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Back in April, I went to see Vandana Shiva speak atOCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design) in Toronto. I arrived to the event about one and a half hours early to get good seats. As I approached OCAD to meet up with my girl, Maggie, I saw Vandana Shiva standing in the grass with a few people giving an interview. I’m not sure why, but I hid behind one of the colourful legs of the building, and watched her speak.

She looked like a part of what she calls, “nature’s perfect design,” with her vibrant-coloured clothing and long, flowing hair swept up. Having seen her speak several times and having followed her work for years, I decided to come out from behind the pole and stand there, in the open, gazing at her as she spoke.

I didn’t care if she saw me, as I hoped she would know that I was standing there in awe and in solidarity of her important work toward the sustainability of this planet and our human communities therein. Just then, I saw Maggie approaching, so I snapped back into the task at hand – get good seats!


When Vandana Shiva spoke, she came back repeatedly to the idea that the earth has given us a perfect design to work with (after all, she was speaking at a college of art and design), yet somehow, we’re allowing the interests of a few to dominate the needs of many. Monsanto’s control of seeds was only one of the many examples she gave.

I was very pleased that a good portion of her talk was solutions-focused, and very, very positive. She discussed the organizations she works with, and the global movement to save seeds, in hopes of preserving some of the diversity that nature has given us.


One of the saddest points of her talk was to remind us of how many farmers in India have committed suicide in the last decade. Official government statistics put the number at 200,000. And that, folks, is more than a tragedy.

During the question-and-answer period, she was asked how she can face these massive problems every day with hope. Vandana Shiva responded that it’s easy, because earth is such a perfect design, she’s always amazed, delighted and filled with hope for the future. Besides, as she alluded to earlier in the talk, earth will always be around in some form or another. It’s our species that will pay the price for the way we’re living.



This post originally appeared on Folks Gotta Eat

Join the movement to save seeds and works towards a sustainable food production system. For ideas on how you can plant the seed in others, visit our campaign page!

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, you can plant the first seed: Share your story of how you’re planting seeds for change in your community, by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero! Contest details and more information can be found here.

Vandana Shiva’s work is all about preserving the heritage and natural function of our planet, so when we saw trailers for the film DIRT! The Movie, we drew an instant connection. It turns out that Vandana is featured in the film (alongside another GreenHeroWangari Maathai), a documentary that tells a whole different story about the brown stuff under our feet.

This story is of Earth’s most valuable and underappreciated source of fertility–from its miraculous beginning to its crippling degradation.

But ultimately, the film is a call to act. Stating that “dirt is very much alive”, in spite of our industrial disconnect from it, the filmmakers and those they document understand that what we’ve destroyed, we can in fact heal. “The only remedy for disconnecting people from the natural world is connecting them to it again.” Producer/Director Gene Rosow shares his experience meeting Vandana Shiva in the making of the film.



Producer/Director, DIRT! The Movie

Nearly every time I’ve screened DIRT! The Movie with an audience – more than 50 times – people ask or comment about Vandana Shiva. She is a “Green Hero” and a “Brown Hero” as far as soil is concerned, and clearly a star of the film. People are inspired by her intelligence, activism and tireless work to bring about a sustainable future.

In preparing the film which is inspired by William Bryant Logan’s wonderful book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, I searched for a wide range of subjects in order to be as inclusive as possible in terms of gender, culture, geography, and knowledgeable perspectives.


When I discovered a quantum physicist who expressed a profound spiritual connection to the land, I knew Dr. Shiva could play an important role in the film. I was impressed by the depth and clarity of her ideas as well as her skills and determination to organize people towards bringing about a sustainable future.

Happily, when I met her to request that she appear in a film about dirt, she agreed with enthusiasm, humor and an outpouring of amazing suggestions about subjects and locations in India; these indeed became the basis for filming there.

Each location she suggested offered a powerful story and stunning visuals: From tropical Kerala in the South to Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya institute nestled into the foothills leading to the Himalayas. Wherever we filmed, she was a blur of positive energy, amplified by the adoration of her by those who understand what she is doing and even by the opposition of those who challenge her.

Whether filming a warm and very personal interview in a field lit by golden afternoon light, documenting Dr. Shiva sharing her knowledge about the benefits of biodiversity and organic farming with a gathering of village women dressed in spectacular colors, or working with other advanced thinkers who gather and teach at Navdanya, I was continually astonished by the sheer power of her being and generous spirit.

I feel honored to have been able to include her in the film and to spend time with her in the course of filming.

Vandana told me in her interview that we need to shift our consciousness so that we value soil, not oil. A shift in consciousness towards a more sustainable future means we also will cherish and value the amazing people who will get us there. Vandana Shiva is one of those heroic people.

– Gene Rosow, Director of DIRT! The Movie

For more information on the film and the story behind it, visit their website.

You can sow a seed in your community by hosting a DIRT! screening! Plus, visit our campaign page for more ideas on how to take action with Vandana Shiva for a healthy and sustainable food supply.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, you can plant the first seed: Share your story of how you’re planting seeds for change in your community, by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero! Contest details and more information can be found here.