GREENING THE DESERT I & II
Geoff & Nadia Lawton
The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia
2009, 36 min 34 sec
When there’s no soil, no water, no shade, and where the sun beats down on you to the tune of over 50°C (122°F), the word ‘poverty’ begins to take on a whole new meaning. It is distinct and surreal. It’s a land of dust, flies, intense heat and almost complete dependency on supply lines outside of ones control. This is the remains of what was once called the ‘fertile crescent’. It is the result of thousands of years of abuse. It is a glimpse at a world where the environment – whose services provide
for all human need – has all but completely abandoned us. This is a glimpse at the world our consumer society is inexorably moving towards, as our exponential-growth culture gorges itself at ever-increasing rates. The original Greening the Desert video clip has been watched hundreds of thousands of times and has been posted to countless blogs and web pages in the data sphere. Although only five minutes long, it has inspired people around the globe, daring the lucid ones amongst us, those who can see the writing on the wall, to begin to hope and believe in an abundant future – a future where our survival doesn’t have to be based on undermining and depleting the very resources of soil, water, phosphorus, etc. that we depend on. The work profiled in that clip demonstrates that humanity can be a positive element within the biosphere. Man doesn’t have to destroy. Man can repair.
Initiator of the project, Geoff Lawton, writes: “I introduce you today to Greening the Desert II. I shot the footage for this video in October 2009 and edited it on location in the Dead Sea Valley in Jordan – the lowest place on earth, at 400 meters below sea level. Much of it was shot in or near the village of Al Jawfa where I stayed, which is effectively a Palestinian refugee camp that has morphed over the decades since 1948 into something resembling a functional small town. It was first shown to delegates of the 9th International Permaculture Conference (IPC9) in Malawi, Africa at the very beginning of November and is now being released for general consumption. The video will take you to the original Greening the Desert site, letting you see its present condition after six years of neglect when funding ran out in 2003. You’ll also be introduced to our new project site – the Jordan Valley Permaculture Project, aka Greening the Desert, the Sequel – and see some of the spin-off effects within Jordan from the influence of the original site; promises of much more to come.” “The work we’re undertaking in Jordan is in accordance with what we call the ‘Permaculture Master Plan’, where the project’s future is assured through funding from running educational courses. Project sites thus become self-sufficient, and self-replicating.”
“Through this work we envision thousands of educational demonstration sites worldwide – all inspiring and teaching communities around them how to begin to tackle at root the massive challenges we now face after decades of short-term profit-based thinking has all but ‘consumed’ our planet and dismantled the social constructs that the human race has always depended on for its survival. Through this work we see desertification stopped in its tracks, and reversed. We see this century’s dire water issues getting resolved. We see productive work for millions in bypassing the irrelevant efforts of our ‘leaders’, to instead build a new kind of culture – a culture based on cooperative effort and learning. It’s a culture where its members have regained a sense of their place in creation, where they become land-based stewards of remaining resources; creating a culture where we at last find ultimate satisfaction – promoting and building peace and low-carbon, relocalised, community-based prosperity.”