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Saving the Planet One Story at a Time
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By Talia Erlich

Environmental Artist

I’ve been working for the environment using art for two decades now, and I often design interactive installations or events (such as the Toronto Tree Festival) to ‘seed’ ecological consciousness or ‘bloom’ a green organization.

My ‘SEED ANGEL’ performance piece for Vandana Shivawas a call to visually represent and to honour the international green hero.

I first heard of Vandana Shiva through my work with Seeds of Diversity Canada (stay tuned for a blog post from its director!). I learned to appreciate the value of the ‘small stuff’ and people like Dr. Shiva who have been on the deck of a modern day Noah’s Ark story.

Until recently, only a few thousand people here in Canada understood the threat to food security, amongst other things, and have been heroically saving heirloom and rare seeds. They have effectively been a living gene bank for the rest of us.

Maintaining the right to save and share seeds has also been an ongoing struggle as agri-business and genetically modified technologies vie for market share and patents around the world. Advocates from across the environmental spectrum recognize the value and dangers if the people lose this basic right.

For a long while I’d been dreaming of a contemporary version of the ancient rite of seed sowing, so this was an opportunity to try a small gesture and also thank one of the giants of the seed-saving world. Dr. Shiva jumped right in and added a prayer from India that is recited when seed is sown: ‘May the seed be exhaustless’.

In her subsequent lecture at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design), she commented about the importance of cultural forms in sync with ecological action, and I felt affirmed that art can weave strong threads in the fabric of sustainability.

I welcome collaboration and the inspirations of others on creating these new forms.

Has Talia planted a seed of interest in you? Do you want to share your creative spirit with others and change the world with your art? Write to greenartstudio@gmail.com or visit her blog, Tali’s Green Log. For more ideas on how to join Vadana Shiva in action and to sow seeds in your community, 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 about promoting the world’s small farmers, reclaiming seeds in their native form and providing us with healthy choices in our food supply. On the other end of the spectrum is the industrialized food system, or, food as most of us know it in North America.

To fully understand the magnitude of harm our food system is causing us, we have to look no further than our own bodies and environment.

Exposing these dangers is the mind-blowing documentary, Food Inc., which takes us on a ride through the factory farm and pesticide-ridden production of our food.

From food-borne illness and obesity to genetic engineering, Food Inc. will forever change the way you look at food.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eKYyD14d_0[/youtube]

Most of us know little about where our food comes from and haven’t bothered to ask.

So this story comes at an opportune time, uncovering what’s actually going on in the North American food industry, an industry more consumed with profit than with the health of our communities, farmers, environment, and bodies.

What Vandana Shiva fights against, and what Food Inc. ultimately exposes, is a food system out of the hands of farmers and consumers, and controlled by a few major corporations.

The film is not all pessimistic, though. Just as Vandana Shiva sees a hope for the future of natural crop diversification and small farmers, Food Inc. has a positive outlook and an empowering message for consumers.

There are stories of courageous farmers and people standing up against the corporations to bring real food to the table. As consumers, we have immense power to shape our food supply; every dollar we spend on our food is a vote.

We’ve got some great ideas to plant the seed in your family and community, and help shift towards a sustainable food system. Food Inc.’s got 10 simple ideas of their own to take action on this issue:

1. Stop drinking pop and sweetened drinks.

2. Eat at home instead of eating out.

3. Help ensure food labels are complete and easy to understand to help make healthy choices.

4. Stop the sale of soda and junk food in schools.

5. Go without meat at least one day a week.

6. Buy organic or sustainable food with little or no pesticides.

7. Protect family farms and visit your local farmer’s market.

8. Make a point of learning where your food comes from.

9. Tell the government that food safety is important to you.

10. Demand job protections for farm workers and food processors, ensuring fair wages and other protections.

You can watch Food Inc. through December online on CBC’s website. Let us know what you think about the movie by leaving a comment below.

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.

Rebecca Gerendasy is executive producer and co-founder of Cooking Up a Story (CUpS), one of the first online television series and video blogs about people, food, and sustainable living.

CUpS offers a variety of original, short form video programming, and written posts that examine our food system, up close and personal. Cooking Up a Story features some of the leading thinkers and doers in the sustainable food movement, people such as Dr. Vandana Shiva as profiled in this post.


BY REBECCA GERENDASY

Executive Producer & Co-founder of Cooking Up a Story

In this video interview, Dr. Shiva explains the science of agricultural biotechnology (genetic engineering), and the dangers it poses to the world’s food supplies. Trained as a physicist, Vandana Shiva is one of the world’s leading environmental and social activists defending the rights of poor indigenous peoples, and helping to preserve native cultures.

As a woman, and a pioneer in the sustainable food movement, she has courageously taken her stand among the peasant farmers of India, and indigenous people throughout the world, as a fierce defender of nature, and of women’s rights.

This is more than about the safety of agricultural biotechnology products, as Shiva points out, it’s also about the ability of all of us to have a choice of the foods that we eat, for our farmers to be able to freely use their own seeds, and to grow food in the manner that they choose.

In developing countries like India, biotechnology introduces higher costs of production to the farmers, and makes them highly dependent upon a small number of companies to purchase their seeds, and required chemical inputs. Increasingly, farmers whose crops fail to produce anticipated yields are propelled into a cycle of debt that cause, at least some, to commit suicide.

Dr. Shiva continues to bring to the fore, among the most pressing concerns facing society today: the rights of developing nations to develop their own food sovereignty; conservation of the biodiversity existing in nature; the incorporation of newer agricultural methods to sustainably advance food production while preserving key indigenous farming practices; and ultimately the right of a people to enjoy shared access to their own seeds, to farm in ways that conserve finite natural resources, and to advance the economic and social health of their local communities and nation states.

– Rebecca Gerendasy, Executive Producer and Co-founder, Cooking Up a Story


You can watch all 3 parts of Vandana’s CUpS here. To plant the seed in others and to help actively promote her mission for a sustainable food production system, 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.

BY MELANIE REDMAN

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!

“COOPERATION IS NATURE’S DESIGN. EFFICIENCY IS NATURE’S DESIGN.”

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 SEED CAN CHANGE THE DIRECTION IN WHICH YOUR LIFE GOES.”

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.

“WE’RE ON A PATH WORKING AGAINST THE DESIGN OF THE EARTH.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I3xg0GUu1U[/youtube]

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.


“VANDANA SHIVA: THE SOUL OF SOIL – NOT OIL.”

BY GENE ROSOW

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.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8_dN5YWnyc[/youtube]

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.

Jari Chevalier is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, producer and journalist whose work is about healing psyche and society.

On March 1, 2010, she recorded a podcast on the remarkable work of Vandana Shiva, a celebrated eco-feminist, grassroots activist, research physicist, author, and international advocate for alternatives to global corporate hegemony.

Around the world civilian rights to food and water are being eroded by the patenting of life forms and by privatization of water systems. Some farmers have been hit with lawsuits for patent infringement, while they were planting heritage seeds.

The outspoken, multi-talented Vandana Shiva spoke with Living Heroabout these and other issues of capitalist globalization.


BY JARI CHEVALIER

When I first heard Vandana Shiva’s voice it was like listening to Mother Earth herself.

Brilliant and forceful, she spoke of diversity, the integrity and renewability of seeds, natural water tanks we call aquifers and the rights of all the living to fresh water.

She spoke of the creative power of ordinary people to determine the conditions of their own lives.

I heard in this voice a no-nonsense truth-seeker and truth-speaker setting us straight in terms of soil and oil, an eloquent and rousing visionary whose speeches and writings were meant to teach her listeners how to nourish both present and future, a research scientist and tireless organizer/activist who never forgets how Gandhi got things done.

I heard passion, care, warmth and devotion. I read several of her many books and then invited her to appear on Living Hero. I am so very pleased to invite you to share in our conversation:

“. . . there is a higher moral order that requires that we save seeds, because we are caretakers of the biodiversity of this planet,” says Shiva.”

A few months after our phone talk, Vandana came to New York to lead the Sisters of Earth conference with her sister Mira Shiva. Gratefully, I was invited to attend all four days on a press pass. Here is the link to our special Living Hero program bringing you the conference experience.


To learn more about the Living Hero podcast project and to browse the full list of their guests with links to all the interviews, visit our website. To learn how you can take action and plant a seed in others, visit ourcampaign 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.

By Joan Prowse

Director/Producer of GreenHeroes

We’ve had a thrilling run on TVO and we can’t believe we’re already on our last episode of our very first season of GreenHeroes!

This week’s show, “Groundbreakers” shines a spotlight on the visionary efforts of GreenHeroes that have literally changed the face of environmentalism as we know it.

Leading the pack is this week’s featured GreenHero, the inspiring Dr. Vandana Shiva, world renowned for her efforts to bring change to agriculture and food production.

Based in Delhi, Vandana is making an effort to move people away from growing and eating genetically modified plants. Her work has advocated a major shift in the agricultural system and given her a huge fan base around the world.

She’s planted the seed in us to entirely transform the way we think about our food systems. You can plant the seed in others too.

Joining her are other visionary heroes, including the unstoppable mother-daughter duo Emily and Bobbi Hunter.

As the daughter of Greenpeace co-founder Bob Hunter, Emily has carried the torch on eco-activism, making a stand for marine life and the environment. Guided by her activist mother Bobbi, who stood with her husband on Greenpeace’s early whaling missions, Emily is carving out a new activist strategy for a changing world.

Ray Anderson is perhaps most inspiring of all, for breaking new ground in an industry often synonymous with pollution.

As head of a carpet manufacturing company, Ray wanted to build the biggest carpet business the world had ever seen.

But after reading Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce, Anderson’s motive shifted to creating a completely sustainable business.

His company, Interface Inc., is a leader in sustainable manufacturing and as he tells us, the cost savings from recycling and reducing wasteful practices has been good for his business’ bottom line too.

Tune in tonight and in the weeks to come for other GreenHeroes venturing forth to Save the Planet One Story at a Time.

If you can’t tune in tonight, Groundbreakers will also be playing this Saturday at 4 pm (EST) on TVO!

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.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes

Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHeroes Campaigns

Sign up for our newsletter

Follow us on Twitter

Become our fan on Facebook

By Savvy Insider

Click here to find out what else Savvy Insider is writing about.

She has a fan base all over the world. Her name is Vandana Shiva and she lives in Delhi, India.

She is testimony to the fact that determination and true grit can move mountains despite a worldwide juggernaut.

The juggernaut in this case is the relentless drive by the world’s major corporations so that all of us accept, grow, buy and eat genetically modified food.

But Dr. Shiva pursues her goals relentlessly. She has created Navdanya, a national movement with a focus on protecting the diversity and integrity of living resources and the promotion of organic farming and fair trade.

For 20 years she has been toiling away, working with local communities and organizations serving farmers across India.

The results of her efforts are evident. Her hard work has resulted in the conservation of more than 2,000 rice varieties and 54 seed banks, thanks to the participation of 500,000 farmers. But with over 34,000 species of plant currently in danger of extinction, Vandana continues to work tirelessly to conserve seeds and to fight against the loss of species in the face of globalization.

She’s planting the seed by inspiring others to consider a healthier, more sustainable and bio-diverse food system. You can plant the seed in others too.

“[What] motivates me is the deep love for the earth and her biodiversity and her life processes. I have a passion for life, I don’t take it for granted and every time there is a threat to life I am compelled to act”

– Vandana Shiva

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.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes

Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHeroes Campaigns

Sign up for our newsletter

Follow us on Twitter

Become our fan on Facebook

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