gli insetti impollinatori. L’obiettivo era decidere in modo definitivo e consensuale se il nettare delle piante esotiche valeva il rischio (non quantificabile) di distruggere l’equilibrio dell’ecosistema. Ma la plenaria non funzionò e diventò un’infinita discussione. Le posizioni sono tutt’ora contrastanti: alcuni insetti dicono che i vantaggi nel breve termine sono più concreti dei rischi sconosciuti nel lungo termine. Inoltre alcune vespe si chiedono: “Ma chi siamo noi per decidere o tentare di controllare il destino di questa comunità di esseri viventi? Non ci siamo mica solo noi insetti impollinatori! E poi noi non siamo mica come gli esseri umani!” Le farfalle, sostengono le vespe ed affermano: “Affronteremo il problema quando questo si manifesterà”. Altri insetti al contrario vogliono smettere di impollinare gli alberi esotici. Questi ripetono: “Meglio prevenire ora, che trovarsi in un disastro ecologico dopo! Quando il problema sarà visibile sarà troppo tardi e non potremo più fare niente per risolverlo!”

Insomma, ad oggi nessuno sa quale sarà il destino di questo meraviglioso ecosistema. Che ne sarà dell’acqua? E che ne sarà della sua così biodiversa comunità di organismi viventi? 

0

Courses and Events
A few members of the Sunseed community spent last weekend at the annual summer gathering of the Iberian Network of Ecovillages (RIE). The gathering took place in eco village Cortijo los Baños, a gorgeous and welcoming community in nearby Lucainena de los Torres.

The gathering lasted four days and consisted of a mix of fascinating talks and workshops, covering topics such as water retention in landscapes, non-violent communication, bioconstruction with straw, conscious contact, natural law, biodance, self knowledge and personal growth, and much much more. It was a beautiful gathering for which we are very grateful. 

RIE encuentro 2023
See you all at the winter gathering!

spanish ecovillage summer gathering 2023

(ES) Algunos miembros de la comunidad Sunseed pasaron el fin de semana pasado en el cercano pueblo ecológico Cortijo los Baños en la reunión anual de verano de la Red Ibérica de Ecoaldeas (RIE). Conocimos gente increíble y asistimos a fantásticas charlas y talleres sobre temas como retención de agua en paisajes, comunicación no violenta, bioconstrucción con paja, contacto consciente, ley natural, biodanza, autoconocimiento y crecimiento personal, y mucho, mucho más. Fue una hermosa reunión por la cual estamos muy agradecidos. ¡Nos vemos a todos en la reunión de invierno!
0

Volunteer Stories

OTRA FORMA DE CAMINAR EN EL MUNDO


Lápiz en mano, que es el modo en que yo lidio con la vida, un día cualquiera, sentada en mi balcón, escribí lo siguiente:

La llamada frecuente. Alguien al otro lado del teléfono, un teléfono que está dentro de mí, me repite que vuelva. Que vuelva a la naturaleza de la que una vez salí.

¿Alguna vez te has preguntado si existe otra forma de hacer las cosas? ¿Has soñado con otra manera de vivir? Yo sí, muchas veces. Cuando, en la mañana, desde mi ventana, solo alcanzo a ver la fachada del edificio de en frente. Cuando, de camino a cualquier lugar, la música de motores enturbia mi paseo. Cuando, esperando en el paso de cebra, me impaciento porque llevo prisa. O cuando, curiosa, observo en la frutería una verdura preguntándome de dónde viene, cómo es la planta que le da vida.

En Sunseed, he encontrado una respuesta y he podido responder a la llamada. Te podría contar muchas cosas sobre este lugar tan especial. Te podría contar que se trata de un proyecto llevado a cabo por un grupo de personas que viven en comunidad en una aldea de Almería llamada Los Molinos del Río Aguas. Te podría contar que son autosuficientes en cuanto a electricidad, agua y gestión de residuos, y que cultivan parte de los alimentos para consumo propio, los cuales complementan con la compra de otros en el pueblo más cercano, Sorbas, casi siempre a granel, ecológicos y minimizando los envases de plástico. Te podría contar que para facilitar la convivencia utilizan la comunicación no violenta y para organizarse, una forma de autogobierno llamada sociocracia. Admirable, ¿verdad?

Te podría contar todo eso, pero, como dicen en mi pueblo, «me quedaría corta». Porque de lo que yo te quiero hablar verdaderamente es algo mucho más profundo: emoción. La que me han provocado…

…el cantar de los pájaros al despertar y el saludo de las tortugas del río.

…la satisfacción del trabajo en equipo y la felicidad de las comidas compartidas.

…la belleza de un portón de madera antigua pintada de azul y el ingenio de una lavadora que gira a pedales.

…el sabor del tomate recién cogido del huerto y la magia de una fiesta en la cueva a la luz de las velas.

…la frescura de un baño desnuda en la poza y la fascinación de un cielo nocturno estrellado como nunca he visto jamás.

Emoción. Conexión. Decrecimiento. Contemplo mis uñas llenas de tierra, antaño decoradas con esmalte, y me parecen realmente hermosas, porque esconden la historia de un baile con el suelo fértil. ¿Será que he aprendido a observar con otra mirada?

Escribo estas líneas con el corazón en un puño, pues es mi último día en Sunseed, donde estoy de paso. ¿Qué me llevo? La certeza de que, efectivamente, existe otra forma de caminar en el mundo basada en el amor, el amor por uno mismo, por la humanidad, por el resto de especies, por nuestro planeta, por el milagro de la vida en él; y la inspiración de un grupo maravilloso de personas que, en un rinconcito de Almería, son un ejemplo de ello. 


Una parte de vosotros se viene conmigo,

Cristina Cruz

sunseed volunteer cristina

=====

Cristina se quedó en Sunseed como voluntaria en julio de 2023. Ella es una autora y educadora de españa. Si está interesado en unirse a nuestra comunidad como voluntario, ¡póngase en contacto con nosotros

(EN)

Cristina stayed in Sunseed as a volunteer in July 2023. She is an author and educator from Spain. If you are interested in joining our community as a volunteer, please get in touch!

0

Audio and Video, Sunseed News
The Sunseed podcast goes into the next round: Seeds of Change Episode 2 has recently been released! You can listen to it on Soundcloud here. sunseed podcast episode 2 seeds of change While the first episode focused on the community itself and community internal processes, this second episode focuses on our connections and interactions with the land. Expect intergenerational Sunseed contributions from former Drylands coordinators Lucy and Harry, musical interventions by Billie, Quetzal, Silvia and Mel, creation and edition by Catarina and Lara & the design by Stef! Thanks everybody who was involved and supportive of this process.
0

Drylands Management
Dry stone walls have been built by humans around the world for thousands of years. Unlike brick walls, dry stone walls (piedras secas) are made by stacking stones without a wet mortar to hold them together. They are strong and can last hundreds of years, and these types of constructions can be found all over rural areas in Andalusia as well as other parts of Spain. The walls are built to slow and contain erosion during heavy rains, and also to aid the growth of plants around them by serving as cooling and condensation objects.

piedra seca traditional dry stone walls andalusia

These walls also act as water reservoirs, holding onto cool water and slowly dripping it into the surroundings over time after a rainfall. Because Sunseed is located in an arid region with long, dry periods with little to no rain, they become even more important. Our Sunseed community recently collaborated with some neighbours in Los Molinos to repair and reconstruct a number of dry stone walls in our area. Hot, tiring work, but very important to maintain our precious ecosystem and keep it as healthy as possible!⚒️

traditional spanish dry stone wall building

[ES]

Los humanos han construido muros de piedra seca en todo el mundo durante miles de años. A diferencia de las paredes de ladrillo, las paredes de piedra seca se hacen apilando piedras sin un mortero húmedo para mantenerlas juntas. Son fuertes y pueden durar cientos de años, y este tipo de construcciones se pueden encontrar en todas las zonas rurales de Andalucía, así como en otras partes de España. Los muros están construidos para frenar y contener la erosión durante las fuertes lluvias, y también para ayudar al crecimiento de las plantas a su alrededor sirviendo como objetos de enfriamiento y condensación.

building traditional dry stone walls in andalusia spain

Estas paredes también actúan como depósitos de agua, reteniendo agua y goteándola lentamente en los alrededores con el tiempo después de una lluvia. Debido a que vivimos en una región árida con largos períodos secos con poca o ninguna lluvia, se vuelven aún más importantes. Nuestra comunidad de Sunseed colaboró recientemente con algunos vecinos de Los Molinos para reparar y reconstruir varios muros de piedra seca en nuestra área. Un trabajo candente y agotador, pero muy importante!
0